10. Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £27,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1894, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad."
said, he thought the Government ought to have given them the Report on the Uganda Commission so that they could have had the Debate on this Vote now. For some reason or other the Government were concealing it, but he understood that a pledge had been given, and if that was carried out they would have a full day given to them after Easter to discuss the question. He would not discuss the question that night, but would vote against it. A number of them had changed their position since the Vote was last before them, but he hoped they had not changed their minds. He did not intend to discuss any of the points until he saw the proposal made, but he might say a word or two from the economist's standpoint. Here there was an increase of about 60 per cent. The Government having given them a free hand they had been very free with the money, and the Treasury had allowed them to do as they pleased. He did not think the present Government were responsible for the two African Companies, but they were as favourable to them as their predecessors, and made things as easy as they could at the expense of the British taxpayer. On the ground that the money was not wanted and ought never to have been spent he should vole against it.
said, he understood they were to have a night to discuss this question later on; therefore, he agreed they should not to-night take up the time of the Committee in discussing this Vote, but there was a matter connected with it which he did not understand. When the £12,000 was voted last Session it was an honourable understanding, he thought, that it was to cover the whole of the expenditure for this financial year—that it was the whole expenditure they would be put to until they got the Report and had an opportunity of discussing the matter in the House. They now found, however, that the amount was to be increased by £27,500, altogether making very nearly £40,000 preliminary expenses, instead of the £12,000 they understood was to cover the inquiry. He dared say they would be told it also covered other expenses in connection with Uganda, but they were expenses which had nothing to do with the question for which the taxpayers had to pay; and when they were told the whole expense would only be £12,000, it showed it was a very bad way of estimating the cost, and a most objectionable system of dealing with public money. They ought to have had some better explanation when they debated this matter 12 months ago; they ought to have been told they were going to buy a lot of stores of which they knew nothing, not even what they were at the present moment. There were many ways in this country by which the money might be spent more satisfactorily. There were all sorts of demands from the working classes and the agricultural classes. They refused to grant them money at a low rate of interest, but they could take the taxpayers' money and spend it for the benefit of these Chartered Companies. That was where the matter hinged. This was got up by a Chartered Company; they were drawn into it and asked to buy their stores, and take over matters in connection with their Company. All that was wrong. If the taxpayers of this country could afford to throw away their money by £40,000 at a time surely it would be better and wiser to give it to the poor people of this country—to give it by way of assisting the people of this country to better their condition. he must complain that they had not had the Report yet, though it had been in this country for some months. He did not know whether there was any disagreement over the matter; but if there was, he hoped the Jingo spirit of the Government had not been successful. The new Prime Minister was understood to be in favour of a spirited foreign policy. In such a policy he warned him that he would not he supported by the Radical Party in this House and their supporters throughout the country. They did not want a spirited foreign policy. They did not want to holster up the British East Africa Company, and like companies. It was bad enough that these companies should plunder and rob this country through their share lists, but they might fairly object that public money should also be got hold of for the benefit directly or indirectly of these plundering companies. That was very strong language, and if he could find stronger language in regard to these companies he should be glad to use it. Nothing could be worse than these companies, from the Liberator downwards; they were all pretty much on a level. He thought the Government had acted very unwisely in committing them to this large expenditure without first asking their consent. Their consent ought to be obtained before the money was spent, and not afterwards, because it was all nonsense to say they had any proper control over the money after it was spent, and that was another reason why he objected to this Vote. He had not gone into the Uganda Question, as he believed they were to have an opportunity later on to discuss it; but if his hon. Friend went to a Division he should vote with him, for the purpose of protesting against this very bad system.
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down had spoken of the East, Africa Company as a plundering company. He was afraid the hon. Member had not given much attention to the recent negotiations that had been going on between the Government and the company, otherwise he might have thought the epithet should have been applied to the other party, and not to the company. The hon. Member objected to pay for stores he had not an opportunity of examining. He was sure the Government and the whole House would be ready to give the hon. Member the opportunity of examining those stores if he would go to Uganda for that purpose. But he did not rise to oppose this Vote in any way. Last year when this Vote was brought forward the Opposition stated they did not consider it in the least necessary to send Sir Gerald Portal to make the inquiry in Uganda; but as the Government decided upon that course of action the Opposition did not feel called on to dissent from it, in view of the expression of the Government that they had not sufficient information before them. As this Vote is in connection with the expenses of Sir Gerald Portal's Mission, it would be the duty of the Opposition on this occasion, as on recent occasions, to support the Government against their own followers.
said, that all he desired to do was to warn the Government that in the event of their deciding on the policy of evacuating Uganda the Anti-Slavery Society, and those who took an interest in the diminution of slavery, would deem it their duty probably to oppose the Government, as they believed the policy of evacuation would encourage the Slave Trade. And if the Government proposed to extend the jurisdiction of the Sultan of Zanzibar over the district of Uganda the Anti-Slavery Society would also feel disposed to take a similar course, because it would be placing the Uganda district under the operation of Mahomedan law, and denying the right of protection to those inhabiting a British Protectorate.
desired to say, in reference to the remarks of the last speaker, that if the Government did insist upon taking over Uganda there were several gentlemen who felt as strongly against slavery as his hon. Friend who would feel it their duty to oppose the action of the Government. Their views were so very ably and exhaustively stated by the right hon. Gentlemen who were now sitting on the Treasury Bench when they sat on the Opposition Bench a few years ago that it was unnecessary to re-state them. He believed that the Government had taken the Soudanese into their pay, and a good deal of this money had gone for the Soudanese who were acting as the British Guard. He had strongly opposed the expedition to Uganda. He thought it was a waste of money, and he was sorry they ever went there at all. The thing, however, had been done; and the British Flag having been raised there, if it was absolutely necessary that some action should be taken, he did hope that we should not assume all responsibility there, but that we should hand over Uganda to the Zanzibar Protectorate, which came, in a secondary way, under our Protectorate, at the same time taking care that we did not increase in any sort of way the slavery that existed in that country. He thought, indeed, they ought to go further, and, having established a Zanzibar Protectorate, ought to do something with a view to lessening the amount of slavery which existed there. He did not know why they had not vet got Sir Gerald Portal's Report, because it was impossible to discuss the whole ease until they had such Report.
desired to express his sympathy with the warning addressed to the Government by the hon. Member for Darlington. He would like to add to that warning what he feared would not have the sympathy of the hon. Member for Northampton, and that was that if Uganda should be evacuated there would be the greatest anxiety amongst that important class of their countrymen who were interested in Protestant missions. These religious missions were supported by a very influential body of opinion and amongst some of the very best classes of the British population. He spoke with confidence when he said that these Missionary Organisations regarded with great anxiety the decision at which Her Majesty's Government might arrive with reference to this important territory. Need he recall to the recollection of the Government the powerful agitation which was set on foot two years ago largely at the instance of those meritorious Organisations? He did not doubt that if a halting or retrograde policy were adopted by the Government now there might be a renewal of that agitation. Considering the great confidence that was expressed in the administration of the Foreign Department at that time, and considering that the noble Lord who was then Foreign Minister was now the head of the Government, they naturally felt great hope in his future conduct of affairs in this as in all other portions of the British Empire. He would venture to add another warning, and it was this—if there should be anything like an evacuation of Uganda, would not the door be opened to some Foreign Power to enter there? ["Yes!"] If that was to be the case, then there would be a great agitation among all those who were interested in the defence of the Empire, and to whom Imperial interests were dear. As for making this territory over to Zanzibar, that would be a step greatly for the worse. That would induce a fresh Mahomedan complication. Already one of the difficulties there was the existence of large sections of the Mahomedan religion, and with that particular religion there arose the dissensions of the various denominations. What with the existing trouble with the Mahomedans, what with the complications of the Soudanese, many of whom were Mahomedans, and the introduction of a Mahomedan Power on the shores of the Great Lakes, there would be a political complication of a very extraordinary character, perfectly gratuitous, answering no practical or political purpose, and apparently adopted for no other reason but the hesitation to assume that responsibility which belonged to England. If there was to be peace kept between the various contending religious sects; if there was to be that harmony which ought to exist between them, such a happy situation of affairs could best be secured by the presence of British officers under the control, at all events, of a British superior. A British Commissioner or Plenipotentiary would be far more conducive to the peace of Uganda than any Mahomedan Power, including that of the Sultan of Zanzibar.
desired to know what was to be the position of the Catholics, who were getting on vary well and had a moderate amount of arms, with which they did not kill anybody, when British officers went there and the Catholics were deprived of their arms? He believed they had been fairly treated since the arrival of Sir Gerald Portal; but their arms had not been restored to them, and if they wore left there unarmed and unprotected they would be at the mercy of Mahomedans, who had imbibed as much of the Koran as told them to kill anybody who stood in their way. If the Government were going to leave Uganda, in what position were they going to leave the Catholics? They had taken from them their arms, and left them ex- posed to the Mussulmen, who had been brought down from all sides.
said, he understood from the earlier speeches that it was not intended to go into the question of the occupation of Uganda. He rose now to say he felt it his duty to vote with his hon. Friend the Member for Caithness on this question, because he thought it was hard to bring one's mind to sanctioning the spending of money for what was going on in Uganda. He wanted to draw the attention of the Committee to the last two speeches. The hon. Baronet the Member for Kingston rose to defend the Protestant religionists in that territory and to claim English protection and interference on their account; and the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite had asked for the same protection for his Catholic co-religionists. The argument appeared to be that because these respective sects of Christians, both of whom were aiming at occupying the same paradise and arriving there by pretty much the same means, could not agree with one another, that they must have English officers and guns to keep the peace between them. This was, to him, an additional reason why the gospel of war and of occupation should not be preached to these quarrelling Christians. One was tempted to exclaim, "See how these Christians love one another!"
desired to say that nothing was further from his intention, and he was sure from that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, than to say they wanted to obtain protection to prevent Christians killing one another. It was to protect Christians of all denominations from the native tribes, whether Mahome-dan or native.
thought the moral to be drawn from this Debate was that the extraordinary delay of the Government was altogether most disastrous. For many a, long year the matter had been before them, for many a long month the matter had been very closely brought home to Her Majesty's Ministers. He did not think there was any real occasion to send Sir Gerald Portal for information. They had all the facts necessary. The House had been promised a Debate after Easter, and he hoped it would not be de- layed. If the hon. Member for Caithness had had a little more time to consider the exact facts he would not have spoken so hardly of the operations of the East Africa Company.
said, they could not know the exact facts until they saw Sir Gerald Portal's Report.
was surprised that the hon. Member should have criticised a company when he knew so very little of it. It would be very hard upon the company and on the people who lived in the district and had done so much to advance it if the Debate were postponed until near Whitsuntide, and he hoped, therefore, that it would be soon after Easter. The interests of individuals living in the district were seriously jeopardised; and so were the interests of this country. He had just heard that the King of the Belgians had established a station in the Nile Valley, and he would ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he had any information how far foreign nations were trespassing on our sphere of action and were doing a great deal to prejudice the future of a country that they had taken under their protection?
said, he could not imagine a more unjust and outrageous attack than that which the hon. Member for Shipley had just made on the efforts of the East Africa Company and those who had done such good work in Uganda. It was well-known (hat Captain Lugard, and others who represented the interests of civilisation and of order in that country, had succeeded not in promoting war and strife, as the hon. Member implied, but in preventing war, and in largely putting an end to those slave raids which had indicted such injury and ruin on that part of Africa. This was a very grave question of the future. Many grave questions, which were not apparent to the hon. Member, were raised by the fate of Uganda. At this moment in the North of Africa British influence, British administration, and British civilisation were predominant in Egypt. In the South likewise the influence of the British power was extending rapidly northwards. Already it, reached from Cape Town to the Zambesi, and even north of that river, over Nyassaland. Comparatively small districts now intervened between the regions in the North and in the South which already were under British power and civilisation. Other nations, as they knew, were making great efforts to obtain control of the upper regions of the Nile just North of Uganda, and to interpose between the advancing forces of Great Britain. The French and Belgians both were at this moment sending strong expeditions into the Equatorial Provinces of the Soudan. An opportunity now offered for the extension and development of British influence and commerce in those regions, which was probably without parallel in the history of Africa. If this critical opportunity were not lost, we might very soon learn with pride that the whole vast region from Alexandria to Cape Town was under British hegemony. Any Member of this House who from pseudo-humanitarian motives would compel the natives of Uganda to continue in the internecine conflicts in which they had been engaged for so many years, and would prevent British influence and power from restoring order, and peace, and civilisation to those regions, and who would also close those regions which offered great openings to our stagnating commerce, was not only doing his utmost to deal a blow to the true interests of civilisation, but also doing his utmost to injure the commercial prosperity of his country. He (Sir E. Ashmead-Bartlett) had no intention of speaking on this subject; but when he heard the remarks of the hon. Member for Shipley, evidently influenced by that malevolent pseudo-humanitarianism which was too common among gentlemen of his political persuasion, he felt bound to intervene with these few words. He trusted that the Government, in the settlement of Uganda, would bear in mind the great issues that were at stake. He trusted that they would look at this question not only from the point of view of the East Africa Company—a Company with which he had no interest whatever—or from that of the missionaries—English, and Scotch, and Roman Catholic, who had done a noble work in those regions—but that they would especially boar in mind the splendid Imperial interests now involved, and realise how important it was that British influence and power should not now be withdrawn from this great and commanding position.
said, he trusted the views of the hon. Member for Caithness would not be regarded as representing the views of the general body of Liberal Members, or more particularly of the Liberal Members for Scotland. If there was one part of the country more than another which had expressed a strong interest with regard to our maintaining the position in which we found ourselves in Uganda he thought it was Scotland. Captain Lugard nowhere had larger or more enthusiastic meetings than those which were held in the large commercial centres of that country. Not only so, but those meetings were attended by many earnest religious people—supporters of our great Missionary Institutions, who, by their expressions at those meetings, indicated that they considered any retreat from the position that the Government had taken up there would be not only a great blow to civilisation, but also to the advancement of our common Christianity. He understood that this Vote was simply to meet the expenses which arose in maintaining our position in Uganda. Inquiries had been made into the question by request of Her Majesty's Government, to enable them to come to a decision. The country at one time was in a state of anarchy. Wars were going on between the native tribes, and unless the interference that did take place had taken place, the results would have been most disastrous. He hoped there would not be, on the Liberal side of the House more particularly, a disposition on such an occasion as this to place the worst construction upon the actions of our own countrymen, and, as far as possible, to diminish our influence on that great Continent. They should have some regard to the manner in which our Empire had been made. It had not been made by a succession of retreats. The motto of Englishmen and Scotchmen everywhere had been "Forward." It should be so still. He, for one, was not for hauling down the British flag-wherever it had been properly hoisted. There was a great difference between mere Jingoism and true Constitutional views of the progress of our country and of our Empire; and it would be a disastrous day for the Liberal Party if they forgot that it was a Party which in the past had identified itself with our Imperial progress. He, for one, had felt it his duty to enter his protest against what was the inclination of a small section of the Liberal Party, as he thought, to lower its position in the face of the country.
I certainly did not expect that so many points would have been raised in the course of this Debate, and I have no intention of in any way anticipating what the decision of the Government as to the future of Uganda is going to be. We have promised the House already more than once that this decision will be announced soon after Easter, and that we will afford every facility for a full discussion of that decision. I see from the present Debate that the Government have been very fairly and freely warned that whatever their decision may be, whether it be to stay or to leave the country, they must expect determined opposition from one quarter of the House or another. I do not know that this is a new incident for any Government. I think I can understand very well the reason why some Members should have expressed disappointment that Sir Gerald Portal's Report has not yet, been presented. But I should like to point out that unforeseen circumstances have occurred which have delayed the presentation of Sir Gerald Portal's Report. Sir Gerald Portal on his way to England revised his Report very adequately and completely, and it-was not received by the Government until a comparatively late dale. The Government then naturally felt that before making up their minds it would be an immense advantage to them to have the opportunity of close personal communication with Sir Gerald Portal himself. The House knows very well the sad circumstance that has taken place. Sir Gerald Portal's death has not only been a loss to the House and to the Government so far as this particular question is concerned, but his death is a distinct loss to the country as regards much future public service. But though the Report has been delayed, the delay has entailed no loss to the country. The Government announced last year that they intended to maintain, pending the presentation of the Report, the then existing condition of affairs in Uganda, so that it might be possible either to take over the country or leave it. That freedom of choice has been kept perfectly open. Therefore, although the announcement of the decision may have been delayed, so far as the interests of this country in Uganda are concerned, they have been preserved at the present time as fully as they were a year ago, and the choice of hon. Members as regard their vote will be just as free throe or four weeks hence as it is at the present time, or as it would have been a year ago. The Government have instituted a policy of inquiry; and with regard to the policy of inquiry, some hon. Members on the other side of the House say they consider no inquiry is necessary. The hon. Member for Liverpool said so, and he was cheered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean. Why did the hon. Member for Liverpool say that he considered no inquiry was necessary?
I stated that the facts were perfectly known on which a policy could be framed.
Yes; but the conclusion the hon. Member would have drawn from the facts is that the country should be retained; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean would have drawn the conclusion that it should not be retained. Surely that is a complete justification of the policy of inquiry. The hon. Member for Peterborough complained that the Government did not keep the pledge they gave when they took the Vote of £12,000 about a year ago. Put the Government never pledged themselves to come to a decision about Uganda in the course of a year or in any time short of a year. All they promised was that as soon as the inquiry was completed a decision should be come to, and until that inquiry is completed the future of Uganda shall not be pledged.
Does this Vote go beyond the present financial year?
The Vote does not go beyond the present financial year. The hon. Member also thinks the expense has been too great. He complained that we ought not to have taken over a lot of stores from the East Africa Company. The Government did not take over the stores because it benefited the East Africa Company, but because these stores were necessary for the Mission they had sent to the country. Surely the hon. Member would not have the Government reject these stores which were on the spot simply because they belonged to the company, and send for a brand-new lot.
The hon. Baronet ought to have told us that he would want this extra money when he asked for the £12,000.
The Government could not possibly tell how long it would take to complete the inquiry and to investigate all the circumstances of the case. No pledge as to a limit of time was given last year. The hon. Member for Northampton remarked upon the fact that part of the money had been paid to the Soudanese in the country. The Soudanese were not brought into the country by Sir Gerald Portal; they were there before his Mission arrived. Here was a largo body of men in the country who could be employed to maintain the British position there during the temporary occupation necessary for the inquiry. They were the very men for the purpose in many ways, and, being on the spot, they were to be had cheaply. It was only reasonable, therefore, that if any people were to be paid to support the Mission in Uganda these Soudanese were the most-suitable. If these Soudanese had not been taken over there would have been turned loose in the middle of Africa an armed baud of men, excellent under discipline, but very formidable without discipline. It would be impossible to say what the conduct of those men would have been. They would have been a danger in any part of the country. At present the men are kept under control: and, if their services are no longer needed, they are now gathered together in one place and can be turned over to other employers, no one being the worse. As to the question of the Catholics, which has been raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Gal-way, of course there is no need to say that as long as the present Government exercises any influence in Uganda they will take care that it is exercised most impartially between the different Religious Bodies. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway admitted that since Sir Gerald Portal went to the country the Catholics have had no reason to complain of any unfair treatment. But he said that they had been left without any arms in their hands. To a great extent it is very desirable that masses of natives in Africa should be without arms; and I have no reason to suppose that the Catholic body was less well armed than their neighbours the Protestant body.
What are they to do against these Soudanese, whom the hon. Baronet says would be a danger if the British influence was withdrawn?
That will be a most appropriate question to raise when the future of Uganda is decided by the Government. The Government have pledged themselves that the present condition of things shall be maintained until their decision is announced, and on that occasion the question raised by the hon. and gallant Member can be discussed. With respect to the warnings given on behalf of the Anti-Slavery Society, they will be borne in mind. I think it a little unfair for the hon. Member for Peterborough to found upon the action of the Government in regard to this policy of inquiry a charge of indulging in a spirited foreign policy. When the Government came into Office they naturally knew nothing about Uganda. They had to go for any information about the country to the Reports of people who had been on the spot, and everyone who had been on the spot told them that if Uganda were abandoned it would become the centre of the Slave Trade, that massacres would follow between sections of the natives, and that then the Mahomedans would probably fall upon the survivors. They were further told that great possibilities of future trade would be lost to this country if Uganda were abandoned. Before the Report of Sir Gerald Portal is laid and before the decision of the Government is announced—I am not going to say anything as to how far those apprehensions were well founded or not, but that was the information that was given to the Government when they came into Office by everyone who had been on the spot. We had no means of disproving that at the time, and we were bound—and it was the very least that we could do—before we left the country to send some responsible man on behalf of the Government to inquire into the condition of things in Uganda and see whether these apprehensions were well founded or not. Surely it was hardly fair to say that this rendered the Government liable to a charge of indulging in a spirited or perhaps a Jingo policy. The Government in sending this Mission of inquiry kept their word to both sides of the Mouse, both to those who were in favour of staying in Uganda and those who wished to withdraw, and I can assure the Committee that the Government is most anxious that there shall be no further delay in announcing their decision and having a discussion in the House, which shall settle—I hope for many years to come—perhaps for ever, what the future of Uganda is to be.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 198; Noes 9.—(Division List, No. 6.)
11. Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £88,567, he granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1894, for sundry Colonial Services and certain Charges connected with South Africa."
said, he observed that, we paid to High Commissioners travelling and other expenses. He wished to know whether the salary of the High Commissioner was paid by the Cape Government or by the Imperial Government, as there was no mention of salary in the Vote? If the Cape Government paid the salary and the Imperial Government the expenses, it was an anomalous position. He thought the salary ought to be paid by the Imperial Government.
said, the salary of the High Commissioner was paid from three sources: £5,000 from the Cape Government, £3,000 as High Commissioner, and £1,000 from Imperial funds, making £9,000 in all, which he thought, under the circumstances, was a living wage.
said, he thought the hon. Member for Dundee was a little hard on the Liberal Government, for, from his point of view, the Liberal Government was not sufficiently Jingo. Whatever it might be elsewhere, in Africa it was persistently Jingo. They, who were opposed to! all this annexation and massacre of black people, were less anxious when a Conservative Government were in than when a Liberal Government were in. He supposed the reason was that the Conservative Government did not want the whole Opposition or the Front Bench attacking them for their policy, and, therefore they did not encourage these enterprises in Africa. But when a Liberal Government, were in they encouraged these enterprises, knowing that they had the whole of the Conservative Opposition to support them, with a certain number of their own Party. Having a quiet time at home, they offered up on the altar of their happiness a certain number of African blacks. In this sum there was an item for the Bechuanaland Police Force. He did not intend to go into everything that had taken place in Matabeleland. He had already expressed his views on that subject, and would now only refer to two points to show why he was opposed to this particular Vote. The origin of this war was that the Chartered Company, finding' themselves almost ruined by Mashonaland, of which they had possession, determined to obtain the neighbouring country, which they thought was rich, or thought they would be able to persuade people was rich, and thereby obtain their money. Of course, a pretext was necessary. Therefore, Lobengula was asked to come into Mashonaland to chastise certain of his Mashonaland subjects. This Lobengula did, and did very cruelly no doubt, being a savage. The officers of the Chartered Company then told the men that they must clear out of Mashonaland within an hour, and within three hours they pursued them, killing and wounding a large number. Upon this Lobengula complained of the action of the company, and the company complained of the action of Lobengula, saying that he intended to return to Mashona with a large force. Lobengula wrote to the High Commissioner, and did all he could in order to convince the company that he did not desire to engage in war lint, of course, the object of the company was to seize Matabele- land in order to restore their damaged finances, and so the war was forced on. This war was waged with great cruelty. The Chartered Company had a number of Maxim guns, and the Matabele being very bravo advanced on these guns and were mowed down. he had often asked about the wounded, mainly for the reason that he found in a telegraph Despatch from Mr. Rhodes that the killed and wounded numbered 3,000, of which2,000 wore wounded; and that over 30 wounded were brought into Buluwayo. They had been told that the wounded Matabele were carried away by their friends, but that was absolutely impossible. Out of 4,000 Matabele, 1,000 were killed, 2,000 were wounded, and 1,000 were neither killed nor wounded; and they were asked to believe that the 2,000 wounded were carried away by the 1,000 who were neither killed nor wounded from under the fire of the Maxim guns.
said, the hon. Gentleman, as usual, knew nothing of the subject. His whole stock-in-trade consisted of general, vague abuse of everyone on the Ministerial side and the waving of the British flag, although he believed the hon. Gentleman was an American, not an English citizen. ["Ob, oh!" and "Order, order!"] Well, he did not like these Americans. He contended that the war was cruelly waged. Lobengula sent two Envoys to Mr. Dawson, and they were killed by "an unfortunate accident," as it was called. He was bound to say that the war was carried on in a manner altogether inconsistent with the rules of civilised warfare—even against blacks. No doubt there were honourable men in the company's forces. There were always a number of honourable men who for the love of adventure more than anything else were ever ready to accompany these expeditions. But these did not represent the mass of the company's forces. The terms of service of some of the forces of the Chartered Company was that they should receive a certain portion of land, a number of mining claims, and a certain share of loot—the word "loot" was actually used in the agreement. He challenged anyone acquainted with military matters to say that those were the sort of men who should be properly enlisted to serve in conjunction with Imperial forces. He called them, as he had always called them, filibusters and desperadoes, who only went there with the object of obtaining loot and land and destroying the proprietors of the soil. The military kraals of the Matabele were burnt, and at last the company's forces arrived at Buluwayo, and, so far as he understood, the whole country had been seized. Lobengula and many of his men had been driven into the jungle or swamps, where they had died of starvation or small-pox. Surely it was reasonable that some few Members in that House should protest against any forces of the Imperial Government engaging in war for the sake of a company. After all, a company was only a collection of individuals. The question was, what was the action of the Government in this matter? They recognised the war on the part of the Chartered Company, and ordered Sir Henry Loch, he believed, to direct the Bechuanaland Police Force to be strengthened in order to join in the attack on Lobengula. Hon. Gentlemen would remember that they were informed that the Bechuanaland Police bad been fired on by certain of the Matabele, and that this was the reason for the war. That did not appear in the Blue Books. He had looked through them and had failed to find anything about it. It appeared to him that the allegation was dismissed when it had served its turn.
It is in the earlier Blue Book.
said, that oven if it was in an earlier Blue Book what did it amount to? No attempt was made to inquire into the matter. Lobengula was not asked to give up the men who had fired on the company's forces, but war was declared against the Matabele. One of the reasons given in the Blue Book why the Bechuanaland Police wore reinforced and ordered to advance to the frontier was on account of a fear which was stated to exist lest liquor should be introduced into Khama's country. Well, Matabeleland having been conquered, the question was, to whom did it belong? On what grounds could it be contended that this country, which was as large as France, had become the pro- perty of the Chartered Company? The Solicitor General gave it as his opinion that no Chartered Company could acquire by conquest property which had been brought under the British flag. The hon. and learned Gentleman laughed at the idea that it could become the property of the company. If individuals acquired territory by conquest, it became the property of the country of which those individuals wore subjects. Then his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies fell back on certain concessions. He (Mr. Labouchere) inquired about those, too. He had asked the Solicitor General if the case had been put before him, and he had said that it had not, and that, therefore, he could not answer it. He had asked the Under Secretary if he would put it to the Solicitor General, and his hon. Friend declined to stale a case, probably because there was no case to put. The Colonial Office appeared to the in the position of being obliged to accept every trumped-up statement put before it by the Chartered Company. In regard to the mining concession, not in the name of the Queen, but the Queen herself wrote to King Lobengula stating that if he would agree to the concession—which he subsequently said he had been cheated out of—she would pledge her word that he should in no sort of way be damnified thereby, and that the persons enjoying the concessions should not exercise any jurisdiction over his subjects, and that the former should only dig for gold where he permitted them to dig. Surely the Government were bound to support and respect the pledge of the Queen, and to step forward, not to help the company, but to defend Lobengula. The Under Secretary said that these matters concerned the late Government, but he should think that if any policy ought to be continuous it ought to be one which was based upon the pledged word of the Queen. He was satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. Fer-gusson) would have bounded into the air with indignation if it were suggested to him that the pledges embodied in the Queen's word given under a Tory Government were to be thrown aside when a Liberal Government came into power. If the right hon. Gentleman opposite, however, would look at the questions put in the House and the answers returned, he would find that there had boon no continuity of policy. None of the concessions gave the right to acquire land, but that which this Chartered Company possessed under the Treaty with Lobengula in cases where they were mining by the permission of the King. There they were allowed to take land, but nowhere else. But it seemed to the company more simple to go and take the land. It was never intended that the company wore to compel the Native Chiefs to make concessions of land to them under duress. Beading through the Blue Book it seemed to him that the Colonial Office were terrified by Mr. Rhodes. They wrote to the company saying that they should do so-and-so. Mr. Rhodes laughed at them, and then they backed out. What value had the company put upon the land which they had acquired through these forced concessions? At a meeting of the shareholders of the company that was held in London the shareholders voted £1,000,000 worth of shares to Mr. Rhodes and his fellow-promoters, whilst they voted £1,500,000 to themselves in the way of bonus. Even presuming that the view of the Government with regard to the rights of the company to obtain this land was well founded, why in the name of wonder should the taxpayers of this country be called upon to pay this sum of £80,000 in order to enable the company to enter upon this land, which they described as flowing with milk and honey and teeming with gold, when the company themselves wore voting away millions? The company were well able to pay it themselves; and if it were advanced at all, why was it not advanced as a loan, and made a charge upon the company's funds? He therefore moved to reduce the Vote by £80,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That Item Q, of £S0,000 (Bechuanaland Grant in Aid), be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
said, that the hon. Member for Northampton had just made a speech of a very different nature from that which he had made when the subject came up before, because he had now dealt with the matter rather from a practical point of view and with less of those personal attacks upon the Company which he would not say graced his former speeches. He would not go over again the whole question as to the origin of the war, nor into the question as 1o the way in which the operations had been conducted. The Committee were perfectly well aware that the view taken by Her Majesty's Government in relation to this matter did not agree with that of the hon. Member; and, in reply to the remarks of the hon. Member, he could only repeat what he had already had occasion to state as clearly as he could. He had already stated that, so far as he could judge, and in the opinion of the Government, the war had not been provoked by the Company: further, that, as a matter of fact—though very probably at some time or other the Company might have come into conflict with Lobengula—as regarded last autumn, at all events, the war was to the Company very unwelcome and unexpected. And all he could say was that the information that had reached him since he made that statement confirmed its accuracy. The war was very inconvenient at the time to the Company; and he was convinced that the only desire of the Company was to live in peace with Lobengula, and to endeavour to develop Mashonaland, before any extension was made into Matabeleland. He did not deny that at some time or other it was likely that the Company would have extended their operations into Matabeleland. With regard to the way in which the war was conducted, the hon. Member had said that it had been marked by great brutality. Well, he had endeavoured to obtain every possible scrap of information, anonymous and otherwise, and he said, speaking with a full sense of responsibility, that, broadly speaking, the operations were conducted with humanity and propriety. He did not say that there might not have been isolated cases of barbarity and inhumanity. Unfortunately, war was brutal and brutalising, and the incidents of no war would bear a microscopical examination; but he believed that these hostilities would compare favourably in that matter with any other of our native wars. He asserted, at all events, that the leaders of these operations—those who were responsible for them—did desire, having no hostility to the Matabele as such, while carrying out the operations successfully, to do as little harm and hurt to the Matabele as was possible under the circumstances. As regarded the question of the wounded, his hon. Friend appeared to know exactly how many wounded there ought to have been——
Excuse me; I cited a telegraphic Despatch from Mr. Rhodes himself.
said, that that particular telegram he had never been able to see. Perhaps in the excitement of the moment; there was exaggeration in Mr. Rhodes's estimate. But, however that might be, it was quite clear from the accounts received that the number of killed and wounded did not approach anything like the 3,000 mentioned by his hon. Friend; indeed, the official information showed that it did not reach half that number. Further, the fighting was in no respect of the nature described. The greater part of the fighting was mainly in the bush and at longish range, and the Matabele had ample opportunity of carrying off their wounded, while those left on the field received, he fully believed, succour and help from the Company's troops, so far as their limited means permitted—and their means were very limited. he did not wish to go further into the question, because the hon. Member had only raised it incidentally, but he thought it only just, from all the information he had been able to obtain, to say so much in regard to these two matters. The hon. Gentleman had suggested that as the Company were going to take possession of the country, the cost of the war ought to fall upon the shareholders. But the whole sum which the Government were now asking for was incurred for Imperial purposes, and to enable them to carry out their Imperial responsibilities. He did not think that anybody would deny that when difficulties arose between Lobengula and the Company it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to take care that the lives and property of those within the territory for which the British Government was responsible should be protected. This expenditure for which the House was asked to provide was primarily for Imperial purposes, and only secondarily for the benefit of the Company. To their success, when hostilities had begun, we could not. be indifferent. And he ventured to say that the presence and action of the Imperial force had effected a very material diversion, and had done much to ensure the success of the Company's columns. He could hardly think that his hon. Friend was serious in suggesting that the bill should be sent in to Mr. Rhodes. His hon. Friend said that if the Company obtained the country they ought to pay the cost. But they would take it over burdened with considerable administrative expenditure, for the Government would insist upon the introduction of a satisfactory system of administration and securities for the protection of the natives. Looking at the matter from the Imperial point of view, the British taxpayer would largely benefit. The great cost of Bechuanaland had arisen from the necessity of keeping up a large and expensive police force on the border, owing to the proximity of the warlike and restless Matabele, and in future the expenditure could be considerably reduced. One cause of expenditure had been the heavy cost of transport, and he hoped that, when the time came, the Government would have the support of his hon. Friend in the matter of the railway extension.
asked if the question of the railway would he submitted to the House?
said, the railway was still a matter of negotiation, hut the Government pledged themselves that nothing would be done to commit them until the House had had an opportunity of expressing an opinion in regard to it. There was only one further matter to which his hon. Friend had referred, and that was the question of the concessions. They discussed that on the last occasion at some considerable length, and the position which the Government had taken up in regard to that matter, and the position they were bound to take up, was that these concessions were recognised and confirmed by the late Government: they had been confirmed and acted upon for some years past, and they had really never been repudiated, but had been recognised by Lobengula himself. That being so, it would have been quite impossible for the Government, coming in at the eleventh hour, to repudiate those concessions, even if they had wished to do so. As to the final disposal of Matabeleland itself, he had hoped before this Debate came on to have been in a position to lay the settlement before the House for their consideration. He regretted to say, however, that there had been unavoidable delays, and the Government had not been able to decide the matter finally in all its details so as to lay it before the House He would, however, state broadly what the proposals of the Government with reference to Matabeleland were. On going carefully into the matter they found that there were nominally two alternatives before them—namely, the creation of a Crown Colony on the one hand, or the utilisation of the existing machinery of the Charter on the other. Though there were, in his opinion, great advantages in the Crown Colony system over government by a Chartered Company, broadly speaking there was really no alternative before the Government. They had to utilise the existing state of things under the Charter, and they could not create a. Crown Colony in Matabeleland, because they found that the Charter did absolutely include Matabeleland as well as, and as much as, Mashonaland. It was the evident intention when the Charter was granted that the Company should at some future time administer Matabeleland as well as Mashonaland.
But not steal it.
said, those districts had been administered under a regular form of government for some time, and, when the necessity arose—as it did arise after the war—of deciding under what form of government Matabeleland should be placed, it became in the view of the Government essential, in the circumstances, to extend the operations of administration under the Charter. Looking at the question all round that was the conclusion which the Government came to; and this certainly was the strong opinion in the colony itself. Though they ought not to accept colonial opinion if it was thought to be inconsistent with justice and right, they ought to take it favourably into account in considering such a question as this. Broadly speaking, the proposal of the Government was this, and he wished to add that the Company had met the Government loyally in the matter. They proposed to supersede, both for Mashonaland and Matabololand, the old loose, experimental system of Government by an administration on a stronger and a more definite basis. There would be a Governing Body consisting of an Administrator, a Judge, and three Members of Council, who would have practically the power to administer both countries as one. The Administrator and Judge would be nominated by the Company, but appointed only with the direct assent of the Secretary of State, and the Judge would be irremovable, except by the Secretary of State. As to the natives, who were their chief care, their laws and their rights would be carefully preserved, while their material position would be dealt with by a Land Commission, consisting of three members, one the Judge, a second nominated by the Secretary of State, and the third by the Company. That Commission will report to the Secretary of State, and its decisions will be subject to revision at home. The first duty of that Commission will be to see that sufficient and suitable land is allotted to the natives, and that their agricultural and grazing requirements are fully complied with. Under these circumstances, the Government believed they would have a system of administration which would be of advantage to that part of South Africa, and wore clear in their minds that the rights and necessities of the natives would be fully met. Looking at the matter broadly, whatever might be thought of the hostilities, their causes, and the way in which they were carried through, there could be little doubt that the Matabele themselves, relieved of a cruel yoke and a grinding blood tax, would, with sufficient land, cattle, and water, be able to settle down peacefully, and would certainly be better off than before. With regard to the subsidiary tribes, the Mashonas and others would be relieved from what was to them a frightful tyranny, barbarity, and slavery, and they, too, would be far better off than before. He did not say that in justification of any war which might not in itself be just, but he contended that the war was not premeditated by the Company, and that when undertaken it was carried through with skill, success, and humanity. He was sure that since the war the natives had been treated with the utmost possible consideration, and all the evidence in the possession of the Government went to show that the Company, so far as it had had direct dealings with the natives, had treated them with kindness and consideration. In defending the Vote, he would not put it on the ground that this was the smallest Vote ever proposed for a native war—some of them had cost millions, most of them hundreds of thousands of pounds—but would merely say that the operations had been conducted skilfully and economically, and the upshot would be to the benefit of the Europeans and no loss of the natives themselves.
remarked that after the satisfactory speech of the Under Secretary he should not have troubled the House with any observations but for the fact that the Member for Northampton, in the course of his speech, saw fit to make what he thought he was justified in describing as a gross personal attack upon himself. The attack was altogether unworthy of notice, and he should only notice it because these statements, if not contradicted, undoubtedly tended to create prejudice against the person who was attacked. He would only say this to the Committee—that his ancestors were entirely English, that he had a legal claim to be a British subject, and that he was a British subject.
Order, order! I am loth to interrupt the hon. Member. What he says is true, that an attack was made upon him, and I was on the point of rising to call the hon. Member for Northampton to Order when he made that attack. It would be undesirable to continue the subject, and it would certainly be out of Order.
I withdraw it with pleasure.
should say nothing more as to that matter, having said all he wished to say. The hon. Gentleman in his statement to the Committee had made a very different speech to that which the House was accustomed to hear from him. They had heard from the hon. Gentleman before very grievous attacks upon our colonists in Mashonaland and upon the conduct of the war. On previous occasions the hon. Member had brought charges of gross barbarity against the colonists, and the men who carried out a campaign of unexampled success against a very numerous and very well-organised enemy, but they had heard no attempt on the part of the hon. Member to-night to justify the statements he had made before.
Do you want me to?
said, the hon. Member asked him if he wanted him to. He told him he did not believe he could. The hon. Gentleman by his attacks had caused most grievous suffering to the relations of these gallant Englishmen who had been engaged in defending the interests of the country and the Empire, and their own homes in Mashonaland. When the Vote came on to-night the hon. Member made one or two vague statements about the massacre of wounded, but he had not in any way attempted to justify the gross and absolutely unjustifiable attacks which he had made upon previous occasions against our colonists who were engaged in that campaign. He was not surprised that the relations of the gallant men engaged in the expedition should have challenged the statements of the hon. Member in language which could not be misunderstood and which he was bound as a Member of the House and an honourable man to answer. The Under Secretary for the Colonies had stated in his place that no war was ever conducted with greater consideration for the vanquished compared favourably with other wars. As the hon. Gentleman had stated, everyone knew that in warfare there must always be instances, however small, of treatment of the vanquished which every humane man in peaceful times would regret. The hon. Member for Northampton, however, had done far more than allege there were these casual instances. He had over and over again in this House and in the Press brought charges of general cruelty against our colonists who had carried this war to a successful termination, and he (Sir E. Ashmead-Bartlett) declared that the hon. Member had not said one single sentence in justification of these charges, and he did not believe he had any facts at his command upon which he could justify them. The hon. Gentleman had said it was impossible to carry away the wounded men, but the Under Secretary bad shown how the conditions of this campaign differed from ordinary European warfare. Our fellow-countrymen in that campaign were a small body—from 600 to 800 men. They had to fight in laagers, the enemy attacked them, and only on one occasion after attack did a small body of mounted men issue from a laager. On all other occasions they assumed the defensive, and simply repulsed any attack that was made upon them. Undoubtedly the Matabele suffered heavily, and though they were barbarians whose whole past had been cruel, and who had inflicted heavy sufferings on their fellow tribes, still they regretted that many of them should have been killed and wounded. It was perfectly evident, however, that in a struggle of this kind that, if the enemy had once reached the British laager and come to close quarters with our men, it would have been a question of the entire annihilation of the British force. But to say that the Matabele, who numbered thousands, as against a few hundred white men, were not able to carry off their wounded was utterly absurd. The wounded were carried away by their comrades just as were the wounded in the Soudan. The Soudanese attacked our forces and were repulsed, and many wounded lay on the field of battle, but they were invariably carried off by their comrades. Some thousands of the Matabele survived, and to suggest that the survivors could not carry off' the wounded was an utter absurdity. The hon. Gentleman had altogether failed to substantiate the charges against our colonists, and he wanted this £80,000 for the extra Bechuanaland police imposed upon the Chartered Company. Was the hon. Gentleman aware that the Chartered Company had been put to great expense by this campaign, an expense far greater than the sum of £80,000 which was now asked for? The result of the action of the Company, as had been well said by the hon. Gentleman who had spoken on behalf of the Government, was the destruction of a barbaric organisation which was a continual source of danger to neighbouring tribes and of peril to our English settlers. In the future the number of the Bechuanaland police could he considerably reduced. He regretted, having regard to the remarkable sacrifices made by our colonists and to the great success of this war, that no reference had been made to the subject in the Queen's speech; and he believed that our colonists in South Africa would feel aggrieved at the omission. Gentlemen who were disposed to underrate the great. Imperial work that had been done by the Chartered Company in Matabeleland should note the remarkable pronouncement just issued by General Joubert, who had informed the people of the Transvaal in a public Proclamation that by the conquest of Matabeleland British supremacy in South Africa was established for all time. Was that a slight advantage? The operations of Mr. Rhodes and the Chartered Company had not brought us into conflict with the people of the Transvaal, but had so far secured British influence over the territory south of the Zambesi. A vast region had been opened up to British commerce, and the Chartered Company and Mr. Rhodes had done more than any act of the Government for the last few years to secure for this country great openings for its trade, and he believed the great mass of the people of this country were grateful to the Company and to Mr. Rhodes, who was undoubtedly an Imperial statesman of the highest order. He would only say one word as to the action of the Government in this matter. The hon. Member for Northampton had consistently endeavoured to attribute blame to the Chartered Company for this war. The Under Secretary of State had just told the House with very great accuracy that the war was not sought for by the Chartered Company; that it was most inconvenient to the Chartered Company, that it was a great cost to the Company, and it had yet to be proved that the results of the war would increase the revenues of the Company. But he would say this with regard to the action of the Government. He had studied the Blue Books with great care. Before the second Blue Book was issued last August and September he confessed he was disposed to attribute the cause of this war entirely to the Matabele King, Lobengula. He thought, however, that the Blue Book recently issued entirely acquitted Lobengula and the Chartered Company of responsibility for the war, but it did not acquit the Government. Lobengula did not desire war, and the Chartered Company did not desire war. What was wanted was an agency to bring about an understanding between Lobengula and the Chartered Company. Dr. Jamieson, the Administrator, formerly at Salisbury and now at Buluwayo, wrote a Despatch to Lobengula, in August, in which he distinctly put forward the demands of the Chartered Company in plain language, but how was he treated? Lord Ripon, from the Colonial Office, sent out a telegram to Sir Henry Loch instructing him to tell Dr. Jamieson and Mr. Rhodes that no communications were to be made to Lobengula except by Her Majesty's Representatives. What did the Government do?
I should like to interrupt the hon. Member for one moment. I do not know that the matter is of great importance. As a matter of fact, Dr. Jamieson had instructions given him, but it so happened that Mr. Rhodes gave the same instructions before we had done so.
said, this did not in the least affect his argument. The hon. Gentleman had admitted that the Government sent instructions to Dr. Jamieson telling him there was to be no communication between him and Lobengula except through Her Majesty's Representatives. How were the communications made? Lobengula sent message after message asking the Government to toll him what was their complaint against him, and they sent him no practical reply. They sent vague general statements by native runners. Had they sent a reliable agent with a clear statement of policy the war might have been averted. Had they, even at the conclusion of the war, sent a man like Dr. Moffat, the unfortunate episodes that had happened since—the destruction of Captain Wilson's gallant band and the death of the unfortunate Matabele Monarch himself—might have been averted. But it was only a case of drift, drift, drift! with Her Majesty's Government. They were asked for their policy, but they would not take the responsibility. When they were begged in August and September last to take responsibility for the lives and property of our colonists in Mashonaland and Matabeleland they parried the question. He remembered the late Prime Minister making him a long answer in which he refused to take responsibility. He did not refuse responsibility, but he refused to take responsibility, which was the same thing. He remembered another occasion on which the right hon. Gentleman came down to the House when the war had been triumphantly concluded and our colonists were in Buluwayo, and then he had said, "We assume responsibility." He only wished, in conclusion, to say that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton had, after making the grossest charges against his fellow-countrymen in Mashonaland, absolutely failed to substantiate them, and in this respect he had, in his humble judgment, been guilty of conduct not worthy of a Member of that House. And in addition to what he had just said, if Her Majesty's Government had assumed responsibility sufficiently early in the day, and had sent a reliable British agent, whom Lobengula could have trusted, to Buluwayo, this unfortunate and sanguinary war might have been prevented.
said, that after the speech of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies, he should support his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton in voting against this sum. From the beginning this subject had been brought before them under clouds of misrepresentation. The original concession, they were told by Lobengula, was got by fraud and misrepresentation; the Charter was got by misrepresentation and fraud. The war began under conditions of fraud and misrepresentation, and now they would to-night vote fraudulently—there was not the slightest doubt about it, by a, large majority—£80,000 also by misrepresentation and fraud. They were asked to vote £80,000 for the defence of Bechuanaland, and nobody ever attacked Bechuanaland or attempted to attack it, but they attacked a neighbour and an ally, and be- cause they did so, said they were defending themselves. What was the position of affairs? Lobengula was the King of the Matabeles. We were very anxious to be on friendly terms with him. We sent Envoys and messengers of various kinds from the Imperial Government and from the Colonial Government in order to treat with him. We had some six or seven years before secured Tati. We had got some British subjects who went there and got a concession from him. He said he did not understand the words which he had signed because they seemed afterwards to be quite different; and he sent two of his Indunas here; he sent Ambassadors to this country, and the Queen sent back a message to him and Lord Knutsford. The Secretary for the Colonies wrote a letter to him, and in that letter he was to be protected by the Queen. Her Majesty's subjects were only given permission to do as we wanted them; and the King took away the forces he had. A number of her subjects settled in Mashonaland, and now these subjects of ours, this Chartered Company, went to war with our ally the King of Matabeleland, and we were going to vote £80,000 for our share in the war. How did the war come about? The Chartered Company said some of his subjects had stolen our property and we took from them some of the King's cattle. The King said—
And then they complained that some more of his people had been cutting the telegraphic wires and asked him to chastise them. He sent forces to chastise these subjects, but the Company had them shot down. They were told that a shot was fired. A shot was always fired. There wore two causes for the two wars, the war for the Imperial Government and the war for the Company. The pretext for the war for the Company was that a shot was fired. Who fired that shot? Nobody fired that shot. Who was hurt by that shot? Nobody. It was a myth manufactured here to delude credulous people. What was the pretext for the war between the Imperial Government and the Matabeles? It was a defensive war he supposed. The pretext was that there was some trouble in the North be- tween the Company and the Matabeles, and we sent a portion of our forces into Matabeleland. Why should we send a portion of our forces into Matabeleland? Why were these Bechuanas sent to the Macloutsie River at all. They ought to have been in Bechuanaland. Three men of that force, a corporal and two men, were far away in Matabeleland at Macloutsie River, and these sent back a statement that they saw some Matabeles and a shot was fired. That was outside the British Protectorate."Do not take my cattle from these people. If you have anything to complain about tell me and I will chastise them."
It has always been disputed territory up to some 18 months ago or so, when it was brought under our protection and came under the British Protectorate, and it was on the borders of that territory that those shots were fired.
said, they only had information that one shot was fired. Nobody was hurt, nothing else occurred, and there was only a telegraphic rumour in the last Blue Book, and there was no more information. They only heard indirectly that three men were out scouting. They saw Matabeles, and a shot was fired. They were going to have a war with an ally that they wore very anxious to get on their side, and there only excuse was that some three or four men were in their territory and a shot was fired. What did the King reply?
Now they were to vote £80,000 for the defence of Bechuanaland, because a shot was fired by the Matabeles. And the King said—"From Lobengula to the High Commissioner.—I am tired of hearing lies which come to me every day. How many of your people have my people killed? You say my people fired on yours twice. How many are dead? Are your people stones that bullets do not kill them? You hear what your people say. Lend two of your men to me, and I will give them what assistance I can to find out who were the people who have done this. Your people must want something from me. Why do not you catch the people who fired upon you and bring them to me? There are none of my people who have been firing on you either at Victoria or Macloutsie. When these reports are made to you, do not you ask how many of your men are killed? This is not right. They see the things which may lead to what their hearts wish for. I have no people out of my border. My people are sick, and stay at their homes. When you make up your minds to do and know it is not right to blame it on my people you send me no answer to all the letters I send you. I do not understand this… I hear your people have taken more of my cattle. This is now four times my cattle have been taken."
But they never sent a man nor a message. They asked Lobengula to send some of his men, and how did they treat them when they got them? They were basely murdered, and never got to the Chief Commissioner. The man that came to London to see Her Majesty's Government we sent at the very beginning to settle this matter; but unfortunately, before he got to our territory, or wherever he came across the white men, he was attacked by disease. He had a very bad attack of dysentery. It was thought by the Matabeles that he was being poisoned. There was our own Commissioner; there was the gentleman who had been born in Matabeleland, and whose father had been a missionary to Lobengula's father, and who talked the Matabole tongue better than he talked English. He had been there for two years until the plot began. He had been a Representative of the British Government. He was sent to Lobengula two years ago; he was a resident with Lobengula; and then he was resident with Khama. He could have settled the matter in five minutes; but that did not suit Mr. Rhodes nor the men who wanted this land; and any man listening to the defence made by his hon. Friend to-night would come to the conclusion that, after all, there was some justification for the story always heard on the Continent—that we were a brigand nation, a nation of thieves, and stole everything we could. He said that when the Government gave that Charter, when they allowed them to come into Matabeleland they anticipated that Matabeleland also would be taken as well as Mashonaland—anticipated they would steal it, and hence gave them power to do so. The war was entirely unjustifiable; it was a war for loot and plunder; and the Government had aided and abetted in it either from weakness or some other cause. There had not been one word of justification for granting this money except that it was for Imperial purposes. They had attacked their old ally, and they had collared and stolen his country. As to the new method of governing it, they were to have the old story, a commission of three to divide the land between the white men, who had no business to be there, and the natives. A dozen years ago a similar game was played in Bechuanaland, which was made a British colony. He went there 12 mouths after the delimitation had been determined between the white men and the natives. Was this to be a repetition in Matabele-land of the game that was played in Bechuanaland? If that was so, it would possibly have the same results. We took all the watered land and left the natives all the dry land, and when he was there men and cattle were dying for want of water. That is the way in which the people were driven out of the country. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield had attacked his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton. His hon. Friend had told them the truth, and he was not a man to mince his words. Apparently the hon. Gentleman had not read his Blue Books, and had not attended to their Debates, or he would have known better, and he would have known that there had been earlier complaints of cruelty by British officers, one of whom had been denounced by the Under Secretary as a murderer. They had heard of the cruelties of Captain Lendy. [An hon. MEMBER: he is dead.] They had the Under Secretary of State denouncing him as a murderer. [An hon. MEMBER: He is dead.] He could not help that. The Government had admitted the cruelty of this officer. There was an inquiry, but these inquiries were merely of a whitewashing character, like the inquiry into the murder of Lobengula's Envoys. There never had been a native war as bad as this, or undertaken with so little reason, but it was only adding one more to the many crimes we had committed in South Africa."Who were they? They are none of my people. Send someone to me, and if any of my men have done wrong I will give compensation."
said, he must protest against the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member who had just sat down. They were natural only to an ex-official of the Transvaal Government, and in the hon. Member's remarks he caught an echo of the proclamation of General Joubert already alluded to. But he rose mainly for the purpose of challenging some portions of the remarks of the hon. Member for Northampton. What the hon. Member said about the general policy and conduct of the Chartered Company he was quite at liberty to say. These questions had been thoroughly gone into not only in previous Blue Books, but in course of Debates in Parliament. The general relations between the Chartered Company and the Government and the final opinion which was to be passed upon the policy of the company was a question for the company alone. His remarks were addressed to the character of the forces which carried out the operations of the company. The hon. Member stated that he considered these men were filibusters and freebooters, and were promised certain rewards and benefits if the operations turned out to be successful. The force under Commandant Raaf were recruited outside the territory, and he had nothing to say of them. They were not very actively engaged, but they acted like brave and honourable men. The force which bore the brunt of the war was the force known as the Salisbury and Fort Victoria columns, and they were the pick of the colonists of Mashonaland. They were men who had gone with their lives in their hands, and they went out literally to protect their homes and their property. To say that these men were influenced by the prospect of "rewards" was a ridiculous charge. The "rewards" were sold, some of them for £30 or £40, before the campaign commenced. Then there was the hon. Member's charge of the practice of great cruelty. He made these charges boldly enough, but he brought no evidence in support of them. He based his argument upon figures supplied in an unofficial telegram from Mr. Rhodes as to the killed and wounded. He thought these charges were sufficiently refuted by the Despatches of Sir J. Willoughby and Major Sawyer, the latter an independent authority, who was in the country. In any case, he would ask Members of the House not to believe the worst of their countrymen based on figures and garbled extracts in regard to which no proof whatever had been offered.
said, he intended to go into the Lobby with his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) against the Vote, because he felt that in voting the money the Committee would be practically justifying the operations of the war in Matabeleland. Although he was speaking the opinion of very few Members of the House, he thought he was speaking that of a very large number of people in the country when he said that the incidents of that terrible campaign had given a shock to English feeling, and had made men feel that they wore a scandal and a discredit to their country and to their religion. The hon. Gentleman opposite had spoken of the brave English colonists, who he said had been defending their homes in Mashonaland, but he had not spoken of the very much larger number of black natives who had been defending their homes in Matabeleland. The hon. Member who had last spoken, and the hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division, had spoken of the deaths of the natives as if they were speaking about the pawns on a chess-board, and with very little interest or feeling.
I beg pardon. I distinctly said in my speech that I greatly regretted the loss of life among the Matabele.
said, that most of the black men who had been killed had been practically unarmed. [Cries of "Oh!"] Surely it would be admitted, when their arms were compared with the arms of precision which the British troops took against them, that the natives were practically unarmed. What chance had they with their poor arms against the Maxim guns and other weapons used against them? The hon. Gentleman opposite had said that if we had sent an Envoy the war would have been prevented. Well, Lobengula had sent Envoys, and they had been slaughtered. More than that, the aged King had been driven into the mountains, where he had met his death. These were shocking things. The King had trusted the White Queen of this country, and had believed that he would be honourably treated. All that had been done in the war had been done avowedly in the pursuit of gold, of diamonds, and of dividends. Something had been said about missionaries. The Rev. Mr. Moffat went as a missionary to the territory adjoining Matabeleland, and did a great deal towards civilising the people amongst whom he settled. He taught the people the use of the spade and other implements of civilisation, and made friends with the natives. He did not quarrel with the natives or take Maxim guns to destroy them. It seemed to him (Mr. Byles) that the true policy of our country was the policy adopted by Mr. Moffat, and not that of depending upon implements of war, and, by destroying the people, bringing discredit upon the English name. He knew perfectly well that he should be taunted with being a member of a "Little England" Party, and called unpatriotic; but he protested in the name of many Englishmen and Englishwomen against such barbarous proceedings as had been carried on in Matabeleland. He did hope that the policy of running the Empire by Joint Stock Companies, as it had been described, would be put an end to.
said, he had been surprised to hear the proceedings in Matabeleland described almost for the first time as a native war. They were told a few mouths ago that it was simply a question of policy, and that the Chartered Company were defending themselves against an attack made upon them by Lobengula's people. The Under Secretary (Mr. Buxton) now admitted that it was a native war. He wanted to know what right the Government had to be engaged in a war at all without asking the consent of the House? He had always understood that it was the principle of Radicals that the House of Commons should be consulted before war was engaged in, and he thought it ought to be the principle of Radical Governments also. As a matter of fact, it was part of the constitution that the House should be consulted. If, then, this had been a native war, the Government ought in some way to have asked for the consent of the House, either by proposing a Vote on Account or in some other way. It was quite clear to everyone except the shareholders and those otherwise interested in the company that the war had been got up by the company for the purpose of bolstering up its finances, which had sunk to a very low ebb indeed. He did not desire at all to blame the officers and soldiers who conducted the war. He had no doubt that they did as they were ordered and that they could not help themselves. It. was those who gave them the orders that he complained of. His hon. Friend the Under Secretary had not given the information he had promised to the House. His hon. Friend said distinctly some time ago that he was going to make an inquiry, and that the House should have the information. The information, however, was not given until the Marquess of Ripon had come to a decision to whitewash those who were responsible for the death of the idunas. He had come to the conclusion that the Envoys were frightened and exasperated, and that, as a result, they gave some supposed cause for shooting them down. It was said that the object of getting rid of the men was that they should not carry back information as to the state of our troops, and no doubt that was the reason why they were got rid of. It was disgraceful to us to carry on this sort of warfare, or rather this sort of murder. No doubt the Marquess of Ripon was afraid to allow the House to discuss the matter before he whitewashed those who wore responsible. The House, however, had been fully entitled to have the Correspondence before it before the Government came to a decision in the matter He should vote against the expenditure of the money, because he thought the Chartered Company ought to find it, if anybody did. The poor taxpayers ought not to be called upon to find money for company promoters when the Government were always refusing money for the improvement of the country.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 38; Noes 145.—(Division List, No. 7.)
Original Question put, and agreed to.