§ The QUEEN'S SPEECH reported by the LORD CHANCELLOR.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
(who wore the uniform of the Oxfordshire Yeomanry and who was received 20 with cheers) said: I rise to move that an humble Address of thanks be presented to Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen in reply to her Speech from the Throne, and in the task that lies before me I beg that your Lordships will grant me that consideration which has ever been the traditional attitude of your Lordships to anyone addressing you for the first time, especially one like myself, so inexperienced in public life. I plead for a full measure of your Lordships' confidence from the fact that I am addressing the House under somewhat peculiar circumstances. The concluding paragraph of Her Majesty's Gracious Speech intimates that it will be considered more advisable to defer until another Session the consideration of Legislative Measures except those which provide for the administrative charges for the year, and although its wisdom is incontestable, such a course places my noble Friend and myself somewhat at a disadvantage, as it deprives us of at least half the material from which to frame an Address to your Lordships. ["Hear, hear!"] But, in spite of the fact that those measures which they might assume Her Majesty's Ministers had in contemplation are absent from Her Majesty's Speech, I think I might state without fear of contradiction that Parliament has never reassembled under more hopeful and interesting circumstances. ["Hear, hear!"] The country will notice with satisfaction that Her Majesty's Government is composed of the representatives of both wings of the great Unionist party. The success of their united efforts in Opposition justifies the confident anticipation that those efforts will be equally successful now that the responsibilities of office are shared by both wings of the Party, ["Hear, hear!"] In the first place, we learn from Her Majesty's Speech that her relations with Foreign Powers are such as to justify a belief in the continuation of their good will, and, whatever diplomatic difficulties might suggest themselves by the course of events in any part of the world, no complications have arisen calculated to in any way endanger the general peace of Europe. Your Lordships will readily concur in that portion of Her Majesty's Speech which refers to the recent war between China and Japan. The cessation of hostilities, the prospect of an 21 enduring peace, and the skill with which Her Majesty's Ministers have succeeded in evading any entanglements, and in contributing to bring about the cessation of hostilities, are matters of satisfaction to your Lordships. ["Hear, hear!"] The struggle has been one which we in this country cannot look upon with indifference. It has brought home to us the immense importance of naval strength in the rivalry of nations ["Hear, hear!"], and of the overwhelming superiority of that Power which took the precaution to supply itself with armaments and ships of the latest type and the most modern pattern over that country which neglected such precautions. ["Hear, hear!"] It is impossible to refer to China without being painfully reminded of the terrible events which have befallen English Missionaries in that country, and it will be for Her Majesty's Ministers to discover how far the acts were the chance acts of barbarism or formed part of a widespread conspiracy to drive European residents out of China. It will also be part of the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to decide whether those acts have been connived at and facilitated by persons in responsible positions. They left the matter in the hands of the noble Marquess feeling sure that he will know what reparation is due, and how best to effectually prevent a recurrence of the abominable outrage. ["Hear, hear!"] But, horrible as those incidents are, they sink into insignificance in comparison with those which Her Gracious Majesty made mention of in the next paragraph of her Speech. I allude to the recent atrocities in Armenia. Her Majesty used no extravagant phrase when she declared that those incidents have provoked the indignation and abhorrence of the whole of the civilised world, and especially of the inhabitants of this country. But though it might not be fair to judge a semi-civilised State by a State of Western Europe, we have a right to expect that Her Majesty's Government, in concert with those two European Powers who have associated themselves with us in the cause of good government and humanity, will insist that the engagements entered into by the Porte for the better government of those Provinces of the Ottoman Empire shall not be ignored. ["Hear, hear!"] And the convictions 22 which influenced Her Majesty's Ministers to interfere in the affairs of the Porte applies equally to those portions of the Mahomedan as well as the Christian subjects who have been the victims of misrule and oppression, and who are equally entitled to our sympathy and support. [Cheers.] This is in no way a Party question. ["Hear, hear!"] That venerable Statesman who has recently emerged from his retirement to address the public upon the subject with so much vigour and eloquence, has expressed in his inimitable words the sentiments of those persons whose attention has been drawn to the sad events. [Hear, hear!"] There is a matter which has not been thought worthy of special mention in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech, but no doubt your Lordships have noticed with pleasure paragraphs in the daily Press to the effect that a boundary line separating our sphere of influence in the Pamirs from that of Russia is being demarcated. No doubt the solution of this old misunderstanding will remove the friction that has been so long the cause of some embarrassment to the Governors of both countries. Closely connected with this subject is that of Chitral, the recent scene of military operations, in which we have noticed with pride and natural pleasure the magnificent courage and skill displayed by the English forces in the face of overwhelming difficulties. [Cheers.] It is thought that the retention of our possession of Chitral will involve too heavy a strain upon the finances of India and upon the military resources of that country, already barely sufficient for the calls that they have to meet. It is satisfactory that a closer examination of the subject has convinced Her Majesty's Ministers on the one hand of the impossibility of maintaining our influence in Chitral, unless a British Agent be maintained there, supported by an adequate British force, and, on the other hand, that the difficulties of insuring the safety of such a force and of providing a proper line of communication from Chitral to the boundary lines of India, through the tribal countries lying to the south of Chitral are not so difficult as at first anticipated. I think it would have been a source of great regret to the inhabitants of this country if it had been decided to 23 precipitately abandon possessions won by such heroic efforts. ["Hear, hear!"] Your lordships might have noticed that there is a total absence from Her Majesty's Speech of mention of Ireland; but I feel sure that you will not suppose that that is due to any want of feeling on the part of her Majesty's Ministers as to the importance of the administration of the affairs of that country. I think it is a matter of congratulation to your lordships that so able and distinguished a member of your House as the noble Earl (Earl Cadogan) will represent Her Majesty in Dublin. ["Hear, hear!"] Doubtless the noble Earl will be supported by a Chief Secretary who will prove himself to be a worthy successor in that form of conciliatory policy which marked the progress of the last Unionist Administration. Unionist antipathy to Home Rule does not imply indifference to the social, political, and industrial welfare of the population of that country. The present Leader of the House of Commons, when Irish Secretary, proved that he could administer the affairs of Ireland in such a manner as to confer solid benefits upon the population of that country, and in no small degree to earn the measure of their goodwill. We may look forward to a continuance of that policy by an extension of the railway system, by a removal of those defects which experience teaches us exists in the land laws; and it is to be hoped that the facilitation of the purchase of land at some future day may form part of the programme of Her Majesty's Ministers. There is another subject which, there is reason to hope, will engage the attention of Her Majesty's Ministers during the recess, and that is the subject of agriculture. The friends of agriculture do not expect any special immunity from taxation, but they may be forgiven if they urge that a time when agriculture is labouring under a struggle for existence should not be chosen for placing upon them new and crushing burdens more severe than they ever hitherto received. Speaking with conviction, as a landowner and as one who is deeply interested in the affairs of agriculture, I cannot but give as strong expression as possible to the hope that Her Majesty's Government may address themselves to an attempt to ameliorate the serious condition of 24 the persons who are associated with one of the most important industries of the country. It must be admitted that some of the causes which have contributed to reduce agriculturists to a low condition of poverty are beyond the reach of remedial legislation. But much may be done by a readjustment of rates, by placing the home producer and the foreign producer on at least an equality; the transfer of land may be rendered more simple and less expensive, in order to afford the opportunity to those persons who are desirous of holding a stake in their native soil; and I venture to think they would all welcome some such scheme as would confer independence and comfort in their declining years upon those who, except for such beneficent legislation, would become burdens on the rates and unwelcome recipients of humiliating and inevitable charity. Lastly, and at the risk of wearying your Lordships' House, I will only say in regard to the measures postponed till next Session, that Her Majesty's Ministers will approach the consideration of these measures with opportunities denied to themselves by their predecessors, in that they placed insurmountable obstacles in the path of their own domestic legislation. The late elections were fought, as the noble Earl the late Prime Minister, was careful to explain to the country, upon the question of the demolition of the Constitution of this country, beginning at your Lordships' House. The reply of the country upon this point is most emphatic. Never in the history of your Lordships' House has it received so gracious, so unanimous and so overwhelming a vindication as that conferred upon it by the people of this realm at the General Election. Without doubt your Lordships on the opposite Benches are as sincere in your desire to associate yourselves with legislation beneficial to our country as any noble Lords on this side; and perhaps it is not too much to expect that the noble Earl opposite and his supporters, being convinced by the result of the recent appeal to the constituencies, may cease their endeavour to humiliate the Constitution of this country by reducing your Lordships' House to a state of degradation and impotence, but rather that they may join with the majority of your Lordships in the promotion of such 25 useful and beneficial legislation as may ameliorate the condition of the people of Great Britain. I beg to move the Address in reply to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech.
§ * LORD AMPTHILL (who wore the uniform of the Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry),
rising to second the Motion, said: My Lords, although I have never yet had the privilege of addressing this House, I have been a sufficiently constant attendant here to know that I may confidently rely on your Lordships' indulgence; but with all due diffidence, I would make a special plea on this occasion for that consideration which is so freely accorded in this House to its younger and less experienced Members. My Lords, you will readily admit that the task before me presents unusual difficulties, and not the least of them is the fact that of late years the duty of moving and seconding the Address has been entrusted to noble Lords of far greater experience than I can lay claim to, and of long-tried and well-proved ability. A distinguished member of the family to which I have the honour of belonging, Lord John Russell, said on one occasion that if he were offered to command the Channel Fleet and thought it his duty to accept, he would not refuse it, and I trust that it is with something of the same spirit that I stand before you in pursuance of the duty, far beyond my powers, which has been assigned to me. The noble Duke has dealt very fully with the Foreign Affairs alluded to in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech, and it only remains to me to echo the satisfaction which he has expressed that this country continues to enjoy the blessings of peace. Widespread as is our Empire, we come into contact with almost every nation and every interest, and as the most prosperous and most favoured of all nations we are not unnaturally the objects of great envy and dislike. Beyond these considerations, let us not forget that foreign complications may arise as suddenly and as unexpectedly as a storm in southern seas. If I may say so without presumption, we are confident in the knowledge that a master hand is at the helm, and that an experience, controls the ship of State which has steered her before now through difficulties the greatness of which we 26 perhaps hardly realised. I would venture, with no less deference, to say that the noble Earls who lately administered our Foreign Affairs are deserving of great gratitude for the wise course they pursued. Although the noble Duke has spoken on the Armenian Question, I trust that I may be permitted a brief allusion to it. A mighty voice has raised this question above the level of party politics. Mr. Gladstone has quitted the repose which he has so richly earned to give fit expression to the righteous indignation of this country, and his wise and powerful utterance may be taken as an expression of general confidence that Her Majesty's Government, in concert with the Foreign Powers, will insist on the reforms which are necessary to safeguard the lives and properties of our fellow Christians and fellow men in Armenia. The atrocious outrages in China resemble in many ways the horrors in Armenia. In both cases religious and social hatred is the prime motive, in both cases the indifference of the respective Governments, if not even the connivance of their servants, makes them directly responsible, and in both cases their Governments are too feeble to resist these outbursts of lawlessness and crime. Here again we trust that the action of Her Majesty's Government will ensure against a recurrence of those horrors, and exact a just reparation. My Lords, the noble Duke has left but one subject entirely to me, and that is the annexation of Bechuanaland. I need hardly point out that this is nothing more than the fulfilment of a policy of long standing, that it will be the means of securing more effective administration and a better chance of development to that country; and it is moreover a saving of expense to the Imperial Exchequer. The assurances that have been given by the Government of Cape Colony for the safeguarding of our interests and those of the natives are such as can fairly be expected from a great self-governing Colony. This is by no means the first occasion in the history of our Empire when large tracts of undeveloped country have been handed over from the direct control of the Imperial Government to that of the Colony in its neighbourhood, and I think that I am within the mark in saving that in no instance of the 27 kind has this country had occasion to regret such a course. I may remind your Lordships, that only four years ago, when Western Australia received a Constitution we handed over an enormous area of territory to the newly constituted Government, and even with this short experience of the working of the Act the prosperity of the Colony has largely increased. To turn to matters of domestic interest, it is obvious, my Lords, that circumstances mark out that the immediate work of Parliament should be confined to completing the Votes on the Estimates. But if I may venture to consider the future, let me first premise that the result of the General Election must be accepted as a complete and emphatic condemnation of the main lines of Policy of the late Government. For the second time, Home Rule has been rejected as a solution of the Irish Question, and the difficulties of any such scheme, which are far greater than even Mr. Gladstone, or any one else were able to foresee, have been emphasised by the discussion on the Home Rule Bill. My Lords, I do not presume so far as to embark on any detailed comment. But I will say that the most flagrant and the most insurmountable of those difficulties proves to be the retention of the Irish Members at Westminster, the great additional burden thrown on the British taxpayer, and the absence of any efficient protection for the minority in Ireland. There is, moreover, the general objection that, by the constitution of a separate Parliament, the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament will be impaired and the security of Great Britain endangered. But it might fairly be asked, What is the alternative policy? The policy usually described by our political opponents as "coercion." That is an incomplete statement, to say the least of it, and it involves the fallacy known as "begging the question." All law is supported by coercion—["hear, hear!"]—and every Government, whatever it may be, will see that the law is obeyed. [Cheers.] But that does not exhaust the policy of the Unionist Party, which, if I rightly understand the utterances of our Leaders, includes such amendments of the Lands Acts as experience has proved to be necessary to secure improvements to the tenants, as well as to maintain the just rights of 28 landlords. It includes also an endeavour to facilitate the operation of the Land Purchase Acts, and to extend those beneficial operations of the law by which provision is made for the special needs of congested districts. These are measures which go to the real root of the misery and discontent existing in Ireland, and never to be touched by any tinkering of the Constitution. ["Hear, hear!"] The Government, while rejecting constitutional change and repressing disorder, will do all they can to promote material prosperity. [Cheers.] The noble Earl, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, took a foremost part in passing through the House of Lords the Land Bill of 1889 and the Purchase Act of 1891; while the Chief Secretary for Ireland bears a name most intimately associated with those measures. Surely it might be inferred from this, if from nothing else, that her Majesty's Government has remedial legislation for Ireland in view. But the verdict of the country is something more than a condemnation of Home Rule. It is likewise a condemnation of the policy of attempting to secure support for Home Rule by attacking the institutions of the country. The late Prime Minister threatened the annihilation of the House of Lords with respect to its legislative preponderance; but your Lordships have escaped from the wrath of the noble Earl. [Laughter and "hear, hear!"] The people have not thundered at your doors; on the contrary, they ranged themselves rather before this House and cried "Hands off!" to the would-be destroyers. It turns out that the noble Earl (Lord Rosebery), who so frequently laments his small following in this House, has no greater support in the country than he has here. [Laughter.] There are plenty of Liberals in this House—men true to the ancient traditions and principles, and true to the solemn pledges of the Liberal Party, and it is just for that reason that they are not now sitting behind the noble Earl. [Cheers.] The country has definitely declared in favour of the alternative policy of dealing with social problems, and improving the general condition of the people. To make the aim and end of legislation the benefit of all classes alike, instead of the furtherance of party interests by benefiting one class 29 at the expense of another. [Cheers.] The condition of trade and agriculture calls for special attention, and although there is small hope that any legislative panacea will be found for existing evils, there is a great deal which can be done without heroic legislation. The ties binding the colonies to us—the ties of common descent, kinship, and common interest—can be cemented and strengthened. There is room for the development of the resources of the Crown Colonies, and for increasing the trade between them and this country by opening up new markets. There is every reason to believe that the Secretary of State for the Colonies has set his heart upon objects such as these. All these questions, however, are complex and difficult, and it is not unreasonable that in the present Session Parliament should confine itself to the necessary work of Supply, and that the Government should ask for time and opportunity to mature their proposals. Whatever their proposals may be, I trust that they may be such that, without direct antagonism of opinion, both parties in the State may be able to co-operate cordially, and bring them to effect. ["Hear, hear!"] I thank your Lordships for the kind attention with which you have listened to me, and I beg leave to second the Address. [Cheers.]
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY,
who was received with Opposition cheers, said: My first and most pleasing duty is to offer my sincere congratulations to the Mover and Seconder of the Address for the way in which they have performed that duty. The Mover spoke with singular vivacity, and with a grace which, I am sure, charmed your Lordships, and gave you reason to hope that he will not unworthily bear his illustrious name, or fall in any way short of the traditions of that brilliant uncle of his whose loss his Party, and, even more, his friends outside his Party, had so deeply to deplore in the earlier part of this year. ["Hear, hear!"] And with equal truth I can say that the Seconder of the Address fascinated us, even when he dealt most hardly with us, by the very animated and spirited manner in which he performed his difficult task. I think he was inaccurate—if he will allow me 30 to say so—in attributing any such intention to an illustrious member of his family as that which he actually ascribed to him. I remember reading that Lord John Russell greatly complained of the intention which was ascribed to him—it was ascribed to him by Sydney Smith—[laughter]—and which he felt to be in some degree a libel. But although I lack the courage, as well as many other of the qualities of that Statesman, I confess that I am not sure that I would not rather undertake to command the Channel Fleet than to second the Address in your Lordships' House. [Laughter.] I had the great pleasure of knowing the noble Lord's father, who sat in this House, but who sat in it not as a legislator, but with totally different ideas. I remember that I asked him once why he so often attended in this House in his diplomatic vocation without ever addressing the House; and I remember that he told me that he found it a pleasing opportunity for repose. [Laughter.] I do not ascribe to him any of the disrespectful views in regard to this House which have been so lavishly ascribed to me; but I do not think he was altogether unjust in the definition which he gave. I hope it will not be considered derogatory to the speeches of the Mover and Seconder to say that they were perforce obliged to travel a great deal outside the limits of her Majesty's Gracious Speech. They were speeches admirable of their kind, dealing with a whole range of political topics, scarcely one of which was included in the Queen's Speech; and when we listened to these obiter dicta, my friends and I were somewhat perplexed to know whether they were indirect hints conveyed through that channel by the Government of their policy and intentions, or whether they were only the judicious advice which is always freely tendered by the junior members of a party to their seniors, and which, though interesting in themselves, are thereby deprived of the weight which would otherwise belong to them. I have not the imagination of the Mover and Seconder of the Address, and I cannot take their wide range of subjects. I find myself in rather an unfortunate position in having to discuss what I hope will not be disrespectful to say is the somewhat jejune Speech from the Throne. 31 There is a story of the King of Prussia—I think of the father of Frederick the Great, Frederick William I.—who offered, on a famous occasion, to supply a young clergyman who was to preach before him with the text from which he was to preach. And with a somewhat malicious spirit of humour the King sent up to the clergyman, as he mounted the pulpit, a blank sheet of paper. The young clergyman got out of his difficulty very well, because he preached on the creation of the world out of nothing. [Laughter.] But I am afraid that I have not his capacity, and I do feel somewhat perplexed to know how to deal in the customary manner with this blank sheet of paper. It is true that there are two foreign topics of very great importance which are dealt with in the Speech, and there is also the question of Bechuanaland, which I may at once dismiss by saying that it represents the policy of the late Government, and, I think, was partly carried into effect by them. But, with regard to the massacre of missionaries in China, which forms one of the melancholy consequences of the terrible war which has lately been waged in that country, we can only say that we deplore it from the bottom of our hearts, and that we shall welcome any information which the noble Marquess can give us as to the action which the Government have thought fit to take with regard to that massacre, and also any details which he can give of the manner in which it came about. I should be particularly glad to know whether the missionaries returned to their posts of duty against the warning of the Minister and Consuls in China; and, indeed, any information on this unhappy topic will be, I am sure, most cordially welcomed by this House. Then we come to the other subject with which the late Government had much to do—the subject of Armenia. That, as the noble Duke and the noble Lord both said, is raised outside the domain of party politics. I do not for a moment doubt that the noble Marquess feels as strongly as we do the necessity of obtaining from the Government of the Sultan adequate and permanent guarantees that there shall be no possible recurrence of the atrocities which have horrified the conscience of Europe. ["Hear, hear!''] I believe action in that sense is as vitally necessary both for the interest of the 32 Government of the Sultan itself as for the protection of the unhappy Christians of Asia Minor; for one thing, at least, is certain—that the recurrence of those outrages tends to shorten the life of the Sultan's Government in the midst of the civilised communities in which it is placed. I can well believe that the noble Marquess before he entered the Foreign Office, did not put implicit confidence in the newspaper reports he had read of the horrors that had been committed; but now that he has read and mastered the Consular and authoritative reports from Asia Minor he must be as convinced as we were that horrors have been committed which pass the power of speech to express, and which, perhaps, have no precedent in history. I am well aware that it is not an easy matter to preserve a European concert. It is possible, as we have seen rumoured in the papers, that the Governments of France and Russia may not unreasonably be afraid to waken that uneasy phantom of the Eastern question by any vigorous measures in support of the policy of the British Government. But I believe, and I hope, that such is not the case; if it were, unfortunately, to be true, I am, at any rate, convinced of this—that the noble Marquess, in proceeding even alone to deal with this question vigorously and efficiently will find that he has behind him, not a party, however overwhelming, but the entire nation. [Cheers.] There is one topic, which I regard as one of great importance, which is not alluded to in the Speech from the Throne, but which, among other topics, has been touched on by the Mover and Seconder of the Address. I mean the subject of the occupation of Chitral. I do not know even yet, even after the speeches of the Mover and Seconder, whether we are to consider the announcements in the newspapers as authoritative with respect to the intentions of the Government. I most earnestly hope that they have not definitely made up their minds in the direction indicated in the newspapers. I am well aware, in saying so, that the Government of the Viceroy of India had arrived at substantially the same conclusion as that which is said to have been adopted by the noble Marquess and his Government. But I am bound also to say that the late Government, who 33 devoted a great deal of attention to that subject, and approached it without passion and prejudice, and without any affection for that policy which is usually called by the ribald name of "scuttle," had arrived unanimously at a directly opposite conclusion. I do not propose on this occasion to challenge an announcement which has not been made and a policy which, I hope, has been inaccurately reported. I shall wait for papers, which, I have no doubt, will be granted by the Government, and I will beg the Government, in giving those papers, that they shall be fully given, as copiously as they were by the late Cabinet, except in so far as their production would imperil points of Imperial policy; and especially I would ask that the opinions of Sir Donald Stewart—perhaps the highest living military Indian authority—should be given to Parliament in their full amplitude and without delay. While I do not wish to challenge this policy, I would desire to point out very briefly what were the main grounds which impelled the late Government to decide that Chitral should be evacuated at the discretion of the Viceroy and his Council. In the first place, the mountain barrier in which Chitral is situated is practically impervious to any large army if you leave it as it is. But if you construct roads southward of Chitral to lead to it you make pervious what was impervious, and in that way you add, not to the security, but to the insecurity, of our Indian Empire. [Cheers.] In the next place, we have concluded the agreement with Russia respecting our Pamir boundary, which I think puts an entirely different complexion on any possible occupation of Chitral to what otherwise it might have had. It is possible and conceivable that had the boundary remained vague and open it might have been well to occupy Chitral, if only to prevent roaming parties of armed explorers from wandering within the limits which we consider to be our own. But that, owing to the conclusion of the Pamir agreement, is now impossible except as an act of war; and I am bound to say that I am not at all sure, since the conclusion of that agreement, the retention of a military post at Chitral is not likely to be considered by the Russian Government as something 34 of a menacing measure which it may be necessary for them to counteract in a somewhat similar manner. Then there is the third argument, and it is an argument, to my mind, not without force. You are breaking faith with the people among whom your campaign has taken place. Do not believe that these mountain tribes, because they are savage are unaware of the binding obligation of a declaration such as you have put forward. You went to Chitral declaring that you were going back as soon as you had accomplished your object. Let me read the words of your proclamation:—The sole object of the Government of India is to put an end to the present and to prevent any future unlawful aggression on Chitral territory ['Hear, hear!' from Lord SALISBURY], and as soon as this object has been attained the forces will be withdrawn.I confess I think that there must be overwhelming considerations which were not presented to the attention of Her Majesty's late advisers, to overrule a declaration so clear, so specific, and so honourable as that contained in the proclamation. There was a fourth reason. Surely if there is anything that we learn from the whole course of Indian history in late years it is this, what is wanted for our Indian Empire is concentration, both financial and military. The policy shadowed out by the newspapers indicates an expenditure of some quarter of a million sterling a year. You know very well, if that be your policy, that it will not be met by anything like that sum Now, what is the financial position of India? Is it in a condition, whatever your financial policy may be, to meet a large demand for military expenditure without an absolutely imperative call? I do not know what the financial policy of the new Government in India is going to be. There is a considerable number of their supporters who have come back pledged, as I understand, to vote against the re-imposition of the cotton duties in India and to maintain the policy of a distinguished member of the new Government, who I am sorry not to see in his place, but whom I congratulate in his inclusion in the new Cabinet, as well as upon his elevation to this House—I mean Lord James. Is the policy of Lord James the policy of the new Government? If that be so it will largely 35 increase the financial difficulties of India and make the proposal I am criticising, but which I hope is not authoritative, much more difficult to defend. [Cheers.] But you are going to maintain a force of 11,000 men, as we are told, to protect your roads and to hold Chitral. Are you going to increase the Indian Army by that number? If you are not going to increase the Indian Army by that number it is clear that the Indian Army up to this time has been considerably too large, and there will be a solid foundation for the many attacks made by native opinion on that subject. But if you are going to increase the Army of India, which, in their opinion was not excessive in its needs, you would be largely increasing the expenditure of that country, which is, as I think, already overweighted on that side of the account. On that point I trust that we shall have papers, and particularly some assurances with regard to the financial policy of the new Government in India. There is another point—namely, concentration—to which I think too little attention is paid in this country. This point is one which, I confess, had an overwhelming weight with myself, if there had been no other points, in deciding against the occupation of Chitral. You had in recent times, and up to recent times, only one great civilised military Power coterminous with your Indian Empire. That was enough to awaken panic in this country, to call forth great preparations, and to be the perpetual subject of scares in our Press. You have now two great military Powers coterminous, or almost coterminous with your Indian Empire. We have seen lately something in the Press as to the advance of the French on the Mekong. I wish to say nothing that can in the remotest degree offend that great and friendly, and, may I add, somewhat sensitive Power; but I may at least say this—France has not been inactive in the Valley of the Mekong or on the frontiers of Burma throughout the last three years, and her object in that activity has been the foundation of a great Eastern Empire, which is to be coterminous with India. When you have a great military Power coterminous on your north-east frontier, as another Power is on the northern, it is not too much to say that 36 the policy of financial and military concentration is more necessary for India than at any other period in her history; and it is on those grounds we came to the conclusion I have indicated, and unless the papers show otherwise, it is on these grounds we should deprecate any such policy as that foreshadowed. But, my Lords, I do not deny that these topics, however interesting they may be, are not the main topics which are peculiarly attractive to your Lordships at the present moment. The Mover and the Seconder hovered around the topic which is, I doubt not, in all your hearts. They dealt with it mercifully and good humouredly, and it would be unbecoming in me not to notice it when they have mentioned it. I mean the topic of the General Election. We have this peculiarity in dealing with it—that we had, I hope, none of us anything to do with it except, I think, the noble Duke, the President of the Council. He is sometimes a little late in his engagements, both in society and otherwise, and he appears to have gone a day late to Darlington, where he spoke with conspicuous and fruitful results. I took myself out of the risk of all temptation to meddle with the election, and I believe the party on this side of the House most honestly and conscientiously observed that obligation. Therefore, my Lords, we have been outside all that. We are, in the midst of a General Election, a sort of political Thebais—a region of holy hermits, separated from all the vain tumults of the world, absorded in our own silent and solitary meditations. Well, I may say we have this further advantage as the result of our seclusion—that, whatever may happen outside, nothing alters the balance of parties inside. The noble Marquess has the following that he had before the General Election, and I have the following that I had before the General Election. [Laughter.] We know accomplished facts. We do not expect any violent convulsion, and therefore we are in a more happy and contented condition than others on the other side of the lobby. In the House of Commons the condition of matters is, I admit, totally different. There is an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons adverse to the views that I hold, and there is naturally 37 a feeling of exultancy pervading every bosom that I see opposite which would be even greater if the Treasury Bench afforded twice the accommodation that it does. [A laugh.] If you are exultant, moderately and genially exultant, I am not so depressed as perhaps I ought to be, and I am not depressed because I have read history and studied its lessons; and I see nothing discouraging in the present state of affairs. Your Lordships must often in the forestry of your parks have found it necessary to cut down some evergreen to the roots in order that it might grow again. That has been the fate of our Party. It has been the fate of the opposite Party, always with the result that the resurrection takes place with renewed vigour and vitality. Let us see what history tells us on this subject. The greatest majority in the House of Commons ever known in our records—greater, I think than the present majority—was the majority of the Whig Government in 1833. The Tory Party—I hope in its present altered state I may be allowed to say it without disrespect—were pulverised. They were in the condition that we are in, only more so. They had a miserable minority. They were told that they would never come into office again, and what was the result? Before the end of 1834 they were in office again. Well, it was quite true it was not a long tenure of power, but in that short tenure they laid the foundation of their future power. In six years from the day of the disastrous election they had put the Liberal Government in a minority, and in eight years they had swept the country. My Lords, what was their fate after they had swept the country and after they had remained in power for five years? Why that, although they occasionally occupied office, they remained out of power for 28 years. In 1874 they swept the country again, and in 1880 they were once more reduced to impotence, but that position of impotence—which seemed likely to be permanent in view of the fact that the Government of the day had passed a Reform Bill enfranchising great masses which might have been expected to show some gratitude to their enfranchises—passed away, and, with a small interval, the Tory party has been in power ever since. In those circumstances I feel no great despondency. 38 There is action and reaction in the domains of politics, and if we have suffered reaction from our policy, I cannot promise the noble Marquess any immunity at the end of his tenure of office. There are some remarkable features in the Election with which I should wish to deal, not for the purpose of founding any argument upon them, but because they seem to afford matters for reflection. In the first place, the numerical majority of votes polled by the Tory party over the Liberal party is very small. I am not going to imitate the noble Marquess, who on occasions during the late Government told us that 500 votes turned 25 seats. I do not wish to cavil at the result. I only wish to mention it. Of 5,000,000 of votes you got a majority of 103,000, which would give you a proportional majority of 14. The quips and cranks of the Constitution give you a majority of 157. (Earl SPENCER: "152.") Oh, 152. I do not care about small figures [Loud Ministerial laughter.] You have a large majority out of a small plurality of votes. That is a fact which shows a happy accident of fortune which is no doubt a little encouraging to you, but not discouraging to us. I do not mention that to found any argument upon it, but only for the purpose of reflection. There is another extraordinary point in these elections. We all remember the bye-elections. We had to listen to homilies on the want of confidence shown in her Majesty's late advisers, and the disapprobation expressed by nine constituencies which put in Tories and turned out Liberals. These elections were all in the course of this year and last. What was the result during the present General Election? They have almost invariably reversed their verdict, arid if they are to be taken as specimen constituencies, as they were three months ago, through which the voice of the country could be heard, the voice of the country must be heard through them now. There is that third great characteristic of these elections. There is the reiterated voice of Ireland—the corpus vile—the body that is to be considered; and the reiterated voice of Ireland is in favour of our policy. Both the Mover and the Seconder seem to think that that is of little account. They talked about the beneficence of Mr. Balfour's last policy, but that 39 beneficent policy has not in the slightest degree reversed the views of Ireland, which to the extent of four-fifths has declared in favour of her Majesty's late Government. I do not wish to found any argument on these facts, or to make any recriminatory statement. I bow before the national will. [A laugh.] I do not analyse the component parts; I bow before it, and I recognise that for some time it will be the fate of me and and those who feel with me to act rather as observers than as active factors in political facts. We shall be candid observers—not factious observers, but careful observers—of the conduct of the present Government. I recognise to the fullest extent the verdict which the country, more effusively stated by the noble Duke, has given against the late Government; but I think the country has been a little too rapid in passing its verdict, and I am inclined to think that, when the history of the late Government comes to be written, a most impartial view will be taken and the verdict of the elections reversed. I see that the Duke of Argyll—whom I am sorry not to see in his place, for I understand from him that he is always here when useful work has to be done—I see that he stigmatised the conduct of the late Government as infamous. That is very strong language—even for a honeymoon. [Much laughter.] But we know the noble Duke. It is only pretty Fanny's way. He lives on expletives, and, as the salamander lives in flames, he seems to thrive on it. We do not complain of his verdict. We knew it. We had it before and we shall not protest against it, but although the verdict of the Duke of Argyll and the verdict of the country go against us, and although we are to be relegated to a position of comparative quiet and comparative nonentity, we remain faithful to our principles. We believe in our policy, and we are as convinced as ever that in the long run those principles and that policy are destined to prevail. ["Hear, hear!"] It is quite possible that in some respect those principles may in the future have to be differently applied. It is possible, and, indeed, it is natural, that, as we have learned much from what has taken place in the country, there must be a variation in Liberal policy, but there will be no variation in Liberal principles. 40 I am not one of those who have greatly believed in or greatly criticised that very long list of reforms which I found adopted by the Liberal leaders in 1891, and I confess I do think it is a strategical mistake to attempt to condense the creed of a lifetime into the manifesto of the moment, and it is one the Liberal party is not likely to repeat. [Laughter.] That is our position. I do not wish to dilate upon it. It is not mentioned in the Queen's Speech, and I am not a formalist in these matters; but may I ask, if that is our position what is yours? I do not think that any Government has ever occupied a more striking position in the history of England. You have entrusted to you by far the greatest measure of power that has ever been given to a single Government. It is true, I think, that the Whig majority in 1833 was a somewhat larger majority in the House of Commons, but it had not the control of the House of Lords. Your position is this—that you have an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons, and you have a monopoly of the House of Lords. You have both branches of the Legislature, so to speak, at your feet, and, what is still more striking and still more extraordinary, you have arrived at this pitch of power with carte blanche to do what you like. ["Hear, hear!"] I have not been able to discover, with the exactness which the Mover and the Seconder have arrived at, what is the policy other than a negative policy which is supposed to be embodied in the results of the late General Election. I shall be very glad for any revelation of that policy. I do not press for it, because I recognise it as quite reasonable that the Government should wish to have time to look round them, more especially when the Cabinet is a little Parliament in itself. [A laugh.] But I do demur somewhat to the view of the noble Duke and the noble Earl who say first it is a verdict in support of your Lordships' House, and again that it is a verdict entirely hostile to Home Rule. I am not sure that a question on which they did not touch at all—the retailing and the control of spirituous liquors—had not more to do with the Election—[Laughter]—than either of the topics to which they alluded; and I am rather surprised that in their survey of the field of politics they avoided so 41 inviting and fascinating a subject. [Laughter.] I was away, and I really have no means, even if I had been here, of keeping an eye on the 670 constituencies of the United Kingdom, and so I can only narrate my own solitary experience with regard to the result of the Election. The other day I happened to be paying a visit to Newmarket on business wholly unconnected with politics—[Laughter]—and it was paid the day after the declaration of the poll. I watched very eagerly for symptoms of the working of the great mind of the country in this electoral process. There were no Liberal placards—they had been, I think, exterminated in the festivities of the previous evening—[Laughter]—and there were only two Conservative placards. I can remember them textually; they are borne deep on my mind. The first was:—"Vote for M'Calmont and better employment." Now, my Lords, better employment is not a constitutional question or a question of Home Rule. I entirely concur with the placard in saying that better employment is greatly to be desired, and if the return of Mr. M'Calmont for the Newmarket Division of Cambridgeshire will, as was promised, secure that boon I for one shall not deplore it. I do not know that that is the policy of the Government, but, of course, so startling a placard made me enter into some researches, and I see that no less a Member of the Government than the Secretary for the Colonies said that—his view of the programme of the present Government''—he said this at Sellyoak—was that what was wanted, in his opinion, was legislation which would improve trade, legislation which would increase employment, and which would tend to sustain and even increase wages.Well, I rejoice in this programme. It has received high authoritative sanction. It does not rest, as I had apprehended it did, entirely on the authority of Mr. M'Calmont, and though I delight in the object to be attained, I shall be very curious as to the means by which it is proposed to encompass it. What was the other topic to which my attention was called? It was, "Vote for M'Calmont and no taxes on food or beer." Well, I 42 do not know if that is a revelation of the fiscal policy of the Government; but, at any rate, I think your Lordships will agree with me that in neither of the two placards on which the appeal was made to the Newmarket Division of Cambridgeshire—and I am sure my friends the Lord President of the Council and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland will confirm my impression—in neither of those appeals did the subject of the House of Lords or Home Rule enter into the calculations of the candidate. Well, my Lords, let us go to higher authority than Mr. M'Calmont—and I hope it is understood that I am saying nothing derogatory to him in quoting my experience of his election—I am sure he will make a most excellent and efficient member of Parliament, as he has been excellent and efficient in every department of life he has undertaken. But let us go to a higher than even the authority of Mr. M'Calmont for some revelation of what the policy of the Government may be. I declare that I am at my wits' end. We know that there must be a Bill for the exclusion of aliens, because that precious measure is still in your Lordships' recollection when it was brought in with the full vigour and authority of the noble Marquess, and with the support of the whole Party at his back. And we know also—and that is the only other point on which we have any authoritative revelation of the policy of the noble Marquess—that we must have an increased expenditure on small-arms ammunition, even though the experts at the War Office declare that such expenditure is not needed. Well, my Lords, a policy of the exclusion of aliens, which is a novelty in England, and a policy of cordite cartridges is about as blank a sheet of paper as any that can be presented to Parliament. The developments promised by the Mover and Seconder of the Address are not, I fear, authoritative; and we must expect something more from the noble Marquess. But, my Lords, with this great power that is devolved upon you there is a great responsibility. I do not envy you your power simply because of the overwhelming responsibility which it entails. You cannot neglect the questions which lie unsolved around you. You have a mandate to deal with British policy which no other Government has ever received; and as the blessing of 43 this country will follow you if you are successful in dealing with those questions, heavy will be the condemnation if you fall short of your opportunity. [Cheers.] It is not for me to raise those questions to-night, but I must ask your attention to two of them. The first is that of this House. Do you propose to do nothing with regard to this House? I know it is said by irresponsible speakers that the House of Lords is cleared by this election. My Lords, the Tory Party arrogates to itself—I will not say rightly or wrongly—the proud boast of being the guardian of our Constitution. It is at least 100 years since Mr. Burke foresaw the fatal weakness that the House of Lords was in the Constitution; and if I may say so, if it is a weakness in the Constitution, it is even a party weakness to yourselves. It does not appeal to the country to be told that the Tory Government has one stronghold in Parliament from which no ebullition of the popular will can ever drive it, and I hope—I hope it on the most public grounds—that the noble Marquess and his Cabinet will not neglect the opportunity that lies before them to set this House in order. My Lords, there is another question that has been alluded to by both the previous speakers—the question of Ireland. May I say one word of a personal character with regard to Ireland? I have been directly challenged by the principal Ministerial organ to repeat in my place to-night the words which I uttered when I first held the office now occupied by the noble Marquess—words which I will not recapitulate, but which have become tolerably familiar to your ears and intolerably familiar to mine [laughter] by the phrase "the predominant partner." My Lords, I acknowledge that those words were spoken on the spur of the moment, but I also declare that they embodied the result of my deepest and most conscientious convictions. [Ministerial Cheers.] I have never withdrawn from them, and I never will withdraw from them, because they represent the common sense of the Irish question. ["Hear, hear!"] But I do not draw the inference from them that The Times appears to draw. I do not regard this 44 election as finally settling the attitude of England with regard to self-government in Ireland. We are told that the passage which followed "the predominant partner" alluded to the fact, which I believe to be a true fact, that the fate of Ireland is largely in her own hands, and that in the conduct and in the attitude of the Irish Party and the Irish people rest their best hopes of attaining the objects which they have at heart. But I cannot see for my part that the schisms of the Irish Party, partial and incomplete as those schisms are, constitute an ineradicable proof of their unfitness to manage their own local concerns. My Lords, we are not unanimous in England, Scotland, and Wales. We are divided into sharper factions than even those which rend and distract Ireland, and if it be true, as I do not even admit it to be true, that the Irish differences are expressed with more Celtic vehemence than our differences are expressed, at any rate, I think we may take that as a proof that we do not, and never shall, thoroughly understand the Irish character, and that our best hopes for seeing Irish business—distinctly Irish business—satisfactorily carried on is by means of the Irish themselves—that is the deliberate conviction at which I have arrived. ["Hear, hear!"] I am convinced that you in your time will yet have to acknowledge it, and that you also will yet have to see self-government extended not merely to Ireland, but possibly to Scotland as well, and I would not even limit the devolution to those two countries. I fully admit that we have got to bring more conviction than has hitherto been the case to the heart and the mind of "the predominant partner," but I differ from The Times in thinking that that conviction will not yet be brought. My Lords, you, at any rate, even with your vast majority, cannot be said to have settled the Irish question. ["Hear, hear!"] You cannot rest on the mere negative policy of maintaining the Union. There is a sentence of the shortest in an author to whom Unionist and Tory orators are fond of appealing—I mean Lord Macaulay, a bitter opponent of what he called repeal of the Union—which I think I must cite to your Lordships. He says, speaking of Mr. Pitt's policy 45 (it is the thing we have all said frequently, but few of us have the art to say it as well as Lord Macaulay)—Unhappily, of all his projects for the benefit of Ireland, the Union alone was carried into effect, and therefore that Union was a Union only in name.You cannot continue to exist as a Government on a policy of maintaining that which one of the greatest supporters of the Union called a Union only in name. ["Hear, hear!"] You must legislate for Ireland. You are sending a Member of the Cabinet to govern her. You have as Lord Chancellor in Ireland another Member of the Cabinet. May we not hope that you by these indications are showing to us you are not indifferent to the problem of Ireland, and you, at any rate in regard to that great question, are determined to legislate for Ireland, not, as was formerly the case, in absolute disregard of Irish opinions and ideas, but with some respect to the tendencies of the nation you have to govern. ["Hear, hear!"] My Lords, I have to apologise to you for detaining you so long. I am immeasurably impressed by your great power and your great responsibility. I grudge you, as I have said, neither the one nor the other. I would rather hope and pray—in the spirit of a patriot, I hope, rather than the spirit of a politician—that abundance of wisdom and strength may be given you to use your great power and your unexampled opportunities in the fullest measure for the benefit of the nation. [Cheers.]
§ The MARQUESS OF SALISBURY,
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Prime Minister), who was received with Ministerial cheers, said: I naturally commence my observations in reply to the noble Lord by expressing my very hearty concurrence in the just and eloquent compliment which he paid my two noble Friends behind me. May I be permitted to rejoice that two of the hereditary Members of this House, bearing names among the most illustrious of those which it contains, have shown so much power of Debate and so high a promise of future eloquence and fame? ["Hear, hear!"] The noble Lord complained that the Speech was a very short one. It appears to me that a short Speech befits a short Session, and that 46 where there is not very much to be done it is not necessary to spend many words in describing what we have undertaken.["Hear, hear!"] The noble Lord had in him the stirrings of a long and mighty oration, and I am afraid he felt the Speech was an inadequate pedestal on which to lift it up. [A laugh.] The noble Lord's complaints were principally complaints of his own ignorance. He dwelt much upon his ignorance of what was our policy in Chitral, and he showed that ignorance by imputing to it features which it certainly does not possess. He blamed us for increasing the military expenditure of India. We do not intend to increase the military expenditure of India. He blamed us for increasing the military force that is at the command of the Indian Government. We have no intention of increasing the military force at the command of the Indian Government. He blamed us for breaking the language of the Proclamation which one of Her Majesty's generals had made. We entirely deny that anything we have done, or intend to do, can, by the very harshest construction, be construed to break the promises into which we have entered. ["Hear, hear!"] On all these matters the noble Lord was in error. I do not blame him, for he has had no means of information; but I should have thought, merely as a question of the economy of time, it would have been better to reserve his attack on the policy of the Government in Chitral until papers are laid on the table which show what that policy has been. ["Hear, hear!"] I shall not attempt to extemporise a minute description of the measures which have been recommended by the Government of India, or point out to what extent, and in what respect they have been accepted and sanctioned by the Government at home. I imagine that papers will be very speedily in your Lordships' hands which will show the precise boundaries and limits of our policy in that respect. I will only say this, that we held the abandonment of Chitral to be, if it was defensible as a question of physical strategy, most unwise as a question of moral strategy, and that it would have had, in our judgment, a detrimental effect upon the tribes which lie between the occupied ground and the outer frontiers of India, 47 which would not have been without influence on the course of future events, and the development of future dangers, and which certainly were sufficiently serious to make us hesitate to adopt a policy of abandonment for which we found no sufficient argument in the papers that were left to us by our predecessors. ["Hear, hear!"] My Lords, in the same manner the noble Lord has gone largely into the question of the Bills that we intend to introduce. Would it not be, again, as an economy of time, more simple to wait till next Session of Parliament, when these Bills will be introduced? They cannot be introduced now, and does the noble Lord seriously imagine that we shall describe them before they have come into existence? [Laughter.] I am not going to follow him into a very wide area of his observations. They certainly are not justified by the character of the Speech, and I do not know that any advantage is gained from travelling beyond the limits of the Speech into such large and extensive disquisitions upon the policy which it is possible for us to adopt. I shall not describe our intentions with respect to the constitution of this House or with respect to the adoption of Home Rule. I shall not even describe our intentions with respect to the liquor traffic, on which the noble Lord was so anxious to have received more of a lead from my noble friends behind me. All these things, no doubt, will come up for discussion at the proper time when we have before us the materials on which discussion can be based. When we have produced a Reform Bill for the House of Lords it will be time enough to discuss it. [Laughter.] When we have sketched our mode of granting Home Rule to Ireland it will be time enough to discuss it. ["Hear, hear!"] When we have made a fresh incursion into that perilous and thorny country which is occupied by the champions and the adversaries of the liquor traffic—when we have done that, again our propositions will be subject to the discussion of the noble Lord, but I do not think it is my business to improvise for him on this occasion a series of legislative measures on these questions. I should prefer to make a few observations—and they shall be very few—upon the matters which have been alluded to in the Speech, and, in the first 48 place, I must join with the noble Earl in expressing the horror with which we have heard of the terrible events in China. Without dwelling on the fact that those who have suffered those terrible crimes are ministers of religion, looking upon them merely as travellers, British subjects enjoying certain rights under treaty engagements with the Chinese Government, we have a right to feel the deepest indignation at the horrible treatment to which they have been subjected. ["Hear, hear!"] I am bound to say that that feeling, so far as we know, is fully shared by the Chinese Government itself. The Emperor of China caused his Minister at this Court to convey to me the extreme horror and indignation with which he had heard the news and his resolution to bring to speedy and condign justice those who are guilty of these atrocious crimes. I quite agree with the view the noble Lord advanced—or was it by my noble Friend behind me?—that it is not only those who were the actual perpetrators of the crime, but also those whose connivance or carelessness may have created the opportunity for the perpetration of the crimes ought equally to be brought under punishment. At present we have every reason to believe that the Chinese Government is earnest in its desire to measure out to them the justice they deserve. Of course, if any different indications shall arise, our duty may alter. ["Hear, hear!"] At present our duty is to urge the Chinese Government to put the machinery of justice in motion and visit the due penalty upon the crimes that have been committed, to support it in that action; and if any neglect or lukewarmness shall be afterwards discoverable, it will be our duty to try and supply its defects in that respect. ["Hear, hear!"] At present there is the most meagre possible information. The crime only took place a fortnight ago, and all we know is that her Majesty's Consul, accompanied by an escort, has gone down to the scene of the murder, and we know that the Emperor of China has also sent a largo military escort in attendance upon officers whose business it is to investigate the crime. Until we receive further details from them it is impossible for us to say more. With respect to Armenia, the observations made by the noble Earl 49 are so completely in harmony with those I wish to make that I need not dwell upon them long. We have accepted the policy which our predecessors had initiated; we have done our best to carry it out. ["Hear, hear!"] We have received a certain amount of assurance that reforms will be set on foot in those districts which have most suffered, and we believe that for the present there is no danger of these terrible disturbances or horrible crimes being renewed. But what at present we have not succeeded in obtaining is an adequate guarantee for the execution of these reforms. It is to that object that our efforts must be directed. Up to this point we have received the most loyal and complete support from the Governments of France and Russia—["hear, hear!"]—and they have expressed their earnest desire to maintain their co-operation with us throughout. [Cheers.] If the Sultan has interposed delays, procrastination, excuses which do not seem to us valid and do not seem to us wise, it is, unfortunately, in obedience to a delusion by which Turkish Governments have been for too long guided. His one fear appears to be lest he should do anything which would sacrifice the apparent independence of his country. It is a noble sentiment, to which we desires to give every sympathy, but the independence of Turkey, though it is written in the public law of Europe, though it is guaranteed by the treaties of Berlin and Paris, is yet a very special kind of independence; it is independence that exists by reason of the agreement of other Powers that they will not interfere with it, and that they will maintain it: and the danger, of course, which the Powers have felt from the first time that this policy was initiated has been lest in maintaining the Turkish Empire, in protecting it from the possible ambitions of other Powers, in giving to it a stability which it would not naturally possess—their fear has been lest they should be upholding a mechanism which did not work for human hapiness and progress, but rather showed tendencies towards weak government and towards free license to the antagonism of creed and of race which has for so many centuries been the curse of the provinces of the Turkish Empire. Europe has maintained the Turkish Empire, and yet, by the stipulations it has constantly 50 exacted, it has shown its apprehension lest, by giving to it factitious stability, it might produce more misery than benefit to the human race. How long the present state of things will go on I confess appears to me more doubtful than it did twenty years ago. The noble Lord himself said that the permanence of the Sultan's rule was involved in the conduct that he pursued. If, generation after generation, cries of misery come up from various parts of the Turkish Empire, I am sure the Sultan cannot blind himself to the probability that Europe will at some time or other become weary of the appeals that are made to it, and the factitious strength that is given to his Empire will fail it. I have earnestly tried to impress upon the Turkish Government the extreme gravity of the conduct which it has pursued; but at the same time to impress upon it that there is no Government more anxious to maintain the Ottoman Empire than the English Government. If I may speak for a moment of partisan matters, there is no Party more anxious than that with which I have the honour to be connected to maintain the integrity and the independence of the Ottoman Empire, which is sanctioned by treaties. The Sultan will make a grave and calamitous mistake if, for the sake of maintaining a mere formal independence, for the sake of resisting a possible encroachment on his nominal prerogatives, he refuses to accept the assistance and to listen to the advice of the European Powers in extirpating from his dominions an anarchy and a weakness which no treaties and no sympathy will prevent from being fatal in the long run to the Empire over which he rules. [Cheers.] My Lords, I do not wish to dilate upon any of the domestic matters which the noble Lord has brought before us, and I will not even stop to repudiate any imputatations of extravagant joy he attributes to us at the results of the late General Election. I should have thought his own experience—an experience which he expressed in somewhat forcible language just before the dissolution—would have told him that that exultation must be a very qualified emotion on our part; but I do not agree with him that we cannot draw some lesson from this Election. It is, no doubt, an incident in our Constitution—I think it is, perhaps, a defect— 51 that when the great oracle speaks we are never quite certain what the great oracle said, and that consequently an appeal to the people has only this one certain feature about it, that we shall not know to which of the many litigations we have submitted to them the words "Yes" or "No" have been returned by the great jury on whose verdict we depend. But in the present case we, at all events in this House, have a right to remember that the Election interested us in an especial degree. On the last occasion—before the dissolution—that I had the honour of addressing the House I called the attention of the House to the peculiar character which the late Prime Minister himself, in the most earnest and emphatic language, had attached to the Election that was coming on. Then the noble Lord would not tolerate the idea that it was to be an election on beer, or an election even upon Home Rule; it was to be an election only upon one subject, and that was what he was pleased to call the legislative preponderance of the House of Lords. He told us the House of Lords put the Liberal Party into manacles, and he told us that one great object of the Election was to prevent that state of things from continuing.I can understand,said the noble Lord at the Eighty Club,your asking, when I have got to this pitch, what is it for which you wish concentration? For what purpose do you demand a majority? You say you cannot present a dozen great questions in line. Is there one question that embraces and involves them all? I say there is. I say that question is the question of the domination of the House of Lords. That is the question—I do not speak as a leader, but as an individual and as a Liberal—that is the question, I say, on which I am pledged to fight the Election of 1895.I presume the noble Lord fulfilled this pledge.That is a question,he went on,which permanently controls the Liberal Party, which relegates the Liberal Party, except in an overwhelming majority in some single matter, to impotence in the councils of the nation. That is a question which involves and concentrates in itself all those other causes in which you specially may bear a particular interest.52 That was not the only appeal the noble Lord made; I have quoted it to him before. At Bradford he, in the most emphatic language, declared that the one subject for the next Election was to be the position of the House of Lords. Well, the Election has taken place. The reply of the nation has been as emphatic, probably more emphatic, than the reply of the nation ever was before. I quite agree with him, we cannot certainly say what was in the minds of the electors; but I think we may certainly say this—that they do not see in the position which the House of Lords has asserted for itself, in the position which it occupies with respect to the parties of the State or the legislation of the country—they do not see any evil which should induce them to protest, or any object for which they should modify the votes that on other subjects they might be inclined to give when they are summoned to the poll. That is putting it very low indeed. My belief is that this strong disinclination to interfere with the great foundations of our Constitutional system has much to do with the decision at which the people have arrived, and I think we may class this great appeal which has been carried from the House of Lords to the people with the other great appeal with which the noble Lord of all men is most familiar, the appeal that was made against Mr. Pitt 110 years ago, when again the forces of the Radical Party were directed indignantly against the House of Lords, supported then by the eloquence which the noble Lord has quoted of the great leader, Mr. Burke. They were referred to the country in all confidence, as now, by the Radical Party; and then, as now, the country returned emphatically the answer that they saw nothing to complain of in the action of the House of Lords, and they would not allow the institutions of the country to be disturbed. [Cheers.]
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
The noble Marquess remembers it was a Tory Party as well as a Radical Party, a Tory Party led by Lord North in coalition with the party led by Mr. Fox.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not know that the Tory Party looked upon Lord North's proceedings as authoritative.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
If the noble Lord tells me that Mr. Pitt was a Radical I can only bow to his superior knowledge.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
This is my answer to the criticisms which the noble Lord has passed upon this Election. I do not in the least dispute the sources of comfort he has. I am quite aware of the existence of the pendulum. I do not suppose the pendulum has stopped swinging for our particular benefit, but if the noble Lord chooses to hitch on the pendulum his impracticable scheme of Home Rule he will find it will not swing so freely or so abundantly in his direction as otherwise he might have a right to expect. He must shake off that encumbrance of Home Rule if he wishes to lead a powerful Liberal Party again in Office; and I thought I observed in his speech this evening a not indistinct indication that he had some such project in view. [Laughter.] But what the Election is remarkable for is the appeal that has been made to the people upon a special and great organic question. It is a very serious difficulty in our Constitution that we have no special protection for the organic laws upon which our Constitution rests. Every other popular Constitution of the world we find surrounded with some special protection for the great fundamental measures upon which their polity is based. We have no such protection. They can be destroyed in a night by the House of Commons, if the protection of the House of Lords is not able to uphold them. But the great value of such appeals and such decisions is this—that they are not advertisement to the Liberal Parties of the future that constant revolution is not the political food upon which the English people desire to be fed. [Cheers.] Parliament exists for other things. The tinkering at the mechanism of the Constitution is at the best an evil necessity, and cannot be more than an exceptional proceeding. The Liberal Party have committed fault in believing that for all time they were to uproot, and uproot, and uproot, and that no other result is to come from the political exertions of their followers, and from the efforts that are made by even the two bodies of the Legislature. The 54 great lesson of this Election is to dissipate that doctrine to the winds. We may be successful or we may fail in our efforts to ameliorate the condition of the people by the social legislation that we shall propose. We can only do our best, and trust to a candid judgment. But whether we succeed or whether we shall fail, it is proclaimed to both Parties that, in the main, from henceforth, they must fight within bounds of the Constitution; and that it is not the rearrangement of political machinery, but it is the improvement of the daily life of struggling millions and the diminution of the sorrows that so many are condemned to bear, which is the task—the blessed task—that Parliaments are called into existence to perform; and which, I trust, with the noble Lord, that—whether this Government is in power, or any other Government—henceforth all Governments will feel to be the highest, the exclusive duty that any statesmen, or advisers of the Queen, or Leaders of Parliamentary Parties can be called upon or privileged to perform. [Cheers]
§ * EARL COWPER
said that, as he would not have any other opportunity of doing so for five months, he rose to call attention to a question which, as it had not assumed a party character, was not so much discussed as many other matters. He meant the establishment of a great teaching university for the great Metropolis of London. He would only touch upon the necessity for such a University—which, indeed, was widely acknowledged—and would not enter at all into the particular plan for the establishment of such a University, which was before Parliament when Parliament was dissolved. Everybody was agreed that it was a positive disgrace that the great population of London was not possessed of that which almost every Capital in Europe possessed—a great teaching University, because they could not call by that name the University of London, which was merely an examining board, well as it did its work, and eminent as were the people connected with it, and which, in spite of its name, had no more to do with London than it had to do with the rest of the United Kingdom. What was wanted was that for which for years thinking people were striving, namely, that there should be a proper and 55 economical system of teaching, which would apply to poor as well as to rich, and which would conduct the student from point to point up to that final examination which could only be considered the crowning of the whole, and by which the stamp of a completed education would be conferred. He would not go into the plan proposed by the Commission of which he had the honour to be chairman. He would only say—and as he was only one out of its thirteen Members, he could say it without any vanity—that it was a strong Commission, and that it had represented every kind of difference of opinion which had up to that time been formed on the subject. Those who had considered the matter might be grouped into three parties. First, there were those in favour of the scheme put forward by the Senate of the University of London, by which that body was to undertake the work, and by which it was to be affiliated to the different educational institutions interested in the question. Then there were the advocates of the professorial system, at the head of which was Professor Huxley, that distinguished man whose loss the country had lately to mourn. This body wished that all the existing institutions should be absorbed into one whole, and their funds appropriated; their duties undertaken and everything done by a professorial body. The third body consisted of those who advocated that the existing London University should be left as it was, and that a new University should be formed by the junction of University College, King's College, and the ten medical schools of the country. Those three bodies were heard at great length before the Commission, and also every other kind of evidence they thought could possibly help them to come to a decision on the question. Indeed, the Commission had been blamed for admitting too much evidence—evidence of a discursive character, but that was a fault on the right side. The hearing of evidence occupied the Commission 60 days and they met on 50 other days merely for discussion. The consequence was, that they talked themselves into unanimity, and their Report which was part of their joint labours, was received with approval by all the bodies he had 56 mentioned, by all the different institutions interested in the question, by Professor Huxley and those whom he represented, by those who had originally advocated a second University, by the Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal College of Physicians, and by the Senate of the University of London, although that Senate would come to an end if the plan of the Commission were to come into operation. Even those members of Convocation who had anything to do with London, and were, therefore, able to attend its meetings, after along discussion in which some difference of opinion was removed, had expressed themselves in favour of the plan. It was quite true that what might be called the Country Members of Convocation, those who lived at a distance and were only able to vote by proxy, were, by a majority, of a different opinion, chiefly because of a mistaken notion that the degree which they had taken and of which they were so proud, would in future be diminished in value. But he maintained that if the plan of the Commission were adopted the wishes of everybody connected with London would be carried out. His object in bringing forward the matter now was that he was afraid that this unanimity of opinion might not possibly continue to exist in the same degree in the future. The mere fact that so many people in London were anxious about the matter necessarily tended to create divisions of opinion on small matters, and these divisions would have a tendency to increase as long as the question was left open. He therefore regretted that steps had not been taken sooner by the Government in regard to the plan of the Commission. This matter had been long before the country. Six years ago a Commission was appointed, under the late Lord Selborne, and it reported on the same lines as the late Commission had reported. For two years nothing was done. Then three and a half years ago another Commission, over which he bad the honour of presiding, was appointed. That, after sitting for two years, reported to Parliament, but nothing had been done yet. If in the Session before last a Bill had been brought forward to carry out the recommendations of the Commission, it would have slipped through utterly unopposed 57 and with as little difficulty as an ordinary Private Bill. Even last Session a Bill would easily have passed if Parliament had not come to an untimely end, and the Bill, which he was grateful to the late Government for bringing in, would have become law. He could not, of course, hope that in the present short Session anything would be done, although he wished that it could. But if an expression of opinion could be elicited from Her Majesty's Ministers to say that they were disposed to regard this subject favourably, that declaration, together with the fact that the late Government brought in a Bill on the subject—showing that both sides were unanimous—would have the effect of preventing those new differences of opinion arising which he deprecated, and would encourage the hopes of those who now for many years had been striving under every kind of difficulty for this end, and who would be assured that the question would not be again indefinitely postponed.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE (Lord President of the Council)
My noble Friend was good enough to inform me of his intention to call attention to this question; and I was obliged to tell him that, although this would perhaps be the most convenient opportunity, if he desired to say anything on the subject during the present Session, there was only one answer which could possibly be given to him on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. It has been stated in the Queen's Speech itself, and repeatedly in the course of this Debate, that under the present circumstances Her Majesty's Government intend to proceed with no legislative measures whatever, except such as are absolutely necessary for carrying on the business of the country. My noble Friend is perfectly well aware that it would be quite impossible to carry out a settlement of this question without legislation. As he has stated, a Bill was introduced by the late Government for the purpose of carrying out the recommendations of his Commission, but was not proceeded with, even to the Second Reading. It would be quite impossible 58 to make an exception from the general rule, which has been universally acquiesced in, and now to introduce legislation on this subject, which cannot be said to be of first and most urgent necessity. I may state that, like our predecessors, we are strongly convinced of the desirability and even of the necessity of meeting the views which have been expressed in favour of the establishment of a Teaching University for London, and I am sure that Her Majesty's Government and the country are deeply indebted to my noble Friend and his colleagues for the immense amount of labour and trouble which they have expended in examining this question. But while we are entirely at one with our predecessors in desiring the establishment of such a teaching University, my noble Friend is rather under a misapprehension as to the degree of unanimity which exists in regard to the mode by which that teaching University shall be established. My noble Friend has mentioned the unanimity with which the present scheme has been received by many important bodies in the country, but he has passed over somewhat lightly the strong objection taken to the scheme by a large and not unimportant section of Convocation. It has not been possible for any of my colleagues to look into this matter very closely, and I am afraid that, as it is impossible to legislate at present, it would be premature on my part to commit the Government wholly to the scheme in the shape proposed by his Commission. I can only assure my noble Friend that the subject will receive careful attention on the part of Her Majesty's Government before Parliament meets again for legislative business; and that we are fully aware of the deep obligations under which the country has been placed by the very large amount of trouble which my noble Friend has given to the discussion of the question.
Address agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.