HL Deb 04 February 1908 vol 183 cc653-88

rose to call attention to the treatment of British Indians in the Transvaal and to move for Papers The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have left the Motion which stands in my name upon the Paper in spite of altered circumstances, because I ventured to think that it would be desirable that the compromise which has been happily arrived at between the Transvaal Government and the Indian community in the Colony should not pass unnoticed in Parliament. I am sure this House will desire, by a consensus of individual opinions, to congratulate the Transvaal Government on their courageous and statesmanlike action. I say that the action of the Transvaal Government was courageous because the concession was offered at a time when it required the highest degree of moral courage to make it. I say it was statesmanlike because by it the statesmen of this young Colony have demonstrated their appreciation of the cause of Imperial unity, and have recognised that Imperial considerations are paramount and above the local interests of the Colony. We may also congratulate the Indian community in the Colony on having obtained the concession for which they were willing to sacrifice so much. Surely the courage, unanimity, and consistency with which they have pursued their end are not less admirable than the moderation which has never failed them and the modesty with which they have put forward all their demands. To us as an Imperial race it cannot but be gratifying that our Indian fellow subjects should have learnt from us and have adopted that which is best in our political methods, that they should have such a high sense of what is due to their individual and their collective dignity, and that, they should so sincerely value that liberty which we in this country consider the birthright of every man.

We may also congratulate His Majesty's Government; and I do venture so to congratulate them, on having escaped a great danger, the danger of being held responsible for a vital injury to the Empire at large, and of a mortal affront to His Majesty's loyal subjects in India. To that extent we may congratulate them and I only wish—and I say so quite sincerely—that we could also congratulate them on having themselves brought about this fortunate compromise, a compromise which comes as a relief and gives the greatest satisfaction to all men and all parties in this country.

The question which I should like to ask your Lordships to consider in connection with the Blue Book which has just been issued, and I hold that the issue of a Blue Book by His Majesty's Government at the very opening of Parliament is an invitation to comment and criticism on their policy, is whether it was inevitable that the Government should have allowed such a situation to have arisen as that which existed in the Transvaal Colony a week ago. What was that situation? Briefly it was this—200 British Indians were in gaol, thirty had been ordered to leave the Colony, twenty more had been warned, three were in the Chinese goal, and 13,000 of His Majesty's loyal Indian subjects were prepared to sacrifice everything that men hold valuable in life, their personal prospects and worldly possessions, and to face even exile and actual starvation, rather than sacrifice their individual and communal self-respect and submit to a law which they regarded as humiliating and oppressive. They were men of all classes, men of high culture and men of lowly station, barristers, merchants, Government officials, soldiers who had worn the King's uniform and gained war medals; men who hold a large stake in the country, and whose property amounts to many thousands of pounds sterling; men who had served the country in the Ambulance Corps of the Boer War and Natal Rebellion. Such were the men—and many of them had been over twenty years in the Colony—who regarded this new law as tyrannical and intolerable.

It is asked by some whether they were reasonable in this view, but that is a question which I will not detain your Lordships by discussing, for no one who has made himself at all acquainted with the subject can deubt that the Indians were reasonable in their objections to these regulations. We have, moreover, the declarations of successive Ministers of the Crown in this country that the disabilities and restrictions which were imposed on the Indians were such as could not be regarded as fair and just in this country. That was the situation in South Africa, and there was also a rapidly-growing feeling of indignation in India which culminated in the great meeting at Bombay, where we beheld the unusual spectacle of Hindus, Mahomedans, and Parsees united in one common object of protest, and headed by such a man as His Highness the Agha Khan. Those who are acquainted with India will know the significance of the fact that the Agha Khan, who is a power in the Mahomedan world, not only within the confines of that vast dominion, but also beyond the shores of India, should have placed himself at the head of such a movement.

I ask, then, ought things ever to have been allowed to come to such a pass? I am not going to blame the colonists or the Colonial Government. I think I appreciate to the full the local difficulties of the situation, and one must also not fail to remember that colonial statesmen cannot possibly have the same information, the same opportunities of judging Imperial necessities, as the statesmen who are responsible for the control of affairs at the head of the Empire. I therefore blame His Majesty's Government for having allowed the situation to reach such an alarming pitch, and my object this afternoon is to ascertain from the noble Earl who presides over the Colonial Office whether he is able to adduce any proofs, by the publication of further Papers or otherwise, that I am not justified in holding His Majesty's Government responsible for having allowed things to go so far. Thus far the only explanation which we have received from members of His Majesty's Government is that it is impossible to interfere with a self-governing Colony. Now I protest, in the first instance, against the question-begging use of the word "interfere," which I think misleads the people in this country. If by interference is meant the assertion of authority which the Imperial Government does not possess or of claims which cannot be supported, then I agree that there can be no question of interference, and that interference is wrong. But if interference with a self-governing Colony means the proffering of advice and suggestions which can properly come from the head partner in the Imperial concern, if it means the explanation by the Mother Country of the rights of the other partners and the individual citizens of the Empire—if it means insistence on those rights, then, I say, we are as much justified in interfering with a self-governing Colony as we are in interfering with foreign nations as indeed we often do in similar cases.

I need not delay your Lordships by giving instances of the cases in which we have interfered with foreign countries—countries with whom we had no relations, and over whom we had no shadow of authority—on behalf of individual British citizens. But if the noble Earl still persists that it is impossible to interfere, then I will put to him this challenge. Supposing that the Transvaal were to decide to-morrow that the repatriation of Chinese coolies was to cease, will the noble Earl tell me that His Majesty's Government would not interfere? That is a question to which it would be very interesting to have a direct answer. Leaving that aspect of the question—it is, of course, highly debatable and possibly too academic, I would put this practical question: Why did you give self-government to the Transvaal Colony until this question was settled? That is really at the root of the whole question. The matter was ripe for decision. It had actually come to a head, and there was no possibility of ignoring it. The question, after all, was one of the main issues for which the South African war was fought, for which such stupen dous sacrifices of blood and treasure were made by this country and the Colonies. Where, I ask, was the knowledge, the prescience, the statesmanship which we have a right to expect from those who control the destinies of the Empire and are at the head of the Imperial Government, that that question should have been ignored at the time?

The grant of self-government to the Transvaal Colony was somehow or other associated in the minds of the people of this country with the question which is known as that of Chinese slavery. There has been much dispute as to how it was actually associated, but the belief of most people in this country is that self-government was granted in order that Chinese labour should cease. Why, then, I ask, was Chinese slavery more important than Indian slavery? And I use the term Indian slavery advisedly and with full consideration. Let us compare the conditions. His Majesty's Government and their supporters taught the people what it was right to regard as slavery. They defined slavery, and their definition was accepted in all good faith by the great bulk of the people of this country. Now, the marks of slavery, according to Members of the Liberal Party, were identification by means of finger prints, inability to hold fixed property, and relegation to compounds. A member of His Majesty's Government—Dr. Macnamara—alluding to the fact that Chinese coolies had to give thumb prints only for registration, said in the House of Commons— If this is not slavery, what is? I say, then, that there might have been—and this is one of the dangers that His Majesty's Government have escaped—a cry of Indian slavery in this country, a cry which would have gravely affected the prestige and influence of His Majesty's Government; and if there had been it would not have been a cry devised by mountebank politicians and spread by party wirepullers, but it would have emanated spontaneously from the hearts of the people—an irresistible manifestation of that Imperialist spirit which has always been innate in the people of this country, the spirit which protests at oppression and injustice wherever they may occur on the face of the globe.

The opportunity of making conditions at the time of the grant of self-government was lost; but the Government had more recent opportunities to which I shall presently refer. But, first of all, may I be permitted to clear the issue? There has been a great deal of misunderstanding about it, and as that, misunderstanding continues I think it is well to use this opportunity of explaining the position of those in this country who have taken up the cause of our Indian fellow-subjects. No one who has spoken with any knowledge, or with any sense of responsibility, has denied the right of the Colonists to manage their own affairs. We admit that right. We admit to the full the right of the Colonies to restrict immigration. We admit the justice and the propriety of their contention that their territories should be regarded as white man's lands, and that they should be retained for the natural overflow of the population of this country. All that is elementary. It is a mere extension to communities of the ordinary rights of property. It is a right of property, but, like all rights of property, it is subject to well-known and well-understood limitations. No individual can exercise rights of property to the detriment of the community at large, no community can exercise rights of property to the detriment of neighbouring communities; still less can any individual or any community exercise rights of property to the injury and the detriment of those with whom they are associated or on whom they are in any way dependent.

Now, the Transvaal Colony is a partner in the great Imperial concern, and the Transvaal Colony, as her statesmen have most rightly and wisely recognised, cannot pursue her own interests in such a manner as to injure the other partners, any or either of them, or to injure the whole business. But it may be argued I that this is a case of the private domestic concerns of the Colony. The analogy of individuals may be taken again. You may argue that in a business partnership the private life of one member does not concern the other. I say it does. The private life of a partner in any business concerns the other partners when the honour and redit of the firm, or the stability of the business, are affected and I say that this is the case in regard to the Asiatic question in the Transvaal and elsewhere, even if you take the narrowest possible view of Colonial interests and duties. The honour of our nation, the reputation before the world of our Imperial hegemony, the stability of the Empire, are affected, and therefore we have a right to insist that our point of view—the Imperial point of view—should be considered; and the Imperial point of view requires this, that for the sake of the honour and the unity of the Empire, British citizens, whatever their colour, should be treated as such, that they should not be oppressed or degraded, that they should receive fair and even generous treatment wherever, the British flag flies, and that pledges given by our Sovereign and by the British Government should not be disregarded on any account by British citizens in any part of the Empire. That point of view is not merely based on humanitarian and sentimental grounds. It is based on very practical considerations—those of the peace and contentment of all peoples united under the British Crown, and of the harmonious purpose without which the Empire cannot possibly be secure.

India as a part of the Empire, the largest part of the Empire, the great entity which has made the Empire possible, and, more than that, the strategic pivot without which the Empire could not possibly be secure—India, I say, is as much the concern of all the Colonies as she is our concern. If the Colonies were inadvertently to get us into trouble with India, they would do us as much, even more harm than if they got us into trouble with foreign nations. I say inadvertently, for it could not be otherwise. The Colonies value Imperial unity as much as, or even more than, we do. We have had ample proofs of that, not only in the South African War, but quite recently in the satisfactory circumstances which have arisen as regards Canada and Japan, and now this latest instance in the Transvaal. I say, then, that there is no question—we cannot doubt—that the Colonists value Imperial unity, and will make sacrifices, if sacrifices be necessary, for the sake of Imperial unity. But Colonial statesmen, and still more the people of the Colonies, cannot be so familiar with all the great problems which arise as the Ministers of the Imperial Government. They have not the information, and it is obvious that they are not brought into the same relations with other parts of the Empire and with foreign nations. I say, then, that it is the business of Imperial statesmanship to explain these considerations to the Colonies.

Some noble Lords opposite are and have been engaged in loud conversation during my remarks. There is a Standing Order of this House which requires that noble Lords who desire to indulge in private conversation should do so in the Princes Chamber. I am sure that I am voicing the wishes of every speaker in this House when I ask your Lordships to insist on the observance of that Standing Order, which is more honoured in the breach than in the observance. I myself have always carefully refrained from interrupting speakers by any loud or protracted conversation, and I think, therefore, I have some little right, the common right of every Member of this House, to ask that I should be treated in the same way.

I say that it is the business of Imperial statesmen to explain these things fully, and to explain them from the point of view of the superior knowledge which they naturally possess. Casual references are not enough. An eloquent passage in the speech of a Minister, or in a despatch is not what I mean by explanation. If we wish to bring home great national and Imperial necessities, requirements, and principles to the people of this country, we are only able to do so by constant reiteration, and by a system of political education which is familiar to you all. This it is that is required at the present stage of the development of the Empire from Imperial statesmen and from Colonial statesmen, but it is, of course, for Imperial statesmen to take the initiative.

Why was this not done at the Imperial Conference last year? It was not from want of suggestion. I ventured to make the suggestion to the noble Earl myself in this House, but he did not attach any great importance to it. After first explaining that it was not on the agenda of the Conference, the noble Earl, when he was pressed for a more satisfactory answer, said that this question of vital importance to the Empire would be considered at the Conference "should opportunity offer and time permit." I ventured to think at the time that that was not an answer which we could regard as satisfactory. If it was not an opportunity when Colonial statesmen came at great personal and public inconvenience thousands of miles over the seas to discuss questions of Imperial importance, what is an opportunity? And as for time permitting, who has ever heard that there is not time for the discussion of questions of vital importance in public affairs? Time must be made when these questions arise.

But let me descend from the general to the particular instance. Where, I ask your Lordships, in the Blue-book which has just been issued is there any proof that any attempt was made to explain to the Transvaal authorities the principle and the details of the question over which all the trouble has arisen? Take the question of the finger prints. It is not the whole question, and it has been given, perhaps, undue prominence, but it is important because it illustrates the general spirit of the legislation. The Blue-book shows what a very negative part was played by His Majesty's Government. His Majesty's Government allowed the Transvaal Government to tell them what was done in India. Why did His Majesty's Government not refer at once to the Government of India and ask them exactly how the matter stood there? If they had done so, they would have learnt that there are several methods of identification by means of finger prints, and that the ten-digit system, the system of simultaneous impressions, was only one of those methods, and was confined absolutely to criminals in India. They could have passed that information on to the Transvaal Government. The Transvaal Government relied on a Report by Sir Edward Henry, late of the Indian Service, and although that Report made it very fairly clear that there were different methods which were considered equally effective and less objectionable, yet it seems to have been misread in the Colony and here, and the impression seems to have been allowed to remain that there was only one method, and that, the method adopted by the Colonial Government.

The system in India is that in the case of the registration of documents only thumb impressions are given. Pensioners, whether they be civilian or military, are required to give the impression of the thumb and the four fingers of the left hand only. The impression of the fingers and thumbs of both hands is required only of criminals, but there is nothing in the Blue-book to show that these facts were considered or ascertained or communicated to the Transvaal Government. That question is, happily, settled for the present. But what I wish to impress on your Lordships is that it does not settle the whole question of Indian disabilities. The question of identification for the purposes of registration is only one detail of that larger question. It is a new question. It is a grievance which did not exist under the old South African Republic, and all the grievances which did exist under that régime, against which we protested "before the Empire and before the civilised world," to quote the words of a former Colonial Secretary—all those disabilities remain. Let us hope that the better understanding that is bound to arise from the compromise which has been happily effected, a compromise which ought surely to result in mutual self-respect, will lead to a fair settlement of these other disabilities if the Colonies and the Indians are aided by wise counsel and prudent advice from the Government of this country.

But let me return to the opportunities of the Government, which in my opinion, were lost, for it is in relation to these that I hope the noble Earl will give us an explanation. Supposing that it was impossible to interfere, supposing that there was no opportunity of agreeing, no possibility of agreeing, on principle with the Colonial Government, I say that there were opportunities for bargaining; and you can bargain with any one, whether you have authority over him or not, whether he is a friend or a foe. There is no question of interference when it comes to bargaining, and more particularly can you bargain with any one to whom you lend money. That applies as much to the case of communities as it does to individuals. I ask, then, why, when you granted a Constitution to the Transvaal Colony, did you not make a bargain, if it was impossible to delay the grant of self-government? What, again, was the object of the reservation under Clause 39 to the Imperial Government of questions relating to Asiatics? One is inclined to ask whether His Majesty's Government only made this reservation in order that they might redeem electioneering pledges in regard to the Chinese.

Again, there was the opportunity of the Registration Law. Why was assent not made conditional on the drafting of fair regulations? The Blue-book does not show that any attempt at bargaining on this point was made. Still later you had the opportunity of the Immigrants Regulation Bill. Having failed before, surely you could have bargained then, but just because His Majesty's Government did not use their opportunity the Colony made the best of theirs, and the Blue-book shows us the extraordinary spectacle of this young child of freedom holding a pistol at the head of His Majesty's Government, and saying: "Now we are going to pass another law even more severe than the first, and we want you to assent to it by telegram before you have even seen the text." The noble Earl, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, very properly objected to this suggestion, but it is surely an illustration of the manner in which His Majesty's Government have pursued this matter that such a situation could ever have arisen.

Lastly, there was the opportunity of the Transvaal Loan. I hope the noble Earl will tell us why these opportunities were not used. I say once more that I do not blame the Colony. It is no part of my intention to blame the Colony. They were entitled to get all they could, and they naturally did their best to do so. But, the Blue-book shows that the attitude of His Majesty's Government throughout—was one, first, of timorous protest, and, secondly, of reluctant acquiescence in everything that was proposed. Such an attitude does not command the respect of communities any more than it does of individuals. We shall not quarrel with the Colonies, if we say straight out what we think and what we want, just as they say to us what they think and what they want; and what I desire to know is why His Majesty's Government have not adopted that frank and open attitude. In this matter the eyes of the world are upon us. By our action the world will judge of the sincerity of our professions in regard to the cause of justice and humanity, whether it be in our own affairs or in the affairs of others. Mr. Lyttelton, in a despatch to Lord Milner on 20th July, 1904, wrote as follows— His Majesty's Government for many years repeatedly protested, before the empire and the civilised world, against the policy and laws of the late South African Republic in relation to this subject. His Majesty's Government hold that it is derogatory to national honour to impose on resident British subjects disabilities against which we have remonstrated. Those disabilities, my Lords,—and this is the important point, and one which is very little recognised at this moment—those disabilities remain the same as ever. The registration question is a new one which has been superimposed.

Now, what are His Majesty's Government going to do? My Motion is one for Papers, and I hope the Papers which the noble Earl will be good enough to produce, if he accepts my Motion, will show, in the first place, whether there is any present intention of redeeming the lost opportunity, and referring this whole question as a matter of principle to the consideration of the Imperial Conference; and, secondly, whether any negotiations are proceeding at this time in regard to the removal of other disabilities. I will not detain your Lordships by reciting what those disabilities are, and still less will I venture to suggest how they might be modified and mitigated; but I venture to repeat that the civilised world will judge according to what is done, how far we value that national honour of which we have spoken, and how far we have the courage of our professed opinions. I am not exaggerating, my Lords. Those of you who look at the newspapers of the Continent will see how carefully foreign nations are watching our action in this matter. We have asked to be judged, and we shall be judged, in our claim to Imperial dominion and leadership in the world's counsels, by the action of His Majesty's Government in this matter.

Moved, for Papers relating to the treatment of British Indians in the Transvaal.—(Lord Ampthill.)


My Lords, it is a great relief to me to learn that the trouble between our Indian subjects in the Transvaal and the Government in that colony has been settled, and in a manner which, it is to be hoped, will be successful. I agree it is a trouble which ought never to have arisen, if we may judge by the ease with which a compromise was arrived at as soon as public opinion was drawn to the question in dispute. In my opinion it is much to be regretted that some person, intimately acquainted with the habits and customs of the natives of India, was not deputed in the first instance to confer with the Transvaal Government when the Asiatic Law Amendment Act, 1907, was being drawn up. If this had been done, it is scarcely possible to believe that the Amendment would have been drawn up in a manner which gave such offence to our Indian subjects.

No one who knows the difficulties which the white men have to contend against in South Africa in earning a livelihood can for a moment doubt that the Transvaal Government is justified in making such laws as may be necessary to prohibit the future immigration of Asiatics into that Colony, and also to arrange for the deportation of those who have obtained admission by fraudulent means. But on perusal of the Blue-book which has recently been issued, I gather that it was not so much the Act itself that was resented by our Indian subjects as the measures which were adopted to give effect to that Act, chiefly the registration by finger prints and the insistence upon the names of female relatives being noted in certain cases. These were, in my opinion, grievous errors—errors which could not fail to cause the deepest offence to Indians, and to warrant their objecting to the law.

I rejoice that the question of registration has been settled, and that henceforth the finger-print system is not to be enforced in the case of Indians of whose respectability there can be no doubt; and I would earnestly express my hope that, in that class, may be included all natives who have had the honour of wearing the King's uniform, and have served loyally and faithfully in the Indian army. It is true, as stated by Sir Edward Henry, that finger prints are utilised in India in most branches of public business, but the origin of the finger-print system was the detection of criminals. Its use may since then have come into general practice; but the system has a smack of criminality; and I think we can all readily understand that its application, especially in a foreign land and to only one section of the community, must necessarily be felt as a degradation by any self-respecting Indian.

I hope, too, that in the form of registration for an adult Indian the mention of a female relative will not be insisted upon. It may seem a matter of small moment in this country, but I can assure your Lordships that it is a matter of the greatest importance to Indians. In their country, even amongst the most intimate friends, no allusion is ever made to a native's female relatives. So strong is this customary reticence that it is a sufficient reason for their objection to this law. When Indians elect to travel over the world they must, of course, abide by the laws of the country where they may be dwelling. At the same time, it is clearly our duty to watch as carefully over the interests of our Indian subjects as over the interests of our own subjects. And while the various Governments of South Africa are at liberty to make such laws as they may think necessary for the protection of those who are under their rule, we cannot expect that we shall escape obloquy, and perhaps something much more serious, if we do not do our best at all times to save our Indian subjects, wherever they may be, from being treated without due consideration.


My Lords, I should not like to remain altogether silent while this subject is being discussed. It is a subject which came very much to the front while I was ill India. It is one in which I took the warmest personal interest, and in which the Government of which I was the head played a somewhat prominent part.

The question came before us in India in a twofold aspect in relation both to Natal and the Transvaal. The Government of Natal, where the same difficulties have long existed in a much greater and more acute degree than in the Transvaal, sent a deputation to India to ask us to agree to the repatriation, at the end of their term of engagement, of the labourers we had sent to them. We were willing to make this great concession to them—a concession somewhat unpopular with the coolies themselves—provided we could make terms to secure a sensible relaxation of the hardships and disabilities under which the free and unindentured Indian population of Natal then laboured. We found not much difficulty in coming to terms with the deputation, but the Natal Government declined to accept our proposals.

Then there came the question of the Transvaal. Your Lordships are all aware of the cruel and disabling restrictions that were placed upon the Indian population in that country. They were one of the contributory causes of the war. As soon as the war was over we felt it our duty, as the trustees of the Indian people in India, to address the then Secretary of the State upon the subject. We put, I think, a very strong plea before him. A little later, Lord Milner came to us with a request that we would provide him with a number of coolies—he first asked for 10,000 and afterwards for 20,000—to inaugurate railway labour in the new possessions of the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony. I have sometimes seen it stated that we declined this request. That was not the case. We agreed to find the men, and once again we used the position to endeavour to get better terms for the free Indians in the Transvaal. I am sorry to say that again we failed.

Since then matters have come to a head, and they have culminated in the crisis which has only just been dispelled during the past few days. I desire to join with my noble friend who has made such a powerful statement of the case and with Lord Roberts in their congratulations upon the compromise that has been reached. It is one that seems to me to be honourable to both parties. At the same time, the Blue-book which was circulated to us last week, and of which I have made such study as I could in the interval, strikes me as rather un-pleasant reading. It leaves a rather disagreeable taste in the mouth. There seems to have been some lack of consideration exhibited by the Government of the Transvaal. In the first place, they rushed through their anti-Indian legislation with uncompromising and unnecessary and, as it seems to me, almost indecent speed. Secondly, there was a failure or apparent failure on the part of General Botha to act up to the terms of the undertaking which he gave to the noble Earl a year ago, to endeavour to find some method of identification superior to that of finger impressions and less liable to the objections that were raised against that system by Indians.

Further, as regards the finger-print system itself, as the noble Lord who has just spoken has pointed out, the analogy which was attempted to be drawn between it and the Indian practice was an unfair analogy, or at any rate it was unfairly used by the Boer Government, while the system and method of finger impressions that were proposed in the Transvaal were undoubtedly humiliating and wounding to the susceptibilities of our Indian fellow-subjects in that country. Then I think there was a failure on the part of the Transvaal Government to distinguish, at any rate up to the latest stage, between the Indians of good social status and refined education and the Indians of lower class and occupation—petty traders and artisans, whose competition really had to be feared. That is the charge—I do not state it in stronger terms—which we are justified in bringing against the authorities in the Transvaal.

Next, as regards the Government, I confess I think that the noble Lord (Lord Elgin) did listen a little too readily to the pleas which were advanced to him by the Boer Government. I think he showed an excessive deference to their presentation of the case, that his protest in favour of our own fellow-subjects might have been couched in a rather more heroic vein; and that, considering the great experience that the noble Lord had in India himself, where he left such an excellent reputation as an administrator and friend of the Indian peoples, he might have foreseen lather more clearly in the early stage the dimensions which this problem would assume in India and the intense feeling which would arise there. The fact is, if I may put it in a sentence, that there was a strange lack of imagination on both sides in this controversy, both in the Transvaal and here; and without imagination it is my experience that any Oriental policy is certain to break down.

Well, we have now arrived at a settlement of the question; but I imagine that his Majesty's Government will be the last to argue that this temporary settlement is a final solution of the entire problem. I am sure that your Lordships realise that this question is in reality about the most momentous and the most far-reaching which could possibly confront any body of British statesmen, since it raises the entire question of the moral and political basis of our Empire and of the rights which the members of that Empire in different parts of it may justly claim.

Let me from my residence and service in India state to your Lordships, if you will permit me, what I conceive to be the Indian point of view. It may be stated in a narrower and in a wider aspect. In the first place, as regards South Africa itself, the Indian coolie, or, at any rate, the educated man who is behind the Indian coolie and who has conducted this agitation, says that the coolie or the artisan is invited and even encouraged by our Government to emigrate from India. We send him to a colony which he enriches by his labour, and then society there appears to turn round upon him and treat him as if he were a pariah dog. He is penalised there, not for his vices, but for his virtues. It is because he is a sober, industrious, frugal, and saving man that he is such a formidable economic danger in the situation. Furthermore, the Indian remembers that, at any rate in a large number of cases, he has fought for the British Empire in South Africa, and that it was largely owing to his efforts that Natal was saved. I do not know if your Lordships have seen in this Blue-book a petition which emanates from a number of Indian soldiers who served the Empire, not only in India, but in South Africa, and who complain there in language of great pathos and almost of bitterness of the treatment which they were about to receive. That is an appeal which, I venture to say, no man in this House can read without compunction and even without a certain sense of remorse.

Now, let me, if I may, follow the Indian on to the wader field of argument. He claims the full rights of citizenship of the British Empire. I do not think it is for us to blame him for that. We have taught it him. We have inspired him with these ideas. They are the result of our speeches, our writings, our textbooks, which he studies in India, our principles of administration and of education. A feeling has been growing up in India in recent years, and it arises from the value which is attached by the educated Indian to the principles of freedom and equality which he has been taught to regard as the birthright of the British citizen. That is a very valuable, and, in my judgment, a very sacred, feeling. I do not think we ought to say anything or do anything to depreciate or to deride it in the smallest degree; because it is, after all, the only basis upon which you can expect the loyalty of an Asiatic population to an alien rule to be permanently developed or maintained. So much for the Indian point of view, in so far as I know it.

But no one can possibly give an opinion upon this question who looks at it merely from one side or the other. The Indian point of view is so opposite and, if one may say so, so irreconcilable I to the Colonial point of view, that I should be the last to contend that this question should be regarded exclusively through Indian spectacles or decided in Indian interests. The Colonial point of view is entirely different. I, perhaps, have more sympathy with the Indian aspect myself, but, still, I endeavour to understand the Colonial point of view. I realise that it is a natural one, and that, in a way, it is quite unanswerable. Yon cannot expect the colonist to be an altruist in these matters. He is if you like so to describe him, selfish; but if he is selfish it is only in the pursuit of a principle which is the guiding law of all life, and even of all civilisation, and; that is the instinct of self-preservation. He desires to keep for the white man the Colonies which the white man has won and in which the white man can live.

I do not believe, from a careful study of the evidence, that the English colonist in South Africa or elsewhere is in the least degree inspired by a feeling of racial superiority or class antagonism. He says to himself: "That which has been won by British money and British blood let the British keep." He declines to acquiesce in any system which would mean a sensible and permanent lowering of the standard of life, and he feels, perhaps more than anything else, the danger, being already confronted with an enormous black problem, which hangs like a cloud on the horizon of his existence, of having superadded to that problem the danger and menace of a great brown problem as well. If this be a fair diagnosis of the case, it appears then that you have two forces, both of great potency and of great vitality, pulling in opposite directions within the framework of the same Empire. If that be so, we may well realise that it is one of the most difficult problems with which any Government can be confronted.

In these circumstances what is the duty of the Government? I do not mean of this Government in particular, but of any Government. No rough and ready solution of this problem is possible. No laws can be laid down, no principles devised by His Majesty's Ministers or anyone else, which will finally solve this question. But what they can do is this. They can endeavour to reconcile these opposing factors and principles, and so to work that there shall be, as far as possible, no clash or collision between them. And the methods by which they can proceed in that direction are, I think, these. In the first place they can see, or their representatives in India, as far as India is concerned, can see, that fair terms are invariably secured for the labourer or the emigrant when he goes out, both for his labour and for his residence in the country to which he goes, and, should his return be desired, for his return when it is to come about. It is for the Government to see that a good bargain is made for its own subjects in all our Colonies, and perhaps still more, the bargain once made, to see that the terms are not hastily or rashly altered at a later date to the detriment of the man who has staked his all in his acceptance of the terms which he understood his Government to offer him.

Then I think that the Government ought to see that the restrictions imposed upon Asiatics are made as little vexatious as possible, as little injurious as may be to religious and social susceptibilities which we may, perhaps, not fully understand, but which, as the noble and gallant Field Marshal who spoke just now pointed out, are embedded almost as if they were sacred principles in the groundwork of the Indian nature. Further, they ought to see that nowhere shall occur the painful situation of Indian gentlemen or native gentlemen, from wherever they may come, of character, respectability, and education, being treated as if they were common coolies and labourers, and herded together, so to speak, in a pen with men of very much lower status and occupation than themselves. In fact, it ought to be the object of the Government to show to Colonial Governments that just treatment of our Colonial fellow-subjects is quite compatible with the best interests of the colony itself.

There is another suggestion which has been made, namely, that the Government should try to discover and to open, perhaps in some other part of Africa or of the world, some other field of emigration to which our Indian fellow-subjects may proceed, free from the disabilities and restrictions to which I have alluded. I will not pursue that suggestion this evening, although, for my own part, it is one which I do not look upon with quite so much favour as some of the authorities who have taken it up. In any case I hope that the recent proceedings which have culminated in a victory on the whole for our Indian fellow-subjects, which I think they have deserved by their dignity and their patience, may read a lesson, not, perhaps, altogether unneeded, both to the Government of the colony and to the Government which sits upon that bench—a lesson to the Government of the colony that it cannot afford to treat without the utmost consideration the rights of these immigrants, its British fellow-subjects, in any part of the Empire; a lesson to His Majesty's Government that they owe a duty just as great to the dusky millions of India as they owe to the white people of their own race in any colony of the British Crown.


My Lords, I do not think that the noble Lord who has just sat down will doubt that I am as sensible as he is of our responsibilities to the dusky millions of India. Although I welcome and am grateful for the congratulations tendered by the noble Lords, I think the debate at this particular moment is not well timed or so considerate as the action taken in another place where an Amendment to the Address which would have raised this subject was withdrawn. But as this debate has taken place, may I say that I concur with what was said by the noble Lord who last spoke, and also by the noble Lord who initiated the discussion, that on the whole this settlement may be accepted as one which is satisfactory to both sides; and I rejoice exceedingly that in a matter where feeling has become so acute as in this case a settlement has been arrived at which can be so described.

It is my duty to the Transvaal Government, which, if I may venture to say so to the noble Lord opposite (Lord Curzon), is not "the Boer Government," to acknowledge the readiness which they have shown to listen to any suggestions which we have sent from here to them, and to consider any proposals which have been laid before them. The noble Lord spoke of a conversation—for it was a conversation only—which I had with General Botha, and the undertaking General Botha then gave to consider how far it was possible to abandon proposals to take digit impressions. I believe, in fact I am sure, that that was a promise most carefully carried out—that full consideration was given to that question. If the noble Lord will turn to the second of the telegrams which have been published to complete the series, he will find that the Transvaal Ministers said that they never expected any objection to finger-prints seeing that 100,000 Indians had given ten finger-prints in Natal without raising any objection. I quote that, not to show that they were right in that deduction, but only to show that, as I am sure is the case, the Transvaal Ministers did have every wish to deal with this matter in a reasonable and sympathetic spirit.

The noble Lord who opened the discussion seems, however, to think that there had been too much delay in coming to a settlement. I do not know how anyone took any action to delay that settlement; but, if anybody did wilfully interfere to prevent a settlement, I should entirely agree with him in condemning that action. All that I can say for myself—and this goes back to the objections I have taken to the initiation of this debate to-night—is that we really cannot discuss this matter until we receive further information. It is a very difficult thing to say when persistence in an opinion firmly entertained becomes obstructive and unjustifiable; and in this case, where all we have at present of the concluding stages of the story is by telegraph, I do not think it is a profitable occupation for this House to weigh the different sides of this question; and I venture to hope that, when we are able to speak with full acquaintance with the evidence, we may find it to be quite unnecessary to discuss the respective responsibility of the various parties to the controversy. As I understand it, the noble Lord opposite admits the right of a colony to exclude even British subjects.


To restrict immigration.


Very well, if he puts it in that way. I was not quite certain whether the noble Lord who spoke last did go so far as that.


Oh, yes.


I say at once that that is a very large question which, if it were to be discussed in detail, would require a great deal more consideration than we are able to give it this evening. But we have given self-government to these Colonies in various parts of the world, and self-government means a devolution of responsibility and especially the responsibility for law and order.

I think the noble Lord who spoke last said that one influence with the Colonies was the view that what was won by the whites should be kept for the whites. But if I may put it in this way, I should like to ask how small white communities can undertake to perform the duties that fall upon them in virtue of undertaking self-government if they are not allowed to have within their bounds an adequate number of white inhabitants. If that is conceded to me, I proceed to say that in the competition between the East and West the economic forces would inevitably turn the scale in favour of the East and thereby prevent free competition; and therefore it is that we find the British Indians excluded from our Colonies, not, as the noble Lord said, because of any bad qualities, but because of the possession by them of good qualities. It is their patient industry, their frugal and temperate habits, that make them such formidable competitors to the white man. The noble Lord said, in arguing as to the allowance one ought to make for our Indian fellow-subjects (and I only mention this in order to rectify what I am sure was a slip), that we ought to remember that Indians had fought in the South African war.


I am well aware that the expedition I myself sent out to South Africa was not an Indian expedition, but attached to it were a number of Indians who, in smaller capacities, comported themselves with infinite gallantry in the field.


But not in the fighting line?


Oh, no.


I thought it better to make it quite clear what the noble Lord really meant. Surely it will be evident that if there was an influx of Asiatics, that would, on account of the economic forces to which I have alluded, tend to destroy the political equilibrium which is necessary for the development of the Colonies themselves.

But to return to the dispute happily now closed, I would point out that it was not in any way connected with the restriction of immigration. This policy of the restriction of immigration has been in unbroken existence for something like twenty years. It was approved originally by Lord Derby in 1885. It was strongly professed by Lord Milner; and Lord Selborne introduced into the Crown Colony Government the same Bill, or practically the same Bill, which was introduced afterwards by the new Government, and which has passed into law. If noble Lords ask for reasonings on this subject they may look up the despatch of 21st May, 1906, where they will find that Lord Selborne gave very full reasons for his advocacy of this policy; and if they wish to see the position I took up they may look up my reply of 25th November, in the same year. They will see the reasons why at that time I thought it desirable to postpone assent to that Bill. Shortly speaking, it was that there were certain alterations which I thought desirable in the measure, and they could not have been introduced before the initiation of the new form of government. In these circumstances I thought it better simply not to sanction the Bill and to let it then be introduced again, if it were so advised, in the new Parliament. It was introduced in the new Parliament and passed immediately, as the first measure in its existence, by an absolutely unanimous vote in both Houses.

I really do not quite see how the noble Lord can blame me for non-interference in a matter of that kind. The noble Lord seemed to think I did not consult the India Office in this matter. I gave it the most careful consideration, and, after consultation with my colleagues, I came to the conclusion that it was my duty to advise His Majesty not to disallow the Bill. There are two points on which the noble Lord spoke with some feeling and on which I should like to say a word or two. In the first place, I wish to say that I do not think it has ever been the intention of the present Government of the Transvaal to attempt or to wish to degrade or to humilate, or impose fresh restrictions upon the British Indians within their boundaries. In the second place, I have to say that I believe it to be a fact that every one of the disqualifications which were the subject of specific exception by the British Government before the war have ceased to operate. I may tell the noble Lord, as he shakes his head, that I make that statement on the authority of a letter which, curiously enough, I received only yesterday from the Governor and High Commissioner, who, writing of course while this dispute was in progress, was good enough to go through the whole matter and inform me upon these and other points. Perhaps I ought to add, in order that there may be no misunderstanding, that there are other disqualifications still in existence, disqualifications in regard to the tenure of land, the franchise, and mining. But these disqualifications, I am informed, were never taken exception to in the same manner as the others.

It comes really to this, that what raised this contest was the method of registration, because in the first place it was compulsory and because in the second place it was by digit impressions. For myself, I do not think it is necessary or desirable to enter into these differences, which now, fortunately, have come to an end. I would only say, with reference to the remarks made by the noble and gallant Earl, the Field' Marshal, that I shall be only too glad to take note of, and to do anything I can to forward, the suggestions he made with regard to special classes of British Indians, especially with regard to ex-soldiers and the mention of the female relatives. Perhaps I may say one word about digit impressions. It so happens that Sir Edward Henry, who is now Chief of the Police in this Metropolis, was chief of the Bengal Police when I was in India, and was working this system, of which I saw something then, and I feel inclined to deprecate the association of criminality in any form or kind with this valuable manner of identification. My own feeling is that the impression of the thumb by itself would in this case have been sufficient, because all that was required was ordinary identification, and ordinary identification would have been secured, in my opinion, by thumb impression. But impressions of the fingers have really nothing criminal about them. They were introducted into the system simply for the purpose of classification; and though, of course, they apply more readily and more usefully to criminals, still I do not think they should be altogether set aside for that reason. On the other hand, it has to be borne in mind that it is not the case that the thumb alone is used in India except in the case of criminals. I think the noble Lord mentioned that the left thumb and four fingers were used in the Indian Army. At any rate, we had information from the India Office to that effect, and if the noble Lord will do me the justice of looking at this Paper he will find that we did send that information to the Transvaal Government as soon as we obtained it.




I admit it was late, but we sent it as soon as it reached us.


That is the point.


But I cannot send on a thing until I get it. Really I do not know that I can usefully say more than this. This settlement has been accepted, I believe, as an honourable settlement by both sides, and therefore I think it gives hope for renewed and continued good feeling between them. If so, good indeed will have come out of evil; and I rejoice if, in place of being subjected to disabilities which, no doubt, were irksome, the Indian colony in the Transvaal—though, of course, it must be limited in numbers—will in future be maintained in a definite and honourable position.


My Lords, my two noble friends who have already spoken have dealt so completely with this subject that I have very little to add to what has been said by them. May I, in passing, express the satisfaction, which, I feel sure, is not confined to this side of the House, with which we have listened to the noble Lord now sitting behind me (Lord Curzon), who addressed us for the first time? The noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies suggested in his speech that there was something inopportune in the action of my noble friend behind me in bringing forward this subject to-night. What is the position? Let me say that if His Majesty's Government had told my noble friend that it was detrimental to public interests that there should be a discussion on this question, my noble friend, I have little doubt, would have yielded to pressure. But is there really any reason for which attention should not be called to this matter? We learn from the Secretary of State that this satisfactory settlement has not only been arrived at, but has been accepted by all concerned, and the Papers are laid upon the Table for our consideration. It seems to me that, in those circumstances, it would be a little hard that we should be denied the right of commenting upon them if we desire to do so. And may I further ask whether, in the comments of either of my two noble friends, there was anything at all unreasonable, or of what might be described as an incendiary character? I must say I thought not. I thought both my noble friends were careful to show that they were fully alive to the fact that there are two sides to this question—an Indian side and a Colonial side. I am quite sure that the noble Earl the Colonial Secretary and the noble Marquess who sits by him, Lord Ripon, both of whom have had experience of Colonial and Indian administration, must realise as fully as we do that both sides of the case deserve to be taken into careful consideration.

There are several admissions which, I think, we are all ready to make in the consideration of this question of the treatment of British Indians in the Transvaal. In the first place, I admit unreservedly the right of a self-governing Colony to decide whether its territory shall in future be the home of a British or of an Asiatic race. There is no difference of opinion as to that. If you concede that, you must also concede to the colony effectual means of excluding the entrance of persons belonging to Asiatic races; and, if there is to be effectual exclusion, there must be some effective means of registering those Asiatics who are already in the country. These three propositions seem to me quite incontrovertible.

I go further. I think that in the case of the Transvaal particular weight is due to these considerations for this reason, that the colonists of the Transvaal have a native question of their own, and a very serious one, already on their hands, and it is entirely reasonable of them to ask that they should not have a second native question further complicating the situation. And not only that, but, considering the geographical position of the Transvaal, we must all of us realise that owing to its proximity to Natal, where a large Asiatic population is already established, it is very necessary that there should be effectual means of preventing a gradual influx of Asiatics across the frontier. Yet while yielding these propositions, we may feel, as I certainly do feel, that we have a right to demand that these Asiatic British subjects who have already acquired a status in the colony should be treated with the utmost fairness and consideration. The question we really have to ask is whether they have been treated with that fairness and consideration. I am bound to say that my study of the Blue-book leads me to a different conclusion. I was very much interested in the statement of the Secretary of State to the effect that the whole of the disabilities of which the British Indians complained had ceased to operate.


I said, "of which the British Government had complained before the war."


I am much obliged for the correction. What are the grievances? We have heard of the finger-prints. I am not going to lose myself in the details of that intricate question. But it is evident from the papers that the system of fingerprint identification resorted to by the Transvaal Government was one which was repugnant to those concerned. If it were not so, why was it that they were ready to go to prison rather than to submit to it? The Secretary of State admitted that in his opinion the thumb mark alone would have been a sufficient means of identification. If so, it is a pity that that view was not pressed very strongly on the Transvaal Government. But there is also the question of requiring those persons who had already been registered, and who had received assurances—I think from Lord Milner himself—that their registration was sufficient, to undergo a second registration. Then there is another grievance which seems to me to be a very genuine one indeed. I understand that those British Indians are not allowed to own property, even within the limits of what are known as the Indian locations.


I believe they cannot own land.


That, to my mind, is a tremendous disability to put upon British subjects.


I mentioned that, but made the reservation that that requirement was one which was not taken exception to by the British Government.


I do not know how that was, but I do remember that one of the main grounds of complaint against President Kruger's Government was that those British Indians were herded together and compelled to live in a very insanitary and out-of-the-way part of the towns where they resided, and that they were denied proper opportunities of doing their business. It seems to me that closely connected with that is the question whether they should be absolutely denied the right of owning a single acre of ground in a British colony of which they are citizens.


There was a disability to trade outside the locations which was a great grievance; that is removed. But the disability in regard to the holding of land was not mentioned by the British Government at the time and has not been removed.


I do not know whether it has been raised, but it seems to me a genuine grievance, and as long as it is not removed, these people have a natural cause for complaint. Then there is the question of passes. Is it not the case that these Indians, no matter what their position is, are compelled even at the bidding of a native policeman to show their passes? That seems to me to be a slight upon an Indian of good position. There still remains the power of arbitrary expulsion under which an Indian even of good position may receive short shrift if the local authorities desire to drive him out of the country. I do not in the least complain of the Colonial Government for taking stringent measures to relieve themselves of the presence of undesirable Asiatics, but what I do venture to suggest to the House is that in dealing with these people it is necessary above all to discriminate between one class and another. There is no country in the world where class distinctions count for so much as they do in India; and, when you render a respectable merchant, domiciled in the country as a man of business, liable to treatment in no way differing from that which can be accorded to a common coolie, you do create a grievance which is felt not only amongst the British Indians in South Africa, but amongst his Majesty's Indian subjects in all parts of the Empire. All these things have really been admitted by His Majesty's Government themselves. We find in the Blue-book a very vigorous protest from the Secretary of State for India against the proposed treatment of the British Indians; we find similar protests from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the noble Earl himself. What we desire to draw attention to, and what we regret, is that this illustrious triumvirate should not have had a little more courage, and, having raised their objection, should not have stood to it a little more manfully. What exactly happened was that they raised their objection, and then allowed themselves to be put off by assurances, not of very great importance, in regard to the treatment of distinguished Asiatic visitors when they arrived in South Africa, and by a rather vague promise of future legislation.

I cannot help thinking that His Majesty's Government might have taken advantage of the series of opportunities which were offered to them for bargaining and making better terms for these people. It seems to me that they knew what it was desirable to do, but that they missed the opportunity of doing it. Now we have a satisfactory compromise, and let us hope that it will afford a solution of the difficulty. But what has happened in the meantime has been of the gravest importance. There has been great excitement in India at a time when it was not at all desirable that there should be public excitement. There have been meetings attended by native gentlemen and chiefs of the highest position, and the whole country has been stirred by these events. In our view these are events which need never have occurred if earlier in the day His Majesty's Government had had the courage of their opinions, and pressed rather more strongly the very sound views which we know they all held.

One word more. The noble Earl took exception to Lord Curzon's observation that there were British Indians in the Transvaal who had been under fire with our troops. I think his statement was absolutely correct. I find in the document numbered 53 in the Blue-book the petition of more than 100 Indian ex-soldiers, who recite that they are British subjects and were most of them brought to the colony in connection with the Transvaal Corps raised at the time of the late war— When your petitioners came to South Africa they were told by their officers that it would be possible for them at the end of the war to settle in any part of South Africa and to receive honourable employment. Those men would naturally feel a sense of very rankling injustice when they were treated in the manner I have described. I do not think this discussion can have done any harm, and I earnestly hope it may be of some use in calling attention to what is, after all, a very momentous question, the necessity of doing what we can to secure for the King's subjects, no matter of what race or colour, just and considerate treatment in whatever part of the British Empire they may happen to find themselves.


My Lords, this is a subject on which I feel very strongly, for, having been connected for four years with the administration of India, I acquired a deep interest in all that concerns the people of that country and the most earnest desire to advance whatever would be to their good; and certainly I do not think it would be easy to find a question more painful in certain respects than this question is to me at this time. But I cannot forget that I am not only an ex-Viceroy. Being a member of the Government I am bound to consider the question in all its aspects, not only as it relates to the natives of India, but also in relation to the general principles of colonial government. And when I look at the question from that point of view I am encountered by this difficulty. Not only do I believe that, as a general principle, our self-governing Colonies ought to be left to manage their own internal affairs, but I think also that it is impossible to take any other course. I do not, I am sorry to say, think that it is in the power of any Secretary of State or any British Government effectually to control the management of the internal affairs of Colonies of this description.

A discussion arose, I believe, in 1899 which afforded me a peg on which to hang some remarks on that question; and I then ventured to point out that the Government at home could not and ought not to be held responsible for the management of native questions within the borders of self-governing Colonies, because they had no means of enforcing their views, and that to attempt to do so beyond the expression of opinion and the proffering of advice was both a useless and an unwise proceeding. When you enter into negotiations with a person over whom you have no means of ultimate control, it is impossible to enforce your views beyond a certain point. My noble friend has made it perfectly clear that an arrangement has now been accepted by both sides. My only fear is, knowing how little our proceedings in Parliament are really understood in India, or very often in the self-governing Colonies, that this discussion may tend, though I hope it will not, to shake the arrangement which has been arrived at, and possibly to make those who have accepted it on both sides discontented with the conclusion to which they had agreed.

I listened with the deepest interest to the remarks of my noble friend Lord Curzon, and I heartily join with the noble Marquess, if Lord Curzon will allow me to do so, in expressing my great satisfaction that he should have had this opportunity of giving us his views. I do not differ much if at all, from the points on which, towards the end of his speech, he said he would like to insist. I do not think they were unreasonable, but I do say that you must remember the conditions under which you are acting, and that when you desire to approach, not the Transvaal Government only, but any self-governing colony, you must do so with the feeling that you cannot force your opinions upon them, and that you only weaken your authority if you attempt to go beyond a certain point. My noble friend who has just sat down referred to the meetings which have taken place, and to the discussions in the public Press, and said there had been much dissatisfaction caused in India. It is earnestly to be hoped that nothing will now tend to weaken the arrangement which has been arrived at, or to render its ultimate success less probable. It is very natural that there should be an objection on the part of the white population of any colony when there has been a great influx of persons of a totally different race and habits into their colony. I can remember when I was Secretary of State for the Colonies that Natal raised a difficulty in consequence of the great influx of Asiatics into that colony, and there was then actually a probability of their getting a majority for electoral purposes. That was a thing you could not expect that any British colony would be willing to agree to. I do not think the noble Marquess quite succeeded in defending the exact words that were used by Lord Curzon about the natives who had taken part in the war in South Africa. My noble friend will remember that from beginning to the end of the Transvaal war it was a principle that natives and persons of another race should not be allowed to take part, and Asiatics and natives were not allowed to take any part in the active operations of the war.


I was responsible for sending from India from 10,000 to 20,000 men. They acted as transport corps, ambulance carriers, and in other capacities, and they were under fire on most battlefields of the campaign.


They were not active soldiers.


Many of them were killed.


I trust very earnestly, now that this discussion is over and a settlement reached at which we can rejoice, that no misunderstanding will arise. I do not blame Lord Ampthill nor Lord Curzon for the part they have taken in the matter, nor for defending the natives of India against the unfair treatment to which at one time it was intended to subject them; but I hope nothing will now be said to weaken the settlement, and that the question may be considered as closed,


I have no intention of detaining your Lordships by making anything in the nature of a reply, but there is one thing I must say. My Motion was for Papers, and the noble Earl has not given me an Answer on that point. Possibly he has no further Papers to lay, but if that is so there is, at any rate, one document which I presume he will give—namely, the letter from the Governor of the Transvaal to which he referred in his speech. That letter makes an interesting distinction between disabilities and disqualifications—a distinction which I did not understand myself, but which is of vital importance to the comprehension of the present situation. There were other Questions which I put to the noble Earl and which I will not presume to repeat, but I wish to say that he has not answered any of them. I therefore consider it open to me to raise them again on some future occasion. It is possible that they were rendered inaudible by the conversation which was going on on the Government Benches, a circumstance which was in strange contrast to that of last night, when we on this side listened to a personal explanation by a noble Lord on that side of the House in absolute silence. Yet when I was endeavouring to-night to explain to the best of my poor ability a question of Imperial importance there was a noise on the Government side of the House which made it difficult for me to make myself audible. I trust that the noble Earl can tell us whether there are any Papers which he can lay on the Table, and, in any case, whether we shall see the important letter to which he referred in his speech.


I did not quote any letter. I said I had received a letter, and I gave a fact in my own language out of the letter. I certainly am not going to publish the letter. It is a private one from the Governor. As to Papers, so far as I know I have published all the Papers up to date; but if there are any more I will have them published.

Motion, by leave of the House, withdrawn. House adjourned at twenty minutes before Seven o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Four o'clock.