§ *THE EARL OF HARDWICKE (who wore Court dress)
My Lords, I have the hon- 6 our to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in reply to her Gracious Speech from the Throne. In asking your Lordships' kind consideration, I am able to advance the same claim as was made by the noble Marquess, who so admirably performed this duty last year, in that this is the first occasion on which I have had the privilege of occupying a seat on these Benches. In my case, my Lords, there is still further need for your kind indulgence, as I have never had an opportunity of speaking in another place, where the noble Marquess moved the Address ten years before. My Lords, you will have heard with satisfaction of the conclusion of the negotiations between the Sultan of Turkey and the King of Greece. We cannot but regret that a Cretan autonomy is not yet an accomplished fact, and we must deplore that the European Concert has, so far, been unsuccessful in selecting a Governor. Your Lordships may have been reminded, during the course of these negotiations, of an epigram by a former distinguished and brilliant Member of your Lordships' House—namely, The irresistible spell of courteous delay." My Lords, if all the Courts of Europe had been at one in desiring a speedy settlement of this question, if there had been no wish on the part of any Power to obtain material interests for itself by identifying itself with the Sultan's Sovereignty, there can be no doubt that this matter would ere now have been brought to a successful issue. Unfortunately, my Lords, when several equal parties are engaged in a negotiation, it is always possible for any one of them, by obstruction, to impede the progress of the others. I certainly do not for a moment believe that any responsibility can rest with Her Majesty's Government for any of the delays which have occurred in this matter. My Lords, I turn to the passages in Her Majesty's gracious speech referring to India. One can hardly help feeling, and I say it with all reverence, that the burden of India might have been in the prophetic minds of the framers of our Litany when they petitioned for deliverance from "Lightning and tempest, from plague, pestilence, and famine, from battle, murder, and from sudden death, from all sedition, privy conspiracy and rebellion." Surely, my 7 Lords, nature and man combined together to trouble the peace of India during the past year. Earthquakes and convulsions of nature were a fitting accompaniment to plague and famine. Your Lordships will welcome the assurance in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech that the famine is well-nigh over, and I hope I may be allowed to add a tribute to the splendid and successful efforts of the Indian Government, so heartily and so generously seconded by the public at home, to cope with India's traditional scourge. We cannot but regret that Her Majesty was unable to use the same reassuring language in regard to the plague; but, at least, we can gain some small satisfaction in the knowledge that, in its present form, it is not of so destructive a character as before. The question of the Frontier involves considerations of a different, and, in some ways, more delicate nature. As to the causes of the rising on the North-West Boundary, I do not propose to attempt to define them, nor do I propose to waste your Lordships' time in discussing what might have been. All are agreed that the outbreak, having taken place, had to be put down. The forts that had been lost had to be recovered, and England's prestige had to be vindicated. As has been said by a distinguished critic of the Forward Policy:The Afghan tribes have appealed to the arbitrament of the sword, and their challenge is accepted.My Lords, the appeal to the sword having been made, there can be no doubt that the daring bravery, and the traditional endurance, of our British soldiers, side by side with Native troops, have never been excelled, and this splendid record will be the best consolation to those—alas, only too many—families who are now mourning sons and brothers who have fallen in the field. General Sir William Lockhart, with his vast experience and knowledge of tribal warfare, has commended, in the highest possible terms, every soldier, both British and Native, serving in this campaign. My Lords, if this campaign has lasted long, and is not yet over, anyone who has attempted to master the difficulties, the intricacies, and the complications which it must entail, will not be surprised that it takes so long to bring to a conclusion. We can only hope 8 that it will be terminated at no very distant date, and then Her Majesty's. Government will have to deal with one of the most difficult problems of Indian policy in modern days, a difficulty enhanced by the terrible trials through which British India has lately been passing. The policy of Her Majesty's, Government, and of the Government of India, has been the object of considerable criticism, but I most respectfully submit that the action of Her Majesty's Government is demonstrably in accord with the policy continuously pursued by successive Administrations during the past 20 years. The departure from that policy is not to be found in any action of Her Majesty's Government, but it is to be found in the intentions of the late Government in regard to the abandonment of Chitral. The author of "Problems of Greater Britain," himself a Member of the Liberal Government, in 1880 writes:The policy of the second Administration of Mr. Gladstone, in the Afghan matter, is of some historical and some present importance.And it was a portion of this policy that we should extend our frontier, or our authority, up to the Afghan boundary. Whatever may be said as to the desirability of a policy of simple reliance on the friendship of independent frontier tribes, there can be no doubt that circumstances have greatly changed since the days of Sir John Lawrance, and those changes cannot but have left some impression on Frontier Policy. Do not recent experiences in connection with the Khyber Pass prove almost conclusively that it is necessary to have some additional security to the spontaneous goodwill of independent tribes? My Lords, there is one aspect of this Indian question which unites us all. It is no Party matter; it is a national question. It is a question of Imperial integrity, and, however much we may differ as to means, we are all one in the ends at which we aim. My Lords, turning to Ireland, the policy foreshadowed in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech is no new departure of any kind. It is merely the development of Unionist Policy long since laid before the country. In 1886 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer laid down the lines of Irish Local Government reform in terms of unmistakable 9 clearness. The cardinal points of the Irish Policy of the Unionist Party have always been, first, the restoration and maintenance of social order; second, an equitable and safe scheme of land purchase, in the direction of increasing the number of occupying tenants; and, third, Irish Local Government reform. My Lords, the first two points have been dealt with, and, I think, with no small measure of success, and now the whole scheme of policy is about to be completed. It is true that the Unionist Party have not been able, so far, to extend the scheme of Local Government laid down under the Act of 1888 to Ireland simultaneously with Great Britain, but their pledge to deal with this question has never been forgotten. In 1892 a real and honest attempt was made to deal with this question. A comprehensive Bill was introduced to establish Local Government in Ireland on the same broad, popular basis in respect of the franchise as exists in England and Scotland, but at that time the Government, in their extreme care to provide against every risk and contingency which the peculiar necessity of Ireland could suggest, hedged round, and, if I may use the expression, over-safeguarded the measure with minute and elaborate precautions. But, necessary as this array of safeguards seemed to the Government, it was not unnatural that it gave rise to a large amount of criticism and no inconsiderable opposition. It became evident, apart from the special political exigencies of that year, that the Bill could only be passed with difficulty after many weeks' discussion, even if at all. Your Lordships will, I hope, pardon this recapitulation, but it seems to me that the difficulties of the past have a direct bearing on the proposals of the present. I gather, in its main lines, that the Measure to be submitted to Parliament will correspond with the system already in force in England, Scotland, and Wales. As in the previous Bill, Councils will be established on the same free, broad, popular basis in every county in Ireland. These councils will have the same administrative functions as exist throughout the United Kingdom. The point of difference between the two schemes has been foreshadowed to us in the extremely able and ingenious proposals already laid before the country 10 by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. These proposals he has explained will entail a very large annual contribution from the Imperial Exchequer, as part of his scheme of Local Government for Ireland, and he has expressed his confidence that he will receive the support of the country in giving even this large annual contribution, if thereby some great advantage of the public policy can be obtained. My Lords, I think you will agree that if a satisfactory scheme of Local Government for Ireland can be accomplished by this contribution, and thereby the policy of 1886 consummated, a great advantage of public policy will have been obtained. There is one advantage in particular which by this policy, judging by our experience of its working in Great Britain, may also be secured for Ireland. Is it too much to hope that, by bringing together different parties and different classes on the same popularly-elected bodies this policy may go a long way towards removing some of those unfortunate social divisions which, taking root far back into Irish political history, though happily healing, have not had time completely to disappear. I am sanguine that the right hon. Gentleman will find that his confidence in the English people has not been misplaced. My Lords, coming nearer home, and in reference to the measure that Her Majesty's Ministers propose to bring in for the better government of London, there is no doubt a very widespread feeling that London government, as it is to-day, is, in many respects, unsatisfactory. We have communities with populations as large as many of our great manufacturing towns in the North, with proportionate industrial and private interests—in reality, large towns treated as parishes, and furnished with only a parochial form of government. Both historically and actually a Vestry is obviously inadequate as the administrative machinery for such communities, which have, indeed, but a very faint resemblance of the old-time parish. It seems to me that what is required is some scheme by which the form of Local Government may be made to agree with the facts, and this anomaly removed. I do not think the Government could have devised a better means of meeting this difficulty than by an incor- 11 porating measure, giving these really large towns the same form of Government, with similar power and prestige, which they undoubtedly would long since have enjoyed had they not had the misfortune to be lost in the County of London. As long ago as 1888 the Government of the day paved the way for this reform by treating London, not as one town, but as a county, and, as far as I can understand, the proposed measure will not in any way interfere with the County Government of London. The matters that affect the County as a whole, will remain under the authority of the London County Council—a body which I, as a County Councillor myself, would be the last to decry—which has done good work in the past, and which, I believe, by improved administration, can be made to do still better work in the future. My Lords, there is one point on which I think too much stress cannot be laid. There is no intention to diminish or in any way interfere with the equalisation of rates in London. For one thing, that is a County matter, and not a local matter. For another, it is so important to the whole Metropolitan community that the Public Health and similar Acts should be vigorously administered that, as a matter of self-interest, the richer parts of London cannot afford to throw difficulties in the way of the poorer localities. I would not like to leave the impression that there is any wish to do so, for I feel very strongly, as I am sure must all noble Lords, that the poorer parts of London deserve, indeed, are entitled to, relief of this nature, from some of the difficulties incident to their peculiar position in a community wholly without a parallel. My Lords, I am happy to be able to leave the great question of the Army in the more able hands of the noble Earl, who will second this Address. I think, that in reference to the latter part of Her Majesty's speech, you will have been struck by the extremely practical rather than the heroic measures of reform promised for this Session. They are all reforms, which if carried into effect, will leave a permanent mark for good on the daily lives of the people. My Lords, I have the honour now to move the Address.
§ *THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE
My Lords, I have the honour to second the Address, which has been so ably moved by the noble Earl, who has just sat down. It is now nearly half a century since my grandfather had the privilege of addressing this House for the first time, and I am about to ask at your Lordships' hands the same indulgence which was granted to him on that occasion. Noble Lords who have found themselves in the position in which I now am, will call to mind that the responsibility which rested upon them was greatly mitigated by the generosity of your Lordships' House. I even more than they all am in need of that generosity to-day. The noble Lord who has just sat down has touched upon some matters which affect—and I say, vitally affect—the vast duties which devolve upon the Government to-day. He has dealt not only with our relations with foreign Powers, but he has also spoke of interests nearer home, which we have always endeavoured faithfully and conscientiously to guard—I mean the interests of Ireland and the Irish people. My Lords, a peculiar importance attaches to Her Majesty's Gracious Speech from the Throne, inasmuch as this is the first Session of Parliament since the memorable Imperial year, which we have recently celebrated. On that occasion, the outspoken loyalty of our Colonial dependencies was brought home to the people of these realms more vividly than has ever before been the case during the history of this country. Your Lordships will have divined that my thoughts are trending towards the grave deliberations which it will be the duty of Parliament to make in reference to the West Indian, Colonies and the sugar industry. My Lords, nearly the whole of these Colonies depend for their very existence upon the working of the sugar industry. They have sent their representatives to participate in our national celebrations, and they have been proud to range themselves side by side with the inhabitants of the Mother Country, and to do all that they possibly could to honour their Queen. As I understand it, the very basis of our Colonial unity is that we should support them when they are face to face with a great commercial crisis, and, perhaps, as at this moment with absolute ruin. Is it too much to say, 13 my Lords, that it is incumbent upon the people of this country to devise some means for the relief of this suffering people, to whom we are bound by every tie, both moral and historical? For, practically, your Lordships will realise, the position is this: The entire failure of the industry of these islands would mean the ruin, if not of Jamaica and Trinidad, which have other industries to rely upon, at least of British Guiana, with nearly 300,000 inhabitants, of Barbadoes with 180,000 inhabitants, and nearly all the Windward and Leeward Islands. Then, I venture to suggest to your Lordships that you will perhaps agree that, in these circumstances, it behoves us to assist them in endeavouring to stem the tide of this approaching disaster. As the matter now stands, with the bounties allowed by certain countries to their colonies, this means the absolute ruin of the planters, then the tradesmen, the artisans, and the labouring classes will most assuredly suffer the greatest privations. The public revenue will be crippled, and it will then be found impossible to continue the Government of the country. These, I venture to suggest, are some of the reasons why the Government has found it necessary to bring this great question for your consideration in Parliament. Perhaps it is not too much to say that a means will be found by which we shall show that we are not insensible to the just and the inexorable demands which the possession of world-wide dominions throws upon this Empire. But I would more particularly draw your Lordships' attention to the intention of Her Majesty's Government to dispatch troops to Berber to the assistance of his Highness the Khedive in the event of the Khalifa advancing against the Egyptian Army in the Soudan. It is impossible to refer to this matter without considering the great work of military re-organisation which has been proceeding in Egypt for the past 15 years. This re-organisation has resulted in the complete remodelling of the Egyptian Army, so that it could now, as, indeed, it has before, hold the field against a powerful and insidious and implacable enemy. This great work of military re-organisation is due, in the first instance, to the military ability which has been displayed by Sir Herbert Kitchener and 14 the officers under his control, and I venture to think that your Lordships will accord the highest praise to this gallant officer for the energy he has shown both in the interests of Egypt, and also of our occupation of that important and progressive country. But it is not only to the military achievements of the Sirdar that I would call your Lordships' attention, and to which we owe the unique position which we occupy in Egypt to-day. Lord Cromer has shown unparalleled administrative ability during the time he has held the reigns of office at Cairo, so much so that it may be said that the occupation of Egypt to-day by the British has commanded not only the gratitude of the Egyptian people and of this country, but also the respect of unprejudiced philanthropists and travellers from America, France, and Germany. It has been said, with as much authority as truth, that the administration of Egypt to-day will bear the inspection of the civilised world. It is true, my Lords, that for some time a strictly defensive policy has been pursued in Egypt, but, with the growing military and financial resources of the country, an offensive policy has now been deemed best for the interests of the country. Under British officers to-day, it is found that the Native troops possess great powers of endurance and a wonderful capacity for hard, continuous work; and it must be a source of gratification to the troops themselves that side by side with British officers and men they are gradually and surely working out the salvation of their country. Your Lordships will have received with satisfaction the intelligence that a Treaty of friendship and commerce has been completed with the Emperor Menelik. It is in view of the increasing demands which the responsibilities concerning India, Africa, Egypt, and the Colonies throw upon our Army, that it has been found necessary by the Government to propose measures for the increased strength and efficiency of that force. There will, I venture to think, be no serious opposition to a proposal, which is based upon a desire to maintain the unbroken prestige of the British Army, should it at any time be called upon to sustain our paramount position in the eyes of the nations around. My Lords, 15 the experience of the past few years has taught us that we must have more men and more facilities for maintaining them, having regard to the increased demands of the Empire. To achieve this, it is, I think, generally acknowledged that there should be greater inducements to the young men, who will be the recruits of the future, to join the Army. This would appear to be obvious, for what other countries have only achieved with conscription we have accomplished without it, and, moreover, with an entirely free system of recruiting. My Lords, the abnormal demands of the past few years have shown that for the future it will be impossible to maintain that equilibrium between the forces serving abroad and those at home, and at the same time to provide an adequate number of matured soldiers for active service. So long, then, as there are greater inducements for men to join the industrial ranks than those of the Army, so long shall we be face to face with what I may call "a grave recruiting crisis." The problem, therefore, before us is, how to obtain an adequate supply of regular troops for our Army. Far be it from me to say that to-day this country could not, were it necessary, even with her present Army, fulfill all the duties that might devolve upon it. That our soldiers are ready, as ever, to add fresh lustre to the British arms there is no doubt, and we have only recently had examples of this in the many acts of gallantry performed on the North-West Frontier of India. If I may quote the words that one of our greatest soldiers recently uttered—Our soldiers, Native as well as British, are ready to die for their Queen and country. But it is for the country to take care that our Army is strong enough to ensure that their loyalty, heroism, and self-sacrifice would not be spent in vain, and to insist that we should have soldiers sufficient in numbers and physique for the service they may be called upon to perform.My Lords, Governments of all shades of opinion. Secretaries of State not a few, have, during the past hundred years, been periodically confronted with the difficulties which to-day present themselves to the Government. I venture to suggest that the right method of improving the condition of the British soldier will go far towards removing the present difficulties in recruiting. It 16 has been a fixed principle with both parties during the past few years that we should have a Navy which should be pre-eminently superior to any Navy that may be found in all the world. There is every reason to believe that at no distant date the Army may be placed upon such a footing that it will be able to meet all the exigencies of the situation at the shortest notice. Small wars, punitive expeditions, and provision for our Colonial contingents have placed a constant drain upon our home contingents, so that it has been truly said that more than half our Army is kept permanently on a war footing. I may sum up by quoting one word from the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War: "Our policy should be to maintain what is good of the present system, to supplement it where it is deficient, and to alter it where it has been known to work badly." My Lords, I have inadequately touched upon some of the questions which we consider to be of vital importance to the Empire. These subjects are of such vital importance, that I feel confident they will receive the deepest consideration from both Houses of Parliament. In seconding the Motion for the Address in reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne, I feel that I am only reflecting the prevailing spirit in your Lordships' House when I say that we welcome the opportunity of expressing again our unswerving devotion to the person of Her Gracious Majesty, whose responsibilities of Government have been lightened by the consciousness that her duties have been performed amidst the love of her people over whom she has reigned so long and so prosperously.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, the first duty which one in my position has to perform is always a pleasing one, namely, to express our gratification at the manner in which the Address has been proposed and seconded; and I am sure I shall express the feeling of the whole House when I say that we heard with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction the very able speech made by the noble Earl who moved the Address, and I should venture to augur from the clearness with which he made his speech that he will hereafter prove a most valuable addition to the deliberations of this House. My noble Friend who seconded the Address is, I under- 17 stand, a fellow-countryman of mine, and remembering, as I do well, his grandfather and father in this House, I welcome with satisfaction his seconding the Address, and I congratulate him upon the manner in which he performed his task. My Lords, the Speech from the Throne is one which points to matters of great importance to the welfare of this nation. Before I make a few observations upon the more weighty subjects of the Speech I will allude to the questions of internal administration and policy which form the subject of the closing part. One subject there is of the highest importance, namely, the provision that is to be made for improving the local government of Ireland. Upon that I will only say that for my own part, and for those who are my political friends, there will be every desire to welcome and further a Measure for giving to our fellow-countrymen in Ireland a system of local government as free and efficient as that which is enjoyed by this country. But, notwithstanding that, I must add that we remain of the same opinion that it would have been far better to have begun from above rather than from below. Although I should be glad to see a good system of local government, which is urgently wanted, established in Ireland, I am firmly convinced that in that will not be found a permanent solution of the difficulties that have oppressed that country. There is a very large variety of Measures mentioned in this programme—I think I may say it is an unusual programme—concerning which very little has been said this afternoon, and I am not surprised, because after this very lengthy catalogue of Measures the Government have prudently placed in Her Majesty's mouth a saving clause, which I have no doubt will be found to have great weight—namely, that certain of these Measures will be laid before you "if the time at your disposal should permit you to proceed with them." There are two Measures mentioned in the last paragraph of the Speech in which I must say I feel, and I think many others feel, a great interest. One is the announcement that the most important question of Secondary Education will be dealt with at all events in part; and the other is a Measure in which, presumably, in common with many noble Lords, I feel a great interest—namely, a Measure to 18 make provision for a Teaching University for London. I do hope that, if some of the other Measures foreshadowed never arrive at maturity, those two Measures, at all events, will be seriously proposed and pushed forward by the Government. Then there is the reference to the condition of our West Indian Islands. With regard to that I should prefer to wait to see what the nature of the proposals to be made to Parliament will be, and at present I will only say that as far as the relief of the immediate distress in these Islands is concerned, or the promotion of industries that may be substituted successfully for the sugar industry, I think a very considerable amount of unanimity will be found to prevail. But, as regards the question of propping up the decaying sugar industry, the reasons for which are stated in the earlier part of the paragraph relating to this subject, I should desire to suspend any observations I have to make upon it until I see the proposed Measure. I will only say that I feel profound doubt upon that part of the subject. My Lord, I turn from these points, which are in themselves—except that as regards Ireland—minor matters, to the other and more important subjects which are referred to in the Speech. I think I may say, having now, unfortunately, had a long experience of public affairs, that there has seldom been an occasion when Parliament has met when there have been more subjects before it of serious anxiety affecting the Empire of our Sovereign. In the first place, there are references to Foreign Affairs, and, of course, we have in the Speech the familiar reference to the Concert of Europe. I should be very sorry in my place here to say all the hard things that have been uttered with regard to the Concert of Europe, and our allies in that Concert by many weighty speakers. But I must say this, that the doubts which some of us strongly expressed as to the efficiency of the Concert of Europe to deal with the questions arising in the Levant have been more than justified by the result. It is true that a peace has been concluded between Greece and Turkey—but a peace made at the conclusion of a war which desolated one of the most important provinces of Greece, and was followed by an accession of authority to the Mahommedan power in those regions—which, I doubt much, will conduce ulti- 19 mately to the peace and tranquillity of that part of Europe. No doubt the Powers have avoided quarrelling among themselves, and, so far, we have reason to be grateful to them, but I find it very difficult to see what else they have effected. The second paragraph in the Speech alludes, in a despairing tone (and at that I am not surprised), to the question of Crete, saying: "The difficulty of arriving at a unanimous agreement upon some points has unduly protracted the deliberations of the Powers." In point of fact, this cause has led to there being no results from their deliberations whatever, except that the unfortunate island of Crete remains in the same position at this day, in the same deplorable state as it was in when the troubles began. A more pitiable, a more lamentable, result it is impossible to conceive. It is not too much to say that it is a discredit to the European Powers that their want of unanimity should have allowed so lamentable a state of things to be so long protracted. We have seen that at last one of the most influential of the Powers has proposed a solution which did seem to hold out some hope of a final arrangement. I refer to the very remarkable proposal that Prince George of Greece should be Governor of Crete. I gather that that proposal has met practically with the same fate as all the other proposals that have been made. Of course, I am not in possession of any information beyond that which I derive from the public prints, but that is what I have gathered. I hope I may be wrong in that, but this at least I will say: Is it not a remarkable fact that this solution, which consists, in point of fact, in using the Greek people for the purpose of pacifying and governing that island, is made at last, after all these protracted miseries in that island, and that it has been found that a solution, which some of us ventured to suggest would be the wisest one, has now been suggested by one of the Great Powers of Europe, and has received, as I understand, the concurrence of the noble Marquess? Why, if that idea had been pursued at the first, I believe that in all probability the whole of these disastrous consequences might have been prevented; there might have been no war between Greece and Turkey, and 20 Crete might have been pacified at the beginning of these troubles. I do not blame Her Majesty's Government for not having been able to carry forward a proposal of that kind originally. I believe, that is, that they were well disposed to use, if it had been possible, the influence which the Greeks naturally possessed in the island of Crete, with a view to the pacification of that island. But I repeat that it is a painful thing to see that, after so long a time this motion has been come back to, when it is too late to prevent the miseries which have occurred; and I can only say that, if this is to be much further prolonged, the federation of the Great Powers of Europe, to which the noble Marquess referred, will have shown itself lamentably powerless to effect any good object which it may undertake. The vital point remains the same. Until you withdraw the Turkish troops from Crete you will have no peace, no tranquillity, and no real solution of the question. I do not wish to make any attack on the noble Marquess. I believe he has endeavoured to bring about a solution of the question, and we are informed he has offered no obstacles to the various proposals for different persons to be appointed Governor. But we must judge by the event, and so far blame attaches to this country as well as to others for being involved in a protracted want of decision and want of unanimity which has led this Concert into the position in which it now finds itself. My Lords, there are other matters concerning foreign affairs which I think might well have been alluded to, but have not, probably because it was not found there was anything satisfactory to announce on the subject. An arrangement has been made with Tunis, and there is also an arrangement, or rather a want of arrangement, with Madagascar. I connect the two together for a reason I will presently explain. In the case of Tunis, the noble Marquess found there was a difficulty with regard to our commercial treaty, and that difficulty, in his opinion, arose from this—that, although as long as the existing arrangement continued in Tunis we might maintain our treaty, if it should so happen that the French Government determined to annex the country the treaty, according to the principles of international law, would undoubtedly fall to the ground. That, I 21 understand, the noble Marquess put forward as a reason for accepting the abrogation of the treaty, with certain stipulations in furtherance of certain demands of our trade. Contrast that with the case of Madagascar. There we also had a treaty which secured important privileges to British trade. The noble Marquess put forward very strongly our right to the maintenance of that treaty after the French had taken possession of the island. His despatch laid down very strongly that the French ought not to set that treaty aside. There was a long interval, during which other negotiations took place with regard to the exchange of jurisdiction in Zanzibar and in Madagascar—that is to say, the relinquishment of exclusive right to Consular jurisdiction on the part of the French in Zanzibar, and the relinquishment of the exclusive right of Consular jurisdiction on the part of ourselves in Madagascar. After a considerable time, the noble Marquess pressed M. Hanotaux for an answer to his despatch on the subject. M. Hanotaux replied that there was no locus standi at all for the British Government, because it is a well-accepted principle of international law that when a territory is annexed by another Power, the previous treaties fall to the ground—exactly the argument which the noble Marquess used to justify his arrangement with regard to Tunis. I shall be curious to know how the noble Marquess explains that apparent discrepancy. Nothing further took place upon the subject, and the ultimate result is that the French Government appear to have achieved a very easy victory on the subject. Now, my Lords, I turn from those matters to a subject which is of vital importance to this country—I mean the expedition in which we are engaged in the Soudan. I observe that in the Speech from the Throne it is spoken of as an expedition despatched to Berber "to the assistance of his Highness the Khedive" in consequence of an advance which the Khalifa is making against the Egyptian army in the Soudan. But the whole of the movement in the Soudan is not an advance on the part of the Khedive, but an advance on our part against the Khalifa. Whether that is a wise policy or not, it is the fact; and I deprecate in the strongest manner the maintaining of what is a 22 convenient cover to our policy, but which, is not, in my opinion, the essential truth of the situation—namely, that this is a proceeding on the part of the Egyptian Government. For all practical purposes we are responsible at this time for the Egyptian Government, and I do not believe a more fatal mistake can be made than to in any way attempt to divest ourselves of the direct responsibility which weighs on this country in this matter. No doubt we have employed Egyptian troops for this purpose, and that seems to me perfectly right and proper, but it has been from the first clear that it would be necessary to stiffen the Egyptian army with British troops and that we should be responsible for the result of this expedition. I should like to say a word on the expedition itself. Every one of us, I have no doubt, what ever our opinions, has admired the ability, prudence, and wisdom with which the Sirdar has conducted the expedition so far to a successful issue. On that subject I think that there are not two opinions; and we also see with great satisfaction the manner in which the Egyptian troops, trained as they have been by British officers, have performed their duties with a courage and perseverance beyond all praise. But I say now what I have said before—that however successful thus far the expedition has been—and I rejoice in its success—I do not believe it is for the permanent interests of this country to embark in this great enterprise in the Soudan. You have gone on step by step. Formerly the policy of this country, in which, I know, the noble Marquess at the time himself concurred—was that we would not return to the Soudan. Then we were told that there was a danger which I believe to have been much exaggerated—a danger on the frontier at Wady Halfa. We then proceeded as far as Dongola for the purpose of protecting ourselves from attack on the frontier. There was afterwards a great deal said as to the necessity of relieving the Italians from the difficulties they were in at Kassala. But Kassala has been relieved; and now you see how this entire policy has crept on. Never until lately has it been clearly avowed that it was simply a policy for the reconquest of the Soudan. In pursuance of that policy for the reconquest of the Soudan, I have 23 little doubt that there will be an advance on Khartoum, and even that will not suffice, because there is no natural frontier, and we shall be involved step by step in the re-conquest of that vast country. But not merely that. I have said before, and I repeat it now, that you will not be involved merely in conquest—I believe that such is our power that we may succeed in that—but you will be involved in the maintenance of the re-conquered provinces. You will require British troops there, you will require British civil officers, and you will become responsible for the government of that vast territory. I ask myself what is the true advantage either to Egypt or ourselves in its possession. To Egypt it means a great expenditure of Egyptian money. Already the progress of the country is, as we know from official dispatches, in its internal improvement, checked by this expenditure. In former times the Soudan never produced revenue enough to cover its expenditure; nor do I believe there is any probability of its doing so. Therefore you have to look forward for a long period to a heavy drain on Egyptian finance, and to our practical occupation of that country, partly by the Egyptian army commanded by British officers, and partly by British troops, which I believe to be inevitable. I am not against all extensions of the Empire; I by no means ever held that view; but I say that there may be limits beyond which it is not prudent for this country to go. What is occurring in other parts of the world may be a warning to us that, great as our Empire is, we may possibly incur responsibilities almost too onerous for us to bear. I come now to what is even more important to us than the Soudan—the great question in India. There you have a very large British and Native army—a larger force than has ever assembled before under a British general—engaged in a most dangerous and protracted conflict with warlike tribes on the frontier. That we have all seen with the utmost satisfaction the gallantry of our officers and men in mountain warfare of the most difficult description goes without saying, but here is a question which tasks to a very considerable extent our military power, and that is a reason why it is to my mind a misfortune that at one and the same time we find ourselves engaged 24 in perilous enterprises such as that in the Soudan. Further, we have the very difficult, and I should be inclined to say (the noble Marquess will contradict me if I am wrong) the almost dangerous question in West Africa. I do not desire now to go into any discussion of this question, but if the noble Marquess is able to give us some information as to the progress of negotiations and the arrangements made in that part of Africa I am sure that we shall all be extremely glad. On the other hand, I am too well aware of the delicate nature of the negotiations and the importance of the question to say a word on that subject which might for a moment embarrass Her Majesty's Government. Now, as to India. We have never varied from our opinion that it was a fatal mistake to permanently occupy Chitral, with a road leading through the territory of independent tribes. Everyone knows that the late Government had decided they would not maintain that road. We did so on considerations which appeared to us to be powerful and as affecting the whole of our policy on the Frontier of India. We were, no doubt, actuated also by the terms of the proclamation which has been so often referred to; and whatever interpretation may be placed upon it by speakers and writers in this country, I think that the unqualified terms in which that proclamation was issued would lead the tribes to no other conclusion than that we had promised to withdraw from that territory in any event. But I lay more stress on the general effect of our frontier policy in maintaining that road. Chitral itself comes within our frontier because it is, in point of fact, a dependency of Kashmir; and Kashmir itself is a feudatory of the Empress of India, therefore it comes within our frontier; but not so the territory which lies between Peshawar and Chitral, and through which the road has been made. It is the maintenance of that road, and the maintenance of a permanent garrison at Chitral which requires that road, which, in our opinion, has been proved by events to be a great mistake. I must say one word upon Chitral itself, because it happens that at the time I had the honour of holding the Seals of the Secretary of State for India, and had a great deal to do with the matter when 25 it first became of importance. I am perfectly aware, and I entirely admit, that it is desirable to have a post of observation at Chitral, but, if that post of observation can only be maintained by establishing a road through the independent territory of the Pathan tribes, then, in my opinion, the inconvenience of not having a permanent officer stationed at Chitral was far less than the dangers which would be incurred by making the road and in maintaining a permanent garrison. Neither did it appear to me there was any absolute necessity for it, because we have already positions at points nearer Chitral, and it is perfectly possible to maintain an officer there whose communications would enable us to have full knowledge of what was passing in that region. That full knowledge was all that it was essential for us to have. I, therefore, came to the conclusion that it was not desirable permanently to occupy Chitral, and in point of fact, during the time I held office, I had always more or less contemplated that it would be merely temporary, and I cannot for a moment doubt that the maintenance of that road has had a most serious effect in causing this terrible rising which has taken place. That has been denied, but I find a most striking proof of the truth of what I have said in the papers which have been just published, which I have scarcely had time to look at, and which I perhaps may be allowed to quote—because I read it in that form—from the dispatches as given in the Times newspaper of this morning. There is given a translation of a letter without date—From the Mullah of Adda to all the Mullahs and elders of the Afridi and Orakzái tribes.He says—The Kaffirs" (that means the English) "have taken possession of all Mussulman countries, and, owing to the lack of spirit on the part of the people, are conquering every region. They have now reached those countries of Bajaur and Swat.Those are the countries through which you made the road, and this is the action on our part which is selected by this Mullah as a proof that you are invading the independence of the tribes. Can anyone who reads that extract doubt for a moment that to these Mullahs who in- 26 stigated the fanaticism of the tribes, this was one of the chief arguments by which they persuaded them to rise? That it was not the only cause I fully and freely admit, but that it was one of the most real and important causes, I have not the remotest doubt. The tribes, who naturally cherished their independence, seeing the fortified post established on their territory at Malakand, came to the conclusion that it was part of the policy to gradually extend our administration and power over the whole of the tribes. Then when you tell us in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech that the fanaticism of the tribes produced this rising, I maintain that that is no defence whatever of what has occurred. Why, the fanaticism of the tribes is the fanaticism of all Mahomedan nations who are about to attack a Christian Power. They preach a Jehad, as it is called, and, of course, when they talk of their independence, the leaders appeal to the strongest sentiment of the tribes, namely, fanaticism. That there may have been other causes I, as I say, fully admit, but I say that the primary cause was the fear of interference with their independence, and the fanaticism was the means by which the leaders succeeded in exciting the tribes against us. That being the case, as I said before, we hold that the decision of Her Majesty's Government to reverse the decision of the Government which preceded them, had a fatal effect in producing this rising. That there may have been other causes I fully and candidly admit. For example, I do not doubt, I find it lower down in the dispatch of the Secretary of State, that the Durand agreement had its effect. The Durand agreement was not an agreement as some people have supposed for extending our Frontier, nor did it necessitate our moving forward into the Afridi country, or into the Swat country, or the other countries of these various fierce tribes. The main object of the Durand agreement was to mark the line of separation between us and the Ameer, because there were so many different subjects arising among the tribes which raised ill-feeling between us and the Ameer, that it was found desirable to lay down a distinct line beyond which the Ameer on his side, and we on the other, should not move. But it was a negative agreement—an agreement as to 27 what we were not to do, namely, to cross the line, but it did not bind us to a Forward Policy. It may be that the tribes regarded this agreement as handing them over by the Ameer to us, and they may have concluded that the consequences would be the interference they dreaded with their independence. That probably was the inevitable result of the Durand agreement, advantageous as it was. But surely, that being so, was that the moment to take any step whatever which might increase the suspicion of the tribes and confirm them in the opinion that the Durand agreement was intended to interfere with their independence? On the contrary, the Government of India ought to have acted with the greatest possible caution, and left time for the tribes clearly to understand that the Durand agreement did not affect their independence, and then, probably, any measures taken would have been viewed by the tribes very differently. So far, I have admitted the effect of the Durand agreement, and there may be other causes. It is possible that the knowledge, or rather—I will hardly say the knowledge, but the rumours which reached the tribes of the successes of the Sultan of Turkey were used, amongst other arguments, to excite the tribes; but I do not believe for a moment that that in itself would have had any very serious effect. Now, my Lords, I have said what my view is with regard to Chitral. As regards the great and most important and most difficult question of the Frontier policy to be pursued, in the first place, I have not had time to study carefully the important papers which have only been laid on the Table of the House to-day or yesterday. In them, no doubt, we shall find a full statement of the policy of Her Majesty's Government as laid down by the Secretary of State; but on the general ground I wish to say a word or two. The question really is this. I wish to say nothing disparaging of the admirable soldiers whom we have had in command of our Indian Army; but it is natural that they should take a strongly military view of these questions when they present themselves, and there has existed, for a long time, in India a very strong pressure upon the Government there to push forward what is known as the Forward Policy. Of 28 course, if you talk of the Lawrence Policy—well, that is a very important question, but the time has passed when we could take our stand on the Lawrence Policy. We must look at matters as they now stand. But what we deprecate, and what, I believe, it is most important for the peace and security of India that you should avoid, is this: that you should take as your policy the occupation of all the passes between us and Afghanistan, and the maintenance in those passes of military posts to control them. Of course, in referring to military matters, I speak with very great diffidence. I have no doubt that easy access to the territory of the Ameer, which in certain cases we might be called upon to defend, is a desirable object. But you have to consider also the tribes through whose country these roads have to pass; and I would ask any man whether, even if you occupied these roads and had military posts on them, when the time came that you had to send—and long may it be before we have to send—a great expedition into Afghan territory to meet a powerful enemy coming from the North—I ask any one to consider whether any advantage gained by the mere existence of military posts in those passes would not be far more than counterbalanced by the hostility of the tribes through whose country the advancing force would have to go. I cannot conceive a more perilous condition of things than that you should have to confront a rising of the tribes on such an occasion. One knows that it is not merely whether you can send a force into Afghanistan sufficient to meet a powerful enemy, but you have to maintain your communications with India; and to do that over a long—and it must be a very long—space in the midst of hostile tribes, would, I believe, be a task beyond any military power which this country possesses, and the danger you would run would be of the most serious kind. That is of course by no means to lay down that there is no line of communication which you must maintain. We have already the line of communication to Quetta, and the railway beyond Quetta, and I suppose there are few persons who would go so far as to say that we could safely leave the Khyber Pass closed; but that is a very different thing from embarking on the policy, which, I regret to say, a general, for whom I have 29 the greatest respect—Sir George White—has personally advocated—namely, the subjugation of those warlike tribes, and the establishment of our authority throughout that part of India. That seems to me to be a policy which, on every possible consideration, ought to be most strenuously and carefully avoided, and I shall be surprised if I do not find that upon the general question, setting aside details with which I should not be justified in troubling your Lordships, Her Majesty's Government take the same view that I have ventured to place before your Lordships. I would earnestly hope that every one in this country would support those of the Indian Government who desire that we shall not engage in any of these military Forward Movements with any ultimate design of establishing throughout that region British authority, strictly so called. My Lords, I do not think I need trouble you any further upon the question of India, but I now take a matter scarcely less important, which finds no place (and probably for good reasons) in Her Majesty's Speech—I mean the condition of affairs in the Far East. Now, that we should eagerly desire information on the subject, is most, natural. We have every reason to believe from utterances made by responsible Ministers that a state of affairs has arisen in China of the utmost danger. My Lords, when a responsible Minister speaks of "war," I think Parliament have every right to be acquainted, as far as possible, with the circumstances which were so pressing, so dangerous, that the word war had to be pronounced by a responsible Minister. I am not, of course, in a position to criticise the action of Her Majesty's Government, because we have no authoritative statement, and as the negotiation may be, for aught I know, going on at this moment, it is not surprising that we have no authoritative statement of precisely what the course is that has been pursued. One thing we have had which we have all seen with satisfaction. I had the pleasure of making some observations on the subject not very long ago, and I said then, as I say now, that a speech made by a very important Member of the Government, the Leader of the House of Commons, on that subject, met with my entire concurrence. I believe that throughout the country it was universally looked 30 upon as laying down sound principles of policy in that part of the world. We all felt that it is a vital matter to this country to maintain our treaty rights. Those, I take it, are the rights under the treaty of Tien-tsin—by which we have a right to claim all the advantage, and all the other commercial benefits, which may be conferred upon any other country. It is an unqualified and most sweeping and most peremptory clause, and I cannot conceive that any Government of this country would venture to neglect to maintain that clause, or to claim all the rights which we undoubtedly possess under it. That seems to me to be a wise and politic course. I also rejoice to see that all desire for any increase of territory in China is disclaimed. My Lords, I can wish nothing better than that Her Majesty's Government may be able to maintain that position—to go no further than that position, and to secure our rights of commerce, open also to all the world—because if a port in China is open to us it is open equally to all our commercial rivals. We have no desire to exclude others; we only desire not to be excluded ourselves. But, my Lords, there is another matter concerning which we have no precise information, and which has a very important bearing upon our relations with China—I mean the proposals which we understand have been made by Her Majesty's Government to guarantee a Loan to the Chinese Government. We are told that certain conditions—as was quite natural—were annexed to that proposal; that in return for so signal an assistance as we should have given to the Chinese Government they should grant us certain advantages with regard to trade. It has been alleged that some demands were made. I do not know, of course, whether demands were made or merely suggested, but it has been said that a demand was made for the opening of a certain port, which demand has since been withdrawn, and various other such rumours have possessed the public mind. I think I may say that perhaps no subject has excited more attention and more interest in every class in this country concerned with commerce than the progress of these negotiations. I can only add that I think we are entitled to receive from Her Majesty's Government all the infor- 31 mation which they can give us on a subject so momentous. I repeat that when we hear the word "war" Parliament should be told in plain language what is the situation, and what are the difficulties which we may have to expect in the future. There is one word which I have omitted in speaking of other matters. It refers to a remark made by the noble Earl who moved the Address. The noble Earl quoted from a book called "The Problems of Greater Britain," in which a statement is made that the Government of Mr. Gladstone in 1880 adopted the policy of extending our frontiers and authority to the frontiers of Afghanistan. I was a member of that Government, and so was the noble Duke whom I see opposite, and I would say with confidence, and I am sure he will bear me out, that that never was the policy of the Government of 1880. We withdrew from Kandahar, and we took steps in the other direction; but, whatever we did, we never adopted a policy which could be called in the larger sense the Forward Policy. No Government in this country has ever adopted that policy in its larger sense, though forward steps have been taken from time to time. I notice that statement because I think there is a misapprehension on the subject, which it is well to clear up. There is one remaining topic—the proposed increase of our Army. I am not surprised, when we are engaged in enterprises all over the world, in severe fighting in India, in Egypt, and other places, that we should find our military power hardly equal to the demands upon it. No doubt the Government have reviewed the situation, and I dare say the House would agree that it might be found necessary to in some way augment our military strength. Still, the alarm with which we have read the terrible descriptions given by many writers of the condition of our Army was greatly allayed, as far as I was concerned, by the statement of the Commander-in-Chief that we could place in the field two Army corps better equipped and provided for than ever before. That statement enabled me to sleep more quietly in my bed. That was very consoling to a mere civilian like myself, who, like a great many others, understands nothing about military matters, and, I am glad to say, it enabled me to sleep more quietly in my bed. There 32 was another declaration which we heard with great satisfaction from the Secretary of State for War, namely, that he was of opinion that it was best to adhere to our present system, improving and strengthening it in such a way as might be found desirable. I believe that that laid down the true and the wise principle, and I am sure it will be found on our side of the House that the necessary measures for improving and strengthening the Army will not meet with any serious opposition. I am not an alarmist; still, my eyes are open to all our obligations all over the world, and to the many questions which involve serious danger. In such circumstances as those, noble Lords will give us credit, I am sure, for desiring to maintain and strengthen where necessary the position of the Empire, so as to enable us to hold as high as formerly our heads among the nations, and to maintain unimpaired the Empire which is our boast.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS(The Marquess of SALISBURY)
My Lords, it is with no small satisfaction that I am able heartily to join the noble Earl in congratulating the noble Lords who moved and seconded the Address. I have seldom heard a better statement of the facts with which he had to deal than that of the noble Lord who moved the Address. Both the noble Lords and their fathers were colleagues of mine, and I am old enough to remember the grandfather of the noble Lord who moved the Address, who was a great pillar of Toryism in this House; I hope that a similar destiny is reserved for my noble Friend. My Lords, as the bill of fare which is drawn out for us is somewhat lengthy, I will not touch upon any of the internal matters with which the noble Earl thought it his duty to deal, but I will address myself to those matters concerning the foreign affairs and external interests of the Empire, on which he dwelt with considerable force. In doing so I am bound to say that I have nothing to complain of in the tone and temper in which the noble Earl approached his task. He exercised a judicial spirit. Though I am unable to agree with him in many of the conclusions at which he arrives, yet I freely admit that he has introduced no unworthy element of faction into his 33 criticisms. The first point relates to our old friend Crete. The noble Earl was exceedingly severe upon the Concert of Europe. I hope it will not be imagined that, among my duties, the duty of defending the Concert of Europe is one. It is not my duty, because it is obvious that you cannot claim to answer for all the other Powers which constitute the Concert, when the course of that Concert's action is liable to be affected, and most seriously affected, by the action or obstruction of any one single Power. The noble Earl seems to have imagined that the evils which have attended the action of the Concert of Europe might have been conjured if we had abstained from joining that body at first. I never understood by what process of argument that conclusion is arrived at. I do not know that our example and presence is so contagious, so dangerous, that the fact that we joined in the Concert of Europe has made it worse than it otherwise would have been. The truth is, the question we have to ask ourselves when we consider whether it was right to have gone into the Concert is, was there any other alternative that we could have adopted that would have led to a more satisfactory result? Supposing that the Concert of Europe had not existed at all, that all the Powers had stood aside and left the controversy between Turkey and Greece to work itself out, we know what the fate of Crete in such a case would have been. Greece would have been conquered; Crete must have been subjugated; and the inhabitants would have been left to the decisions of the Turkish Government, the character of which it would perhaps not be decorous for me to describe. No fate worse for Crete could be imagined than that the European Powers should have abstained altogether. Then, would it have been any better if England had abstained and stood by herself? That would have removed the element probably the most favourable to Greece in the whole Concert of Europe, and the other five Powers would have so far have come to decisions very different from those actually arrived at, that an element favourable to Greece would have been wanting to their Councils. In what way would Crete have benefited by conduct such as that? Some vehement persons, with the tempers of Crusaders, would say that 34 we ought to have gone to war for the sake of Crete and Greece, even if that war had involved us in hostilities with any or all of the other five Powers; but I am sure that the noble Earl is too well acquainted with public affairs to hold such a view as that. No serious person or body of men exercising any authority in this country have ever suggested such an adventure as the policy of this country. Therefore, My Lords, when I am told that the Concert of Europe has not arrived in respect of Crete at a very satisfactory result, I can only say that the result is more satisfactory than it would have been if there had been no Concert of Europe. But, undoubtedly, it would have been a very much better thing if some members of that Concert had taken a view of the policy incumbent upon them more like our own. That might have been a result to pray for, but obviously it was not a result that it was possible to enforce. There was nothing else to be done than what was actually done. The noble Earl says that there will be no peace for Crete till the Turkish soldiers are removed. Well, in the long run undoubtedly that is true. I believe that the Turkish soldiers must ultimately be removed, but at present I doubt whether there is adequate machinery for keeping the ordinary peace, even of the great towns, without the aid of the Turkish soldiers. Therefore, such a drastic Measure as that suggested by the noble Earl could not be adopted at the present time at any rate. What the Powers have done is to inform the Sultan that no further troops will be allowed to reach the island; and I have hopes in this state of affairs that in no very long time the Turkish soldiers themselves will desire to retire from an island in which they occupy so peculiar and unenviable a position. But, My Lords, I frankly admit that that state of things is a scandal to Europe. We have done all we could to prevent that scandal from arising. We have stated broadly that we could support any respectable candidate on one condition only—that he was neither an Englishman nor a Turk, and we have pressed on the Powers of Europe the importance of modifying for this purpose that unhappy diplomatic rule which makes unanimity of concurrence necessary in any diplomatic agreement. As long as that rule lasts it is obvious 35 that any one Power may exercise an absolutely fatal influence upon the progress of our policy. But, however, we were unable to obtain their concurrence in that view, and all that Ave are now able to do is to support with any influence we may have that candidature of the Prince of Greece which has been lately put forward by the Government of Russia. I do not say that the Prince of Greece is altogether an ideal candidate. But there is no doubt that you cannot put a stop to the terrible evils which are the scourge of the Cretan population until there is a regular Government restored, and you cannot have a regular Government without a Governor, and a Governor who is much worse in all probability than Prince George of Greece would be heartily welcomed in order to bring to a determination the lamentable condition in which the population of the island had been plunged. The noble Earl next referred to Tunis and Madagascar. He seemed to imagine that there was some contradiction in my view of international law applied to these two subjects. I assure him that he is entirely mistaken. The case of Tunis is this. There was a Tunis Treaty, that was a very good Treaty, but it depended for its life on the life of the Regency of Tunis, and that is about as bad a life as any political life I know the noble Earl stated accurately the rule of international law. I think it has received a general concurrence that when a Government has disappeared the Treaties it has made disappears with it, and therefore we thought it was a very good bargain which exchanged a Tunis Treaty that was precarious for a French Treaty which is stable. The French Treaty will last, and the French Treaty has the additional advantage of giving for a certain number of years a great advantage to our staple industry and commerce. I conceived, therefore, the bargain was a good one; but I entirely repudiate the contradiction, in respect to international law, which the noble earl charges me with. The case of Madagascar was this. The French Government, in the first instance, invaded Madagascar. They did that when the noble Lord was in office under the Ministry of Mr. Gladstone. Mr. Gladstone did not take any step to prevent the invasion and conquest of Madagascar. I do not blame him, 36 but that is the exact distribution of responsibility which it is just to make Then two years ago the French Government resolved that they would enforce the Protectorate, which had existed ever since the invasion of the island, and which they had set up. They announced that they were going to reinforce and strengthen their Protectorate. The French Ministry made that statement in the most clear and manifest terms, and the armies of France invaded the island avowedly with the intention of maintaining the Protectorate. If they had carried out the intention of maintaining the Protectorate our Treaties would have been safe. We had Treaties with the Queen of Madagascar, of which the principal point was a favourable tariff of ten per cent. If we had desired to prevent the French from invading the Protectorate the time for us to interfere was when that expedition was about to start. When that expedition was about to start the noble Earl himself was in office. He did not raise any objection, and I am not surprised that he did not raise any objection, because the French Minister announced in the very clearest terms that it was to reinforce and strengthen the Protectorate that the expedition was made. When the French Government were in possession, and absolute masters of what they would do, they suddenly announced that they would change the Protectorate into an annexation, and with it all our Treaties had fallen. I do not for a moment blame the noble Earl for the course taken, but if there is a responsibility in the matter it is the responsibility of having allowed the French to invade the island. The real truth is, I think, we have some grounds for discontent at the treatment which we have received in this matter at the hands of the French Government. We have protested against it very strongly, and we conceive that the adverse tariff now being inflicted upon us is a tariff which the French Government, according to the ordinary rules of international comity, are not entitled to enforce. I do not know whether the noble Lord would blame me for not having gone a step further—the only step that could have been taken. I do not think he does. I do not in the least conceal my impression of the interpretation which the French Government have put 37 upon their rights, or the manner in which they have set aside their clear pledges when the expedition was begun. Now, My Lords, the next point to which the noble Earl alluded, was the question of the Soudan. The noble Earl appears to think it a monstrous thing that Khartoum should form part of the Khediviate of Egypt, or that we should take any share in bringing that state of things about. He forgets that when, under the late Government, of which he was a member, some fourteen years ago, Egypt was conquered, Arabi was conquered, Khartoum was then a part of the Government of Egypt, and no suggestion of its being impossible to hold, or of its being too onerous for Egypt to maintain, was ever made. By a series of events which are not pleasant to look back upon, and which I will not now stop to analyse, but with which the name of the lamented General Gordon is largely mixed up, Khartoum and the whole of the Nile, as far as Wady Halfa, was taken away from Egypt, and a cruel and barbarous despotism installed in place of the Government of the Viceroy. The cruelty and desolation, which that dominion inflicted can hardly be described. Our troops as they go along find traces of it at every step, and there is no doubt that fertile provinces, which were singularly prolific, up to a little time ago, will now require many years before they can be restored to their old condition. But I cannot believe that it is for the interest of Egypt, with whose fate we are at present charged, that a despotism like that of the Khalifa—barbarous, cruel, unscrupulous, inconsistent with any idea of civilisation which any one can entertain, that that should hang like a black cloud about Egypt, about the Nile, ready if any hitch should take place in the fortunes of Egypt to renew attempts, which have been made more than once to bring back the whole country under its sinister dominion. It is not to the interest of Egypt that such a menace should be allowed to continue. There are other reasons on which I need not dwell, but which will occur to many of your Lordships, why it has become necessary that some Power on which we could rely should show itself in the higher valley of the Nile. But I do not dwell upon such matters at present. My belief is, in regard to the expenditure of money and 38 of force, which I hope will end before many months are over in the recovery of Khartoum, that that is an enterprise beneficial to the people and beneficial to the ruler of Egypt, and will leave behind it one of the brightest monuments of the good that England was able to perform towards any people placed under her rule. I will speak next of a matter which the noble Earl put last, and that is the question of China. He said that because the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in dealing with certain speculations, which he was repudiating, used the word "war," therefore an obligation comes upon us to tell him everything that has gone on in China. I think he has extended the result of that expression of the Chancellor of the Exchequer too far. There is no doubt that there were suggestions—I do not say on what authority they rested, but there were suggestions—that our Treaty rights in China might be set aside, and that the comparative freedom of traffic which we have achieved by the Treaty of Tien-tsin might be destroyed by the action of other European Powers; and I think it is quite right that a protest should be made against the mere entertainment of such an idea, though I do not for an instant suggest that any European Power really entertained it. But I will relieve the noble Earl as to one part of his speech. He seems to have imagined that there was a danger that we should have disposed of, or should abandon, the privileges secured by the Treaty of Tient-tsin.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
No. I said that I thought the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the other House, had disposed of that quite satisfactorily, and had himself laid down correct, principles of policy.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I heard the noble Lord say that he did not believe that any Government would do it, and that always means that you believe the Government has actually done it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
At all events, I only want to assert that we have not surrendered one iota of our Treaty rights. We have no intention of 39 surrendering one iota of our Treaty rights; and, though I will not make use of those high-sounding words which so grate on the ears of the noble Earl, I will say that there is no effort which this country will not make rather than allow those rights to be over-ridden. But I am bound at the same time to say, lest it should be supposed that we have been maintaining a desperate diplomatic battle in favour of the Treaty of Tien-tsin, that nobody has ever yet suggested the slightest intention of infringing any of the rights we enjoy under that Treaty; and I venture to hope, knowing the soundness of judgment of the statesmen by whom Europe is governed, that no such intention will ever be entertained. As the noble Earl says, there has been a strange excitement over this question. That excitement has arisen, as excitements generally do, from an extraordinary confusion of thought. There appear to be some persons in this country who imagine that by the Treaty of Tien-tsin we have acquired the right to force China to take a loan, and also the right to force her to take with it any conditions we may think fit to impose. I was sorry to hear the noble Lord say that Her Majesty's Government had proposed to guarantee a loan for China.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That is hardly the position which lender and borrower usually occupy, and we have not inverted the usual position on this occasion. We did not make the proposal to China, it was China that proposed to us that we should guarantee the loan. The proposal was received, I observe, with the greatest enthusiasm in this country, an enthusiasm to which there was no echo in my own mind, for I felt the greatest hesitation about the proposal, not because I was in doubt whether it was worth our while to take a very small pecuniary risk in order to support China, but because I rather dreaded entering upon the path of finding money for Governments that might want money. China is not the only Government in the world that might want money, and I should be sorry if we encouraged demands which, of course, we might not be able to deal with, and by which we 40 might be embarrassed. However, we came to the conclusion—I think it was a right one—to intimate to the Chinese that we would make the advance on very liberal terms, only that in consideration of the sundry embarrassments and objections there might be we should require certain concessions from China in return. I am not going through the proposals, the negotiations are not concluded, and it would not be right for me to do so. But I may say this, those concessions were without exception directed to the object of increasing and freeing the trade with China, and none of them contained anything injurious to China herself. Then the noble Lord glanced at the legend of Ta-lien-wan; it is a very curious legend. What happened in respect to Ta-lien-wan was this: It was mentioned with other Treaty ports by Sir Claude MacDonald, with our approval, to the Chinese Council, somewhere about January 16th, and the Chinese Council the next day informed us that it would embarrass them very much, for reasons which it was not necessary to enter into very closely, and for their own personal comfort and well-being they desired that we should not insist on this proposal. The next day, that is, the 17th, I think, I replied that this particular proposal was not essential, though we had thought it advantageous, and I suggested as a compromise that the opening of Ta-lien-wan as a Treaty port should be put off until the time when the railway might have reached that port, because it is obvious to anybody who knows anything of that country that the country behind Ta-lien-wan is practically worthless in itself, and that no trade could arise there until the railway reaches the port. Two days afterwards Sir Claude Macdonald reported to me that that compromise had been accepted as a condition of the Loan, and from that day to this I have heard nothing more of Ta-lien-wan. So all the extraordinary legends that came over the wire as to the condition having been withdrawn, as far as I know, as far as the information which has reached me goes, are absolutely without foundation. But I am bound to say that I do not feel very much interest in it, and for this reason, that we have received spontaneously from the Russian Government a written assurance that any port which they might obtain leave to employ 41 for the outlet of their commerce would be a free port, free to the commerce of this country. Now a free port is much better than a Treaty port. So having ascertained that Ta-lien-wan was to be a free port it interested us very little indeed to know whether it was to be a Treaty port or not. While about it, I may say that similar assurances have been made to us by the German Government with respect to the territory they have recently occupied; indeed, the German Government went further, and were more nattering to us, for their Ambassador informed me they had come to the conclusion that our manner of dealing with such things, at all events in the colonies, is better than theirs, and that in this instance, at any rate, they in tended to imitate our methods. The noble Lord asked for information as to the state of the negotiations about the Loan. I should be very glad to give it to him, but I have not got it. China is a country where you often get different accounts of the same thing. Though I entertain every hope that in a few days we shall be able to lay some papers on the table of the House in reference to this matter, I am not in a position to speak further now. But I must warn the noble Lord, if I have excited his appetite for knowledge by that disclosure, that we have nothing but telegraphic information at present, and that it will be exceedingly scanty when it appears. I have only now to say a word about the Indian frontier. I think I heard the noble Lord twins apologise for not going further by saying that he had not read the papers, which, as they were only circulated this afternoon, is not at all astonishing; but I confess I wonder it did not suggest itself to him that it would have been better to have deferred his comments until he had seen the evidence upon which they were based. The noble Lord stakes his whole case upon this:—You may talk of Mahomedan fanaticism, you may talk of the Durand Agreement, you may talk about the action of the Government of India when, with the approval of Sir Henry Fowler, they advanced in Waziristan, but all these things go for nothing, and the one thing that is of importance is the Chitral road. But these are matters of inference, on which the evidence must 42 be consulted, and until you examine the Blue-Book you really are not in a position to decide whether the Chitral road was essential. We are told by those acquainted with the government of India that the people who are near the Chitral road are very well content, and that the rebellion has been less formidable in the parts affected by that country than further south, where the Chitral road has nothing to do with them. I believe that fanaticism has had a great deal to do with it, but I confess I think there has been a deeper cause. If you look into history, wherever you see a barbarous mountain population by the side of a civilised population dwelling in the plains, those people have never been able to live long in peace with each other, and it has been the rule that ultimately the mountain population must accept the civilisation of its neighbour. You will not be able, do what you will, to avoid that law. You may cast the blame on this act or on that; you may say it is the fault of one statesman or another; but the mere incidents which are the inciting cause of each successive struggle are to be traced, not really to a road or to a boundary, or even to the spread of a wave of fanaticism; they are to be traced to the jealousy and terror which a mountain population feel at the neighbourhood of a civilised population which they know to be more advanced and more formidable than themselves, yet whose superiority they despise. I trust that we shall be able to perform what is an inevitable conquest by the gentle means of example and gradual intercourse. To a military forward policy I am as much opposed as the noble Earl, but I believe a forward policy is inevitable—that is to say, we must gradually convert to our way of thinking in matters of civilisation these splendid tribes. I hope the process may not have been dangerously interfered with by this frontier war. I lament it personally, for that cause—that it awakes passions which years may not suffice to quieten down. I do not underrate the difficulty which all over the world we are feeling with the Mahomedan population wherever we come across them. There is an impulse stirring in them. A slight victory, an exaggerated victory, has recalled to them their past of a thousand years ago, when 43 they were victors in every part of the world, and they cannot but believe that that glorious period of their history is to be repeated. I am not surprised that that feeling should be excited in them. I should deeply grieve if any unnecessary occupation or any unnecessary violence were to irritate or to stimulate that feeling, instead of there being the demulcent influence of a gradual appreciation of our civilisation and of our real goodwill, by which in time that hostility may be appeased. I can assure the noble Lord that there is no wish on the part of Her Majesty's Government, and no wish on the part of the Indian Government, to occupy a single position which is not, in the judgment of a sufficient consensus of expert men, an absolute necessity. The noble Lord admits that we must keep our way open through the mountains; he admits that the Khaibar cannot be neglected. We, on the other hand, admit that every additional post is an additional danger, an additional evil, and tends to put off the day which we so greatly desire—namely, that which shall see the reconciliation of these tribes to the rest of our Indian subjects. I think that in that policy we shall be heartily supported by the people of this country. In this case, as in the case of China, we have no desire for an increase of territory which would only be an increase of burden, but we desire to diminish every possible danger. I have only one word more to say. The noble Lord has again and again in the course of his speech warned us against excessive acquisitions, and the dangers which they may bring. I am not proposing to go into detail. I may not, perhaps, attach the same meaning to words as the noble Lord; but in the general soundness of his principle, and the recognition that it is one necessary in these times, I most heartily concur. I have a strong belief that there is a danger of the public opinion of this country undergoing a reaction from the Cobdenic doctrines of 30 or 40 years ago, and believing that it is our duty to take everything we can, to fight everybody, and to make a quarrel of every dispute. That seems to me a very dangerous doctrine, not merely because it might incite other nations against us—though that is not a consideration to be neglected, for the kind of reputation we 44 are at present enjoying on the Continent of Europe is by no means pleasant, and by no means advantageous; but there is a much more serious danger, and that is lest we should overtax our strength. However strong you may be, whether you are a man or a nation, there is a point beyond which your strength will not go. It is madness; it ends in ruin if you allow yourselves to pass beyond it. And, my Lords, I am sure that the noble Earl and his friends feel, as we do, the extreme gravity of the crisis in our country's history through which we are passing, and the extreme importance that we should not allow any Party feelings to bias us in discovering and following the difficult, the narrow line that separates an undue concession from that rashness which has, in more than one case in history, been the ruin of nations as great and powerful as ourselves.