HC Deb 16 June 1893 vol 13 cc1240-73
* MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)

rose to move— That this House has learnt with satisfaction that both Houses of the United States Congress have authorised the President to conclude a Treaty of Arbitration with any other country; and this House expresses the hope that Her Majesty's Government will, at the first convenient opportunity, open up negotiations with the Government of the United States with a view to the conclusion of such a Treaty between the two nations, so that any differences or disputes arising between the two Governments which cannot be adjusted by diplomacy shall be referred to arbitration. He said that before proceeding with his Motion he had the honour to submit a Petition (which arrived too late to present in the ordinary course) from some hundreds of British subjects resident in Paris praying the House to pass the Resolution he was submitting. If he had been privileged to move this Resolution in the last Parliament very little explanation would have been necessary, as most of the Members would have been familiar with the subject, a great number of them having taken part in the efforts then made in favour of arbitration between this country and the United States. But the Fates had denied him that opportunity. In 1887 an Address was presented to the President and Congress of the United States signed by 234 Members of the House of Commons. That address was as follows:— To the President and Congress of the United States of America. The undersigned, Members of the British Parliament, learn with the utmost satisfaction that various proposals have been introduced into Congress, urging the Government of the United States to take the necessary steps for concluding with the Government of Great Britain a treaty, which shall stipulate that any differences or disputes arising between the two Governments which cannot be adjusted by diplomatic agency shall be referred to arbitration. Should such a proposal happily emanate from the Congress of the United States, our best influence shall be used to ensure its acceptance by the Government of Great Britain. The conclusion of such a treaty would be a splendid example to those nations who are wasting their resources in war-provoking institutions, and might induce other Governments to join the peaceful compact. For reasons which he need not refer to, it was not considered advisable to ask Members of the House of Lords to sign the Address; but a considerable number of Peers wrote expressing their concurrence in the effort that was being made to promote a peaceful alliance between this country and the United States of America. The significance of that Address would be understood when it was remembered that it established an entirely new precedent. He well recollected the late Mr. John Bright observing when he signed the Address that it was the first time the Members of one Legislature had ever memorialised the Members of another. The Address was presented to President Cleveland at his official residence in Washington on October 31st, 1887, by a deputation of 10 Members of the late Parliament and three representatives of the Trade Union Congress. The subject was discussed with the Committee on Foreign Relations, and it was evident, from the moment the deputation first landed in America, that the right chord had been struck. The Committee on Foreign Relations, having carefully considered the subject, submitted to the Senate and the House of Representatives the following Resolution, which was unanimously adopted by both Houses on April 4, 1890:— Concurrent Resolution to invite International Arbitration as to Differences between Nations. That the President be, and is hereby requested to invite, from time to time as tit occasions may arise, negotiations with any Government with which the United States has, or may have, diplomatic relations, to the end that any differences or disputes arising between the two Governments which cannot be justified by diplomatic agency may be referred to arbitration, and be peacefully adjusted by such means. A careful reading of that Resolution would show that the prayer of the memorialists was more than answered. The Memorial only asked that this country and the United States should agree to arbitrate their differences; but the Resolution unanimously adopted by Congress authorised the President to invite other nations to do the same. He (Mr. Cremer) was not aware that that Resolution was ever officially communicated to Her Majesty's Government.


It was.


Even if it had not been submitted to Her Majesty's Government, an invitation to join the United States in a Treaty of Arbitration was subsequently addressed to Lord Salisbury's Government. The same month in which the Congress adopted the Resolution a Pan-American Conference meeting at Washington also adopted a Treaty of Arbitration, and by a subsequent Resolution the Conference resolved to invite the Governments of Europe to become assenting parties to the Treaty. That Resolution and a copy of the Treaty was communicated to Lord Salisbury; but, so far as he was aware, it was never replied to. He was not endeavouring to cast any reflection upon the late Government, because he heartily and cheerfully acknowledged the promptitude with which they had endeavoured to settle more than one difference with other Powers by means of arbitration, and he was fully aware that many hon. Members on the opposite side of the House were favourable to the settlement of international disputes by such means. But he had good ground for asserting that the Resolution passed by the Pan, American Conference was forwarded to Lord Salisbury, and he should be glad to learn that it was duly considered and officially replied to. The Treaty, accompanied by a Circular Letter of Instructions was sent to all the American diplomatic Representatives abroad by the Government of the United States, and the instructions sent to those Representatives was signed by Mr. Blaine. No European Power had as yet accepted the invitation thereby conveyed, and the reason was obvious. Each Government was waiting what the others would do, and no one had the courage to take the initiative and set an example, as the present German Chancellor had said. The King of Denmark had made a similar statement quite recently, adding that if any of the leading European Powers would set the example, he would gladly follow suit. All the nations of the old world were groaning under the burden of military preparations, and it was in the hope that Her Majesty's Government would take the initiative and set the example that he brought forward this Motion. He was not so sanguine as to believe that if this Motion should be accepted, and an effort should be made to carry it into effect, that universal peace would be at once secured; but a beginning—and an important beginning—would have been made, and a stimulus would have been given to the movement in many other countries. In France, a large number of Deputies and Senators had indicated their desire for the conclusion of a Treaty of Arbitration between that country and the United States, and, but for recent unfortunate events, a Motion, similar to that he was now moving, would have been submitted in the Senate by a distinguished senator. The Danish Parliament had already by a considerable majority expressed its desire for the conclusion of a similar Treaty between that country and the United States. Many Members of the Italian Parliament were also in favour of doing the same, and the Representatives of other Parliaments had, at the Conferences which had been held at Paris, London, Rome, and Berne, expressed their hearty concurrence in the idea. If the House of Commons should accept the present Resolution, a powerful impetus would be given to the movement in every country of Europe. He knew it was said that Governments would only obey the obligations of such a Treaty as long as it suited their purpose to do so. He knew that Treaties had been made and broken. But the Treaties which had been made and violated were such as the conqueror imposed on the conquered, and now that public opinion was such an important factor in the government of the world he had yet to learn that nations would disregard Treaties into which they had freely and fairly entered during a time of peace. It would probably be urged against the adoption of this Motion that its advocates might fairly trust to the growth of public sentiment in favour of arbitration, and not seek to tie the hands of the Government by compelling them, when a dispute arose which could not be adjusted by diplomacy, to resort to arbitration before declaring war. But that was exactly what they wished to do. They wished to tie the hands of Governments so as to render them powerless for mischief. If the Government of the United States was willing to submit to the pinioning process why should we object? It might be that the late Government was, and that the present Government were also, favourable to a pacific policy; but what guarantee was there that the next or some subsequent Government would be of the same character? Governments come and Governments go; and it might be that some Government, although willing and anxious to preserve the peace, might, during a period of excitement similar to that which prevailed during the Trent outrage and the Alabama dispute, plunge the nation into war. The late Earl Russell once said— On looking at all the wars which have been carried on during the last century, and examining into the causes of them, I do not see one of those wars in which, if there had been proper temper between the parties, the questions in dispute might not have been settled without recourse to arms. He believed Earl Russell was right in his conclusions. The best way of restoring proper temper between nations and individuals who had matters in dispute was to afford them proper time for reflection; and he believed that the sobering and softening influence of time which would result from a Treaty of Arbitration with America would render war between the two countries practically impossible. He did not quite understand or know what the attitude of the Government would be in regard to this Motion. He had heard that the Prime Minister would presently declare the intention of the Government. Well, he remembered what the right hon. Gentleman said and did in 1873 when the late Mr. Henry Richard introduced a Motion in favour of inviting foreign Powers to join in the establishment of a permanent system of international arbitration. But that Motion was of a different character from the present. Mr. Richard's Motion proposed that we should extend a general invitation to all the Powers of the world, while the present Motion was limited in its application to the United States of America. Then we were asked to invite; now we were the invited. When the Alabama question was under consideration in the House the present Prime Minister said— Both sides of this House are animated by one sentiment—that we should make progress in gradually establishing in Europe a state of opinion which will favour the common action of the Powers to avert the terrible calamity of war. And speaking again on the same subject at the Guildhall of the City of London the right hon. Gentleman said— But differences will occur; quarrels will arise, and how are these contests to be settled? 'By blood!' has been the unfortunate reply almost invariably in former times, a great experiment is now being tried. It may be no more than an experiment, too bright and too happy to be capable of being realised in this wayward and chequered world in which we live; but it is an experiment worth the trial—whether it is possible to bring the conflicts of opinion between nations to the adjudication of the tribunal of reason instead of to the bloody arbitrament of arms. The success of that experiment was now a matter of history, and stood out in bold relief as one of the most glorious incidents in the illustrious career of the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Cremer) asked the right hon. Gentleman, with all the earnestness of his soul, whether the time had not arrived for making another experiment in the same direction and taking another step towards the completion of their hopes? It was 22 years since the Prime Minister uttered those memorable words, and during the period which had since elapsed there had been a wonderful growth of public opinion on the subject among all classes of the community. This growth was strikingly shown in the Circular which had been distributed amongst Members; and the fact that upwards of 2,000,000 of people had by petition and resolution endorsed the Motion was, he believed, altogether without parallel. He was anxious to know what answer the Government would give to such an extraordinary expression of public opinion. There were many other advantages which would accrue if arbitration were adopted. Panics would be checked, commerce would be steadied, the funds would not go up and down with every warlike rumour, and the way would be paved for a general reduction of armaments. But he would leave these considerations to the right hon. Baronet who would second the Motion (Sir J. Lubbock) and others who would follow in the Debate. In conclusion, he hoped the Prime Minister would not ask them to be content with mere expressions of sympathy, but would boldly do for the toilers of the latter half of the 19th century what Moses did for the Israelites and would make an earnest effort to deliver them from the bondage of conscription and the burden of armaments. He (Mr. Cremer) was satisfied, from the experience he had gathered amongst the masses of the people in every country of the world, that if the right hon. Gentleman was only bold enough to take this step he would not only earn the lasting gratitude of the toiling millions, but would make for himself a name in history, and occupy a position in the future which the whole world would look upon with admiration. The people of this country, and the Government and people of the United States, had manifested their desire to take the step proposed in his Resolution, and he could not bring himself to believe that the only barrier to such a consummation would be set up by Her Majesty's Government. He begged to move the Motion which stood in his name.

* SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)

said, he rose to second the Motion moved by the hon. Member for Shoreditch. The hon. Member had spoken for the working men of the country, and he (Sir J. Lubbock) believed the great majority of the mercantile community were of the same opinion. He did not, indeed, wish to put the question on any merely material ground, for it appealed to the great principles of justice, humanity, and religion. It was—and he was sure the House would regard it as—a question far above Party. The carnage, suffering, and misery which war entailed were terrible to contemplate, and constituted an irresistible argument in favour of arbitration. It was not from undervaluing these considerations that he would argue the question on other grounds, but only because, being anxious to save the time of the House, he would confine his remarks to that point of the question with which he was most conversant. The present state of things was a disgrace to human nature. There might be some excuse for barbarous tribes who settled their disputes by brute force, but that civilised nations should do so was marvellous, and not only repugnant to our moral, but also to our common, sense. At present even the peace establishments of Europe comprised 3,500,000 men; the war establishments were over 10,000,000, and when the proposed arrangements were completed would exceed 20,000,000. The nominal cost was over £200,000,000 annually, but, as the Continental Armies were to a great extent under conscription, the real cost was far larger. Of course, there are considerations deeper and graver than questions of money; but yet money represented human labour and human life. It was impossible for anyone to contemplate the present military and naval arrangements without the gravest forebodings. Even if they did not end in war, they would eventually lead to ruin and bankruptcy. The principal countries of Europe were running deeper and deeper into debt. During the last 20 years the Debt of Italy had risen from £483,000,000 to £516,000,000, that of Austria from £340,000,000 to £580,000,000, that of Russia from £340,000,000, to £750,000,000, and that of France from £500,000,000 to £1,300,000,000. Taking the Government Debts of the world together they amounted in 1870 to £4,000,000,000—a fabulous, terrible, and crushing weight. But what were they now? They had risen to £6,000,000,000, and were still increasing. By far the greater part of this enormous, this apalling, burden—this terrible incubus—was represented by no valuable property, had fulfilled no useful purpose; it had been absolutely wasted, or what, from an international point of view, was even worse, thrown away on war or in preparation for war. In face of these figures we could not expect confidence and prosperity, and we could not wonder at, however much we might regret, the growth of Socialist and Anarchist feeling. In fact, we never had any peace; we lived, practically, in a permanent state of war, happily without battles or bloodshed, but not without terrible suffering. Even in our own case one-third of our national income was spent in preparing for future wars, another third in paying for past ones, and only one-third was left for the government of the country. Our interests at stake wore enormous. Of the Mercantile Marine of the world 9,700,000 tons belonged to Great Britain, and only 6,700,000 to the rest of the world. Lord Derby, who always spoke with wisdom and moderation, wisely said that "the greatest of British interests is peace." But if we had the greatest stake in peace, on the other hand the economical condition of Continental countries was far worse than ours. The great Military Powers of Europe were sinking deeper and deeper into debt; the present system would inevitably lead to general bankruptcy. For his part, though not a "peace-at-any-price" man, he was not ashamed to say he was a peace-at-almost-any-price man. No doubt there were some vital questions which could not be referred to arbitration; but as the hon. Member had pointed out, Lord J. Russell, a very high authority, said that there had not been a war for the last 100 years which might not well have been settled without recourse to arms. The late Lord Derby was not a man easily led away by plausible suggestions or visionary schemes, and, speaking on a difficulty with Spain, he said— Unhappily, there is no international tribunal to which cases of this kind can be re-referred, and there is no International Law by which parties can be required to refer cases of this kind. If such a tribunal existed it would be a great benefit to the civilised world. Lord Clarendon in 1856 submitted the following resolution to the Conference of Paris— The Plenipotentiaries do not hesitate to express, in the name of their Governments, the wish that States between which any serious misunderstanding may arise should, before appealing to arms, have recourse, as far as circumstances might allow, to the good offices of a friendly Power. This proposal was unanimously accepted; would that it had been acted upon! Why did Lord Clarendon propose this if it was impracticable? The condition of Europe could not be viewed without alarm. Russia was honeycombed with Nihilism, Germany alarmed with Socialism, France in a panic from Anarchy. There was no justification, no excuse for recent dynamite crimes, but nothing happened in this world without a cause. Continental workmen wore working terribly long hours for very low wages. If hon. Members had read the recent reports from Italy they would see the miserable condition of agricultural labourers in that country, and the small proprietors in France and elsewhere were no better off. He sympathised very much with the desire for an eight hours day, but the resolution passed in Hyde Park last year wisely desired that it should be international. If the present military system was maintained no relaxation of the hours would be possible. The only way to secure the eight hours was to diminish military expenditure. The unnecessary Army and Navy expenditure compelled every man and woman in Europe to work an hour a day more than they otherwise need. He admitted that the blame did not rest on this country. Our motto of "Defence, not defiance" applied not only to the Volunteer Force, but to the Army and Navy also. The Resolution had direct reference to the United States. War with that country would be especially terrible. With America we had not only common interests, but the ties of blood. Our commerce with America," said Cobden, "unparalleled in its magnitude, demands no armament as its guide or safeguard; nature herself is both. And will any rational mind recognise the possibility of these two communities putting a sudden stop to such a friendly traffic, and, contrary to every motive of self-interest, encountering each other as enemies? Such a rupture would be more calamitous to England than the sudden drying up of the River Thames; and more intolerable to America than the cessation of sunshine and rain over the entire surface of one of her maritime States. If that were true in 1835 how much more was it true now? Our trade with the United States was then £10,000,000, whilst now our trade with them readied £140,000,000. The citizens of the United States were our own kith and kin, they were our own blood, and war with them would be a civil war. They had intimated their willingness to refer all difficulties to arbitration. Surely we ought to meet them in the same spirit. Surely we should spare no effort and lose no chance of doing anything in our power to restore "Peace on Earth and Goodwill amongst Men." The attempt might not succeed, but at least we should have the satisfaction of feeling that we had done our best.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House has learnt with satisfaction that both Houses of the United States Congress have authorised the President to conclude a Treaty of Arbitration with any other country; and this House expresses the hope that Her Majesty's Government will, at the first convenient opportunity, open up negotiations with the Government of the United States with a view to the conclusion of such a Treaty between the two nations, so that any differences or disputes arising between the two Governments, which cannot be adjusted by diplomacy, shall be referred to arbitration."—(Mr. Cremer.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


Sir, I am too much in harmony with the general tone of the speeches we have heard to require to wait for the persuasive addresses which we may hear from other quarters in order to lead me to lay my views before the House, and I desire to do so at this very early period for a reason which will presently become apparent. In the first place, however, I cannot but say that I am heartily glad, even at the close of an exhausting week, that my hon. Friend (Mr. Cremer) and my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Lubbock) have found an opportunity of striking a stroke, be it a great stroke or not, on behalf of humanity. I think we are indebted to them both for calling our attention to the subject, and likewise for the excellent speeches they have made. In those speeches, while they were hearty from the first word to the last, I do not think the most jealous critic could detect a single unhealthy or exaggerated sentence. They were the speeches of men of humanity, the speeches of men of enlightenment, and the speeches also of sober-minded men of business. I heartily trust that they will be widely read and deeply pondered. The more they are read and pondered the better it will be for the great interests that are at stake. I think that my hon. Friend who made the Motion deserves a peculiar credit for the pains that he has taken and the degree of success that he has achieved in giving an accurate account of the state of public facts in relation to his case. I cannot be surprised that it has been impossible for him under the circumstances to attain perfect accuracy. Undoubtedly events of very great interest have happened within the last few years directly bearing upon this subject. While I have no blame whatever to pronounce upon those who have preceded us in Office, and who, I believe, were animated, speaking generally, by the same spirit as ourselves, I regret that the official and formal record of those events has not yet been placed in the hands of the House of Commons. It would have been of great advantage to my hon. Friend, and of great advantage to the House to have had it. My hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir E. Grey) will take care that the lack is at once supplied, and that the House is put in possession of those documents which were some time ago communicated to the British Government. I will by-and-bye go through the facts briefly, but in a way that I hope will convey to the mind of the House what may be called the present situation. In the meantime I will say that there are no words that my hon. Friends can use for the purpose of extolling the advantages of arbitration which would be too strong for me to subscribe to. I observe with them that war has of late years and of late generations found out for itself new channels and new methods of inflicting suffering upon humanity by means of a system known as Militarism, even in time of peace, and even—I must do justice to those who are mainly concerned—compatibly with an honest and honourable intention to promote peace. I cannot question that intention, neither can I question the fact that militarism itself is a tremendous scourge, a tremendous curse to civilisation. By militarism I mean the vast establishments we have now on foot in all countries of Europe. The great question whether militarism tends to avert war or tends to bring war into existence is as yet an unsolved problem. My hon. Friend (Mr. Cremer) quoted a saying of Lord Russell's, in which, as I understood it, I heartily concur, condemning very much in the lump the wars of the last century in which we were concerned. I think that saying may even be generalised. I think that if we cast our gaze over the whole field of history we shall find that wars fall for the most part into four classes—one of them dynastic wars, another of them territorial wars, a third religious wars, and a fourth wars for liberty. Of these four classes, I think the three first are all so bad that it has hardly ever happened that either Party has had his hands absolutely clean; and I am afraid it must be admitted that, of all the three classes, the religious wars have been the worst. There is oftentimes much that is great and noble in wars waged for liberty; yet even they have been stained by many marks of human infirmity and human crime. I must say a word upon the position of this House, and do not let my hon. Friend misunderstand me if a word I am about to say may seem to have a cooling or chilling effect. I am dreadfully afraid, on all these questions, of getting into a position in which profession outruns performance; I would much rather, if I must take my choice, be in a position where performance outruns profession. Well, now, undoubtedly we can point to something more than mere expressions of sentiment in this matter. I think that those who look back upon the history of the last 70 years will find that in a multitude of instances we have been willing to submit our claims in national disputes to the test of arbitration. However, there is a circumstance which we ought not to conceal from ourselves, and which does not speak altogether for that moderation on the part of England in the estimate she forms of her claims that I am sure we should all conscientiously desire to see her preserve. Between 1822 and 1885—a period of a little more than 60 years—we have been interested in 14 arbitrations. I am afraid the decisions given in those arbitrations are a grave factor in the history of the case, and that according to those decisions we must, in some degree, find the standard of national moderation or its reverse. Out of the 14 arbitrations I believe I am right in saying the number given in our favour has been three or, at most, four. Therefore, Sir, we have something to learn over and above the exhibition of anxiety for the prevalence of the principle of arbitration, and even over and above the readiness to submit our claims to a tribunal of that kind. Moderation in the original estimate of those claims will be found to be an element in this case not less important and not less valuable than any other that it is in our power to name. I assure my hon. Friend, in the first place, that I go with him up to a point tolerably advanced, for, though a Treaty of Arbitration is undoubtedly a novelty, and is undoubtedly an object which, in former times, it would have been deemed wild to dream of, yet I confess I do not think that it is beyond the reach of reasonable hope that such a Treaty might ere long, under favourable circumstances, be concluded between this country and the United States. But I am bound to point out that the greatest difficulty does not lie on that side of the water. It is the complexity of foreign relations on this side of the Atlantic which imports difficulty into this question. Having said that—which I hope will convey some sign of concurrence with the general principles of my hon. Friend—let me point out why I think the terms of his Motion require a change. He will agree with me that in any recital made in this House of the proceedings of foreign authorities and foreign countries, especially of foreign authorities of such weight as the Governing Body of the United States, we ought not to commit ourselves to any statement but one of absolute precision. He knows I am not blaming him; on the contrary, I have been astonished to see how near, with the private means at his disposal, he has come to attaining to the point of accuracy. But it would not be strictly accurate to say that the two Houses of Congress have authorised the President to conclude Treaties of Arbitration. A Treaty of Arbitration has undoubtedly resulted from the authority given to the President; but it would not be accurate to give that description of the authority granted by the two Houses of the Legislature. I am now going to quote the words of the Resolution, the first part of which is embodied in the Motion which the House is now debating. This is what the two Houses of Congress said— We authorise the President to invite from time to time, as fit occasions may arise, negotiations with any Government with which the United States has or may have diplomatic relations, to the end that any differences or disputes arising between the two Governments which cannot be adjusted by diplomatic agencies may be referred to arbitration and peaceably adjusted by such means. I do not question for a moment that the motive was that the Treaty of Arbitration was to be in conformity with the Resolution; but to say that it bears out the terms of the Resolution would not be an exact account of it. It is very obvious that what was contemplated by that Resolution was that the initiative should be taken by the President of the United States, who was authorised to invite negotiations with any Government with which the United States had or might have diplomatic relations. Under these circumstances I think it is plain, even as a matter of International courtesy, that in any words we may adopt we ought not to close the question and prevent that initiative by the President if he thinks fit to take it, but that we should leave the question open as to the quarter from which the initiative should proceed, instead of binding ourselves to take it. I think that end would be com- pletely gained if we were to adopt, after "peaceably adjusted by such means," the words which I should be very glad to move if my hon. Friend withdraws his Resolution. Those words are— And that the House, cordially sympathising with the purpose in view, expresses the hope that Her Majesty's Government will lend their ready co-operation to the Government of the United States upon the basis of the foregoing Resolution.

* Mr. STANSFELD (Halifax)

Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly read the whole Resolution as he suggests it should be?


Certainly. The entire Resolution would then read as follows:— That this House has learned with satisfaction that both Houses of the United States Congress have authorised the President to invite from time to time, as fit occasions may arise, negotiations with any Government with which the United States has or may have diplomatic relations, to the end that any differences or disputes arising between the two Governments which cannot be adjusted by diplomatic agencies may be referred to arbitration and peaceably adjusted by such means. And that this House, cordially sympathising with the purpose in view, expresses the hope that Her Majesty's Government will lend their ready cooperation to the Government of the United States upon the basis of the foregoing Resolution. It will be interesting to the House if, without drawing unreasonably upon its time and patience—and in that respect I am bound to acknowledge the admirable example set by the Mover and Seconder—I were to point out what has already taken place, and set forth the leading points in such a way as will enable me in a not very great number of minutes to submit the essential questions to be borne in mind. The Resolution of the United States Congress was passed in February, 1890. I have read nearly the whole of that Resolution, and incorporated it in the draft Amendment I have prepared. In April, 1890, a Conference met of no less than 18 of the American Republics.


I have received information, which has been corroborated from several quarters, that the Resolution of the Congress was passed on April 4, 1890. Still, it is no great matter whether it is April or February.


Of course, I am speaking, not from original knowledge of my own, but from the official records, which I will place in the hands of my hon. Friend to enable him to check the statement. It is not, however, a very important matter, and the hon. Member will be able to satisfy himself as to the date from the Papers that will be laid on the Table. In April, 1890, according to my statement, only two months after this Resolution had been passed, a Conference of 18 Republics gathered together and agreed to a Resolution recommending arbitration for the settlement of International disputes, and finally they agreed to a form of Arbitration Treaty. This Treaty was placed immediately in the hands of this House, and it was signed by 10 out of the 18 Governments concerned. The character of the Treaty is not at all obscure or complex. It begins—I think it is the second Article—by pointing out a number of important subjects which were fitting subjects for arbitration, and which the contracting parties bound themselves to refer to arbitration. The next Article was more sweeping, and said that subjects of International dispute generally ought to be, and should be, referred to arbitration. Then comes another Article—I think it is Article 5—which makes an important reservation, and states that there is one exception to the scope of the foregoing Articles, and it is this—that no country is to be bound to refer to arbitration any subject-matter with regard to which it may be of opinion that the matter in dispute tends to imperil its independence. Well, of course that is a very important reservation, but not so important in America probably as it would be in Europe, or, I should rather say, not so obstructive to the Treaty. Hon. Members will observe that this is the case of a Treaty between the great vast Republic of the North and the comparatively minor States of the South. I am not quite sure which of the Southern States signed the Treaty, or whether Brazil did so or not. It is obvious, in the first place, that the Republic of the United States is in very little danger of having any question raised between itself and one of the South American Republics which might possibly imperil its independence. Moreover, I should not imagine that any of the South American States would have the smallest disposition or cause to raise any quarrel with the United States Republic which would be likely to imperil their own independence. Almost all of them must be exempted from any such apprehension or desire. It is evident that what we have opened to us here is a system very simple upon the whole, fairly workable according to all experience, most beneficial in the character of the stipulations it contains, and in the example it sets to the rest of mankind. But it is equally evident that when we come to cross the Atlantic we have much greater difficulties to encounter, for there vast Armies are maintained by the great States; and, although all may have the best intentions to maintain peace, the cause of peace is ever trembling in the balance. Therefore, Ave must not suppose that the question is so easy on this side of the Atlantic. That is the nature of the Treaty, and I think I have given a sufficient account of it. In October, 1890, after no very prolonged delay, the United States Government brought the Resolution by a Circular Despatch which will be laid before the House to the knowledge of the European Governments, including our own; and now I am going to quote words which express exactly the point to which the President deemed it discreet to go in the exercise of the powers he had received. As I have said, he forwarded an account of the Treaty, and, I believe, the Treaty itself, and be expressed a hope in these words— That the important objects now sought to be attained may favourably impress this upon Her Majesty's Government. Those were significant words, but, at the same time, it is plain that they were words which did not amount to an invitation to negotiation, though they opened the subject and gave an opportunity to the Governments to whom they were addressed to make replies more or less favourable in their tone. A reply on the merits of the question was not, however, challenged. The only record of any reply that we have is that the United States Government were informed very shortly afterwards that the proposal would receive the careful consideration of Her Majesty's Government. I know not exactly what steps were taken towards that careful consideration; but I do know—and I acknowledge with pleasure the fact—that the proceedings now going on in Paris hear emphatic testimony to the desire to promote the settlement of disputes by the method of arbitration. But I am bound to tell my hon. Friends that the whole evidence was not entirely on one side. In October, 1891, President Harrison made an address to a Religious Body, the Œcumenical Methodist Council, an address which was, perhaps, somewhat sanguinary in its tone. He pointed out that there are limitations as yet to the complete and general adoption of such a scheme, and he goes on— It is quite possible to apply arbitration to a dispute as to a boundary line. It is quite impossible, it seems to me, so to apply it to the case of International feud. If there is present an aggressive spirit to seize territory or a spirit of national aggrandisement which does not stop to consider the rights of other people, in such a case and in such a spirit International arbitration is a remote and difficult operation. And he went on to say that it might be that the full application of the principle was not at present possible, "the devil being still unchained," and they would probably best promote the settlement of International disputes by arbitration by letting it be known that if there was an appeal to a fiercer tribunal the United States would not be out of the debate. That seems to qualify the very rosy colour which my hon. Friend has placed on past proceedings on this question, and will, perhaps, assist the House to form its own judgment on the matter. I will only say, in conclusion, these few words; and although these declarations in favour of arbitration and in the general interests of peace as well as against vast military establishments are of great value, there is another method of proceeding which, I think, in our limited -sphere, we upon this Bench have endeavoured to promote, and to which I have attached very considerable value, and that is the promotion of what I may call a Central Tribunal in Europe, a Council of the Great Powers, in which it may be anticipated, or, at all events, may be favourably conjectured, that the rival selfishnesses, if I may use so barbarous an expression, may neutralise one another, and something like impartial authority may be attained for the settlement of disputes. I am quite convinced that if selfishnesses were to be sunk and each State were to attain to some tolerable capacity of forming a moderate estimate of its own claims, in such a ease the action of a Central Authority in Europe would be of inestimable value. Let us do all we can in the direction which the hon. Member desires us to take by encouraging a preponderance of collective opinion in Europe over the individual selfishness of separate Powers. But depend upon it the root of the whole matter lies in the fact to which I referred some time ago, that the true way to promote the cause of peace, and the most effective of all ways, is to cherish that habit of mind by which we are enabled and accustomed to form just, moderate, rational estimates of our own claims, and not to pitch those claims at an extravagant height, and so lay the basis of future quarrel and possible bloodshed.


If the hon. Member for the Haggerston Division intends to withdraw his Amendment in favour of that of the Prime Minister, I think it would be more convenient if he were to take that course at once, instead of waiting till his present Amendment becomes the substantive Motion.


After consultation with the Seconder of the Motion, and with some of my friends who have been good enough to promise to support me, I may say I think it would be advisable, for many reasons with which I need not trouble the House, to withdraw my Motion, and accept the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House has learnt with satisfaction that both Houses of the United States Congress have, by Resolution, requested the resident to invite, from time to time, as fit occasions may arise, negotiations with any Government with which the United States have, or may have, diplomatic relations, to the end that any differences or disputes arising between the two Governments which cannot be adjusted by diplomatic agency may be referred to arbitration, and peaceably adjusted by such means; and that this House, cordially sympathising with the purpose in view, expresses the hope that Her Majesty's Government will lend their ready co-operation to the Government of the United States upon the basis of the foregoing Resolution,"—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

* Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)

I hope that the House will accord me some degree of sympathy in the difficult position in which I find myself at the present moment. I have to follow a speech to which the whole House has listened with rapt attention, all the more marked, I think, because it comes from the right hon. Gentleman on the last Parliamentary evening of a very arduous and somewhat contentious week. I trust that, in the few observations which I shall have to offer, I shall in no degree disturb the harmony which seems to exist, and which found in the speech of the Prime Minister an echo from the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Resolution. I feel bound to say, however, that I cannot take quite such a rosy view of the results which are likely to follow the acceptance of the Resolution as was taken, apparently, by hon. Members opposite. This question of International arbitration has been before the House for a long period of time. I think it was last discussed here in 1873; and I am bound to say, for my part, that the Resolution now before us, and which is likely to be accepted, is a great improvement on the one carried in the year 1873, for that seems to me to have been totally impracticable. This one, at all; events, can do no harm whatever, even if it may not do a great deal of good. I think, also, the fact that since 1843 we have been engaged in numerous arbitrations on a great variety of subjects proves more conclusively than any Resolution we could adopt that this country has accepted the principle of arbitration for International disputes. The Prime Minister, in the course of his speech, gave a list of the arbitrations which have taken place since 1822, and, according to his calculation, there were 14. I have also been at pains to examine the number, and according to my calculation it is 18.


My list only came down to 1885.


Since then there have been four—one completed, one approaching a solution, and two not very far advanced. And it is extremely satisfactory to note that eight of these arbitrations have been with the Government of the United States, thus giving proof of our strong desire to apply the principle of arbitration to disputes which may, unfortunately, from time to time arise. The Prime Minister, when dealing with this question, seemed rather to suggest that the result of these arbitrations might tend to throw cold water upon our anxiety to adopt the principle in the future. I think, on the coutrary, that the mere fact that we have so often been defeated in these arbitrations, and have, nevertheless, gone on steadily applying the principle whenever it could be applied, constitutes an argument which shows we are as a nation, whatever Government may be in power, determined, whenever opportunity properly arises, to apply the principle. I would point out that during the last 10 years we have inserted in several Commercial Treaties an Arbitration Clause for the settlement by arbitration of differences that might arise out of those Treaties; and in the Act which resulted from the Berlin Conference of 1885 a clause was also inserted providing, not exactly perhaps by arbitration, but by mediation, for adjusting any disputes that might arise between the signatory Powers in reference to territorial possessions on the Congo or in West Africa. Therefore in this matter we have a clean record. We have set a good example to the world. Whether this Resolution in favour of International arbitration is passed or rejected, the mind of the country is undoubtedly set upon carrying out the principle of arbitration, and successive Governments have applied it as far as it has been in their power to do so. I rather regret that the Mover and Seconder of the Resolution dealt so much in generalities. I am certain that no one on this side of the House would dispute their condemnation of the horrors of war, and the terrible expense it involves; but I am sorry they did not address themselves to the more practical question of how a Treaty of Arbitration with the United States would advance matters. I pointed to the fact that during recent years we have on no fewer than eight occasions entered into arbitration with the United States in cases where differences had arisen between us; and I say that if a Treaty of Arbitration had been in existence during those years no more could have been done than has been effected without the existence of such a Treaty. For it must be borne in mind that if such a Treaty was in existence, each separate question of difference as it arose must itself be the subject of a fresh Treaty. I do not suppose it is suggested that we should try to fix upon some tribunal which is for all time to settle differences that may arise between ourselves and the United States. That would be a very dangerous proposal to adopt. I need not go into the question of the reasons which make some Governments jealous of our own, nor need I go into the reasons why from time to time our relations with other Governments undergo a process of change. I think I may content myself with saying that it may very well be that the Government upon which the United States and ourselves may agree at the present time as a very proper and just tribunal to settle our differences may, in the course of a few years, become anything but an acceptable tribunal, either to the United States or to ourselves, before which to lay our differences. As each case of difference arises there will have to be a fresh tribunal, and the basis on which the arbitration is to take place will have to be settled. Remember, also, that an Arbitration Treaty in itself cannot compel arbitration. Suppose a grave question were unfortunately to arise between ourselves and the United States, on which the people of both countries felt very deeply—a question which was felt to be worth fighting for, it would be easy to tear up the Treaty of friendship we now have with the United States and the Arbitration Treaty besides. Arbitration does not necessarily preclude war. For instance, suppose one of the parties to an arbitration declined to carry out the award of the arbitration? A case of that kind actually occurred in 1839, when the Government of the United States and the Government of Mexico entered into an agreement to refer certain claims made against the Government of Mexico to four Commissioners, and in the event of the Commissioners disagreeing an appeal was to be made to the King of Prussia. The Commissioners met the following year; they allowed certain claims, and it became the duty of the Government of Mexico to carry out the award. They declined to do so, and the United States declared war against Mexico in order to enforce the arbitration. I do not say whether the Government of the United States were right or wrong in the course they took. I am not passing any judgment whatever upon it. I am simply laying down the general proposition that arbitration does not necessarily of itself preclude war. If I thought that by passing the present or any similar Resolution, and by entering into a Treaty of Arbitration with the United States, we would get rid of the chance—even the remote chance—of war arising, I would vote for it at once. But we have to look at the matter as practical men. Even with regard to the Government of the United States itself, and the Resolution of Congress in 1890, to the history of which the Prime Minister referred, there is a singular circumstance to be noted. The Joint Resolution of Congress was passed in February, 1890; but in June of the same year, only a few months afterwards, another Joint Resolution was passed by Congress authorising the President to take such measures as might be necessary to promptly obtain indemnity from the Venezuelan Government for injuries sustained in respect of a Steamship Company at the hands of Venezuelan belligerents in 1871. The professions of universal peace, which the month of February witnessed, were in the month of June, in the case of Vene- zuela, unfortunately forgotten. There can be no doubt—the Prime Minister was very careful to put the point clearly—that cases may arise between nations which cannot be referred to arbitration; and I can only hope, if the Resolution is passed, and if the Government thereupon proceed to enter into negotiations with the United States for a Treaty, they will be careful to exclude such questions. There was one circumstance, by the way, to which the Prime Minister did not refer when he quoted the speech of President Harrison at the Œcumenical Conference. After dwelling on the advantages of peace at the Conference, President Harrison, I find it recorded, went straight to the arsenal and spent many hours inspecting the guns. In the great Debate which took place in 1849 Lord John Russell indicated very clearly those questions which no country would be prepared to submit to arbitration. He said— There are questions which occur between nations that cannot well or fitly be submitted to arbitration—questions involving the dearest interests, the honour, or safety of a country, which if a Government proposed to submit to an arbitrator, the force of public opinion and public feeling would be such as to render it impossible for a Government to carry out such a purpose. I do not think I need detain the House further. I say the facts of the last few years are the best assurance as to the future. I think we can see in the fact that over and over during the last 60 or 70 years we have been prepared to refer cases of great moment exciting a great deal of feeling to arbitration, an earnest and a pledge that future Governments will be prepared to carry out the principle of International arbitration.

* Mr. STANSFELD (Halifax)

said, he found some difficulty in apprehending the object of the hon. Gentleman, who seemed, while not professing any intention of opposing the Resolution, to throw cold water upon it. Instead of addressing himself to the great subject placed before the House, the hon. Member invited the House to consider the merits of former Governments in entering upon arbitrations in which they had been beaten, and propounded the proposition that it was better to follow the policy of the past than to enter into Arbitration; Treaties.


I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not think my argument can bear that construction. I said the fact that though we had been beaten several times in arbitration we were quite prepared to accept it told very strongly in favour of continuing the principle of arbitration.


said, the hon. Member advocated the principle of being, ready to enter into arbitration when the time arose, but of not entering into an Arbitration Treaty. That position was precisely the reverse of the positions taken by those who supported the Motion. They felt that no greater benefit could accrue to general progress and peace than by arriving at a relationship between nations which would substitute the arbitration of competent tribunals for the arbitrament of the sword. He would address himself to the subject raised by the Resolution. His excuse for so doing was that he was one of the 234 Members who in 1887 signed a Memorial to the President and Congress of the United States, which was the origin of the proceedings which had culminated in the Resolution before the House. His right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had substituted for the original Resolution a Resolution of his own, with the consent of the Mover and Seconder. He believed that the amended Resolution was more binding upon the Government, by whose Chief it had been proposed, and would have far greater weight and value in European International discussions than if it had simply been assented to by the Government and accepted by the House in its original form. He was under no obligations; his free speech was unhampered, and he wished to say what he thought on this subject in the fewest possible words. He himself went further than the Resolution. What object or interest could compare in value for this country with the object and interest of peace? As the Seconder of the Resolution had pointed out, Lord Derby declared that peace was the greatest interest of this country. As far as International affairs were concerned, peace was almost the only interest of this country. What International Reform could conceivably compare with it? Unless they were to go further; and there was a further road to travel and a further goal to reach than the goal of Arbitration Treaties. No country was more interested in peace than ourselves, for we had given more hostages to fortune than any other country, and we had more vulnerable points—we had more to lose and less to gain by war, and it would be utter folly if we did not understand that it would be for our best advantage at the earliest possible moment to enter into a Treaty of Peace and Arbitration with the great Anglo-Saxon race on the other side of the Atlantic. But arbitration was not the goal. The ultimate ideal was an International Law, created by the society of nations, forbidding International breaches of the peace, and settling disputes between nations as the disputes between the citizens of individual States were settled. That was a distant ideal; but it was well to have it always in view. Diplomacy was the first step to its attainment. The assertion of neutral rights and interests was the second, with the consequent restriction of the rights of belligerents. They all knew that the old International Law was a law of belligerents, created by belligerents, and imposed upon neutrals; but the true International Law—the International Law of the future—must be settled by neutrals and imposed on belligerents, and must restrict the acts of individual nations in the interest of the world at large. Conferences and Congresses of Nations were useful as training them towards the ideal; and the highest example of these was the Alabama Treaty Conference, a part in which was the proudest privilege he had ever enjoyed. The Prime Minister referred to the great conception of some permanent Council of the Great Powers sitting to judge and adjust the quarrels of the nations of the civilised world. That was the future completion of the idea of Congresses of Nations. These Congresses would train the nations to the building up of a true International Law to find its sanction in the future. A general system of arbitration was a still further step towards that ultimate law which would mean a general disarmament, and the almost impossibility of war between the great civilised States of the world. Above all other things, it was the interest of Great Britain, as a peaceful, wealthy, and industrial nation, to lead the way in this matter; and the opportunity was afforded by the action and initiative of the Congress of the United States. No time could be more fitting. Some people might imagine that in the present condition of Europe the time was not propitious. He believed that the present condition of Europe made the present not the less, but the more fitting time for taking some step towards the goal of which he had spoken. Europe groaned beneath the weight of her armaments, and trembled beneath the tread of millions of armed men, and some way out of the present impasse must be found. If they did not find a way out of the difficulty, the greatest catastrophe, the most frightful loss, the greatest social ruin were the inevitable future of the civilised world. Everyone in Europe felt the future coming like a dread doom. As a matter of fact, these conditions of Europe which he had endeavoured to describe were already affecting the minds of men, and preparing them for a perfect revolution of ideas. They had a chance of setting an example; and he asked the hon. Gentleman who had endeavoured to chill their enthusiasm why should they not hope the most from arbitration, or what had they to fear from it? When the two Anglo-Saxon communities on both sides of the Atlantic had agreed together by Treaty for the constitution of Courts of Arbitration, they would feel a mutual sense of immense relief, and they would be setting a fruitful example of the supremest common sense to the world. He held the opinion that the opportunity offered them was the best possible opportunity. The Resolution, even as amended by the Prime Minister, did not ask the Government to open any general communications and negotiations with all the nations of the world or to undertake an initiative, but simply to lend a favourable ear and give a favourable response to an initiative propounded. The precedent of 1873, referred to by the Prime Minister, was of a different kind; the proposition, then, was that the Foreign Secretary should be authorised and requested to enter into general negotiations towards the composition of some International tribunal to settle International disputes. That proposition was open to many objections; but to what objection was this proposition open? Surely it was well worth while to try to make a sensible Treaty on the subject. Nothing could be easier than that proposed to be done. The United States were prepared to receive readily, any negotiations to which they might be invited by the President of that country, who had been requested by Congress to enter into such negotiations. Meantime, this was a subject not merely for the Government, but for the House. They had now secured the acquiescence of their own Government. Nothing could be truer and greater than the proposition that, in the midst of armed Europe, with millions of men crushing down the industries of the time, the still small voice of political conscience should be raised to say that all this was folly that should be put a stop to. When public opinion had once mastered this subject—and the people of the world were fast being driven to the conclusion that they should compel their Governments to this conclusion—they would have succeeded in creating at once a moral and physical European collective power, against which all the ambition of warlike nations and the tendencies and temptations of individual nations would strive in vain. He earnestly recommended the Resolution.

SIR G. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

said, he had not the capacity, even if he had the desire, to follow his right hon. Friend to the high level of what he could not but call an International Millennium, for he did not think that in his lifetime, at all events, they would ever arrive at it. But, as many Members of the House knew, he recently had had practical experience in a great case of arbitration, and from that practical experience he might be able to offer a few words which would have weight with the House. In two directions he thought his experience would be useful to them. In one of those directions they had to deal with the case not only of present danger to the peace existing between two great nations, but to deal with a case of uncommon perplexity of detail. The other direction in which they had to work was one in which his right hon. Friend who had just sat down would not have regarded arbitrations as always easy. They had to deal with a nation which they knew had already in Congress proposed that arbitration should always prevail between themselves and us. And although both nations and both Governments and the Commissioners on both sides were all of them anxious in this matter of arbitration, yet they found difficulties provided at every turn, which prevented them obtaining an adequate Treaty. He was not in a position to tell the House what was occurring and what had occurred in this arbitration; but he would say they had met with a measure of very considerable success, if only in the fact that they had obtained and secured that these very complex questions should be submitted to arbitration; and he ventured to say from his experience of that work, which had now occupied him personally since May, 1891, that he had far greater hope in the ultimate success of arbitration between nations than he ever had before. Hope and confidence were founded not on theory, on what they might wish to see in the future, but on actual practical experience, which was already matter of history. He would like to point out that in this, as in all other arbitrations, the one great difficulty was that of ultimate sanction, and it was a problem that remained yet unsolved. With regard to the 14 cases of arbitration which the Prime Minister had put before them as showing the difficulty of entering upon such a course, it was quite true that they had failed in a great many of those which affected their just interests; but he had been at some pains to study the history of those cases, and he ventured to assert that the lesson to be derived from those cases was that, as a nation, they had been too apt to enter upon arbitration without having acquired a proper and adequate knowledge of the facts of the case, and he might add that in the most recent case they had endeavoured to arrive at a full knowledge of the facts of the case before they entered the Arbitration Court. There were many cases in which we could obtain the settlement of disputes by arbitration, and by so doing we should be pioneers in a policy which would conduce to our own prosperity and to the saving of modern civilisation from the fate that wars had brought upon previous civilisations.

* CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)

said, that having for years been connected with one of the great fighting professions, he did not wish that their motives should be misjudged in this matter. He held that under certain conditions—where the existence or freedom of a nation was concerned—war must be the ultimate issue; but he agreed with the distinguished soldier, the late General Sheridan, that things were moving in a very different direction now to what they did some years ago. They were told less than a century ago that to abolish duelling would be impossible; but duelling had now practically ceased to exist in this country, and the reason why it still existed in certain foreign countries was that it had become a farce. He believed with General Sheridan that the great precision of modern weapons—the destructiveness of which they might judge by a recent invention—would lead to such a state of things that among civilised nations war would become practically impossible. Neither France nor Germany had gained anything by the war of 1870. John Bright pointed out that if the case of the Crimean War had been referred to arbitration it would, in all probability, never have taken place. Of one thing he was convinced—that as civilisation and education advanced the democracies of Europe would certainly be averse to being pushed into war by diplomats before the matter had been referred to arbitration. It had been frequently stated that democracies were aggressive, and they were referred to the wars of France after the First Revolution; but that was a brutal and an uneducated democracy. America was then pointed to—the war between North and South; but there they were fighting, on the one hand, for great material interests, and, on the other, for a grand principle. He therefore maintained that, though there might be many instances in which it might be impossible to avoid war, there were also many in which, by means of arbitration, great and disastrous wars might be avoided. He believed that before a century had rolled by we should see a great people—the Anglo-Saxon race—numbering not 100,000,000, but in all probability 300,000,000 or 400,000,000, with such vast power, such vast moral influence, and such illimitable wealth that that nation would be practically able to dictate terms of peace to the world.

* SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)

said, he would not follow the hon. Member who had just sat down (Captain Norton) into his fairyland of day dreams, but rose to vindicate the eminently sensible, judicious, and practical speech delivered by the late Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from the adverse criticism directed against it by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld). As a miserable sinner, he, of course, humbly accepted the doctrine preached by the right hon. Gentleman as to the horrors of war; but he felt that the difficulty lay in the application of the doctrine. The question was how were they to prevent war in certain circumstances? Would the right hon. Member for Halifax kindly instruct the House what we were to do if we were insulted nationally, if the just interests of our teeming millions were attacked, or if we were invaded? Nobody had a more tender or affectionate regard than he had for our American cousins; but would the right hon. Gentleman kindly instruct thorn as to how the desirable object they all had in view was to be attained if the United States were, unfortunately, to insist on an International dispute? It was not enough to preach to them the doctrine of general policy; they must be shown what they were to do, and how they were to do it. His hon. Friend the late Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs endeavoured to show some practical difficulties in the way of the proposal, whereupon the right hon. Member for Halifax accused him of throwing cold water upon it and giving it a chilling reception. He (Sir R. Temple) entirely demurred to that. His hon. Friend did nothing of the kind. What he did was simply to point out some of the practical difficulties, and to show how hard they would be to overcome. This Resolution proposed by the Prime Minister was in general terms; but if it was to lead to any result there must be some agreement. There must be something in writing. He did not suppose any hon. Gentleman would wish them to be content with a mere verbal understanding, a mere interchange of diplomatic communications; but they would wish to see something definite proposed. He supposed they must be in the shape of diplomatic Protocols, following by some agreement terminating in a Treaty. He concluded that a Treaty, in some shape or other, sooner or later there must be. The tenour of that Treaty would be to set forth that whatever disputes should arise between us and the United States should be settled by arbitration. What happened then? Were we to be subject to a general system of arbitration? If it were a question of boundaries, or territory, commercial relations, or the seal catching in the Behring Sea and the fisheries in the Pacific Ocean, no doubt these questions would form fitting subjects for arbitration. But, as his hon. Friend (Mr. J. W. Lowther) had pointed out, they had that already, and there was no dispute of that sort which had arisen within the last two generations but had been referred to arbitration; and, no doubt, whatever dispute of this nature arose in the future would be so referred. But behind all this there were greater questions which might arise between two high-spirited nations; and, no doubt, of all disputes the most serious were family disputes. Now, disputes between Great Britain and the United States were essentially of a family character. Looking to questions of that kind, he would just again refer to a passage from the speech of President Harrison. What did the President say? He said— It is quite possible to apply arbitration to a dispute as to a boundary line. It is quite impossible, it seems to me, so to apply it to the case of International feud. If there is present an aggressive spirit to seize territory or a spirit of national aggrandisement which does not stop to consider the rights of other people, in such a case and in such a spirit International arbitration is a remote and difficult operation. He had no doubt hon. Gentlemen opposite would say that these remarks applied merely to us—to that nationality which was symbolised by the British lion. No doubt they did apply to us as much as to any nation; but surely they did not apply to us alone, and they certainly applied as much to our American cousins. The dispositions of the two races were very much alike. The spirit was equally high in both, and in all these matters it would be found that the Americans were very British indeed. Were we prepared to say, or to ask the United States to say, that any conceivable matter which might form the subject of dispute between the two nations should be referred to arbitration? ["Why not?"] Some hon. Gentleman asked, Why not? If the hon. Gentleman would consent to such a proposal, he apprehended that neither his countrymen nor their American cousins would. While sympathising thoroughly with the object of the Resolution, he felt bound to point out the practical difficulties which had already been indicated by his hon. Friend below him. He yielded to no man in the House; in regard, indeed, in affection for the Americans, and war with them would be fratricidal, indeed suicidal, to both parties. And having pointed out the difficulties in detail, he subscribed heartily to the general terms of the Resolution.


I only rise for the purpose of asking the House to pass this Resolution. The Resolution, which is of immense importance, was supported by the authority of the Prime Minister, and it affords me the greatest satisfaction to know that the House is about to pass it unanimously. I trust that the House will now take such steps as are necessary to place upon the Journals one of the most important Resolutions that can be submitted to it.

* MR. SNAPE (Lancashire, S.E., Heywood)

observed, that as the speech of President Harrison had been quoted by the Prime Minister and other speakers, he (Mr. Snape) wished to say that he was present at the (Ecumenical Conference at Washington, at which it was made, having been invited to read a paper there on the subject of Inter- national arbitration. He could testify that President Harrison expressed the greatest sympathy with International arbitration. The United States Legislature had committed itself again and again to the principle of arbitration; and no country in the world was so advanced upon this question as the United States.

Question put, and negatived.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to. Resolved, That this House has learnt with satisfaction that both Houses of the United States Congress have, by resolution, requested the President to invite, from time to time, as fit occasions may arise, negotiations with any Government with which the United States have or may have diplomatic relations, to the end that any differences or disputes arising between the two Governments which cannot be adjusted by diplomatic agency may be referred to arbitration and peaceably adjusted by such means; and that this House, cordially sympathising with the purpose in view, expresses the hope that Her Majesty's Government will lend their ready co-operation to the Government of the United States upon the basis of the foregoing resolution.