§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
Sir, I rise to move the Motion for which I obtained leave this afternoon, and I do so in order, in the first place, that we may get fuller information on the subject to which it refers than it is possible to obtain by question and answer across the floor of the House, and also because this is the most emphatic manner in which attention can be called to the extraordinary situation which has been created by the recent conduct of His Majesty's Government in dealing with a vital interest of the country. I wish to say at the outset that I have no criticism whatever to pass upon the Government of New South Wales. I have no surprise to express at their action, and still less any blame to attribute to them in the matter. I need not dwell on what are become axioms in this House and in the country, the pride and satisfaction with which we all view the cordial and friendly relations between us and our colonies. There is not a man among us who would not do all that lies in his power to maintain the sense of union and solidarity which exists between the mother country and the colonies. But upon what is that sense of union founded? It is founded upon freedom—upon administrative and fiscal freedom. Anyone who goes back on the history 1242 of the past will soon become aware that before that freedom was established there were constant bickerings, constant friction, and constant irritation. And among the objections which I entertain to certain proposals which are now in the air is that they seem to me to narrow, repress, and embarrass this essential freedom in fiscal matters, and therefore may be the cause of irritation among the colonies, though, as we know, these proposals are designed for an entirely different purpose. The colonial Governments are not only entitled, but are required, in the exercise of this fiscal freedom, to seek every advantage for their own people. Therefore no one could be surprised at the intense interest that was displayed by these Governments in recent events and recent utterances in this country. I am aware that I am greatly circumscribed by the rules of order as to the breadth and length of the topic to which I wish to refer in dealing with this matter. But the message from the New South Wales Government, to which I desire to direct attention, has two parts. One expresses approval of preferential trade, and the other expresses satisfaction at the prospect of special trade relations with the mother country, which involve, of course, retaliatory duties against other countries. These are two parts, it seems to me, of one policy. They are intertwined with each other, and almost inseparable from each other. But that policy is not before the House in the Motion I am about to make, and therefore we cannot discuss it. It is sufficient for me to say that I am entirely opposed to it, not only as being unsuited to the circumstances of the country, but as being also most prejudicial to its best interests. But what is before us is this—why are we called upon to deal with this great question, going down to the very roots of our commerce and our fiscal arrangements, at this present moment? Here is a colony at the other 1243 end of the world approving of certain schemes. Are these schemes definitely before the country and the world, or are they not?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
Mr. Speaker, for the convenience of the House, and the proper conduct of this debate, I beg to ask your ruling. Is it in order to discuss the fiscal policy of the country on this Motion for the adjournment of the House, on a matter of urgent and definite public importance which has been defined by the right hon. Gentleman opposite?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
It is not in order to discuss that. The question for the discussion of which the leave of the House has been given is a somewhat narrow one. As I understand it, it is whether the Government of the Colony of New South Wales have understood the speeches of the Prime Minister and Colonial Secretary as expressing the opinion of the Government, and, if they have so understood them, whether their view is correct.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
That is precisely the point to which I intend to address myself; and the right hon. Gentleman would have known that if he had favoured me with his attention to what I said a couple of sentences back expressing my perfect acquaintance with the circumstance that we cannot enter in this debate on the merits of the new fiscal policy. What I say is, here is this message from the Government of New South Wales, expressing its approval of certain schemes. Are those schemes definitely before the country and the world? Is there a Government in power which has announced its policy on the subject? No, Sir; notoriously not. Among Ministers there are conflicting views. Among their supporters there is a good deal of dismay and bewilderment. [MINISTERIAL Cries of "No, no."] Apparently there are some fortunate gentlemen opposite who are neither dismayed nor bewildered. The Prime Minister himself has proclaimed that he has no settled convictions in the matter. And yet these are the circumstances in which the Colonial Secretary has expressly invited 1244 expressions of opinion from the colonies on the subject—opinion, that is, on a policy to which we understood the Government was not committed, and on which Ministers, according to their own declarations and disavowals, differ seriously among themselves. The right hon. Gentleman wrote a letter in which he called for that expression of colonial opinion, and in which he said that if colonial opinion was hostile or apathetic "there would not be the slightest possibility of carrying through so great a reform." Therefore we need not be surprised that the Government of New South Wales responded to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman and expressed its opinion on the subject. The necessity which compels me to-night to bring this question before the House arises from a two-fold danger to which the country may not be fully alive—a danger arising, from the present situation. In the first place, hopes and expectations are, by this process, being awakened among the colonies—
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Mr. Speaker, I rise again to put a question of order to you. I need not say that I desire the most open discussion of this question. But I wish to know what those who may have to reply to the right hon. Gentleman will be in order in saying. Up to the present moment the right hon. Gentleman has not referred to the only point upon which there could possibly be any expression of opinion on the part of the New South Wales Government—namely, "the declaration of the British Government that every self-governing colony shall be secured in the free exercise of its right"—I am quoting from the message, Sir—"to enter into closer trade relations with the mother country." The point I desire to put to you, Sir, is this, that while under the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman it is perfectly competent for him to enter into any question connected with any declaration of the British Government, it is not competent for him to enter into the question of the opinions of the New 1245 South Wales Government regarding preferential trade which they do not attribute to the British Government.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman is putting rather a wide interpretation on his own Motion. If the right hon. Gentleman had secured the leave of the House for a Motion in wider terms than this, which he might have done, he could have spoken more widely; but the Motion for the adjournment to which he has chosen to confine himself consists of the suggestion that the New South Wales Government misunderstood certain statements made in this House in assuming them to be expressions of the opinion of the Cabinet as such, and that that is a thing which ought to be cleared up. That is a question within very narrow limits indeed. It does not raise the question of the opinion of the colonies as to fiscal policy, nor does it raise the merits of the fiscal question between this country and the colonies. It is drawn within narrow limits, and I think the discussion should be confined to those limits.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
My contention, Sir, will be this, that the Government have contrived so that the New South Wales Government have formed the opinion that this is the definite policy of His Majesty's Government.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
And I was proceeding to say that if that was so hopes and expectations—I think that was the phrase I used—had been raised and might be raised in other colonies which would stand a good chance in certain contingencies of being subject to bitter disappointment, and that calamitous results would be caused to the sentiment existing between the colonies and this country.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me for interrupting him, but it will be my duty, I suppose, to reply to him, and I want, on a point of order, to know exactly what it is to which I shall be entitled to reply. May I call your attention, Sir, to the fact that the message 1246 which is the basis of this Motion for adjournment consists of two paragraphs? The first paragraph deals with preferential duties, and attributes no opinion to His Majesty's Government at all; the second does not deal with preferential duties, but does deal with the case in which a colony is penalised for giving preferential duties. Now that is attributed to His Majesty's Government; and I want to know whether the attack on the obscurity of the utterances from this bench is to be carried over into the first paragraph, or whether it ought to be confined to the second paragraph, which deals simply and solely with the method of dealing with the case in which a foreign country might penalise a British colony which has given preferential tariffs to this country.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I have not seen the message; I have only looked at the Motion on the Paper. With reference to the Motion on the Paper, I am clear that the matter for discussion is the misunderstanding caused by two certain speeches upon one certain point, that point being whether these speeches are isolated expressions of opinion to which the Cabinet is in no way committed. That is the only question which the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to discuss.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
What we wish to do, Sir—and this is a peculiar method of conducting business—the question I wish to put before the House, and especially to address to the Prime Minister, is whether the message from the Government of New South Wales involves a misapprehension of the speeches of the two right hon. Gentlemen.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
The second paragraph and the first paragraph are indissolubly associated, and the second paragraph contains more than the part which the right hon. Gentleman read. It contains an explicit reference to the case of Canada, which points directly—
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Which points directly, as the means of achieving what is required, to the establishment of retaliatory duties against other countries. Therefore we have the whole scheme, the definite scheme, approved of by the New South Wales Government and attributed to his Majesty's Government.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
We wish to know whether they have understood them rightly in that or not; and if the right hon. Gentleman would explain to us now what he really did mean and what his colleague meant in those speeches I might sit down, for it was to explore that circumstance and for no other purpose that I moved the adjournment. I have not moved the adjournment to bring any cavilling accusation against the Government. I have moved it in order that we may understand how the truth really lies in a matter which is not a mere question of idle curiosity, but which really may have the most extended and pernicious effect upon the relations between the colonies and the mother country. I say that if such an effect as was produced on the mind of the Government of New South Wales is really deducible from the speeches of the two right hon. Gentlemen then they have, as I said before, had hopes raised which may lead to bitter disappointment in the end. This is only the beginning, Sir. This is the first response from the colonial Governments to the appeal which has been made to them; but other colonies will also wish to express their opinions, under the assumption, or the delusion, that they were fulfilling the desire of His Majesty's Government in doing so. We have as great a regard and esteem for our fellow subjects of the colonies as they have for us in the mother country—and I could not put it in stronger terms—but we desire above all things that there should be no disappointment on their part in this matter in which they take so deep an interest. Let it be perfectly clear from the first how this country stands. We have been led to understand by right hon. Gentlemen opposite that they have no policy, that they are looking for 1248 a policy. I will not dwell upon that, lest I should be immediately corrected and made to sit down as being outside the terms of the Motion, not by you, Sir, but by the two Members on the other side who are determined to keep this question within as narrow limits as possible. I also desire to keep within the limits of the rules of the House, but, I trust, within no narrower limits. The last thing we desire is to inflict disappointment on the colonies, with all the irritation and estrangement that may ensue, and if there is a misapprehension really conveyed to the Government of one of the oldest and most famous and best-equipped of our colonies, if that is the effect upon them, then how dangerous it may be if such a misconception prevails when it is entirely in conflict with that which has been represented to the people of this country, and which the people understand to be the present position of affairs. I say that there are two dangers. There is first of all the danger of disappointment to the colonies to which I have referred; but there is another danger which comes closer to us arising from these processes. It is the danger that the people of this country may, step by step and unconsciously, find themselves committed by these processes to a policy which they have never approved, and which a large portion of them—the majority of them—view either with disapproval or with doubt. I do not think that can be doubted. These two dangers which I foresee are the consequences of the loose and vague way in which this great fiscal revolution—it is nothing less—that has been foreshadowed has been launched upon us, in defiance of Constitutional rule, without the approval of the Cabinet, and in opposition to the avowed opinion of the Finance Minister, not under a plea of urgent necessity—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I think the right hon. Gentleman is opening up, or endeavouring to open up, the whole question of the merits of the fiscal policy. It is possible that he might have framed his question to meet that, but that is not what he has done. I must ask him to endeavour to confine himself to the question of the necessity of correcting any misapprehension that may 1249 have been caused in the mind of the Government of New South Wales by the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Colonial Secretary.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I can only repeat that my object is to obtain from the Government an explicit statement of their actual position in this matter. If we get that I may renounce all those little observations upon their mode of conducting business into which I was led to indulge when you, Sir, corrected me. We want to know precisely—and having said this I shall sit down—we want to know precisely what the position of the Government in this matter is, and whether they have, as the New South Wales Government think they have, a definite policy, covering the matters referred to in this message. I think that something at least will have been gained if we can obtain from the Prime Minister a positive declaration that the changes indicated in this message and assumed in New South Wales to represent the policy of His Majesty's Government are not and may possibly never be their accepted policy, and also that the Government will secure this country from being committed, against its knowledge and will, to a change so vast and so critical to the fortunes of this country.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman.)
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I hope, Sir, that the right hon. Gentleman did not think that we, my right hon. friend and I, were guilty of any discourtesy to himself by rising to a point of order at the beginning of his speech. I can assure him that that is not the case; but in a Motion drawn as his is drawn, and in reference to such a message as that received from the Governor of New South Wales, it is really extremely difficult for us to know without rising to a point of order what exactly is included within the limits of the right hon. Gentleman's question, or what we are expected to reply to. The right hon. Gentleman is pursuing, I think, in the present case a very extraordinary course. I do not think that in my experience the Leader of the Opposition has ever moved the 1250 adjournment of the House. It is possible that a case may be found in the past. Whether it has been done I do not know. But whether that be the case or not, I confess I should have thought that if the right hon. Gentleman wanted to challenge His Majesty's Government there was at his disposal a perfectly well-known Constitutional method by which the whole question could have been raised, on which no question of order could have been raised, upon which the limitations or the extent of the debate would have been beyond doubt, and on which every statement made by His Majesty's Government, or by any member of it, could have been challenged by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. But they have adopted a more prudent course. I congratulate them upon their wisdom. They have not, I will not say dared, because that would be a suggestion of want of courage, which is the last thing I should ever think of suggesting of them, but they have not thought it wise, they have not thought it strategically and technically prudent to meet us face to face. They have preferred a Motion for the adjournment of the House, a Motion in its nature always inconclusive, a Motion which raises no definite issue, which is and must be narrowly restricted in its scope, and which, above all, must be narrowly restricted as to the length of the debate which it can occasion. I do not mean to say that they were unwise. I am not at all sure that if I were in their place I would not have done exactly the same thing. But, at all events, that is what they have done, and it is really ludicrous, if I may say so, for the right hon. Gentleman, who does not dare, or does not choose, to take the bolder course to comedown—I hear muttered disapproval from hon. Gentlemen opposite of what I am saying—but if the right hon. Gentlemen thinks the course His Majesty's Government is pursuing is so inimical to the interests of this country—[An HON. MEMBER: He does not know what it is.]—if he thinks the speeches we have been making and the hopes he alleges we are raising are inimical to the interests of this country, to the interests of the colonies, and to the interests of the Empire as a whole, let him take the obvious course, let him challenge us to a debate in which the whole question can be raised.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the hon. Gentleman is a new Member of the House, and probably he is not acquainted with the traditions of this assembly on questions of this import. The hon. Gentleman has, however, made a suggestion which I am sure he meant for the best. Now, Sir, I pass from the extraordinary course which the right hon. Gentleman has taken on the present occasion to the substance of the speech which he has just delivered; and I may preface the observations I have to make on that speech by reading the message from the Colony of New South Wales which has been the occasion of the right hon. Gentleman's incursion into the time which was to be devoted to the discussion of the Irish Land Bill. The message reads as follows—My Government recognise that preferential trade will be directly advantageous to Australia by securing her a market for her natural products, and, believing that this policy is in the highest degree conducive to the welfare and solidarity of the Empire and the union of British-speaking people, strongly support your proposal to investigate the practicability of such a preference.That is the first paragraph, and I may say on that paragraph the right hon. Gentleman appears to suppose that the Government, on the subject of investigation, have spoken with a doubtful voice; I can assure him that that is not so. We are all unanimously in favour of an investigation, which is the only thing that the Colony of New South Wales refers to in the paragraph I have just read. I venture to say that paragraph may be put aside, because it is perfectly clear that the Governor and the Government of New South Wales absolutely apprehend, and with perfect accuracy, the views of His Majesty's Government on this point. We think there ought to be an investigation. The Government of New South Wales think there ought to be an investigation. There is therefore an absolute concordat not only between the Government of New South Wales and my right hon. friend and myself, but between the Government of New South Wales and the whole of His Majesty's Government. Therefore there is no 1252 question about the first paragraph, which I do not think was referred to in the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman which was put into your hands, Sir. But, even if I am wrong in that, I venture to say we may dismiss that paragraph, because the Government of New South Wales have, with absolute precision, understood the views of His Majesty's Government on that subject. We agree with them and they agree with us. Now, I come to the second paragraph, which, if I rightly understood the right hon. Gentleman, was the subject on which he desired to move the adjournment. The second paragraph reads as follows—Also, realising that what is Canada's turn to-day may be Australia's to-morrow, they express great satisfaction at the declaration by the British Government that every self-governing colony shall be secured in the free exercise of its right to enter into closer trade relations with the mother country.That, I understand, is what the right hon. Gentleman quarrels with; that is the paragraph which he says raises false hopes. That is the paragraph which the right hon. Gentleman says is ultimately to cause disappointment in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Cape, and so forth. I hope that paragraph will cause no disappointment and raise no false hopes anywhere. What false hopes does it raise? Am I to understand at this moment that, if the right hon. Gentleman were head of the Government to-morrow, he would say that if a colony endeavoured to enter into special fiscal relations with the mother country, and foreign countries penalised them for taking that course, he and his friends would sit silently by and watch that process of intimidation going on in the case of colony after colony? If he does not mean that, what are the false hopes that have been raised? If there is no difference between right hon. Gentlemen who sit on that Bench and those who sit on this Bench on that subject, how can there be false hopes raised? Let Governments change, let Party power be transferred from one of the great centres of public opinion to the other in this House, and if the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his friends agree with us on that subject there will be no disappointment. In that case the policy of this country will be a continuous policy. 1253 It will be a policy of supporting the colonies in any endeavour they may make to give preferential treatment to the manufactures of this country. There is, indeed, one hypothesis on which disappointment may occur, but am I to believe it is an hypothesis which we are seriously to entertain? Are we to believe that if a General Election took place to-morrow and right hon. Gentlemen opposite came into power, they would tell the colonies, "You have nothing more to hope for from us. You have, indeed, expressed a desire to enter into closer fiscal union with us. You have expressed jour intention of introducing a preferential tariff in our favour"—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
May I read again, Sir, the paragraph to which the right hon. Gentleman referred as the one which raised false hopes? That is the point. The right hon. Gentleman's point was that in the statement referred to in the second paragraph of that message we had raised false hopes. Let me read the paragraph again. [The right hon. Gentleman then read the second paragraph of the message.] Now, Sir, I understood that the right hon. Gentleman, in the first place, asked me whether that was the view of the Government, and, in the second place, proceeded to criticise that view, if it was the view of the Government, on the ground that it raised false hopes. It was to the latter point I was addressing myself, and I should be glad to know whether I am in order in answering it.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I think the right hon. Gentleman is in order in explaining whether this paragraph does or does not evince a mistake on the part of the colony; that is the point to which I understand him to refer. But I understood that the right hon. Gentleman was going somewhat beyond that, and was adverting to the general fiscal policy.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Very well, Sir, I quite understand, and entirely bow to your ruling. Let me say, and I shall confine what I have to say to one 1254 sentence, the last paragraph of this message does express the opinion of His Majesty's Government; we think it does not raise false hopes in the colonies, and that it can never raise false hopes in the colonies unless hon. Gentlemen opposite mean to abandon every colony.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
The Prime Minister's speech contains the most momentous declaration of any that has been made up to the present time. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by taunting the Opposition with not proposing a Vote of Censure. Sitting next to the Prime Minister is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who would vote with the right hon. Gentleman on a Vote of Censure, but who agrees with the Opposition on the main points of the question at issue. In a Vote of Censure at this moment in the House of Lords the Duke of Devonshire and Lord Balfour of Burleigh would vote with the Administration. Yet their speeches have given unqualified satisfaction to the Opposition on the questions at issue. Surely these facts alone show that on a national issue of this kind, involving the most momentous new departure we have seen in our time, the opinion of Parliament would be hopelessly misrepresented by a Party division. The Prime Minister went on to make the most startling of the new departures which have been made—leaving aside those matters which we cannot discuss to-night, the duties on food and preferential tariffs — the right hon. Gentleman informed us that the Government are in favour of retaliation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I never mentioned the word "retaliation." What I said was, and I should be glad to know the right hon. Baronet's opinion upon it, that we did not mean to leave a colony in the lurch simply because it gave preferential duties in favour of this country.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
If the Government mean that they are going to war of course I can understand the distinction the Prime Minister has drawn; but I confess I thought that in these declarations of their policy the 1255 Government were dealing with fiscal policy alone. If that is so, I will point out that no suggestion has ever been made in regard to penalising except by retaliation. A very brilliant Member on the other side has described recent speeches of the Prime Minister on these questions as reminding him of the last series of sermons preached by an Anglican clergyman before he went over to the Church of Rome. The declaration to-night has been one which those who are students of the Prime Minister's speeches and of his past were led to expect from him personally, but not from the Government of which he is a Member. The Prime Minister has always been in favour of retaliation, and the other night he quoted his own speeches of 1880–81 in favour of it; but on those occasions the right hon. Gentleman received his answer and, I should have thought, his quietus from the present Colonial Secretary, who pointed out that to penalise foreign countries would hurt ourselves alone. Such are our interests that the measures taken would fall with redoubled force on ourselves. The policy of retaliation has often been fatal to the trade of those who have employed it, and it has never in any case in the history of the world's tariffs been a step towards free trade, but always a step towards avowed protection. The Prime Minister has said that New South Wales is a free trade colony; but it is no longer either a free trade or a protectionist colony. I believe its Prime Minister is a protectionist, and that there are Members of the Cabinet who are free traders, but New South Wales has nothing whatever to do with these questions under the Federal Constitution, under which they are remitted to the Government of the Commonwealth. We are so tightly tied up in this debate that we cannot discuss on its merits even the question of retaliation, although that, owing to the declaration of the Prime Minister, is the question at stake. But this Motion, which can only be inadequately supported on the present occasion, is necessary because of the manner in which, up to to-night, the Prime Minister has fenced with all the questions at issue. On this occasion, the Prime Minister has been faithful to his past opinions, and undoubtedly he has 1256 settled opinions on this one particular point, at any rate. In 1880–81 the sole supporter in argument of the right hon. Gentleman in this house was the present Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool. At that time Spain had penalised us, and it was conclusively proved that that action on the part of Spain did not damage our trade, and Spain tired of her action and dropped it. In those debates the Colonial Secretary in reply to the present Prime Minister called this doctrine of retaliation by the name of the new heterodoxy. Our trade had increased in Spain, and we had not suffered.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
Notoriously the majority of Members on the Ministerial benches who have expressed their views at the present juncture are opposed to this new departure. The Government have assured us that they are making no change in fiscal policy without inquiry, yet without and before inquiry the Prime Minister has announced that the Government are in favour of retaliation.
§ MR. ROBSON (South Shields)
Before dealing with the merits of the Resolution itself, perhaps I may add one word to what has been said by my right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean as to the suggestion that we ought to have proceeded by way of a Vote of Censure. The Prime Minister told us that we were unable or afraid to meet him face to face. I think that taunt is disposed of by the question, "Which face?" We may be accused of lack of courage, I think unjustly, but I do not think that any political party could be so utterly lacking in courage as to be afraid to meet face to face in debate those whose convictions are absolutely unsettled. What is the Motion before the House? It is a Motion which condemns and deplores the misconceptions likely to arise in the colonies by reason of the unsettled and unsatisfactory attitude of His Majesty's Government. The Government have made declarations which the colonies appear to have misunderstood.
§ MR. ROBSON
So the Prime Minister says, but I hope I may be allowed to proceed—and perhaps without further interruption—to make good what I have just alleged. Let us take the Prime Minister's attitude to-night. He has made, in explicit terms, a most momentous declaration. He has told us, in terms that will go forth to the colonies, that the last paragraph of this message is correct, and that the Government do declare that—Every self-governing colony shall be secured in the free exercise of its right to enter into closer trade relations with the mother country.Let us not, in the great controversy that is about to begin, stop short at the use of mere phrases. We are about to enter upon a controversy such as we have not had for fifty years, and we must get into the way of analysing these pretentious generalities. What is meant by the Gentleman who framed this message when he uses the words "securing the colonies in the free exercise of their right to enter into closer trade relations with the mother country" What is the substance of the phrase? For that we have to go back to the two speeches which are referred to and see what the speakers themselves referred to. What are the indications that His Majesty's Government have given of the means by which they think these closer trade relations ought to be secured? The right hon. Gentleman to-night has disclaimed having made any pronouncement in favour of retaliation. If that be so, the colonies may well complain that they have been misled, and this Motion is supremely necessary. What has the right hon. Gentleman said himself? Let us take his own words, with which I have come prepared. He said—I go further—That is than some suggestion made by the Colonial Secretary,And say that if there is really to be an attempt on the part of foreign countries to declare that we are so separated from our self-governing colonies that they will be treated as separate nations—And here I pause for a moment to invite the House to consider what that means. For fiscal purposes our colonies, little as we may like the phrase, are indeed, in constitutional position, separate nations. The right hon. Gentleman continued—and I ask the House to mark these 1258 words in view of his declaration to-night—Then I say we shall be forced, by patriotism, by public opinion, by every regard for ourselves and our colonies, to resist this, and if need be, by retaliatory tariffs. Why not?Why not? By all means do it, but have the honesty and candour to say you are going to do it. Do not imagine that I am complaining of the policy of the Government; that would be out of order; but it is not out of order to complain of their lack of courage or candour. That is the proposal of the Prime Minister. Retaliatory tariffs is the one definite item of policy to which he has committed himself. He has no settled convictions on the question of taxing the food of the people; that is not a matter which has ever disturbed his serenity; but he has a settled conviction on this very point—which the colonies appreciate as a settled conviction; he has pronounced in favour of retaliation. Now let me ask again what it is which has brought this message from the colonies by referring to the speech of the Colonial Secretary. He has dealt with this question even more fully, but not more explicitly, than the Prime Minister. In his speech at Birmingham the right hon. Gentleman described and condemned the policy of Germany in treating Canada as a separate fiscal unit; and he said that in our present condition we were practically helpless so far as the defence of our colonies was concerned, and he went on to indicate that he thought our present position a humiliating one. He proceeded to say how that position was to be met. He said there were two alternatives. The first, which he mentioned only for the purpose of excluding, was to stand by the definition of free trade "as interpreted by Little Englanders of the Manchester school"—meaning, of course, the right hon. Gentleman whom the Prime Minister keeps in his place—the Chancellor of the Exchequer—the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Goschen, and, I believe, the majority of the Party opposite. That is an alternative which the Government disclaim, and the colonies note the fact. They have noted that according to the Colonial Secretary the old-fashioned definition of free trade is no longer to 1259 prevail; that belongs only to Little Englanders; they naturally think that the declaration of the Colonial Secretary binds his Government. If it does not bind the Government, what does the right hon. Gentleman mean, and what does the Government mean by permitting such language to be used in the ears of the colonies? Now we see how the colonies were likely to be misled. On the confession of the Prime Minister to-night, they have been misled, because the right hon. Gentleman has made an interruption which can have been meant only to disclaim adhesion to a policy of retaliation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member is mistaken. I have distinctly said with regard to both the paragraphs in the message that has been sent that I agree with them. There is no question of misleading there.
§ MR. ROBSON
The right hon. Gentleman has not exactly met the allegation with regard to his consistency. He may agree with both paragraphs to-night, but we have to deal with what he has said on other occasions. On a previous occasion he was in favour of retaliation; to-night—and this is what I was pointing out—he has made an interruption which, if it is to be treated as an orderly and a significant interruption, means that so far as he is concerned nobody has a right to assume that he is in favour of retaliation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
What I have said is that I agree with the statement that every self-governing colony shall be secured, as far as we can do it, in the free exercise of its right to enter into closer trade relations. [OPPOSITION cries of "How?"] I have not said a word about retaliation. I have certainly not committed myself to the proposition that there is no other method of attaining that object. Of course the hon. Member knows I do not shrink from retaliation if necessary. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh."]
§ MR. ROBSON
With all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I fail to see how his interruption is an answer, or even relevant to the point I was making. The point with which I am dealing is not the phrase which the right hon. 1260 Gentleman keeps repeating, but his own declaration as to what his policy would be in a given contingency—a contingency, indeed, which has arisen, viz., a fiscal conflict between Germany and one of our colonies—and that declaration is in favour of retaliation. I am also dealing with a speech of the Colonial Secretary. I have mentioned one alternative; the second is, and he stated it quite clearly, "retaliation, if necessary." He excluded the first alternative; what did he say about the second? He had reached a point in his speech at which a little candour and courage would have been serviceable to the country. He said, "I leave it in your hands"—leaving his audience, the country, and the colonies, under the distinct impression that he, speaking with all the authority of Colonial Secretary, was in favour of retaliation, but afraid to commit himself by a definite declaration. And we are taunted with want of courage! I wonder that any gentleman sitting on that bench can use the word "courage" without a blush. The Prime Minister, at deputations and so forth, speaks of retaliation; to-night he is most hurt if anyone suggests that he has said anything in its favour. That is courage!
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think it is rather hard that the hon. and learned Gentleman should make a use of my speeches and interruptions, which is rather in excess of his privileges as a debater. I have stated that I agree with the second paragraph of the message. That does not touch retaliation. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh."] Well, wait a moment. I have not hesitated to say that, if other methods failed, I do not shrink from retaliation; but I am not certain that there are not other methods. That is the only thing I complain of.
§ MR. ROBSON
Possibly I have not made my point clear to the right hon. Gentleman. What I was pointing out was that we have got to take the language of the Colonial Prime Minister in reference to the proposals of the two right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and when the message talks of "securing the colonies in the free exercise of their right," that language must be read in connection with the proposals which I 1261 am reading from the speech of the Colonial Secretary, but which the right hon. Gentleman ignores in order to read to me time after time this message. Now let me go back to the speech of the Colonial Secretary. I have said that he does not appear in his speech to have suffered from courage or candour. No doubt he is supposed by many to be the incarnation of courage and candour in debate, and I daresay he is, judged by the standard of those among whom he sits. But what a standard of comparison! Let us take what the right hon. Gentleman said in another part of his speech, because the right hon. Gentleman is inconsistent not only from year to year, and from month to month, but also from moment to moment, and from sentence to sentence. In the course of his speech he put a very remarkable meaning on the policy he was propounding. In his peroration—and nothing is more dangerous to the consistency of an argument than a peroration—he made the declaration, which also has gone forth to the colonies and has been considered by them as something to be taken in reference to all these suggestions of retaliation, "I am in favour of a self-sufficient and self-sustaining Empire." Perhaps I had better quote his words—I believe in a British Empire.
§ MR. ROBSON
There are some persons belonging to the Party opposite who are always anxious to convince foreigners that one half of the people of this country are against England. It seems to be the one object of their lives to convince the world at large that those who take pride, as we do, in our country are anxious to injure her. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the first duty of the British Empire was to maintain friendly relations with all the nations of the world, and yet, even if alone, to be self-sustaining and self sufficient. That sentence deals with two questions: our friendship with all the world, and our position if alone. According to the Colonial Secretary there is no other alternative. "I believe in an Empire which is self-sustaining and self-sufficient." That is a fine phrase, but what does it 1262 mean? Do not accuse us of misrepresentation if we tell the country that hon. Members opposite believe in an Empire self-sustaining and self-sufficient, which means an Empire without any Continental or world-wide trade. That is the phrase which goes forth to the colonies, and encourages every senseless Protectionist in the British dominions to believe that this great Empire can sustain its strength, maintain its population, keep up its vigour, power, and position, without its trade. It is a misunderstanding to which an end should be put at once. I do not expect the Government will put an end to it. We should have to drag out of them, bit by bit, something in the nature, if not of a settled conviction, at all events of a definite policy. I only hope they will reach their policy long before they reach their conviction. In the meantime I think my right hon. friend has done well to bring forward this motion to-night, and to take yet another step forward in that which I am proud to think has now become the great mission and function of this Party—the defence of the food, the trade, and the Empire of our people.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
I confess I have listened to this discussion with very great regret. I do not say that in any spirit of censure—it would be presumptuous on my part to do so—on any of those who have spoken on one side or the other. It is natural and inevitable, in the condition of public life and the ordinary circumstances of debates in this House, that a question of this kind should at once become the opportunity for one Party to attack the other and for the other Party to retort upon its assailants. And, of course, that opportunity has been abundantly used on both sides during this discussion. But I think we shall be very foolish, and that we shall perform very badly our duty to the country, if we conceal from ourselves that this is a question of gravity, portentously greater than those which generally occupy our attention. The particular aspect of the matter which is in our minds, and which is raised by the Motion for adjournment, is a misunderstanding with the colonies; and that is a very grave matter. I should 1263 not be in order, of course, in pointing out how very grave are all the other aspects of the matter, and how closely they affect the well-being of the people and the unity of the Empire. It is impossible to forget how far-reaching the effects of this discussion are likely to be, and it is impossible to keep out of our minds how disastrous and ruinous this controversy is likely to be to the great Unionist Party. I regret this, but I recognise that it is inevitable that the tone of the debate should be what it has been. Perhaps I may be permitted to say that, although this debate has been raised in a partisan manner, I think the Leader of the Opposition has called attention to a real danger. Whatever may be the merits of the Government policy of inquiry, while some Ministers entertain a definite opinion on the one side and some on the other as to what will be the upshot of this inquiry, I do think that it is likely to have a profoundly misleading effect in the colonies, in regard to the real circumstances of the case. So far as an individual Member of the House is likely to make any difference in a matter of this kind, I should like to say how the declarations of the Government sound in ears which are not prejudiced against them and in the ears of one who is strongly convinced of the unwisdom of the policy of the Colonial Secretary. It seems to me that there is an unconcealed ambiguity in the declaration that the Government is in favour of inquiry. It is not concealed from the public that to a portion of the Cabinet it is clear that the inquiry will end in one way, and that to another portion it is equally clear that the inquiry will end in another way; while to a certain portion of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister himself, there seems some doubt as to what the upshot of the inquiry will be. The Prime Minister, alone among his colleagues, approached the subject with a really open mind. What then is the impression likely to be in the colonies? Most people, when they hear that a subject is going to be inquired into, are inclined to think that such inquiry is the immediate precursor of a great change of policy; and I regret that the other day the Prime Minister in a brilliant speech quoted the analogies of 1845 and 1886, because it might lead those who read his speech to 1264 the conclusion that the Government are contemplating a change of policy. But so far I, and many on the Ministerial side of the House, distinctly understand that the Cabinet is absolutely uncommitted in any way whatever to any policy either of retaliation or preferential duties or general protection, such as may be thought to come within some of the phrases the Colonial Secretary has used. I understand the Prime Minister has this evening only expressed his personal opinion that in certain cases retaliation might be useful, and that even in this extreme case, in which many hon. Members would be prepared to recognise that retaliation might be accepted, speaking only in regard to that case and speaking only for himself, the Government as a Government is absolutely uncommitted, and those who support the Government are in like manner absolutely uncommitted to this policy in the slightest degree. It is very important that this should be understood in this country and in the colonies, and especially in New South Wales. I fear that my words will not reach so far, and that the words of those who will be heard there will create a profoundly misleading impression. Gentlemen opposite, following their party advantage, have tried to carry the words of the Prime Minister far beyond their natural meaning, and they will thereby contribute to that very misunderstanding on the other side of the world which it is their avowed object to prevent. I hope that the inquiry will be a genuine inquiry, and will be quite frankly and candidly undertaken; and that it will not be made the opportunity of hurrying those who are doubtful into premature support of a policy which many believe to be no less destructive of the well-being of this country than the policy of Home Rule, which the great Unionist Party has so long successfully resisted.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)
I should not have risen to take part in this debate if it had not been for the, in manner very stirring, and in substance very interesting, speech of the Prime Minister, which raised in my mind certain considerations that I should like to follow a little further. The Prime Minister is singularly unfortunate in this matter. To-night he gave two entirely different impressions—one to the right hon. Member for the Forest of 1265 Dean and another to the noble Lord who has just sat down. The Prime Minister began by deprecating this debate as ill-timed and unreasonable. The other day he pointed out strongly the disadvantages of a Government's coming to a conclusion secretly and then announcing it to the country. The right hon. Gentleman must be beginning to realise—though I fear he is only beginning—the inconvenience of a Government appealing publicly for inquiry and discussion on a subject on which the Members of the Government are diametrically opposed to each other. That is the origin of the telegrams of the Premier of New South Wales. The right hon. Gentleman has taunted us with having moved the adjournment instead of challenging the policy of the Government directly. One course is not the alternative of the other. By challenging his policy, the right hon. Gentleman must mean a Vote of Censure. You may have a Vote of Censure when the Government is prepared to do something or when they have a policy. But this Government is not prepared to do anything, and it has no policy. I will go further and ask the right hon. Gentleman this question. The time of the House is at the right hon. Gentleman's disposal, and, if he disapproves of this Motion, I ask him to remember that the Colonial Secretary publicly invited this House to a discussion of the question. It is not in the interests of any individual or any one Party more than another to have such a discussion. When the Prime Minister taunts us in this way, will he state distinctly whether, before the Session is over, he will respond to the invitation of the Colonial Secretary by giving the House the opportunity of a discussion, and, if so, whether the Government will be prepared to take full part in that discussion? I think that is a fair demand to make in answer to the right hon. Gentleman's remarks.
Now I will follow him a little further into the subject matter of his speech. The Prime Minister asked us another question. When you, Mr. Speaker, intervened in the interests of the limits of debate, he had already asked us whether under certain conditions which might arise we would sit silently by. What conditions did he contemplate? I assume he had in his mind a really 1266 hostile discrimination against the United Kingdom or some part of the British Empire. There are contingencies which have not arisen yet, and which, I trust, will never arise, which are really equivalent to acts of war. Suppose a foreign country were to say, "We hate you and we will not have your goods, and will prohibit their entry into our country," that would be a position under which the country could not sit silent. If such a condition did arise, no Government with any courage would ask for discussion, or inquiry, or mandate, but would come forward with their proposals. If that was the sort of consideration which was in the mind of the Prime Minister—a really hostile discrimination—has that condition yet arisen or not? Has it arisen in the case of Germany and Canada to-day? If it has not arisen; then the right hon. Gentleman is really putting a purely hypothetical case before the House. If it has arisen, what does the Prime Minister intend to do? I assume from the silence of the Government they do not consider it has arisen. I am afraid the Prime Minister has not succeeded in clearing up the mystification of the Government of New South Wales. He accepts their statement thatThere is a declaration that every self-governing colony shall be secured in the free exercise of its rights to enter into closer trade relations with the mother country.Has the Government any policy with regard to carrying out this declaration? The question in the mind of the Government of New South Wales, with regard to which it is assumed they have become confused, is how far personal declarations by members of the Government represent the Government or only individual members of the Government. Was what the Prime Minister said to-night said for himself or for the Government? Is he prepared to give this guarantee to the colonies? The words he endorsed—and they amount to a promise—are these—That every self-governing colony will be cecured in the free exercise or its right to enter into closer trade relations with the mother sountry.That is the promise. Is there any danger of the promise being incurred? Has the case yet arisen? If it has arisen, what are you prepared to do? If it has not arisen, why is the question 1267 urgent at the present time? The Prime Minister has expressly said that he is prepared if the contingency arose to secure free exercise of the right. Would he do it by retaliatory measures? Has the Government agreed upon any measure in such a case? Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer prepared to endorse retaliatory measures? What ought to be made clear to the House especially after the speech of the noble Lord, is, when the Prime Minister made this promise had he any idea in his own mind as to what measures he would take, and, if he had an idea, did he speak for himself or for a Government that was agreed upon the question, or had the Government, in making a definite promise to the colonies, any settled policy whatever?
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I am quite sure that those Members of the House, who were present earlier in the debate, will now acquit me of any discourtesy to the right hon. Gentleman opposite in interrupting him as I did on a point of order, with the view of ascertaining from you, Sir, within what limits it would be necessary that this debate should be kept. I have to say, on behalf of the Government, that we welcome discussion on this important matter, but, naturally, we do not desire that the discussion should be confined to one side; and we were anxious to know how far we should be justified in following the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues in replying to a matter which appeared to us to be outside the scope of the Resolution. The Resolution, and all it referred to, has already disappeared in the course of the debate. I have often heard debates raised in this House on a Motion for the adjournment which seemed very difficult to reconcile with the Rule of Order which prescribes that it should refer to a "definite matter of urgent public importance;" but this debate is, of all those that I can recollect in the whole course of my experience, one which has the least foundation, and which, in fact, is only based on what I may call the dialectical pin-point. The Motion, which it is "urgent" and of "public importance" to discuss, is whether or not the New South Wales Government are mistaken in expressing theirGreat satisfaction with the declaration by the British Government that all the self-governing 1268 colonies should be secured in the free exercise of the right to enter into closer trade relations with the mother country.That has been settled by the declaration of the Prime Minister. They are not mistaken. The Prime Minister expressed the opinion of the whole Government. So far as that goes the answer is complete, and the debate might there come to an end. But a great deal more has been raised by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I will promise not to go one atom beyond anything which has already been said; but I find it very difficult to understand how some of the things which have been said arise—[Cries of "Order," and an HON. MEMBER: You are not Mr. Speaker.]—upon the terms of the Motion. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Northumberland having received the answer of the Prime Minister and not being satisfied, goes altogether beyond this Motion and puts a Question which I am prepared to answer, but to which I apply what I have just said. He says: Under these circumstances, does the Government contemplate in the future a hostile discrimination which will come within the terms of the minute of the Government of New South Wales that has been communicated to us? Does he consider that up to the present time there has been any hostile discrimination against a self-governing colony which is calculated to prevent the free exercise of its right to enter into closer trade relations with the mother country? Yes, Sir, we do. What has happened? Before I come to that, let me say this. In nothing that I say am I imputing the slightest blame to Germany, the country which has exercised this undoubted right to discriminate. I make no complaint whatever. Under existing circumstances, not only have they a perfect right to do what they have done, but we have no right to consider it as an unfriendly action or to expect any different treatment. So long as the policy of this country is to lie down under that treatment so long we have no complaint either against Germany or against any other nation which treats our colonies in this way.
What are the facts? It is perfectly true that the self-governing colonies claim the right—subject, of 1269 course, to exercising it through the Imperial Government—to represent their special views to foreign countries; and, if necessary. I have no doubt they would ask to make special treaties of reciprocity or otherwise. In that sense it is perfectly open to foreign countries to treat them separately. But what has happened in this case is that the greatest of all our colonies has, of its own accord, voluntarily and without any application from us, desired to show its appreciation of the action of the mother country—the value which it attaches to the greatest free market which it enjoys—by giving to us a special preference upon the goods which it imports of our manufacture. Thereupon, in the full exercise of her right, Germany immediately removes Canada from the position in which it was placed as a member of the British Empire, and places it under a different scheme of tariff regulations by which Canadian goods are visited with a much heavier duty in Germany. Germany has a perfect right to do that. Why does she do it? Her papers tell us. Only a few weeks ago every paper in Germany was explaining to the world the policy of Germany, which was to penalise Canada for having given special advantages to the mother country, and to do that not so much or not only to punish Canada but to deter other colonies. The German papers told us in so many words that they saw a proposal for giving a preference of this kind in South Africa, and that they wished to stop it. The method which they suggested as likely to stop it was to place discrimination after discrimination upon the goods coming from Canada; if what they had done already was not sufficient, to increase that discrimination, and thereby, as they hoped, to give very great assistance to those of their friends who in South Africa were protesting against the preference which it was proposed to give there also. They thought that the lesson would be read, in South Africa, in Australia, and in New Zealand, that no British colony would dare to discriminate in favour of the mother country when it was known that Germany would take the course which was indicated in these papers. And then the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Berwick division of Northumberland comes down to the House and asks, with an air of ingenuous 1270 ignorance, "Do you know of any hostile discrimination against a British colony?" I say, Yes, we do; and I say we resent it, not in the sense that we make any complaint under existing circumstances, but we resent the policy which makes this possible. The Resolution of the New South Wales Government speaks of the declarations of the British Government, and the Prime Minister of the Colony has said that in referring to the declarations of the British Government he referred to the speeches of my right hon. friend the Prime Minister and myself. What did I say? What I said was this. I stated the facts as I have now stated them to the House; and I said that, so long as our present system continued, the only answer we could make to our colonies, if they complained, would be that our fiscal system prevented us from going to their assistance; and I went on to say that, to my mind, that was a humiliating position. I said I did not like it. I said that as long as it continued I did not believe in the future union of the Empire. I say so now, and the Government has asked for discussion on the question.
The right hon. Baronet rose for the purpose of putting two questions to the Government. He first asked, as I have said, whether any case had arisen. I have answered that question. He then asked whether and how we were going to prevent such cases. He said something about not dealing with hypotheses. It is an hypothesis whether or not we shall have to deal with such a case. I have stated what was the case a few weeks ago. Look at the German papers now. It is, of course, very difficult to understand the cause of the sudden change of opinion. But there can be no doubt about the change. We hear no more in the German papers of further discrimination against our colony of Canada. We see in all of them a recognition of the fact that public opinion in this country is directed to this question and that apparently the patience of this country has been exhausted. I am quoting—I am not giving my own opinion—the effect of articles that have appeared in the leading German Press; and I find, on the one hand, recognition, generous appreciation of our motives, recognition of our right to protect the unity of the British Empire, and, further, the expression of the opinion that if a 1271 change in our fiscal policy is involved, then German interests need not be injured thereby, because German policy could be changed to meet it, because Germany would then seek to arrange a modus vivendi with us, and we should have something to negotiate with. That is the answer. At the present moment I see no reason whatever to fear that our allies in Germany will put us in the position of having to consider retaliatory measures in consequence of action taken by them against our colony of Canada; but if they do, then I rest upon the statement of the Prime Minister—we should not regard that action with indifference, we should think it our duty to find a remedy. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has shown an extraordinary anxiety in this debate lest the colonies should be disappointed; the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has also expressed his surprise that the attention of the country should have been called to this matter as one of urgency. Well, Sir, in my present office I ought, at any rate, to have the means of forming a fairly correct judgment of the general trend of opinion in our colonies. If there had been nothing in the condition of our colonies, in the state of opinion in our great self-governing colonies which justified allusion to this matter, I agree in that case there would have been no immediate urgency, and the matter might or might not have been left for a future period sooner or later, immediate necessity not arising.
But is the right hon. Gentleman so behind the times that he knows of no urgency? Is there nothing in the state of opinion in our great self-governing colonies at the present time which makes it essential—which makes it the duty of the Minister representing the colonies—to call attention to this subject? Will he allow me to call his attention to a paragraph in the newspapers? It is to the following effect—The Government of Canada have given notice to the Government of the United States that they are not at present disposed to receive the Commission for the establishment of a Reciprocity Treaty.What does that mean? That also occurred, curiously enough, within the last few weeks. Now, let me call attention to this fact. Suppose a great colony—not necessarily Canada — suppose a 1272 Crown colony such as Jamaica or Trinidad wishes to make a treaty of reciprocity with the United States of America; necessarily the first condition for making a satisfactory treaty is that the colony in question should give preference to the United States over and above any that may be given to British manufacturers; without that it is perfectly clear the United States has no interest in such a treaty. The United States is not likely to give something for nothing, and it would be something if it gave a great advantage to the colony without receiving in return this preference over its greatest competitor. Therefore if Canada is to make a reciprocity treaty with the United States or any other country it must be detrimental to the manufactures of this country. I do not desire to force Canada into such a position. I say that as long as Canada could say, or think, we were indifferent to her offers when she offered us 33⅓ per cent., that we cared not for it when she offered more if we gave her some slight preference in return, and that we rejected her offers with contumely, or, at all events, with indifference—I say I do not want Canada to be in that position and to be forced, as it were, by the public opinion of the country to seek elsewhere for the reciprocal trade which the mother country refused to her. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite are afraid lest the colonies should be disappointed. Sir, the colonies have been disappointed with our policy hitherto. Is it we who raise the question? No, it is they. They raised it, and not one colony alone. Every individual colony raised it by the mouth of its Prime Minister at the recent Conference, when a resolution was unanimously passed asking the Government of His Britannic Majesty to call attention to this matter, to consider the matter, and see if they could not do something to meet the desire of the colonies for this closer commercial union, which in my heart and soul I believe is absolutely essential—if hereafter you are to have that closer federal union I believe to be the real destiny of the British race—and without which the Empire will fall to pieces and separate atoms.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
I think the Motion of my 1273 right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition has been amply justified, were it only for having elicited the speech delivered by the Colonial Secretary. The Colonial Secretary has made two things perfectly clear in that speech. He has made it perfectly clear, first of all, that he adheres to his own opinion, and he has also made it equally clear that the Government has no opinion at all. The Colonial Secretary has declared once more in favour of retaliation and preferential tariffs. But what did he say when he came to make a declaration of the policy of the Government? We are on the question of the message of the New South Wales Premier to this country. That message expresses satisfaction with the declaration of His Majesty's Government. My hon. and learned friend the Member for South Shields has read out the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in which he said that if necessary there shall be retaliatory tariffs. What does the Colonial Secretary, speaking for the Government, say? Here, he says, is Germany, which is threatening retaliation against Canadian goods because that colony has given a preference to this country—but what the Colonial Secretary forgot to say is that that retaliation by Germany is a matter of years. What have His Majesty's Government been doing during the whole of these years? Canada has within the last few months declared war against Germany. The question put by my right hon. friend the Member for Berwick is whether, as a matter of practical policy, the Colonial Secretary and the Government are going to back up Canada in that respect. We are entitled to know. It is not a hypothetical question at all. It is a matter which has arisen as a matter of practical policy. What are the Government asking us to do? They say: "We have got to back up Canada, we must do something to protect the colony, and, therefore, we will fire great speeches at
§ each other." That is the answer. This is the policy of the big revolver to protect the colonies. That is their opinion of protection for the colonies. That is the policy declared by the Colonial Secretary to-night. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] If it is not, then he has declared on behalf of His Majesty's Government a policy of retaliatory tariffs against Germany. Is that the policy of His Majesty's Government? Hon. Members opposite do not seem to know, and if they do not know how are we possibly to know? The fact of the matter is that the Government have lost their bearings in a fog, and they are appointing a Committee to inquire where they are. A question has been put by my right hon. friend the Member for Berwick which has not been answered by the Government. The Colonial Secretary evaded the whole position. My right hon. friend asked the Prime Minister whether he was prepared to give an opportunity for the discussion of this question in the House of Commons The House of Lords have had an opportunity, and they have discussed the question on its merits. I think we are entitled to an answer to the question of my right hon. friend whether the Government are prepared to extend the same privilege to the House of Commons, as the House of Lords have already enjoyed, of discussing this great question. It is more a matter for the House of Commons than the House of Lords. It is a matter of finance; it is a matter of our fiscal policy which, according to the traditions of Parliament, are concerns of this House. I trust that, if we do not get an answer to the question to-night from the Government, the Leader of the Opposition will press for an answer to-morrow.
§ Question put.
§ House divided:—Ayes, 132; Noes, 252. (Division List, No. 121.)1277
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Cawley, Frederick|
|Allen, Charles P. (Glouc., Stroud||Broadhurst, Henry||Channing, Francis Allston|
|Asher, Alexander||Bryce, Right Hon. James||Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Crombie, John William|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Burns, John||Crooks, William|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Buxton, Sydney Charles||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardign|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Caldwell, James||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Cameron, Robert||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)|
|Bell, Richard||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Duncan, J. Hastings|
|Black, Alexander William||Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Edwards, Frank|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Causton, Richard Knight||Emmott, Alfred|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone)||Lewis, John Herbert||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Evans, Saml. T. (Glamorgan)||Lloyd-George, David||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Lough, Thomas||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Kenna, Reginald||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benj.||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Mellor, Rt. Hn. John William||Taylor, Theo. C. (Radcliffe)|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose||Thomas, Sir A. (Glam., E.)|
|Grant, Corrie||Moulton, John Fletcher||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Grey, Rt. Hn. Sir E. (Berwick||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Thomas, F. Freeman (Hastings)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Norman, Henry||Thomas, J. A. (Glam. Gower)|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Tomkinson, James|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tyd||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Toulmin, George|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Paulton, James Mellor||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Harwood, George||Philipps, John Wynford||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Pirie, Duncan V.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Price, Robert John||Wason, E. (Clackmannan)|
|Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristl, E.||Priestley, Arthur||Wason, J. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Rea, Russell||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Horniman, Frederick John||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfr)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Rickett, J. Compton||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Joicey, Sir James||Robson, William Snowdon||Wilson, J. W. (Worcester., N.)|
|Jones, William (Carnarv'nshire||Roe, Sir Thomas||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddersf'd|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Rose, Charles Day||Young, Samuel|
|Kitson, Sir James||Runciman, Walter||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Labouchere, Henry||Russell, T. W.|
|Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Mr. Herbert Gladstone and|
|Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Schwann, Charles E.||Mr. William M'Arthur.|
|Leigh, Sir Joseph||Shackleton, David James|
|Levy, Maurice||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Allhusen, Aug. Henry Eden||Chapman, Edward||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Charrington, Spencer||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Man'r|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Clive, Captain Percy A.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Collings, Right Hon. Jesse||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Flower, Ernest|
|Bain Colonel, James Robert||Colston, Chas. Edw H. Athole||Forster, Henry William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Man'r||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Fyler, John Arthur|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch||Cox, Irwin Edwd. Bainbridge||Garfit, William|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lond|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Cranborne, Lord||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nrn|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Bignold, Arthur||Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop|
|Bigwood, James||Crossley, Sir Savile||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.)|
|Bill, Charles||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Dalkeith, Earl of||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Bond, Edward||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Greene, Sir E. W. (Bury St. Ed.|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Denny, Colonel||Greene, Hy. D. (Shrewsbury)|
|Brassey, Albert||Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tr. Haml'ts||Groves, James Grimble|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Hain, Edward|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Brown, Sir Alx. H. (Shropsh.)||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Dimsdale, Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph C.||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord G. (Midd'x|
|Bull, William James||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashfd|
|Butcher, John George||Doughty, George||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Harris, Frederick Leverton|
|Carlile, William Walter||Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Duke, Henry Edward||Hatch, Ernest Frederick G.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Heath, Arthur H. (Hanley)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Helder, Augustus||Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir H. E. (Wigt'n||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Henderson, Sir Alexander||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Milvain, Thomas||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel||Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Hogg, Lindsay||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, E.)|
|Hope, J. F. (Sheff., Bt'side.)||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Smith, H. C. (North'mb. Tyneside|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Horner, Frederick William||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Hoult, Joseph||Morgan, David J. (Walthamst'w||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Morrell, George Herbert||Stock, James Henry|
|Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Mount, William Arthur||Stroyan, John|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute||Thompson, Dr. E. C. (Monagh'n, N.|
|Johnstone, Heywood||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Myers, William Henry||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Kennedy, Patrick James||Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Kerr, John||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Keswick, William||Parkes, Ebenezer||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Pemberton, John S. G.||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Percy, Earl||Valentia, Viscount|
|Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monm'th)||Pilkington, Lt.-Col. Richard||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H. (Sheffield|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks, N. R.||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham)||Plummer, Walter R.||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Pretyman, Ernest George||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Purvis, Robert||Webb, Col. William George|
|Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Randles, John S.||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunton|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Rattigan, Sir William Henry||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts)|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Reid, James (Greenock)||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. Lloyd|
|Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham||Remnant, Jas. Farquharson||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.||Renwick, George||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Lowe, Francis William||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Lowther, C. (Cumb. Eskdale)||Robertson, H. (Hackney)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Robinson, Brooke||Worsley-Taylor, Hry. Wilson|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Wylie, Alexander|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Round, Rt. Hon. James||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sadler, Col. Saml. Alexander||Younger, William|
|M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb'rgh, W.||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Malcolm, Ian||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Sir Alexander Acland-|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Hood and Mr. Anstruther|