HL Deb 19 January 1897 vol 45 cc6-36



who were the uniform of an officer of Yeomanry Cavalry, rose, amid cheers, to move "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for her Gracious Speech from the Throne." He said: I have to crave the indulgence of your Lordships for the position in which I find myself, for not only is this the first time I have had the honour of addressing your Lordships, but I believe I might count myself the youngest Member of the House, this being the first occasion on which I have had the privilege of occupying my seat on these Benches. I trust I shall not be transgressing any unwritten laws or traditions if I venture to refer to a subject which naturally has found no place in the Gracious Speech from the Throne. Ten years ago it was my privilege on a similar occasion, and in another place, to express the hope that no cloud should cast its shadow over the celebration of the 50th year of Her Majesty's glorious reign. Standing in this place, might I say that we look forward shortly to the completion of the 60th year of Her Majesty's reign, when we hope to celebrate with her an event unique in the annals of this country—the fact that she has surpassed in the length of her reign that of any of her predecessors on the English Throne? [Cheers.] I will leave to others of greater authority and experience, and it might be on a more befitting occasion, the task of dwelling, upon the splendid qualities of head and heart which have enabled Her Majesty to stamp the Victorian Era with the indelible impress of her own character. [Cheers.] The outrages and massacres in the Ottoman Empire have shocked all Christendom, but, terrible as the condition of things has been, I can conceive something more terrible still. I can imagine the annihilation of the Armenian population in the event of a European war, owing to the refusal of any one or two Powers to act in concert, in preservation of the provisions of the Treaty of Paris. A European war under such circumstances would indeed be horror heaped upon horror's head. We are told that the conferences of the Ambassadors at Constantinople are still proceeding, but I trust that in his efforts to induce the Powers to act, as well as to deliberate and remonstrate in concert with one another, the noble Lord, the Prime Minister, will be backed, as he has hitherto been, by the sympathy and strength of a united nation. [Cheers.] I venture to say that the announcement as to the recent Egyptian campaign will receive general approval. To restore to civilisation the Soudanese territories, which 13 years ago were lost to Egypt under such tragic circumstances, cannot fail to win the sympathy and assent of English people. Your Lordships will share with Her Majesty the great gratification she has expressed at the conclusion of the Treaty for general arbitration with the late President of the United States. [Cheers.] If the eminent diplomatist of that country is happy in carrying away with him the consciousness that this great badge of friendship has been secured during his term of office, so among the many diplomatic achievements which history will lay to the credit of the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government there is none that will add greater lustre than the record of his connection with the negotiations which led to the execution of this Treaty. [Cheers.] The Treaty has given new force and fresh colour to the well-known statement that "Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war." ["Hear, hear!"] Your Lordships, I am sure, thoroughly share the regret of Her Majesty that her Indian Empire should have been visited by the terrible joint calamities of famine and pestilence. The nation would expect that nothing that activity in preparation or abundance in provision can secure shall be neglected in order that those painful scourges shall be kept within bounds. The appeal which has been made to Her Majesty's subjects at home and in India to second by their liberality the exertions of the Government has met with a prompt and a noble response, and the channel of generous sympathy will, I am sure, How with a flood no less strong than marked its course 20 years ago. But amid the grief that has been universally aroused by the dread tidings from India there is one consolation, and that is that many years has elapsed since that country has been afflicted with the horrors of famine, which I believe in former times were more rare in their absence than in their occurrence. ["Hear, hear!"] The increased facilities of transport, the fruits of scientific investigation, and the improvement in organisation—in itself the result of long and painful experience—must tend to alleviate the sufferings which the marvellously patient inhabitants of India endure from these fearful visitations. ["Hear, hear!"] Her Majesty's Ministers have, I venture to say, put forward a list of domestic legislation which avoids the taint of being over ambitious, and at the same time promises to be possible and, therefore, practicable. Their recognition that the condition of the world demands prudent foresight and the statement that they contemplate adding to our military defences will meet at the hands of the country that same patriotic support with which their former proposals for improving the condition of the naval defences of our Empire were received. [Cheers.] I have the honour, my Lords, to move the following humble Address to Her Majesty:— Most Gracious Sovereign, we, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to your Majesty for the gracious speech which your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.


(who were the uniform of an officer of Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry) said: My Lords, your Lordships will, I feel confident, extend to me that consideration which your courtesy never refuses to one who addresses you for the first time. I am deeply sensible of the honour conferred upon me in being permitted to second the Address, which has been proposed by the noble Marquess, more especially in this auspicious year, when we are to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Her Most Gracious Majesty's glorious reign—a reign that has now been extended to a greater length than has been permitted to any other English Sovereign. I should only weary your Lordships were I to dwell on the numberless inventions during this period that have contributed to the comfort, prosperity, and progress of mankind. The most striking feature of all must be the length of time that we have enjoyed the blessing of peace with our European neighbours—a peace that we trust will not be broken. As a Welshman, I may, perhaps, be permitted to assert with perfect confidence that in no part of Her Majesty's dominions is a deep and loyal devotion to her office and her person more conspicuous than in the Principality of Wales. Whether we look at home or abroad, whether we mark the vast expansion of territory and influence which has accrued to this Empire during the period which we are now invited to celebrate; or whether our attention is concentrated on an aspect of the matter, perhaps more gratifying still to Her Majesty and to your Lordships—I mean the vast improvements, social and moral, which are identified with the stately progress of the reign—in either case or from either aspect, we must acknowledge the present year to be an era in the history of this country and a marvellous consummation of the efforts of statesmanship its complete as the history of the world can supply. I feel sure I am only anticipating the wishes of your Lordships if I add that it is the earnest prayer of every one of us that a reign so pure, so beneficent, so glorious, may yet be extended to the longest possible period consistent with the designs of a wise and over-ruling Providence; and I venture to assure Her Majesty that in the twilight, as through the morning and the noontide of her illustrious life, she may rely upon the unwavering affection and support of your Lordships' House. My noble Friend has dealt so fully with foreign affairs that I feel I should be wasting the time of your Lordships' House if I were to add to his remarks. There is, however, one matter to which my noble Friend has only made a passing reference. Your Lordships will remember how suddenly a comparatively modest country rose into prominence, owing to the assertion by America of a right to intervene in a dispute that had lingered on for some years. So decided was this assertion that there even seemed a bare possibility of war—of a war that would have been almost a civil war a war between two nations speaking the same language, professing the same faith, sprung from a common stock. Happily such a contingency seems now to have passed away. The disputed frontier between Venezuela, and British Guiana is in a fair way to have its limits settled, whilst those colonists whose rights are established will have their interests safeguarded. And out of this question has arisen an opportunity for the conclusion of the Treaty for General Arbitration—a Treaty that we hope may be a bond of union with our natural allies—the United States of America. This new factor in the relation betwixt nations, which has been so quietly accomplished, still needs ratification by the Senate, but we may trust that no influence of party politics or other reason may stand in the way of the peace of nations. It is to be hoped that this Treaty may be the forerunner of other like Treaties with our European neighbours. May I here be permitted to add my humble congratulations, which will find an echo on all sides, to the noble Marquess on the firmness and clear judgment he has given evidence of in this matter? Since this time last year many complications have arisen which have militated against the welfare of our South African possessions. However, the present outlook is brighter, and your Lordships will observe with real gratification that though there has been an inevitable, and deplorable loss of valuable life, there is now a prospect of a return to settled government and prosperity. We are glad to see that there is to be no relaxation of effort to maintain our Navy at the highest possible state of efficiency, while at the same time efforts are to be made to make the Army adequate, both in numbers and training, to meet our continually increasing responsibilities all over the world, and also to provide for further protection of our coaling stations and harbours—defensive measures of the highest importance. Turning to home affairs, we may hope to see that thorny question of relief to Voluntary Schools settled in the simplest manner, and I venture to hope that the children educated in these schools may be enabled to receive the same standard of teaching that prevails in Board Schools, whilst obtaining the advantage of such religious instruction as their parents may desire. If time permits, some attempt will be made to provide a scheme of Secondary Education. Here may I be allowed to record the gratitude which the people of Wales feel to the various Governments which have made their scheme of education consistent and complete? Further, they welcome with gratification the fact that their Prince was pleased to accept the highest honour they could offer him in becoming Chancellor of the University. Your Lordships may think that Wales is a kind of Cerberus, but I can testify, from personal knowledge, that her people now think the time has come when she may fairly be allowed to claim a share of the Museum Grant, which would add a fresh incentive to study at the three University Colleges. Employers and employed will look forward to a measure which will secure to workpeople who may suffer from accidents adequate compensation without interfering with contracts already made between masters and men—honourable and generous on the part of the former, and welcome and satisfactory to the latter. I trust that the Opposition will view with pleasure the measure of Home Rule to Ireland in Agriculture. I hope that we shall not be over-confident if we presume that the upward turn in the barometer of matters agricultural is steady and permanent. I observe among the possibilities a Bill to Amend the Agricultural Holdings Act. I have had the honour to serve recently on a Commission which has been for some time occupied in an inquiry into matters connected with land and its culture in a portion of these Islands, and here may I be permitted to observe that notwithstanding the somewhat scathing examination to which the landlords of Wales were exposed the impression was firmly imprinted on our minds that in the main the treatment of the tenants throughout the Principality has been absolutely just—may I not even say generous? May I hope that a proportion of the conclusions which some of my colleagues and myself have arrived at may find a place in the Bill to Amend the Agricultural Holdings Act? It appeared to us that if the Act is to be of any service at all its machinery must be simplified. We consider that disputes involving legal interference might be more easily conducted under the Arbitration Acts in the same manner that trade and other differences have been settled. Landlords and tenants, I believe, would welcome greater uniformity of treatment. We adhere most emphatically, however, to the British love of freedom of contract. We believe that in most cases all differences can be settled amicably without reference to any Court, and though we would like to see the possibilities of tenants obtaining relief under the Act made easier, we hold that any reference to a legal form of Arbitration should be only in the last resort. I must offer you my grateful thanks for the patience and kind consideration with which you have listened to me, and in seconding the Motion for the Address I am confident that your Lordships will respond loyally to the Royal Message which Her Majesty to-day has conveyed to her faithful Parliament. [Cheers.]


, who on rising was cheered by both sides of the House, said: My Lords,—In rising on the present occasion to speak on behalf of my Friends on this side of the House, I cannot but express my deep regret that we are no longer led by my noble Friend Lord Rosebery, whose wit and eloquence I am sure always commanded the admiration of all parties in this House, and whose place I am only too conscious I can but very inadequately fill. But I am encouraged by the recollection of the great indulgence and kindness which when I formerly occupied this position I received from all parts of the House. [Cheers.] Before proceeding to the matters in the Speech, I think your Lordships will not be surprised that I should express my deep regret that we have lost the late Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the most distinguished members of this House, whose high qualities must insure him a place of honour on that illustrious roll of the Primates of the English Church, and I may say that his genial qualities and his invariable kindness endeared him to all who had the honour of his acquaintance. ["Hear, hear!"] Nor can I omit to refer to two familiar faces which we miss on this occasion—I mean those of Lord Limerick and Lord Kensington, both of whom will long be regretted by a large and most attached circle of friends. ["Hear, hear!"] My Lords, I have now to do that which is the most agreeable portion of the task which I have to perform—namely, to congratulate the noble Lord who moved and the noble Lord who seconded the Address. Most of us remember the father of Lord Bath, and we recollect with what ability he often—not too often, alas!—addressed this House. It pleases me to see that his son also possesses qualities which will make him a valuable member of the House, for he addressed us with a taste and a moderation which I have seldom heard excelled by anyone who has moved the Address. ["Hear, hear!"] Nor can I fail to say that the Seconder of the Address did not fall short of him in the manner in which he addressed us. ["Hear, hear!"] It is a happy coincidence that the noble Marquess who moved the Address should have moved the Address in another place on the former auspicious occasion when Her Majesty celebrated her Jubilee. I, in common, I am sure, with other Members of this House, fully echo what he has said concerning our Gracious Queen. The subject of Her Majesty's reign might, indeed fill a long oration; but I will say only this, that besides the great events which have characterised that reign, there is something else which moves us even more nearly, and that is Her Majesty's own qualities and the universal affection which she has won from all her subjects—a feeling which extends even to all civilised nations throughout the world. That she may long live and long be our Sovereign must be, as the noble Marquess said, the earnest prayer of all her devoted subjects. [Cheers.] The Speech naturally contains a great deal upon the subject of foreign affairs, and perhaps for a long time there has not been a more anxious period than that during which Her Majesty's present Government have occupied their offices. I am glad to think that the noble Marquess who moved the Address may be justified in saying that there is some sign of improvement in the state of our relations with foreign nations. Upon one point there cannot be one moment's hesitation—I mean in welcoming that Treaty of Arbitration which has been concluded with the United States of America—["hear, hear!"] and I, for my part, most sincerely and most warmly congratulate the noble Marquess opposite upon his having been able to bring to a successful close a negotiation which, I doubt not, was one of extreme difficulty and nicety. My Lords, it is not only that we welcome this Treaty, which we hope will prevent the possibility of any quarrel with our kindred in that great nation which constitutes the United States, but we feel also that an example has been set by the conclusion of this Treaty by two, I may venture to say, of the greatest nations in the world. This example must, I hope—nay, I think cannot fail to—have a lasting effect upon the policy of all the civilised nations of the world. Upon that subject there is a unanimous feeling of satisfaction throughout this country. The next paragraph to which I will allude is one also which I welcome with pleasure—namely, the announcement that Her Majesty's Government has been enabled to conclude a Treaty which will settle the Venezuelan difficulty. I might possibly criticise some of the preliminary steps by which that Treaty was preceded, but upon this occasion, when I think all parties view with the greatest satisfaction the termination of a controversy which at one time, it seemed, might have led to most disastrous consequences, I think it is more graceful, and better on all accounts, to refrain from such criticism, and simply to say that we welcome with pleasure the Treaty, and when we see all the details, we expect to find that the matter has been honourable and satisfactory to this country. I wish I could speak in the same manner on the next subject to which I have to refer, that of Armenia. It would be, I think, quite unnecessary upon this occasion to repeat the universal feeling of horror which has prevailed throughout the country at the massacres of the Armenians in the Turkish dominions. That feeling has been widely, I may say universally, expressed in this country. The real question which we have to consider to-day is, what is the position of this most unfortunate and most disastrous affair? We feel, and I think the whole country feels, that the time has come when we may reasonably expect from the noble Marquess opposite a full disclosure of the present position of this matter. I cannot say that I feel altogether encouragement from the terms in which the paragraph relating to this subject is couched, because in the first place it refers, rather to my astonishment, to the Treaty of Paris, and further it merely tells us that papers have been laid before us showing the considerations which have induced the Powers to make the present condition of the Ottoman Empire the subject of special consultation by their representatives at Constantinople. I do not suppose anybody whatever wants information on that subject; we oil know the reasons, and very disastrous reasons they are, which have compelled the consideration by the Powers of the present condition of the Ottoman Empire; but what we want to know is, not that the matters have been under consideration, nor why the matters have been under consideration, but what the results of that consideration are, and what is the present position of the negotiations. The noble Marquess, in his very able speech at the Guildhall, refrained, I dare say with good reason, from giving any information of a detailed kind upon the subject, but he did make one statement which was of a reassuring character—he said that the Concert of Europe seemed to be in a more favourable position for achieving their purpose than it had ever been before. Well, we accepted that statement with pleasure, and what we now ask and press upon Her Majesty's Government, and what we believe to be the general wish of the whole country, is that they should tell us what are the circumstances which have enabled the noble Marquess to say so much, and to ask him also to say precisely what those negotiations have been. I referred to the Treaty of Paris, and I must say I was rather astonished to see the old Treaty of Paris, which is now 41 years old, brought in upon this occasion. I thought there had been a more recent Treaty—namely, the Treaty of Berlin. My Lords, I was more astonished because I remembered that in 1878 the noble Marquess spoke of the provisions of the Treaty of Paris as misty and visionary guarantees, and I confess that, looking to the whole course of history since the conclusion of that Treaty, I conceive that what is more remarkable than anything is the extent to which that Treaty has been broken. But it is true the position of the Russians in their war was, to a certain extent, ratified by the Treaty of Berlin except in certain provisions which were omitted. This was the result of a war which took place without certainly the assent of the various Powers who concluded the Treaty of 1856, and it certainly resulted in a most extensive violation of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. We all know that at that time, as Lord Beaconsfield said, the process of the consolidation of the Ottoman Empire was carried on by cutting off some of its most important members. But, my Lords, the noble Marquess went on to say that there had been substituted for these visionary and misty guarantees another Treaty, and that, I think he said, was a simple form of engagement in which only two Powers were concerned, and the pledges involved were sure to be fulfilled. What has become of that Treaty? What were its provisions? Your Lordships probably know. They were, no doubt, simple. In the first place, the Ottoman Government agreed, or rather promised, that there should be reforms as regarded Armenia. On our part we engaged to defend the Turks if attacked in Asia Minor by Russia; and to enable us to perform that engagement we received possession of Cyprus. Has the condition of the Armenians been reformed? Instead of that they have been massacred. Are we about, at any time, to defend the Turks from the Russians in Asia Minor? I do not believe there is a single man in this country who would now venture to call upon this country to recur to what the Noble Marquess justly called "that antiquated policy." Nothing remains except our possession of the Island of Cyprus, the advantages of which to this country have never been very clear, and I confess I should very much like to hear an authoritative declaration from the Government as to the present position of that Treaty. Is it entirely dead, in their opinion, or does any part of it exist? If so, is there any intention on the part of any one to carry it into effect? It may not be quite out of place if, in a few words, I refer to the general features of the policy of this country in the Levant. You know—I remember it well—that for many years the policy of this country was to induce the Ottoman Government to reform, hoping that by reform we might put off for ever that terrible problem of what might happen on the break up of the Ottoman Empire. ["Hear, hear!"] I do not think all the opprobrium which has been cast upon that policy is deserved, because I imagine there is no man in Europe who has ever been in any way responsible for affairs who does not look with the deepest apprehension on what must happen whenever that break up takes place. That being so, I think the Statesmen of the past were justified perhaps, hoping against hope, in using every possible endeavour to prevent that catastrophe by inducing the Ottoman Government to introduce such tolerable reforms of government, not only as regards Christians, but Mahomedans, for I am sure the sympathies of the people of this country are not confined to the Christians, but we wish that the Mahomedans, in whom we have an interest as the greatest Mahomedan Power in the world, should also be well governed. The Statesmen of the past certainly had justification for their policy, but, unfortunately, history has shown that that policy has signally failed. It has completely failed, because the administration of the Ottoman Empire seems to be full of incurable defects, which render it practically impossible to carry into effect reforms which may be put on paper and look plausible, but which, unless carried out by honest and efficient instruments, can have no permanent or lasting effect. In these circumstances I cannot take otherwise than—as the noble Marquess must take—a gloomy view of the situation. Doubtless in our present position we are thrown back on the old attempt to induce the Sultan, who really is the Government of Turkey, to in some way ameliorate the condition of the people whom he oppresses. If the noble Marquess can tell us that progress has been made, I am confident there is no man in this House who will not hear it with the liveliest satisfaction. Much has been said with regard to our relations in the East with Russia, and it may be that the difficulty of conducting these relations—I am afraid it must be—has been increased by the remembrance Russia has of how she was thwarted by the Berlin Treaty, which I always regarded as a most unfortunate instrument. She, no doubt, has deeply felt that when she was in a position to secure it to the Armenians she was constrained by the other Powers to retire from the position she won at the expense of much blood and treasure. But I will not waste time in useless regrets about the past. The real question is, What can be done in the present? And I welcome the expression of opinion which the noble Marquess gave in picturesque phrase that opposition to Russia in the East was an antiquated policy.


I do not think I used precisely those words.


Any opposition, I think you said, or antagonism on the part of this country.


I said I thought the selection of Russia from among, other Powers as a Power to which this country should be in opposition was antiquated.


Quite so. I understood the noble Marquess meant that it was an antiquated policy to consider Russia as specially antagonistic to this country. I regard that—I do not say as an admission—but us a declaration of great value, and in my humble way I assure the noble Marquess that entirely agree with it. As far as I was able during the short time I had the honour to hold the post that the noble Marquess now holds, I endeavoured to act on that principle. The noble Marquess knows I made every effort to obtain the co-operation of Russia in this matter. Up to a certain point I obtained it. I acted not only because I think our relations with Russia in the East are the key of the whole position, but I was desirous of making it plain to the Russian Government that, whatever had been the past, it was the object of this country to act with Russia in the future. My hopes were disappointed. There came a moment—as the papers which have been laid before the House show clearly—when the Russian. Government was not prepared to go any further with us in the direction in which we desired to move. In these circumstances, no doubt, the course the noble Marquess has taken of invoking the assistance of all the Powers is the only alternative which remained. Has he had any success in that effort? Although I cannot prejudge our opinion when we see the papers, I will say on my own behalf, and on the behalf of all who share our opinions, that I believe' we shall find the noble Marquess has spared no effort to obtain, if possible, some distinct and plain remedy for the terrible evils under which the subjects of the Sultan now suffer. In that hope I rest and say no more. Rut I feel that the subject is one of far-reaching importance, not only because of the condition of the Christian population in Armenia, but of the danger to all Europe of the condition of the Ottoman Empire. The noble Marquess will have recognised on the part of those opposed to the Government that there has not been the slightest desire to embarrass the Government in the conduct of these difficult negotiations. We should have been prepared to give our hearty support to the Government in any measures short of such as would have involved this country in war. As regards isolated action I read with pleasure what the noble Marquess said at the Guildhall, that—without in the least indicating that he was prepared for isolated action—he was not one of those who put aside isolated action as impossible in certain circumstances. I do not think it is in any way desirable that the position should be laid down as regards such a country as this that we are precluded from isolated action where circumstances render such isolated action desirable and not dangerous to the peace of the world. But I agree that isolated action which would have plunged Europe into war would never be justified, and ought never to be undertaken. I now pass to another subject. The next most important paragraph in the Queen's Speech to those paragraphs to which I have referred is that which tells us what has taken place in Dongola, and here I cannot possibly refrain from expressing my admiration of the manner in which that expedition was conducted, and the feeling, which I know is universal, that the greatest honour is due to the gallant officer who commanded the troops, and to the Egyptian troops themselves, who upon this occasion seemed to have proved that they have profited by the discipline to which they have been subject, and are troops who can be depended upon to do their duty in whatever circumstances they are placed. So far as the success of the expedition is concerned, I think there is no one in this country who does not, as a military event, regard it with complete satisfaction. But when I come to the policy which has induced the Government to go forward in this direction I confess I part company with them. What we have never known—and what, I think, the country has a right to know—clearly is what is the policy of the Government as regards the Soudan. I cannot see what has been gained by the mystery in which that policy has been involved, not only in this country, but elsewhere in Europe. That mysterious policy has been viewed with surprise, and—as is natural—with suspicion. I think we gain nothing by increasing, that suspicion, nor do I believe anything is gained by our not having a full disclosure of the policy in view. We have had various statements. Lord Cromer, who must have been well informed of the intentions of the Government, made a speech at a banquet given to Sir H. Kitchener, in which he said, "Gentlemen, the primary object of the cam- paign has been accomplished." What was that primary object? That object, according to Lord Cromer, was to remove the pressure upon the army of a nation which is connected by very close bonds of sympathy and friendship with England and Egypt. I am extremely glad that any opportunity should have occurred of relieving the pressure upon our friendly and cordial allies, the Italians. But that could not have been, I should have thought, the primary object, because we have heard from other sources that the object was to retrieve the honour of this country by reconquering the Soudan. If the honour of this country is involved in the reconquest of the Soudan, I would ask the noble Marquess how it came about that the honour of this country was not infringed by the conclusion of the well-known Drummond-Wolff Convention, which provided for the evacuation of Egypt without any condition that previously to that convention the Soudan should have been reconquered. If it is dishonourable now not to reconquer the Soudan, it must have been so then. I do not, therefore, see precisely upon what grounds that rests. ["Hear, hear!"] The Speech certainly throws some new light on the policy of the Government, because it says that the way has been opened for a further advance whenever such a step shall be judged desirable. What must be the meaning of that sentence? It must mean that the advance is to go steadily on as circumstances render it expedient to move until the Soudan has been recovered. If it does not mean that, I do not know what it means. Let me ask what that involves. In the first place, I assume that it is in the power of this country to reconquer the Soudan. But, I would ask, at whose expense is that to be done? We have seen that the expense does not fall upon the Egyptian funds, because, unfortunately, the Powers who have a certain control in Egyptian affairs objected to those funds being called upon to bear the expense for the purposes of the Egyptian expedition, and we have been obliged to recoup the Egyptian Government for that which they had, according to the decision of the tribunal, unjustly taken. I do not conceive that anyone imagines that the reconquest of the Soudan can be accom- plished with Egyptian funds, and the cost, therefore, I suppose, would fall upon this country. But look what would take place if the Soudan were reconquered. You could not retire from that territory until you had firmly established the Egyptians there. To imagine that that would not take a considerable time—probably many years—seems to me entirely mistaken. To abandon the Egyptians in the Soudan, after placing them there, before they were firmly established seems to me a most unfavourable proposition as regards Egypt. We should probably have to remain in the Soudan many years, and English officers would have to control the Egyptians there for a considerable time. I am not a Little Englander, but I have this feeling—that this country does ill when it establishes itself on great continents far away from its naval base, and in; countries which can only be held by large armed forces. That I believe to be contrary to the true policy of this country; and, therefore, it is my view that if the reconquest of the Soudan were accomplished, not only should we in no way have strengthened this country, but weakened it to a considerable extent. For that reason I view with alarm the indication, as I take it, that the reconquest of the Soudan is actually and really aimed at. I know these are, to a certain extent, assumptions on my part, and I should be glad to hear what precisely is the policy Her Majesty's Government intends to pursue towards the Soudan. ["Hear, hear!"] We next have a reference to a very sad calamity indeed which has befallen India. A famine has broken out, perhaps more extended than almost any famine there has been for a long period of years, coupled with a visitation of a plague which is of a most alarming kind when joined with destitution, and consequent disease in large bodies of the population. I feel the deepest sympathy with the calamity that has befallen India, but I have confidence that the Government of India, as far as human means and skill will avail, will deal promptly and efficiently with the calamity. ["Hear, hear!"] They have vast experience as regards the management of measures for the relief of famine. They have a very efficient staff, and I think the people of this country may rest assured that the skill, energy, and self-devotion which characterises the Indian servants, under the guidance of my noble Friend, Lord Elgin, will spare no effort to alleviate the suffering. ["Hear, hear!"] There is a reference also in the Speech to the rebellion in Matabeleland. South Africa is a very tempting theme, but I will not trouble your Lordships by a long series of observations on that question. What I will say is that I sincerely trust that, in the most important Inquiry which is about to take place in the other House, not only will the circumstances of the deplorable raid be thoroughly investigated, but also the whole system of government of Matabeleland and Mashonaland, in order to see whether it is now placed on a satisfactory basis, and if that basis be not found satisfactory to devise how it can be made better. More than that I do not desire to say, except that I have an earnest hope, notwithstanding all the calamitous results of that most unfortunate raid, that by patience and good management in this country and at the Cape, the wounds may gradually be healed, and you may in time achieve that which is essential to the prosperity of South Africa—namely, the establishment of a thorough good sentiment between both Dutch and British in these colonies, with, ultimately, such a fusion between them as may insure the permanent good of a country which has made so wonderful a development lately, and which, I am satisfied, has before it a great future. ["Hear, hear!"] These are the principal topics to which I need refer, and I come to other matters which are not quite so exciting. I am extremely edified by what is, I think, quite a new characteristic of the Speech—namely, the extreme caution with which the measures are introduced. [Laughter.] The singular thing is that so impressed were Her Majesty's Government with the danger that their measures may never be brought before Parliament, that they have not been satisfied with saying it once, but twice over they have said that further legislative proposals will be brought before you if the time at your disposal suffices for the purpose. Then, after all, the measures are enumerated, and we are told that' they will be considered if opportunity should be found to lay them before you. I can quite understand what the feeling of Her Majesty's Government must be by the experience of last Session. They then had announced a very large number of measures, and owing to the very unfortunate fate of their principal measure—that upon education—they never, in fact, arrived at the point when these measures could be considered. Warned by that, they have put in this caution. I hope it is not an indication that the education measure of the present Session will block their way, though if it at all resemble the measure of last Session nothing would give me greater pleasure than that it should receive the same fate. ["Hear, hear!"] I am willing to hope for better things, and I am sure if the measure of education is of a simple character and directed really, not to the upsetting of the whole of our present system, but to rendering thoroughly efficient the voluntary schools, then I think it will receive very general support, and, we hope, may pass through Parliament in time to enable some of the other measures mentioned to be considered. ["Hear, hear!"] There are one or two measures of some little interest, one of which relates to the amendment of the Agricultural Holdings Act of Great Britain. I confess, until the speech of the Seconder of the Address, I was not nearly sagacious enough to discover that underneath that lies the carrying into effect of some portions of the recommendations of the Commission on the Welsh land. That, doubtless, renders it an interesting proposal. The noble Lord, who served upon the Commission, has told us, more or less, how far he is inclined to go. It appears that there are a good many of his compatriots in Wales who are inclined to go rather farther than he. When we see the measure and know precisely what it does, we shall be able to judge whether it is likely to satisfy the very extended desires which manifested themselves in Wales for a reform of the land system, and I shall abstain from any comment upon the matter until I know what is proposed. Then you are told that, in the interests of agriculture, which are of paramount importance in Ireland, you will be asked to consider a Bill for the establishment of a Board of Agriculture in that country. I confess that paragraph almost took my breath away. The importance of it is so great that, looking at the various subjects now occupying attention in Ireland, I rather wondered whether it was to be regarded as the solution of certain questions which are not usually brought before this House—questions with regard to the financial arrangements in Ireland, which seem to be much more likely to occupy the attention than the constitution of this Agricultural Board. ["Hear, hear!"] I shall be uncommonly surprised if the constitution of this Board removes any portion, even the smallest, of the very serious difficulties which have arisen in connection with the question to which I have alluded, and which I have no doubt we shall hear much more of, though perhaps not so much in this House. It has already produced results in Ireland of the most surprising kind, and amongst others has enabled us to say, upon authority which cannot possibly be denied, the authority of Mr. Daly, that we have amongst us an Irish Washington. [Laughter.] These, I believe, are all the measures to which I need allude. I must apologise to the House for the length at which I have addressed them. The subjects are of considerable importance. I have said what I thought it necessary to say upon this occasion, and I hope the noble Marquess will not think in the observations I have made on foreign policy, although I have criticised some particular points, that I have done so with the slightest intention of embarrassing his conduct of a Department which my experience tells me is beset with difficulties, and the successful conduct of which is not of interest to one Party, but to all, the object being that friendly relations with other Powers should be preserved and the honour of this country firmly upheld. [Cheers.]


, who was received with loud cheers, said: My first and most agreeable duty is to congratulate the noble Earl on his reappearance as the Leader of the Party to which he belongs. We had so much experience before of the admirable manner in which he performed his duties and of the fidelity with which he observed the traditions and practices of this House, and I am bound to say also of his consideration to his opponents, that it is with considerable satisfaction that I see him take up the reins again. But I must not omit to express, as he did, a great and deep regret for the retirement for the moment from among us of the Earl of Rosebery from a position of authority. ["Hear, hear!"] The noble Lord is a man exceedingly popular in private life, and, I think, not less popular in public life, and the ability with which he conducted a position of exceeding difficulty I think won the sympathy of all. [Cheers.] Perhaps I may say that he is happy in the opportunity of his retirement, because he was enabled to mark upon an interesting period of his country's history not only the proof of his own purity of motive, but the high standard by which he judged the duty of public men in foreign affairs. He made a most patriotic and, I may say, a most useful and beneficial speech. I should be inclined to add that I do not see why that speech should involve his retirement from the leadership of his Party. ["Hear, hear!"] But if I pursued that subject I should be meddling with affairs which do not concern me, and so I must not pursue that train of thought. I agree with very many things which the noble Earl has said, and, I need not say, among the first with the congratulations which he offered to Her Majesty for the remarkable and unique period to which her reign has run and for the marvellous effect which the success of that reign and the contemplation of her character have produced, not only upon the affections of her own people, but upon the respect of the whole civilised world. [Cheers.] And those who, like the noble Lord, have had the opportunity of watching the working of that character more nearly can testify to the effects and benignant influence which it has always worked on the conduct of constitutional policy, and can bear witness to the extent to which the peculiar characteristics displayed by the Queen have enabled constitutional government to attain to a success to which it has never attained in any other part of the world. [Cheers.] I must also tender my hearty congratulations to the noble Friends behind me for the speeches which they have delivered. The late Lord Bath was for a great number of years a friend of mine, and I admired him in the instances—unfortunately few—in which he showed his powers and his knowledge of public business in this House. I am very pleased to feel, from the specimen which we have heard to-night, that his son will succeed to all his powers, and I hope he will give us more Constant assistance in the conduct of the business that may come before us. The speeches we heard both from the Mover and the Seconder—I speak, I am afraid, now from a very considerable experience—stand on a very-high level in the list of those to which in succeeding years we have listened on similar occasions. I ought not to pass by a sadder strain in the speech of the noble Earl, by which he wished to record his deep regret for the loss which net only the English Church, but the English nation, has sustained by the death of Archbishop Benson. ["Hear, hear!"] He was a man very singularly gifted for the position he occupied. He was not remarkable for many of the qualities which often distinguish those of his profession. I do not think that men will put him high as an eloquent preacher or speaker, but he was singularly powerful in the government of men. He was a peacemaker and brought men together, and he led the Church in a most difficult period, without sacrificing any of the veneration he enjoyed, or any of those principles which he held, for the benefit of the nation at large. ["Hear, hear!"] Now I come to the substance of the noble Lord's speech. Of course, as we know, every road leads to Rome, and every debate ends in Armenia. [Laughter.] On Armenia I must say a word. It appeared to me that the criticisms of the noble Lord amounted to Hansardising the speeches delivered by me in the year 1878. I do not believe that any person who is the most enamoured of his own eloquence could ever remember what he said 20 years ago. ["Hear, hear!"] The noble Earl ought, I think, kindly to have given me notice, so that I might have refreshed my memory. But I am afraid I must hand my consistency over to him, for, whilst I may have said what he attributes to me, or may have said something in addition which qualities its meaning, I am now powerless to contest the point. But I do demur very much to the tone adopted by the noble Lord and those who think with him with reference to Lord Beaconsfield's policy in 1878. They seem to think that Lord Beaconsfield invented it, that with a light heart he took up the difficult cause which he felt bound to advocate, and that the policy was purely selected by himself. But the policy was not selected by himself; it was inherited from others, and those others were the very opponents who were denouncing him. The noble Lord says that our difficulties with Russia are increased by the recollection of the Treaty of Berlin. Does he imagine that they are not increased by the recollection of the Crimean war? ["Hear, hear!"] There is no doubt that Lord Beaconsfield adopted a policy which is exposed in this to criticism, that the hopes he entertained were not fulfilled, and that the difficulties which he had to meet have recurred to us. But it was not his policy from the first—he was not the author of it—which bound up our hopes and expectations in the regeneration of the Turkish Empire. Others in Europe felt the scepticism which is tolerably general now, and doubted the expediency of making the success of Ottoman institutions the cardinal principle in our policy and aims. Among those was the Emperor Nicholas I. He made proposals which, I imagine, if they were made now would be gladly accepted. He made proposals in 1851. Were they refused by the benighted Tories?


It was later than 1851.


I think the conversation with Sir H. Seymour took place in 1851.


It took place in the beginning of 1853.


Well, Lord Palmerston was in that Government, but it was Lord Clarendon, of whom the noble Lord was the subordinate, who adopted that policy. I do not venture to censure the decision to which Lord Clarendon came when he refused to accept the proposal of the Emperor Nicholas for dividing the influence which the Great Powers should exercise on the Turkish Empire. It was very startling, it ran against many current feelings and prepossessions, and was exposed to great danger. I am not surprised at—I do not venture to censure—the choice to which Lord Clarendon and his colleagues came; but I am bound to say that if you call upon me to look back and to interpret the present by the past, to lay on this shoulder or on that the responsibility for the difficulties in which we find ourselves now, the parting of the ways was in 1853, when the Emperor Nicholas's proposals were rejected. Many Members of this House will keenly feel the nature of the mistake that was made when I say that we put all our money upon the wrong horse. [Laughter.] It may be in the experience of those who have done the same thing that it is not very easy to withdraw from a step of that kind when it has once been taken—[laughter]—and that you are practically obliged to go on. All that Lord Beaconsfield did was to carry out the policy which his predecessors had laid down. I was acquainted with Lord Beaconsfield's thoughts at that time; he was not free from misgiving, but he felt that unity of policy in this great country was something so essential, and that the danger of shifting from one policy to another without perfectly seeing all the results to which you would come, was so paramount that he always said that the policy of Lord Palmerston must be upheld. He still entertained hopes which I did not entertain in quite the same degree. But those hopes have not been justified. I shall not describe the present condition of the Turkish Empire; it would not be decorous; besides, the noble Earl has done it for me. But that we are placed in a position of exceeding difficulty in consequence of those historic events is a matter that cannot be disputed, and the difficulty lies in this—neither our own feelings, nor the feelings of those we represent, nor the enlightened conscience of the day in which we live will allow us to look with absolute indifference to what is going on. And yet how small our power of modifying the results of those events must be! When I succeeded to office the point on which I was disposed to criticise the noble Lord's policy was that I thought he had not made it sufficiently clear to himself whether the other Powers, especially Russia, were prepared to support him, or how far they were prepared to go. We indulged occasionally in hopes, prompted by language we heard, but the issue, as everyone knows, was that Russia was not prepared to go on. The statement was made categorically, and from that moment, I think, our individual and isolated responsibility disappeared. We became again simply signatories to the Treaty of Paris. The noble Lord is very angry with the Treaty of Paris, and wishes to substitute for it the Treaty of Berlin. But he will not improve his position. The Treaty of Berlin directly confirms and re-enacts all that is contained in the Treaty of Paris; so it mattered little which he referred to. We are still signatories of that Treaty. I do not see we can take any other course except to exert what influence we may possess with the other Powers of Europe to induce them to press on the Sultan such reforms as may be necessary not only to save his subjects from massacre, but to preserve his own empire from a ruin which, if he does not take the requisite precautions in time, cannot be long delayed. ["Hear, hear!"] We have done that. We have urged our views on the other Powers. They do not as a rule disagree with us: none of them disagree with us, I think, in their horror of what has taken place. It is, I think, natural they should be more deeply impressed than we are with the terrible alternative of European war which any error or mistake in the application of pressure on the Sultan might possibly bring about. The noble Lord will see, when he reads the papers which I have laid on the Table to-night, that the Powers are agreed as to the necessity of taking these matters into consideration, and doing their utmost to find out the remedies by which the Sultan's empire might be saved. They, I think, are generally agreed that it is possible at all events that if he refuses, material pressure will have to be applied by the rest of Europe; but there are slight differences in the wording in which those views are expressed, which will appear at once to noble Lords when they read the dispatches, far more clearly than I could venture to safely indicate at this table, and the precise extent to which the various Powers have contemplated the possibility of having to apply the material pressure in order to enforce reforms on the Turkish Empire. My own conviction is strong that, unless some very essential reforms in the conduct of the government are adopted, the doom of the Turkish Empire cannot be very long postponed. [Cheers.] I think that many, and some of the most important, of the other Powers do not differ materially from us in that respect. But if I said that they had pledged themselves to use force it might be thought that I had used a slightly too strong expression. The pledge is, of course, a matter of exceeding importance, and they have used care and circumspection in the language which they have employed. But they are all convinced that, unless the Powers can agree and the Sultan can agree with us as to introducing genuine and effective reforms in the extravagant autocracy which prevails in Turkey at this moment, the worst results must follow. ["Hear, hear!"] I shall not attempt to justify the conduct of Her Majesty's Government, among other reasons, for this. Directly you form part of a concert with other Powers and lose no doubt a part of your responsibility, you lose also the right of frankly defending yourself. You cannot state all you have done, the impediments you may have met; you cannot examine in public, as we are accustomed to do, your own conduct before the world. We can only say that in taking this attitude, not very common for English Governments, we have pursued a course which we believe was the best for restoring the Turkish Empire and which we certainly think is far the most expedient, in order to obtain that object of paramount importance—the preservation of the peace of Europe. [Cheers.] I will now say a word about a matter where we are decidedly acting with—if I may so express myself—abundant isolation; I mean the Egyptian campaign. [Laughter.] But there again I have a difficulty. The noble Lord is very inquisitive. He wants to know a great many things. He wants to know what we are going to do, why we are going to do it, how we intend to overcome this difficulty and that difficulty. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to expound the whole of our policy in the minutest details to the noble Lord if I could have the noble Lord alone. [Laughter.) But I am afraid other people will overhear what I am saying to the noble Lord; and there is one person who will overhear, and he is the last person I desire to inform on the subject—the Khalifa of Omdurman. ["Hear, hear!"] His sources of intelligence are very great, and if I explained all our military intentions with the frankness which the noble Lord asks, I am not sure but he would draw some advantage from that indiscretion on our part. I hope, however, that the ultimate result will show that he judged us too harshly. Of course, there are financial questions which will be duly exposed to the other House. I do not remember the figures well enough to enter upon them now, but they are matters on which the House of Commons will no doubt require full information. But as to our general plan I venture to repeat what I said last summer—that one of the objects for which we occupy Dongola was because it was on the highway to Khartoum—[cheers]—and that we do look upon the occupation of Khartoum sooner or later as the objective to which we are urged alike by our desire to efface something of what took place ten years ago, and also by our desire to extirpate from the earth one of the vilest and cruellest despotisms which has ever been seen, something compared to which the worst performances of the worst minion of the palace at Constantinople are bright and saintly deeds, and because we desire to pour into the lap of Egypt those countless treasures of industry and commerce which the fertile valley of the Nile is prepared to carry down as of old, if we only remove the cruel hand which has hitherto stifled the industry of the Egyptian and the Soudanese people. [Cheers.] I am very unfortunate in every desire I have had to speak with the utmost frankness to the noble Lord. I have always found one figure in my path. I cannot tell him all about Armenia, owing to the concert of Europe; I cannot speak freely of the military operations that may happen in the next five years in the Soudan on account of the Khalifa; and I cannot speak quite freely about the Arbitration Treaty because it is not yet ratified. But I do not think on that matter I need expend much effort in convincing the noble Lord. He probably agrees with me as heartily as anyone else as to the advantages which such a treaty will confer if it could be ratified, and I am merely taking up a thread which had broken in the hand of a Secretary of State two years ago. I will make one observation of a general kind. You must not think that we are the victim of millennial anticipations if we hope that something may be done by an Arbitration Treaty to diminish the risk of war. I do not say that it will remove the greatest risks of war. I do not say that it would restrain a Napoleon or a Bismarck; but diplomacy is full of an indefinite number of small differences which are caught up by the people and the Press of both countries and which, written about, exaggerated, and enlarged upon, tend to diminish the friendship which exists between them, and even to give birth to a feeling of alienation and resentment. The power of immediately going to a tribunal to settle these things would prevent a process so injurious to the good will of nations, and especially between two nations who understand each other unfortunately so well that if we are not friends it is almost inevitable we should be enemies. But there is still a further reason and advantage in the existence of the arbitration system; and this arises from the prevalence of popular institutions in most of the countries of the world. In most countries of the world there are Ministers who govern, and there are Members of Parliament and others who criticise them. Those Members of Parliament are of various shades of thought, but their body generally contains one especial section of whom I speak with all respect, though I must give them a familiar name—they are known as Jingoes in popular estimation. They are very patriotic men and the warmth of their patriotism sometimes clouds their appreciation of details; but they exist in all countries. [Laughter.] You will always find when you are discussing a matter with a Minister that one of the principal subjects which preoccupies him is how he is to furnish an account of the matter which shall be sufficiently soothing to this very excitable portion of his critics. [Laughter.] Now, my belief is that a well working arbitration system would be an invaluable bulwark to defend the Minister from the Jingoes. [Laughter.] It would be impossible for them to accuse him of having trifled with the honour of the country, or with surrendering substantial advantages, if he could say:—"Well, I submitted the matter to an impartial tribunal as provided by treaty, and unfortunately the decision went against us." It is impossible not to feel that a Minister, even of the most sturdy and patriotic character, would negotiate with a freer hand and with more determination if he were absolutely secured from danger of interference of this kind. But I am not saying this with any reference to our own country; because I think that in this country less than in others Ministers' hands are forced by criticisms of this sort. But take a larger view. What would you say is the great change which has passed over Europe since the older of us were young men? It is this tremendous increase in the burdens which the necessity of self-defence has cast upon every nation of the world. That burden goes on getting higher and higher; a larger and larger part of the population is devoted to military service; more and more money has to be spent in the provision of the mechanical apparatus of war; and, as the conquests of science are extended, not only are all previous efforts determined to be obsolete and have to be thrown away and something new introduced in their place, but a larger and larger proportion of the public wealth has to be devoted to this unremunerative purpose. The burden has become so serious to many nations that many have thought that the day will come when nations will rather rush into war and provoke a decision once for all than continue to groan under the sufferings which modern necessity forces upon them. I do not say that arbitration would put an end to this; but while the evil is growing surely it is our duty to make an effort, as time and opportunity offer, to provide some system which shall be in some degree a substitute for this ruinous necessity, and so apply to public war that remedy which was applied by the same means to private war many centuries ago. I believe that the measure we have taken will be principally valuable in this—that it will lead to other measures of the same kind, and that we—those of us who live—shall have the advantage of seeing the necessity for these vast armaments gradually disappear before the growth of that which we have begun, within the bounds of our own nation, to regard as a necessity of civilised life—the substitution of judicial decisions for the coarse arbitrament of force. [Cheers.] This, my Lords, if we achieve it, will be an achievement on which it will be pleasant to look back? I hope that this effort, small as it is, will be successful, and that others will have the privilege of carrying it out still further and of making its efficacy still greater. [Cheers.]


said that no mention was made in the Queen's Speech of the finding of the Commission on Financial Relations. But as he understood that that omission was a matter of Parliamentary procedure, he and his Friends should not raise the question at present. The matter was of the greatest importance to people in Ireland, and, indeed, to both countries; and, therefore, he and his Friends had decided that it would be wise to put down a notice on the Paper and bring it forward for discussion at an early and convenient date.


desired to call attention to the Irish measures which were to be brought forward. He regretted that the only Bill to which allusion was made besides the Board of Agriculture Bill was ranked among those which were to be dealt with if time permitted One of the most pressing of Irish questions—the provision of University education for Catholics—was not even mentioned, though the grievance had been admitted for more than 20 years. As an Irish Liberal Unionist, he thought it most important that such a question should be dealt with by a Unionist Government. As to the measure for constituting a Board of Agriculture in Ireland, much disappointment had been caused in Ireland by the employment of the word "Board," which had in Ireland a special significance. It meant a Dublin Castle bureau, and was accordingly regarded with great suspicion by the great mass of the population. He wished to urge on Her Majesty's Government that the old lines should not be followed in the appointment of this Board; that it should not be made subservient to Dublin Castle; that it should be framed to command the confidence of the great bulk of the agricultural population, and to attract the popular imagination some representative element should be introduced. He hoped the Government would approach the question in a broad and liberal spirit.

Motion agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.