§ Adjournment (under Standing Order No. 10).
§ MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)
said he claimed on this subject to have almost special knowledge with regard to land settlement—and also with regard to its effect on the native populations. In his early days in New Zealand he had witnessed two important native risings in the course of which many unfortunate people lost their lives. All these things arose out of the inability of the native mind to understand our dealing and our way of utilising land. They did not understand in any degree whatever that simply for a few blankets or beads, or some trifle of that sort, or by fixing their names to a document they were parting with land over which they and their ancestors before them had roamed at will. In the colony, with which he was familiar, we never lived on anything approaching amicable terms with the natives until we fully recognised all the rights and privileges they had with regard to the land. Let hon. Members imagine if they could a large tract of land reaching from the Indian Ocean to the Albert Edward and Albert Lakes on the West, a country larger than France, bounded on the East by the Indian Ocean, on the West by the Albert Edward and Albert Lakes, on the South by the German boundary, and on the North by the Soudan and Abyssinia; a country of great possibilities; a country we owed to the great men who had gone before us, and who had made this country what it was, not with any idea of benefiting themselves by forming land syndicates and obtaining concessions, but for the benefit of the native population. It was in their names as well as his own that he ventured to address the House on this subject. In this country we had spent millions of money and thousands of valuable lives. Their idea was that this great territory was acquired for the benefit of humanity and of those who had from time to time been ruined by slave raids. One of the chief reasons for making the Uganda Railway was that the slave trade might be stopped, and it had been stopped. Through that railway we had acquired 562 the country through which that railway passed, 570 miles in length. Every official in the country admitted the great future of that country. We sent over our best sons who lived under great disadvantages, with only a few black soldiers to protect them, yet such was the confidence with which they inspired the natives that he had seen them walking with only a stick in their hands among the native kraals, among men fully armed with all the weapons of their country. It. was not for us here to enhance their difficulties and render their lives more insecure than they were at the present time. The natives, as a rule, were peaceful in their habits and travelled considerable distances with their flocks and herds, and the country was held for us by a few settlers whose safety depended on the fact that they represented British justice and order. But last year he had found the country seething with indignation at the proposition to make these settlements of Russian and Roumanian Jews. To his Questions on this subject he had received nothing but evasive answers. The noble Lord had refused to say where the settlement was to be.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOE FOREIGN AFFAIBS (Earl PERCY, Kensington, S.)
said the conditions of the lease were not decided.
§ MR. CATHCART WASON
said that made the matter worse. He was not there to attack this Jewish settlement, or the Jews in particular. There was not a Member of the House who had not many friends among the Jews. What everybody in East Africa wished to know was, at whose instigation this thing was started; what was going to be made out of it; and who was its author? But no one had been able to obtain the slightest information. They attributed it not to the noble Lord or the Foreign Office, but to the late Colonial Secretary the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, who made a hurried tour in this country, and spoke of smiling homesteads and waving cornfields, and the happy tons and daughters of the British race who would settle there, but who apparently proposed finally to make over the whole country to a self-governing settlement of foreign 563 Jews. If the officials of the Government in East Africa had bean consulted, he should have bean the last to have brought this matter before the House, but as he understood they had not, he had been compelled to do so, because he was sure that if the noble Lord had had any official communications to place before the House he would have done so. If the noble Lord had appointed a small Committee of the House to have inquired into the whole matter that would have set, to some extent, the minds of hon. Members at rest. The noble Lord now admitted that he had read some remonstrances, but he might have said, with regard to the resignation of Sir Charles Eliot, whether the statement of the hon. Member for King's Lynn was correct. The hon. Member for King's Lynn had said in this House that Sir Charles Eliot had resigned, and if that was true the position was rendered much more difficult. To establish a colony of aliens whose thoughts and whose civilisation were not ours, and whose language was not ours, was a cruel wrong to inflict on this country. The difficulty of administration would be increased a thousand-fold if the suggestion of the noble Lord and the Foreign Office was adopted. How were our representatives to carry on and retain the confidence of the natives and control so many thousands of people as the noble Lord had in his mind if his idea were carried out. When the Return granted last year showing the number of concessions granted was laid on the Table of the House this concession was not among them, it was not then completed, but nothing could have been easier than to have started in a small way. If twenty or thirty people had been sent out and a little land given to them on which to make the experiment, a great deal of the difficulty would have been avoided, and there would not have been this outcry in East Africa. These hind concessions and land syndicates were the curse of all oar dealings with the natives. That was illustrated by the present state of affairs in German East Africa. There there was a great strife going on owing entirely to the stupidity of allowing concessions to be given without having regard to native rights. All the trouble in the Congo was due to the same 564 fact. There were many thousands of Somalis in this protectorate and many thousands of Sudanese, and the peace of East Africa was by no means assured. If the Foreign Office could only forget the stupid blunder that led us into war with the Somalis, and could take the advice of the men who understood the country, we should have little to fear in the future. All these natives were greatly concerned in the welfare of their country, and if this concession was allowed to go through—
§ MR. SPEAKER
pointed out that the hon. Member was travelling rather wide of the Motion for adjournment, which was to call attention to a specific matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the danger to the peace of East Africa arising out of the steps now being taken, with the sanction of His Majesty's Government, for the establishment of an alien settlement in East Africa on lands now in the occupation of native populations." He must ask the hon. Member to confine his observations to that.
§ MR. CATHCART WASON
said it was difficult to express in a few words the object of bringing this matter forward, but the step taken by the Government in making this offer to this Jewish Syndicate constituted a very grave danger to East Africa, and the House was entitled to have some information on the subject. We spent £250,000 on the Uganda Railway and considerably more on the administration and the military forces of that country. This expense would be very largely increased, and we would have to largely reinforce the troops now there if the Government persisted in carrying out this insane and suicidal policy. It was not too late—and that was why he asked leave to move the adjournment of the House—for the noble Lord to appoint a small Committee of the House to take evidence and report on the matter. He for one should be perfectly willing that the noble Lord should appoint a Committee of his own personal friends on the Government side of the House. This was not a Party question in any sense. It was a question on which the honour and good faith of this country were founded. He could not help feeling very strongly indeed on this question. With regard to the question of colonisation, he should only like to say that no 565 colony we had would ever dream of allowing such a settlement as this—a settlement of persons not speaking our own language, nor any of the dialects of the native population, and ignorant also of the native ways of living. Such an empire within our Empire was nothing short of suicidal madness. [An HON. MEMBER: What is the settlement?] He did not know what the settlement was. That was what he wanted to know. The Government of this country ought to be above suspicion, and he regretted to say that on this, as on many other matters, their conduct had given rise to, among others, the question tow far the doctrines of Tammany had got hold of them.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Cathcart Wason.)
§ MAJOR EVANS GORDON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
said the hon. Member had drawn a tragic picture of the results which he thought were going to follow upon what was, so far as he could understand, a wholly imaginary evil. He had taken great interest for various reasons in matters concerning the Jewish community, and what he understood to have happened was really this. Some years ago—he did not know from whom it emanated—an offer was made to the Jewish community of certain lands in East Africa, and that offer was first made public at a congress at Basle. It was there said that an offer of land for a settlement in East Africa for Jews from all the countries of Europe had been made by the British Government. There was great division of opinion on the merits of the proposal. The whole of the Jewish community recognised the generosity of the Government in making it, but a certain section of the congress—he believed all the Russians—withdrew as a protest against this proposal being taken up, and their argument was that to carry through this policy, and to establish this colony, would divert the funds and the energies of the great Zionist movement from their original object, which was of course Palestine, to East Africa, and that their funds and energies would not suffice to carry out both these objects. They thought that on the whole it would not be wise or possible to carry it through. On 566 the other hand another section, headed by Mr. Israel Zangwill, a distinguished Jew and authority on the subject, thought that both objects might be carried out, and that the Zionist ideal so long held in Jewish minds could be maintained. These two sections came together so far I as, he believed, to appoint a committee, to inquire into the subject. The committee were to send three members East Africa to look into matters there, to see what the nature of the country was, and to inquire whether there was any hope of the project being carried to a successful conclusion. While appreciating the offer of the Government, many Jews held the opinion that the expenses attaching to sending out families in any considerable number would be soenormous, and the difficulties of settling there so great, as to be almost insuperable. It must be remembered that the Jewish people were not agriculturists. Years of confinement in towns in all parts of Europe had taken away their agricultural abilities to a great extent, and the sending of them out to East Africa was thought in many quarters to be an experiment of very doubtful advantage. Be that as it might the committee had gone out to inquire, he did not know whether they had returned, but they had certainly never reported.
The hon. Member talked of a Jewish syndicate. He did not believe the question of any syndicate entered into the matter at all. It was a matter concerning the welfare of the Jewish people throughout the world. The hon. Member also talked about the honour and good faith of this country, the great size of the territory in East Africa, its great possibilities, and of its having been acquired for the benefit of humanity. He could not see that they were going away from these objects. Certainly it was for the benefit of humanity if they could do something at all events to provide a home for these people. Before anything had been done and before a single Jew had gone to that country, it was surely rather strong to say that East Africa was seething with discontent at the mere proposals which had been made. It was extremely doubtful whether any Jewish families could go there at all. If beginnings were ever made, they must be small, and the transport of hundreds of thousands of these people as the hon. Gentleman had suggested and the settling 567 of them down in that part of the world, was a fairy tale. It was perfectly ludicrous to think that it could be done. It could only be accomplished by sending a few families at a time, and to talk of disturbance and the wrecking of the honour of the British Empire was, it seemed to him, a ridiculous exaggeration. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were scarcely consistent in protesting against this proposal in view of their action in connection with the Aliens Bill. Between 80,000 and 100,000 Jews came into East London, and the Government proposed not to exclude these people but merely to weed out the good from the bad. If this colony were ever established, the Jewish community themselves would be the first to take precautions that none but desirables should go there. The difficulties in connection with the proposal to send Jews to East Africa were very great, and to suppose that the country was being overrun in the way foreshadowed by the hon. Gentleman was quite beside the mark. It would be half a century before anything in the nature of a colony such as the hon. Gentleman had foreshadowed could be established. He hoped these words would set at rest what he believed to be a groundless fear.
§ MR. TREVELYAN (Yorkshire, W.R., Ellatid)
said he agreed with the hon. Member for Stepney that the proposal they were discussing had a great deal to be said for it. It appeared to him to be one that either the Jew hater or the Jew lover might approve of. The Jew hater might hope that many would go and settle in East Africa, and the Jew lover would naturally approve of a scheme by which a large number of that community might find an abiding place there. There was another reason why at the present moment they ought to welcome this proposal. It was a proof, and it was calculated to reassure the world, that the British Government was not affected by the wave of anti-Semitism which was passing over Europe. It was a good thing to hear the hon. Member for Stepney say something for a scheme like this, and also say that those in favour of the Aliens Bill were not actuated in any way by Anti-Semitic feeling. There was one argument used by the mover of the Motion which he could not 568 understand. He said that the natives would seriously object to this incursion into their territory. He did not know why they should object more to Jews than to Christians. He should have thought if a community of that kind could be obtained that it was an excellent way of developing that part of East Africa which he understood from reliable information contained extremely few natives. The rights of the natives to the possession of land might very well be safeguarded by any arrangement which was come to. The proposal had not been discussed in the House so far as he was aware, and he thought they were entitled to hear what the Government had to say upon it. He thought the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs might at least reassure the House on the questions which had been raised by his hon. friend with regard to the rights of natives. If it was true that Sir Charles Eliot had resigned his position owing to the circumstances connected with this proposed grant, he thought it was certainly an action of which the Government ought to give some account. As far as he understood the subject with the meagre information before him, he was afraid that he could not support the Motion.
§ MR. HAVILAND BURKE (King's County, Tullamore)
said the question before the House was one which did not admit of definition in law or logic. It came to this, virtually, that it was proposed to alienate with the sanction of the Imperial Parliament a great tract of territory to an alien race. He wished to make himself perfectly well understood. He should be the last to deny the immense contribution to civilisation, science, and art for which we were indebted to the Hebrew race, but at the same time let them never forget that a Jew was a Jew all the world over. Wherever they went the Jews remained a distinct race; and he believed that the institution of a Jewish community in East Africa, or anywhere else, would mean trouble in the near future. He believed that the Jewish race, for one reason or another, had been at the bottom of all our troubles in South Africa, and that they owned great English newspapers as absolutely as if those newspapers were edited by a Rabbi and printed in a synagogue. It was against the public 569 interest of this country to do anything to strengthen the forces of Judaism as against Christianity, or even, he would say boldly, as against paganism. Any man who knew France or Frenchmen knew perfectly well that at the bottom of the Dreyfus affair, and in the hearts of many men who only half believed in Dreyfus, there was a determination to put down and smash Jewish influence French politics and finance. He thought this proposal in regard to the settlement of Jews in East Africa was monstrous, extravagant, and unconstitutional, and opposed not only to the best interests of Christendom, but of civilisation at large. He should certainly vote against it as being an infraction of the rights and authority of Parliament.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I think I ought to say before the debate proceeds further that the question before the House is not whether or not it is desirable that a Jwish colony should exist in East Africa. I should never have granted leave to move the adjournment of the House had I thought that that was the question to be discussed. I understood from the hon. Gentleman who moved the Motion that the Government were taking some definite steps now for the purpose of immediately carrying out the policy of planting a colony there, and that they were at the same time excluding natives from territory for that purpose. That is the only matter for discussion by the House. General questions about the Jewish race cannot be discussed now.
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend)
said he would endeavour not to discuss the general question, but confine himself to the question of East Africa. The mover of the Motion had based his remarks entirely upon hearsay evidence. The whole case had been based on what someone had told or written to the hon. Member, or what someone saw in a newspaper. They had been told that the Governor of British East Africa had resigned or was resigning because he was opposed to this settlement by the Jews. He himself did not believe that the Governor had resigned on that ground, and he had just as good a right to believe that as the mover of the Motion had to believe otherwise, for he had not given one tittle of evidence in support of the statement. [An HON. 570 MEMBER: The Government have al the evidence.] He had personally no doubt that the representative of the Foreign Office would make the House understand the simple facts of the case. Anyone who knew business life knew that a board of directors would not disclose all the terms of an agreement while negotiations were in progress. That would only tend to hamper the negotiations. Might he suggest that the Government had a plan for the settlement of East Africa by alien Jews and that the House would have an opportunity of discussing the question in full when the scheme was ready for discussion. The natives had been brought into the question. Were the rights of the natives to be invaded? [An HON. MEMBER: Yes.] His hon. friend knew nothing of the scheme, and, therefore, he could not say that the rights of the natives were to be invaded. The Motion was a very frivolous proceeding. Great care would be taken that the land was not handed over for ever, but that it should be secured eventually for those who would settle the land in the interests of British domination. The hon. Member opposite had spoken about people of various languages coming into the country. Was that a new thing in the settlement of the Colonies of this Empire? Had there not gone into Canada Norwegians, Swedes, French,Germans, Russians. Poles, Jews—people of all classes, and all creeds, but had this House ever entered a protest againt the settlement of a British Colony by people of various creeds and races?
§ MR. HAVILAND BURKE
said that his point was that this was a people of one nationality speaking different languages.
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER
said that that was hair-splitting. He wished once more to make a protest against the Motion for an object so frivolous in its nature and so objectless, on a statement based upon information which had no more authority than a conversation, he presumed, with officials in East Africa. He did not imagine that officials always were the best judges as to what was good for the settlement of the country. [OPPOSITION ironical cries of "Hear, hear."] 571 He presumed the House understood him to mean subordinate permanent officials in the colony. [OPPOSITION laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite laughed, but he ventured to say that they had been the first in the House to criticise in the strongest manner the opinions of subordinate officials, and to claim that the Front Bench, representing the country, were the final authority. He looked with confidence to the statement to be made by the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
§ EARL PERCY
said he thought this was the most extraordinary debate to which in his brief experience he had ever listened. He had heard many Motions for adjournment described as an abuse of the forms of the House. He would not characterise this Motion in those terms, but it was avowedly based on an hypothesis, and an hypothesis which, as a matter of fact, had no foundation whatever. The hon. Member had a perfect right to object to a grant of land in East Africa to a Jewish syndicate and it was open to him to raise the question by moving the reduction of the Secretary of State's salary when they came to deal with the Protectorate Estimates; but he had involved the question of a grant of land to the Jews with a question of interference with the rights of natives in East Africa, which had no relevancy to the subject at all. The hon. Member seemed to think that he had treated him cavalierly in his replies to Questions on this subject. He was quite innocent of any such design. The hon. Member had first asked him what were the conditions of the alienation of land to an alien race in East Africa. He replied that there was no question whatever of an alienation of land, and that the conditions of the lease were still under the consideration of the Secretary of State and, therefore, he could not possibly make the conditions public. The hon. Member had repeated the Question since, and on every occasion had repeated it in the form "What are the conditions of the alienation of land" The hon. Member also asked him whether he had received remonstrances from the settlers. There were several remonstrances which were published last year, but they were based on the same misconception. They had never contemplated any alienation, and he did not see what other answer he could give the hon. Member.
§ MR. CATHCART WASON
said the noble Lord might have said where the land was and what was its extent, instead of evading every Question on the subject.
§ EARL PERCY
said surely before the hon. Member moved the adjournment of the House he might at least have asked the categorical Questions whether he could inform him of the whereabouts of the land, whether there were any natives upon it, and whether their rights were likely to be affected.
§ EARL PERCY
said the hon. Member's recollection did not coincide with his own. What were the facts of the case? In July of last year a representative of the Jewish Colonial Trust, representing at any rate one section of the Zionist movement, came to the Foreign Office and asked Lord Lansdowne whether he would be prepared favourably to consider the lease of a considerable area of land in East Africa, which they preferred should be near the railway, for the purposes of a Jewish colonial settlement. At that time there was a great dearth of applications from settlers for land in East Africa. It had been stated over and over again in debate on the financial position of the Protectorates that if they were ever to pay their way and if this country was ever to get back anything like value for the vast sums which had been expended upon those territories, the first requisite was to attract settlers and capital to the country. Under those circumstances, Lord Lansdowne said he was prepared favourably to entertain the proposition of the Jewish Colonial Trust, provided that a suitable area could be found and that they were prepared to accept conditions with regard to autonomy which would be satisfactory to the Secretary of State. The representatives of the Jewish Colonial Trust had already proceeded to East Africa with a view to examining the area which had been offered to them and seeing whether it would suit their requirements. Until they had got a report from those gentlemen it was absolutely impossible to take the House further into their confidence with regard to the details of the lease. He might say, however, that the House 573 need not be under any apprehension that they had been indifferent to the claims of British settlers. They recognised that men of British race had a prior claim to the lands which could be most profitably developed along the railway line. But the lease of land which they had provisionally offered to the Jews was not on the railway line at all. It was in the area situated between Lake Victoria and Like Rudolf, in the Kisumu province, where there were practically no natives at all. It was an absolutely undeveloped country and some distance from the railway, and the Jewish colony, if they were planted in that territory, were not likely to come into close contact with any European settlers at all. The motives which had actuated the Government had not been of a purely financial character; they had been inspired by those feelings of sympathy which ought to be felt by every Christian nation and which had always been felt by the British race for that persecuted and oppressed people. Whether the hopes of the Zionists reasonable foundation or not, no country would ever regret that they had not turned a deaf ear to an appeal from the Jews for assistance provided there was no fundamental reasons of State policy against it.
The native question, to which the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland alluded, derived additional importance, he regretted to say, from the fact that it was in connection with it that Sir Charles Eliot hail thought it his duty to resign the appointment he had hitherto held. The question of native rights had always been under the careful consideration of the Government, and no leases of land ever had been, or were, granted in East Africa without an express reservation of any right which the natives might have already acquired. The question had assumed a more critical aspect lately owing to the fact that, whereas at the time the Jewish Trust made their application there were very few applications from settlers, since then there had been a great inrush of settlers, and a large part of the most valuable land available near the railway had already been taken up. They had had very carefully to consider how far they could continue the grant of these leases without encroaching to some extent on the 574 rights which the natives had exercised. The Masai tribe for instance had long grazed their flocks and herds—they were a pastoral rather than an agricultural people—over vast areas of the country, moving from one plot to another as the grass was exhausted. The Government could not lay down a rule that, because such indefinite rights existed, therefore, the whole of these large areas should remain sterilised and undeveloped for an indefinite period. They were under a moral obligation, however, from the standpoint of humanity as well as under the provisions of the Berlin Act, to see that the native tribes were not deprived of those means of livelihood which they had hitherto possessed, and the only course which seemed open to the Government was to intimate to Sir Charles Eliot that no fresh large leases of land were to be granted in the province of Naivasha in the neighbourhood where the Masai had hitherto grazed their flocks. Apart from a lease of about 320 square miles to the East African Syndicate, for the purpose of raising stock, and another smaller parcel of land which had been leased to a private proprietor, there was no large concession in that territory which, in accordance with their instructions, would be reserved for the present until they could examine the whole question in consultation with local experts who were on intimate terms with the Masai themselves, and make up their minds as to the policy which it was best to pursue under the circumstances. Those, he thought, were all the facts which it was possible for him to give to the House on this matter; and, as he gathered that the hon. Member was only interested in the question of the native rights, and as they had taken every precaution to safeguard those rights and to see that these leases to Europeans did not interfere with them, he trusted he Would see fit to withdraw his Motion.
§ EARL PERCY
Because he took a different view from the view we took as to the expediency of reserving a large area for the natives and refusing to grant any fresh leases in that area to Europeans.
§ SIR EDWARD GREY (Northumberland, Berwick)
said he agreed that there 575 was something extraordinary about this debate. He did not share the expressions of surprise and indignation which had been heard from hon. Members on the other side of the House nor did he think that his hon. friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland had abused the forms of the House by bringing this question forward. After the noble Lord's speech he did not suppose there would be a very strong desire to press the matter, but he thought his hon. friend was quite justified in moving the adjournment of the House. Everybody must feel that the noble Lord was not intentionally discourteous in answering the Questions of his hon. friend. But the House must remember that through the action of the Prime Minister a custom had been established and followed of not asking the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs supplementary Question. That had made it more difficult to get information from the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs than in the case of any other Department. The mere fact that the administrator of this territory, a most distinguished public servant, had resigned, and that the reason was unknown, was sufficient to cause anxiety. The hon. Member for Graves-end said that anxious suspicions might not lead to just conclusions. The hon. Member had never been in opposition in the House. If he had been, he had no doubt that the hon. Member would not be so eager to say that the blind confidence of the supporters of the Government always led to just conclusions. Take for instance, the case of Somaliland, next door to the East African Protectorate. Judging the Government by their past, anxious suspicion was much more justifiable than the attitude of blind confidence. It was in relation to the natives that the most serious question arose. Difficulties leading to native risings occurred when civilisation was pressed too fast upon the natives, or when white men going among them left their own civilisation behind and ill-treated them. The land question, bound up as it was with native custom, was an exceedingly delicate one. Something had turned on the point that it was a Jewish settlement that was contemplated. They all knew what Anti-Semitic feeling was, and what it gave rise to. But there was another view of the Jewish race, that 576 of millions of persecuted people who had been, through generation after generation, scattered without homes and without hope; and he said frankly that if it was the intention to attempt to provide a refuge and a home for people of that description in the British dominions it would have his entire sympathy. Whether it was wise to make the settlement in this part of East Africa at this time was another matter. There was great difficulty in governing these territories in their present stage of development; and he could imagine an administrator, to whom the proposition was made that an alien community speaking another language should be put down there, saying it would introduce a complication which filled him with such apprehension that he could not, in view of all the other difficulties, be responsible for the good government of the territory. If Sir Charles Eliot had said that, he should say that that: alone ought to have been enough to stop this project for a time, at any rate, until the country was more settled; but he gathered distinctly from the noble Lord that that was not the reason of Sir Charles Eliot's resignation. Was that so?
§ Sis EDWARD GREY
If the objections were a matter separate from the resignation, it ought to be perfectly easy for the noble Lord, if there were difficulties in speaking about Sir Charles Eliot's resignation, to give the House in full the objections which Sir Charles Eliot had raised. Though he felt nothing but sympathy with what he understood were the motives for this settlement, he saw the possibility of great danger in introducing a new complication of this kind into the country, especially if land were to be leased. It was the essence of maintaining good relations with natives to avoid occasion for grievances in connection with the land and to keep the administration in the hands of trained 577 officials who understood native customs. These were reasons for proceeding in this matter with great caution; and now that the House knew that objection was made to this proposal by somebody who was the administrator of this country, and not a subordinate official, as had been said, they were justified in pressing the Government not to proceed further with the scheme until the matter had been brought before the House again and the House were in possession of the objections which Sir Charles Eliot had raised. Over and over again something which had a perfectly innocent and harmless and perhaps even a laudable appearance had led to serious trouble in parts of Africa, the circumstances of which were not understood in the House, but were understood by the people on the spot. In the present case the people on the spot had doubts and apprehensions. So far from this being an untimely Motion, it appeared to him to be one of the few Motions brought forward while there was still time to prevent action which we might afterwards regret. The noble Lord had admitted that the scheme was entirely inchoate, that no steps had been taken; and he trusted the Government would give a pledge to take no further steps until they had laid full information before the House and the House knew exactly how matters stood with regard to the position of Sir Charles Eliot and the Government.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said the House had discussed the matter an hour and thirty-five minutes, and it was only in response to a Question put by his right hon. friend that they had discovered that the Motion for adjournment was completely justified. He had not been one of those who sympathised with the opposition to the establishment of a Jewish colony, but, in view of the answer given by the noble Lord, he thought the matter assumed much more serious proportions. As he understood, Sir Charles Eliot had raised objections to this settlement, and that was one of the reasons why he resigned.
§ EARL PERCY
said it would be more correct to say that Sir Charles Eliot expressed an opinion both ways. His last opinion was unfavourable to the scheme. Neither had anything to do with the resignation.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that if Sir Charles Eliot had expressed an opinion both ways he was a most worthy servant of the present Government, and he could not understand why he should have resigned. Had he been invited to take a seat in the Cabinet? The Government, he contended, were themselves responsible for what they were pleased to suggest had been a gross waste of time. It was the air of mystery which they had chosen to assume in regard to this matter that had been responsible for the whole of the trouble. The noble Lord contradicted his hon. friend when he said that he had asked for specific information with regard to the locality of this settlement. His hon. friend, however, did ask the noble Lord what were the conditions on which land was offered to the Zionists, the extent of the land, and where it was situated. Instead of giving a straight answer—
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he had not got the noble Lord's" answer; but, as far as he could remember, he put the Question off.
§ EARL PERCY
said he stated then, as he had stated in the course of the present debate, that the exact conditions had not been settled.
§ MR. CATHCART WASON
said that until the present debate he had not the smallest idea where the land was situated, nor could any Question until to-day produce any straight reply.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said the Government themselves were responsible for the waste of time that had occurred. His hon. friend had asked a perfectly simple Question which, from information he had received, turned out to be perfectly correct. He had anticipated 579 trouble similar to that which had occurred in German East Africa, where there was a rebellion, in which a great many lives were lost; and his hon. friend pressed the Government for some information on the subject. The noble Lord, after his hon. friend had spoken, instead of replying himself, allowed the hon. Member for Gravesend to speak for twenty minutes, although his speech was not of an informing character. Personally, as long as the native question was settled properly he did not see any objection to the settlement of the Jews. There were a great many Jews they might well spare. He did not, however, agree with the remarks of one of the Irish Members. The anti-Semitic feeling shown by the hon. Member was, however, hereditary. A relative of his fought Christchurch against Sir Drummond Wolff, who was incorrectly supposed to be a German Jew, and wound up his election address as follows—Down with Infidel, Jew, or TurkAll good Christians vote for Burke.The debate had been raised simply in order to see that native rights were not interfered with in such a way as to produce disturbance in South Africa.
§ Question put, and negatived.