in rising to call attention to the circumstances connected with the murder of Mr. Birch, late British Resident at Perak, and to the intervention by the authorities of the Straits Settlements in the affairs of the Malay Peninsula, said, he thought that the importance of the subject warranted the House in asking the Govern- ment to inform the country and the House what their policy with regard to the Malay Peninsula was. It was not only that an official of the British Government had been cruelly murdered, because that might be a mere accident, and he thought he should be able to show that that was not a preconceived plan. But what he thought demanded some official explanation was the policy the Government were pursuing with regard to the Malay Peninsula. He would commence by premising that when the Malay Peninsula was under the control of the East India Company, and subsequently of the India Office, the action of both those authorities was guided by the principle of non-intervention in the Malay States. Owing, however, to the growth of our commerce and other causes, Lord Kimberley was subsequently induced to invite our Governor at Singapore—the Governor of the Straits Settlements—to inform him whether it would be possible to station a Resident at the different Malay ports; and Sir Andrew Clarke, following up that invitation, decided that it would be the best policy to adopt considering the state of anarchy which prevailed in the Peninsula. At that time there were two disturbing elements at work producing that anarchy and confusion. In one of the provinces, there being rich tin mines, a large number of Chinese, as many as 40,000, were working. Their migrations were governed by secret societies, and it happened that a great subject of contention had arisen, which divided them into two equal parties, between whom constant quarrels occurred, which had developed themselves into something like war. To such an extent did these quarrels spread that, on one occasion, no less than 3,000 Chinese were killed, and it was brought to the notice of the Governor that if these riots were to continue much longer, and if the Malays were allowed to remain in the state of anarchy in which they were, at least one-half of those quarrels would have to be fought out on British soil. That anarchy, he might add, was increased by the disputes as to who should be Sultan. The Sultan of the Malays had died just before, and the next heir, the Rajah Abdullah, long refused to attend to the Royal obsequies, and, the presence of the new Sultan being indispensable, the chiefs elected another in his stead—the Rajah Ismail. But this did not receive the acquiescence of Abdullah, who, being naturally incensed, publicly announced his intention to fight for his rights, so that the quarrel became something like those between the Highland Chiefs in times gone by, there being in the Province of Perak only about 25,000 Malays, with several Rajahs at their head. That being the state of affairs, Sir Andrew Clarke called the Chiefs together with the view of putting an end, as far as possible, to the anarchy which existed. The Sultan Ismail would not attend the conference, but a large number of other Chiefs were present, and a Treaty or engagement was entered into, at Pangore, by which Ismail was dethroned and Abdullah chosen in his place; and also, with the consent of the greater number of Chiefs, it was agreed that Residents should be appointed. By the 6th section of this Treaty it was provided that the Sultan should receive and provide a suitable residence for a British officer, who was to be called a Resident; who should be duly accredited to the Court of the Sultan, and—
By its 7th section the Treaty further provided that the collection, control, and general regulation of the revenues and the general administration of the country was to be regulated under the advice of the Residents. This engagement was sent home to England, passed under the eye of the Colonial Minister, and was approved by him generally in a despatch, upon which a Proclamation was issued in the name of "Victoria, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen and Empress of India." Singularly enough, this much debated title was used in a public Proclamation in the Malay Peninsula in 1874! This document stated that Her Majesty would look for "the exact fulfilment of all the pledges now voluntarily given," and that she "would hold responsible those who broke engagements thus solemnly agreed upon," which, of course, if it meant anything, meant that if necessary, force would be used in carrying out the terms of the Treaty, and it was under those circumstances that Mr. Birch proceeded to Perak, and he was altogether unable to understand how it could have been supposed by any person that his position was to be merely that of adviser. Very soon, however, Mr. Birch did undertake the duties of a Ruler, and assumed those functions. It was found that Sultan Abdullah was a man of an indolent character and profligate habits, who spent his time in opium-smoking, and was not to be trusted; and the Resident, after giving him the best advice he could, took the real rule of the country into his own hands. The inhabitants of the country, as he had said, were divided in their allegiance. A large section of the people stood by Sultan Abdullah, but a large number supported the pretensions of Ismail, and thus a considerable division had occurred. This state of anarchy continued, and some of the principal Chiefs applied to the Governor, Sir William Jervois, to take some step in advance, upon which he appointed two Commissioners to govern the country in the Queen's name—so that they were no longer Residents to advise, but Commissioners to govern. With regard to the actual circumstances attending the murder of Mr. Birch, it was a mistake to suppose that it arose from the Proclamation issued from the Colonial Office after the execution of the Treaty to which he had referred. At the time when the Proclamation relating to the appointment of the Commissioner arrived, a feeling of great irritation existed among the population, and it was heightened by the religious excitement attendant on a Mahomedan festival held at that season of the year. In pursuance of Mr. Birch's orders, his Malay servant proceeded to post up outside the Residency the Proclamation, which a native, on being told that it was the form in which the British Government took possession of the country, immediately tore down. A scuffle ensuing, Mr. Birch's servant stabbed his opponent to the heart, whereupon a cry was raised and an attack was made upon Mr. Birch, who was at once killed in his bath. He was satisfied from a careful perusal of the documents that had been laid before Parliament that the crime had been committed in the heat of the moment without the slightest premeditation. In his estimation the real question was how far the Colonial Office was justified in allowing a British officer to occupy a responsible position in the Peninsula without giving to him the adequate material support necessary for the carrying out of his duties. Owing to the position in which Mr. Birch had been left, he had been brought into collision with many of the petty Chiefs, and at the same time he had not been granted the means of carrying out the policy which he had been urged to initiate. Either he ought to have been a simple adviser, or he ought to have been surrounded with such a force as would have rendered an attack on the Representative of the Sovereign of England impossible. The Papers showed distinctly that Her Majesty's Government ought to have known that it was impossible that Residents could have held their position properly without some such help, and the Governor would have been justified in asking for such a force. As to the subsequent events, he feared that in the course which we had taken to punish the murder of Mr. Birch we had been actuated too much by a feeling of revenge, or at least that the chastisement inflicted was more severe than it ought to have been. He denied that the principle of Residents had proved successful, and he wished now to ask Her Majesty's Government what policy they intended to pursue in the future with regard to these semi-civilized States? They ought clearly to state that policy in the interests of all concerned, whether Malays, Chinese, or Englishmen. In his opinion, there were only four courses that could be adopted. The first was absolute non-intervention, which he did not think could now be adopted. The second was to have a Resident whose functions should be strictly limited to giving advice. Experience had proved that that was not likely to be most conducive to the honour of this country. The third alternative was to have Residents who would be backed up by the Imperial power, and he should be glad if such a policy could be found possible. The fourth was that of annexation, which he believed an unfortunate solution of the difficulty. But, under the circumstances, opposed as he was to that policy, he was afraid that we had drifted into a position in which it had become an absolute necessity in order to protect our commercial interests, and to develop one of the most beautiful and richest countries in the world. As far as the Chiefs were concerned, they were willing to receive pensions at our hands, and as regarded the Malay people, he thought there were few who knew anything of them who would not say that they would be far happier under British rule than they were under that of their own Sultans. In the present state of things, therefore, it seemed to him that we had nothing but a bold policy to pursue—namely, that of annexation."Whose advice must be asked and acted upon on all questions other than those touching the Malay religion and custom."
said, from experience gained on the spot, he agreed generally with the views of his hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Noel); but he did not go quite so far in believing that annexation was the only possible solution of this matter, although he confessed a great deal could be said in its favour. A solution short of annexation might possibly be found in the re-transfer of our interestin the Malayan Peninsula to the India Office from the Colonial Office. In his opinion, that Department was much better qualified to deal with the difficulties which had arisen than the Colonial Office, or any administration in the country. He had to complain that the official Papers on the subject which had been printed for the use of Members of the House had been so long delayed in their distribution, and that they were in such a jumbled and confused state. They did not contain the conclusion of the Correspondence, nor did they state the views of the Government ona most important point—namely, the policy which was to be pursued in future. So far as he had been able to master them, it seemed that Lord Carnarvon had very strongly censured Sir William Jervois. Lord Carnarvon, in fact, seemed to lay on Sir William Jervois the responsibility for the death of Mr. Birch. He (Sir Charles Dilke) could hardly think that such censure was merited, but he did not wish to go too far in defending Sir William Jervois from the censure of the Government, because no doubt there was some indiscretion in the conduct of that officer in that he had been guilty of publicly advocating a policy of annexation without the authority or support of Her Majesty's Government. We were involved in the Malay Peninsula in many of the difficulties we had experienced on the Gold Coast, where, in the protected States, we gave something like countenance to slavery. From Captain Speedy's Re- port and a communication forwarded to the Colonial Office by Lord Stanley of Alderley, we could see that there was a large amount of slavery in the Malay territories. Captain Speedy said three-fourths of the population were what he called "debt slaves," but slaves they were in every sense of the word. The course which we had pursued with reference to the coinage and other matters had produced very great discontent among the population, and had no doubt a good deal to do with the circumstances which led to the death of Mr. Birch. All must regret the loss of so able a public servant and a gentleman of such high personal character as he was allowed to be, but nevertheless Mr. Birch was not the right man for the post, and it could not be doubted that his own conduct had contributed in a great measure to that unfortunate event, for he did undoubtedly involve himself in personal action towards the Malayans, which led not only his Malayan, but his white friends to warn him.
said, that the Government had treated the House shabbily in staving off discussion on this question until it had become stale, on the plea that they should wait for Papers, and then that morning throwing at the head of hon. Members three Blue Books, in which everything was to be found except what hon. Members wanted to know. The consequence was that the debate was being carried on before empty Benches. He was inclined to fear that the Government had permitted this matter to drift too much. The one point upon which the House desired information was as to the policy which the Government meant to pursue in regard to the Malay Peninsula, but none had been vouchsafed. The simple question was whether, in one form or another, this country should assume the control of the Peninsula. The Malays were not pirates in the sense of committing piracies outside their own territory, but the state of anarchy in the country was so great that this country would be fully justified in interfering if it were expedient that they should do so. The great defect of that country was the want of population. There were pros and cons upon that question of expediency. An hon. Member had said that if the Government adopted a policy of annexation, it could be done without much expense. From that opinion of his hon. Friend he differed. Some persons compared the Malay Peninsula with Java and Ceylon; but there was this great difference—that by far the greater part of the Malayan Peninsula was an absolutely unknown jungle, and in addition to controlling first the Malays and afterwards the Chinese, it would be necessary to introduce a large population to render the country productive, a thing which could not be done without expense. He could therefore quite understand that the Government would hesitate before they decided upon a policy of annexation, and he would express a hope that that would not happen which had happened in other cases, when there was a long bill to pay, handing it over to India for the ryots to pay, instead of paying it ourselves. The result of the transfer about nine years ago from the India Office to the Colonial Office had not been good, and he found fault with that office for not exercising a sufficient control over the policy of the Governors of Crown colonies. When the Settlements were subject to the Government of India, the local authorities were not allowed to have their own way too much; but now these people had been suffered to follow out their own ideas by the Colonial Office. To allow a small knot of local mercantile men, without responsibility, to direct our proceedings and to drag in the British Army and Treasury to back them up, should not be permitted. The Residents in the Straits Settlements were quite right in calling this the Clarke policy. Sir Andrew Clarke established a system of Residents, which amounted to annexation in the Dutch form, as practised in Java, rather than the English form. He found two Chiefs fighting against each other, and said to one of them—"I will back you up and make you Sultan, if you will accept a Resident." That policy might be in some cases, to a certain extent, successful; but it was somewhat dangerous that the Governor should throw himself into the hands of a small knot of people around him, and allow them to guide him in the affairs of the whole Peninsula. It was clear from his addresses to the Legislative Council that Sir Andrew Clarke appealed to the cupidity of the British merchants who were settled there. He called upon the non-official members of the Council, in rather tall talk, to help him in founding a great colony upon the ruins of ancient Empires; but surely people who wished to do so should do so with their own means and money. The policy of Sir Andrew Clarke, practically amounting, as it did, to annexation, ought not to be adopted without the deliberate assent of the Colonial Office; but he feared that the Government at home had, instead, allowed themselves to drift into that policy. A considerable amount of patronage was afforded to the Europeans in the Straits Settlements by Sir Andrew Clarke's policy of annexation, and he strongly objected to some of the appointments of Residents, taken from this limited community. One of the persons so appointed was Mr. Davidson, who had had money dealings with the Native Prince with whom he had been made Resident. It was true that Mr. Davidson had made a formal transfer of the claim; but it was clearly a nominal transfer only; he was still, in fact, the Prince's creditor, and as such was appointed to administer his revenue. The first use which Mr. Davidson made of his position was to prosecute a grand mining company, in which he was the principal partner. Such an appointment was a most improper one, and ought never to have been made. Another appointment was that of Captain Speedy, who might be a fine fellow, but was a sort of free lance such as used to go about in the Middle Ages, placing himself at the disposal of different Princes. Some time ago he had come into contact with this Captain Speedy, who was then enlisting soldiers in the Punjab and was about to proceed with them in a steamer from Calcutta to the Straits. The Indian Government stopped him on that occasion. Captain Speedy had got permission from some Malay Chief to recruit soldiers, and a little later on he did get some together for this service. Next he came to Sir William Jervois, who, he thought, had been rather hardly treated in this matter. Sir Andrew Clarke having practically assumed the administration of these territories, Sir William Jervois went a step further, but it happened that disaster ensued, and instead of meeting with approval he met with a good deal of censure. He sincerely hoped Her Majesty's Government would not let the question of policy be determined by the Governors of Colonies whose speeches he quoted. They were in the habit of delivering very long speeches on the subject. He trusted the Government would tell the House what they proposed to do in regard to the cost already incurred in consequence of the events in the Malayan Peninsula. It was stated that something like £100,000 had been spent in transporting troops backwards and forwards, and he should like to know by whom this expense was to be borne? If not by the Colony then he objected to the large expense of carrying backwards and forwards troops to and from Calcutta. Practically it placed the Army and Navy of Britain at the beck of the Government of a small Settlement. If that was to continue, he wanted to know whether the cost was to be paid out of the revenues of the Settlement or by the Colonial Office, or, in other words, by the British taxpayers? He was strongly of opinion that it ought not to be imposed on the Indian Government.
agreed that great injustice would be perpetrated if any portion of the expense of this Malayan enterprize were thrown on the Indian Exchequer. At the same time annexation to India might have such a value in many respects, as to make it desirable to keep the question open. It might be necessary to carry out a policy of annexation, and in that case it would be well for the English to have the power of transferring what would then be an English colony to the Government of India. At the time when the finances of India were in such distress after the Mutiny, among the measures of retrenchment that were considered was one as to the expense of maintaining the Singapore Settlement. It was then established that India was paying for the support of a dependency with which she had no special connection. If any idea were entertained of handing over to India the whole of the Malay Peninsula, a proceeding which, in his opinion, on a review of the whole of the circumstances, it was expedient to take, an allowance ought to be made to India in respect of the cost of the transfer. If that were not done, at any rate security should be taken that none of the expenses of that transfer should fall on that country. There was only one way in which the Peninsula could be rendered like what the Governors represented—namely, by Chinese immigration. If that were encouraged, it would be of great advantage both to the English and to the Indian Governments. If things were left in their present state we must drift gradually into a policy of annexation.
remarked that annexation had been practically going on ever since the time when he first served in the Straits of Malacca—indeed ever since the free trade port of Singapore was established in 1819 under the wise selection of Sir Stamford Raffles and Mr. Crawford—in so far that the influence of our power had been gradually year by year extending and our authority recognized and accepted by the various petty Rajahs and Chiefs ruling in the numerous territories into which Malay Land was divided. It was impossible for the British power to continue to hold these free trade settlements in the Straits of Malacca without that supremacy which was the natural result of a great nation acting with fairness and honesty, as our Government had done, over a vast area occupied by Chinese and Malays anxious to live in peace, fully alive to the comparative excellence of our rule, and, above all, appreciating the benefits which our free trade policy gave them. Then, as regarded wars and disturbances in that vast area, they had been repeatedly threatened from the time we bought Penang in the last century, and especially since we had occupied Singapore and Malacca; and they were unavoidable so long as we enforced order, put down piracies, and prevented aggressions against our rule or our people. In his youth he was several times under orders to take the field against the Malays, but he could bear testimony to the anxious desire of the British authorities to abstain from encroaching on the nominally independent rights of the petty Chiefs who unfortunately misgoverned that tract which was beyond our boundaries. There was, however, a great temptation to annex by force, instead of waiting for the natural and unavoidable amalgamation which year by year, as our Settlements prospered, must be effected by the desire of the people in the neighbouring States to fall under the control of a good and peaceable Government. There was, indeed, a great temptation to expedite that union, for the land was full of natural resources, and all who had been there would loudly praise the loveliness of the scenery and the productiveness of the country. The commencement of the system of having British officers located as Residents with the Chiefs, which had led to the late war, was not a novel thing, but it had existed even in the time of the East India Company's Government. There was no necessity for abandoning that practice; but he urged on the Government that they should not let the authority in the Straits Settlements run too fast; but if they allowed British influence to be slowly but wisely established in the Malay Peninsula as necessity arose they would avoid those unhappy complications which they had lately seen in that country. The Malays at present under our control at Singapore, Malacca, and Penang were more numerous than all in the Malayan Peninsula. They were attached to British connection, having seen the advantages which they derived from it; and he believed that the same results could be brought about in the territories surrounding our Straits Settlements by a judicious policy, the foremost consideration being the protection of the people from the oppression of their Chiefs, and by encouraging them to develop the resources of their beautiful and fertile country. With regard to the financial effect of the transfer of Singapore, Malacca, and Penang from the Indian Government to the Colonial Office, so far from that transfer being a burden to England, there was a sufficient revenue to pay for the whole military as well as civil expenditure of all the Settlements, and to leave a surplus. Therefore, if India were again to have those States placed under its care, the revenues of Singapore would be adequate to meet all charges. Then as regarded the annexations, these could only have been made mainly in the interest of Singapore and of our very considerable trade, in which England shared largely. It was only fair and just that the revenues of the Settlements in the Straits of Singapore should bear the burden of the expense, and neither the Revenues of India nor of England should be burdened with charges arising out of operations incited and encouraged by the influential class at Singapore. On this condition it was right that the people so contributing should have a voice in the policy which they were obliged to meet financially. It was unfortunate that Mr. Birch had not been acquainted with the Malay language. There was no necessity for appointing an officer who could not speak to the people amongst whom he was placed, and who had not had the advantage in his youth of intercourse with Malays, instead of Cingalese in Ceylon, where he had so long served with honour. It was said that Malays were treacherous and faithless, but he had himself known cases in which that was not so. The Malays were a high-spirited people, and it was most desirable that the officers whom we sent to them should be able to speak their language and know something of their ways and feelings. The selection of those officers was a most important point, as on it depended the justification of the policy they intended, to carry out of having Residents in those States. The proper course would be to allow annexation gradually to go on in accordance with the wishes of the people, and the best and most peaceable mode of effecting that end, was with the consent and at the desire of the people, pensioning off the Chiefs and governing men, who often usurped the power, and too generally exercised their authority in a way far from being beneficial to the interests of the country or good of the people. Should it be decided to take the control of the whole of the Settlements from the Colonial Office and transfer them to the Indian Government, it would still be necessary for the Imperial Government to exercise some supervision over the affairs of that part of the globe, for the Settlements were established for trading purposes, and now that the Dutch were extending their rule over Sumatra we were face to face with a new and an aggressive Power, whose policy of annexation could not fail to have an influence on our policy. In fact, what we needed was good government for the Malays in our part of Malay Land. We were far more likely to secure the willing obedience of our Malay neighbours than the Dutch ever were in Sumatra. We should continue our very successful system of free trade, which all in the East so highly appreciated, in contrast with that of the Dutch—of monopolies, duties, and restrictions; at the same time encouraging, as the hon. Member for Orkney (Mr. Laing) had recommended, a large and steady immigration of Chinese, for nothing could be wiser than to encourage the settlement in the Peninsula of that industrious people, who could very easily be brought there. No country was better adapted for being opened out to commerce than the Malay country, but to promote that end it was necessary to prevent the Malay Chiefs, who in general were a cock-fighting and opium-eating set of men, from carrying on their devastating wars and their piratical expeditions.
confessed that he could sympathize with the feeling of hon. Members who complained that the voluminous Papers relating to that subject had been delivered to them only that morning. But it could hardly be otherwise, seeing that he had occasion some weeks ago to state that the production of all those Papers was of necessity delayed until the Colonial Office had received from Sir William Jervois an important despatch, which was to contain an explanation of the conduct he had pursued as to the deplorable events in the Straits Settlements. Sir William Jervois had wished, not very unreasonably, that not only should his despatch when received be included among the Papers laid before Parliament, but that the publication of all the other Papers should be delayed until his defence could appear along with them. The Secretary of State could not fairly have returned any other answer than the one he gave—namely, that the publication of further Papers on the subject should be delayed until Sir William Jervois's defence could be included among them. Then, of course, the Secretary of State would not have been justified in allowing Sir William Jervois's despatch to appear without his own reply, and thus the delay in the publication of the Papers was brought down to a very recent period. He regretted that hon. Members had had so short a time in which to master the particulars contained in these voluminous Papers; but they were pressed on at the last moment, so that they might be in the hands of hon. Members when this question was brought forward. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Noel) had recited very plainly the facts of the case, and as he had pointed out, there was considerable property in mines and an extensive commerce in which a considerable amount of British capital was employed in the Straits Settlements and neighbouring territories, and this country was therefore concerned in the maintenance of order and good government there. That caused the British Government to have a practical interest in the administration of the surrounding States. Of course, the question remained to what extent that interest should be carried, and what shape it should assume. It had been already said that our relations with these States had been brought into unfortunate prominence by some riots that had occurred in connection with some emigrant Chinese, who, though a most useful and industrious race, were apt to cause local dissatisfaction where they settled. The disturbance began among the Chinese themselves; but the Malays sided with one or other of the combatants, and necessitated the intervention of some stronger power. In that state of things Sir Andrew Clarke found himself called upon to deal with the disputed succession to the Sultanship. The choice of the Chiefs fell upon Ismail, but Sir Andrew Clarke thought the interests of this country could be better served by a different choice, and at his instance Abdullah was appointed. Of that personage all he (Mr. Lowther) would say was, that if he was the best that could be chosen, his selection did not reflect great credit on his rivals, and he would at once admit that he did not seem particularly fitted for government. His addiction to the practice of opium-eating now calculated to raise doubts as to his being likely to prove a very energetic ruler. Then followed the Treaty of Panghore—which might be considered the starting point of our difficulties—in which it was clearly laid down that the Residents at the various Courts were to act as advisers. From the fact that the advice of the Residents was to be asked and acted upon, the hon. Member who introduced the discussion concluded that the British Government intended actively to intervene in the affairs of the States in question; but a careful perusal of the language of the Treaty, together with the despatches relating to it, would show that no such understanding existed. The subsequent Proclamation, to which reference had been made, however, upon the face of it involved a serious departure from the terms of the Treaty. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) and others had contended that the present Secretary of State ought to have known that affairs were drifting into an unsatisfactory or dangerous position; but he (Mr. Lowther) was certain that when hon. Members had more thoroughly perused these Papers and glanced at the despatch of Lord Carnarvon of May 20, they would arrive at the conclusion that until the news was received of the deplorable events which had occurred in that country the Colonial Secretary was not at all aware that there had been any departure from the terms of the Treaty which he had himself sanctioned. But the policy which had been inaugurated by Sir William Jervois and carried into effect by Mr. Birch was a serious departure from the existing state of affairs. He (Mr. Lowther) entertained a very strong opinion that any unnecessary interference by the Home Government with the ordinary routine of the Government of distant Settlements was undesirable, and likely in most cases to be mischievous. Such an interference was calculated to diminish the responsibility of the local Government, and was not likely to promote the interests of the public service. He might add to this far more important question, the energetic action on the spur of the moment necessitated by any sudden outbreak, or matters which could not be contemplated by the Home Government—in all these cases he considered that the action of the Home Government would be most mischievous if it tended in any way to diminish the responsibility of the local administrative Government or any possible interference with its action. But when the question was not one of minor details or sudden emergency necessitating immediate action, and when the position of affairs was an important change of policy extending to an indefinite future, he considered that the conditions he had indicated in no shape or form applied. Under such circumstances as these it was the duty of a Governor to communicate with the Secretary of State before adopting so serious an innovation upon the state of affairs. Sir William Jervois, however, apparently satisfied himself that the status quo should be changed, and he did not communicate with the Home Government before he adopted the idea which was in his own mind. That was a course of proceeding much to be deplored, for in the selection of the new policy conferring the virtual direction of Governments that were nominally independent upon the Residents, a step was taken that was a very serious innovation, and one which had not led to very satisfactory results. Reference had been made to that unfortunate occurrence—the death of Mr. Birch, and with regard to the details of that untoward event, it had been mentioned in the course of the debate that the Secretary of State had called the attention of Sir William Jervois to the fact that the outbreak could not be disassociated from the introduction of the new policy, and this expression of opinion was disapproved by one hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Lowther), however, contended that his noble Friend would not have fulfilled his duty if he had failed to point out that this unfortunate outbreak had followed close upon the introduction of the new policy, but he did not for a moment place upon Sir William Jervois the responsibility for the actual death of Mr. Birch. His noble Friend did not desire to censure, he only stated his views of the conduct of Sir William Jervois, and he concluded by expressing confidence that there would be no difficulty in his adapting himself to the policy that was placed before him. The Colonial Office was not responsible for the transactions that had taken place; in fact, it was a departure from the policy of the Colonial Office that led to these deplorable events. The outbreak was followed up by more serious disturbances, which showed that the condition of the Native population was such as gave reason for considerable alarm. A good many suggestions had been made as to the future policy which should be followed out with regard to these Settlements. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Noel) spoke of the chastisement—that was his expression—inflicted upon the disturbers of the peace, and spoke of it as being excessive. Now, he (Mr. Lowther) thought it would hardly be contended that there had been any great excesses. Of course when war came among any people events unfortunately occured which those who calmly viewed the circumstances at a distance were unable to do otherwise than regret. But so far as he had been able to make himself master of what really occurred, he could not say that any undue chastisement was inflicted upon those parties who not only murdered a British officer, but inflicted outrages upon other people besides. It was necessary to follow up those fugitive Chiefs into the recesses of the country, a feat which required great gallantry, and in carrying it out as little excess as possible, under the circumstances of the case had been committed, and he thought that few wars, great or small, had been carried on more humanely. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy introduced an important question—who was to pay the bill for the expenses of the war? He was afraid it would fall on the unfortunate British taxpayer. The population, or the want of population, had been referred to, and no doubt there was an absence of an adequate population; and it was said, and he perfectly agreed with it, that this evil could be removed by the introduction of Chinese and East Indians. No doubt the present population was unruly; the Malays had never been remarkable as a very peaceful race; anarchy was their characteristic condition and piracy their favourite pursuit, and the practice of levying blackmail upon unfortunate persons who entered a territory which was more or less governed by these Chieftains, as far as it could be said to be governed by anybody at all, would no doubt have to be guarded against. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy said he thought the Governor deferred too much to his Council, which the hon. Member said was composed mainly of merchants who were connected with the trade of the district. The Council consisted of 16 persons; 11 were official members, who could not be in a position to exercise much pressure on the Governor, and five were non-official members, who were nominated by the Governor himself. He should have thought that those who advocated the representation of the people in its most extensive form would hardly have made the complaint which had been made. The Governor of a colony would be placed in a most unenviable position if he could not recur to the advice of any person. A Council composed to some extent of merchants, but mainly of officials who were conversant with the locality, was a Council of which most Governors would very much regret to be deprived. He was not prepared to say how far the Governor might have been misinformed as to their capabilities; but so far as he understood the matter, he believed they had discharged their duties most efficiently. Several suggestions had been made as to the new policy which ought to be pursued. The hon. Member for Dumfries first of all said there was the policy of non-intervention; but the hon. Member, and he (Mr. J.Lowther), thought the House generally were of opinion that that policy, however desirable, was impossible. The British capital invested in these territories, and the unfortunate tendency of the population to marauding and piratical habits, rendered such a policy impossible. The second was the policy of Sir Andrew Clarke—Residents pure and simple, without further duties being entrusted to them. The third was Residents backed by bayonets, with a large military force at their disposal. Finally, the hon. Member indicated the policy of direct annexation. The hon. Member said he was originally opposed to any such policy, but that, after a fuller consideration of the case, he had reluctantly arrived at the conclusion that that was a sound policy. Another course had been suggested by the hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke)—the re-transfer of the Government of the Straits from the Colonial to the India Office. Now, after the events which had recently occurred, it could not be supposed that the Colonial Office would be displeased at any suggestion which might relieve them from a difficult duty. But he could not for a moment encourage the House with the idea that that would be the alternative that would be selected by Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government, on account of the events which had recently occurred, would devote their anxious consideration to the question of the future government of these territories. His noble Friend had given his most serious attention to the subject. He (Mr. J. Lowther) was not able to make an announcement to the House of any new policy that was to be adopted. He could only assure them that this most important subject would be fully considered, and that at the earliest possible moment an announcement would be made to Parliament of the course which Her Majesty's Government were prepared to adopt.
Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.