I beg to move to leave out "£148,300,000," and to insert instead thereof "£148,299,900."
I move this reduction in order that we may discuss the Government's policy in Egypt and the position there to-day. I understand that we are not to have any further elaboration of the statements made by the Prime Minister and the White Papers which have been issued, so that the remarks I shall make to the House will be based upon the published Command Papers, the statements of the Prime Minister himself, and such information as we are able to glean from the state of affairs in Egypt. I propose to divide what I have to say roughly into three heads. In the first place I shall make some remarks about the status of Egypt itself, the rights of Egypt, the Government policy and the British policy in the past, including the various pledges which have been given.
In the second place, I propose to deal with the present policy of the Government, which is a reversal of their former policy, and I propose to try and show that at least on three occasions since the Armistice the solution proposed by the Government could have been effectively put into force. I also propose to say a word or two about the present situation, and to make my own suggestions as to the lines on which that settlement may
be obtained. It is common knowledge that in the old days, in the eighties, the fixed policy of the British Government was the evacuation of Egypt. I am now speaking of the time before the Sudan was reconquered and before the Egyptian and British troops were driven out of the Sudan. In those days pledges were repeatedly given that we were to evacuate Egypt. I am quite aware of the weakness of the argument that can be brought to bear against laying undue emphasis upon the statements of Mr. Gladstone in connection with this matter, but even in the pledges made repeatedly by British statesmen, diplomats, and in the Gracious Speech itself, the status of Egypt has been defined in a way which made the continuance of the Protectorate by this country impossible. In 1887 Lord Salisbury said:
It was not open to us to assume the Protectorate of Egypt because His Majesty's Government have again and again pledged themselves that they would not do so.
Further on his Lordship referred to the
sanctity of the obligations which the Government have undertaken and by which they are bound to abide.
That was in 1887. After the Sudan had been reconquered, by the Anglo-French Convention of 1904 it was declared that this country
has no intention of altering the political status of Egypt.
In 1914, at the beginning of the War, a Proclamation was made declaring a Protectorate in Egypt, but it was accompanied by a letter from the Sultan, in which he spoke of overcoming all the influences which are seeking to destroy the independence of Egypt. I refrain from referring to the many declarations of our War aims and our expressed opinion that we were fighting the War in order to maintain the rights and independence of small nationalities, but I will quote the Anglo-French Declaration of November, 1918, which stated expressly the conditions as regards the Turkish Empire. It said:
The end which France and Great Britain have had before them in this War has been the complete and definite liberation of the people who have been so long oppressed by the Turks and the establishment of National Government and administration, basing their authority on the initiative and free advice of the native peoples.
That was the declaration in pursuance of which the Arab State and the Iraq State
were set up. The importance of those declarations is that they are not only pledges of honour, but the House should bear in mind the effect which it produced on the minds of the Egyptian people themselves. They assisted us very materially in the War and supplied many hundreds of thousands of men for the needs of the War, and they have been thanked by our own Commander-in-Chief, and yet they saw a Protectorate which had been declared purely for diplomatic reasons continued from day to day. Is it any wonder that, as Lord Milner's Report says, their view was that England had in fact broken her word. That is the summary of Egyptian opinion as given in that very illuminating and admirable Report. Those are the declarations which have been made, and the pledges which have been given in the past.
Now we come to the new policy of the Government as announced by the Government. It is to declare that Egypt is independent, that martial law is to be abolished, that free institutions are to be inaugurated and that His Majesty's Government is to negotiate with the new independent power a treaty with four points specifically reserved in the Declaration. This is a great change. It is a great alteration of the policy which the Government has pursued during the last three years. The effect of the Curzon-Adly negotiations was a literal Declaration of an independent State, in consideration of certain rights which the Egyptians were to concede to our demands. Therefore, a plain statement that Egypt is independent is in fact a reversal of the policy of the last three years. The Prime Minister, in his speech, spoke of it being
in pursuance of the principles laid down in December last.
Everybody who has read the correspondence will see that there is a vast difference between the position taken up by the Government to-day and the position taken up during those negotiations. What was before a bargain has become a declaration of the Egyptians' right. I am taking the declaration as being a bonâ fide declaration which it is intended to carry out in the spirit of its own terms, that martial law will in fact be abolished, and that the free exercise of their political rights will in fact be permitted; and, except for the reserved points, in fact they
will be an independent people. The first question that I am going to ask is: Why was it necessary to wait until March, 1922, before making a settlement on these lines? I am going to submit to the House that there were at least three occasions on which such a settlement might have been made, and that all those three occasions were missed. Let me take the first, in December, 1918, when Zaghloul Pasha asked permission to come to London. It may be well if I remind the House of the character and record of this man. He was a Minister many years ago under Lord Cromer, which itself is no mean recommendation; he became Vice-President of the Egyptian National Assembly; and he was a man of such preeminence that Lord Milner said that
no scheme to which he and his party were hostile stood any chance of favourable consideration much less of general acceptance.
This was the man who, after the termination of the Armistice, asked permission to come to London to consult the Government. His demand was supported by Rushdi Pasha, who, as Prime Minister in Egypt, had shown the greatest helpfulness and friendliness towards this country. The demand was enforced by Adly Pasha, another Egyptian Minister, and we understood that it was supported by Sir Reginald Wingate, whose name in Egypt can be compared with the name of Lord Kitchener. He is a man who understands the country and whose record is well known. What was the demand which Zaghloul Pasha himself wished to put forward when he came to London? We had it in the terms of himself and his friends. He wished to ask for autonomy, which is the offer which is now being made to Egypt. He regarded the matter as urgent. Why did he regard it as urgent? Because the Peace Conference was meeting at Paris, and he supposed that the International status of Egypt was to be decided at that Conference. The League of Nations was also being set up, and he wished his own country to be a member of it. I assume that under the present arrangements Egypt will become a member of it. What was the reply to this extremely reasonable and opportune demand that he and his friends should come to London to consult with the Government? The reply was a series of polished, worn-out clichés. "The moment was not opportune." "No useful purpose would
be served." "The Foreign Secretary was busy." Does the Leader of the House or the representative of the Foreign Office say that if Zaghloul Pasha and Rushdi Pasha had been permitted to come to London—when Zaghloul Pasha was refused Rushdi Pasha himself refused to come—in Christmas, 1918, and had been offered the terms now offered, they would have rejected them? I say, "No," and I say that, in refusing in that very curt and unwise way to receive these men, the Government missed their first opportunity of settling this question.
This refusal was followed by the resignation of Rushdi Pasha. What did Zaghloul Pasha and his party do then? Did they raise a not or make inflammatory speeches, or organise a dangerous demonstration? Not at all. They went to the Sultan and presented a petition that there should be formal recognition of the independence of Egypt and the abolition of martial law—two of the terms of the declaration of the British Government to-day, the Government which is always most strong when it is most wrong, and which deported Zaghloul Pasha and his friends to Malta. The consequences were exactly what might have been expected. The movement of which Zaghloul was the head was a national movement, backed by the sympathy of all parties and creeds. Will the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs deny that fact? It is the opinion of Lord Milner. This national movement was met by the deportation of its leader to Malta. That was followed by insurrection in all parts of the country, in which lamentable casualties occurred to Europeans, and in which lamentable and far more numerous casualties were inflicted upon the inhabitants of Egypt. There were 800 killed and 1,500 wounded, and the most that the Milner Report can say about the repression of that insurrection was that it was conducted on the whole with moderation. It was followed by a speech by the Foreign Secretary in the House of Lords in which he referred to the leaders of the movement as
self-appointed and irresponsible leaders with whom there is no common ground for discussion. Their presence would only serve to embarrass those discussions with representative and responsible Egyptian opinion—
to which he was hoping to turn later. This man, whose knowledge of Egypt had extended over many years, and whom
Lord Milner declares to be a powerful leader, without whose assent no settlement could be arrived at, is described by the Foreign Secretary as a "self-appointed and irresponsible" person. There we have some measure of the ability of the Foreign Office, and of the head of that office, to judge of the situation and the terms in which these difficulties can be solved. In face of that national demand, in face of a national rising, in face of the Government's own intention ultimately to grant independence—of course, we know that the policy of the Government is as fixed as a Northern star—a new High Commissioner, Lord Allenby, was sent out. It was, of course, an excellent choice, but his orders were to take such steps as were necessary for "maintaining the King's Protectorate." His first and very wise action was to permit Zaghloul Pasha to leave Malta.
Then the second chance arrived. The Government, after much pressure in this House, determined to send out a Mission—a Mission of very high personnel, but, even so, instead of giving the Mission a free hand to investigate and decide, they stamped it with the words that they were to consider what could be done, "under the Protectorate." What possible chance, in view of what we know concerning Egypt, and in view of what everybody acquainted with Egypt knew to be the circumstances of the case, could such a Mission have of succeeding, or, at any rate, of succeeding easily? Of course, when they went to Egypt with that hallmark "under the Protectorate" on them, they were avoided, but they overcame their difficulties with most remarkable perseverance and ability. The chief stumbling block, as they themselves saw, was the War cry of the past eighteen months, namely, the demand for the abolition of the Protectorate. But by private inquiry, by continual perseverance and tact, and by coming into conference with Zaghloul himself, with the "irresponsible and self-appointed leader," with whom no discussion was possible, they did arrive at something which, I believe, would have been accepted by the Egyptian people. They made proposals and some members of the Zaghloul Mission returned to Egypt to submit them to the Egyptian people. It is a most remarkable fact that out of 5l surviving members of the Legislative Assembly in Egypt, no less than 47, or more, gave their approval to the terms which were proposed in the Milner-Zaghloul conversations, with some reservations which were not insurmountable, and always with the reservation that the Protectorate must go. Here was Egypt, united, moderate and willing to come to an agreement, and for some reason nothing came of it. I do not know why, and I do not know that any member of the Mission knows why. That was the second occasion on which a chance was lost.
I come now to the third chance, the conversations between Lord Curzon and Adly Pasha. Adly Pasha was invited to come to London, but it was most unfortunate that at the very moment when he was invited to come to London the Colonial Secretary went to Cairo. It is not quite clear why he went to Cairo. Cairo is not within the ambit of his authority. However, he went there and made a speech, which, in its way, I submit, was quite as unfortunate and as damaging to the interests of this country as the Foreign Secretary's own speech after the riots of 1919. The Colonial Secretary in that speech explained the liberal intentions of the present Government. He referred to our present difficulties in Ireland and in Egypt, and hoped that in a few years they would be found
managing their own affairs and unfolding their own destiny peacefully and prosperously within the elastic circle of the British Empire.
What words could possibly have been more unfortunate? Everybody knows that Egypt is not, and never was, a part of the British Empire, and if anyone will read the Milner Report he will find that perfectly familiar historical fact set out with complete emphasis. Adly Pasha came to London, and, as illustrating the essential unity of the Egyptians in their demand, despite differences between Zaghloul Pasha and Adly Pasha, Adly Pasha was able to bring members of the Zaghloul Party, including Ismail Sidki, who himself had been deported to Malta, and who might have been expected to entertain bitter feelings. They presented a united front when they came to this country, because the Egyptian people believed that Adly Pasha would succeed where Zaghloul Pasha had
failed in abolishing the Protectorate. Zaghloul Pasha himself, in an interview in the Press, stated what he called his terms, and practically outlined the proposal which presently became the policy of the Government. I pass over an important incident at this stage, i.e., the Alexandria riots, only just remarking that the Alexandria riots illustrate the repercussion of the Government's policy in another part of the world—the north side of the Mediterranean.
As the Curzon-Adly conversations proceeded, as everyone who reads the papers will see, the terms became more and more different, and finally the delegates were informed that the Government had no responsibility and did not accept the findings of the Milner Mission, and the most that they were offered at the end of their negotiations was that the Protectorate should go in consideration of various demands, much stiffer than anything the Milner Mission had laid before them. Adly Pasha returned to Egypt and, of course, resigned, and the first opportunity of carrying out the policy the Government now proclaim was lost. The resignation of Adly Pasha was followed by a lecture published to the Sultan and to the world, on what the Foreign Office conceived to be the position of Egypt. Egypt became then a part of the Empire's communications and Zaghloul's policy was described as fanatical and purely disruptive Nationalism. Anyone who reads the essay will fail to find, from the beginning to end, a single word about the rights of Egypt and the welfare of Egypt except as far as it touches British interests. The result was again what might have been expected. The country became greatly disturbed. Zaghloul Pasha was a second time deported—this is the stable policy for which the Government is renowned—and the position of the High Commissioner became absolutely impossible.
We come to the fourth effort, which is a reversal of the policy to-day. It is a declaration of the independence of Egypt, coupled with the announcement that negotiations will take place later on with independent Egypt on four reserved points, so that in 1922 we have arrived at the point of conceding the demands made by Zaghloul in 1918. But at what a cost to our prestige! This matter has been debated all over the world. Speeches have been made in Congress about it, and in every part of the world the enemies of the Empire have exploited our difficulties in Egypt to our disadvantage. And then the cost in life! Many Europeans have lost their lives. So, too, have many Egyptians. There have been thousands of casualties among the population of the country, and all this has been one of the results of this policy of the Government. Then, again, the cost in money. The Colonial Secretary recently referred with approbation to the austere and prudent financial policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What has the Government's policy in Egypt cost us? I do not know exactly, but in the first financial year it cost us from £10,000,000 to £12,000,000, in the second year £8,000,000 or £9,000,000, and in the present year £6,000,000, and all this very largely, one might say mainly, aggravated by the policy which the Government have pursued.
That is the position to-day. Nationalism in Egypt has established complete dominance. These are the words of the Milner Report. Irresponsible and self-appointed persons are masters of Egyptian national opinion. No Government is possible in the face of a hostile people. That is a truism to which attention is also drawn in the Milner Report. We have still to make a treaty on the four points reserved on which ordinary negotiations have taken place during the last three years. The Treaty is to be made, not with a few Egyptian Ministers anxious to serve our interests and help us, but with an independent State and with, perhaps, a Constituent Assembly called together for the purpose of negotiating the said Treaty. In this Assembly Zaghloul Pasha and his party will have a substantial if not an overwhelming majority. That, again, is a quotation from the Milner Report. We are faced with a situation of making terms, not in an easy way, as might have been done on any of the three occasions I have referred to, but in face of the national demand voiced by a National Assembly. The first question they will ask will he, what about Zaghloul Pasha himself? Is he to remain in exile, or will the Government put any obstacle in the way of his return? I do not know whether I can put that question to the Leader of the House now. Perhaps he will answer it when he comes to speak. Egyptian public opinion no doubt demands with an overwhelming voice the return of Zaghloul, and the President of the Assembly has himself protested against the deportation.
It is important therefore the Government should state what is their policy in reference to Zaghloul himself. They have said that they are going to permit the Egyptians to enjoy the free exercise of their political rights. Do they mean it? I do not want to give offence, but is that a sincere declaration which they intend to implement in the spirit as well as in the letter? If they do, I conceive it is impossible for them to put any obstacle in the way of the demand for Zaghloul's return. If he returns to Egypt it will be an added embarrassment. Zaghloul's presence in Egypt is no doubt embarrassing, but his absence is a danger. Suppose Zaghloul should die, a not impossible contingency. What would be the effect if he were to die in exile on public opinion in Egypt? Have the Government forgotten the Lord Mayor of Cork? Is there anyone who read the debates in Dail Eireann on the negotiations to see whether it was possible to accept a Treaty on which the welfare of this country and of Ireland depended, who did not wish that mistake in the ease of Mr. McSwiney had never been made? Are they intending to trust the people they now declare to be an independent nation? After all Egyptian nationhood is now an established fact, and it is impossible to go behind it.
The Milner Report says that any solution that is attempted must be adopted wholeheartedly and in a spirit of hopefulness and sympathy. Nothing is more likely to meet with failure than to overload the policy with timorous restrictions. If the Government keep faith in the terms of their own declaration with the people of Egypt they can solve the problem. I think the effect might be to split the extreme party, as we have seen done in Ireland. If you have a united Egypt against you it is a fertile breeding ground for anti-British intrigue in every other country. It has proved so in the past. But if you have a friendly Egypt, and I believe the Egyptian people are inspired with feelings of real goodwill towards this country, it might become a source of very great strength as an Allied country.
Above all I think we should hear less about British interests in Egypt and more about Egyptian interests in Egypt. This argument about Imperial communications can be pushed too far. It was the argument the Germans used in Belgium. They said Belgium was a necessary communication between their own country and their objective. Let us hear more of the old British declarations about Egypt such as that by Sir Eldon Gorst who declared it was the policy of this Empire to place before all else the welfare of the population. The real strength of the British Empire has always been that it has been regarded by the world as the guardian of the rights of weak nations. We have done a great deal materially for Egypt. There are some things in which we have opposed the material interests of Egypt, and the Suez Canal would not have existed at all had we had our way. But in many ways we have benefited that country materially as the Egyptians will admit. Still we have not created the wealth of Egypt. The wealth of Egypt consists of her climate, her water, and the tireless industry of her peasantry. Did Lord Curzon command the Nile to flow or the sun to shine? Egypt belongs to the Egyptians. The same Being who gave us our country gave them theirs and by that title they are right to enjoy it.
May I, on my part, as one who was sent to Egypt by Mr. Gladstone in 1882, and who stayed there for many years under Mr. Gladstone's rule, give a few reasons why the Government are correct in not scuttling out of Egypt in a hurry? I listened very carefully to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn), and I was glad to find him admitting that we had done something for Egypt in these many years. My memory goes back to Egypt and to the Sudan at the time we tried to save Gordon. I hope our efforts were not all wasted, that our work there is not to be thrown away. I do not wish to profess any sentiment at all, but I do wish to give a few reasons why we should be careful about leaving Egypt now. You must remember that as long as we have not peace in the Near East there is the greatest danger in our moving out of Egypt. Egypt has always, as this House knows, invited invasion. The people are a docile race. I do not know a race more docile than the Egyptians. They have always invited invasion. But we could never see anyone else go into Egypt. It is a very probable contingency that may happen again. As the Prime Minister said in this House, what would have happened had we not been occupying Egypt when the Great War came on? Nobody knows better than the hon. and gallant Member that the problem of the defence of Egypt was one of our most serious problems in that War. The hon. and gallant Member will also, no doubt, remember that Egypt was occupied in 1779 by Bonaparte, and that England had to send an expedition under Sir Ralph Abercrombie, as a result of which the French were forced to surrender at Cairo. The Abercrombie expedition was helped by one from India under Sir David Baird.
Why did we go to Egypt in 1882? There was anarchy in the country. Mr. Gladstone sent us to Egypt, but, although he himself proposed that we should go away again, it was not possible to do so in his time. Let me put in a few sentences the strategical point, and try to give some reasons for the exercise of care by the Government in this matter. At the end of the Mediterranean bottle, so to speak, is Egypt. A British fleet stationed at Gibraltar puts the cork into that bottle, and I cannot see, as long as that British fleet remains unbeaten, how any strategist, even a Hannibal or a Bonaparte, could darn to conduct an expedition from any place in Mediterranean waters to conquer Egypt. To the north-east, however, the land frontiers of Egypt could easily be invaded from Palestine, and to the west from North Africa; and that is where the danger has been. As I said just now, if we had not been in Egypt our problem in the War would have been far more serious. A Turko-German expedition, with the Turkish flag in its van, would have been welcomed with joy in Egypt, and it would have cost us a bloody struggle with a great army to get a footing in Egypt again. We cannot afford to see another power in Egypt. We must retain our hold upon it as long as the Near Eastern question is unsettled, and we must remember what the danger is.
The thing that moves me most is the danger that exists until we make peace with Turkey. As soon as peace is made with Turkey, it is common sense that we can then turn round and see what we can do on the question of withdrawing from the Protectorate of Egypt; but even then I do not see, as a strategist, how we can give up holding the zone of the Suez Canal, and I would go further and say also a landing base in Egypt at Alexandria. I do not see how we can give up those guarantees for holding the communications between our Western and our Eastern Empire. It is all very well to say that it does not count as communications, but really you must allow the strategist to say that it does count. That canal, projected by Napoleon in 1799—it is a very interesting fact that he did project the cutting of the canal—has enabled us to realise the principle of rapidity and economy of direction. It is, no doubt, our quickest and most judicious avenue of approach to the East, and I have always said that Australia is as much interested as we are in keeping up and paying for that line of communication. I have made a long study of Egypt and have served many years there, and I look back with especial pride to the work of Lord Kitchener, on whose staff I was. I have made a strategic study of the defence of Egypt, and I feel it very much that we have come to the time when the Protectorate is going to be given up. Whether the Government will give it up at once I do not know, but all the Field Marshals in Europe would not persuade me that this moment, when the clouds are dark in the Near East, in Ireland and in India, is the moment for us to take ourselves out of Egypt. I should look upon myself as mad if I said that it was.
I should like, first of all, to congratulate my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith (Captain Benn) on the very clear and methodical way in which he has recited the various incidents that have happened in Egypt for so long a time past. May I also say that I would not attempt, in what I have to say, to pit my knowledge of Egypt against that of the hon. and gallant Member for the Wrekin (Sir C. Towns-hend) and many other hon. Members of this House. I have no desire to roam over the history of Egypt, nor do I even wish to discuss in detail the suggested terms of settlement. My own view is, that if the obstacles now in the way of a settlement could be removed, and if a free independent election of a Constituent Assembly could take place, even the suggested terms are not too great a difficulty for the Egyptian people to get over. I do feel, however, that it is for the Egyptian people themselves to discuss those terms, and the conditions under which Egypt is to be governed in the future. My reason for taking part in this Debate is, that I hardly accept the statement of my hon. and gallant Friend that the Government's policy is as fixed as the North Star. I have seen it change so often that I Have yet a little hope that oven this Debate may bring about some change in their policy as it is at this moment, and I desire to make a few suggestions in order to try to create the best possible atmosphere in which a discussion can take place between British representatives and properly accredited representatives of the Egyption people. Egypt, as has been said, is, unlike Ireland or India, not a part of the British Empire, nor do any of her people desire that she should be. Ever since our provisional occupation in 1882, every statesman in this country, who has spoken on Egypt, has promised that under certain conditions we would get out of that country. Upon those promises that Egypt would be given her independence, we saw, during the War, a million and a quarter of the men of Egypt take their stand by the side of the Allies. They believed that Britain would be as good as her word after the War. They believe to-day that they have been betrayed, and I am anxious that in this Debate we should endeavour to remove some of those suspicions, some of those doubts that are in the minds of the people.
They have to-day no form of government in Egypt, and I think I should be safe in saying that the Ministry of Sarwat Pasha, which has now been set up by the British Government, is just as much bound to fail as was the Adly Pasha Ministry of 1921. There is no possible hope, so far as I can see, of any success for that Ministry. As I have said, they have no form of Government. The Legislative Assembly has not met since 1913, and they have been living under Martial Law since that time; but, despite the restrictions on the Press and the restrictions on freedom of speech, there has grown up a movement in Egypt which embraces nearly the whole of the people, who are determined to achieve complete independence. I am satisfied that they will achieve that object, and I ask, is there any crime in any country seeking to obtain its freedom and its liberty to govern itself in its own way? Was it not stated many times on the side of the Allies that that was one of the objects of the War? Can our policy in Egypt since the Armistice be declared to have been a success? I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion that it was a blunder, when appointing the Milner Mission, to insert in the terms of reference that they should inquire into What form of Government there should be in Egypt within the Protectorate. That was the blunder that spoiled the great opportunity which was given to Lord Milner at that time. It is well known in this House how the Milner Mission were received in Egypt. They were boycotted, they were despised; no Egyptians were prepared to meet them or to discuss anything with them. Yet, after they returned and were able to meet the real leader of Egyptian opinion, Zaghloul Pasha, they were enabled to put forward what was an admirable report on Egypt, despite its limitations.
I should like to quote one or two observations which Lord Milner's Mission made, in that Report, upon the political status of Egypt. They said that no man standing in Egypt would have dared to say to them that he was not in favour of complete independence. To all outward appearance, independent opinion was solidly nationalist, and, in their judgment, was likely to remain so. Again, they said that the remarkable association known as the Wafd ("Delegation"), under the leadership of Zaghloul Pasha, which claims, not without many credentials, to speak in the name of the nation, does not consist merely of extreme men; that they gradually came to the conclusion that no settlement could be satisfactory which was simply imposed by Great Britain upon Egypt, but that it would be wise to seek a solution by means of a bilateral agreement—a Treaty—between the two countries; that it had always been a fundamental point in their plan that the Treaty should not be allowed to come into force unless it had been approved by a genuinely representative Egyptian assembly; and that in any such assembly, they were assured on all hands, Zaghloul Pasha and his associates would command a substantial, if not an overwhelming, majority.
That, I think, is the position as it was in Egypt, and I believe it to be the position as it is to-day. We remember the scenes of enthusiasm when Zaghloul Pasha returned to Egypt after the Mission had reported. The welcome given to him was of a kind unknown to have ever been seen in Egypt before. But even these scenes were not sufficient to convince the British Government as to who was the real spokesman of the Egyptian people. It seems as though we must ever pass through blood and murder and destruction before they will see. And so we had another Ministry under Adly Pasha brought here to negotiate, but alt the people of Egypt were satisfied that nothing would happen as the result of those negotiations. The Egyptian people had no confidence in the Ministry of Adly Pasha, and it was commonly said, even in the Lobby while they were here, that on their occasional visits to the Foreign Office it was to listen to bullying lectures by the Foreign Secretary. I do not know the Foreign Secretary, so I cannot confirm that position, but I often heard it during the time Adly Pasha was in this country.
It was during the time that Adly Pasha and his Ministers were in this country that I and a few of my colleagues went to Egypt. We had not a great knowledge of Egypt. We had not had, perhaps, the opportunities of education that some people have had and a taunt may be thrown upon us because of that matter. Of course, I can afford to leave it. No one knows better than myself, no one feels more than myself the lack of the opportunities of education which have have been the favour of some people. But we went out to Egypt as practical men, desiring to see what we could see in a very short time, because our experiences were only of some few weeks that we spent in the country, but during that time we had opportunities perhaps which had never been given to Europeans before of seeing what was the condition so far as we went. It was a wonderful experience. We covered nearly every town and every village in lower Egypt, and had we had the time we might have done the same in upper Egypt. Wherever we went we saw wonderful crowds of people, passionate, enthusiastic, declaring for the independence of their country and their love and fervour and devotion to their leader, Zaghloul Pasha. There were people who were a little concerned as to our safety. The Foreign Secretary wrote a letter to us before we went warning us against the great dangers there were in going to Egypt. I remember being on a delegation to Ireland a year before and similarly the Chief Secretary was concerned about our welfare. We are very grateful to them for their consideration, because it is not only ourselves but our wives and families who are concerned in this matter. But we had nothing to fear there, and we had nothing to fear in Ireland from the Irish people. We saw nothing to fear in Egypt, despite the fact that we were in the midst of thousands of people. We were prevented from visiting certain places by British officials, but in all our negotiations in Egypt we were met with unfailing kindness by these officials, and I wish to pay a tribute to them for that. We proved that they were wrong in one case. On three occasions when we went to Benha we saw the military and police in charge, but the fourth time we were able to persuade them to withdraw the military and the police and on that occasion, although the streets were crowded and we had to pass through them, we saw nothing wrong whatever on the part of the people.
When we arrived in Egypt the first speech I heard was of a type that I listened to all the time we were there, and I should like to quote from a speech of Ahmed Yehia Pasha made in Alexandria. He said:
The Egyptian people have expressed the desire to come to a cordial agreement with the British people, but it is not with repression and coercion that such a happy end can be brought about. We have it in us to become List friends with you because firstly, we are a loyal people by temperament, and secondly, we have considerable intellectual, moral, and economic associations with you which will render our alliance a matter not only of necessity but of sheer inclination, and when a treaty is based not only on interest but on mutual goodwill as well it is bound to last. Complete independence is our goal, Zaghloul is our faithful national leader and spokesman, and the régime of force is the worst enemy to a proper understanding between our people and yours.
That was the kind of expression we heard during the whole of our visit. None of us ever heard a word of reproach to Britain. We put our heads, as it may be said, into the lion's mouth, but we had no fear. Zaghloul Pasha accompanied us on some of these visits. He is the greatly loved leader of the Egyptian people. He is a towering personality, and absolutely fearless. In one or two respects he is more typical of the Prime Minister of this country than any man I have seen. He has a sense of humour, and he is very quick-witted, but I am not going further because he is not an opportunist. In his determination, his loyalty and his devotion to the national claims of his country, I should say he is more like the late Mr. Parnell. There is no doubt in my mind that he is trusted by the mass of the people of Egypt, literate and illiterate, as the man who can speak for them, and he has around him most capable supporters. I should like to ask what is the reason for deporting him. He is either a power or he is not. If he is not a power, what danger is there in him being in his own country? If he is a power, why do not this Government, who said so much during the Irish discussion, and claim that they wish to meet those who can deliver the goods, meet him as the man more likely to deliver the goods than anyone I know? I believe the first step towards peace in Egypt is to be found in the return of this great man. During the last few weeks I have seen in every newspaper in this country protests in abundance from Egypt showing that practically the whole of the people, moderate or extreme, educated or uneducated, are taking steps, either of a mild or a severe character, against his deportation. But I noted in the statement of the Prime Minister on 28th February, in reply to the hon. Member for East Newcastle (Major Barnes) that he laid the blame absolutely upon Lord Allenby for the deportation of Zaghloul Pasha. You can never have peace in Egypt until you see that this man is returned to his home and his friends, and if he should die in the land he has been deported to this Government will be proclaimed with murder.
Leaving Zaghloul Pasha for the moment, my second point with regard to creating an atmosphere for peace would be that we should abolish martial law.
What we are doing in Egypt is not in accordance with civilisation. It is barbarism. When you issue an order that bombs shall be dropped from aeroplanes upon innocent people with whom we are not at war, there is no justification for it. There is no justification for taking people, intelligent citizens, from their homes and sending them away without any trial of any sort. There is no justification for suppressing newspapers. Seven were suppressed last year and six have been suppressed this year. You ought to have a clear, full expression of all sides of opinion, and the same may be said with regard to freedom of speech. To prohibit it in my opinion is an insensible policy. If we want peace in Egypt, if we wish to negotiate a Treaty, the first thing is to see that Zaghloul Pasha is returned to his home and his multitude of friends and supporters, who comprise nearly the whole of Egypt, abolish martial law, and, thirdly, give the right to the Egyptian people to elect a constituent assembly, from which a delegation may be elected to negotiate with British representatives. I may also suggest that we could and should leave the question of an Act of Indemnity until the people have elected their own Parliament. With these conditions I am convinced that you will have got an atmosphere which will enable a Treaty to be established of a satisfactory character between this country and Egypt. The question of the lines of communication, the safeguarding of the rights of foreigners and the Sudan, I think, might be left to the Egyptian and the British representatives to discuss, and I believe I should be safe in saying there would be no obstacle in the way of a settlement if that were the position. The Egyptian people are out and determined to obtain their complete independence. At the same time they are anxious to establish a friendly alliance with this country. I am quite sure it would not only be in the interests of Egypt that their independence 'should be conceded, but from every point of view in the interest of Britain. We want trade. We have millions of unemployed. I remember a statement made to me by the representative of one of the largest firms in this country whilst I was in Egypt, that if only peace could be restored immediately it would be possible to give orders for at least £1,000,000 of goods by
him alone. I have seen a letter in the "Times" by Sir Valentine Chirol. He says:
Would it pay, from the point of view of economic reconstruction to disturb once more the prospects of reviving trade in one of our chief surviving Mediterranean markets?
That is the question he asks with regard to the policy of this country in Egypt. If you are going to create such a state affairs in Egypt as will necessitate an army large enough to subdue a rebellion all over the country, who is going to pay for it? Is that not a matter of some concern to the British taxpayer? Is the policy of the Government to be that as one door closes another one is to open? If we are to bring away troops from Ireland, are they to be found a place for their operations in Egypt or elsewhere? That should not be so. If there is one way in which we can economise it should be in this direction, and thereby save the British taxpayer many millions of pounds which we are wasting. I commend my suggestions to the representative, of the Foreign Office; they are made in all sincerity. I hope that we may, as a result of this Debate, Jay down such a means-—because I am not hopeless, even yet, that there is not a possibility of laying down some means—as will be satisfactory to Egypt as well as Great Britain upon which we can negotiate a satisfactory Treaty. I do urge that we should not go through the same blunders in Egypt that we have gone through in Ireland to reach the goal which we all desire to reach.
The only words contributed by the hon. Gentleman which seemed to give the slightest sign of constructive statesmanship were contained in the last sentence he used. I can only describe as a most abusive attack upon the administration in Egypt his statement that our administration in Egypt was not in accordance with civilisation, but was barbarous.
I am very glad to have that qualification. I entirely accept the explanation. It is only fair to say that the bulk of the hon. Gentleman's speech was couched in very moderate terms, but I did regard the reference to barbarism, which I thought was applied to the whole of the administration, as being abusive. I am glad that it referred only to a particular instance. I am sure that all who have the interests of Egypt and of the British Empire at heart will be glad of the hon. Member's explanation, because nothing could be worse than that it should go out to the world that a Member of this House, speaking with all the responsibility appertaining to membership of this House, had said that our rule in Egypt was not in accordance with civilisation, but was a relic of barbarism. Nothing could be worse for Egypt or for the British Empire.
I should like to say at the outset that, so far as the policy of the Government in Egypt in the past is concerned, I am certainly not going to attempt to attack it at the present time, for the very reason that those who sit on these benches, as much as anyone, from the beginning have urged upon the Government the need for coming to a definite understanding as to what their policy in Egypt was going to be. It is all very well to attack a certain Noble Lord, who is a sort of Aunt Sally at which people throw bricks, but there is another set of people just as responsible. I refer to the Prime Minister and his Secretariat. I always try to remember and to follow the well-established rule not to attack civil servants, but the members of the Secretariat are not civil servants. They are people who were brought in from all sorts of places. Some are journalists, some are philosophers. They belong to every type and kind. These people from the beginning, in their dealings with Egypt and Middle Eastern countries have exercised a degree of interference which they ought not to have had, and ought not to have been permitted under our Constitution. I am given to understand that now, at any rate, the matter is being run through properly accredited channels, and not through the Secretariat. I feel very strongly in regard to this matter, and I have protested again and again against the influence of the Secretariat in foreign affairs.
While it is easy to attack the policy of the Government in the past—indeed, it is so easy that anybody can do it—it is not useful to do so at this moment. What we have to do is to bring our minds to bear not so much upon the mistakes of the Government in the past, and they have been very bad, but to see how we can arrive at a common policy which will be accepted both by the leaders in Egypt and by this country. I do not go so far as some of my hon. Friends in thinking that the present attitude and policy of His Majesty's Government is a bad one. I think that the suggested solution, because it goes no further than that contained in the last dispatch, is a solution which might eventually be found to be a perfectly good and feasible one. At any rate, I think it should be given an opportunity
I now turn to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Wedgwood Benn) and the hon. Member who has just sat down. I have observed after a long experience of the House of Commons that in all questions where this great Empire, where the Imperial Government, touches the interests, as it must necessarily and naturally touch the interests, of native people—I say it in no offensive spirit—in any part of the world, there is always a set of critics in this House who either openly or furtively sympathise with every agitator in that country who defies the authority of His Majesty's Government. The first type of these critics to-day is to be found in the person of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith, who is a Gladstonian Liberal of the old school. He does not go so far as his hon. Friend the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) who paid him such effusive compliments—possibly an indication of a new form of alternative government—in praising Zaghloul Pasha who, to judge from what the hon. Member for Rothwell says, is the greatest man that Egypt or any other country has ever produced. The whole of the hon. and gallant Member's speech was an attempt to hold up to the world at large this country and the Government of this country as a tyrant, and Egypt as an oppressed and downtrodden country. The hon. and gallant Member is a lineal descendant of Mr. Gladstone. I have great admiration for the hon. and gallant Gentleman and for the ability with which he presents his case, but I would point out that exactly the same sort of speech was made, in perhaps more eloquent terms, by Mr. Gladstone on hundreds of occasions when he sat in this House in Opposition, but as often as he made such speeches it happened that when he got into power he undid everything that he had said. The same is true of many Members of His Majesty's Government to-day. They have made speeches in the past and now that they are Members of the Government they realise that they cannot carry out what they advocated.
The hon. Member for Rothwell quite openly sympathises with the extreme agitation which Zaghloul has been conducting in Egypt, and I trust he will not feel himself in any way irritated when I make as strong an attack as I can upon his friend and ally, Zaghloul. He told us nothing of the circumstances which led to the brutal and horrible murders of British soldiers and British nursing sisters, murders directly due to the speeches and influence of Zaghloul. Zaghloul is the type of weak agitator which you get all over the world—of which there are some even in the Labour party—who make speeches, and when those speeches are translated into action, as is now being done in Johannesburg, they hold up their hands in horror and say, "We never intended you to do that." [HON. MEMBERS: "Bolshevists!"] The Bolshevists have the courage of their convictions. They are prepared to risk their own lives. They are in a very different position from Zaghloul and members of the Labour party in this country.
We will not pursue that purely personal argument. What has been the record of Zaghloul Pasha in the last two years? He has never put forward a solution which the people of this country, having regard to their Imperial responsibilities, could possibly accept, and I resent the way in which his name has been brought forward as a sort of saviour of the situation in Egypt. Zaghloul Pasha is a dangerous and mischievous agitator who has, very properly, been deported to the Seychelles, where I hope he will remain for the rest of his life. When the hon. Member suggests that if Zaghloul dies—I hope he will not die at Seychelles—that that is going to have the slightest effect on the relationship between this great Empire and the people of Egypt, he is absolutely mistaken. I hope, at any rate, that Zaghloul will be detained in the Seychelles until the immediate danger of his agitation is removed.
The hon. Member made no reference whatever, and that is one thing of which I complain, of the great responsibility which this country, as the head of the British Empire, has towards Australia, India and other countries to which Egypt is the line of communication. Imagine for a moment the position of the people of Australia. A small white people, of less than six million inhabitants, surrounded by black and yellow races, to whom the Suez Canal is a matter of vital importance. I can assure the hon. Member and other Members of the Labour party that if they approach Members of the Australian Labour party, who are very numerous, they would find that they by no means share their views. They would say: "We have to hold on to the Suez Canal if we are going to remain there at all.'" It is one of the most practical questions in the whole problem. A person from the planet Mars, or a person from a foreign country, listening to the hon. Member's speech, would never suppose that in the 40 years that we have been in Egypt we have been of any benefit at all to the country. One would never suppose that before we went there the hon. Member's friends, the Pasha class, who entertained him and his colleagues so lavishly in Egypt, trod their fellow Egyptians under foot, extracted the last ounce of gold out of them, ravished their lands, mishandled the Government and got the finances of the country into such a state that the Powers of Europe were compelled to intervene. Those are the type of people with whom hon. Members opposite are in strange alliance. To see the Labour party in alliance with the Pasha class is one of the strangest spectacles. Anyone who knows anything about Egypt knows that the Pasha class is loathed, and that although they have a certain amount of popular support at the moment for certain reasons, they represent everything anti-democratic and everything against which the Labour party in this country has voted. Yet these are the people with whom they are in alliance. We never heard a word about the condition of Egypt before the British went there. "We never heard a word about the position of the foreign communities. If it were a question only of the British community, it would be a comparatively simple matter. But the hon. Gentleman knows as well as I that there are in Egypt, relatively to the whole population, vast numbers of foreigners, Italians, Greeks, Maltese and French, who have been established there for generations. He is aware that these foreign communities are, so to speak, rooted in the soil, in the sense that they own property there and remain there, and they are, I admit frankly, one of the difficulties in the situation.
I am not suggesting that all their demands are demands to which we should agree, nor do I deny that on many occasions they have acted injudiciously. The point is that they do exist, and that they greatly aggravate the problem, and one would have thought that any person of common intelligence would have dealt with the position as the result of his visit to that country. I would call the attention of the House to a matter which seems to be very far-reaching. When there was an inquiry into the Alexandria riots, it was pointed out very clearly in evidence that one reason why the British troops alone were at last called in to save the situation was that the foreign Consuls representing the Greeks, Italians and French, went to the Governor and said, "We are not going to stand the murder of our nationals any longer." Though this is not brought out in the Report, it is common knowledge, that they said that if we did not take action they themselves would endeavour to land men from an Italian warship in the harbour. It says in the Report that the Italian, Greek and French Consuls gave evidence before the Court of Inquiry and solemnly protested against the attacks on their nationals, and stated that they would never consent to endure it. A large proportion of the skilled artisan class in Alexandria are Greeks, Armenians and Italians, and these men are honest working men. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith may throw off that portion of Gladstonian policy and say: "Who are the Armenians? A wretched race. Better that they and the Greeks should be murdered than that I should be deprived of the rhetoric of my peroration in attacking the Government." However much he may think that it is a laughing matter, it is not thought a laughing matter by the relatives of the unfortunate people who were murdered by the Egyptians after they had been incited by that arch conspirator and villain Zaghloul.
Nor is that the only matter on which the hon. Gentleman opposite failed to bring out the salient fact of the situation. I have already made a passing reference to the fact that the people with whom he was associated were mainly of the Pasha class. But there are vast numbers of people in the country districts who have no sort of community of interest with those persons whom he saw, and he has not referred to them at all. He has never referred to the question of justice. He has never referred to the terrible scandals that arose under the old administration because of the exactions of these Pashas. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Sir C. Townshend), who is one of the few people in this House who remember the country before the occupation, must regard the aspersions of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith and the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) as a kind of mosquito attack which is directed always by people like them throughout the British Empire against the administration, which does very little harm sometimes, and at other times a great deal of harm. I have not the least hesitation in saying that these attacks are not the best way to bring about a better state of affairs in Egypt. Neither is it the best way of improving the situation to call attention to the obvious faults of the Government policy in the past.
There were obvious faults. Everybody probably would agree to that. But there is no good in suggesting, as the hon. Member for Rothwell did, that the Egyptian agitators are all angels, and that those who attempted to suppress, their agitation have adopted methods of barbarism. What we have now got to do is to see whether it is not possible, as I believe it is, to arrive at a common policy which will produce a settlement. May I say one word to those who have taken up what I may call the Die-Hard policy, which is represented by the "Morning Post"? I was sorry to see very few of the representatives of that school in the House when the Debate began, and I am glad to see one or two of them here now. It is really unfair to suggest that Egypt ever has been, in the technical sense of the word at any rate, a part of the British Empire. I admit that you cannot therefore regard it from the same point of view as a place which has always been part of the British Empire. But we have got certain inalienable rights. We have been there for many years. We are the predominent partners there. We have obligations to ourselves and to the Egyptians. I believe that it is possible to arrive at a common policy, and I think that the last set of proposals which have been made by the Government do give hope that that policy may be arrived at. I do hope that we shall all remember that after all an immense amount of British blood and Egyptian blood was spilt in the deserts and on the borders of Egypt during the War.
That is not the point. I do not wish to deal with the matter from a frivolous point of view, but when I assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that in the battle of Gaza alone, there were 10,000 British casualties, and so far as I know, the only Egyptian casualties during the War were three or four wounded in action, he will realise the amount of burden that was carried respectively by the Egyptians and by ourselves. But that is neither here nor there. The fact remains that an enormous amount of British blood was spilt in defence of Egypt and of the Empire, and it would be a very grave action for this or any other Government, even to get themselves out of a temporary difficulty, to forget that that blood was spilt, and that we are in Egypt, not as part of the British Empire, but because of the things which we have done there for the last 40 years. There was a phrase used by the great Lord Salisbury when criticising Mr. Gladstone's policy immediately after the original occupation, and it applies to the situation to this day:
Let this country never forget that we are the dominant power in Egypt. Why should we allow diplomacy to fritter away what the valour of our troops has won?
I desire to associate myself with many of the remarks which have fallen from the lips of the Noble Lord. He has referred to several points to which I desire also to allude in order to emphasise what he has said. He said that the Government committed many mistakes in the past, and that was done not only by this Government but by its predecessors. The first misunderstanding is due to words which were used, first of all, by Lord Dufferin, and afterwards by his successors. They all said that Egypt should be granted autonomous institutions or freedom when she is fit to govern herself. For many years past the Government have been pretending that the Egyptians were fit for self-government, and at the same time they were putting up extra safeguards. Whether or not they are fit for autonomous institutions it is indeed difficult to say. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle, accompanied by his friends, did a notable tour in Egypt last autumn, and I would like to call his attention to a few salient facts. No doubt he visited the ancient monuments of Egypt, for which that country is so celebrated, and he saw on the sculptured walls gangs of men working under the whip. That was in the days of Semiramis and the Pharaohs. We come down to the days when Egypt was invaded by the Arab under the leadership of Amru, the Caliph Omar's lieutenant. Amru invaded Egypt from Gaza and conquered Heliopolis and Cairo. Then he wrote to his chief in Palestine. I will not read the whole letter, but I will, if I may, read one extract from a translation of it:
O Commander of the Faithful! Egypt is a compound of black earth and green plants, between a pulverised mountain and a red sand—
and then after a poetic description of the Nile, he continues
The retreat of the inundation deposits a fertilising mud for the reception of the various seeds. The crowds of husbandmen who blacken the land may be compared to a swarm of industrious ants, and their native indolence is quickened by the lash of the taskmaster and the promise of the flowers and fruits of a plentiful increase. Their hope is seldom deceived. But the riches which they extract from the wheat, the barley and the rice, the legumes, the fruit trees, and the cattle, are unequally shared
between those who labour and those who possess.
That was written at the end of the seventh century. If the student cares to refer to much more recent history, to the days of Mahomet Ali and Ismail Pasha, he will find exactly the same rule of oppression in Egypt. And the oppressors were the Pashas and the Beys and the Effendis whom hon. Members now so enthusiastically applaud, and with whom they have thrown themselves into joyful union. Have we made that state of affairs better or worse during the British occupation of Egypt? I submit that we have made it much better. Justice in the Courts has not been openly bought and sold. The native fellah who has been oppressed, has often, at any rate, had a chance of having his grievance redressed. Under the new arrangements—which I welcome, as I see no other course—will the lot of the fellahin in Egypt be better or will it be worse? I submit that we have no reason to be enthusiastic about the future. I have often discussed the matter with people of a liberal turn of mind, who say that it is far better to have a Government of your own, be it bad, than to be under alien domination. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is all very well for hon. Members to say, "Hear, hear," but I do not know that their feelings of enthusiasm would be quite so keen if the soles of their feet had been pretty well beaten off with palm branches, and their last piastre had been taken from them by the oppressor.
I do not suggest that that will happen, but at any rate history, tradition and the general feeling of the country point that way, and, whatever arrangements are made between Lord Allenby and the Egyptian Government, it will be a very bad day if the interests of the fellahin are forgotten. It is said, and perhaps with some truth, that the fellahin themselves clamour for a constitution. What are the conditions? Among the villagers, how many of the fellahin can read? A very small number. What is their means of getting news? They get their news through the pulpits of the mosques, and the mosques get their preachers from El Azhar University, of which Zaghloul Pasha was not an undistinguished member. The University has some 12,000 pupils annually, of all races and all creeds of Mahommedans, and many of them are violently anti-European or anti-British and fanatical to the last degree. The other source from which the illiterate fellahin glean their Views is the village scribe, who in the market place reads the vernacular papers. An hon. Member has complained of the suppression of the vernacular papers. I will not burden the House by reading any extracts from them, but in the reports of the Alexandria massacres of last year hon. Members will find plenty of documents of the character I have described, particularly on pages 235 and 236 of the Report. It will be noticed that it is printed in Leipzig.
In the Milner Report is an indefinite and insufficient allusion to the fact that for years past anti-British propaganda, and, to some extent, anti-European propaganda, has been sedulously promoted by the enemies of this country in Egypt through foreign agency. It is owing to these circumstances that the fellahin have been misled. They are in precisely the same position as the frogs of Æsop's Fables. The frogs asked for a king; a king was sent to them. He happened to be a stork. That may be their fate. An hon. and gallant Member quoted the words of Sir Eldon Gorst "to place before all else the welfare of the population." He should ponder carefully and deeply before committing himself to an irreparable step. I welcome the fact that Lord Allenby and his advisers have been invited to settle these affairs. They are the men on the spot. It is a common tendency not to trust a dog when you pay it to bark for you, and to try to do the barking yourself. It is a mistake; it is not economical. If you cannot trust your representative, remove him; but if you can trust him, give him all the confidence and support in your power. Lord Allenby is assisted by men of ripe experience and good intelligence, and I am certain that if they cannot evolve a satisfactory and honourable solution, and if ultimate chaos comes, they will not be to blame, but other factors behind the political and diplomatic world, of which we at present are unconscious.
My hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken will forgive me if I do not follow him closely in his speech. I will merely say that I welcome that speech as coming from him. I welcome the fact that he accepts the proposals of Lord Allenby. In this Debate I speak with a good deal of deference because I do not pretend to be an expert on Egypt. There are many hon. Members who know more about Egypt than I do. There is in particular the hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. A. T. Loyd) who, I feel sure, will delight the House later on with a speech. He was the Secretary to the Milner Committee, and is as qualified as any Member of this House to speak on the whole question. I shall not attempt anything in the nature of a lecture on Egypt. I will content myself with a glance at the recent history of the country. We were driven to Egypt in 1882. Egypt was then a part of the Turkish Empire, but it owed only a very shadowy allegiance to the Sultan. We went there, and Lord Cromer took the country in hand. His administration was the admiration of the world. When we went to Egypt, if I may use the language of metaphor, Egypt was a child of, say, 12 years old. On the material side we looked after our ward extremely well. He was well fed and well dressed, and his affairs were thoroughly looked after. He had the benefit of the very best advice. But morally we did not educate him in the same way. We gave a certain amount of education, but I do not think that all of it was useful.
What happened, as time went on, was this: Liberty in Egypt grew less, and posts to which Egyptians thought they had a right, were not given to them. When Lord Cromer was in Egypt you had on the whole very few Englishmen working in that country. They devoted their whole lives to their work. The creation of Egypt was their joy and pride and, they made it. Later on they went and a different class came, a class which, though there is no doubt a great deal to be said for it, had nothing like the same passionate interest in the well-being of the country. In 1914 came the War. Then the very great majority, in fact every man who could go from the Egyptian service, went to the War. That was extremely patriotic. I am not quite sure that it was very wise, because it obviously was detrimental to the good government of Egypt. Very great praise is due to all those Anglo-Egyptians who at the beginning of the War either went to the War or stayed and did their best. And a very hard time they had in Egypt. As far as I know very little praise has been given to them.
At the time of the War there came the Protectorate. We had a triumvirate in Egypt—Sir Ronald Graham, Sir Milne Cheetham, and General Maxwell. It was under their auspices that the Protectorate was founded. Given the circumstances and the difficulties of the lime, I do not believe that any other course was possible. At that period Egypt, on the whole, was very friendly to us. I cannot remember the attitude of Zaghloul Pasha, but people like Adly Pasha, Rushdi Pasha and others were doing all they could to help us. There followed various residents who governed Egypt. There was, first of all, Sir Henry M'Mahon. He was a man with a very distinguished career behind him in India. He had been nominated by Lord Kitchener. He went to govern Egypt under very much greater difficulties than Lord Kitchener had ever known. He was like a man asked to paint a picture, but his patron, that is, the Government, refused to define the picture, and he had to paint it in an old frame. There followed General Wingate. He had made a great reputation in the Sudan, and more than a great reputation, because he had helped to make the Sudan. He was a very great civil servant who set a splendid example of industry, activity and pluck, and showed great sympathy to the people of the country. There followed General Maxwell. As a matter of fact he had been there throughout the War. General Maxwell was loved and trusted by Egypt. His advice was not taken by the people at home. The Egyptians wanted to come and state their case in London after the War. After all the speeches of the Prime Minister it was perhaps not to be wondered at that the Egyptians thought it reasonable that they should state their case, but they were not allowed to come to London.
There followed the Milner Report, That Report may or may not be a promise. I will not speak about that. After the Report was published in Egypt there was practically unanimous opinion in Egypt that the Report was a promise. When I say "unanimous feeling." I am not speaking of the fellahin of Egypt, but of our own distinguished Anglo-Egyptian servants out there, many of whom I have the honour to call my friends. The Government in any case would have had to face very great difficulties, but its worst difficulties are always the difficulties of its own creation. What this Government does is this: It creates its difficulties first and then it surrenders to them. It speaks to us the whole time about its infallibility and indispensability. When it is defeated, what the Government says is, "We have conquered." When it is beaten it says, "We have won." If they had to go through the Caudine Forks they would say it was a triumphal arch. Three years ago the Egyptian question could have been settled very easily. Two years ago it could have been settled less easily, but to-day the difficulties have increased and are very great indeed.
Perhaps it is not for a humble Member like myself to apportion the blame, but I will say this, that the last culprit is generally supposed to be my right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies. I should like to say about the Secretary for the Colonies that his talents might possibly give him an unique place in history but for one defect. If only his second thoughts were his first thoughts he would be one of the greatest men in history. Unfortunately his second thoughts limp a long way behind his first thoughts. The truth of it is with him that he remains too long the captive of his own brilliant phrases, and the phrase that has haunted his mind lately is the phrase "to scuttle." With my right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies it is never a question of to do or not to do. "To do," with him, is not a motto but an instinct. It is only long afterwards, when his phrase has become operative, that "to undo" becomes the obvious and necessary thing. That may be a penance to him, but it is a great disaster to all of us.
We heard the hon. Member who spoke last saying that what the Government ought to do was to trust the men on the spot, and as he said also they never do trust the men on the spot. Had they trusted any of the governors of Egypt of whom I have already spoken, we should not be in the trouble we are to-day. Had they trusted Lord Allenby long ago, we should be more out of the wood than we are to-day. Just take the case of Lord Allenby for a moment. There is a man who is not a politician but a soldier with a very great record behind him. It was his army which won victory after victory and swept the enemy before them. That and the fact that he takes advice from the people who know Egypt and that he possesses the spirit of patience, ought to have been considered as assets in his case, by the Government, but they were not considered as assets. The Government did not take his advice. It is rumoured, and I believe it, that when Lord Allenby saw that his advice was not being taken he tendered his resignation. I go further and say, that I believe the Government would have accepted his resignation as they have accepted other resignations within these last few days, if they had considered their position sufficiently powerful. They knew it was not sufficiently powerful, otherwise Lord Allenby would have been treated just as others have been treated.
With regard to the present position in Egypt, I can only say that, looked at from whatever angle you like, the mismanagement of the Government has made it a lamentable spectacle. I would ask hon. Members to remember that we should not make the task of Lord Allenby harder by ourselves taking sides in the internal politics of Egypt. They are good men and bad men in Egypt, just as in other lands, and they all have their followings, and at the stage at which we have arrived the only honest thing we can do is to wish God-speed to the present settlement. One thing I should like to say, and I do so in the belief that anything said by a humble Member like, myself can do no harm to Lord Allenby. It is that I hope the moment circumstances permit Zaghloul Pasha will be released. I hope his exile will be of short duration. I only say this about Zaghloul Pasha. I do not know how mischievous or how innocent may have been his activities. I do know that in the past, when you had a different Government in England, and when you had people like Lord Cromer, Zaghloul was highly spoken of. The last point I make is with regard to our own particular interests in Egypt. They seem to me to be quite definite and clear. First, at all costs we must hold the Suez Canal. I will not elaborate that, because it is perfectly obvious. Secondly, we cannot have anybody else in our position, or in anything approaching to our position, in Egypt. Those are the two great material points. The third point and the moral point is that what we really want in Egypt is good will and a settlement. We want an arrangement. If I am told that there are. a number of other questions, I such as cotton and corn and many other things of that kind, my answer is that all are covered if you have good will and a settlement which you can get in Egypt.
I hope nothing I say will embarrass the situation between Britain and Egypt. I want to see good relationship and harmony established between this country and Egypt, and I am quite convinced the policy which we have pursued is not likely to have that happy ending. The speech delivered by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) has not made the situation any easier for us or for the Egyptian people who are anxious to have a settlement. It was one of the most violent and, I consider, one of the most indiscreet speeches that could possibly be uttered on such a momentous occasion as the present. It widens the gulf and embitters the situation, and is likely to lead to even a greater breach than exists to-day. However, I was pleased to hear the Noble Lord's appeal on behalf of the fellahin, and to notice how deeply sympathetic he is towards that class in Egypt. I wish some of the tender mercy and generosity of the Noble Lord and his friends could be given to the same class in this country. Our position might then be brighter and better than it is.
It is because of the difficulties and the embarrassments created by reactionaries like the Noble Lord that the situation in this country is as it is. I am anxious in this Debate to speak on behalf of that class to which I and my colleagues belong. We are eager that something should be done on behalf of that class. An hon. Member has asked what did we see when we went to Egypt? Did we go to see the monuments? Certainly we did, and one of the greatest monuments we saw was the monument of misgovernment by Britain for the last 40 years and the total disregard shown to the fellahin. In spite of the fact that we have been there for 40 years what do we find in Egypt to-day? The fellah to-day is as he was in the days of Moses, dressed in his blue cotton gown, and he and his class are swept away like flies in the frost. They are working in the most fertile land in the world, giving three crops a year, and we cannot find a penny for their education. We cannot find a penny for the upkeep of their health or to give them the essentials of life and well-being. Those are the fellahin for whom the Noble Lord has such generous sympathy. We saw something else. We saw the fine feeling displayed towards this class by some of our Noble Gentlemen there. We heard about the admiration which some of the chosen of the British officers had for the fellahin, and we had ocular evidence of the estimation that these people had for some of the Noble Lord's friends.
What we want to see is something being done for them. We want to see an arrangement made and a treaty established, whereby the Egyptian people themselves can grapple with the social and economic conditions which affect the fellahin and the whole Egyptian people. We associated with them, and we got their message, and their message was, "When you go back to Britain do not forget the poor fellahin who are of the same class as yourselves." We saw their children, and anyone with eyes who has visited Egypt must have observed among these children the signs that they have, by nature, wonderful artistic and scientific powers, but they have not had the leisure nor the kind of home which is essential to develop powers and qualities of that kind. They are dragged away from their homes, if you can call them homes, at an early age, and they graduate working in the fields among the cotton—what to do? [An HON. MEMBER: "To be Zaghloul Pashas."] I will deal with that interjection. Zaghloul Pasha wants to do something for them, and they recognise it.
He wants to do something to give these children opportunities in life, and, as I have said, anyone with eyes can see the wonderful powers and potentialities which exist among these children. The national movement of Egypt wants to sec conditions under which they will develop their faculties, instead of being taken away at a tender age and set down in the midst of the fields to work until they fall exhausted in the heat of the day and slumber away the siesta, and grow old, as they have been growing old all through the centuries. That is what they are doing even under our control. All we have been
doing is contributing to the wealth of that country and of the Empire. My colleagues and I desire to see a settlement between Britain and Egypt, so that the social and industrial and economic problems of Egypt may be tackled by the Egyptian people themselves. In the light of the attack made by the Noble Lord upon us, and his references to the conditions of the fellahin, I think it is clear that the Egyptian people alone have that knowledge and experience essential to deal with these problems. Our very education and endowments, as I think I have heard my hon. Friend say on more than one occasion, have unfitted us to deal with this question. I remember the hon. Member who sits next to the Noble Lord (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) using the quotation
East is East and West is West, And never the twain shall meet.
My hon. Friend must look over his speeches again, and I hope he will repudiate that quotation as he has gathered wisdom from experience. I do not agree with that phrase. I believe that by approaching these problems in a proper way, we have something to learn from the East and the East has something to learn from the West. If it were the case that East is East and West is West, and the twain can never meet, then what is the economic utility of seeking to place our institutions, our habits, and our customs upon a people who resent Western ideas, Western habits, and Western institutions. If it were the case, we ought to adjourn further westward, where our inclinations, usages, and habits would be responded to in a more harmonious manner, but I believe that it is possible for us to establish an agreement and a Treaty which will be harmonious both to us and to the people of Egypt, and which will weld our interests closer and better together. We can learn from them, and they can learn from us. What we are anxious to see is that some of the
pledges and promises that Britain has made during the last 40 years, and especially in the last seven years, shall be honoured, and that we shall seek a form of government based upon the consent of the governed, sustained by the organised opinion of mankind. That was a pledge that was practically made to the Egyptians in 1914, and they are asking us to-day to honour that pledge, but instead of honouring it and bringing peace between us and Egypt, the Government are pursuing a course which is likely to widen the breach between us. Some time ago I put a question to the Prime Minister as to who was likely to negotiate the Treaty with Egypt, and he said he would reply to that question when the opportunity came for us to discuss the Treaty. The question which I put to him then was:
Can the Prime Minister give us an assurance that the Egyptian people will have an opportunity of choosing their own delegation to negotiate this Treaty between Egypt and Britain, instead of its being appointed either by the High Commissioner or by our Cabinet?" — [OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1922; cols. 276–7, Vol. 151.]
I hope the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs will give us some light on that aspect of the situation. As we view it, instead of the Egyptian people having the right to choose their own representatives, evidently they have a Cabinet selected which does not represent the opinion of the Egyptian people, or only a very small and microscopic amount of the sentiment of Egypt and not likely to be able to face the formidable problems or to elucidate the complex problems with which they are confronted. We think the best and most effective way to get a settlement between the two countries is, as I said some five weeks ago, to declare a general election, free from martial law, censorship of the Press, and so on, and out of the Assembly then elected to let the Egyptian people choose their own representatives to negotiate that Treaty of Alliance between the two countries. I maintain that that is the only effective and sure way to establish goodwill between us and the Egyptian people. Another point I put to the Prime Minister was as to whether it was the intention of the British Government to bring back to Egypt the real mandatory of the Egyptian people from his exile—he and his colleagues—in order that they might take part in the Assembly and the nego-
tiations, and again the Prime Minister replied that he would deal with that when the Debate took place. I hope we shall get some reply to-day. A violent attack has been made on the character of Zaghloul Pasha. I will quote the observations of a man who ought to know what his merits and qualifications are. Lord Cromer, in his last statement in Egypt, made this observation.
In 1908. This is what he said:
I should like to mention the name of one with whom I have only recently cooperated, but for whom in that short time I have learned to entertain a high regard. Unless I am much mistaken, a career of great public usefulness lies before the present Minister of Education, Saad Zaghloul Pasha. He possesses all the qualities necessary to serve his country, he is honest, he is capable, he has the courage of his convictions, he has been abused by many of the less worthy of his own countrymen. Those are high qualifications. He should go far.
He has gone too far for the desire of the Egyptian people, and the Egyptian people want to see Zaghloul Pasha, their mandatory, not banished, but in their midst—the man who voices their aspirations, the man in whom they have confidence to negotiate their claims. During the last six weeks, if I have had one cable I have had 150, stating that the policy which we are pursuing is a foolish and a mad policy that can lead to nothing but disaster. If we want to succeed, we have got to bring back to Egypt the only mandatory they have, and that is Zaghloul Pasha. What should we think if, by some peculiar misfortune, another Government and another people took possession of our estates? What would the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs think if a foreign gentleman came into his house and you, "Your estates are getting into bad order; you are not well, and I will manage your estates for you and look after them for you and see that they are squared up"? The estates ultimately get squared up with the assistance of this alien gentleman, and the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs says: "The estates are squared up now, and I can do very well without your help any further." "Ah, but," says the alien, "we will manage them better than you can, and we are going lo stay
on." That is precisely the position of Britain in Egypt to-day. We went there 40 years ago to straighten up the affairs of the Egyptian people and to suppress local disorder. That disorder has been removed, but we are still there, and we refuse to go reasonably. The Treaty that we are now seeking to establish is not likely to give the people their independence, although it is mentioned in the Treaty that we are going to make Egypt a sovereign State. We are going to have armies of occupation all over Egypt, and we cannot afford that. We can neither afford the men nor the wealth. We want peace in Egypt in order that we might have time and means for grappling with economic questions at home, in order to rehabilitate our industries. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Wrekin (Sir C. Townshend) told us that he was sent to Egypt by Mr. Gladstone, the then Prime Minister, in 1882, but if he will refresh his memory he will remember that we only went there very provisionally. Speech after speech made by Mr. Gladstone was to the effect that we ought to evacuate Egypt as soon as possible and give her her independence, and not to annex her or establish a Protectorate. He said in 1893 that on the first available opportunity we would clear out of Egypt and allow Egypt to govern herself, and so on.
No; I do not know why he did not, but the Egyptian people expect us to-day to honour the pledge which we gave in 1914. The hon. and gallant Gentleman asked what we did in 1882. Well, we might have quelled disorder, but what we know, and what the Egyptian people know, is that the British Government took sides, when there was a great national movement in 1882, against the will of the people. The national movement under Arabi Pasha, who was then sent to Ceylon, recognised all the evils of the fellahin and the mal-administration of the country. They wanted a popular Government to represent their interests, so that they might grapple with the-social and industrial problems themselves and straighten out their affairs. I see here in the White Paper are set forth these items:
(a)The security of the communications of the British Empire in Egypt;
(b)The defence of Egypt against all foreign aggression or interference, direct or indirect.
That, we believe, can be obtained, but not in the manner proposed by the Government. We have got to approach the people who can supply the goods, the people who have got the will of Egypt behind them, whereas those to whom we have gone are a mere microscopic amount, without the nation behind them. Another remarkable thing is the next item—
(c) The protection of foreign interests in Egypt and the protection of minorities.
What we want to know, and what the people of Egypt are asking, if the protection of minorities is one of the fundamental issues, is, What about the protection of the will of the majority? Instead of the will of the majority being considered, the chief consideration seems to be given to the minority. We hope that we shall appeal to the will of the majority and get into negotiation with the majority of the people in Egypt, in order that a peace might be established with them that will stand to our credit and to the credit of Egypt. In regard to the talk about the delicate situation of the Suez, that comes under an international agreement, and we need have no fear about that. That can be surmounted by negotiations with the proper people and not with the people who cannot supply the goods. We hope that when the day comes, they will bring back to Egypt the chosen leader of the Nationalist movement, Zaghloul Pasha, and his colleagues, and establish peace there, and that, at the same time, there will be no martial law or censorship of the Press.
The Noble Lord said we must have our Army of Occupation there. Of course we must, if we are going to pursue the same senseless and irritating policy that has been pursued in the last three years. One only wonders that there has not been more trouble. Under martial law, on every flimsy pretence, men have been taken from their homes and deported without any charge being made against them. Others have been allowed to languish in prison. That is not calculated to add to the dignity and honour of this country. Their Press has been censored, and they have not been able to put their own point of view either to their people or the world. I hope these things will be put an end to, and that there may be a free election to their own assembly. We stand by the indisputable right of Egypt to govern and control her own destiny. We want to see this Government honour the pledges it made. Instead of their being the chief custodians of those pledges, we have been. The Government have turned their back upon them, but we stand loyally by them, and hope to see them carried out to full fruition, so that Egypt and the countries to which we have made promises will take their place in the progress of civilisation. We know that the Egyptians have been amongst, the most tolerant of all the people we have had under our control. They have given us the least trouble of any people who have come under the control of the British Empire.
They have been protected by us, or supposed to have been protected, and they have given us less trouble than any others we have had within the ambit of our control, either legally or otherwise. In the light of their consistent service to Britain, we should be consistent, and carry out our pledges. They believe in their glorious future, and they have got attributes which will render service to mankind in the days to come, when they have their freedom and opportunities to develop their powers and faculties. They see in their fellahin that they have got minds to develop, manhood to sustain, and the interests of the nation to preserve. We hope that you will assist them, so that they may take their place amongst the chosen of the world, as in days gone by, and it will be to our benefit and the benefit of the whole world if they' get their freedom, and that can only be by giving them full opportunity to negotiate.
I had hoped, when this Debate began, that whatever might be our opinion as to the Government's record in this matter, there would be, at least, unanimity in all parts of this House in wishing God-speed to this present settlement and to the Egyptian Ministry. I can imagine nothing more fatal to any hope for the Egyptian people than that this settlement—this half-settlement, if my hon. Friends opposite prefer it— should be despised and scorned, and that Members of the Parliament of this country should take an attitude rather of members of a particular Egyptian party. My hon. Friends opposite believe —and they are perfectly entitled to hold the belief—that a certain prominent public man in Egypt is, as the hon. Member who spoke last expressed it, the only mandatory of the Egyptian people They are entitled to believe it, but I cannot understand why, if they believe that, they should want a General Election in Egypt at all. If the Egyptian people have so pronounced their opinion already, why should the hon. Member ask for a General Election? I am not controversial, but surely the only possible line that any part of this House can take in this matter is that we recognise no parties in Egypt and do not discriminate between public men in Egypt, but we accept the Government of Egypt for the time being as representing the Egyptian people. If you are going to restore independence to Egypt, as my hon. Friends opposite wish, and as the Government propose, how can you treat Egypt differently from any foreign country, namely, refrain absolutely from any interference in the party affairs of that country, and accept the Government for the time being as representing the people? How can we expect peace in that part of the world if we have hon. Members in this House telling the Egyptian people that they are not entitled to have confidence in the particular Government they have at the present moment, and that they ought to elect another one?
That is my regret about the course of this Debate, but I think, as a matter of fact, the appearance of opposition by hon. Members opposite in this Debate has only been superficial. I do not think my hon. Friends opposite really wish the idea to go forth that any part of this House wishes to hinder and obstruct the course of the new Government of Egypt which has just come into power. If no section of this House wishes to make their path difficult, we can take no other attitude than that they are the Government of Egypt, who have a great and most difficult task before them. Surely it does not lie in the mouths of any section of this House to make that task more difficult, or to try to undermine the confidence which any section of the Egyptian people may feel. I do not think I need enlarge on any criticism which might be directed against the settlement from the more or less reactionary point of view, as that reactionary point of view has not been put forward in these Debates, and I do not think it needs to be answered otherwise than to point this out. It is very easy to mistake, if I may say so, compendiousness of description with definiteness of status. The status of a Protectorate is a compendious description easily communicated to a foreign power, but the status of a Protectorate includes every shade of State from the absolute Government of East Africa to the relations which have existed between the Government and the Sheikh of Mohammerah or Koweit. There is no definiteness in the word, and I believe His Majesty's Government, from that point of view, have gone a considerable distance in defining by this settlement what are the exact limits of our status, and what are our powers in connection with the settlement.
I cannot sit down without referring to the other question which is before the House to-day, and that is the record of the Government. The right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) said in Debate the other day that there was very great danger at the present moment of throwing our hats in the air, and huzzahing before we were out of the wood. But I think there is another great danger, and that is the tendency of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to wash their hands in innocence when they speak on these questions, and come before us wearing, as it were, "the white flower of a blameless life," instead of sackcloth and ashes, and so it is in the case of Egypt. We have made innumerable mistakes in the last few years, but the roots of these mistakes lie deep in the policy of the Government over which the right hon. Member for Paisley presided. In the first place, the mistake was made— and I am going to speak not so much about policy as of that important thing administration—the first administrative mistake the Government made about Egypt was the sending there of Sir Henry M'Mahon with no definite and permanent status, but only as a temporary locum tenens for Lord Kitchener, and having thus first weakened his position, they then practically dismissed him, not as the result of any difference in policy, or after proper consideration, but as a result of something which I can only describe as a local and departmental intrigue. Then came the appointment of Sir Reginald Wingate.
In 1916, if I remember rightly. The dismissal of Sir Reginald Wingate followed, because he recommended the very things that Lord Allenby advocated as soon as he went out. This Government was responsible for that and so we come to the administrative sins of this Government. They realised it was essential that some effort should be made to come to an agreement with the leaders of Egyptian opinion. They realised, what they so seldom seem to realise, that, after all, diplomacy is part of the machinery of Government, and that you cannot carry on a foreign policy of an Empire unless you do have close consultation with people who may not agree with you. But did they entrust the representation of their interests and the task of consulting with the leaders of Egyptian opinion to their accredited representative in Egypt, Lord Allenby, who was responsible to them? They thought it better to appoint an independent Mission, which was calculated to cut the ground from under Lord Allenby's feet at the very moment of his entering, into office, at the very moment when it was most important that he should have complete and undivided prestige. Having done that, the results might have been extremely bad, much worse than they were, if it had not been for the extreme tact and extreme ability shown by both the Milner Commission and Lord Allenby. But I think the results of the Government's initial mistake were very clearly seen when, after the long negotiations of the Mission, its Report was published before it had been considered by the Government. Without any consultation it was thrown on the world as the Report of an independent mission, as an appeal to British public opinion and Egyptian public opinion to bring some pressure to bear upon His Majesty's Government to take some action. That was done by the Noble Lord who was at that time head of the Mission, by Lord Milner, who was actually a Member of the Government at that time. He apparently found it so difficult to induce the Government to take any action, or to give any guidance, or to work with him in any way, that he was obliged to appeal to-the public in order to get the question considered at all by the Government.
After the publication of that Report, the Government delayed from week to week and month to month to come to any decision of what they could or ought to offer to the Egyptian people. Week after week and month after month they were receiving reports from the Residency at Cairo, recommendations too, and they were being urged by their official representative to come to an early decision. May I say this? The Government, I think, have no reason to complain of the manner in which their interests have been represented in Egypt. It is, I think, the unanimous opinion of every responsible English business man or resident that the Residency at Cairo has never been so ably staffed as during the last three years. I believe, whatever opinion may be held as to the policy pursued by the gentlemen who are now advisers to the various Egyptian" Ministries, that it will be generally admitted that the body of advisers has never before included so many men who had intimate knowledge and a close friendly touch with so many sections of Egyptian opinion. The Government did not lack advice or coaching, but they delayed for months before they could even bring themselves up to the statement that they were prepared to agree that a Protectorate was not a convenient or suitable form in which to express the relation between this country and Egypt. It took them many months to work up to that. When they had found that out the Adly Delegation came along and spent much time—on the doorsteps of the Departments.
The Government, for once in a way, I think, determined to leave the negotiations to the Minister responsible for Egypt, to leave them to Lord Curzon. That is not the usual course. They usually leave foreign affairs to anybody rather than the Minister for Foreign Affairs, preferably to two or three different people if they can. This apparently was not the case here. The Government appear to have believed and have been content to assume that, without giving voice to any very definite policy, without giving the Minister responsible any clear guidance, that probably the minds of the members of the Adly Delegation would be progressively softened by the somewhat portentous blandishments of the Foreign Secretary. The result we all know. It was a deadlock and a failure. That deadlock and failure may have been necessary. I am not prepared to say with the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Benn) that agreement could have been come to. I think it is fair to point out that the draft Treaty presented to Adly. Pasha was, with some exceptions, only in substance what had already been agreed to in the Milner Memorandum, with the "i's" dotted and the "t's" crossed. I shall be prepared to show—but I do not want to weary the House—that there is no provision in the draft Treaty presented to Adly Pasha which does not come under one of the general and vaguely indicated provisions of the Milner Memorandum. I think that can be shown, but the real charge against the Government is that having broken off the negotiations with Adly Pasha, having presented him with a draft Treaty constituting a quite clear and definite offer, they immediately proceeded to muddy the water by an explanatory note which did everything but explain. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leith points to this as an extraordinary instance of the incapacity of the Foreign Office. Would I be making a very bold guess if I were to ask the Leader of the House or the Under-Secretary whether the authorship of that document should not rather be traced to No. 10, Downing Street? Lastly, Lord Allenby, having gone back, tried to convince His Majesty's Government that certain steps were necessary. We can all read between the lines of the White Paper, and see the interminable delays and cross-purposes which existed between the Government in London and the "Residency in Cairo. Why?
I have no doubt the Government will say that Lord Allenby did not express himself clearly. Perhaps. But Lord Allenby had been in this country before Christmas. He had had every opportunity of personal consultation. What the Government never seem to realise is that if they ever find themselves at cross purposes with their representatives abroad it means that the organisation of the Foreign Office is administratively incompetent; there ought to be no question of cross purposes. In a well-managed office there is no question of cross purposes. What is the reason? Everyone knows the reason is two fold. First, we have no Department responsible for foreign affairs. Foreign policy at the present day is cooked in a garden suburb, dished up by the Cabinet Secretariat, and served out to a dozen different Departments. The Foreign Office has only got to clean the plates. I know the Foreign Office too well to make any great claims for it. I know its difficulties. I know its deficiencies. I do not say that the Foreign Office should be the Department responsible for the foreign policy of this country. But you must have one executive Department responsible. The garden suburb is not an executive Department. The Cabinet Secretariat is not an executive Department. Every single one of these failures of the Government have been due to the fact that between the two sides of Downing Street there is a great gulf fixed, and however much our representatives abroad may report, recommend, warn, or prophesy, those reports, warnings, recommendations, and prophesies die away into futile echoes in this gulf between the two sides of the street. However much they may report, however frequent may be their reports, be they never so nicely and cunningly filed by the Foreign Office and printed and circulated to the Cabinet, yet when once they get into that Sibylline cavern on the other side the strange wind which blows through its recesses can be relied upon to reduce them to meaningless and disordered heaps of paper in the shortest possible time. I make no great claim for the Foreign Office. I believe it has been weakened— incredibly weakened—and enfeebled by the administration under which it is at the present time, but so long as you have this farrago of different agencies dealing with your foreign affairs so long will you have the succession of errors and delays that you have had in the present case. So long as your only armour of defence is a stately procrastination so long will you make these mistakes. When I think of our foreign policy, and of the administration of that foreign policy, I cannot help being reminded of the description in Homer of the death and burial of Sarpedon. When I see our foreign policy in the hands of the Prime Minister and of the Foreign Secretary I cannot help seeing before my eyes that solemn procession when Sarpedon was carried to his distant burial by Death and Sleep.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN (Leader of the House):
When His Majesty's Government undertook that they would not act upon the declaration of policy in respect to Egypt until this House had had an opportunity of expressing its opinion upon it, when an early discussion was pressed for, I understood it was in order that a serious challenge might be offered to the policy of that declaration. That has certainly not been done to-day. I do not think it has been challenged in the sense we had expected by any hon. Member who has spoken. There has been a good deal of criticism. No doubt it is very good that my colleagues and I should receive this kindly chastisement from our friends. I know we are admonished on very high authority, and very often, to confess our sins. I observe, however, that the Parliamentary reading of that obligation is rather different. The Noble Lord and others confess other people's sins with an effusion and amplitude that would indeed be a Christian virtue if only they were thinking of their own weaknesses and failures. I shall have something to say about that criticism of the foreign policy of the Government a little later. I would like first of all to say a word or two about the speeches which have come from the opposite benches. I was intrigued the other day by a sentence in a letter which my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. G. Thorne) wrote to the electors in West Wolverhampton. He said between the Liberal Members who sit upon those benches and the Labour party there was very little difference—
May I finish my sentence first—between the Liberal Members who sat upon those benches and the Labour party there was very little difference, but a desperate need to destroy the Coalition. Now I will give way to my hon. Friend.
I am afraid my right hon. Friend has made one of those mistakes that he does sometimes make. I did not say anything of the kind. I never referred to my hon. Friends. I never referred to the Labour party. I wrote a personal letter to the Labour candidate (Mr. Walkden), whom I know personally, and whose views I know, and said that between him and myself there was very little difference as to what was possible and practical in the immediate future.
The new Coalition is breaking up almost before it is formed. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn) and the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) have both taken part in this Debate, and there is very little difference between them, except that the former hinted at what the latter openly stated. Both of them thought it impertinent for the House of Commons or the Government to consider British interests in regard to a matter such as that which we are now discussing. Both of them were ready to assume that anyone who differed from the British Government or British representatives abroad must necessarily be in the right, and that their own country must equally necessarily be in the wrong. That is an old doctrine intimately associated with an ancient party of which these hon. Members are surviving representatives. That doctrine was never very acceptable to this country, and it is less so now than ever it was before.
What was the case made by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith? He began by a reference to pledges made by the Government and to the Anglo-French declaration. I suppose the hon. and gallant Member has read the Anglo-French declaration, and if so I am unable to understand his reference to it. On the face of it, the references are to countries which are to be completely and definitely freed from the long oppression suffered from the Turk, and it goes on at once to say to what countries it refers. It specifies, in particular, Syria and Iraq, and refers only to the countries which were then being freed, or had then just been freed, from the rule of the Turkish sovereign and Turkish oppression by the success of the British Army. Egypt had long been saved from Turkish aggression, and was defended from Turkish oppression throughout the War by the British Empire, which took upon itself the sole defence of that country. It was explained in the declaration, and stated to the people of Egypt, that the rights of Turkey had lapsed to His Majesty the King, and it further explained in what spirit and with what object he would exercise those rights.
The hon. and gallant Member for Leith proceeded to try and build up a case to the effect that the policy now pursued by the Government was right, but that it ought to have been, and could have been, pursued with success on three previous occasions but for the unfortunate refusal of His Majesty's Government to receive Zaghloul Pasha as the authorised spokesman and representative of the Egyptian Government and the Egyptian people. The hon. Member behind me spoke with equal enthusiasm and less caution about Zaghloul Pasha, but I think we should always speak well of those whose host we have been. That is the best defence I can give in answer to the hon. Member for Rothwell. I wonder if he has any idea of the record of the one Egyptian whom he picks out for absolute trust and confidence and as the sole representative of the people.
I will give a brief sketch of this gentleman's activities. Zaghloul gave an early indication of the trend of his mind by participating as a young man in the military revolution in Arabia, for which he suffered imprisonment. Lord Cromer, towards the end of his great career in Egypt—a career in which Egypt was rescued from bankruptcy, and in which it developed the subsequent prosperity which it now enjoys—did his best to give Zaghloul Pasha a real opportunity of serving his country, because he was introduced into the Ministry, and became Minister of Education and Minister of Justice. I may say that he was not a very convenient Cabinet colleague, and finally, as the result of quarrels with his colleagues in the Ministry, he left office, and did his best to prevent the formation of any other Ministry of which he did not form a part. When war broke out, Zaghloul Pasha did not disguise his desire for the success of a Turkish invasion in Egypt. I wonder if the hon. and gallant Member for Leith knows that.
I will proceed with the record. Zaghloul changed his mind again, and towards the end of 1917, he was making desperate efforts to secure office in the Ministry of the day, but in that attempt he was unsuccessful. Towards the end of 1918, he initiated the violent campaign which culminated in the serious disturbances of March, 1919, and he was afterwards deported to Malta. After his release, he spared neither pains nor money to encourage every anti-British element in Paris and throughout the world, although his efforts were not crowned with the success attributed to him by the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). Zaghloul organised and inspired the boycott of Lord Milner's Mission, and it was a public and ostentatious boycott of the Mission, but that did not prevent Lord Milner from receiving all the prominent Egyptians. Zaghloul subsequently realised his failure, and again changed his tactics.
This is the information which I have had prepared for my speech to-day, apparently in intelligent anticipation of the kind of case I should have to meet. I was taking up two allegations made by the hon. and gallant Member that we could have settled with Zaghloul Pasha on those terms had we allowed him to come into the Cabinet at the time of the negotiations with the Milner Mission. At that time the Mission refused to see Zaghloul, who was not friendly. He had not disguised his desire to see the Turkish invasion successful, and they advised the Egyptian Government that they should not receive him. At that time both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary were just going to Paris. They would be pre-occupied with all the great questions raised at the Peace Conference, and could not hope to give the attention which the Egyptian Minister would deserve if he came to this country.
On the second occasion, Zaghloul, finding his boycott unsuccessful, thought he would take a hand in negotiations with the Milner Mission. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith says at that time Zaghloul would have accepted such a settlement as that which is now proposed, but Zaghloul refused to sign the agreement which Lord Milner offered to him. I will not go any further into Zaghloul's record, which is a bad one. He continuously exercised intimidation over individuals, as also over the means of the expression of public opinion in Egypt, and I venture to say that a sigh of relief went up from all responsible quarters in Egypt when Lord Allenby ordered his deportation. I have been asked whether Zaghloul will be brought back again. My answer is not so long as he is in any danger to the peace or good order of Egypt, or to the effective protection of essential British interests in that country. If Lord Allenby thinks at any time he might be allowed to return without danger, that is another matter, but we are not going to exercise any sort of pressure on Lord Allenby to bring back a man whose career has been so changeable and so mischievous, whose return at this moment would probably destroy the chances of peace which I think we may entertain with reasonable hope under the Government which the Sultan has now formed, and the prosecution of the policy which His Majesty's Government have declared.
In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, what becomes of the Government's pledge to abolish martial law, and give the Egyptians the free exercise of all political rights?
I do not think the proposition I have just laid down conflicts in any way with the declaration of policy which we have announced through Lord Allenby. My Noble Friend, in dealing with the Milner Mission, blames the Government for the publication of that Report before they had themselves considered and adopted the policy in regard to it. Well, I admit that at once. I and my colleagues have been very sensible of the inconvenience of the publication of these things. Why did we order it? Because all that was contained in that Report practically had been the subject of conversation, because, I think, copies of the Report, or the essential parts of it, were in the possession of a great many people, and of the Egyptian representatives, and because it was quite certain that much, if not all, of it would leak out in Egypt if we did not publish it here. In these circumstances, we decided, as the lesser of two evils, but admittedly an evil, that it was better that the whole document should be published at once.
May I now call the attention of the House to the fact that all this time the policy which we were pursuing was one for the concluding of a Treaty between Egypt and this country, which would lay the basis for the abolition of the Protectorate and for the independence of the Egyptians in their own land, and at the same time would give us the guarantees that were essential for the discharging of our obligations to Europe, for the protection of British interests in Egypt, and for the security of what are vital communications of the Empire. Our policy was to secure a Treaty, and we were unable to do it. No Egyptian Government—and for this I think Zaghloul's agitation was largely responsible—dared make a Treaty giving us the essential securities. Accordingly, when the negotiations with Adly had broken down, he went back and received Lord Allenby's proposal that we should give up the idea of a Treaty, and that we should proceed by way of a unilateral declaration, a policy which we have ultimately adopted.
I come to what I regard as the more serious question—the suggestion made, I think, by both my Noble Friends in their very interesting speeches, and certainly directly charged by my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. A. Herbert) in a speech that was not only interesting, but entertaining. The hon. Member said that we did not take Lord Allenby's advice. We had our responsibilities, and of course if we had taken his advice, we should have been responsible for acting upon it. What was the difference, or what appeared to be the difference, between us and him? Anyone who will turn to page 32 of the Papers—the despatch from Field Marshal Lord Allenby to the Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, dated 12th January, No. 24—will see the proposals which Lord Allenby made. In the early part of the despatch he was endeavouring to remove misconception as to the policy of His Majesty's Government which had taken root in the Egyptian mind. Then he goes on, in paragraphs 9 and 10, to explain the intention of His Majesty's Government—
Without wishing in any way to exercise pressure on the free will of Egyptians to adhere to this or that Treaty, His Majesty's Government desires, nevertheless, to clear
the way for a régime for mutual understanding which will result, they are confident, in a satisfactory and final solution of the Egyptian problem.
With this object in view I am happy to be able to announce to Your Highness that His Majesty's Government are prepared to recommend to British Parliament without waiting for conclusion of a Treaty, abolition of Protectorate and recognition of Egypt as an independent sovereign State.
He defines the freedom which is to be given in internal administration following the abolition of martial law, as soon as an Act of Indemnity has been passed, and he states in paragraph 13:
As soon as this new state of affairs has been established His Majesty's Government will examine in concert with Egyptian Government, and in most friendly spirit, the conclusion of an agreement regarding on following points which will remain for settlement:—(a) Security of the communications of British Empire, (b) Defence of Egypt against all foreign aggression or interference, (c) the protection of foreign interests in Egypt and protection of minorities, and (d) the Sudan.
When His Majesty's Government came to consider that proposal, the objection they felt to it was that we were to abolish the Protectorate, to give up our whole juridical position in Egypt, and only after we had done that, to negotiate with the independent State, which we had created for the protection of our essential interests, and for the discharge of our essential obligations. That was the difference between us and Lord Allenby, as we saw it, when Lord Allenby was at Cairo, and we were over here. We invited him to send over his advisers As the House sees from the document, he thought that was undesirable and inexpedient. We then invited him to come to this country, and discuss the matter with us. I am glad to say that the moment we came together, after we had given him that invitation, all differences were removed. He agreed that it was, essential that those British interests and obligations should be safeguarded as a part of the abolition of the Protectorate, and that they should not be left to the mercy of an agreement to be subsequently made.
I would not like my right hon. Friend to think that I associated myself with the attack on the Government for not taking the advice of Lord Allenby. I said it was the duty of the Government to formulate their policy, and then to tell Lord Allenby to carry it out.
I think I did my Noble Friend an injustice. If the House has followed what I have said, and looked at the Paper, they will see the essential difference between the proposals Lord Allenby sent home to us and the declaration made by us to Egypt, which was as follows:
The following principles are hereby declared:
The questions which are reserved are then repeated, and the document concludes:
Pending the conclusion of such agreements, the status quo in all these matters shall remain intact.
I am happy to think that the moment we got face to face with Lord Allenby, our differences, or apparent differences, disappeared, because, as I say, he saw at once that we could not alter the status quo in respect of those matters until we had definite security that we should in future be able to protect our interests and fulfil our obligations. My Noble Friend who spoke last—I think I am right in attributing it to him—said there ought to be no misunderstanding, and that if there were a misunderstanding, it showed that our machinery had broken down. Did my Noble Friend never send a telegram? When your communication is by means of telegram over hundreds and thousands of miles, it is difficult to make your meaning clearly understood in complicated matters to the man at the other end, who, when he receives the telegram, is not perhaps in the same mind as yourself, and does not read it in the light of the same considerations. No perfection of machinery will save us from incidents of that kind,
any more than we are able to prevent it in our own telegraphic correspondence. I am sure my Noble Friend, when he has experienced what seems to be incomparable stupidity in his correspondent, has found that his message has been misinterpreted when he has not been met at the train by which he is coming. But these misunderstandings are easily removed when we come face to face.
Is there any man in this House who thinks we were wrong to insist, as Lord Allenby agreed when he came to see us we ought to insist, that the status quo in respect of these matters should remain until an agreement has been come to in regard to the other matters before the Protectorate was abolished and their independent State declared? No one sitting on this side of the House would challenge that doctrine, I am sure. That is left to the hon. Gentleman opposite. He said we think too much of British interests. But Egypt owes a good deal to British interests. Egypt would not be in a position to enjoy an independent existence to-day if it were not that Great Britain had rescued her from disaster, and protected her from all other interference. Unless we preserve that measure of protection, she would not long enjoy the independence which we are prepared to give; she would not long enjoy it, because it is only the guarantee we give by these reservations for the safety and security of the foreign communities in Egypt, and our express determination to allow no interference by any other country except our own, which protects Egypt to-day, and will protect her to-morrow from intervention by some other country. It is not only British interests in Egypt, it is not only the foreign communities—all of whom and especially the British, Zaghloul declared his desire to expel—it is not merely that.
This question, as the Noble Lord reminded us, is of vital concern to our Pacific Dominions. Communication through the Suez Canal, communication through Egypt is a sine quâ non, having regard to the way in which communications have developed the cohesion and strength of the British Empire. This is one of the subjects which, when the Dominion Ministers were last over here, they discussed with His Majesty's Ministers at home in the Imperial Conference as being a matter of common concern to the Empire, in order that we might be fully possessed of their views as to the necessity for maintaining their security in this respect, and that we might give them the assurances which were vital to their own safety and their own prosperity. I am glad that now this declaration of policy has been before the House for many weeks, and has come under discussion on the Moor of the House, there has been no serious challenge to the policy embodied in it, and I hope His Majesty's Government may take it that the House approves of that policy and authorises the Government to pursue it.
The Leader of the House opened his remarks by pointing to the strange co-operation between hon. Members behind me on this side of the House, inspired by a desire to get rid of the Coalition Government. I can hardly think of any subject which would be more likely to inspire, not only hon. Members on this side, but hon. Members in all parts of the House, with a desire to get rid of the Coalition Government than this subject of Egypt, for if there has ever been a question upon which any Government has been more inconsistent or has muddled worse, I should like to know what it can be. Three times have they had peace within their grasp. Three times have they turned down the man on the spot. Three times have they had to climb down after taking up an intransigeant position. On the first occasion Rushdi Pasha and Sir Reginald Wingate, after the Armistice in 1918, had come to terms, and they approached this Government, which would not allow Rushdi Pasha to come to England. They told him and Adly Pasha that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was too busy to receive them. When they asked for Zaghloul Pasha to come with them, Zaghloul's presence was refused under any circumstances, and he was deported to Malta. That was the first chance thrown away by the right hon. Gentleman's Government through ignorance, pure ignorance. They did not know what Sir Reginald Wingate's plan was. They had different views as to the future of Egypt and they turned down the first chance of a settlement. The next chance came when Lord Milner, after having been boycotted in Egypt, finally came to terms with Zaghloul. The scheme was published apparently without Cabinet approval.
The decision published in full was come to three or four months after the scheme leaked out in the "Daily Mail" and in other quarters. There again was an opportunity for peace. Lord Milner, who had had experience in Egypt as an administrator, as well as a pacificator, came to terms with this villain of the piece, whose character we have had placed before us by the right hon. Gentleman. They came together, and again there was a chance of settlement. The right hon. Gentleman says that Zaghloul would not sign. Of course he would not. He asked to have it remitted to Egypt with his recommendation so that the Egyptians could consider it. It is a cheap way of getting out of the obvious facts of the case. Undoubtedly a settlement might at that time have been arrived at, but again the Foreign Office turned it down. However, after that, Lord Milner, who was not exactly dismissed, retired. Again the strong iron hand in the furry glove was held out to Egypt, and again the Egyptian people, by a curious solidarity, inspired merely by the wonderful intriguing capacity of Zaghloul Pasha, turned it down and persuaded the Foreign Office that another attempt would have to be made at a settlement so that they might carry on. The third attempt came, and it was accompanied by that extraordinary letter which the Noble Lord thinks was indited at 10, Downing Street. It would be interesting to know whether that lecture, delivered to the Egyptian people three months ago, did come from the Foreign Office, or from 10, Downing Street, or from the Colonial Office. At any rate, it made things no easier in Egypt, It made the conditions for real British interests in Egypt no simpler than they were before. Then having nothing to suggest as to Egypt, the right hon. Gentleman turned upon my colleagues who went out to Egypt in order to see the country for themselves. There is no satisfying some people. We are told first by hon. Members opposite that the Labour party consists of a lot of second-rate ignoramuses who do not know anything, and then when they seize the opportunity of making themselves personally acquainted with the facts they are told that they are corrupt.
I hope He will. The real point of the speech to which we have just listened has been that we in this House have to consider British interests first, and not Egyptian interests. I entirely agree. If I were not to look after British interests, I should not want a seat in the British House of Commons. What we differ about, and the only point on which we differ, is what are British interests. British interests, the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right in saying, are connected with our control over the Suez Canal. There is no doubt about that. But there is no suggestion from this side of the House to put an end to that vital interest. Our interests are directly wrapped up in the maintenance of the independence of Egypt from all other Powers as well as from ourselves. The real independence of Egypt is of importance to Britain, because if any other Power occupied it it would be in a position to threaten that artery of the Empire. There is no difference on that point. We want Egypt to be independent not only of us but of every European Power. That condition is accepted. There is a British interest in Egypt far more important even than the Suez Canal. It is the interest of our own good name. There is the interest of peace, no, not peace, but of something more than peace—of friendship. Our good name is involved in this. I do not like to amplify it. It is an unpleasant subject, but over and over again right hon. Members on that bench, for the last 40 years, have got up and pledged this country to evacuate Egypt. There never has been such a series of declarations on any one point as on that subject, and for the sake of argument it would be as well if we did what we said we were doing and settled this question in accordance with our honour. It is quite certain if we settle this question in accordance with our honour we shall be settling it also in accordance with our interest.
Our interest is the friendship of the Egyptian people. It is quite true that we have done well by Egypt during the last 40 years, and indeed it would have been strange if it had not been so, bearing in mind the series of great pro-Consuls we have had in Egypt. A man like Lord Cromer does not live in vain. He and other administrators, not only those who are dead and gone, but some who are there at present. My friend Maurice Amos, Sir Reginald Wingate, the great engineers who have built the barrages, the great financiers who finally rescued that country from bankruptcy, all these Englishmen have done great work in Egypt. One could almost wish that the Egyptians were more grateful, but you must not expect too much from uneducated people. How are the fellahin to know what we have done? Surely our reward is the appreciation of the people in this country and not the appreciation of the people in Egypt. We appreciate Lord Cromer, and we appreciate the services of those great civil servants. We show our appreciation when we allude to all the things England has done for Egypt, the barrages, the administration, and the legislation. But let us remember it has not been only for the benefit of Egypt that that work has been done. Our finance has done well in Egypt. Our bondholders have done well.
British industry, British trade, and British commerce have benefited as well as Egypt. All that has helped Egypt has helped us. There could not have been a better example of the mutuality of benefit which comes from a good administration. If that benefit is to continue, then I do beg hon. Members to think twice before they put any more obstacles in the way of this co-operation between England and Egypt, which can only act when we give them the same sort of free hand as we have given to Michael Collins. You have there a problem very similar to that of Ireland, though fortunately it is not so bad in many ways. The same obstacles can be put in the way by Members of this House. I beg hon. and right hon. Members not to put any more obstacles in the way of a friendly settlement in Egypt. It is possible that such a settlement can be effected at present, but if Members like the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) and the right hon. Gentleman opposite use their position in this House to retail at length all their objections to a man like Said Pasha Zaghloul, they make the problem of a settlement far more difficult. I read into the right hon. Gentleman's speech to-day the possibility that Zaghloul would return, and I hope that he may return, because I do not think you can get any really fair election, or any satisfactory settlement which will be accepted by the people of Egypt, unless Zaghloul is back. I do not believe for a moment that Zaghloul has that hold upon the propertied classes in Egypt that he has upon the agricultural classes—the fellahin; and I am not at all certain that, if he came back, the Constituent Assembly which would be formed would be entirely Zaghloulist in character. I am certain, however, that if he is not allowed to come back, and the elections to that Constituent Assembly are a fake in consequence, or are not obviously honest and aboveboard, while you will get peace, possibly, with a certain element in the Egyptian people, you will not get that really friendly settlement which is essential to the real success of the future of the Empire. We do not merely want to get out of this job in the best way possible; we want to get out of it on lines which will be a credit to Egypt and to ourselves, putting an end to 40 years of alien government—
There are many people who would prefer to have bad government rather than alien government. If you are going to do that, you must have a settlement which will be obviously accepted. That depends upon a free election, and that, in turn, depends, to my mind, upon a preliminary recall of Zaghloul, so that he may be a consenting party to the Constituent Assembly which is to draw up terms of peace. It seems to me that the last settlement was only spoilt because it was ultimately decided that the British troops should remain in Egypt, instead of on the Suez Canal. To my mind, the protection of European interests in Egypt would be looked after just as well if the troops were at Suez and Kantara and Port Said, as if they were in Alexandria and Cairo. The threat of an armed force outside is likely to have a greater specific effect than the presence of these little packets of troops tucked away in all sorts of little towns all over Egypt. What we want is an avoidance of the risk of dispute, and an effective force to deal with anything that may actually happen. That you would get far better if the troops were on the Suez Canal. Indeed, I think it is worth considering whether it would not be possible even to have the troops on the Eastern bank of the Canal instead of on the Western bank, provided that the Palestine-Egyptian frontier were shifted from the Akaba line up to the Suez Canal. That shift in the frontier would put us on the Suez Canal, in a position where we could adequately protect that Canal, with a base in the mandated country of Palestine, where we should be permanently on the spot to protect the Canal and look after our interests.
By a freshwater canal just alongside. There are military considerations, no doubt, as to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman can speak with authority, but we must remember that those considerations can now be met by wonderful engineering ability and development much more easily than they could 50 years ago when the hon. and gallant Gentleman was soldiering. I have explained, I hope adequately, why I think it is undesirable that right hon. Gentlemen opposite should make these violent attacks upon Zaghloul, and why I think it is undesirable that the Coalition Government should continue in power to carry on their Egyptian policy. I can only hope that, before this Debate comes to an end, we may have some hint from some member of the Government as to what actually is going to be the policy of the Government in connection with Egypt. They have at present put before the Egyptian people an ultimatum. They have got a Government formed by Sarwat Pasha with whom they can negotiate. What do they propose to do? At the present moment there seems to be no coming together of the two sides whatever, and if things are left to go on as they are there is no settlement. What do the Government propose to do? On which side of the fence are they going finally to come down, and what is going to be the solution of the Egyptian problem? It is doubtful up to now, but I hope that some other member of the Government will explain to us, before this Debate comes to an end, what is to happen in the future.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is to be thanked by us all for his very clear statement of the intentions of the Government with regard to this question. The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down has found great difficulty in regard to interpreting it, and has told the Government that their only way of salvation is to listen to the advice and seek the co-operation of the one man whose career has clearly marked him out as an enemy of his own country—Zaghloul Pasha. After the long and elaborate statement which has been made with regard to the policy in Egypt, I am not going to detain the House for more than two or three minutes, but I wish to call distinct attention to what I think has been a wrong done by the Foreign Office to one of their own supporters. Various of my hon. and right hon. Friends have referred to the action of the Government with regard to Sir Reginald Wingate, but they have not pressed that matter as I hoped it would have been pressed, and as I shall venture to press it. Sir Reginald Wingate is a very old friend of mine. I have known him for five-and-twenty years, and have visited him in Khartum and seen his work both there and in Egypt. It is well, however, that I should say that not only has Sir Reginald Wingate not communicated with me in any way with regard to this matter, but that, even when I applied to him for some information, he refused to give it. That is a standard of action which has long characterised civil servants of the older type. I think Sir Reginald Wingate was right in acting in that way, but I cannot help looking at the plain facts as they are stated in the Blue Books and in the correspondence, and I would ask the attention of the Leader of the House for a moment when I beg him to consider, jointly with the Foreign Secretary, whether the Government and the Foreign Office do not owe some reparation to Sir Reginald Wingate. He has been for five and twenty years in Egypt, and I never saw, many as they are that I have seen of great administrators, one who, under the most difficult conditions, threw himself more heartily into the work of governing the Sudan. He was not only acquainted with the language and habits of the people, but he made himself their friend and intimate. When the first difficulties arose, Sir Reginald Wingate gave his advice. The exact nature of that advice we do not, of course, know, but it was advice to the effect that a certain form of independent government should be set up in Egypt, which did not go so far as the Government have now gone. That advice was not acted upon. After it had been pressed once or twice, Sir Reginald Wingate was summoned home, and I know—not from him, but from those connected with him—that when he did come home to give advice, he was not admitted to the presence of any representative of the Foreign Office for a fortnight after his arrival. I ask the House, is that proper treatment for a known and well-tried servant of the State?
Is it wise, is it honourable, is it fair, that his advice should not be listened to, that he should be passed over in every way, and that another should be sent to take his place? He was told that he still held his office—that he was not superseded, but was only brought home to be an adviser. We want to know what his advice was. We can trace it through Lord Milner's Report. Lord Milner says that that advice, whatever it was—we are not permitted to see what it was—was excellent, and that it would have been well if it had been followed. And what is the blame that Lord Milner fixes upon Sir Reginald Wingate? It is that he did not with sufficient persistence press his own advice upon the Government. Is that fair criticism of a servant of the State? How is he to press his advice against a Government which will not listen to him, which will not even publish that advice after the whole thing is done? Is the present Foreign Secretary exactly the sort of man who is so easily to be pressed out of his own views, out of consideration for any servant of the State? I am sorry that I did not get an opportunity of intervening before the Leader of the House had risen, because I desired in this brief manner to press upon his attention, and, through him, upon the attention of the Government and of the Foreign Secretary, the fact that they have left, unfairly, as I think, and without due regard, an old and well-tried servant and soldier of the Empire absolutely out of work, at the prime of his strength, and that they refuse now to give him the fair concession of issuing as a Parliamentary Paper that advice which he gave, which we have not yet been allowed to see, but which the Milner Mission endorsed, saying that he was only to blame for not having urged it with greater persistency. I do not think that that is the sort of thing that increases the confidence of the servants of the Empire in His Majesty's Government, and I should have liked to be able to press it upon the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and to get from him some explanation, if there be any, of what I cannot but think is ill-treatment of one who has served the Empire well in its distant parts and under difficult conditions.
The Leader of the House was rather happy over a discovery that he made. He found out that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) and the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) were both supporting an old Liberal doctrine. That gave him great joy. If I remember that doctrine, it is that every nation in its own country has rights which the interests of another nation should not be allowed to override. If the right hon. Gentleman does not mean that, I do not know what was the point of his criticism. I understand that he detected a disposition in both my hon. Friends to think that Egypt had rights which were greater than British interests. That is simply an application of the general doctrine to which he referred. He said that doctrine had never met with much acceptance in this country. I think he does his countrymen injustice.
I am in the recollection of the House as to what was said. If the right hon. Gentleman says that is not what he meant, I wonder what it was he did mean. The statement which was put forward by the two hon. Members was surely that there were rights which the Egyptians had which should not be overriden by British interests. That, I should have thought, was a statement to which the right hon. Gentleman would have given assent. It is a statement to which the whole country gave overwhelming assent when it was applied to another country. It was because the people of this country were penetrated by the conviction that the rights of one nation are not to be subordinated to the ideas of another that they rallied as they did in 1914 and later to take their part in the great War. The right hon. Gentleman passed from that to make an attack upon the Egyptian leader known as Zaghloul Pasha, and he taunted the hon. Member for Rothwell with supporting that gentleman because he had been his host and suggested that it was only because he was under obligations to his host that he made the speech he did to-day. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that if there are obligations to one's host there are also obligations to one's guest, and it appears to me that after having received Zaghloul Pasha in this country, and after the close relationship that existed between him and a very prominent Member of the Cabinet to which the right hon. Gentleman belongs, to say the least of it, the attack he has conducted upon Zaghloul Pasha is not in the best of taste. He began with references to the youth of Zaghloul Pasha. What happened then? We were told that in his youth he was concerned in the rebellion of Arabi Pasha. The right hon. Gentleman in his youth was a Liberal, but who would cast that up against him nowadays? Then he told us Zaghloul Pasha was a Turcophile—that he loved the Turks—and that was repeated again and again. He asked my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith, "Did you know that?" My hon. and gallant Friend has not the access to the archives of the Foreign Office which is possessed by the right hon. Gentleman, and he might be excused if he did not know it.
My hon. Friend helps me with my point. I was going to suggest that a more appropriate person to whom the question might be addressed would be Lord Milner, who might have been asked did he know that. Did the right hon. Gentleman know it when Zaghloul Pasha was allowed to come to this country and enter into the very close negotiations that took place?
I think this Debate has ranged rather outside the scope of the declaration which has been made by the Government, so far as it goes. We all want a settlement in Egypt, whatever side of the House we sit on, and on that we are on common ground with His Majesty's Government, and if they have come to that rather late, better late than never. The real question is to consider whether they are promoting a situation in Egypt now which is going to lead to the settlement which they themselves desire or whether the action that they are taking is not calculated to defeat their own enterprise. That is really the point to which I think this discussion narrows itself and to which I desire to confine it. The Noble Lord very much deprecated the adhesion of Englishmen to any party in Egyptian politics. We are at one on that point, and I notice that to what he said the Leader of the House gave a profound "hear, hear." So that we all agree on the theory. All we differ in is the practice. The idea the Noble Lord has of not discriminating in Egyptian politics, an idea which is shared by the Leader of the House, is this. Non-discrimination in Egyptian politics means to them coming into Egypt, seizing the leader of certainly the largest party in Egyptian politics and deporting him.
I was speaking of recognising the Government for the time being as representing the people of Egypt. I was not talking about the question of deportation at all. Whether Zaghloul Pasha is or is not the leader of the Egyptian people and the question of deportation we may all discuss with perfect propriety, and it should be discussed, but it has nothing to do with the claim made that he leads the Egyptian people.
I am quite in agreement with the Noble Lord that the point as to whether this Egyptian leader represents a large or a small number of his countrymen is not the same point as discrimination in Egyptian politics. My point is the point of discrimination in Egyptian politics. I agree that it is not for Englishmen to take sides in the internal politics of Egypt, and it is precisely because the Government has done this, and because they have the support of the Noble Lord, that I differ from him.
What the Noble Lord did was to put before the House what he desired the House to take as a picture of the political situation in Egypt. He spoke of the Government there. He said we should give it our support. He spoke of it as a Government which had come into power. When the Noble Lord used the words "come into power," and used them in this House, he must have known perfectly well that the impression he would give was that the Government had come into power in the way Governments come into power here, as the expression of the will and the desire of the people they govern. If that is not so, it seems to mo that his whole argument goes. The only claim that any Government can have, surely, upon the support of its own people and people outside is that it expresses to some extent their will and their desire. That is a fantastic picture of the situation in Egypt, and it appears to me that, that being so, the mere existence of such a Government and the conclusion of the Treaty with a Government which does not represent the will and desire of the Egyptian people, is not the way to get the settlement we want to see.
What we are concerned to press from this side of the House is that there shall be in Egypt what Lord Allenby desires there should be there, and what the Government has apparently desired should be there. I do not wish to go outside the scope of this correspondence. On 12th January Lord Allenby sent to Lord Curzon the draft of a letter which he proposed to send to the Sultan. These are the words of paragraph 11 of this letter:
As regards the internal administration of Egypt His Majesty's Government will view with favour the creation of a Parliament with the right to control the policy and administration of a constitutionally responsible Government.
That is what Lord Allenby wants to see in Egypt and what we all want to see there, I gather—a Parliament with a constitutionally responsible Government. When the draft came to be approved, those words were slightly altered. In the letter which was actually sent to the Sultan they read as follows:
The creation of a Parliament with a right to control the policy and administration of a constitutionally responsible Government is a matter for your Highness and the Egyptian people to determine.
The Government thought there was too much colour in Lord Allenby's phrase. They were not willing to put in the words "will view with favour." The Government was to be absolutely neutral, with no bias in the matter. That, I take it, is the wish of the Noble Lord, and it is my wish too, but it is a curious way of showing neutrality. It is a curious way of exhibiting your want of bias and a curious way of securing the election of such a Parliament as Lord Allenby wants, and as is set out here by the Government, to go into the country and to take the leader of one of the great political parties, deport him, and deport with him his principal associates, shut off his newspapers, and prohibit public meetings. That seems to be the most extraordinary way of showing their neutrality and want of bias in politics that could be conceived of. But that is a course which the Government has taken, and that, I think, places those of us who desire a settlement in Egypt—and we all do that—in a very great quandary as to what the Government's intentions are. Let me quote one expression used by the Government in this matter in the same letter from Lord Allenby to Lord Ourzon—paragraph 9. It is struck out of the letter actually sent. Lord Allenby's words were these:
Without wishing in any way to exercise pressure on the free will of Egyptians to adhere to this or that Treaty, His Majesty's Government desire nevertheless—
Clearly, Lord Allenby's intention was to leave the Egyptians free. How you are going to avoid exercising pressure on the free will of Egyptians if at the same time you send them notice to retire to their homes, to consider themselves under police supervision, and to refrain from taking part in public meetings, and if at the same time you prevent them writing to the Press, and take every possible means you can devise to prevent them communicating with each other—how you can maintain that attitude and at the same time get anyone to believe that you want to refrain from exercising pressure on their free will, I do not understand. What we have got out of the Debate—and it is not very helpful to the situation in Egypt—is a declaration by the Leader of the House that Lord Allenby is responsible for the exclusion of Zaghloul Pasha from participation in Egyptian affairs. The picture we had from the Noble Lord was that of the Government in power. Is the situation this: that the Egyptian Government is now free to allow Zaghloul Pasha and his associates to return to Egypt, and that it is free to remove the restrictions upon the Press and the public meetings which have been imposed by Lord Allenby? That is an important matter, upon which we desire information. Let us have the situation cleared up. The position in Egypt is that vast numbers of Egyptians believe that the action taken in the deportation of Zaghloul Pasha, an action which they greatly resent, was at the behest and under the authority of the people of this country. Englishmen are blamed for it. If that is not the policy of Englishmen and if it is the policy of the Egyptian Government, let the facts be known, and let the Egyptian Government bear its own responsibility. At the present time the position as left by the Leader of the House is that it is the responsibility of this Government, because when the Prime Minister told us recently that the responsibility was Lord Allenby's we were without this White Paper, from which we see that Lord Allenby before he deported Zaghloul Pasha, had sent home and obtained confirmation and authority for doing so. Therefore, that brings the responsibility right home to His Majesty's Government. If the settlement which we all desire to see is to be made enduring, it can only be made enduring with a Government that represents the Egyptian people. It is impossible to get such a Government unless you allow free expression of opinion in Egypt, and it is impossible to get that free expression of opinion so long as you exclude from that country one of the greatest exponents of Egyptian public opinion. Therefore, a preliminary to an Egyptian settlement is the release of this man and his associates.
I support the plea made by the right hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) that the Government will consider the very great claims of Sir Reginald Wingate to a far ampler recognition by the State of the great services he has rendered not only in the Sudan but also in Egypt. I had the good fortune and the honour to serve under Sir Reginald Wingate for some months, and I know very well the magical influence which he exercised over that enormous area in the Sudan where at one time our influence had been reduced to a minimum, and where the British name enjoyed no such prestige and prosperity as that which it has since enjoyed as a result of the work of Sir Reginald Wingate. Had his advice been followed at the end of 1918, we should have arrived at a settlement of the Egyptian question years ago. Moreover, instead of paying the high price which we are now paying for peace in Egypt we should probably have escaped with a far more nominal recognition of Egyptian independence than we are now obliged to accept by this agreement. I hope the Government will do more than they have done hitherto to recognise Sir Reginald Wingate's great services to the Empire and to the East, and to make up for the extraordinary neglect displayed by the Foreign Secretary towards his claims at that particular time.
I have no intention to adopt the course adopted by certain hon. Members of making charges and gibes against the Government, because we are all in agreement that the declaration of the Government's policy, if not an ideal solution of the Egyptian question, is the best possible in difficult circumstances. In dealing with the question of Egypt it is no good acting upon first principles and talking in abstract terms about self-determination and about the will of the people. That is not the way in which this problem can be solved. We have to look at the practical facts of the case, and if we do so everybody must realise that what we have to ask is, what is the interest of the Empire in this question, what is the interest of England, and what is the interest of Egypt? Do not let us adopt the far too prevalent folly of speaking in terms of first principles and of abstract metaphysics in regard to what are concrete political problems. The term "self-determination" is one of the flowers of war time rhetoric which were adopted at that time as a solvent for the Central Powers in Europe. It was thought a good way to undercut the unity of Germany and the unity of the Austrian Empire. To say that self-determination is a principle for all races and all conditions and all times is a political absurdity. If you look round the world at the present time, especially if you look at the conditions of Eastern Europe, you will see the pass to which the idea of self-determination has reduced Europe, and the sooner we get rid of the idea that that is any principle of conduct for a great nation or a great empire the better.
The only foundation on which the principle of nationality can properly live is the appreciation by the inhabitants of a particular country of a common history in the past, a common interest in the present, and common aspirations for the future. If you look at the fellahin in Egypt, who constitute 90 per cent. of the population, and you understand the way in which they live, you will know that they are simply concerned with the practical facts of the hour, that they know nothing about their history in the past, that they have not the mentality to form a judgment on present facts, and that they have no aspirations for the future. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Swan) has described himself as belonging to the same class as the fellahin. That is a very vague and misleading proposition to make. Certainly intellectually he does not belong to the same class. Low and primitive as the mentality of the Labour party may be, it is infinitely ahead of the mentality of the fellahin in Egypt. It is absolutely impossible for the fellahin to form even such judgments as the members of the Labour party are able to form about the conditions under which they live.
When the hon. Member went on to say that the monuments of British rule in Egypt had been tyranny and misgovernment, it seemed to me that his three weeks in that country had been very ill-spent. The government by the ruling classes among the Egyptians in past times' has meant misrule and misgovernment. Before the British occupation there was forced labour in Egypt, such as is now prevalent in Russia. There was flogging galore in every village in Egypt, and the very people whose acts during the War aroused most of the irritation against British rule, namely, the people who forced the wrong men into the Egyptian Labour Corps and exacted contributions, against the will of the people, towards the Bed Cross funds, were the natives themselves. They were not the English people. Anybody who knows anything about Egypt knows perfectly well that British rule—and this has been admitted by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood)—has meant far more justice than the people have ever previously experienced, infinitely better government than ever they had, far less extortion, and far less oppression, while at the same time it has brought with it the enormous benefits of irrigation works, railways, a fair system of taxation, and decent administration in the Courts. Hon. Members have spoken as if before 1882 the Egyptians governed themselves.
He was a member of the Nationalist group among the Egyptians; he represented that military caste which was exercising this oppressive ascendency over the natives of Egypt. Several hon. Members have had the very great advantage of a recent visit to Egypt, and hon. Members read with the greatest interest the account of the reception they got on their arrival at Alexandria and other centres. It must have been very pleasant to receive the plaudits of all the Egyptian ladies, to have flowers thrown upon them, and to receive the acclamations of the crowds. It was that warm welcome that they received which has caused in their minds what we might call their "pathetic contentment" with the Nationalist principles in Egypt. To understand the problem in Egypt they must know the past history of Egypt. It is no use beginning that history with their three weeks' tour. They must bear in mind the fact that Egypt never has governed itself. It has been governed by the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, and by the Turks. When hon. Members bear these facts in mind they will realise that the fellahin, instead of being a people rightly struggling to be free, have no idea of politics, and that all that they are concerned about is freedom from oppression, freedom from oppressive taxes, and the right to pursue their livelihood in peace. That is what British rule has guaranteed to them.
What are the guarantees which are essential in the interests of the Empire and of Egypt if this solution is going to be a feasible one? We are on common ground with regard to the question of the Suez Canal. There is an old dictum of Napoleon, in which he said, "Egypt, once in the possession of the French, farewell India to the British." Our ascendency in Egypt and the Pacific depends upon our hold over Egypt more to-day than it did at the beginning of the 19th century. We have other interests to guarantee as well as our Imperial and naval interests in Egypt. There is the vital question of trade. It is to the interest of Egypt to preserve the prosperity of its trade. All the cotton growing which we have fostered there is not merely the selfish Lancashire interest which has so often been made a taunt against Lancashire Members, but is a very important interest to the Egyptians themselves. The fellahin, with whom so many Members have expressed sympathy, live, many of them, by the cultivation of cotton crops, and it is very important that the commercial relations between Western Europe, particularly this country, and Egypt should be maintained. You cannot maintain this communication, and you cannot maintain that happy and prosperous interchange of commodities unless you have the assurance of safety to the persons who are engaged in those industries, and to the population altogether.
We have heard the arguments that with British troops in the Sinai Peninsula, the European populations in Alexandria, Cairo, and other cities would be perfectly safe. The House knows how, like a sudden flame, an outburst of religious or political fanaticism is aroused in a moment in cities of this type, and it would be a fatal thing for the European population and for trade if at such a moment, the British Army were as far away as the Sinai Peninsula. I hope that the Gov- ernment will not dream of withdrawing the protection of British troops from the European population and the important trade of these great cities. I hope that the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs can give us some certain assurance with regard to the administration of justice in Egypt before it becomes a self-governing country. It is common knowledge all over Europe that the Courts of Egypt in the past have been exceedingly dilatory. The system of procedure was ancient, and totally unfit for modern usages. The Courts were not infrequently corrupt and the whole system of the capitulations was completely out of date. Those concerned with securing the future of Egypt have been most hopeful that the whole of this cumbrous system of Law Courts would be swept away. I would like to think that such progress as has been made is not going to be ended by Egypt getting self-government, and something should be done to place the Courts of Egypt in some nearer relationship to the needs of such a great industrial community as the modern Egyptians are.
Then with regard to the Sudan, it has been suggested by a great many critics of the Government, not only here but in the Press and on the platform during the last few months, that the Sudan should be handed over to Egypt. The issue is left open to negotiations between Britain and Egypt, and, apparently, it is a matter to be settled in the near future. I trust that the Government, before deciding the question, will consider what Britain has done to the Sudan, how the Sudan is progressing now and how vital it is to the Sudan now, in the interests not only of trade and of the cotton industry but in the interests of the people of the Sudan, that the country should be preserved from Government by an alien race, like the Egyptians, and should retain the enormous benefits of British rule. When we come to think of it, as recently as 1898, the Sudan was a howling wilderness, without any trade or prosperity, where slavers carried away the masses of the population in droves. It had lapsed into the utmost barbarism, and within 23 or 24 years, the whole face of the Sudan has been changed and it is now a flourishing country. You have these wonderful public works; you have the great cotton-growing areas; you have a good system of education; you see the little black boys going in the morning to the Gordon College in Khartum, with their books under their arm, as if they were going to elementary schools in England. You have disease practically banished from Khartum, and this is not owing to the bloated militarism of England, of which we hear so much from people who know nothing about the way in which our Empire is governed. I do not suppose there are 200 men in the whole Sudan Civil Service; there are certainly not a 1,000 British troops in the whole Sudan, and there are 4,000,000 people. Yet you have this wonderful change in the whole way of living, in the customs, habits and industry of the country. Are we, in order to gratify a mere abstraction, like the doctrine of self-determination, to deprive this great country, this progressive community, of the enormous benefits received from an extension to them of the security of the British Empire after the Battle of Omdurman? It is a significant thing that, immediately after that battle, thousands of men who had been fighting against Lord Kitchener, came over and wished to join the invading force, and to become loyal subjects under British rule. It would be a scandalous thing, not only in our interests, but in the interests of the Sudan, if the idealogues, the people who believe in phrases and catchwords and maxims, such as those of which we have heard so many this evening, should drag our country into the ignominy of handing back the Sudan to the bondage under which it lay before the British sovereignty was there established. I ask the House to remember a remarkable phrase of General Gordon, that the British Empire has been built up by its soldiers and sailors, and may be ruined by its politicians. Let us not in the year 1922 incur that undying reproach.
The House has listened with great interest, and on this side with the greatest sympathy, to every word which has fallen from my hon. and gallant Friend who has just sat down, and particularly to what he said about the Sudan, which it is most necessary to say at this time. I do hope that the Government will not leave us in doubt as to what is their policy in regard to that great country. I do not think that there is much fear, that if you hand over the Sudan to Egypt that a single Egyptian would live long in the Sudan. I am sure that even unaided, the Sudanese would kick them out in pretty quick time. The Sudanese have a poor opinion of the Egyptians militarily. They were with Lord Kitchener when he advanced, but they could not have advanced without the help of the British. There was one other very true remark made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. It is what he said with reference to Sir Reginald Wingate. I believe that ever since the Government in Egypt got rid of Sir Henry M'Mahon so mysteriously and suddenly in 1916—a Government under the premiership of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley—until recently nothing has served to unsettle Egypt more than the feeling of uncertainty which the representatives of this country have had as to whether they were or were not to be supported by the Government at home. This has had a most unsettling effect upon the Egyptians. They have come in contact with Press reports. Everyone in Egypt knows more or less what is the attitude of His Majesty's Government with regard to their representative in Egypt, and, rightly or wrongly, they have formed the impression continuously in Egypt that those representatives have not had the full support of the Government at home. I think it most unfortunate that such a series of resignations, as they are called—they are really dismissals—should have taken place in Egypt since Lord Kitchener went there.
Then, again, look at the attitude of His Majesty's Government with regard to Lord Milner. The Milner Report may have been right or wrong. Lord Milner was a member of the British Cabinet. During the discussion of the Report, or while the Report was being drafted, it was known to the Egyptian representatives that he referred to the British Cabinet time after time, yet when the Report came up apparently the Cabinet had not made up its mind. The Cabinet was not prepared then to back Lord Milner. Again, the whole Egyptian mind was unable to understand how a man of Lord Milner's reputation and prestige and position in the Cabinet could have had his recommendations and Report turned down, as in fact they were turned down, though, of course, it was said merely that the Cabinet had delayed coming to a decision. When the history of this Coali- tion is written, as the history of all previous Coalitions have been written, on no point will the historians lay more stress as showing the essential weakness of any form of Coalition, than on the vacillation of this Government in its Egyptian policy, on its inability consistently to pursue one policy and on its doing what the late Secretary of State for India described as "first standing on one leg and then on the other." That has been proved ever since Sir Reginald Wingate, towards the end of the War, began to press the home Government for some sort of indication of policy.
I was in Egypt in close touch with people then, and I know the difficulties in which the English administrators in Egypt were placed during those last months of the War, with the word "Protectorate" thrown down in Egypt, with no definition of what was intended, with no guide as to what was to be the policy of the Government in Egypt when the Armistice came. Repeated and urgent messages came home, and the Government could not make up its mind. There were perpetual differences between Ministers as to what was or was not to be one policy. Then the Armistice came. I do not believe that the Leader of the House yet appreciates quite what was the effect in Egypt, not of the refusal to receive Zaghloul Pasha, but of saying to the Ministers who had seen us through the War in Egypt: "Oh, you are too small; we have such big things to consider; we are busy now. Come again later." I do not think that the Government realises yet what infinite harm that slur upon the importance of Egypt did throughout Egypt amongst the most loyal friends of the British Administration. The Egyptians saw Guatemala and every small State in the world sending representatives to Paris. They were asked even to go down to Suez and to see Indian delegates going to the Peace Conference. You never gave them a single dinner in the Astoria or whatever hotel it was that the British occupied. You treated Egypt as something of little account that could wait.
Can you be surprised that you handed over to the Extremists the good will which you still retained of so many of the better elements in Egypt at the end of the War? There were extremists in Egypt at the time, but that refusal, "We are too busy now; we will see you tomorrow "was translated into Arabic And how? "Bukra," which means never. That is what it meant. When the Zionists were going before the Council of Ten, when the Emir Feisal was visiting Europe, no Egyptian was allowed to come to Paris or London. That was the cardinal and root mistake. What happened afterwards? It is true that until now it has been impossible to feel that this Government will have any settled policy in Egypt, or that Ministers are united in support of a policy. One does hope that at last all the Ministers of the Government are convinced that the policy they are now pursuing is the right policy. It is particularly difficult, in view of what has happened in the last few days, to find out where the Government stands on any Eastern question They have a united view with regard to America and France and Europe, but on any Eastern question they have had perpetually changing views, as in the case of Mesopotamia and Palestine. That is deplorable.
I will refer to another point in the speech of the Leader of the House. In reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) my right hon. Friend said that the Anglo-French Proclamation of November, 1918, was meant not for Egypt, but for Syria. In the East you cannot draw a distinction between a policy meant for Syria and a policy meant for Egypt. You may draft your policy in England in Downing Street, but before it gets to the Syrians it has to be translated into Arabic. That is not done in the Foreign Office. It is sent out to Egypt. There you have the Arabic printing press, and that is where the propaganda for the Arab world is printed and where the translation is done. Everything in the Syrian newspapers or in the Proclamations at Bagdad, Damascus or Beirut, is on the same day announced in Cairo. The fact that you have a nationalist Arab policy in Iraq, which is alongside Egypt, meant inevitably that you would have a strong nationalist movement in Egypt. You cannot isolate the two. You cannot say that what is good enough for Syria is not good enough for Egypt, or vice versâ You must remember that in that part of the world of far more importance and significance than modern national divisions is the deep and long history behind Islam. What is good for a Mahommedan in Arabia the Egyptian thinks is good for an Egyptian Mahommedan in Egypt.
I am the last to say that pan-Islamism would have had anything like the vogue it had but for Turkish propaganda and German propaganda and but for agitations about the Khilifat, which are entirely of recent growth. Yet you have had in Egypt to deal with specifically Islamic civilisation dominated by Islam and in its outlook affected by Islam. It has been said during the Debate that the politics of Egypt come from El Azhar University. The sheiks of that university are undoubtedly the most powerful people in Egypt. Undoubtedly they regard us as Nazarenes. You must take them into consideration. It is quite impossible to say that a proclamation designed for Syria can be confined to Syria. You cannot split up the East. You will never get an Egyptian settlement by such a treaty as is now proposed until you have a stable settlement of the whole of the Near and Middle East. It is intimately bound up with the Turkish problem. After all, the greater part of the so-called upper classes, or pasha classes—I do not say Zaghloul Pasha—but the greater part of the educated classes in Egypt are not Egyptians at all but Turks, still cherishing a considerable regard for Turkey, and not a few of them looking to Egyptian independence simply as a means of restoring the former scope and power of the Ottoman Empire. Prince Omar Toussoun would tell you honestly and openly that that is his view, and it is a very general view to be found in many of the clubs in the towns.
There is one point of vast importance, for which I looked in the speech of the Leader of the House, but I found no reference to it, and that is as to what we are going to say to France, Italy and Greece and the other Powers who at present enjoy rights in connection with the Protectorate. It is absolutely vital we should be perfectly open and frank on this matter. I do not say that we should always continue to bear on our shoulders the obligation of seeing that no Greek is ever shot in the streets of Alexandria or anything of that sort, but these Powers and Governments should know exactly what we are going to do. Do not let us pretend before the world to be taking upon ourselves the duty of protecting what are called foreign interests, and the foreign subjects in Egypt, unless we have power to carry that out. It would be much better to say to the French and Italian and other Governments, "We are not going to undertake this responsibility because we are no longer going to have the power." It depends on the very large question of whether we shall have the power to carry out the sort of protection which, I believe, these Governments, and particularly the French Government, think we are extending. It will only land us into a most difficult international complication if a Treaty goes through such as is contemplated, and then there is trouble in Alexandria, while we stand up and do nothing. I am quite sure these Governments will say to us, "We understood that you would not conclude a Treaty with Egypt unless the position of the foreign residents was absolutely guaranteed." They would accuse us, and not the Egyptians, of having let them down, and that is why I think it is most important, before this Treaty is concluded, that the full terms should be laid clearly before the several European Powers concerned. Mark you, the French and Greek and Italian populations of Alexandria, Port Said, and Cairo are far larger than the British populations of those cities, and, as has been shown in the past, when trouble arises it is a significant fact that it is not British lives which are usually lost, but the lives of Greeks and Armenians, and people of that kind who suffer most and most unfairly so. If we are going to occupy a special position in Egypt, we have some international responsibility, and in that respect we have to remember President Roosevelt's words, "Get on or get out." There is no other alternative when it comes to a matter of law and order, and when you have international obligations.
I say quite frankly that if we do get out of Egypt, if we do withdraw our troops and establish complet Home Rule in Egypt, it may be in four or five years, but inevitably I am perfectly certain, neither the French nor the Italian Governments will tolerate it for long, and they will go in and take the place we have vacated. I am certain that the Egyptian people will not find the French Government very much easier to deal with than we were. Something has been said, but all too little I think, about the Egyptian agriculturists—the fellahin. I hope that in any constitution which is made for Egypt, steps will be taken as far as possible to see that the interests of the small cultivator are protected. The number of small peasant proprietors is enormous. The description given of the fellahin by the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Swan) was really misleading. The number of the fellahin working on their own account far exceeds the number working for others. The vast bulk of the land belongs to these small peasant proprietors.
Undoubtedly, to the eye of the European who goes there for three weeks, they are still living under the conditions which have prevailed for 7,000 years; in almost identically the same type of houses and with the same methods of sanitation. They have not made very much change; the same methods of cultivation have gone on more or less interruptedly for 7,000 years, and for the greater part of those 7,000 years they have been flogged and fleeced up to the last 40 years. Admittedly, at the present moment these people have not got the power to assert themselves against the skilled, trained Oriental who, with resources of money and method, could undoubtedly, whatever you say about democracy under present conditions, once again oppress these people just as they were oppressed before Lord Dufferin abolished the corvee. They will be oppressed, make no doubt about that, unless they are protected in some way. They will be oppressed, beaten, cheated, fleeced and forced into corvees just as they were 15 or 16 years ago.
I wish to say a word in reply to the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Swan) on a purely personal matter. He did me a great injustice. He said that in my speeches, if I read them, I should find a certain quotation from Kipling. I am quite sure I never used such a quotation. It so happens that the greater part of my political life has been spent in endeavouring to prove the contrary of that quotation to be true; in endeavouring to try to point out to people here what Asiatic peoples are thinking—in putting Eastern points of view before men here and vice versa and similarly with Africa. I will not plead guilty to thinking that the East is unchangeable, or that the East and West can never meet. I think they have met, with peculiar advantage in Egypt and to Egypt, and I say frankly that I should be sorry, not merely on Egypt's account and not merely on England's account, if the continued association between England and Egypt were brought to an end. I believe that it has been of immense value and to the general advancement of human welfare.
Admittedly, we have not done very much yet—not as much as we ought to have done—in the way of education. We have improved technical education and education for agricultural and irrigation purposes, and mechanical education, and things of that kind, but I grant that we have not devoted sufficient time or money in Egypt to education, and I think one of the things we have to reckon as one of the causes of the trouble to-day is that there is so much half-education, ill-directed and incomplete, in Egypt. Nothing has been more lamentable than the reports of all the results of examinations and the like in Egyptian schools— the enormous percentage of failures and the low standard attained—and the educational service in Egypt has not been a service of which we can be as proud as we can of a great service like the irrigation service. I am quite sure of this, that if we do not retain a British personnel in the irrigation service, your cotton output and your sugar output and the general prosperity of the country will go down. There, however, Egyptians are coming along, and each generation and each year you are getting more and more men qualified technically for the work, but they are still very far from being able to dispense with European-trained, European-qualified technical assistants in that work, and if you are to retain those men you will only get them if they are properly treated and if they see that things are being done straight and on the square. That has to be borne in mind in making the terms of your Treaty.
I regret that this Debate should have turned so largely on the personality of one Egyptian politician. I really do not see what that has to do with the permanent future relations between Egypt and the outside world, because it is not merely the relations between Egypt and this country or even this Empire, but the relations of Egypt, which is in a unique position in the world and is the aerial junction of the world, have to be taken into account, and the whole question of European and Mediterranean civilisation. I deeply regret that the personality of an individual has been brought in, and I am quite sure that the Labour party and those who have been associated with them on this side are doing an ill-service by making that such an outstanding point in their natural desire to bully the Government. Surely the preliminary, long before you have elections, long before you can get a new régime working, is to get a good step further in the definition of your Treaty, and you will not get a definition of your Treaty in an atmosphere of acute politics. Therefore, I am quite sure that this House would be well advised not to go into criticisms of the personnel of this Ministry in Egypt, or even the next Ministry in Egypt, or the Ministry after that.
I am certain that we ought to treat whatever Egyptian Ministry there is as representing Egypt for the purposes of preparing the Treaty, and if in his discretion our high contracting officer, Lord Allenby, in whom I believe every man in this House has great confidence, personal and public, thinks the presence of one individual, or more than one individual, is injudicious and likely to injure the furtherance of getting a proper Treaty prepared for submission to the Egyptian people, and the British people, and the foreign Powers concerned, surely we ought not to try and force his hand in this House. That is what hon. Members have been trying to do this evening. I appeal for continuity of policy, for confidence, from all sections in the House in the British representative in Egypt, and, above all, I do hope that good will and an atmosphere conducive to settlement, and not conducive to political rancour, will take the place of the atmosphere which has been all too ready to break out from time to time in the last four years in Egypt, and that Egypt will go forward to prosperity and true happiness, not separated from Western civilisation, not separated from a friendly and even an intimate connection with the British Empire, although outside it, but will go forward with us on the road of true moral as well as material progress.
The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) has dealt very largely, as most of the other members of the Coalition have done, with criticisms not of the people of Egypt, but of the policy or the lack of continuity of policy, or the lack of definition of policy of His Majesty's Government, and he said that some future historian of the Coalition would probably indict him for this, that, or the other. I would be more charitable and suggest that some future historian of the Coalition, realising the insistent and consistent claims for genius that many of its members made, would say, "Well, after all, genius is akin to madness," and posterity therefore will be the best judge as to which of the two qualities predominated in that great assembly. It is because we on this side of the House are just as much concerned about the good name of Britain as any temporary custodian of its honour on His Majesty's Front Bench that we claim the right to differ and the opportunity to present a case which, while it may not be welcomed by His Majesty's Government, is still entitled to be put.
One would scarcely imagine, from what has been said in the Debate, that there was much of an Egyptian connection with Europeans before the advent of Britain. There is an old tag which might have a peculiar relevance to the Members of this House in regard to this Debate. It is said, "Why do they call a Government publication a Blue Book?" and the answer is not "A lemon," but "Because it is never read." I would suggest that if some of the Members of this House had actually read the Blue Books of His Majesty's Government before engaging in debate, they would see that we were not the first in Egypt by a very long way. It is not quite true to suggest that it requires instruction for aviators to drop bombs to preserve law and order, that it is not even necessary for a British army of occupation to protect foreign communities. As a matter of fact, a hundred years before Britain or Britishers went to Egypt, the French had already secured grants by which their nationals were protected, and I have yet to learn that in that long history of French, and Dutch, and then British capitulations, granted as far back as 1675 and extending down to now, there has ever been a continuous series of butchery of Europeans by the infidel. During the time that we made our brief and contemptuous tour in Egypt, we dropped across a British mission which had actually tried to impress upon the Mahommedan mind the virtues of Christianity, as missionaries, 16 years before 1882. They were still living.
It is a most remarkable thing, if one were to take the utterances of some Members of this House very seriously. The hon. and gallant Member for Bromley (Lieut.-Colonel James) made many points, most of which were mixed; in fact, he was about as clear as the waters of the Nile, that is, as clear as mud I could not make out exactly what point he was trying to make. All I could be certain about was that Britain had justified its stewardship of Egypt, that Egyptian independence was all right and worth striving for, but "not in our time, O Lord"; we must wait for some other generations to come. I suggest that, much as we desire the old order to remain, one must take cognisance of the altered outlook of the world. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) said— and rightly—that he had spent a large part of his life in endeavouring to bring East and West into touch, and, surely, he will agree with me that when European statesmen, for purposes of mutual conflict, bring the coloured people into the sphere of conflict, and teach them that the art of killing the white people is quite all right, when they deliberately destroy the fallacy that the white is a superior race, and call upon the black to kill the white, and then come back to the ordinary pre-War conceptions, then I do submit you are asking too much, especially with regard to Egypt, because these people were witnessing, as the hon. Member says, communities quite close to them, not half so well developed, actually being promised sovereign powers, and being given the rights of nationhood, while this was being denied to a nation which has never yet been declared to be otherwise than under a temporary occupation of the British Government. The declaration of Mr. Gladstone was particularly explicit when he was indicted in this House for his policy. This was what was said then:
We are against the doctrine of annexation. We are against anything that resembles or approaches it. We are against it on the ground of our duty to Egypt. We are against it on the ground of the interests of England. We are against it on the ground of the specific and solemn pledges given to the world in the most solemn manner, and under the most critical cir-
cumstances—pledges which have earned for us the confidence of Europe at large during the course of difficult and delicate operations, and, if one pledge can be more solemn and sacred than another, special sacredness in this case binds us.
That was in 1882. In 1914, when a temporary Protectorate was declared, these were the words in His Majesty's Speech, and therefore the words of the Prime Minister of that day, the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) and they cannot be lightly thrown aside:
I feel convinced that you will be able, in co-operation with your Ministers and the Protectorate of Great Britain, to overcome all influences which are seeking to destroy the independence of Egypt.
After all, we are plain men, not used to the subtleties of the legal mind, many of us coming from the workshop, and taking practically a literal view of the spoken or written word, just as the Oriental mind has probably done; and, just as they absorb the idea of self-determination, so, probably, they absorb the idea that the British King-Emperor, speaking the policy of the British Prime Minister, really meant what the people of Britain intended in their dealings with Egypt. From that point of view, Zaghloul Pasha to me is no more than any other person. Egypt, to my mind, is far greater than an individual; but the great point to remember in this connection is that these people, who had rendered the greatest and most consistent service to Britain during the War, were those behind Sir Reginald Wingate in asking for early recognition of Egypt's independence. But because that was denied, and Sir Reginald Wingate was replaced while on leave in Britain, these other factors have come to the front, and have strengthened their position. Added to that is the fact that the Egyptian Parliament has never met since before the War, and that its term of office has expired after many of its members have died. When you get these circumstances, you have the compelling force behind the Egyptian people's demand that they should have the right of assembly. If they have that right, you must dispose of martial law, and then all questions of the attitude of this one and that one during the War should go by the board. I think it is a very cheap point to make that the members of the Labour party are concerned about the personality of an individual, when all that the Leader of the Government can do to make out a case for the Government is to vilify that individual.
I prefer to take the opinions of men who have been in close touch with this gentleman. I have questioned the Prime Minister over and over again as to what was the attitude of Lord Allenby. He made the statement the other week that Lord Allenby acted upon his own responsibility. Very well. When Sir Reginald Wingate left Egypt and tried to press upon the British Government, early in 1919, what should be done, during the time while he was on leave Zaghloul Pasha and his friends were deported, and riots broke out all over Egypt. Lord Allenby was sent to Egypt to quell the rebellion and maintain peace. Knowing Egypt, the very first thing Lord Allenby did was to release Zaghloul Pasha and, with the act of release, to have Proclamations put up in every town and village that this particular gentleman was released, and the disorders subsided straight away. I do suggest that if Lord Allenby carried out a policy like that, it was based upon a conception of the ability of Zaghloul Pasha and some idea of his statesmanship, and I would suggest that the Leader of the House, before he makes use of the rather cheap cricicism of an individual, might very well look up the record of a man who has served his country and British administration excellently in the past. In 1906 Lord Cromer described the party to which Zaghloul Pasha belonged as
a small but increasing number of Egyptians. They are truly Nationalist in the sense of wishing to advance the interests of their countrymen; but they are not tainted with pan-Islamism. Their programme involves not opposition to but co-operation with Europeans in the introduction of Western civilisation into the country.
In 1908, when Lord Cromer, at a farewell banquet, left Egypt, he went out of his way to refer to Zaghloul:
Lastly, gentlemen, I should like to mention the name of one with whom I have only recently co-operated, but for whom, in that short time, I have learnt to entertain a high regard. Unless I am much mistaken a career of great public usefulness lies before the present Minister of Education, Saad Zaghloul Pasha. He possesses all the qualities necessary to serve his country. He is honest; he is capable; he has the courage of his convictions; he has been abused by many of the less worthy of his own countrymen. Those are high qualifications. He should go far.
Coming to more recent times, Lord Kitchener, in 1913, said.
Saad Zaghloul Pasha, originally an advocate of great reputation in the native Courts, and later a prominent member of the Native Court of Appeal, was appointed Minister of Education in 1906 … and in 1910 exchanged the portfolio of Education for that of Justice. In both these Departments he introduced, and was responsible for, several valuable reforms.
Both these men are men who, it has been admitted by the Leader of the House, and by every one of the critics of their own Government, are men whose opinions ought to have been taken into consideration in dealing with this problem. Lord Milner, speaking of Zaghloul's importance in 1920, said:
The Egyptians with whom we conversed one and all (including Adly, Rushdi, and Sarwat) were emphatic in stating that they were only expressing their own individual opinions, and that they could not claim to speak for the great body of their countrymen. Indeed almost all of them went further and referred us to Zaghloul Pasha and his delegation as being the only men authorised by general acclamation to represent the Egyptian people.
We have no desire to deal with the question of individuals other than those. We feel very keenly that this particular fact, the deportation and probable death of a man in his seventy-fifth year in exile, will do more to embitter and make impossible a settlement than any other act of which you can very well be guilty. If you were to release him, then the election would, take place, because with or without him his influence will be there. I submit that in this ease it will be a policy of wise statesmanship to allow this man his freedom, because where he is to-day he is in the position of many other men who have been forcibly repressed and put out of the way, that they become martyrs at once.
There is another point. The Leader of the House stated that we were doing this, that, and the other; that Egyptian independence had been established, and it only remained for the Constituent Assembly to meet and before doing anything else pass an act of indemnity, and then everything would be all right in this best of all possible worlds. After all, however, we are entitled to ask what does an act of indemnity do? It has to be passed before the recognition of Egypt as an independent Government. What is it? Is it not to perpetuate the Protectorate for all time? Is it not to indemnify the Government against all sorts of possible
claims? The whole question of the Versailles Treaty, the confiscation of the property of the nationals of Bulgaria, Germany, Austria—their property in Egypt is all bound up in this, and possibly the claims of the men who are deported might work under the ordinary procedure and will be wiped out by the Act of Indemnity! To my mind if this Bill is passed it is merely to perpetuate the Protectorate. Therefore we do ask that we should have some information in regard to it because we are quite certain that we can read into it a very insidious attempt to pay lip service to independence at the same time carrying through the Protectorate. In the Versailles Treaty, in Article 153 I read:
All monies and property, property of the German Empire in Egypt, becomes (by natural right) the property of the Egyptian Government without demanding from thorn any compensation. And this property and monies comprise all the property and monies of the German Crown, the German Government, and the German countries as well as the private property of the Emperor, and all civilians, and all property, monies, and buildings, the property of German subjects in Egypt, and will be dealt with according to the said Articles in Sub-sections (3), (4), and Section (10) in this Treaty.
This has apparently a wide application. In this connection because we must remember one of the Government's organs, bought for the express purposes of influencing its readers on Coalition lines, and directly it was bought dismiss its editor, Mr Donald—a man who had rendered splendid service to journalism—went out of its way in a leading article to say:
The next step on Egypt's part will be to pass an Act of Indemnity, this including even more than an Amnesty Act, for everything done under martial law, including the deportation of Zaghloul Pasha by such an Act, would be legalised.
I do suggest that we ought to know something more about the Government's real intentions and the powers conferred under that Indemity Act before we lightly act upon that assumption. The Government, after all, are the custodians of the honour of the British Empire. Whatever bitterness of opinion there was in Egypt was due to the fact that when Lord Milner and his colleagues went out there their terms of reference were to inquire as to what could be done under the Protectorate. The Egyptian people looked upon the Protectorate as merely a transient scheme
of relationship between Egypt taken from the Turkish Empire for a period until the end of the War, and that after the end of the War the claims of Egypt, based upon the consecutive declarations of statesmen ever since 1882, would be recognised. Probably it is within the recollection of hon. Members of this House that within five years of 1882 Sir Henry Drummond was sent to Constantinople to sign a Treaty of Agreement with the Sultan of Turkey by which the British troops should leave Egypt within three years. The Sultan of Turkey at that time objected even to the three years, because he considered that that three years was too long having regard to the circumstances under which the occupation took place.
All these things, I do suggest, lead to the impression that the Egyptian people have a case which cannot be met by mere repression, and that it must be met in the fuller sense of the term, and that because Egypt never was a part of the British Empire. This point is specifically alluded to on page 6 of the Milner Report. I am quoting from the Report of the Special Mission, and it says:
It appears to be frequently assumed in current talk and writing in this country that Egypt is part of the British Empire. That is not, and never has been, the case.
That is most explicit, and to gentlemen of military experience who talk to us about the tactical value of this or that part of a country, I would suggest that on the Palestinian side of the Suez Canal you have a population who at the moment are welcoming British occupation, and, under the pledge given to the Zionists, it makes it a desirable circumstance for the transfer of the garrison; that in itself is an alternative place where troops can be kept if the Suez Canal is deemed to be such a dangerous part of our communication. Personally I think that the international pact which guaranteed the international character of the Suez Canal makes a very large number of these assertions valueless even if they ever contained some, amount of value. Having regard to the changed circumstances in the East, having regard to the changed circumstances on the Palestinian side of the Canal, we are justified in asking this Government and its military advisers to consider the alternative garrison for the troops, if they are necessary, in order that we may
in fact as well as in word carry out this generation-long pledge to the Egyptian people.
Having lived in Egypt for some time, I should like to touch on certain points which have been raised by earlier speakers. The hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills) rightly said that Egypt never was part of the British Empire, and as was pointed out by Lord Milner's Report the difficulty of the Egyptian problem is very great. Lord Milner said:
The problem may well be as insoluble as it is certainly unique, but everything in and about Egypt always has been unique.
We went there in 1882, and it was certainly our intention to come away as soon as we honourably could, but that was never possible. An hon. Member has quoted Lord Salisbury's Convention of 1887 which endeavoured to arrange that we should leave Egypt within three years, but that Convention the Sultan would not ratify and it fell to the ground. Up to 1904, when we entered into the Anglo-French Agreement, we had never sanctioned any alteration in the status of Egypt. It was only in 1914, after Turkey had come into the conflict against us, that it was necessary for us to do something in this direction owing to the fact that the Egyptians had been Turkish subjects and we declared a Protectorate. Our record during all these years shows that we desired to maintain the status quo.
Now this declaration has been issued by the Government to Egypt under which we terminate the Protectorate and declare Egypt to be an independent Sovereign State. Let us hope that this will lead to the establishment of good relations between Great Britain and Egypt. The status quo is preserved with regard to four important reservations, and with one or two of those reservations I should like to deal. The first is the safeguarding of our Imperial communications. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn), who has done some distinguished service as an aviator, knows the country well, and he knows the conditions that prevail there. I think he rather elaborated the point that we dwelt too much on British interests. It does not seem to me that there could be any interests more vital to the British Empire than the preservation of our communication through the Suez Canal. I was stationed in the neighbourhood of the Canal in 1916, and when one saw the troops coming through the Canal from Australia to reinforce our armies in France and Egypt when we were fighting the battles of the Allies, when we saw ships coming through the Canal pouring merchandise into Europe, articles absolutely essential to the continued life of the allied peoples, one realised what an appalling catastrophe it would be if this little strip of water should be closed to the ships of Great Britain. Any British statesman dealing with this problem cannot shut his eyes to the vital importance of safeguarding our communications on the Suez Canal.
Look at the second reservation—the defence of Egypt against all foreign aggression or interference, direct or indirect. On this point we have only to look back to the years of the War. What would have happened to Egypt had not our strong Army been there to defend her in 1914? The Turkish troops actually reached the Suez Canal in the early months of the War, and in the spring of 1916 the Turk was within a few miles of the Suez Canal, and again in the summer of 1916. During the War Egypt enjoyed a great measure of prosperity and security at home, which was solely and entirely due to the fact that the forces of Great Britain were there to prevent invasion by the Turks who were used by the Germans as the pioneer of their power in the East.
Then there is the protection of the foreign communities, which is referred to in one of the reservations. Egypt is unique in respect of the position of the foreign communities. There is a very considerable industry and commerce in Egypt, and it is work entirely in the hands of foreigners. There is no country in the world in which so large a proportion of the commercial interests are carried on and managed by those of foreign nationalities. We know very well what would happen if all our influence was withdrawn from Egypt. Other foreign nations having their rights there under the capitulations would come in, and would the lot of Egypt be any better or fairer in that case than is the case at the present time? Since a date centuries before the Christian era, Egypt, has never been an independent country, and we have only to look to the time before the British occupation when the suzerainty of Turkey was a reality in order to make a comparison. Egypt in the years before the British occupation, owing to misgovernment of the Khedive, was hopelessly in debt, and it was only after the arrival of the British power and the setting up of a Government under our auspices that she was put on the road to prosperity.
I only rose to intervene in the Debate because, having been in Egypt, I could not fail to form an admiration for the work of the last forty years there, and I want to place on record my sincere admiration for it. I know there are blemishes. I know that the improvement in education has not been such as we could have desired. Education has not progressed in the way one would have wished. I think, however, we should look all round at the other things that have been done. Hon. Members have mentioned earlier the fact that when we went to Egypt forced labour existed and the lot of the unhappy fellahin was of the most miserable kind, and misgovernment, heavy taxation, and corruption were prevalent and the lot of the fellah was miserable in the extreme. Lord Cromer, working with a restricted revenue and often thwarted by the interference of foreign powers, carried on from year to year, abolished the abuses, and forced labour was done away with.
I do not think so. At any rate, during Lord Cromer's time taxation was put on a regular basis. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith said there was the land and plenty of water coming down the Nile, and plenty of industrious peasants and something should be done for them. I would like to point out that a great deal has been done in the way of storing and thereby increasing the water available from the Nile. I only want to emphasise that point in order to let it be realised how glorious the work has been. There have been blemishes, no doubt, but on the whole it has been a great achievement. One word as to the Sudan, a question, which was raised by an hon. and gallant Member. I think the Prime Minister made it clear in his remarks on the 28th February that, having in view the great interests we have in the Sudan the money spent in developing the country and the great interest our industries had in supplier of cotton, that no important industry would be jeopardised by any change in the future—this being always borne in mind, that the Sudan is to guarantee a full supply of water to Egypt. I have no more to add except to say that I think it is not much good looking back at the past and criticising the Government for this and that policy. The matter has not been an easy one. There have been many interests to consider, but now I think that with this Agreement there ought to be a fair prospect of good relations between Great Britain and Egypt, always bearing in mind that the essential interests of the British Empire and also the real and fundamental interests of Egypt are safeguarded as proposed in these reservations.
I have heard most of the Debate to-day, and would like to offer a very few observations and say why I shall vote for the Government. I should like to try and visualise the problem in a general way. I look upon this matter from two points of view, first, the good of the Egyptian fellahin and, secondly, the development of political institutions in Egypt in accordance with the underlying principles of the British Empire. In regard to the first, I think that our record in Egypt is one of the finest records of British enterprise in my time. I have watched the conditions prevailing in Egypt for nearly 50 years. I am old enough to remember when the Egyptian fellahin and the Egyptian country generally was bled on the one side by the Turks and on the other side was continually raided from Southern Sudan. I am old enough to remember the dispatch of Hicks Pasha and Baker Pasha and the swallowing up of both of them and their armies in the Sudan and when the Egyptians were constantly being raided by the Fuzzy-Wuzzies. I remember the miserable condition of Egypt prior to 1882. I remember our people going there in 1882 and the great talk there was about our going there to protect the Egyptian bondholder. Possibly, probably in the eyes of many people at that time the interests of the Egyptian bondholders figured a good deal more than anything else, but that is 40 years ago, and I am disposed to let the dead bury their dead. Looking at the occupation of Egypt since that time, what are the conditions of the Egyptian people now as compared with then? A year or two ago I sat in the balcony of a hotel in Assouan. On the left bank of the river, looking up the river Nile, I saw the block-houses which had been put up by Sir Garnet Wolsey's soldiers in 1884 and 1885. At that time these block-houses were the outposts of civilisation. At that time, beyond that place to the south, you had the Fuzzi-Wuzzies, who constantly came to raid Egypt. I suppose the lives of the Egyptians at that time were a constant terror from morning till night, as they did not know when they were to be raided or who was next to bleed them from the Turkish side. What are the conditions now? As regards peace and security in Egypt, nothing could be better. It has been one of the few countries in the world that has had no fear of war. During the late War, in which the best and bravest and most promising young men in all the European countries were being sacrified, not a single Egyptian life was lost. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Well, that was the statement I got.
Therefore there is a marked contrast between the condition of Egypt when we went there, so far as peace and security are concerned, as compared with the Egypt of to-day. Something has been said—the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills) said something about what Mr. Gladstone had said in 1884 and 1885. I do not care twopence about what Gladstone said in his speeches. Gladstone's speeches and the policy outlined in the 'eighties could not face the logic of facts. The logic of facts were such that we had to remain in Egypt and secure the good of the Egyptian fellahin and the good of the country as a whole. As regards the material conditions, here, again, I take an object lesson from my experience at Assouan. I saw that wonderful work, the result of British skill and enterprise and investment. The very day I wag there they were in communication, as I suppose they were every day, with Cairo, either by telegraph or telephone, and they were passing down through the sluices of the Assouan dam about 42,000 tons of water, which were going down to the lower regions of Egypt to bless and fertilise the land there. That is something for which we may take credit. We have protected the Egyptian, people from raiding, we have protected them from the exactions, of the Turk, and I think that the people of Egypt owe us something for having done that for the last 40 years. I do not say that we should continue that responsibility, and that brings me to my second point Egypt must progress in its political development in accordance with the underlying principles of the British Empire, which consists of the tutelage of infant peoples until such time as they can paddle their own canoe and take charge of their own destiny.
The only thing we have to consider is whether this settlement is in accordance with that principle. In my humble judgment, it is. I am not going back over the last few years; I am not going to say that the Government have been perfectly consistent in all their actions during the last three or four years. I suppose no Government ever is and no Government ever will be. What I am concerned about in the main is: is this agreement that has recently been made on the whole for the good of the Egyptian fellahin, and does it promise steady progress in the direction of the fellah looking after himself. I think it does. It is true that it reserves certain things to be discussed before it takes effect. Here, again, I think we are perfectly right in looking after our own interests. It is more important now, I suppose than even 40 years ago, that we should provide that the, arteries as between one part of the Empire and another, so far as they go through that particular part of the world, should be kept clear.
The second condition had reference to the continued defence of Egypt. It seems to me that is absolutely necessary. Are we, after 40 years' occupation of the country, call it Protectorate or what you like, are we after that 40 years of struggle, to give that up? I have been in recent years going round and seeing distant parts of the Empire, and I am full of admiration for the men who go out to live in those distant places, very often in isolation, to look after large areas. It is a great, testimony to the ability of our people as administrators. With regard to the defence of Egypt, it is perfectly true that for some reason or another the Egyptian people have for centuries been subject to somebody. I suppose that can be said to have existed not merely for centuries but for thousands of years. The Turks, the Greeks, the French, and then ourselves have all been concerned, and a stronger and more virile people have somehow or other always had control of the Egyptian people, not because the Egyptian is not a big man physically, for he is that, but because of something in the Egyptian or in his environment which makes him glad to be made secure by somebody outside himself. Even going back within our own memories those of us who know anything about Egypt within the last 40 or 50 years will remember the constant friction which existed between ourselves and France when we had dual control, and if we divest ourselves of responsibility for Egypt now, we shall not only get dual control but triple control and other forms of control, and there will be constant friction. No other country has spent more men and money in Egypt than we have, and if there is anyone who has a right to see that Egypt is made secure it is this country.
Then we come to the question of the protection of foreign interests. I am not so much concerned about them. As a rule, they are well able to look after themselves. But this is probably considered very important by those who have to preserve and protect foreign interests, and included in those foreign interests is the protection of minorities, a principle which ought to be subscribed to by everyone in this House. The last provision is with regard to the Sudan. I suppose that is getting more important to this country. Forty or 50 years ago it was inhabited by Fuzzy-wuzzies, a race of first-class fighting men. It was given over to barbarism. Now the first-class fighting man is a fetcher and a carrier, a manual worker for his own good, and for the continued prosperity of his country. There are railways right up to Khartum, and as we have assumed responsibility for this area it seems to me we have a perfect right to put in a provision that our interests and our obligations there shall be looked after. For these reasons, and without going further into the matter—for I do not profess to have read all the documents which have, been circulated in connection with this Debate, although I have read some of them, and I have seen the country—I hold that this arrangement now open to the Egyptian people in one that may reasonably be put into execution, and which will operate for the good of the Egyptian people and for the development of their political constitution.
I have listened with great pleasure to the very helpful contributions which have been made to this Debate from all sides of the House upon this new phase of democratisation which the British Government is now accepting and passing along to her sister nations. The story of Greece to many of us was the proudest and greatest when she commenced to Hellenise Asia; she gave us some of our knowledge of dealing with our sister nations. The British Empire since the War has accepted responsibility for the guidance of many new nations which have come into the world. Much has been said respecting Ireland, but it would not be right or proper for me, serving in an insignificant capacity to those who have guided the fortunes of Ireland during the last 12 months, to say much on that matter, but when we consider the psychology which now obtains in many of these new sister nations that are bound to us by affection, service, and sacrifice, it well behoves us to carefully diagnose the method and manner in which we guide these new nations now being born into the world. I think we do right in congratulating the Government that they are pressing for the solution of the problem of the growth of this new nation of Egypt. It is an old world nation; it is a nation which has crept onward and forward through many diverse courses and methods, and although we in the earlier days have endeavoured to eliminate the splendid mysticism which must obtain in the civilisation of the East by so-called education which is really only book-learning and which we have given to the new men leading in the East in our Western universities, I do think, when we understand the splendid lead of the great pro-Consuls of this Empire in Egypt, and other parts of the world, we have done much; and it well behoves us to be careful what we now do, so that we may give this new old nation a proper opportunity and outlook in the sisterhood of the British nation, as well as in the great concert of the nations of the world.
When one comes to definite details, and endeavours to consider some of the problems which arise in respect of Egypt, and in respect of its relationship to the British Empire, and also in respect of its relationship to the other nations, there are many difficulties to be solved. I want to say at once that when I endeavour to place bread and butter considerations before this House, I do so in no selfish or narrow spirit. I do not think we should be worthy of the trust we carry as representatives of a great industrial people if we did not consider some of the final chances in regard to industry, both here and in Egypt, in the bearing to peoples of both Britain and Egypt, also in respect of the problem which is now being dealt with, and which, as we hope, will be satisfactorily settled.
I must remind the House that while this nation has indeed spent both money and blood in respect of the enlargement of the life of Egypt, we also at the present time are accepting very heavy financial responsibilities in the trade and industry of Egypt and the Sudan. The House will forgive me if I remind them that during the last 18 months the Treasury, in a splendid and helpful fashion, by the guarantee of interest on a loan of £6,000,000 to the Sudan, have done much to provide work and opportunity not only for the inhabitants of the Sudan and Egypt, but for some of our Lancashire cotton industries also. They have applied useful and helpful agencies in both sections. When, however, I consider carefully the correspondence and negotiations which have taken place between the representatives of His Majesty's Government and Lord Allenby, and when I read, as I have carefully read, some of the recommendations which have passed, I must say that there is a very great uncertainty, which may lead to some trouble unless a clear and decisive understanding be arrived at, with regard to some of the financial obligations and conditions that at present obtain between Egypt and ourselves. In a Command Paper dealing with the negotiations of the Egyption Delegation in regard to the Sudan, we read:
Great Britain further undertakes to secure for Egypt her fair share of the waters of the Nile, and to this end it is agreed that no new irrigation works on the Nile or its tributaries south of Wadi Halfa shall
be undertaken without the concurrence of a Board of three conservators representing Egypt, the Sudan, and Uganda, respectively.
Taking that at its bare face value, I suggest that some further and more definite explanation with regard to the guarantee that we have undertaken in respect of the loan of £6,000,000, and the promise of a further obligation which my hon. Friend gave me some 18 months ago, when this loan was under discussion—something more definite in regard to our association and agreement with Egypt—is required if there is not to be future trouble in regard to our relationships on trade, and especially on cotton. This matter is a very vital one to Lancashire and to the country in general. I would remind the House that to-day the United States of America is taking double the quantity of cotton that she did in earlier days (much of it also from the Sudan and Egypt), and is thus limiting the amount of crop that it is possible and vitally necessary for us to obtain in this country if the second greatest industry in England (the cotton industry) is to retain its capacity and position in the commerce of the world. Further, I know that at the present time Germany, Japan, China, and many other cotton-spinning and cotton-weaving countries are making daily and increasing onslaughts in regard to the superfine growth of cotton which we get from the Sudan and Egypt, from which they are gradually spinning finer and finer counts. The time may come when we people in Lancashire will have to come and tell this House with sorrow that, although much has been done in regard to cotton growing in the Empire by Lancashire cotton spinners themselves—although the cotton industry in Lancashire, by purse and by research, are doing much to conserve cotton—yet, unless we have an assured opportunity for the purchase, on a fair basis, of an increased crop in Egypt, the time will come when there will be a greater cotton famine in Lancashire than ever there has been in past days. We are faced with our Indian cotton yarn and cloth trade problem, and care must be taken that Egypt and the Sudan do not also develop a raw cotton problem.
I hope the House will understand that this is not merely a selfish point of view from Lancashire, but represents an interchange of opportunity for both Egyptian workers and Lancashire workers. The greatest trade which the Egyptian industrialist will have will be in cotton. Cereals and those foodstuffs which Egypt is also at present growing have no such potentialities, as regards value and profit, as the Egyptians may and can obtain with the high price of the special long-stapled cotton which they produce, and which is not equalled anywhere else in the world. It has been suggested that Iraq may be able to supply us with fine cotton in a not distant future, but at the present time, with the special requirements and demands of Lancashire for this very vital material, it is right and proper that—with full opportunity for making and protecting her own industries—Egypt should not become the exploitation ground of China, Japan, the United States of America, Germany, and other great cotton-using countries, especially when we consider the British blood and British capital expended in Egypt and the British proconsuls' guidance and leadership which have been given to Egypt.
Therefore, I would ask my hon. Friend, when he comes to reply, to give us some definite assurance from a threefold standpoint: firstly, in respect of the loan of £6,000,000, the interest upon which we are guaranteeing; secondly, the irrigation work on the Gezireh plain; thirdly, the railway extension work from Khartum to El Obeid, and also in respect of the Tokar cotton producing areas. I should like to repeat that this is no selfish point of view from Lancashire. It is simply a question of the preservation of the cotton industry which is to be found in Lancashire—the second greatest industry in the country—and also of giving a fair market, without exploitation by foreigners, for the growers in Egypt itself. I shall support the Government in the Vote they have claimed. I feel assured that if careful thought and consideration be given to the whole of the conditions, it will save much uncertainty and, perhaps, distrust, between Egypt and ourselves with respect to irrigation, cotton growing and other related matters in the future, if these are now, at the commencement of this new era, fully decided and dealt with in that amicable fashion which I am sure they can be, if the best spirit and good- will, both in Egypt and here, be given to the question.
This is the first occasion upon which I have had the honour of addressing the House, and I would beg hon. Members to show me that indulgence which I know they are so ready to grant to those who are situated as I am now. I spent a good many years in Egypt in the service of the Egyptian Government, and I formed there a good many friendships, not only with my own fellow-countrymen, but, I am happy to think, with Egyptians. If I might say so, the impression which the course of this Debate has left upon my mind is that possibly some hon. Members of this House do not realise what very good friends we who work in Egypt and the Egyptians can be. I think it would be a great pity if there were any impression that the British officials in Egypt are less anxious to do the best they can for Egypt than are their Egyptian colleagues. One of the happiest recollections that I have of the time that I spent there is that of the real spirit of good fellowship which I am sure prevails on both sides of the Civil Service. I think that hon. Members who know Egypt well will agree with me that it is extraordinarily difficult to speak with any comfort or freedom about the problems in that country. The Egyptians are so peculiarly sensitive. A chance phrase is so easily misinterpreted that one cannot be too careful in what one says here as well as there. I speak with great hesitation, because I am aware that it ill-becomes one who is addressing the House for the first time to seem in any way, may I say, to wish to lay down the law; but I would say that many of the points which have been raised by hon. Members who have spoken to-night had much better be left to Egypt to settle. I would not suggest for a moment that they are not very important points, but it is so difficult to get the right atmosphere here.
But in saying that, I would not have it thought that I am ignorant of one point which no one who wishes to look at the Egyptian problems of to-day can ignore. I would not have it thought that I wish to shirk saying something about the question of Zaghloul Pasha. My experience in Egypt, such as it has been, has taught me that it is always wise to avoid extremes, and I rather regretted that the Leader of the House should have taken quite so decided a line about Zaghloul Pasha. When I was in Egypt I never ventured any portion of my modest salary in bets as to the future career of Egyptian politicians. It was too great a risk to take. And in my short experience I have seen so many turns of the wheel, I have seen so many who have been denounced, shall I say turn up trumps, that I should be very sorry to say there is no future for Zaghloul Pasha in Egypt. But having said that I would add this. I try to look at it fairly and honestly, and I am almost prepared to say that when Zaghloul Pasha first raised his banner it was the banner of liberty and independence that he raised. But since then he has had some strange recruits, and that banner that he hoisted is now the emblem of licence. If Zaghloul Pasha were to return to Egypt to-day I would say with great conviction that it would be the end of the dream of Egyptian independence, for I am convinced that his return at this moment would be the signal for an outburst of the most ghastly nature. If His Majesty's Government have any desire to wreck Egyptian independence let them send Zaghloul Pasha back to-morrow.
There is one thing I should have liked to hear from the Leader of the House. I should have liked to hear, in the course of the changes which are to take place in Egypt, how far, in giving the Egyptians greater freedom, we are also going to insist upon their assuming greater responsibility. It is not fair to give people increased liberty without delegating to them as well the responsibility that is entailed. I see a distinct danger that, while we may rejoice that we have arrived apparently at the prospect of a settlement, we may overlook the fact that changes are bound to come. Unless the Egyptians know definitely what their responsibilities are, things may go wrong and we, as we always do, may accept a responsibility for which we cannot justly be charged. I believe myself that in showing the Egyptians what the real responsibilities of independence are, in bringing home to them the great burdens which they will have to shoulder, lies our best chance for a real and permanent settlement.
I would take leave, to say one word on behalf of those with whom I have been for long associated, in sunshine and in storm—my old comrades in the Anglo-Egyptian Civil Service. I sometimes wonder whether those who live at home can ever realise enough how very lonely, how very homesick their fellow countrymen working overseas can feel. They look so eagerly for some sign of recognition, that I am sure there are many British officials in Egypt to-day who will be very grateful for the kind references which have been made to the work they are doing by hon. Members on both sides of the House. Besides that, the British official working abroad feels so deeply criticisms that are made, and I think what cuts him really deepest is the suggestion that his motives are purely selfish. I am happy to think that that suggestion is not often made. In the course of the changes which are bound to take place it is, I fear, inevitable that some of the very best of the British officials in Egypt, officials whom I am sure the Egyptians themselves would be only too glad to retain, will find that they will have to retire. I would ask the House to believe that it will not be from motives of pique. There will be no desire to leave simply because the new policy is not the policy to which they were accustomed. I think I know my old colleagues better than that. If some of them have to go they will go because they are married men with families. They must provide for their families, and it would be idle to pretend that a purely Egyptian administration, or rather, an administration which depends upon the changes and turns of the Egyptian Government, will offer them quite as good a guarantee as they had in the past. If any such British officials should have to leave, the question of the compensation they will receive and the pensions they will be awarded will be a matter to be arranged between His Majesty's Government and the Egyptian Government. I feel perfectly certain that the Egyptian Government would want to do the right and proper thing. If these changes have to be made, if these men do have to go, there is something a little more than the question of mere pensions and mere compensation. It would mean a great deal to them if they could think that we in this House had a kindly thought for them, that we realised their difficulties, and that we were grateful to them for the service which they have, tried to render. I am very grateful to hon. Members for the kind consideration they have shown to me. I only fear that I have trespassed upon their kindness, but I am convinced that it is in this House, not in the street or in the columns of the public Press, but in this House alone that we can create an atmosphere favourable to a settlement which may bring peace and contentment to a very old, and a very weary land.
I shall carry the general sense of the House with me in expressing appreciation of the very interesting and very able speech to which we have just listened. Every hon. Member who makes his maiden speech hopes to make a success of it, but very few do so. The hon. Gentleman can congratulate himself on having made a thorough 100 per cent, success in his first effort. I should like to assure him that I believe in all quarters of the House there is a very full appreciation of the great men who rule Egypt, and of the lesser men who are not so often heard about, that the work they do in the face of great difficulties is fully appreciated, and that the whole race and the whole Empire are proud of them. When on this side of the House we have to say certain things in criticism of the policy or lack of policy of the Government, we speak of the Government as a Government, and we are not attacking their servants or their instruments abroad. I believe that the whole trouble in Egypt since the Armistice has been the indecision and lack of policy on the part of the Government; first of all in arresting certain Egyptian patriots, deporting them, then releasing them, then rearresting them, and again deporting them; then sending one Mission and then another Mission; then negotiating with this group in London and with that group in Cairo, and then sending the Colonial Secretary to Egypt, where ho made no secret of the contempt which he and his little clique in the Cabinet had for the national aspirations in Egypt. It is to these things that we can look for the present disorganisation and the sorry figure that we have been cutting in the eyes of the world. A great part of the Debate has been taken up in the abuse or praise of one of the leading Egyptian nationalists Zaghloul Pasha. That is a matter which could well be left to the Egyptian people. If they want him back, they will demand him back. I have not been in Egypt for some years, but from what I hear of the temper of the people there, if they want him back they will insist on having him back, and there will be no peace in Egypt until he is brought back. If, on the other hand, as the Lord Privy Seal has said, they are glad to be rid of him, they will not insist on his return. That is a matter which only the people of Egypt can settle.
The name of Gladstone has been derided in connection with Egyptian policy, but I would remind Conservative Members that great leaders of the Conservative party like Lord Derby and Lord Salisbury fully endorsed Gladstone's policy when they came into power, and gave most solemn pledges that they would not attempt to annex Egypt, incorporate it in the Empire, or occupy it permanently. I have quotations in my possession to prove that, if necessary. One of the causes of trouble in Egypt which is of great importance and will have to be considered is the same cause of trouble with which we are being faced in India, and that is that we somehow or other seem to have lost the art—and here I am not attacking the regular Civil Service in India or Egypt—of conciliating to our rule the peoples of Asia or Asia Minor or Egypt.
No, it is because there are certain people in the House of Commons, in spite of their being few in number, who are prepared to stand up and to speak out when there is any oppression of minor nations that there is yet hope of friendship with those people. Thank heaven there are some Liberals who are not ashamed of championing the cause of the oppressed, and who intend to do it for many years, so long as there are any oppressed in the world. We beg the Government to look very carefully at the causes of the present unrest in Egypt. Everybody admits the value to Egypt of the great works of engineering and the good system of jurisprudence that we have introduced, and the commercial prosperity we have brought to the country. Egypt is a wealthy country to-day. Alexandria is one of the wealthiest cities in the world. We have a splendid Civil Service there, the Anglo-Egyptian Service. Why, then, is there this passionate desire for independence? It is because of the lack of sympathy with people of a different race and of a different creed from ourselves. Egypt has been ruled by 37 dynasties. It is not a new nation, and they are not a people with no interest in their history, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Moss Side (Lieut.-Colonel Hurst). They are people with a great history, and they are proud of it. They resent being treated as underlings, as hewers of wood and drawers of water. If we wish to continue our association with Egypt under the new régime we have to instil into the people that we send our there, whether as merchants, soldiers or officials, that they have to treat the Egyptians as equals. I cannot help drawing attention to the greater success of the French in their African and Asiatic Protectorates and Colonies compared with the success we have achieved. Anyone who travels in the French colonies and then visits our own Protectorates or Egypt must become aware of that difference. The French treat the people of their Protectorates and Colonies on the plane of equality, and make them feel that they are not looked down upon. Unless we get that trait of sympathy, unless we get that art of reconciling these people to association with us we shall lose, not our self-governing Dominions, because they are Commonwealths, but our Dependencies, Protectorates and Asiatic Dominions.
Speeches like that delivered by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) do harm. That speech will be repeated in the Egyptian papers and held up by the firebrands as representing the views of the English gentry. I hope that it will be understood that speeches like that of the Noble Lord could not have been made but for the awful years of war. Before the War the Noble Lord could not have abused an old, broken, exile like Zaghloul in the extremely vulgar way that he did. I only hope that the proposed settlement in Egypt will be a settlement. I hope that the Government have at last found a policy and mean to stick to it and carry it through vigorously. I have not heard of any die-hard attacks to-night, but they are to come. When there are some disturbances in Egypt then the die-hards will begin to wake up and find that they have lost a fresh line of attack just as in the case of the Irish settlement when we heard nothing for the first few weeks, and then they gathered their courage and attacked the Government and the Government very nearly weakened in their Irish policy. Let them go through with their Egyptian policy, leave it to the people of Egypt to elect the men they are to negotiate with. It is no use negotiating with statesmen nominated by the Sultan on the advice of English officials. At the very first moment when we have got our guarantees we must invite Egyptian people to chose their representatives to negotiate with us. All this could have been done in 1919, early after the Armistice. That was the time for us to implement our pledges given during the War and to carry into effect the ideas.
I welcome the opinion of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull that the British Government have at last taken the right path in Egypt, and I only hope that he and his Friends will try to impress that view on those in Egypt with whom they may have influence and will abstain from any action which will tend to fan again in that unfortunate country the flame which has been burning for the last three years. I listened to the speech of the Leader of the House with a great deal of disappointment because he was very unsuccessful in giving any explanation of the unfortunate conduct of the Egyptian negotiations. If Lord Allenby is right in thinking that a settlement of this longstanding and difficult problem could have been arrived at by such simple means as are not being adopted, why on earth have the Government waited so long before taking this course? Why did not they listen to Sir Reginald Wingate at the end of 1918, and what reparation do they propose to make to that great public servant who was made a scapegoat for their own shortcomings? I have not met him for more than 20 years and I have had no communication with him of any kind, but I do think that to that great representative of the British Government some recognition is now due for the injustice which was meted out to him and the ill-mannered treatment which he received when he was recalled from Egypt at the beginning of 1919 and kept hanging about for weeks before the Government would even listen, as I understand, to what he had to say. The acknowledgment of Egyptian independence sacrifices no British interest of any kind. This in-
dependence was admitted far more recently than appears from any quotation which we have had to-day. It was even admitted in the explanatory note, of such an objectionable character, which Lord Allenby was forced to present to the Khedive only last December, on page 11 of Egypt, number 4—
When the Ottoman Empire joined the side of Germany not only British communications but Egyptian independence were forthwith jeopardised.
Why, if we admit this independence even when we disregard Egypt in this very unfortunate manner, have we made such a tremendous difficulty about abolishing the Protectorate? The great interest of this country is to avoid foreign interference in Egypt, and for this purpose we must remain the sole protectors of foreign interests. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) and other Members wish to see us clear out of Egypt altogether. That is an impossible solution. Foreign interests must remain, and if we go right out it is certain that when foreigners have any dispute other countries will interfere and others will benefit by our self-sacrifice. We have to stay in Egypt, but we must stay with the consent of the people and for our mutual interests.
A good deal has been said about the Milner Report. I shall offer only one criticism of that most valuable document. I think they showed very little appreciation of the difficulties of the Egyptian Government when they proposed that the matter should be settled by treaty under the then conditions. The Legislative Assembly has been suspended in Egypt from the outbreak of war, and there is no one capable in Egypt of binding that country by any treaty. I think the Government were very much to blame for not seeing this fact before, and for putting themselves into a vicious circle—that Egypt could not expect this country to make any concessions until in advance she pledged herself to accept those concessions as a final settlement. No Egyptian Government without opportunity of taking the opinion of the country, could possibly commit itself in that way. In view of that fact, it is difficult to understand why the Government allowed Lord Allenby to go on putting this point of view for 12 months before accepting it.
In his dispatch of 6th December, 1921, Lord Allenby said:
During the past twelve months I have more than once given it as my opinion that no signed agreement was practicable unless His Majesty's Government were prepared to accord to Egypt a higher degree of independence than they are clearly disposed to grant, and that it would therefore eventually be incumbent upon them to define their own policy and give effect to it.
They have done it now. Why did they not do it before? Who was responsible for the astounding blunder of the lecture which was addressed to the Sultan in the declaratory Note of 3rd December? If there had been any chance of a treaty being signed it would have been ended effectually by this most unfortunate and ill-advised document. Throughout this controversy Lord Allenby has combined conciliation and firmness, whereas the home Government have combined tactlessness and the utmost vacillation. They have played into the hands of fanaticism by showing that they were incapable of listening to reason. I express no opinion as to whether Zaghloul might have compromised at an earlier period, but I am afraid there is no doubt that by their procrastination the Government have now made him a fanatic. It is quite probable that, having been forced into his present position, if he were brought back to Egypt it might mean a great deal of bloodshed and the loss of hundreds and thousands of lives. Under these conditions, I think the House will hesitate to endorse the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) and other hon. Members opposite, that Zaghloul Pasha should be released. In this matter, surely we must leave the decision to the man on the spot. Now that the Government have at last had the wisdom to listen to him, I hope they will continue in their new course and not attempt to force the hands of the local administration in such matters. Personal influence is very powerful in the East, and Lord Allenby's success, if success it proves to be, as we all hope it may, will make him as great an asset to Egypt and Great Britain alike as Lord Cromer was. The Government's attitude in this Debate has been to show indifference to the criticisms advanced as to their past conduct, and to take up the attitude that "All's well that ends well." I do not think that is enough. We have to try
and avoid the repetition of these mistakes in many other difficulties which beset our Empire and will beset it in the future. I hope the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs will give us some explanation as to why this trouble was allowed to develop so badly and continue so long.
As Members who have sat throughout the greater part of this Debate, are aware I have listened to a great part of it myself, and I do not think I have ever listened to a more satisfactory Debate in this House. My hon. and gallant Friend who has just resumed his seat, said that the attitude of the Government has been that of those who say "all's well that ends well." All is not yet ended, but I think to-day we are able to record a satisfactory advance. I am not disposed, at this late hour, to traverse the history of our relations with Egypt during the last few years. We have discussed these matters before, and I do not know that all of our discussions have tended to the bettering of conditions in Egypt, or of our relations with Egypt. I will say quite frankly for myself that I think mistakes have been made. I will qualify that by saying I have never seen any situation so important, so critical, touching so intimately the 'welfare of two peoples, in respect of which it could not be said that mistakes have been made. Considering that the worst of the Government difficulties emerged from the furnace of the War, that some of the action of His Majesty's Government which has come under the severest criticism was actually in the midst of the War, how is it possible that it should not be easy for critics to advance this, that or the other charge against the Government and those who have been responsible for the administration of Egypt?
The circumstances have been very difficult. I want to say nothing, myself, disrespectful of any Egyptian public man. I never have said in this House anything disrespectful, even of Zaghloul Pasha, but I must say that statesmen of great influence who conduct campaigns similar to those which Zaghloul Pasha conducted, from time to time are assuming enormous responsibilities. I think it is fair to say that a considerable part of the difficulty that has been experienced in Egypt, and in our relations to Egypt in the last two or three years, is directly traceable to the ill-advised, as I think, and reckless agitation of a man who in former times had rendered admirable service to Egypt. I do not myself see any advantage at this moment in going over all that ground. I hope we may be permitted to make a fresh start, and it is interesting to observe in connection with this Debate that the proposed Treaty, the actual terms of the Agreement, have not been challenged by any speaker who has addressed the House this evening. That surely is the most important, the most significant, and the most interesting feature of this Debate. I expected myself that those terms would have been criticised from one side as being far too much in the direction of British interests, or that they would have been attacked from another side as perhaps involving some danger to our particular interests in Egypt. Unless some speech was made during the short time when I was absent from the House myself, no attack has been made on the actual subject under discussion, namely, the present policy of this Government in this House to-day.
May I, in a word, refer to one or two specific points that have been raised by hon. Members, and before I do that, I hope I may, without any presumption, be permitted to join in the greetings that my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Loyd) has met with in the House. It will be agreed in every part of the House, I think, that we have rarely listened to a maiden speech of so much distinction, based on so intimate a knowledge of the subject under discussion. The hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills) was the only hon. Member, I think, who sought to criticise one of the excepted matters in the terms of the Agreement. He referred to the Act of Indemnity, and I think, if I may be permitted to say so, he was under some misapprehension as to what the Act of Indemnity means and for what it is intended. It is intended to make strictly legal all acts done in Egypt under martial law, and it is, I understand, a common form in regard to situations where martial law is superseded by the ordinary processes of law. Indeed, I think I am right in saying that this House passed an Act of Indemnity to cover the extraordinary proceedings that were done under D.O.R.A. There is nothing, I can assure the hon. Gentleman, in the least sinister about the proposed Act of Indemnity.
My hon. Friend the Member for Royton (Mr. Sugden) referred to a very important matter, that is to say, the question of the Sudan, and cotton-growing in the Sudan. It is not a matter, I think, that I need develop at length this evening, but I can assure him, and other Members of the House interested in the subject, that the whole question is very much under the consideration of the Government at the present time. There was one other matter—the only other matter to which I myself will refer—that has been raised by several Members of the House, and that is the question of Sir Reginald Wingate. I wish one or other of the hon. Members who touched on that question had felt himself able to formulate definitely what exactly is the nature of the complaint.
One of my hon. Friends below the Gangway mentioned the other day that, at some stage or another, it was proposed to raise in the House the question of the treatment of Sir Reginald Wingate. I went to very great trouble, and embarked on a very considerable study of documents in order to discover the definite and concrete com- plaint that was made on behalf of Sir Reginald Wingate.
You have turned off a man in the full vigour of work, and left him without employment, when he was carrying it on with the greatest efficiency. You turn him out without notice, and finally adopt his policy.
I am not for a moment going to contrast the merits of one great official with those of another. I have, myself, the profoundest admiration for the merits of Sir Reginald Wingate. I am not going to contrast, as I say, the merits of one great official with those of another, but the House in every quarter has borne testimony to the exceptional qualities and the exceptional suitability of the present High Commissioner to advise the Sultan of Egypt at this time. I have gone most carefully into the whole of that question. It involves the examination of an immense number of documents. I should profoundly regret if I thought any injustice had been done to Sir Reginald Wingate, but, on an examination of the papers in question, I am unable to support the charges made in this House by my right hon. Friend and other Members.
In conclusion, I say again that this is one of the most remarkable Debates that has taken place in this House since I have been a Member of it. Although criticisms of the foreign policy of the Government have been frequent and free, this is about the only occasion in the recent history of this Government when all parties in the House and all Members of this House have combined to congratulate the Government on the policy which they are now pursuing. I venture to think
|Division No. 48.]||AYES.||[10.43 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Gretton, Colonel John||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Perring, William George|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Hallwood, Augustine||Pollock. Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Baldwin, Rt. Han. Stanley||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'I, W.D'by)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. sir Frederick G.||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Reid, D. D.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Remer, J. R.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col W C. H. (Devizes)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hills, Major John Waller||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Hinds, John||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Berwick, Major G. O.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Ci'ckm'nn, W.)||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Briggs, Harold||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Smith, Sir Haroid (Warrington)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon, Cuthbert||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Jephcott, A. R.||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Johnstone, Joseph||Stewart, Gershom|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Casey, T. W.||Kidd, James||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm.,W.)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lloyd, George Butler||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Cope, Major William||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lorden, John William||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Lort-Williams, J.||Waddington, R.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Wallace, J.|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Ednam, Viscount||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Manville, Edward||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Elveden, Viscount||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Evans, Ernest||Matthews, David||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Fildes, Henry||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Morris, Richard||Windsor, Viscount|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Winterton, Earl|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)||Wise, Frederick|
|Forrest, Walter||Nail, Major Joseph||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Neal, Arthur||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Gange, E. Stanley||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Naylor, Thomas Ellis|
|Ammon, Charles George||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Rendall, Atheistan|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Grundy, T. W.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Barton, sir William (Oldham)||Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Halls, Walter||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Hancock, John George||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hayday, Arthur||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hirst, G. H.||Spencer, George A.|
|Bromfield, William||Holmes, J. Stanley||Sutton, John Edward|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Irving, Dan||Swan, J. E.|
|Cairns, John||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cape, Thomas||Kennedy, Thomas||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kenyon, Barnet||Wedgwood, Colonel Joslah C.|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lawson, John James||Wignall, James|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lunn, William||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Finney, Samuel||Mills, John Edmund||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Foot, Isaac||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Myers, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. G. Thorne and Mr. Henderson.|
Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.