HL Deb 26 February 1904 vol 130 cc1110-50

, who had given notice "To call attention to the Papers on Tibet, and to move for further Papers," said: My Lords, the very interesting and rather formidable Blue-book relating to Tibet can be divided into three parts. There is first the period when Lord Elgin was at the head of affairs in India. I need say very little about his policy, because it was essentially a policy of peace. In Mr. Cuningham's letter, dated 4th March, 1896, my noble friend's policy is clearly laid down in these words— The policy to be adopted towards the Tibetans should, therefore, be one of conciliation, and all action likely to produce friction should be carefully avoided.…The Governor-General in Council would deprecate recourse to threats. With this attitude I am in cordial agreement. There is one other feature of his administration to which I must call your attention. In the letter mentioned above it is stated that— In respect to territory near Giaogong, the Tibetans probably possess claims which it would not only be impolitic but inequitable to ignore. Those words contain the admission by the Government of India that the demarcation under the Treaty of 1890 was open to objection and to revision. I now come to the second period, the administration of Lord Curzon. Lord Curzon is prepared to leave to Tibet those lands to which Lord Elgin had declared Tibet had claims, but he is only prepared to do so on condition that phari is thrown open to native traders from India. He attaches a condition to the surrender of these lands to the Tibetans, but he is warned in a letter of the 13th of September, 1899, of the Government of Bengal, that the Tibetans would never consent to the opening of Phari to Indian traders except under compulsion. Three reasons are given for that resistance: in the first place, because it would injure an existing monopoly of Tibetan traders; and, in the next place, because the Tibetans were afraid that friction might arise with the British Government which they wanted to avoid, and because they have an inveterate dislike to the entry of any foreigners, Chinese as well as English, within their territory.

The next point to which I wish to call attention is that relating to the attempts to enter into direct correspondence with the Dalai Lama. Three attempts were made, but all three failed. Ugyen Kazi, the Bhutan Vakil, was employed for that purpose on two occasions. Hearing that the first and second attempts had failed, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal pointed out, in a letter of the22nd of December,1899,that it would be useless to make any further endeavour at present to open direct communication, through an agent, with the Tibetan authorities. The Dalai Lama could not take a letter without consulting the Council and the Chinese Amban, and he knew they would not agree, and he could not write a letter without first consulting the Amban. Ugyen Kazi says that— The Dalai Lama is a clever man, and is really sorry that he was unable to accept the Viceroy's letter or send any letter. In the account of Ugyen Kazi's visit to Lhasa it is stated that the Dalai Lama went on to say that he was precluded from writing any letter to any foreign Government, as during the time of Tangya Iling Demorin pochi an agreement was entered into by the Lamas, Sehaffis, and Ambans that no letters should be written without first consulting the Ambans. The Dalai-Lama added that this agreement was not made by him but by his predecessor. This shows clearly that the proper method of communication was with the Chinese authorities, and not to attempt these useless representations to the Tibetan authorities, who were unwilling to receive them.

The next difficulty is that with regard to the removal of boundary pillars. Indian administrators are well aware that boundary pillars in inaccessible regions are very likely to be removed, and that we cannot hold the Native Government in every single case responsible for such removal. Hero, again, I would call attention to the view which Lord Elgin took as to the removal of boundary pillars. He stated in his despatch of the 25th c: June, 1895, that— No serious practical inconvenience had apparently arisen through the frontier being undcinareated, and he mentioned this very important fact, that— Demarcation was not provided for in the Treaty of 1890. That treaty gave us no right to insist on demarcation. The next controversy had reference to the grazing question. In a despatch dated the 8th of January 1903, the Viceroy states that— The grazing rights on the Sikkim side of the border, which had been usurped by the Tibetans, are, in fact, balanced by similar rights winch are conceded to the Sikkimese across the Tibetan border, and that the status quo is probably the most convenient arrange merit in the interest of both parties. The grievance with regard to grazing rights is therefore considered to be nonexistent. Dealing with these three points—the refusal to receive or to send letters, the removal of the boundary pillars, and the usurpation of grazing rights—I cannot see that they justify an advance of a mission into the heart of Tibet.

I now turn to the correspondence in the Blue-book, and, in the first place, to the despatch of the 13th of February, 1902, from Lord Curzon, in order to see what were the other difficulties with Tibet which could justify this mission. The Viceroy states that they were— Informed by the Government of Bengal that an attempt which was made last year by the Indian Tea Association to introduce Indian tea into Tibet was rendered fruitless by the obstruction of the local Lamas and officials. This was an attempt to push the tea trade into Tibet notwithstanding that the Tibetans prefer an inferior kind of Chinese tea and do not wish to change their usual habits. I do not see why we should insist on the Tibetans giving way on this point. There is in the despatch a very interesting passage about retaliation. The Viceroy says— Another possible and legitimate course would be to stop all Tibetan trade with India, and all intercourse between the two countries. Such a stop would, doubtless, prove a serious obstacle to Tibetan trade, and might tend to force the authorities to enter into negotiations with us, I would especially call your Lordships' attention to what follows— but it would also entail hardship upon our own traders, and might ultimately result in the diversion of the Tibetan trade to Nepal. The Viceroy therefore desists from retaliation. Retaliation would have injured our own traders and Nepal would have been the fertius gaiudens. These are the usual results of retaliation. I almost regret that this experiment was not tried, because, if he had followed that course, we should have had an object lesson in retaliation, and the present, situation would not have arisen. The Viceroy gives a further explanation of his policy. He says— The policy of isolation pursued by the Tibetan Government is one that, from its own point of view, it may not be difficult to comprehend. But it is not compatible cither with proximity to the territories of a great civilised Power at whose hands the Tibetan Government enjoys the fullest opportunities both for intercourse and trade, or with due respect for the treaty stipulations into which the Chinese Government has entered on its behalf. It is indeed the most extraordinary anachronism of the 20th century that there should exist, within less than 300 miles of the borders of British India a State and a Government, with whom political relations do not so much as exist, and with whom it is impossible even to exchange a written communication. Such a situation cannot in any ease be lasting. But it seems desirable that it should be brought to an end with as little delay and commotion as possible. I quite agree that it would be desirable to put an end to such a situation if you could do it without any commotion, but that certainly has not been the case; and a good deal of commotion is created by our attempt to force the Tibetans out of an isolation to which I hold they have a perfect right.

The next very important despatch is that of January the 8th, 1903, in which the Viceroy puts forward another reason for his policy. He says— The second combination of circumstances that has materially affected the situation is the rumoured conclusion of a secret Agreement by which the Russian Government has acquired certain powers of interference in Tibet. The Viceroy himself points out in another sentence, in which he says— It is unnecessary for us to remind your Lordship that the Russian border nowhere even touches that of Tibet, and that the nearest point of Russian territory is considerably more than a thousand miles short of the Tibetan capital, which is situated in the extreme south, and in close proximity to the northern frontier of the Indian Empire. How remote is the direct contact of Russia with Tibet.

Now, anyone who has read the fascinating account of Dr. Sven Hedin's attempt to get into Tibet through the desolate country which separates Tibet from Russia will have seen how incredible it would be that Russia should advance into Tibet from that side. But in the Blue-book we have important and positive declarations of the Russian Government. Count Lamsdorff informs Sir Charles Scott on July the 8th, 1901, that the mission of the Tibetan visitors— Could not be regarded as having any political or diplomatic character. With regard to a rumoured Agreement, between Russia and China concerning Tibet of which the terms arc given in the Blue-book. In the first place two Chinese ministers told Sir Ernest Satow on September the 8th, 1902— That no such arrangement had ever formed a subject of discussion between the Chinese and Russian Governments. But the Russian Ambassador, Count Benckendorff— Was able to assure the noble Marquess officially that there was no convention about Tibet, either with Tibet itself or with China, or with anyone else, nor had the Russian Government any Agents in that country or any intention of sending Agents or missions there. I cannot conceive that any declaration could be clearer or more definite than this declaration of the Russian Government which is contained in a despatch from the noble Marquess to Sir Charles Scott of April the 8th, 1903. The only link between Russia and Tibet is the large number of Buddhists in the Russian Empire who venerate the Dalai Lama as was pointed out by Count Lamsdorff to Sir Charles Scott on the 8th of July, 1901.

There is a very important despatch from the noble Marquess to Mr. Spring-Rice of the 17th November, 1903, in which it is stated that the Russian Ambassador said— It was most unfortunate that, at the present moment, when the Russian Government were, as I was aware, disposed to enter into an amicable discussion of our relations at the various points where British and Russian interests were in contact, an event of this kind, so calculated to create mistrust on the part of Russia, should have occurred. My Lords, that is an extremely important statement. It is inherent to our political position that, whenever we advance, there should be mistrust in Russia, and whenever Russia advances, there should be mistrust in England. Therefore the statement that the Russian Government was disposed to enter into an amicable discussion is most satisfactory, and I trust that the noble Marquess will inform us that on his part there was the same amicable disposition to enter into that discussion and to attempt to remove, once and for all, the causes of reciprocal suspicion of motives which ought not to exist between two Powers having such enormous—not necessarily conflicting—interests in Asia. I return to the Viceroy's despatch in which he proposes to accept the Chinese proposals of having a Conference, but he adds the most extraordinary condition that the Conference shall take place, not upon our frontier, but at Lhasa. Now it was obvious that such a proposal could never be accepted by the Lamas. In that same despatch there is an interesting extract from a despatch from Sir Thomas Wade to Earl Granville. No one knew China and the methods of the Chinese better than Sir Thomas Wade, and great weight must, therefore, be attached to what he says. He stated— If the trade (i.e., between India and Tibet) be worth the effort, I think that it might possibly be opened, were a mixed official and commercial mission pushed forward without reference to the Court of peking, which is always careful to declare that in this or in any other matter Tibet may act as she pleases, and if that mission were authorised in the first instance to spend money rather freely. But the Government of India of that date, who were asked for their opinion on this suggestion by the Secretary of State, replied in an unfavourable sense, not being impressed, as our records show, with the trade prospects. And when I look at the figures which are given in the Blue-book with regard to our present trade with Tibet, I am bound to say that I am not impressed by the prospects of that trade; and it seems to me that it is hardly worth while forcing unwilling Tibetans to take our merchandise. I think that we must use those means which Sir Thomas Wade suggests and "spend money rather freely" and avoid anything which has the appearance of a hostile act. With regard to the suzerainty of China, the Viceroy used this extraordinary expression— We regard the so-called suzerainty of China over Tibet as a constitutional fiction—a political affectation which has only been maintained because of its convenience to both parties. This strikes me as an extremely impolitic assertion that a situation which our Government had always recognised, which is founded on law, history, and tradition should be considered a constitutional fiction—extremely impolitic when we realise what suzerainty means to us in India.

The Viceroy continues— Our proposal therefore is that, assuming it to be decided by His Majesty's Government to respond in a favourable sense to the overtures of the Waiwupu, the Chinese Government shall be informed that we can undertake the negotiations nowhere else than at Lhasa, and that a British Commercial Mission will start for that place at a suitable date in the forthcoming spring, there to meet the Chinese resident and a duly appointed high official of the Tibetan Government. We propose that the negotiations should cover not merely the small question of the Sikkim frontier, but the entire question of our future relations, commercial and otherwise, with Tibet; and we think that they should culminate in the appointment of a permanent British representative, Consular or Diplomatic, to reside at Lhasa. That was a most imprudent proposal, and one which I am happy to say the home Government vetoed. A very important despatch from Lord George Hamilton, dated 27th February, 1903, followed, in which it was stated by the Secretary of State that— His Majesty's Government fully recognise that the establishment of a powerful foreign influence in Tibet would disturb those relations, and might even, by exposing Nepal to a pressure which it would be difficult to resist, affect those which at present exist on so cordial a basis between India and Nepal. Having regard to these considerations, His Majesty's Government, while regretting the necessity for abandoning the passive attitude that has hitherto sufficed in the regulation of the affairs of this portion of the frontier of India, are compelled to recognise that circumstances have recently occurred which throw on them the obligation of placing our relations with the Government of Lhasa upon a more satisfactory footing. Your Excellency's proposal to send an armed mission to enter Lhasa, by force if necessary, and establish there a Resident, might, no doubt, if the issue were simply one between India and Tibet, be justified as a legitimate reply to the action of the Tibetan Government in returning the letters which on three occasions you have addressed to them, and in disregarding the Convention with China of 1890, the validity of which was repudiated by the Tibetan officials who visited our Political Officer while he was inspecting the frontier laid down by that Convention. Such action undoubtedly warrants the adoption of strong measures, and I have expressed this opinion in my despatch of the Kith August, 1901. But His Majesty's Government cannot regard the question as one concerning India and Thibet alone. The position of China, in its relations to the Powers of Europe, has been so modified in recent years that it is necessary to take into account those altered conditions in deciding on action affecting what must still be regarded as a province of China. Far from looking upon the suzerainty as a constitutional fiction the home Government looked upon Tibet as a province of China. Lord George Hamilton continued— It is true, as stated in your Excellency's letter, that we have no desire either to declare a protectorate or permanently to occupy any portion of the country. Measures of this kind might, however, become inevitable if we were once to find ourselves committed to armed intervention in Tibet, and it is almost certain that, were the British mission to encounter opposition, questions would be raised which would have to be considered not as local ones concerning Tibet and India exclusively, but from an international point of view, as involving the status of a portion of the Chinese Empire. For these reasons His Majesty's Government think it necessary, before sanctioning a course which might be regarded as an attack on the integrity of the Chinese Empire, to be sure that such action can be justified by the previous action of Tibet, and they have accordingly come to the conclusion that it would be premature to adopt measures so likely to precipitate a crisis in the affairs of Tibet as those which your Excellency has proposed. Lord George Hamilton very wisely would not hear of a mission to Lhasa or of an agent at Lhasa, and that proposal was therefore set aside. In his telegram of 29th April he says— There is no objection to the Chinese, Tibetan, and Indian representatives meeting, as proposed in your telegram of 16th April, at Khambajong, or to the military arrangements you recommend; but His Majesty's Government consider that, without previous reference to them, the British mission should not advance beyond that place, as, in existing conditions, even in the event of the failure of the Chinese and Tibetan parties to meet, any sudden advance to Lhasa is not, in their opinion, justified. The home Government very clearly saw the tendency of the policy of the Viceroy, and tried to check it. But the Viceroy, in his telegram of 7th May, returns to the charge. He says— Having regard to stultification of existing treaty provisions and to the unsuitability of Yatung, Phari, or any other place in the Chumbi Valley for a trade mart in which business can be transacted directly between British and Tibetan merchants without incurring monopoly of local traders, it is necessary to insist upon opening a new trade mart and upon having a British Agent at Gyangtse, an important trade centre on main route to Shigatse and Lhasa. I think that having British representative at Lhasa, which would be best possible security for future observance of conditions, would be far preferable. The Viceroy still insists on the British representative at Lhasa. He continues— but, assuming the unwillingness of His Majesty's Government to press this caim, our proposal of Gyangtse is a suitable alternative. In any case the British representative must reside on north side of the passes so as to be able to communicate prom fitly with the Capital In framing the new regulations the Tibetan and Chinese authorities should be made clearly to understand that fullest facilities must be given to the British representative for direct communication with the Tibetan Government in all matters, and that if he is met by attitude of obstru-tion, it will be necessary to resort to alternative of moving him forward to Lhasa. The Viceroy does not accept Lord George Hamilton's policy, and proposes an alternative policy, which involves conditional resort to a forward move to Lhasa, which was the very contingency to be most scrupulously avoided.

The Secretary of State, on 28th May, replied— They (His Majesty's Government) wish, however, that the negotiations should be restricted to questions concerning trade relations, the frontier, and grazing rights; and they desire that no proposal should be made for the establishment of a political agent either at Gyangtse or at Lhasa. Lord George Hamilton very judiciously added that— Such a political outpost might entail difficulties and responsibilities incommensurate, in the judgment of His Majesty's Government, with any benefit which, in the circumstances how known to exist, could be gained by it…His Majesty's Government are unwilling to be committed, by threats accompanying the pro posals which may be made, to any definite course of compulsion to be undertaken in the future. They authorise you, then, subject to the conditions above stated, to communicate with the Chinese Resident and Tibetan representative, fixing Khanibajong as the place of meeting. It is therefore quite clear that the home Government did not wish any other course to be pursued than that 01 friendly negotiations; and that threats or hostilities should be avoided. Then a new incident occurred. Two British subjects were imprisoned at Shigatse, and the Tibetans declined to restore them. The last information regarding those two prisoners is contained in a letter dated 22nd December, from the Chinese Minister, in which he says that the two natives who were reported to have been put o death arc a live and well, but still under detention, and that instructions have been given for their immediate liberation. Perhaps the noble Earl will be able to tell us where those two British subjects are at present. Then on 16th September the Viceroy warned the Government that Colonel Younghusband despaired of a peaceful solution and said that until the Tibetans realised the seriousness of our intentions nothing would be done. The Viceroy continued— He (Colonel Younghusband) foresees that the occupation of the Chumbi Valley and ad vance of Mission seventy-five miles beyond Khambajong to Gyangtse will be eventually necessary. We think that occupation of Chumbi Valley will be insufficient to put serious pressure on Lhasa, and that it is almost certain that Mission will have to advance. And the Viceroy adds that— His Majesty's Government should realise that the Lhasa Government have no conception of our power. It seems to me that one of the reasons why the Tibetans are so anxious to preserve their isolation is that they are well aware of our power, and that they are afraid of it. That seems to me a much more natural explanation of their attitude than that they have no conception of our power. The Viceroy goes on to say— A further complication is that any sort of action will be difficult after November. But in his telegram of 26th October the state of the weather after November is not considered to be likely to lead to complications, for the Viceroy says— Though cold, the season of the year is entirely favourable, and we anticipate no difficulty in carrying through operations and maintaining communications and supplies. Again the Secretary of State tries to restrain the Viceroy. In his telegram of 20th September, Lord George Hamilton said— In the event of coercion becoming necessary, military situation will have to be considered, but proposal to advance far into the interior is regarded with grave misgiving by His Majesty's Government, who are disposed to think that the fact that we are in earnest may be sufficiently brought home to the Tibetans by the occupation of the Chumbi Valley in the first instance. In his last telegram of 1st October and I regret that Lord George Hamilton is no longer at the head of Indian affairs with which he was so thoroughly conversant—he says— If complete rapture of negotiations proves inevitable, His Majesty's Government, having again considered position, are now prepared to authorise not only occupation of Chumbi Valley, but also the advance, if it can be made with safety, of the mission to Gyangtse. Subject to certain conditions—"if a complete rupture of negotiations proves inevitable," and "if it can be made with safety," the mission may advance to Gyangtse. The Viceroy in his telegram of 26th October thereupon recommends that immediate advance to Gyangtse through the Chumbi Valley should be sanctioned. He says— Country beyond Chumbi Valley is open and rolling, and Tangla Pass, leading out of Chumbi Valley, is quite easy. Gyangtse is about eighty miles from Phari and about 140 miles from our frontier at the Jelap Pass. We shonld hope to commence movement by end of November. We do not anticipate any serious resistance. Therefore, Khambajong is abandoned and the route of the Chumbi Valley is taken. The Secretary of State asks on the 29th October whether the rupture of negotiations has taken place, and the Viceroy answers on 4th November— The rupture of negotiations with Tibet (if, indeed, negotiations can be said to have ever begun) is not only inevitable, but has taken place. We now enter on the third period of our recent relations with Tibet.

The Viceroy, in his despatch of 5th November, draws a line between the attitude of the Tibetan Government and the Tibetan people. He says that the Tibetan people, "instead of being suspicious or hostile, are, on the contrary, well-disposed and cheerful." If that is so, then I ask whether it would not have been wise to utilise their cheerful and peaceful disposition, and not to send among them a mission with an armed escort, which is of course required, but which is certainly not likely to increase their friendly feelings towards us. Again, the Government at home warned the Viceroy that the advance to Gyangtse, which they sanction, should not be allowed "to lead to occupation or to permanent intervention in Tibetan affairs in any form." The Secretary of State says, in his telegram of 6th November— The advance should be made for the sole purpose of obtaining satisfaction, and as soon as reparation is obtained a withdrawal should be effected. While His Majesty's Government consider the proposed action to be necessary, they are not prepared to establish a permanent mission in Tibet, and the question of enforcing trade facilities in that country must be considered in the light of the decision conveyed in this telegram. The Viceroy states on 6th December— The Tibetan General at Yatung is reported by Colonel Younghusband to have asked to be given a pledge that if the Tibetans make no attack upon us, no attack will be made by us on them. To this Colonel Young-husband has replied that we are conducting the mission, under adequate protection, to a place better fitted for negotiations, that we are not at war with Tibet, and that, unless we are ourselves attacked, we shall not attack the Tibetans. The last telegram of the Secretary of State, dated 30th January, refers to this, as follows— Every safeguard should be employed to ensure security of mission, but Colonel Young-husband should be definitely instructed to observe the spirit of his statement to the Tibetan General; reported in your telegram of 6th December. No hostile action must be taken by him unless he is attacked or finds that there is actual danger of his communications with base being cut off by Tibetans. The House will see from this narrative that the Viceroy is convinced that our relations with Tibet cannot be placed on a satisfactory footing without a representative at Lhasa and that he has been able to persuade the home Government to accompany him as far as Gyangtse.

Now I wish to ask the noble Earl whether we can receive an assurance that Colonel Younghusband will in no circumstances be allowed to advance beyond Gyangtse, and whether the Indian Government has been informed that an occupation or advance upon Lhasa will not be authorised by His Majesty's Government. I further wish to hear from the noble Earl when the last intelligence was received from the mission, where Colonel Younghusband is at present, where General Macdonald is, and what their next movements will be. I trust we may be told what is the exact object of the negotiations, and whether any recent instructions have been given to Colonel Younghusband in order that he should seize every opportunity which may present itself to enter into negotiations. It is quite clear that it is unnecessary and impolitic to insist on these negotiations being conducted at Gyangtse, and that there is no reason why they should not be initiated under favourable auspices before Gyangtse is reached. If the Government—as I am quite willing to believe—wish to avoid hostilities, they should take the earliest opportunity of negotiating a new treaty. At a moment when events of such importance are occurring in the Far East and in the Near East, it is obviously the duty of His Majesty's Government to abstain from any action which might embarrass this country in Asia or in Europe.

Moved, "That an humble address be presented to His Majesty for further Papers relating to Tibet."—(The Lard Reay.)


My Lords, I do not think His Majesty's Government need take any serious exception to the criticism made against us in regard to the Blue-book that has been published on Tibet. At the same time we are not prepared to accept the suggestion of the noble Lord that our policy is in any sense different from the policy pursued by Lord Elgin. This question is not a new one, and the policy that we are endeavouring to carry out is contained in the words of Lord Curzon's despatch, in which he says that— Our wish is to establish those amicable relations and means of communication that ought to subsist between adjacent and friendly Powers. It is as long ago as 1774 that Warren Hastings, with this very object, despatched a Mission into Tibet under a Mr. Bogle. That mission went to Shigatse and though, so far as I am aware, no arrangements were come to with regard to trade, there is not the least doubt that very friendly relations were established between Bengal and Tibet. So much so that in 1784 Warren Hastings despatched a second mission also to Shigatse, under Mr. Turner, and on that occasion a very satisfactory arrangement was made. Tibet agreed to grant free admission into their country to all such merchants, natives of India, as should come recommended by the Governor-General, to yield them every assistance requisite for the transport of their goods, and to assign them a place of residence for vending their commodities. It would seem that our Indian trade developed considerably with Tibet till 1792, and then, unfortunately, the Nepal Gurkhas invaded Tibet, who then turned for assistance to China. That assistance was rendered and the Chinese troops defeated the Gurkhas and drove them out of Tibet. Unfortunately, China and Tibet believed that the authorities in India had played some part in this invasion, and the result was that from that day forward strangers were prohibited from entering Tibet at all, the trade that had been so satisfactorily developed ceased, the door to Tibet was closed to India, and it has been closed ever since. No further attempt was made for nearly a century to open relations with Tibet; but in 1873 a real and serious attempt was made, a Commissioner being instructed to inquire into the condition and prospects of trade with Tibet, and the advisability of making a road through Sikkim to the Tibetan frontier. That road was made, and in 1885 it was decided to send a mission into Tibet. I think that is the mission which the noble Lord referred to. The Chinese Government approved, and the mission was organised. For reasons which is not necessary for me to enter into, that mission was countermanded, and an opportunity was lost of establishing relations with Tibet, which, I think, might have prevented the situation arising in which we now find ourselves. The abandonment of that mission had a disastrous effect on the minds of the Tibetans, who believed we had not sent it because we feared them, and the result was that they invaded Sikkim, and it became necessary for us to despatch a force of troops to turn them out. They were turned out in 1888, and during the ensuing two years negotiations with China were carried on, and they resulted in the signing of the convention of that date. This convention recognised our claims in Sikkim, defined the frontier and made provision for the subsequent discussion of trade regulations with Tibet. These regulations, which are also contained in the Blue-book, were discussed and agreed to by the Commissioners appointed for that purpose by His Majesty's Government and on behalf of China in the year 1893.

I have ventured to give this short historical survey of the past, which brings us to the date at which the Papers dealing with this question commence, to show that there has been only one policy entertained with regard to Tibet, and it has been a policy of establishing relations and commercial intercourse with that country. It seems to me that a country adjacent to India, whose frontiers for hundreds of miles on the West and South are continuous with our frontiers, should not be in an isolated position; and the Government of that country should not be so exclusive as to refuse communication with us in any shape or form. The present position is the outcome of the policy which has been pursued. It may be an unfortunate outcome, but as our object was to establish trade relations and commercial intercourse with Tibet, the signing of the convention of 1890 left us no alternative to seeing that the terms of that convention were carried out. It is true that we might have adopted another policy altogether. We could hardly have said we would ignore the existence of Tibet, but we might have abandoned all hope of having any relations with that country at all. In that case, we should have had to fortify our frontiers at great cost in order to be in a position to resist any hostile combination that might take place. That would not have been a wise policy, and it has never been entertained by any Viceroy or Government; and for that reason I claim that we are now carrying out the one policy that has been adopted towards Tibet.

I now turn to the noble Lord's suggestion that we should have relied solely on China to see the terms of the convention of 1890 carried out. The noble Lord pointed out that Sir T.Wade, to whose experience and opinion he attached the greatest importance, had declared that, if trade between India and Tibet be worth the effort, he thought it might possibly be opened were a mixed official and commercial mission pushed forward without reference to the Court of Peking. I should very much like to know what is really the view of the noble Lord. Sir T. Wade's opinion was that we were not to have any reference to Peking. The noble Lord, on the other hand, says that we ought to have relied on Peking. I can only say that so far as the policy of His Majesty's Government is concerned we have always recognised the suzerainty that China has over Tibet; and in all the negotiations that have taken place the noble Marquess the Foreign Secretary has been in close communication with the Chinese Minister and with the Government of Peking.


I beg the noble Earl's pardon. I did not say we should rely exclusively on Peking.


Then I understand the noble Lord to be in exact agreement with the policy that has been pursued by His Majesty's Government. We have not relied solely on Peking, but have recognised throughout the suzerainty of China; and the mission which was sent to Khambajong was despatched with the full cognisance and consent of the Chinese Government. There is a despatch in the Blue-book from Mr. Townley saying that the Chinese Government were thoroughly satisfied that the mission was advisable. I pass to another point that was raised by the noble Lord. The noble Lord referred to the despatch from the noble Marquess behind me to Mr. Spring-Rice, dated 17th November, 1903, and he read an extract from that despatch in which the noble Marquess said that the Russian Minister had informed him that the Russian Government could not help feeling that the invasion of Tibetan territory by a British force was calculated to involve a grave disturbance of the Central Asian situation, and was most unfortunate at that moment, when the Russian Government were disposed to enter into an amicable discussion of our relations at the various points where British and Russian interests were in contact. Well, I should have thought it would have been perfectly evident to the noble Lord that that statement had no reference to Tibet at all. It was not the Tibetan question that was going to be discussed amicably between the two Governments. I do not think that any word has fallen from the noble Marquess to suggest that we recognise that the Russian Government have any locus standi in Tibet.


I did not state that I understood it had reference to Tibet. I only asked for some explanation.


I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I misunderstood him. I will pass from that. The noble Lord suggested that if the Tibetans wish to be exclusive there is no reason why they should not be, and that attempts at opening up commercial intercourse with them are really unnecessary, as there is not much trade to be developed. I cannot accept that suggestion for a moment. The Indian Government cannot, in the nature of things, be indifferent to the internal affairs of a country adjacent to India. Though questions such as tea duties, grazing rights, etc., are very important matters and matters which, when they come to be discussed between the representatives of the Tibetans and the members of this mission, will no doubt have sufficient importance attached to them, there are matters of far greater importance than those to be considered. I need only refer to this Blue-book to show that the Tibetans have refused to have any intercourse with us; but, on the other hand, they have been willing to have intercourse with another Power. We do not care whether the object of the mission sent from Tibet to St. Petersburg was commercial, political, or religious; it makes no difference to us. But we know that the result of that mission, and the result of the intercourse which has passed between the Tibetans and the Russians, has been to inspire the Tibetans with the feeling that they have the power of Russia behind them. They have said openly— We do not fear England; we have Russia behind us. That is a situation that the Indian Government and His Majesty's Government could not tolerate for a moment, and for that reason we have found it necessary at this time to insist upon a final settlement being come to. If we do not attach very much importance to the matters I have just referred to, I would ask the noble Lord, who is well acquainted with Indian feeling and Indian affairs, what Nepal would think of the British Government if we withheld our hand at the present time. Nepal has had relations with Tibet for many years, and yet the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government of Nepal, has urged the Government of India to take fiction, intimating that if the present strained relations are to continue the position will become intolerable.


Where is that?


It is in the Prime Minister of Nepal's letter. Then the noble Lord referred to the difficulties of the expedition owing to the season of the year. I am glad to say that the escort, so far as the men are concerned, have suffered very little. Every possible comfort that could be given to them to provide against the cold has been ungrudgingly given, and, though the loss in transport has been very heavy, I do not think that we have any reason to deplore the health, and well-being of the escort itself. With regard to the telegram from Lord George Hamilton, in which it was laid down that no advance was to take place unless negotiations were broken off, I think the conditions were amply fulfilled by the circumstances of the case. Colonel Younghusband remained at Khambajong for weeks and months, but could not get anyone to negotiate with him. The Chinese Amban was always coming, but never came. He eventually found that his communications on the subject were not forwarded to Lhasaf, and he claimed that his position there was hopeless, and that unless we took further action nothing would come of the mission. The noble Lord seemed to think that there was something unusual in our having an armed escort with this mission. I would inform him that such an escort accompanied the Afghan Boundary Commission in 1885, the mission to Persia, and the Burma-China Frontier Commission in 1897. Therefore there was nothing unusual in sending an armed escort with the Commission which has gone to Thibet for the purpose—the peaceful purpose—of making a convention. The noble Lord asked me whether Colonel Younghusband had any definite instructions. The purposes for which Colonel Younghusband is going to Gyangtse are clearly set out in the telegram of His Majesty's Government, dated 28th May, 1903. In this telegram to the Viceroy it is stated that— They (His Majesty's Government) agree with you in desiring the promotion of trade facilities in Tibet, and a guarantee that the Tibetans shall be prevented from evading or rejecting engagements made on their behalf in any new treaty or convention. A procedure, therefore whereby both the Chinese and Tibetan Governments will be bound by the acts of their representatives has their approval. They wish, however, that the negotiations should be restricted to questions concerning trade relations, the frontier, and grazing rights, and they desire that no proposal should be made for the establishment of a political agent, either at Gyangtse or at Lhasa. Those instructions seem to me very clear indeed, but they are amplified in the Blue-book, page 198, in a letter from the Government of India to Colonel Younghusband, and the instructions he therein receives are set out very fully. The noble Lord then asked what was the latest information we had from the mission. The latest information is contained in a telegram of 23rd February from Tuna, where Colonel Younghusband is at present. No information is given with regard to Colonel Younghusband's movements, but the telegram contains an important and very satisfactory piece of news. It is that the Bhutan Envoy has met Colonel Younghusband and that they had no hostile intentions; and that he has also seen some Lhasa delegates and has urged them to come to a friendly and peaceful settlement with us. As regards General Macdonald, we have not received any information from him of recent date.

I hope the House will allow me to say a few words as to the general question and the grievances which we have against Tibet. We cannot forget that they have ignored for fourteen years their treaty obligations. A disposition has been shown in every possible way to thwart our trade with Tibet. We cannot pass over the encroachments made on our territories. nor can we ignore the destruction of our boundary pillars. The despatch of Lord Elgin's which the noble Lord referred to was written when the news first arrived of the destruction of these pillars. He will find later on in the Blue-book a more ample account which shows conclusively that the destruction of the boundary pillars was due to the Tibetans. The Tibetans have refused to receive any communication from us. The Viceroy has written three letters, and the noble Lord puts forward, as a reason for the Dalai Lama refusing to answer them, that he was unable to do so because he was pledged to the Suzerain Power not to receive or write any letters without the consent of the Suzerain. But why is it that the Lama did not ask the permission of the Chinese Amban to receive and answer them? If he had asked permission I am sure the Amban would have given it, and this course of action, if taken, might have avoided some of the misunderstandings that have arisen. The Government also cannot forget that while our officers were at Khambajong they did not receive respectful treatment from the Tibetans, and the Tibetans have arrested two British subjects, who, as far as we are aware, have not been released. Rumours of their being tortured came to our notice, but we have had no confirmation of that. The latest news which we have is contained in the Blue-book. It is a letter dated 25th October to Colonel Younghusband. It shows conclusively the power that the Chinese Amban, as a representative of the Suzerain, is capable of exercising in Tibet, and how little the Government can expect to get from China in this matter.

The final and most pointed request of the noble Lord was that the Government should give a pledge that Colonel Younghusband would not go further than Gyangtse. I can only state, in reply, that His Majesty's Government are not prepared to make any definite announcement on that subject. The instructions of His Majesty's Government to Colonel Younghusband are contained in this Blue-book. At the present time his objective is Gyangtse, and the question whether he goes further than Gyangtse must rest with the Tibetans themselves. I believe that Colonel Younghusband will shortly advance, and we trust that the Dalai Lama of Lhasa and his monastic advisers will yet recognise the peaceful object of our mission, that they will not oppose our advance, that the belated Chinese Amban, who has been since December, 1902, on his way, will be there to meet Colonel Younghusband, accompanied by responsible and duly accredited envoys of the Lamas, and that they will be prepared to discuss frankly and fairly the proposals which Colonel Younghusband has been instructed to submit. The Tibetans themselves have shown that they are most anxious to be on friendly terms with us. They have come forward willingly and eagerly to supply our mission, when they have been allowed to, with all their requirements; but I would point out to the noble Lord, who asked why we did not use the Tibetans in order to get influence with the Dalai lama at Lhasa, that though they are very anxious and willing to be friendly with us they are afraid of its being known at Lhasa. Consequently I do not think we shall have much chance of coming into closer touch with the monastic Government of Lhasa through the Tibetan people, however friendly they may be toward us. If the Dalai Lama prefers to appeal to the arbitrament of the sword and to provoke hostilities we must necessarily accept that challenge. But I do not think that evidence is wanting of the generous patience that has been displayed by the Government of India, and by the Government at home, towards the procrastinating attitude of the Tibetans and the non possumus attitude of the Chinese during the last fourteen years, and more especially during the last few months. Nor do I think that evidence is wanting to show that Colonel Younghusband will do nothing to provoke a conflict. His instructions are contained in the last telegram in this Blue-book. No hostile action must be taken by him unless he is attacked or finds that there is actual danger of his communications with his base being cut off by the Tibetans. His Majesty's Government believe that those instructions will be rigidly adhered to by Colonel Young-husband, in whose forbearance, judgment, and capacity they place every confidence. I cannot foretell the future, nor can I say whether the Tibetans will oppose our advance or not. I can only hope that the historian of the future will be able to write that the desire of Warren Hastings to promote friendly relations and commercial intercourse with the neighbours of our greatest dependency was attained 130 years later under the able administration of Lord Curzon.


My Lords, I quite share the aspiration of the noble Earl who has just sat down, that the friendliest relations should be maintained between the Government of India and the people of Tibet. But, my Lords, the question that is really raised by these Papers is, what are the methods by which His Majesty's Government are going to attempt to arrive at that desirable conclusion? The noble Earl in the commencement of his speech said that the policy of His Majesty's Government was identical with the policy of my noble friend Lord Elgin. The policy of my noble friend who preceded Lord Curzon in respect to this question of Tibet was marked, as all those who have read these Papers will, I am sure, admit, by moderation and prudence. I will allow that for a long time the policy of His Majesty's Government, as distinct from the policy of the Government of India, was upon the lines of the policy of my noble friend Lord Elgin. But I cannot for a moment agree, and I do not think that anybody who has looked at the Papers will be of the opinion, that the policy of Lord Curzon has ever been upon this question identical with the policy of my noble friend Lord Elgin. Lord Curzon entered upon his duties as Viceroy in January, 1899. On 30th March he drafted his first despatch to the Secretary of State for India upon the affairs of Tibet, and I venture to say that it is impossible for anyone to maintain that there was not a most marked distinction of tone and of intention between that despatch and those which had proceeded from the Government of Lord Elgin. And it is mainly the anxiety which the apparent policy of Lord Curzon has created in my mind which leads me to make some observations on the present state of things.

Perhaps I may be permitted to say that throughout the whole of the Government of Lord Curzon this is the first occasion, either in Parliament or out of it, upon which I have ever said a word of criticism of his Government. It is not a pleasant task for one who has been Viceroy of India to indulge in criticisms of a successor. I had believed that Lord Curzon, if he ever held, as I think he once did, what are called the doctrines of the forward policy in India, learnt very soon after he became Viceroy how unwise and how dangerous that policy was, and had decided to proceed upon much sounder principles; but, unfortunately, this Blue-book shows us that that was a mistake in regard to Lord Curzon's intention, and that if he did not pursue the forward policy in Afghanistan he was unfortunately all along endeavouring to pursue that policy towards the frontier of Tibet. There is the most remarkable similarity between the various efforts of the friends of the forward policy in the past and the views which have been expressed by Lord Curzon in regard to Tibet. Every step in that policy has been inspired by a Russian scare. The first fatal Afghan war began on those grounds and terminated as unhappily, we all know very well. In the case of the first Afghan war there was a live Russian agent. He was disavowed by his Government and put an end to his own life. On the second occasion, too, there was also a live Russian agent. But we have now nothing more than rumours of a Russian agent. There is no proof in these Papers that any Russian agent has been to Lhasa. A certain deputation went to St. Petersburg, but I do not think it can be maintained that that deputation was sent with the authority of the Government of Lhasa.

It is proposed to send an agent—a British agent—to reside at the headquarters of the State. The agent in the present case is proceeding without an army, though with an escort—an escort which I readily admit, if he is going to Lhasa without the cordial consent of the Government there, is a very necessary accompaniment. My fear is that you may be undertaking it with too small, rather than with too large a force. Those proceedings, from the beginning to the end, have always been injurious and contrary to the true interests of India, at least according to the views which ever since I paid any attention to Indian affairs I have always held, and which I think our past experience has proved to be correct. The demand for a permanent British agent at the capital of the country concerned is, I venture to think, the most fatal of all the proposals. You have sacrificed precious lives in the past. Are you going to send to Lhasa somebody else—after you have forced the people of Tibet to accept your policy—to stay there under those circumstances which have led in the past to such fatal and unhappy results? The noble Earl says that the only alternative to the policy of the Government is the policy of isolation, which, if it be accepted, would involve the fortification of the northern frontier of India. Fortify our northern frontier against whom? Does the noble Earl really think that these Tibetans are likely to invade the Empire of India? Then who are you afraid of? It is the Power, the fear of whom inspires all these proceedings of the forward policy. But do you really think that any European Power, or any Power in its senses, would ever invade India through Tibet, over the highest mountains in the world? No, my Lords, I am certain there is no European Power silly enough to try that game. The invasion, if it ever comes—and I believe it to be one of the most difficult and tremendous undertakings that could ever be entered upon by any great Power—will come from the West of India, not from the North or the East; and therefore I do most sincerely hope that, whatever may be the results of these proceedings, the noble Earl's remark with regard to the proposal to fortify——


I apologise for interrupting the noble Marquess, but what I said was that that, was an alternative policy. I said it was a policy that had never been suggested or considered by anyone.


I am quite sure that the policy never has been considered, and I am equally certain that, if it was. it never would be adopted. The noble Earl says he put it as the alternative policy. I say it is an impossible policy, and that it would be a stupid policy.


Hear hear!


Then you say that the Tibetans hamper your trade. I will not go into any discussion at this moment as to the value of that trade; but it is not much. It might be developed, I quite agree. I see in the Blue-book certain representations from friends of mine at Bradford—from the Bradford Chamber of Commerce—on the subject. I do not doubt that if you establish friendly relations with Tibet you may develop your trade. But, in the first place, I would venture to say that the course which Lord Curzon wishes to pursue is not the best one for establishing friendly relations with Tibet; and, in the next place, while I desire the utmost development of our trade and commerce in every part of the world, while I admit that in these days it is a foremost duty of the Government to do all that they can to advance and develop our commerce, I hold strongly to the view that it is unjust to attempt to do it by the agency of force. I know that when I say that I am out of harmony with a considerable body of public opinion in this country, but it is my deliberate opinion, and, as it involves considerations of right and wrong, I am afraid I am not likely to change it. I have held it for a great many years. In all these cases—more, of course, now than sixty or seventy years ago—there is a strange admixture on the part of those who desire to promote the forward policy of political and trade reasons. First one is put forward, and then the other. I confess that, looking at these Papers, I believe—and I think it is consistent with the character of the noble Lord—that political considerations weigh most with Lord Curzon: but as in these days those considerations have not the force they had atone time with public opinion, trade considerations are added to them, but that does not, in my opinion, change the fundamental error of a policy of this kind. You cannot by force make people your friends. If yon get to Lhasa and force your treaty upon the Tibetan people you will throw their sympathies in the opposite direction. Instead of coming down to the South they will turn to the North. You say that they have threatened to do so already. I dare say they have. The noble Earl shakes his head. I understood him to say that what they felt was that if we attacked them they had Russia behind them. If it is not so I am very glad.

I have said that up to a certain time, even indeed to a late period, it would be quite correct to say that the policy of His Majesty's Government at home was very much in accordance with the policy of my noble friend Lord Elgin. I think we owe much gratitude to Lord George Hamilton for the manner in which he steadily resisted the proposals for advance which came from the Government of India. He fought a long and a firm battle. At the last moment, under circumstances, no doubt, of considerable difficulty, he did give a certain kind of consent to a portion of Lord Curzon's proposals, though not, I think, to his general policy in regard to this question. I know, of course, that it is very difficult for a Secretary of State for India to resist perpetually and continually the pressure and the demands of the Government of India. I have myself been both Secretary of State for India and Viceroy of India, and so I speak with a certain impartiality in regard to the matter; but this I will say, that while I have always thought that it was a sound principle that in almost all matters of internal administration the Secretary of State should leave the largest discretion to the Viceroy in Council, I draw this broad distinction—and I think the noble Marquess will agree with me—that the Government at homo are bound to exercise a close control over any matters which relate to international affairs. Therefore Lord George Hamilton was fully justified in resisting these proposals as he did. At the same time, I quite understand how difficult it may have been to him to fight the battle to the last.

What you have to look at in this case and in all these cases is, that once yon embark on this forward policy you are pushed on step by step. Colonel Younghusband goes forward; he occupies the Chumbi Valley; he presses for advance, and step by step you are brought to a position in which I quite admit resistance is very difficult. Lord George Hamilton, after he had sent that last telegram, retired from office. I am not going to snake any hostile criticism in regard to Mr. Brod-rick's proceedings; but I am sorry to sec that he has gone further than Lord George Hamilton even in his last telegram. Mr. Brodrick shows, by his telegrams, that he desires to restrain Lord Curzon from his proposed advance as much as possible, and in that respect he is right. But the difficulty is that when you have got a considerable way info Tibetan country it becomes exceedingly difficult, unless special circumstances should arise, to call a halt, and to go back. I do think that there are at the present moment circumstances which call loudly for the suspension of these proceedings, and that is the reason why I think my noble friend Lord Reay has done good service in bringing this subject before your Lordships' notice at the present time. The state of affairs in the Far East is so critical as to make any step on the part of the Government of India of much greater importance and more liable to create difficulties than it would be under ordinary conditions. I suppose it is our policy to maintain the integrity and independence of China, and to set ourselves, so far as we can, against any step on the part of any Power to interfere with that independence or threaten that integrity. It behoves us, therefore, to be very careful that at such a moment we do not give an opportunity to any other Power to say that we are interfering with China, or threatening the independence of any portion of her country. I know very well that His Majesty's Government have no intention whatever, according to their declarations—and I believe them to be perfectly sincere—of occupying Tibet, of annexing Tibet, or of interfering with the suzerainty of China over Tibet. But, my Lords, we had yesterday very curious proof of the statements which are made by these whom the noble Bail the First Lord of the Admiralty very rightly referred to as persons animated by hostility to this country. We know how they have been seizing of late, on the most unfounded grounds, every opportunity that they could find of attempting to embroil us with Russia. Surely it would be highly inadvisable that at such a moment as this you should give any opportunity for the circulation of false statements as to our intentions in regard to Tibet. I cannot think of anything that might be likely to lead to more serious difficulties for His Majesty's Government than to create, at a time when the Russian people are naturally excited about the present war, any idea that we were attempting to steal a march upon them, and to undertake arrangements with Tibet which they would think in any way threatening to them. They have no right there; our right there is a little shadowy; but, whatever that may be, the Russians have no right there at all. I say that broadly and distinctly; but, nevertheless, they have an interest there, and I think it is a great mistake to proceed with this policy at this time. It would be insane to attempt to stretch the frontiers of India in that direction. To the northeast of India you have a great mountain barrier. Keep behind that barrier; do not attempt to go beyond it, and you will be safe. No one will invade you over those mountains, and India is quite large enough without any further extension of her frontier.

There is only one more point with which I would trouble your Lordships, and which the noble Earl who has just sat down naturally did not allude to—I mean the communication which is to be found in the noble Marquess's despatch to Mr. Spring-Rice in regard to his conversation with Count Benckendorff. I do not wish to ask for any information that it might be contrary to the public interest to give; but as the noble Marquess has thought fit to include a statement of that conversation in these Papers and in his letter to Mr. Spring-Rice there is no contradiction, that I can find, as to the accuracy of the statement made by Count Benckendorff—the House, I am sure, would be very glad if he would give as much information as he properly can in regard to the nature of those prospective negotiations to which Count Benckendorff alluded.


My Lords, I am afraid I owe some apology to your Lordships for intervening even for a moment in a debate which would seem naturally to be confined to the Indian potentates of this House. But the Papers which have been presented to Parliament have impressed my mind with a very deep sense of the gravity of this question—one which cannot be discussed quite fully in public, but which at any rate bears in its circumstances so melancholy a resemblance to that first war in Afghanistan which was conducted under the late Lord Lytton, that it must give all those whose minds and memories recur to the past, serious grounds of misgiving when they see once more His Majesty's Government proceeding in the same direction to an end which, I venture to say, they cannot see themselves. And here I must express my difference from one remark in the speech to my noble friend who has just sat down. He urges on the Government with great emphasis, and with all the authority of an ex-Viceroy of India, that these operations should now be suspended and withdrawn. I do not say that I wish that that were not possible, but I am convinced that things have gone so far that it is no longer possible. The mission having been sent out, for good or for evil, it must not be recalled without some substantive result and without leaving some firm impression on the Tibetan mind and imagination which may secure, at any rate to some extent, the object which the Government have in view.

I confess I am surprised at the speech of the Under-Secretary, who endeavoured to found an argument of continuity of policy with regard to Tibet which seemed to lead us into the regions of fancy and to neglect that firm rock of historical fact which is so necessary in a statement of this kind. The noble Earl alluded to the mission of Bogle, under the auspices of Warren Hastings, and the subsequent mission of Turner to Shigatse. Then he went to the mission of Mr. Macaulayin 1885, and said that there was a continuity of policy on the part of Governments since the time of Warren Hastings. But he omits to note the fact that there is a gap of at least a century. He takes two isolated dates separated by a century and imagines that there was a continuity of policy with regard to Tibet between those two dates. I venture to say that, broadly speaking, the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to Tibet between those two dates was a policy of respecting the isolation of Tibet, and of not endeavouring in any way to interfere in its autonomy and separate existence. A gap of a century is a serious thing in a continuity of policy which only began towards the end of the 18th century, and I do not think that the claim is sufficiently substantiated by the facts the noble Earl brought forward. He referred to the mission of Mr. Macaulay. Now I remember that expedition very well. I did not know that it was going to be referred to, or I should have rubbed up my recollections, but in any case I remember enough to state certain broad facts. The mission of Mr. Macaulay was the hobby of two very gifted men who have now both passed away; one was Mr. Macaulay himself, and the other was Lord Randolph Churchill. Lord Randolph Churchill was greatly set on this expedition, and Mr. Macaulay, a very gifted man, persuaded him that in the interests of British commerce such an expedition was necessary. The noble Earl says that the expedition would have taken place at the invitation—or with the sanction, was it?—of the Chinese Government.


With the authority.


I think that is very possibly true. The Chinese Government is a weak Government, with an authority which it cannot always vindicate—especially, as the Blue-book shows, in Tibet—and it may have given its authority to that expedition. But I was in office in the succeeding year, and had to deal with the Chinese Government in a convention in respect of Burma, which was of great importance to us for securing our rights and authority in that province. I shall never forget the anguish, if I may use the expression, with which the Chinese Government pressed on us the abandonment of that expedition; and the abandonment of that expedition was one of the main factors in securing that convention, so much importance did the Chinese Government, which had given a nominal sanction to it a year before, attach to its abandonment. And why did the Chinese Government attach so much importance to its abandonment? Because it knew very well what is the position of Tibet. The position of Tibet is unique. It is the most interesting country left in the world: it is a huge monastery inhabited by a nation of monks, with a subject population inhabiting the most inhospitable region in the world, in the worst climate which is habitable by human beings. These people have secured their isolation not for centuries but for tens of centuries; and it has been the policy of their neighbours to respect that isolation. partly I hope from sentiments of veneration and the traditions of antiquity, and partly owing to the very undesirable nature of the country which they inhabit.

There is little or no commerce to be got out of Tibet. My noble friend, with the impulse of a generous nature, said that our commerce might be extended. Our commerce undoubtedly could be extended there, because it is not so great that it is unsusceptible of expansion. It is of the most meagre kind. But when you come to wish to expand a commerce of a narrow kind in a country which does not want you or your commerce, it is wise to count the cost. If I were a hostile critic, which I am not, of the attitude taken up in these Papers, if I wanted to bring the whole matter into ridicule, I should say that the readers of these Papers who were not behind the scenes, would gather that the whole object of the policy of the Indian Government in what they have done was to make people drink Indian tea who did not like Indian tea and did not want Indian tea. I venture to say that the first hundred pages or something like that of this Blue-book are devoted entirely to the desire and ambition of the Indian Government to impose the drinking of Indian tea on a people which prefers Chinese tea.

There are, no doubt, other causes which are urged as grounds for the expedition which has been sent. There is the neglect of the Sikkim Treaties; there is the destruction of two posts; there is the capture of two dubious and anonymous British subjects. When we think of how many hundreds of millions of British subjects there are in India, it is somewhat difficult to trace who these British subjects are. But what I venture to say of all these causes is that they are very suitable causes for a quarrel if you want to pick one, but they are not causes for a great nation to embark in an unknown expedition of this kind without the gravest reasons of another kind which they do not put forward. I am the more strengthened in this opinion because it is the opinion of His Majesty's Government. I do not know whether it is possible to put the case of the Government in a more terse and admirable way than it is put in the despatch of Lord George Hamilton, who we lament for so many reasons is no longer a Minister of the Crown. He there says that— In the event of coercion becoming necessary the military situation will have to be considered. The proposal to advance far into the interior is regarded with grave misgiving by His Majesty's Government, who are disposed to think that the fact that we are in earnest may be sufficiently brought home to the Tibetans by the occupation of the Chumbi Valley in the first instance. That is the last reluctant struggle of the home Government against an imperious Viceroy. Unfortunately, the sands of Lord George Hamilton's Ministry were running extremely low, and in the last ten days of September—I do not remember if he had then vacated his office—a change of attitude took place. On the 1st of October the Indian Secretary telegraphs that His Majesty's Government, having again considered the position— Are now prepared, if the complete rupture of negotiations prove inevitable, to authorise not only the occupation of the Chumbi Valley, but also the advance, if it can be made with safety, of the mission to Gyangtse. That was the surrender of His Majesty's Government, as it seems to me, to the Viceroy, and I think if any one looks through the Blue-book up to that point, and particularly after the despatch on page 150, which is the most explicit of the despatches in which Lord Curzon lays down his policy, he will agree with me in thinking that it was with the greatest possible reluctance and only in, I will not say obedience, but in deference, to the strong and energetic impulsion of Lord Curzon that this policy was ever adopted. There is only one other remark which I have to make with regard to this Blue-book. It is with regard to the transaction with Russia. We are always in a state of great suspicion of Russia and Russia is always in a state of not less complete suspicion of ourselves. I cannot find the reference in the Blue-book at this moment, but assurances were given to the Russian Government which seemed to cover a denial of our expedition into Tibet, and almost immediately afterwards we received the announcement from India that the expedition to Tibet was taking place. It is almost needless to say that our assurance was given in perfect good faith; but, at the same time, it is unfortunate that it should have been given so short a time—only a fortnight, I think—before the expedition took place.

I have said that I do not think there is anything in the Papers which really justifies the despatch of this expedition into Tibet, unless for other reasons you wished to send one there. Some of the arguments of Colonel Younghusband are not entitled to serious attention. He addresses them to the Tibetans, whose intellects he evidently does not rate very highly; and when they complain of his advance with an armed escort, which. of course, is necessary under the circumstances, into their territory to negotiate, Colonel Younghusband seeks to reassure them by telling them that they are hospitably received in Indian territory when they come to negotiate. But he forgets to mention the important and indispensable difference between the two cases, for when the Tibetans have come into Indian territory they have come there by invitation, and in this case our troops certainly have not gone there on invitation. There is only one justification, in my judgment, for the policy of His Majesty's Government, and that is the question, which I know must be treated with the greatest delicacy, of whether there is any understanding between Russia and Tibet which might be of a character dangerous to our interests in Asia. I am not one of those who hold that because the Asiatic dominions of Russia are a thousand miles from Tibet that altogether deprives the relations of Russia and Tibet of their significance or might render them quite harmless to our interests in that region. My view is founded on this—that the authority of the Lama is not a secular but a spiritual one. That is the reason why the Chinese, I suspect, attach so much importance to their connection with the Lama and their connection with Tibet; and I am not learned enough to know how far that spiritual authority of the Dalai Lama really extends through China and the Asiatic dominions of Russia. But it does, no doubt, extend to a very considerable region; and therefore the Dalai Lama and his authority is to Russia, and it is to ourselves, as it is to China, a matter of great significance and importance.

Now, of course, I accept the denial of the Russian Government that there is no agreement or treaty between Russia and Tibet. There is an article in one of the monthly magazines, I think it is the Contemporary Review, signed by a name which is not known to me, which categorically states that such a treaty has been signed and that a friend of the author's was actually present at the signature. I can attach no authority to a statement of that kind where I do not know the position of the person who makes it; but I must say that I attach considerable weight to the Tibetan Embassy to St. Petersburg. The Tibetan Embassy to St. Petersburg, from the very reason of distance, seems to me to have been an act unwarranted by considerations of neighbourly amity, which therefore assumes a political significance which it is not very easy to overlook. I do not think there is anything in the Blue-book beyond the Tibetan Embassy which need cause us serious disquietude with regard to the relations of Russia and Tibet. The boast of the Tibetans that was quoted by the Under-Secretary is, I think, a boast which was simply related by Colonel Younghusband as a matter of gossip, and is, after all, even if used, probably a matter, may I say of bluff, to which it is not necessary to attach any serious importance. The Tibetan Embassy to St. Petersburg is, I think, a serious symptom; and if the noble Marquess can, without indiscretion, give us any information as to that most material point with regard to our whole Tibetan policy—the relations of Russia and Lhasa—I confess I shall be very glad that this discussion has taken place.


My Lords, the noble Marquess who spoke last but one delivered an eloquent speech in condemnation of a policy that His Majesty's Government have not only not adopted, but, in the pages of this Blue-book, have gone out of their way to disclaim. The noble Marquess has discovered in Lord Curzon's Tibetan policy an example of that forward policy which he so greatly abhors, and which he so often and so earnestly decries. I have often heard policies denounced as being illustrations of a forward policy which did not appear to me in the least to deserve to be so stigmatised. In this case I think the expression is very much misapplied. This Blue-book sets out clearly the circumstances under which we became involved in this Tibetan difficulty, and I am bound to say that I believe you may search history in vain for a case in which a powerful and civilised Power has dealt more patiently or more indulgently with a barbarous or semi-barbarous neighbour. There have been two questions between ourselves and the Tibetans—the question of trade and the question of frontier. I will freely admit that, to my mind, the question of trade deserves a secondary place only in these transactions. I do not, on the other hand, wish to treat considerations founded upon the development of trade with disrespect; because we who have been at the Foreign Office know very well that our fellow - countrymen regard it as one of the principal duties belonging to us to sec that no efforts are spared to develop the trade of this country in all parts of the world, and we are, rightly I think, taken to task whenever we neglect such an opportunity.

But it is quite true that in this case the trade for which we are struggling is not a very extensive or valuable trade. At any rate, I entirely agree with the noble Marquess and the noble Earl on the Cross Benches when they repudiate the idea of endeavouring to force trade, whether it be extensive or not extensive, at the point of the bayonet, upon people who do not want to trade with us. The question of the frontier is of an entirely different nature. I think it must be borne in upon us that in many parts of the world these frontier questions are forced upon us in circumstances from which there is no escape. If you have two uncivilised countries conterminous, they rather like not to have a settled frontier; you will find that certain regions belong at one time to one Power and at another to its neighbour, and sometimes they even owe allegiance simultaneously to two different Powers. But these arrangements are not convenient or acceptable when an uncivilised country marches with a civilised Power; and that is the case which confronts us in Tibet. Is it the case, as the noble Earl who introduced this subject suggests, that we have dealt with this frontier question in a spirit other than a spirit of patience and conciliation? I say the whole history of this transaction is a history of British patience and forbearance.

I will not go over the events as they were described to the House by my noble friend Lord Hardwicke; but your Lordships will remember that after the invasion of Sikkim by Tibet in 1886—I see the noble Lord puts on an expression of astonishment, but in 1886, the Tibetans did invade Sikkim and occupied a position twelve miles on the Sikkim side of the frontier. When that invasion occurred, there was no impatience shown on our side. We gave them two years grace before we turned them out, as we were obliged to turn them out, at the point of the bayonet. From that time it was our object to make a friendly and neighbourly arrangement with the Tibetans, and such an arrangement was attempted in 1890, when the convention of that year was entered into. On that occas on, again, we were careful to avoid forcing our trade upon the Tibetans, because, whereas we insisted upon an immediate settlement with regard to the frontier, we allowed the question of trade to stand over for the time, and no attempt was made to deal with it until 1893. I think it was the noble Earl on the Cross Benches who said that the policy of the Indian Government was to be explained by their desire to force Indian tea upon Tibetan consumers. So little was that the case that in 1893, at the request of the Chinese, with whom we were then negotiating, we dropped the question of tea, for I, think, no less than five years.


That was under the late Government.


I am merely showing that our policy with regard to trade has been a policy of patience and conciliation. What was our reward for this patience? The boundary pillars were destroyed; and not only was trade not allowed to us, but the Tibetans came down and built a wall close to the spot at which they had engaged that a trade mart should be established. We have heard of tariff walls, but this was not a tariff wall, it was a stone wall. It was because of the failure of this policy of patience that His Majesty's Government reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was necessary to accept the suggestion of the Government of India and to have recourse to a more vigorous policy. The conditions under which we agreed to that policy are set out in this Blue-book; and I must say I do not think that anything could have been more careful than the limitations and precaution-subject to which that policy was sanctioned.

The noble Lord asked us to explain what it was that Colonel Younghusband's mission was intended to obtain for us. I will answer that question. The convention of 1890 was repudiated by the Tibetans upon the ground that they had not been properly consulted with regard to it. As a matter of fact, I believe that a Tibetan official accompanied the Chinese Amban who negotiated the treaty, but they have persistently repudiated these obligations. We desire that a new convention should be entered into between the Government of India on the one hand, and the Tibetans and the Chinese, as the suzerain Power, upon the other. That is the object of this mission, and we intend to attain it. As to the aggressive tendencies which we are alleged to have exhibited, I cannot help thinking that we have a right to call, if I may say so, as witnesses to character, the representatives of the two adjoining States of Nepal and Bhotan, whose attitude has been referred to during the course of this debate. Bhotan is an independent State immediately adjoining the Indian frontier. I believe we pay a small subsidy to the Bhotanese Government, but we never interfere with them. In the same way Nepal is an independent State. We keep an agent there. But there is no interference with internal Nepalese affairs, with the result that we are on most friendly terms with that State, and we are allowed to recruit within it those gallant Gurkha soldiers who add so much to the strength of the Indian Army. It is perfectly clear that if we have been able to maintain this sort of relations with Bhotan and Nepal, it is not necessary to impute to us sinister designs upon our Tibetan neighbours.

The noble Lord who spoke first referred to the relations of Tibet with China, and quoted and condemned very roundly Lord Curzon's statement that the suzerainty of China over Thibet might be regarded as a constitutional fiction. Lord Curzon, in the words which follow, explains very distinctly what he meant by that statement. Lord Curzon says that what he calls this constitutional fiction— Has been maintained only because of its convenience to both parties. China is always ready to break down the barriers of ignorance and obstruction and to open Tibet to the civilising influence of trade; but her pious wishes are defeated by the short-sighted stupidity of the Lamas. In the same way Tibet is only too anxious to meet our advances, but she is prevented from doing so by the despotic veto of the suzerain. This solemn farce has been re-enacted with a frequency that seems never to deprive it of its attractions or its power to impose. That is a perfectly accurate account of the value for all practical purposes of the suzerainty of China when you come to attempt to make it a basis for dealing with the Tibetans. But such as the suzerainty of China is, we desire to respect it; we do not wish to minimise it. On the contrary, we have throughout these long negotiations constantly leant on the suzerainty of China, and spared no pains to carry the Chinese Government with us at every step. At this moment whatever is being done in Tibet is being done with the knowledge and concurrence of the Chinese Government. They are not always punctual in their arrangements; their representatives do not always arrive on the scene at the hour when they are most wanted. But that does not in the least affect the accuracy of my statement that the Chinese Government is a party to the transactions now in progress.

I now come to a much more delicate and difficult subject which has been touched upon by speakers to-night—I mean the relations between Tibet and Russia. The attitude of His Majesty's Government in regard to this question is, I think, explained with sufficient clearness in the despatches published in the Blue-book and giving an account of the communications that passed between the representative of the Russian Government and the representative of the British Foreign Office. I do not desire to add to or to take away from what was stated in these despatches. Our view is that the independence of Tibet should be recognised, but that if any other Power is to exercise a preponderance in that country, that Power can only be Great Britain. We have made that sufficiently clear, and I will not attempt to labour the point; the more so, because, whether there had been any question of communications between Russia an Tibet or not, it would, in my belief, have been none the less necessary that some step should be taken to bring the Tibetan Government to reason. What seems to me to aggravate our difficulties in this case is not so much anything which the Russian Government has done, as what the Tibetans imagine the Russian Government to intend or to have in contemplation. The Russian Government have given us distinct, and, I am bound to say, in my opinion, satisfactory assurances with regard to their policy towards Tibet. I do not desire to call these assurances in question. Nor do I for a moment attach credence to the idle rumours which reach us from time to time as to the presence of large bodies of Russian troops or of Russians of any kind at that mysterious capital, Lhasa. But the evidence is indisputable to show that the Tibetans, who are a people very ignorant and very easily imposed upon, are deeply convinced that they may count upon Russian support, and it is that most unfortunate misapprehension—for I believe it to be an entire misapprehension—which has so much intensified their opposition to us and added so much to our difficulties.

The noble Marquess asked me a distinct Question arising out of the despatch written by myself to Mr. Spring-Rice on 17th Novembsr, and printed on page 298 of the Blue-book. He called attention to the fact that in this despatch the Russian Ambassador was said to have observed to me that it was most unfortunate that at the present moment, when the Russian Government were, as I was aware, disposed to enter into amicable discussion of our relations at various points where British and Russian interests came in contact, an event of this kind, meaning the Tibetan Mission, should have occurred. I understood the noble Marquess to invite me to tell him what it was that that observation pointed to. The observation had no reference to Tibetan affairs; but it had reference to conversations which had taken place upon more than one occasion between myself and his Excellency, in the course of which he had dwelt upon the great advantage which would result to both our countries from a better and more frank understanding in regard to the numerous points at which, in different parts of the world, our interests come in contact. I need not say that I received that statement with the cordiality which it deserved. I am glad to recall it now, and I hope I may be allowed to say how readily His Majesty's Government would recur to the subject at some time happier and more opportune than the present.

I can only say in conclusion that we have undertaken this Tibetan mission with the utmost reluctance, and that we determined to take it, not because we desired abruptly to change our policy or to abandon that which had been pursued by Lord Elgin, or even that which had been pursued. by ourselves, as shown by the documents contained in the earlier part of the Blue-book, but because we were profoundly convinced that the other policy, after a long and conscientious trial, had completely failed, that China had shown herself powerless to bring about a more satisfactory condition of affairs between ourselves and Tibet, that the Tibetans were quite unable to understand the complaisance and indulgence with which we had treated them, and that the policy which had be en described as a policy of patience and conciliation had been exhausted. In these circumstances, no other course seemed open to us but to adopt the line of action recommended to us by the Government of India; and your Lordships may certainly depend upon it that we shall pursue that line of action with the caution and the discretion which under any circumstances it would have been our duty to observe, but which, in consideration of the present condition of international affairs, it is doubly our duty to keep strictly before our view.


Does the noble Lord withdraw his Motion?


No. I understand there is no objection to giving further Papers.


The Blue-book already published contains the latest Papers, and others will be given when they come to hand. I think the noble Lord will be satisfie with that assurance.


Ceitainly. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave of the House withdrawn.