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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5TH. HOUSE OF COMMONS. New writs were ordered for the election of members for the Chertsey division of Surrey, in the room of Mr. C. H. Combe, and the Bridgeton division of Glasgow, in the place of Sir G. O. Trevelyan, resinged. Mr. Wharton brought up and the Clerk read a report of the first meeting of the South Africa Committee, held earlier in the day. The report contained the conditions under which the Committee were prepared to hear evidence and speeches of counsel appearing for interes- ted persons. Answering Sir W. Wedderburn, Lord G. Hamilton said the abnormal mortality caused in India by the famine in 1877-8 wag calcula- ted to be 5,850,000, but of course any estimate of that kind must necessarily be regarded as approximate only. Reports on the mortality during the present famine would be laid on the table of the House every six weeks. The House went into Committae of Supply on the Civil Service Estimates, and considered an estimate of £ 798,802, 'the amount required in the yea-ending 31st March, 1897, as a grant in aid of vhe expenditure incurred in con- nection with the Egyptian expedition to Don- gola.' Sir M. Hieks-Beacli explained that the cost of the Egyptian expedition properly so called was £ 733,000. As to the criticisms passed on expedition last year, the only anticipation that had been fulfilled was that he would be called upon to ask Parliament to vote a certain sum of money towards this expedition. If, how- ever, the calculations he had every right to form had be-,Y, realised, he would not have had to -ask the Committee to vote a single penny towards the cost,:of the exi)eclit-on. The decision of the Mixed Court had created a remarkable situation, and he was bound to say that when next year the time arrived at which the consti- tution and powers of those Mixed Courts had to be reconsidered a very grave question ought to and must arise as to what should be their powers in future. For the present the Egyptian Government had no option but to pay the money, and the British Government had no option but to recoup them. The fact that we had, through no fault or action of our own, been compelled to make that advance was rather calculated to prolong than shorten our occupation of Egypt. The question of our posi- tion there had long ago passed beyond the region of abstract questions. Owing to a long chain of events for which no Minister or Government could be held specially reponsible, Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues were forced into that occupation, and from that day to this; though Governments have been in office whose leading members ardently desired that that occupation should cease, this country; had never been able to terminate it either withpionour or with safety. The main cause of that prolonga- tion and of the probability of a prolongation much further than was anticipated (was, he believed, owing to France never allowing us to have a free hand in Egypt. As to the future the Government felt that Egypt could never be held to be permanently secure so long as a hostile Power was in possession of the Nile I Valley up to Khartoum. Mr. J. Morley said he thought no one in the House could conceal from himself the gravity of some of the language used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If ever there was a moment when it was most desirable not to allow a whisper to be uttered that might break the harmony among the European Powers, when neither by word nor act should anything be done to increase the indignation felt notor iously in some quarters against this country, he should have thought this was such a mom- ent. How could Sir M. Beach suppose that the language he used in the earlier part of his re- marks about the action of France a»d Russij* in reference to the Caisse could be regarded as anything but a direct and most imprudent challenge to those Powers to take up a new position ? He admitted that. we had responsi, bilities in Egypt and he had no desire that we should evade them, but if the Government were going to raise the general question he hoped members and constituents would ask explicitly and plainly what were the advantages we had had to gain from a prolonged occupation of Egypt. Later in the debate, Sir W. Harcourt rose for the purpose of protesting against the mis- chievous language used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sir M. Hicks-Beach entirely disclaimed having used any language of menace or defi- ance. Sir W. Harcourt replied that the proposal to revise the power and authority of the Mixed Courts was a dangerous position to take. It was time a protest was made, and he hoped that on the part of the Government something might be said that would remove an impression so perilous in the present position of Europe. Mr. Curzon maintained that there was no- thing provocative or irritating in the language of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Courtney and Mr. Arnold-Forroter strong- ly condemned the proposed expedition. Mr. Knox moved the reduction of the vote by 972,500, the amount of Ireland's contribu- tion, but the amendment was rejected by 139 votes to 29 Mr. Munro Ferguson and Mr. M'Arthur, two Liberal members, supported the action of the Government, and eventually the vote was car- ried by 169 votes to 57. The vote of 9145,000, the cost of garrisoning Suakim and the neighbouring places by Indian troops, was afterwards agreed to.







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