HL Deb 16 July 1896 vol 42 cc1576-613

rose to move— That Her Majesty having directed a military expedition of her Native Forces charged upon the Revenues of India to he dispatched to Africa in aid of the Egyptian troops, this House consents that the ordinary pay of any troops so dispatched, as well as the ordinary charges of any vessels belonging to the Government of India that may be employed in this expedition, which would have been charged upon the resources of India if such troops or vessels had remained in that country or seas adjacent, shall continue to be so chargeable; provided that if it shall become necessary to replace the troops or vessels so withdrawn by other vessels or native forces, then the expenses of raising, maintaining, and providing such vessels and forces shall, in so far as may not be otherwise provided, be repaid out of any moneys which may be provided by Parliament for the purpose of the said expedition. His Lordship said that the terms of the Motion to which he asked their Lordships' assent informed them that Her Majesty had directed a military expedition of her native forces charged on the revenues of India to be dispatched to Africa. That expedition consisted of the 1st Bombay Lancers, the 26th Regiment of Infantry from the Punjab, the 35th Bengal Infantry, the 5th Bombay Mountain Battery, and a company of Madras Sappers and Miners. The troops, therefore, had been taken from all parts of India, and had been selected from among the most efficient portion of the Indian Army. They had done good service either in Abyssinia or in Afghanistan, and were commanded by General Egerton, an officer of great experience. He had to ask their Lordships' assent to the Resolution, because an Act was passed in 1858 for the better government of India, in which there was a clause to the effect that except for preventing or repelling actual invasion in India, or under circumstances of urgent necessity, the revenues of India should not, without the consent of Parliament, be applied to defray the expenses of any military expedition beyond the frontiers of India. The history of that clause was that when the Bill was passed through the other House of Parliament a clause was proposed by Mr. Gladstone to the effect that, unless the consent of Parliament was given, for the purposes of war the Indian forces of Her Majesty charged on the Indian revenues should not be employed in any operation beyond the external frontier, and when that Bill came up to their Lordships' House an Amendment was moved by the late Lord Derby, who was Prime Minister at the time, and who thought it not necessary to do more than apply a financial check to such an exercise of power. The effect of the clause, therefore, as it stood, was that the consent of Parliament was required, not before the Indian Army could be employed beyond the frontier, but before the revenues of India could be applied in the payment of such an expedition. A Resolution similar to the one he had placed before their Lordships had been passed by the other House, and it was not by any means the first time that such a Resolution had been brought before Parliament. As a general rule, the circumstances under which those expeditions had been conducted were precisely the same as in the present case—that was to say, that the revenues of India bore the ordinary charges of the expedition and the revenues of Great Britain the extraordinary charges. There were one or two exceptions to that, notably in two very important and unusual cases. One was at the time when India was prostrated after a great internal struggle, and the other was when the troops were required for purely European purposes, and upon those two occasions no part of the expenses was charged on the revenues of India. But, as he had already said, the usual practice had been to adopt the plan of the Resolution he had submitted. He would recount the several occasions upon which expeditions of Indian troops had within fairly recent times been sent out of India. The first occasion was in 1839, when an expedition was sent to China. That was in the days of the East India Company, whose duty it was to be regardful of the pockets of their shareholders, and when India was under the control of that company. It was suggested at that time that the revenues of India should bear no part of the expense, but the East India Company recognised that it was unreasonable that they should be paid for hiring out troops, and, in consequence, it was ultimately decided that the cost should be shared in the same proportion as that now proposed. In the case of the expedition to Persia the expenses were shared in the same proportion as was now proposed. At the time of the expeditions to China, in 1858 and 1859, the resources of India had just been tried to the utmost by the Mutiny, and it was not thought possible or desirable or right to impose any part of the charges of those expeditions upon the revenues of India. In the case of the Abyssinian War, India bore the ordinary charges and England the extraordinary charges of the Indian troops; in the case of the expedition to Persia, the charges were divided on the same principle between the two countries. The expedition to Malta in 1878 was another of the exceptional cases to which he had referred. Nobody at that time contended that the bringing of troops from India to Malta was very considerably in the interests of India, and, therefore, no burden was placed on the finances of India in respect to the bringing of the troops to Malta. Then came the two cases of expeditions to Egypt. The first was in the year 1882, when Arabi Pasha was threatening our communications with the East. It was proposed at the time that, inasmuch as the interests of India were manifestly affected by what was going on, the whole of the charges should be placed on her resources; but it was subsequently decided by Parliament that India should bear 60 per cent. and England 40 per cent. of the extraordinary expenses. The second expedition was in 1885, when there were, as now, troubles in the Soudan, and when precisely the same arrangement was given effect to as that now proposed. There was one satisfactory feature about the present controversy, and it was that it had never been suggested that it was not right or proper India should be called upon to furnish some part of her troops. The Government and people of India recognised that the Indian Army was a part of Her Majesty's Army—["Hear, hear!"]—and they responded with alacrity to the call for troops. While he rejoiced that this was so, he could not but regret that trouble should have arisen as to whether India should share with England the duty of safeguarding the great highway which lay between the two countries. India had been asked to send 1 per cent. of an Army, the whole cost of which was 242,000,000 rupees. The pay of the troops sent out would be but 630,000 rupees for the six or seven months during which they would be employed. Suppose the 630,000 rupees were to be repaid into the Indian Exchequer during the last six months of the year, there would be, on March 31st 1897, 630,000 rupees more in the balance available in the reduction of the amount to be borrowed for public works. Supposing that so small a sum as that could affect the loan, the annual saving to the Indian taxpayers would be 19,000 rupees, or about £1,100. Was it possible for any person to conceive that such a sum as that, distributed amongst the many million people in India, could enable the Indian peasant to increase his comforts by so much as a single pinch of salt? It had been said that this was not a question of amount but one of principle. [Cheers and counter cheers.] The real and only question which divided us was whether India had or had not any interest in the stability of the Government in Egypt. The Government of India had consistently denied that they had any interest in Egypt, but they had admitted that in 1882 India was more interested in the safety of the Suez Canal and in the Government of Egypt than all Her Majesty's possessions on the eastern side of Africa put together; they complained that, while they were called upon to make some contribution, great colonies such as those of Australia had not been called upon to make a similar contribution. The Government of India must have forgotten that in 1880 New South Wales sent a contingent to help us in the Soudan, and annually contributed large sums for the purpose of maintaining in Australian waters a considerable squadron to defend, not only the commerce of Australia, but also that of Europe and India. What was the position of India in this matter? The great self-governing colonies had their Agents-General here, men who were well able to make a good bargain for their employers. The Foreign Powers had their Ambassadors and their Ministers, all of whom had the duty put upon them of making fair and equitable bargains with the English Exchequer. The Government of India had no such agent in this country outside the Government, and therefore it was the bounden duty of the Government of India to endeavour upon every occasion to obtain from the Imperial Exchequer the best terms they possibly could, and he did not think they could be looked upon as anything but advocates. The late Secretary of State for India advised the Government to accept the view of the Indian Government. He was rather surprised that such advice should come from that quarter when he remembered that the Government of which Sir Henry Fowler was a Member insisted upon the passing of the Cantonments Acts in opposition to the wishes of the Government of India, and that they acted in opposition to the Government of India in respect to the occupation of Chitral. If that doctrine was to hold good, the Government of India would be the only arbiter in cases upon the decision of which would rest the question of whether India should pay anything towards the defence of the Empire. Parliament expressly reserved to itself the power of acting as arbitrator between the Government of this country and the Government of India. Nor did Parliament act without being adequately advised. The Secretary of State for India was placed in the Cabinet, and defended the views of India in the great Council of the nation. The Secretary of State was advised by men of no less experience than those who advised the Viceroy. What had been the case in the present instance? By a large majority the Council of the Secretary of State had advised him to act in the way in which the Government had acted. Sir Alexander Arbuthnot had declared that the supremacy of Egypt in the Soudan was a direct and substantial concern for India. The Government recognised that, and certainly the stable and orderly Government of Egypt could not be established so long as a cruel barbarian had at his mercy the upper waters of the Nile. ["Hear, hear!"] Mr. Childers, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, said in 1882 that India might bear part of the cost then incurred, and Lord Kimberley, when he introduced a similar Motion in 1885, said there was no question that Egypt was a country in which India had a special interest. He wished next to direct attention to the consistent policy of this country with regard to the maintaining of communications with India by way of Egypt. Before this century dawned, when the East India Company was in power, when the trade between England and India was trifling in comparison with what it was now, it was thought necessary to dispatch an expedition to Egypt to cooperate with the English forces there. And when Nelson had defeated the French fleet he sent a special message to Bombay announcing the result, and the Company immediately sent him a present of£10,000. That was always the policy of the East India Company. The Government of India already exercised authority over places on the African Continent, and it was difficult to say where the interests of India ceased, and where those of England began. It might be said that the Canal was not now threatened, and that danger from the Dervishes was imaginary. He did not propose to give any opinion of his own as to the extent of that danger; he only referred their Lordships to the book of Sir Alfred Milner, a distinguished public servant, who was the close and confidential adviser of the Government when the noble Lord opposite was in power. In that book it was declared that there could be no permanent rest for Egypt so long as barbarism reigned and until order was re-established along the Nile for at least a considerable distance beyond Khartoum. They used to hear a good deal from the opposite side about the evacuation of Egypt, but he was happy to think that they did not hear so much said on that point since noble Lords opposite had been in Office. No one would dream of our leaving Egypt so long as there was an explosive barbarism along the banks of the Nile. He thought he had said enough as to the interests of India in Egypt, and he should only say a few words on the policy on the present occasion as compared with former expeditions sent to Egypt. The noble Lord then read several extracts from official records to show that on previous occasions decisions were arrived at by Parliament before the views of the Government of India were received. On the present occasion no decision was arrived at till the views of the Government of India had been received and carefully considered both by the India Council and by the Government. The loan of troops by India to England or by England to India had hitherto been fixed on no definite principles, but henceforth those principles would be clear and incontrovertible. There had been up to the present time no reciprocity between England and India in the matter, but henceforth the principle would be definitely settled. The Dispatch of the Secretary of State, dated June 30th last, said:— It may be laid down that on all occasions when the temporary loan of a military force is urgently required, either by Great Britain or by India, such assistance will be promptly given, so far as the ability, resources, and situation of either country at the time may permit. In the next place, it would seem to he established that, if the object for which such assistance is required is one in which the Government supplying the troops has no special interest beyond that which must be common to all members of the Empire, the whole cost of the force, so long as it is required, including both ordinary and extraordinary charges, must he borne by the Government that needs its assistance. In the third place, if the circumstances are such that the Government supplying the troops has a distinct and special interest in the matter at stake, then, although that interest may be less strong than that of the Government requiring assistance, the Government supplying the troops should be content to hear, in one form or another, a portion of the burden which the operations involve. Those were the principles which Her Majesty's Government had laid down, and they had already acted on them, for when troops were sent to Mombasa, the Government determined that although the Government of India had undoubtedly commercial interests in the country, yet those interests were not sufficient to justify them in throwing upon Indian revenues any portion of the burden. We had never governed India under what was known as the old Colonial system—the system which Spain pursued in respect to her plantations, and we had never drawn steady revenues from our great dependency. All the advantage we had derived from her had been in the expansion of our trade and the development of our commerce. India, before our rule, had always fallen a prey to the rapacious, and it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to protect the people of India, but to do so they had to lay a heavy cost on them. Was it too much to ask that some portion of the force which India maintained should be lent when occasion needed for the maintenance of her communication with her powerful protector? Her Majesty's Government were satisfied that in this case they were strictly acting on principles of equity and justice, and, although it would have been easy enough to have yielded to the demands of the Government of India, such a course would not have been in consonance with the duty they owed, not only to the Indian ryot, but also to the British taxpayer. He begged to move the Motion standing in his name.


said that in rising to oppose the Motion which the noble Earl had so eloquently proposed he would at once approach the question of whether India had a distinct and special interest beyond that which must be common to all Members of the Empire. A distinct and special interest in the Indian operations was proved by a chain of reasoning of which the accuracy struck him as very doubtful. India was interested in the free transit through the Suez Canal, but had the Khalifa any intention of threatening the Canal? To prove this the noble Earl had appealed to an interesting volume by Sir Alfred Milner. But he thought that even Sir Alfred Milner's ingenuity would find it difficult to discover arguments for the supposed aggressive attitude of the Khalifa in a northern direction. In their letter of March 15th the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury said that a stronger claim could be made out for the payment of the ordinary expenses of the regiment sent to Mombasa than for the retention of that charge upon Indian funds for the troops sent to Suakin. It followed that if the expenditure for the Mombasa regiment was wholly paid by this country, according to the Treasury, it should also be fully paid in this case. He claimed the Treasury as an ally for his contention. In referring to the Abyssinian expedition, Lord Lawrence was of opinion that— This was neither a question of hiring or lending, but simply one of payment by the country which employs the troops. He wrote— I cannot admit that India has the slightest interest in the question at issue between England and Theodore. We shall be neither stronger nor weaker out here, if he is duly punished for his misdeeds. What Lord Lawrence said of King Theodore applied to the Khalifa. When the troops were sent to Malta the whole cost was paid by the Imperial Government, and the payment of the ordinary expenses in the Perak expedition was not to be regarded as a precedent for any future case in which troops might be urgently required from the Indian Establishment for Imperial purposes. In 1882 the Government of India objected to pay the whole cost, but they were prepared to pay the ordinary expenses chiefly on the ground that India had a "material interest" in the canal. Finally India received £500,000 to meet an extraordinary expenditure of £1,058,852. Turning to the apportionment of the expenditure when Indian troops were dispatched in 1885 to Suakin; on January 17th, 1885, Lord Dufferin's Government used these words:— The operations taking place in the Soudan have no connection with any Indian interests, and lie altogether outside the sphere of our responsibilites. We can look for neither advantage nor loss from them. The pretensions and the aims of the leaders of the rising in Africa, are a matter of indifference to the Government of India, which is in no way interested in disputing or putting down by force the claims of political or religious pretenders in regions of the world remote from its own limits and from those of its neighbours. And further:— The disposal of Indian revenues for other purposes than those which are strictly connected with the legitimate needs of Indian expenditure is a matter which is watched with increasing concern by all sections of the community in this country. We cannot conceive a case in which the claims of the Indian taxpayer to entire exemption from all share in the cost are more overwhelmingly strong. That Dispatch was issued by Lord Dufferin, a recognised authority on the Egyptian Question, who would certainly not have expressed that opinion if he had considered that India had a substantial interest in the Suakin operations. In 1885, when the Government of the day decided to charge India, they had not before them this Dispatch, whereas the present Government were aware of the opinion of both Lord Dufferin's and Lord Elgin's Governments. But another important declaration was made on that occasion. The Secretary of State, Lord Cross, informed the Government of India on February 3rd, 1887:— That, in the event of any occasion hereafter arising for the employment of Indian troops on duties not directly attributable to the requirements of your Government or at a distance from India, no portion of the expense should be charged against India without your Excellency's concurrence. The Treasury had been informed on December 21st, 1886, and on January 19th replied that they:— make no doubt that, should the occasion again arise for employing Indian troops outside India, the views of the present Government of India and of the present Secretary of State for India in Council on the question of the expense of such employment will be respectfully weighed by the Imperial Government of the day. He would not claim that "the full assent and concurrence of the Government of India" were necessary. In this connection he wished to remind the House of the principle laid down by the Duke of Argyll, to be found in paragraph 10 of a Dispatch to the Government of India, of November 24th 1870, in which the noble Duke said— The Government established in India is (from the nature of the case) subordinate to the Imperial Government at home. And no Government can be subordinate, unless it is within the power of the superior Government to order what is to be done or left undone, and to enforce on its officers, through the ordinary and constitutional means, obedience to its directions as to the use which they are to make of official position and power in furtherance of the policy which has been finally decided upon by the advisers of the Crown. This principle was more emphatically laid down in paragraph 16 of a Dispatch to the Government of India, of the noble Marquess the present Prime Minister of the 30th May, 1876, to this effect:— It necessarily follows that the control derived by Her Majesty's Government over financial policy must be effective also. They cannot, of course, defend in debate Measures of which they do not approve; nor can they disavow all concern in them, and throw the responsibility of them upon the distant Government of India. If some Measure of financial policy were challenged in Parliament, the House of Commons would not be satisfied to be told that Her Majesty's Government wholly disapproved of it, but that it had been left to the responsibility of the Government of India. Full legal powers having been intrusted to Her Majesty's Government, Parliament would expect that care should be taken that no policy should be pursued which Her Majesty's Government were unable to defend If the control they possess were to be in any respect less than complete, the power of Parliament over Indian questions would be necessarily annulled. If the Government were at liberty to assume the attitude of bystanders, and to refer the House of Commons for explanations to the Governor General in Council upon any policy that was assailed, there would practically be no one whom the House could call to account, or through whom effect could be given to its decisions. In scrutinising the control exercised over the Government of India by Her Majesty's Government, and the grounds for maintaining that control, it must be borne in mind that the superintending authority of Parliament is the reason and the measure of the authority exercised by the responsible Ministers of the Crown; and that, if the one power is limited, the other must be limited at the same time. But, on the other hand, if the Government of India were consulted, and expressed a deliberate opinion, the responsibility of overruling them was very great. ["Hear, hear!"] The difficulties inherent to the Government of India were enormous. When they were placed in a position to act against their convictions these difficulties were increased. This matter would be discussed in the Governor General's Council. The Members of Government would be called upon to justify the decision which had been arrived at here. But how could they "defend in debate Measures of which they do not approve"? Circumstances might arise in which such a dilemma was inevitable; but were those circumstances present in this case? Chitral and the Cantonments' Act were not analogous cases. Much difference of opinion had manifested itself about Chitral among Indian experts, and in another place the Cantonments' Act had been criticised with great deliberation. It might be argued that the principle was not very important in this case; but that it might involve a large amount in another instance. But that argument could not be used, because the Secretary of State, in paragraph 13 of his Dispatch of June 30th said:— The precedent now created can only apply to loans of small bodies of troops, for short periods, and for purposes in which India has a substantial interest. In other words, the amount would always be comparatively a trifling one. The limitation points to the fact that some misgiving was felt about the principle. He thought that it would have been infinitely more politic not to make the charge on this occasion, and to leave the matter open until Lord Welby's Commission had issued its Report, and their financial relations could be placed on a simpler footing, which would give less scope for raising diverging issues, or until that Court of Arbitration had been constituted which the First Lord of the Treasury suggested in another place, but to which the noble Earl had made no allusion. India was promised reciprocity, which hitherto had not existed. India had invariably paid for British troops, and even if reciprocity were guaranteed, it was likely that India would have to pay more frequently for troops out of India than England for troops sent to India. Lord Lawrence stated in his minute of January 20th 1868 that— India pays all her own expenses. India does not cost England a shilling. He did not wish to endorse that view until he had seen the report of Lord Welby's Commission, but he believed that the public conscience had awakened in this country. The time had come not to drive hard bargains with India. Recently an Excise Duty had been imposed on the lower counts of cotton manufactures, the outturn of Indian mills. In India they thought, rightly or wrongly, that the same object might have been attained by freeing from Import Duty all lower counts. In removing the duty from imported yarns, the handmill industry was absolutely exempt even for the higher class of goods, on which they paid as long as imported yarns paid duty. The Salt Duty was 2 Rs. per maund in 1882; and the Government of India of that day said that "the tax was still very high in relation to the cost of production of salt." It was now 2½ Rs. per maund. The Army expenditure had increased from 1875–6 to 1892–3 by 77 lakhs. Neither could they forget that the native States had voluntarily placed at our disposal Imperial Service Corps of a total strength of 17,684 men, and Gwalior and Jaipur Transport Corps of 942 men and 1,473 animals. That represented an expenditure of 55 lakhs, of which Kashmir paid over 10 lakhs. For this object the Indian Government only spent 2 lakhs. They had not forgotten how the Kashmir troops distinguished themselves under Colonel Kelly and at Chitral, and of what use the Gwalior and Jaipur Transport was to General Low. The Transport was ready to march within 30 hours of the receipt of orders. The native troops sent to Suakim were proud of being selected; and he had no doubt that the Bombay troops would, should the occasion arise, distinguish themselves as the 28th Regiment of N.I. distinguished itself on the last occasion at Suakin. ["Hear, hear!"] There was no unwillingness in India to share in the fortunes of this great Empire. Was it worth while, for the sake of a principle—even if it were admitted to have any application in this instance—to infringe a much more important principle, viz., that we should not create, needlessly, discontent in India. And remember that, on this occasion, the Government of India represented not only every section of the community in India, but also large numbers of our own countrymen in the United Kingdom. They had been told on a recent occasion that a Vote in that House did not affect the fate of the Government of the day, and he hoped that their Lordships would remember that fact when they came to vote on this question. He had no doubt that, if their Lordships acted in regard to this matter with the same generous instinct which they followed in their private affairs, they would vote against this proposal of the Government and would thereby follow the noblest traditions of that House. ["Hear, hear!"]


said that he did not think that their Lordships would be surprised that he should desire to say a few words in justification of the vote which he intended to give if their Lordships proceeded to a division on this question. His connection with India was so recent, his sympathy with the people of India was so deep, and his knowledge of the difficulties which the Government of India had to encounter was so intimate, that it would be intolerable for him to vote for the Resolution if he believed it would occasion half the injustice which had been attributed to it by the critics of the Government. He believed that the apportionment of the expense which Her Majesty's Government proposed was in itself fair and just, and he believed that Lord Elgin's Government, although they had been unsuccessful in obtaining all they wanted, had succeeded in obtaining at the hands of Her Majesty's Government the admission of certain principles which, after they had been discussed and considered by the two Governments, and if necessary, supplemented by any machinery which might be found desirable, would place India for the future in an infinitely sounder position with regard to these controversies, than she had ever before occupied. ["Hear, hear!"] Those principles had received the adhesion not only of the India Office, but of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Leader of the House of Commons, and he felt no doubt that they were quite capable of becoming the basis of a thoroughly satisfactory and business-like arrangement between the two Governments. What, stripped of all adventitious matter, was the question before the House? India had an army of 215,000 soldiers, which she maintained not only for the purpose of internal police but also to defend her vast land frontier of some 5,000 miles. Of that army she was asked to lend for use outside the confines of India a small force, about 1 per cent. of the whole, upon terms which would relieve her entirely of all expense except the ordinary cost of the troops, which she would in any case have to bear. Was that on the face of it a flagrantly unjust arrangement? ["Hear, hear!"] These troops when at Suakin were less remote from their headquarters in India than they would be if employed in the remoter parts of the Indian Empire itself. Within a space of a month, he believed, it would be possible to send them back to India and replace them by troops from this country. Then there was the question of time. If at the end of the year the Indian troops were still required at Suakin, the whole arrangement would be open to revision. How different was that case from the case of 1885, when the Indian troops were detained at Suakin from March 1885 to May 1886–15 months in all, and for 12 months after hostilities had ended they were engaged on garrison duty in that fortress. India had lent these troops with alacrity. The words were not his. They were those of the dissentient Members of the Secretary of State's Council. There was no question of risk. It was a question of rupees. If he believed that there was any real risk to India, he for one would have been no party to putting pressure upon her. The question of risk and the question of money must not be mixed up. If the thing was wrong payment would not make it right, and he submitted that there was no doctrine more offensive to India than that which went to show that the scruples of the Power which lent the troops in a case of this kind ought to be overcome by the assumption on the part of the borrowing power of the whole liability for the cost. If that argument were advanced, he should certainly meet it by saying that it was the duty of the Government to remove the temptation from the lending Power by deciding that in no circumstances should the Power which lent the troops be placed in the position of making a profit by the transaction. ["Hear, hear!"] As to the plea of the poverty of India, the Government were not asking India to put her hand in her pocket for a single rupee; and he felt sure the Government of India would desire that this matter should be decided not upon principles of generosity or charity, but on principles of the strictest equity and justice. ["Hear, hear!"] Coming to the question of precedents, he did not suggest that too much importance should be attached to them. They might be bad, and in certain cases it might be that they should be set aside; but, so far as they were applicable to the present case, the precedents seemed to him to make entirely in favour of the Government. In cases of this kind there had always been a division of the expense between India and England, not by any means always on terms so favourable to India as the present. The noble Lord opposite suggested that as a Royal Commission was investigating the financial relations of the two countries, England might be liberal and pay their bill without fuss. He should have thought that the reasonable thing to do was not to change the practice pendente lite, but to abide by the precedents. If he did not attach much importance to precedents, neither did he desire to attach too much importance to the obiter dicta which had been delivered on the one side or the other in Parliament. The actors in these controversies changed, but the parts they played were always the same. The Treasury was always the Treasury. ["Hear, hear!"] The Chancellor of the Exchequer was only the vigilant guardian of the public purse, as the Government of India was the guardian of the interests of the Indian taxpayer. Therefore these utterances must he interpreted with very careful regard to the circumstances in which they were delivered. Without going to the remoter precedents, he would like to notice what had been said with regard to those of 1882 and 1885. What the Government of India protested against in 1882 was the payment of the whole expense of the Egyptian expedition, and they eventually gained their point; but he did not think India was very magnificently treated, for she had to be grateful for the payment of half a million of money which left her liable for the whole of the ordinary expenses of the troops and 60 per cent. of the extraordinary expenses. ["Hear, hear!"] Then there was the Suakin expedition of 1885. The Government of India at that time were undoubtedly very sore indeed. They had a three-fold grievance. In the first place they complained of the absence of reciprocity as between the Indian and British Governments. In the next place they complained of being called upon to pay for military operations outside the limits of Egypt proper. In the third place they were indignant, and not entirely without reason, because the Resolution was carried in both Houses of Parliament before their protest had been laid upon the Table of the House. That indignity, at all events, the Government of India had been spared on the present occasion, nor was there any intention of requiring them to pay the whole expense of the expedition. The arguments which were advanced in 1882 and 1885 were directed, they would find, entirely to these three points; two of these points had been disposed of—they admitted fully that there should henceforth be absolute and complete reciprocity between England and India in these matters, and that India should have an opportunity of expressing an opinion before a decision was taken. The question, then, that remained was that of the interest of India in the Soudan. It had been conceded, and he did not think it would be disputed, that India had a very distinct interest in Egypt proper, in the maintenance of the authority of the Khedive, and in the security of the Canal. But was it contended that the interest of India was strictly limited to the immediate vicinity of the Canal? It could not be seriously maintained that India could regard an outbreak of fanaticism in the Soudan with the same indifference as that with which she would regard an outbreak of fanaticism in China. Would anyone be found to pretend that a serious reverse to the Khedive's army would not shake the authority of the Khedive in Egypt proper? There could be no doubt about it. Then they were sometimes told that in this case we interfered, not forsooth because India was interested, but because we wished to do what was agreeable to our ally, the Government of Italy. They had been perfectly candid in their explanations in regard to this part of the case; they had never disguised from the public the fact that the moment of our intervention was determined by the necessities of the Government of Italy, and surely it required no proof to show that it was for the interest of Egypt, and therefore of India, that they should extricate, as they had successfully extricated, our Italian allies from the imminent peril of a great catastrophe the effect of which might have been felt far beyond the limits of Egypt itself. With reference to our interest in the Soudan, he would like to read to the House the words of an authority whose weight would, he thought, be recognised by many of their Lordships:— The Eastern Soudan is indispensable to Egypt. It will cost you far more to retain your hold upon Egypt proper if yon abandon your hold of the Eastern Soudan to the Mahdi than what it would to retain your hold upon the Eastern Soudan by the aid of such material as exists in the provinces. …. The danger to be feared is not that the Mahdi will march northward through Wady Halfa; on the contrary, it is very improbable that he will ever go so far north. The danger is altogether of a different nature. It arises from the influence which the spectacle of a Mahomedan Power, established close to your frontiers, will exercise upon the population which you govern. In all the cities in Egypt it will be felt that what the Mahdi has done they may do; and, as he has driven out the intruder and the infidel, they may do the same. …. If the whole of the Eastern Soudan is surrendered to the Mahdi the Arab tribes on both sides of the Bed Sea will take fire. …. I see it is proposed to fortify Wady Halfa and prepare there to resist the Mahdi's attacks. You might as well fortify against a fever. Contagion of that kind cannot be kept out by fortifications and garrisons. But that it is real and that it does exist will be denied by no one cognisant with Egypt and the East. Those were the words of General Gordon immediately before his last departure from this country. Our policy was that of recognising the interest of India in Egypt and in all that concerned the stability of the Egyptian Government. Was it the case that in giving effect to that policy we had dealt illiberally with India? He should like to remind the House of a fact which might not be generally known. For the last 12 years we had maintained in Egypt a British force varying between 3,000 and 8,000 men; we had borne the whole of the ordinary cost of that force, and, although Egypt had undertaken to bear the extraordinary expense belonging to it, her contribution had not, he was able to say, been equivalent to the actual outlay. He would say nothing of the disorganisation of our military system at home which had arisen from the detention of these troops in Egypt. For all this we had not charged anything at all to India on account of the Egyptian garrison, and he would take upon himself to say that if a strict profit and loss account were opened as between this country and India on account of the occupation of Egypt, it would be found that the Government of India had been by no means hardly or illiberally dealt with. ["Hear, hear!"] It was not infrequently urged that they were treating India in this matter much more hardly than they would venture to treat any of our Colonies. But as regards the Colonies, it should be borne in mind that ever since 1870 our policy had been to concentrate our troops in this country and to leave in the colonies only such forces as were requisite for the defence of our coaling stations and naval bases. On the other hand, it was no exaggeration to say that our whole military system was based upon the requirements of India. They had altered, in 1881, he believed, the distribution of the soldiers' service, as between service with the Colours and service in the Reserve, for the express purpose of suiting the convenience of India. The result was that the men serving in this country were younger, and that the number of men entering the Reserve had been smaller than they otherwise would have been. The colonial analogy was therefore not entirely on all fours with the case of India. But, nevertheless, if Imperial troops were lent to a colony the War Office invariably claimed the extra cost, the whole or part of it, but they made no claim for the ordinary pay and allowances of the force. The Ashanti expedition was a case in point; the Gold Coast bore the extra cost, but not the ordinary cost of the troops employed. Where one colony lent troops to another the lending colony always bore the ordinary cost of the troops which were lent. Then there was the case which had been referred to of New South Wales, which lent a contingent for service in the Suakin operations of 1885, and cheerfully and readily bore the whole cost of that contingent. [Cheers.] These facts went to show that they were only requiring India to do what the mother country did if she was lending troops to a colony, what the colonies did if they were lending troops to the mother country, and what one colony did if it lent troops to another colony. He had a very strong hope that when the Dispatch of the Secretary of State for India had been considered in that country it would be found that the Secretary of State had placed the position of India upon a very much sounder basis than it had ever occupied before. India had had some hard bargains, and she had not entirely forgotten them. He had a very sincere hope that we should frequently see native troops taking the field by the side of our own soldiers; he believed that this would be good for the troops of India and for our own troops; and when those occasions arose he was honestly convinced that it would be found that the Indian Government had been successful in securing terms which, possibly amplified and developed, would form the basis of an arrangement between the two Governments, founded upon common sense and equity, and one which could be adopted by both Governments without the slightest discredit or loss of dignity. [Cheers.]


said he had very naturally been referred to in the course of the Debate, because, as Secretary of State for India in 1885, he undoubtedly supplied one precedent which had an important bearing on the question before the House. And, before he made any general remarks on the matter, he should like to say a word or two as to what really happened in 1885, because the noble Marquess a little misunderstood it. The noble Marquess seemed to think that the Government of India at that time suffered a certain amount of indignity by not being consulted. But the fact was that when it was decided that troops should go to Suakin he telegraphed the intention of Her Majesty's Government to the Government of India. It seemed to him now, as then, that there was no ambiguity in the statement he telegraphed to the Government of India as to the ordinary expenses being borne by the revenues of India. If the Government of India had a doubt in the matter, why did they not telegraph to him to inquire what was the precise meaning of his telegram, and also to inform him, when they had learnt that precise meaning, that they desired to lay a protest before him? If the Government of India had taken that course there was not the slightest doubt that he should have waited until that protest had been laid before him; but it was clear that, having received no remonstrance from them after they had been told what was about to be done, he thought he was quite justified in going to Parliament and saying that he had received no opposition from that Government. He regretted that things took place as they did, because it would have been very much better that he should have had the opinion of the Government of India before him, especially as he gave them by his telegram every opportunity of laying their case, if they so desired, before the Government of the day. His personal position might be said to be somewhat difficult after that precedent, but he freely admitted that on that occasion the Government took the course which had been taken by the present Government; and he also admitted that he used at that time the expression which had been quoted, that he considered the war in the Soudan had arisen out of our occupation of Egypt. One noble Lord who had spoken had said that it was not always very wise to be governed by precedents, because there might be bad precedents, and he was inclined to confess that the precedent he had set up was not a good precedent. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] He was free to admit that a good deal had happened since then, and that his views at present were certainly not precisely those held by the Government of which he was a Member and by himself in those days. He was now very decidedly of opinion, after an experience of 10 years, during which the safety of Egypt had never been in danger, that the expedition in the Soudan on which the Government had embarked was unnecessary, dangerous, and likely to lead to very unfortunate results. Far from believing that it was likely to be beneficial to Egypt, his opinion was that it was likely to be extremely injurious, and on that ground he thought it extremely natural that anyone connected with the Government of India should demur to spending Indian money on the enterprise. He noted that the Prime Minister made a remark the other day which seemed to place the present enterprise upon rather a different ground than that of the safety of Egypt, for he said that we were morally bound, as far as possible, to see that Egypt was not in a worse position, as regarded her possession of territory, than she was when we intervened in 1885, and when Her Majesty's Government was advised to withdraw from the Soudan. Now that was not precisely the same consideration as the safety of Egypt, and when he heard Sir Alfred Milner quoted as an authority he could not help wishing that they could have the opinion of a far higher authority. ["Hear, hear!"] Their adviser in 1885 was not Sir Alfred Milner, but Lord Cromer, whose views he had had an opportunity of ascertaining from frequent discussion of the subject. No man had studied the subject deeper, or was more capable than Lord Cromer of taking a fair, an unprejudiced, and calm view of the matter, and he was very curious to know what advice Lord Cromer gave to the Government in regard to the present expedition. ["Hear, hear!"] But there was a far more important point for consideration than the opinions of any former Secretary of State in this delicate matter between the Imperial Government and the Government of India. The Under Secretary for India seemed to think that the matter would be solved by the principles laid down by the present Secretary of State in the Dispatch published in the Papers before the House. He was glad to admit that he thought both the tone in which that Dispatch was couched and the nature of the proposals submitted, would tend to advance the solution of the matter. But he doubted whether, after all, the really practical difficulty would be thus met, for the Secretary of State used the words on which everything depended:— If the circumstances are such that the Government of India supplying the troops has a distinct and special interest in the matter at stake. The whole difficulty was how they were going to decide that point. On what principles were they to decide that India had a distinct and special interest? Who was to decide? ["Hear, hear!"] The Government of India not unnaturally winced under the decisions of the Government at home. They had strong opinions and they naturally formed those opinions with reference to Indian opinion, and he did not in the least complain that they sought to place their views before the Home Government strongly in the interests of the Indian taxpayer. But he agreed with the declaration that the ultimate decision, in this as in other matters, could not be removed from the Government and the Parliament of this country. It was a question of discretion in the application of a principle from which we could not swerve. The Imperial power was here, and it must remain here. But it was a power that must be used with the utmost circumspection and the greatest tenderness towards the opinion of the Government of India, because it was a power which was naturally somewhat invidious though necessary. India was not in the position of a colony with what was called a responsible Government; it was essentially a dependency, though one so great and with interests so important that the utmost care should be taken never to press the exercise of our supremacy, except in cases where it was really necessary, and where we were convinced that we were not raising in India a feeling altogether disproportionate to the advantage we might gain by insisting on our position. ["Hear, hear!"] That was really the gist of the matter, and what he complained of was that in the present case the Government, for the sake of a principle, with which he agreed, had pressed very far a small matter in regard to which Indian opinion was very strong. He thought that in this case it was much to be lamented that Her Majesty's Government, after receiving the protest they did from the Government of India, did not, while maintaining generally the principle involved, make some concession to them. In. all those matters they wanted a hearty concurrence, so that no controversy might be raised in these matters between England and India. He agreed with the famous saying of the noble Marquess that India was not to be regarded as a barrack from which we might continually draw troops. We had a right to look to the Government of India for assistance in a time of great difficulty, but he thought it would be very unwise if we got too much into the habit of looking upon the Indian Army as a source of strength upon which we could lightly draw. The reasons were obvious. The Army was not beyond the requirements of India, for, though happily there was great tranquillity in India, and great loyalty among her native Princes, yet it was always possible that some sudden storm might arise, and it had been a maxim, therefore, that the Indian army should always be in a condition to take the field at a moment's notice. For that reason we ought only in case of real necessity to draw troops from India. ["Hear, hear!"] He held that if there was any place in the world in which India had an interest it was Egypt. ["Hear, hear!"] It was not necessary to make a careful creditor and debtor calculation and thus try to lay down the precise fraction of interest in Egypt which should belong to India and which should belong to the home country. It was sufficient, he thought, to lay down the general proposition that the way to India lay through the Mediterranean and Egypt, always, of course, assuming that it was to the interest of India that the connection with this country should be maintained. Assuming that, he did not see how it was possible not to admit that, as regarded Egypt proper, India had such an interest in Egypt that it was reasonable she should pay something. But he had always thought that in these matters they should, if possible, avoid controversies which had to be carried on in public. There was nothing more likely to injure the connection between the Government of India and the home Government than controversies, sometimes partaking almost of an angry character. The very business of the Viceroy and of the Secretary of State was as far as possible to so arrange matters that they should never come to a point where there was to be a point of difference which was to be displayed at all. That was the secret of the just and wise government of India. Quite apart from any political or Party feeling, he regretted that a matter of this kind should come before Parliament. Looking at the matter all round, considering the smallness of the amount in dispute, considering the fact that there were divergent opinions as to the propriety of the expedition to the Soudan, considering the strong opinion of the Government of India, and, lastly, considering that Lord Cross had wisely given an extension of a sort of quasi-representative institution to the Councils in India which increased the necessity for greater caution in this matter, he regretted that this controversy should have arisen.


said he had heard his noble Friend make many speeches in this House, but he had never heard a speech of his in which his power of debate and his adroitness in dealing with questions had been more conspicuously shown than in the speech just delivered. The point his noble Friend had to explain was how it came to pass that, while he as Secretary of State for India had in circumstances almost precisely similar taken exactly the same course which Her Majesty's Government had now taken, he was a party to the opposition to the Vote which their Lordships were now asked to pass; but hardly any words of his speech were devoted to answering that question. The noble Earl talked about looking at the matter all round, but it seemed to him his noble Friend's views depended upon the side of the House on which he sat. He did not think the House fully appreciated the position of his noble Friend. Near his noble Friend sat Lord Rosebery and the Marquess of Ripon. He presumed they were all going to vote against the Resolution. [The EARL of ROSEBERY: "Hear, hear!"] After the melancholy death of General Gordon, and when the Government had decided to advance to Khartoum, Indian troops were, in pursuance of a Resolution passed by both Houses, sent to Suakin. But on May 15, in consequence of disturbances on the frontier of India, the Government gave up altogether the expedition to the Soudan, but they continued for a year to keep the Indian troops at Suakin. The Government of India, at the beginning of 1886, wrote to Mr. Gladstone's Government, of which his noble Friend was a Member——


said the Government of India addressed their letter to Lord Randolph Churchill, who was then Secretary of State.


said the letter may have been addressed to Lord Randolph Churchill, but it was answered by the noble Earl. [The EARL of KIMBERLEY: "Yes!"] The Government of India contended that, as the original intention of the expedition was given up, it was only fair that the whole of the expenses of the troops, who merely formed the garrison at Suakin, should fall on the British Government. His noble Friend did not attempt to answer that argument; he only said he did not think it was a good thing to make application to the Treasury. Where was the consistency of his noble Friend in going into the Lobby against this Resolution? ["Hear, hear!"] He (Lord North brook) personally did not think the Government had acted wisely in putting this small charge upon the Government of India—[Opposition cheers]—but having been a party to a similar course in the past, he could not go into the Lobby against the Government. He welcomed the proposals made by the Secretary of State in his last Dispatch respecting the principles upon which the future military charges should be arranged. The principle of reciprocity had been laid down in the Dispatch, and it had been accepted by the Government. It was a principle for which the Indian Government had always contended, and he thought the concession of the principle would give great satisfaction to the Indian Government and in India generally. It was, however, still left in doubt who was to settle whether there were or were not special interests on one side or the other. If that was left open they would have precisely the same controversies in the future that they now had, and no good would be done by the pro- posal of the Secretary of State. ["Hear, hear!"] He had gathered that the Government intended to take precautions that the "proposals should not remain a dead letter." The proposal of Lord Cross with regard to the employment of Indian troops was that the expenses should not be charged upon India without the consent of the Government of India. He presumed if that proposal was attached to the proposal of the Secretary of State for India there would be some arrangement that the Government of Great Britain should say what were British interests and that the Government of India should say what were Indian interests. That would be fair to both parties, and he did not see that there would be any danger in it. He regretted that Lord Kimberley had expressed dissent from the liberal view of Lord Cross; and he still more regretted it as Sir Henry Fowler, in the other House, had expressed entire concurrence in the opinion of Lord Cross. When three such high authorities differed, he (Lord Northbrook) hesitated to express a final opinion upon the proposal. Mr. Balfour made another suggestion which was well worthy of consideration; he suggested whether the time had not arrived when they might with advantage to India and to England constitute some kind of tribunal of arbitration for the determination of this class of question—some tribunal in which the interests of Great Britain and India alike would be equally represented. If the Government were to make a declaration that it was their intention in connection with the Government of India to make some arrangement of that kind it would go, he ventured to say, a great way to counteract—he believed entirely counteract—any ill-feeling which had been raised in India about the miserable contention as to, £30,000 for the troops at Suakin. He ventured to submit that for the consideration of her Majesty's Government. ["Hear, hear!"]


said no Member of the House had had a harder and stiffer battle to fight on behalf of the Indian Treasury than himself, for it so happened that his tenure of the office coincided with the great organisation of the English Army effected by Mr. Cardwell and Mr. Lowe. At that time the principle was taken up that, as at least one-third of the Army was kept up for the sake of India, India ought to bear one-third of the whole charges, home charges included. He had a fierce battle to defend the Indian Government from that new doctrine which was pressed with great plausibility. He resisted it to the death, and with the assistance of Mr. Gladstone and other Members of the Government, that erroneous and dangerous principle was negatived, and it had been negatived ever since. He believed that the principle distinctly expressed in the Dispatch would place the Government of India in a better position than it ever before occupied. The charge was a just and a fair charge, and he could not help saying that he viewed with great satisfaction the change in the public mind on the whole of this question. It was not merely that the opinion of the Government had changed; the sentiments of the public had changed. At one time to which he referred there was no Party in the House of Commons to defend the Government of India from the attacks made on it. It was evident that the real objections raised on the other side of the House were to the operations on the Nile. ["Hear, hear!"] They denied that the Soudan advance could be brought within the category of measures for the defence of the Indian Empire. He must frankly confess that he looked upon the expedition with immense satisfaction. [Cheers.] Egypt would not be Egypt until the valley of the Nile was cleared of savages and her commerce thrown open to Europe. ["Hear, hear!"] So far therefore from feeling that Indian interests were specially injured in this case, he held, on the contrary, that India was honoured in having a part of those great operations which he trusted would bring within the boundary of civilisation those vast territories which were now desolated by the Mahdi. [Cheers.]


called the attention of the House to a speech delivered on February 13th, 1893, by the Marquess of Salisbury, in which he said— All these are ways of saving the English Estimates, which no doubt might seem very smart and very ingenious to those persons who arrange the figures at the English Treasury, but would not be so satisfactory on the other side of the water. You must not measure a financial injury by the number of thousand pounds involved. If people feel that their money is being taken from them, it matters very little whether it figures as thousands or tens of thousands. I regret the arrangement very much; I cannot see any reason for it.


said he was disappointed with the speech of the noble Marquess, because he recollected a speech which had been delivered by him some two years ago, in which, referring to the extent of the Indian Cotton Duties, he spoke of the danger England incurred, by a policy of fiscal favouring in India, of losing the favour of India. The noble Marquess then addressed a general warning to their Lordships, and said that it was idle to conceal from themselves that many causes were at work which should make them pause before they did anything to shake the confidence of the people of India in the absolute disinterestedness of their rule. ["Hear, hear!"] That speech had converted him, in a measure, from those opinions in which he had been trained. He was trained from his youth in the strongest Treasury traditions; he was taught that their master was the British taxpayer, and that their first duty was to do everything to make his burden light. Still, a policy sound in itself should be applied with discretion, and even the British taxpayer might buy gold too dear. But was there not some reason for arguing that they might be buying gold too dear. Even if the Government established the soundness of the principles for which it contended, was it wise for so small a stake to run risk against which they were warned by such a body of expert opinion. There was much to be said for the principle. One partner sent troops in aid of the other partner, charging only those additional expenses which would not be incurred if the troops remained at home,—he believed that was the condition which had been generally observed. But he was aware that the Indian Government maintained that on certain occasions it had not been observed, one great occasion being that of the Indian Mutiny, when the whole cost of the English troops which India borrowed was thrown on the Indian Exchequer. On that point there was a misunderstanding, for to fill the gap caused by withdrawing troops, England had to raise new regiments and embody militia, and this would justify her in making a charge on India. One of the conditions under which troops were borrowed was that India should have a direct interest in the expedition. A direct interest must always be open to argument, but he thought they must admit that high authority both in India and England had pronounced against there being such an interest as had been suggested, and it was very seldom that there had been such a general agreement, not only among experts, but in the Press, and even in the Press which supported the Government. [The EARL of ROSEBERY: "Hear, hear!"] The Government were not carrying out those wise maxims which the noble Marquess used in the speech which he had referred to.


said that speech was delivered against a proposal to deprive the Government of India of a part of its revenues and force it to resort to taxation. The present proposal did not touch the revenues and would not require the Government of India to resort to one farthing of taxation. [Cheers.]


said he quite agreed that that was so, but he thought the remarks of the noble Marquess were applicable in view of the stress he laid on the necessity of showing to the people of India that the Government at home acted in all respects where India was concerned with the utmost disinterestedness. Lastly, the stake was too small. He was the last person in the world to regard this sum of £30,000 or £40,000 as a light one. It was true that the Chancellor of the Exchequer only reserved for himself a modest surplus, but that was very considerably in advance of the sum about which they were now speaking, and the autumn of the year would probably increase that surplus, and provide for more than this amount. Their Lordships would remember Sydney Smith's controversy with the drab-coloured men of Pennsylvania. He suggested a motto for the trumpets of the State's insolvent host, "Ære Alieno." Might not foreign critics suggest a like motto for the trumpets of the force which is extending the English Empire in the Soudan.


I have been much struck with the fate which has pursued noble Lords opposite. In two instances of late they have been compelled to repeat the part of Balaam—they have been brought here to curse but they have remained to bless. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] The matter before the House appears to me to he one to be determined, not according to sentiment or to feeling, but according to strict justice. I join most heartily in everything that has been said by noble Lords opposite as to the necessity of convincing the multitudes of India of our sense of justice, and of our desire to do them justice and to respect their interests and their rights. But I have an equal feeling of respect for the interests and the rights of British taxpayers, and I do not think that the danger of neglecting the interests and the rights of the latter, and compelling them to pay that which in justice they are not bound to pay, is altogether inferior to the danger which the noble Lord opposite has dwelt upon so earnestly as likely to arise from neglecting the interests and rights of the taxpayers of India. We admit that the sum involved in this question is a small one, which of itself would be of but small importance, but the payment of that sum involves a principle of great interest to the British taxpayer, and our experience of what occurred in Lancashire last year has shown us that, where there is a sense of injustice entertained by the British constituencies, questions of policy will not prevent them from striking a blow in favour of their own view of what is just. Our duty in this matter, therefore, is to observe the most careful and complete justice. The noble Lord who has just sat down has dwelt upon the importance of not keeping to a principle if the sum involved by it is a small one. If the noble Lord had acted upon that principle when he was at the Treasury I can scarcely say how much of his well-known activity in that Department would have survived. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] However, I do not believe that the finance of a great Empire, or even of a small concern, can be conducted on the principle that where the sum involved is but small every claim against it must be admitted. ["Hear, hear!"] This question has been so thoroughly discussed, and the present is such an inconvenient time for discussing it; that I shall not enter very far into the matter, but I wish to ask your Lordships to consider what the real point at issue is. I have heard a great deal about the Soudan expedition, and I am quite prepared to defend the action of the Government in respect to it, because I believe that it will be of great benefit to Egypt and to India. But in moving the Indian troops we were not actuated by a desire to send them there for the purpose of their taking part in that expedition—in fact, not a single Indian soldier has been sent to the valley of the Nile. The object which we had in view in moving the Indian troops was the defence of Suakin, and if that place had not been defended at the expense of the Indian taxpayer it must have been defended at the expense of the British taxpayer. It is true that at the time the Soudan expedition was first contemplated I received a communication from his Imperial Majesty the Sultan of Turkey to defend Suakin if we found it necessary to leave that place during the continuance of the expedition; but that offer I then declined. I am almost now inclined to regret that we did not accept the offer, because had we done so the arguments we should have had to make use of in defending our position might have been of a less difficult character. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] The question, however, before us is this—Is the Indian or the British taxpayer to defend Suakin and to prevent it from being taken possession of by some other Power? In our opinion, the whole of the southern littoral of the Bed Sea is of interest to India. It is true that a portion of that littoral is at present held by Italy; but, speaking of that territory as matters stood a few years ago, the whole of the southern littoral of the Red Sea depended upon Egypt for its defence. Can it be said in such circumstances that India has no interest in the southern shores of the Bed Sea or of the Gulf of Aden, which, in a political sense, are merely continuations of the Suez Canal. If the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, or the Gulf of Aden fell into the hands of another Bower it would be India, and not England, that would suffer the most, because the former would be deprived of her military supplies. Even the present arrangements with regard to the shore of the Red Sea shows clearly which part of the Empire has the greatest interest in that line of communication between this country and India. Aden is situated at the very mouth of the Red Sea, and the defence of Aden is paid for, not by the taxpayers of this country—it is entirely in the hands of India. This shows what an interest India has in the southern littoral of the Red Sea. I need scarcely refer to the precedents of 1801, 1876, 1882, or 1885, when expeditions were sent to the shores of the Red Sea, and when the ordinary expenses of the Indian troops employed in them, and generally something more, were charged to the Indian Treasury. Therefore, in the present circumstances, we might justly have called upon India to contribute something towards the preservation of her communications I through the Red Sea. But we have called upon her for no contribution at all; all that we have done has been to ask her not to make money out of our request for the loan of a portion of her troops. If you refuse this Vote the only result will be that the accounts of the revenue for India next year will show so much money gained by lending Indian troops to this country. ["Hear, hear!"] There is nothing that has occurred in the course of this Debate with which I more sympathise than the regret which has been expressed that this matter should have been made the subject of Parliamentary discussion and of Party sophistry and ingenuity. It appears likely that such a discussion may do some little harm. It is not a very admirable thing—and, indeed, there is something rather squalid in the fact—that there should be a contest between two parts of the Empire as to what share each should bear in the expense of its defence. ["Hear, hear!"] Moreover, such a discussion must lead to the inevitable injury which, as the noble Earl opposite has pointed out, must result from disclosing Departmental communications, which are not always couched in a judicial tone. I do not think that that injury will be avoided by flinging aside all questions of financial economy on the ground that the sum asked for is a small one, and that, therefore, no matter what the principle involved may be, the claim ought to be acceded to. I do not think that that would be a wise way of avoiding the difficulty, or that in the long run it would even be for the benefit of India. ["Hear, hear!"] We must try to adopt some way by which these discussions may be avoided in the future. I have no doubt that Parliament will be able to fix upon some principle by which these contribution's by the different parts of the Empire will be regulated. In this view the Government have adopted an absolutely stationary attitude with regard to this subject. We have had regard to precedent, and we have adhered entirely to the position which our predecessors occupied in connection with this question. The whole subject is under investigation by a Royal Commission, who, it may be hoped, will furnish suggestions for regulations to which the Government of the day may be able to conform without any fear that the steps which they may think necessary for the defence of the Empire will be made the subject of discussions which may be injurious to the interests of that Empire. ["Hear, hear!"] I do not know whether I am out of order in referring to such matters on the present occasion, but I hope that I may be allowed to say that early in the present year I was so impressed in favour of such a course being adopted that I laid before my colleagues a proposal for the appointment of a tribunal which should be so impartially composed as to obtain the confidence of the taxpayers of both England and India, which should consider the relative interests and rights of the two portions of the Empire; but when we came to consider the details of the proposal we came to the conclusion that we could not carry such a scheme into effect until the Royal Commission had made their Report. I much regret that it was necessary to postpone the consideration of such a proposal, because I am satisfied that if it were carried into effect we should have reached a solution of the difficulty which would operate in a far better manner than the present system does, and would enable us in many ways to show our sympathy and generosity to our Indian fellow-subjects. [Cheers.] But, my Lords, the issue before you to-night is not even that. If you resolve that the money shall not be granted, after the House of Commons has come to an exactly opposite decision, obviously the first principles of the whole question will be in a state of the greatest confusion. It will add enormously to the difficulty of arriving at maxims and rules in which we may all agree, and make it far more difficult to prevent in the future the occurrence of these unpleasant discussions. I earnestly hope that your Lordships will follow the precedents uniformly set and vote for this Resolution, and so enable us with as little loss of time as possible to place the matter upon a footing which shall avoid the chances of any difference or any distrust, on a question which is comparatively small, arising between the peoples of these two great parts of the Empire.


My Lords, I have been much too long a Member of this House to engage your attention for more than a minute or two at the witching hour at which we have arrived; and certainly I have no wish to introduce any controversial matter more than is necessary into the Debate, which I think must have been singularly satisfactory to the Members and supporters of this House. I do not recollect having ever heard a Debate in which so statesmanlike a view has been taken of the responsibilities of public men in addressing themselves to a grave and delicate question than has been the case to-night. Personalities have been happily and conspicuously absent. I do not even deprecate the noble Earl's allusion to the singular tenderness of his own conscience as compared with those of others. [Laughter.] We remember the old story of the Pharisee and the Publican, and we are not particularly surprised to see that line of argument continued to the present day. [Laughter.] The noble Marquess who has just sat down has, as is not unusual with him, supplied a totally new explanation of the policy which a united Government is pursuing. We have never heard before, in any speech or in any public document, of the necessity of garrisoning Suakin. I look in vain in the Dispatch of the Secretary of State. I do not think I heard every word of the speech of the noble Earl the Under Secretary this evening, but I do not recollect that that argument occurred in it, and I am quite sure it did not occur in the speech of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War. The noble Marquess has an agreeable way of springing these agreeable surprises on us, and I am one of the last to complain, because I think it adds largely to the interest and excitement of the Debates in this House. [Laughter.] But when I am asked by the noble Marquess as to who it is that should be responsible for the garrisoning of Suakim, and when I am told that this call for the Indian troops has really nothing to do with any attack on the Dervishes——


I did not say that. I said it had very little to do with it.


Very well; very little to do with it. The primary object was the garrisoning of Suakin. I am quite willing to take that; but when I am told that, I have to ask myself how was it that the garrison had been depleted. What has occurred to empty the garrison of Suakin? And I am compelled to answer the question in this way—that the troops were required for a march against the Dervishes, and for that reason troops were summoned from India. Surely the noble Marquess does not greatly help his case by starting this new theory of the garrisoning of Suakin, which, after all, is exactly the same explanation in different words as we have had before. ["Hear, hear!"] That, after all, is the main gist of the matter. The noble Lord who represents the Treasury, and in so agreeable and competent a way—[laughter]—told us with absolute truth that the gist of the matter lies in this—has the Indian Empire any interest in the expedition you are conducting in the Soudan? ["Hear, hear!"] The noble Marquess says they must fill up the gap caused at Suakin. The two propositions come to exactly the same thing, and we who are interested in this matter, and who are anxious to deal justice to India in spite of the many precedents which have been quoted—and I think too much stress has been laid upon them—have to ask ourselves, what is the interest of India in the crushing of the Khalifa? We have heard a good deal about the security of the Suez Canal. We were told that the Suez Canal was the route to India, and that India had a direct interest in its preservation. But what we do not hear from any of the numerous speeches made on behalf of the Government is this—in what way the existence of the Khalifa or of the Dervishes menaces directly or indirectly, the security of the Suez Canal. ["Hear, hear!"] I am quite ready to admit that India has a certain interest in Egypt. If you are going to press that argument it will take you a great deal too far. If you ask me in what foreign questions India has an interest, and how far India represents our interest in a great many external questions, you will be led into a scale of contemplated expenditure on the part of India from which I think even the present Government would shrink. ["Hear, hear!"] It would not be difficult to prove that all our Mediterranean interests are in the main connected with India. I cannot deny the direct force of the reasoning that would make it so, because if you had no Indian Empire you might get out of the Mediterranean altogether; but I should be astonished if the noble Marquess, carrying out this principle to its logical conclusion, were to bring before Parliament a proposal for settling the expenses of the occupation of Gibraltar, and of Malta, and of the Mediterranean fleet on the revenues of India. Though they are vast, they are interests you can logically connect with India; but I defy anybody to connect this expedition against the Dervishes with the interests of India. [Cheers.] If it were to crush a Mahomedan pretender on the frontier of Afghanistan, or in that region with which I am so painfully familiar, the Pamirs, I can imagine going to great risk and expense to put down a false prophet of that description. But the difficulty with this false prophet is to get at him—[laughter]—to find him, to penetrate the almost impenetrable deserts which surround him—deserts which have no connection, direct or indirect with India. ["Hear, hear!"] One speaker, I think it was the Under Secretary, quoted General Gordon as bearing on this point. I would advise him not to quote too much from General Gordon with regard to the Soudan. I have not all his works at my hand, but I remember a very powerful and vehement passage in which he speaks of the Soudan as the most absolutely valueless possession that any country could possess; that it was useless to any human being, and fatal to any Power that held it. I say, then, that I do not believe that you can prove by any process of logic, or by any process of sophistry, that India has the slightest interest in this expedition. ["Hear, hear!"] The noble Marquess says we use strong language with regard to this proposition, and he warns us against disregarding the interests of the British taxpayer in this matter. Why, when you are flinging the money of the British taxpayer out of the window by handfuls—["Hear, hear!" and laughter]—do you suddenly discover reasons to justify the pilfering from India of this paltry £35,000? [Cheers.] It is not we who use strong language. It is your own papers who use strong language—[laughter]—The Times, The Standard, the whole of the provincial Conservative Press; and I think, if I can rack my memory so far, it is only in the faithful Daily Telegraph that you can still find a supporter of your policy. ["Hear, hear!"] I do not know where you will find the interests of the taxpayer represented. If you go to Lancashire—I should not be particularly afraid to face the verdict of Lancashire. What I say is, you are speaking of a thing you cannot ascertain. You are pretending—for I am sorry to say it is a pretence—to be consulting the interests of the British taxpayer in this operation, and in doing it you disregard the principles of Imperial policy, which the British taxpayer grasps because they are simple, and which he will not disregard or forget. ["Hear, hear!"] The British taxpayer knows, if you do not know, that in questions where the Government of India unanimously differ from us on a principle of liability, though we need not go the full length of the declaration of the noble Viscount, which has made so great a difference in our relations with India, and to an enormous degree affects the value of the precedents which have been cited—though we need not go to the full length of that declaration, the British taxpayer knows, and we know, that in these questions of liability with India we owe it to our own honour and our own dignity to show a singular tenderness for the interests of India when we are judges, and judges in a case to which we are parties. [Cheers.] I shall not detain the House another moment. I will only say that I never with more satisfaction in my life gave a vote against a Motion than I give a vote against the Resolution of the noble Earl to-night. [Cheers.]

The House divided:—

Contents 92

Halsbury, L. (L. Chancellor.) Chelmsford, E.
Cheylesmore, L.
Devonshire, D. (L. President.) Churchill, L.
Clinton, L.
Cross, V. (L. Privy seal.) Clonbrock, L.
Colchester, L.
Colville of Culross, L.
Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal) Crofton, E.
Dinevor, L.
Argyll, D. Douglas, E. (E. Home)
Marlborough, D. Egerton, L.
Portland, D. Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.) [TELLER.]
Westminster, D.
Gage, L. (V. Gage.)
Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.) Glenesk, L.
Harlech, L.
Ailesbury, M. Harris, L.
Bristol, M. Harrismere, L. (L. Henniker.)
Exeter, M.
Hertford, M. Hillingdon, L.
Lansdowne, M. Hopetoun, L. (E. Hopetoun.)
Salisbury, M.
Zetland, M. Iveagh, L.
James, L.
Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward.) Konmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)
Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount Karl.)
Lathom, E. (L. Chamberlain.)
Amherst, E Kenyon, L.
Ancaster, E. Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)
Brownlow, E.
Carnwath, E. Lawrence, L.
Clarendon, E. Mendip, L. (V. Clifden)
Coventry, E. Morris, L.
de Montalt, E. Norton, L.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry) Pirbright, L.
Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessburough.)
Dudley, E. Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)
Hardwicke, E.
Leven and Melville, E. Rathmore, L.
Lucan, E. Rothschild, L.
Onslow, E. Rowton, L.
Radnor, E. Sherborne, L.
Rosse, E. Shute, L. (E. Barrington.)
Scarbrough, E.
Selborne, E. Sinclair, L.
Strange, E (D. Athol.) Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)
Waldegrave, E. [TELLER.]
Swansea, L.
Templemore, E.
Falkland, V. Tollemache, L.
Llandaff, Y. Ventry, L.
Powerscourt, V. Walsingham, L.
Sidmouth, Y. Wantage, L.
Worlingham, L. (E. Gosford.)
Alington, L.
Balfour, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Bateman, L.
Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.)
Grafton, D. Farrer, L.
Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)
Northampton, M.
Ripon, M. Hawkesbury, L.
Herschell, L.
Abingdon, E. Kensington, L. [TELLER.]
Buckinghamshire, E.
Carlisle, E. Kinnaird, L.
Carrington, E. Leigh, L.
Chesterfield, E. Lingen, L.
Cowper, E. Monk Bretton, E.
Crewe, E. Monkswell, E.
Dartrey, E. Playfair, E.
De La Warr, E. Reay, E.
Kimberley, E. Ribblesdale, L. [TELLER.]
Sandwich, E.
Strafford, E. Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)
Oxenbridge, V. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)
Battersea, L. Tennyson, L.
Camoys, L. Thiring, L.
Castletown, E. Tweedmouth, L.
Coleridge, L. Welby, E.

Resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at Five minutes before Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, a Quarter past Four o'clock.