§ MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
said there was no uncertainty as to the duty which called upon him and which would call on any Member sitting on that side of the House placed in similar circumstances to himself, to move this Motion, nor was there any uncertainty of the supreme importance of the Motion which he now brought before the House. His object in moving it was twofold; in the first place he wished to tranquillise the public mind, disorganised and disturbed as it had been by an agitation which had now been going on for many months, and in the second place he desired to extract from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a personal explanation with regard to his action during the winter and the position he had taken up in respect of this agitation. He regarded it as a happy omen that a meeting of the representatives of the largest commercial centre of the world had that afternoon, not half a mile from the House, passed a resolution in absolute sympathy with the Motion he was now bringing forward. It might be said by Gentlemen on the Government Benches that, inasmuch as the whole question had been debated not many weeks ago on an Amendment 653 to the Address, this debate was useless, but his reply to that was that the debate on the King's Speech was a vote of censure and did not touch the question lie now raised, and that the clear discussion which he wished to initiate could not be raised in any other manner than that which he took to-night. The hon. Member then referred to speeches made by various members of the Government at different times, and said the only conclusion which could be drawn from them was that the Government were pledged by those statements not to introduce protection or colonial preference even after an appeal to the country, and secondly, that the Government was absolutely hostile to the policy known as the Birmingham policy. That ought to carry conviction to the mind of the country that the Government policy was a direct result of conferences that had taken place in the Cabinet and that it was the united decision arrived at.
Now, if there was one member more than another of the Cabinet upon whom such a decision should be binding, the House would agree that that member was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but what had been the conduct of the right hon. Gentlemen during the winter? On 3rd November, at Aberdeen, he made the first speech after his assumption of office, and on the 4th he was present at a large meeting addressed by the late Colonial Secretary. Everyone could sympathise with the feeling of filial duty which led the right hon. Gentleman to go there, but the right hon. Gentleman at that meeting said that he was present to show his appreciation for the courage with which the senior Member for Birmingham had advocated his great policy in all its branches. That meant out and out protection. The time had now come for the right hon. Gentleman to choose between filial and Imperial duty. The right hon. Gentleman in the next month, December, spoke in a similar sense at Halifax, and again in January asked whether it was wise to ignore all questions of interest and trust entirely to sentiment as the only bond of union between ourselves and the Colonies. A clear indication of the advocacy of colonial preference by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to be found in the letter addressed by him 654 to the noble Lord the candidate for South Birmingham. What was the policy of the noble Lord? He favoured colonial preference with its consequent taxation of food, and was therefore opposed to the avowed policy of the Government or opposed to what was this morning the avowed policy of the Government. If the policy of the noble Lord the Member for South Birmingham were to be carried out it would be directly antagonistic to the Amendment which had appeared upon the Paper that morning. What was the country and the House to think of the conduct of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? He (Mr. Pirie) would not be wrong if he laid down as the standard of political morality the standard followed by those free-traders who left the Government because they were not protectionists. Ministers were divided as individuals, and even the Departments of the Ministers were divided among themselves upon this question. The President of the Board of Trade was a retaliator, his subordinate the Secretary to the Board of Trade was an out-and-out protectionist. That hon. Gentleman at Glasgow, on 15th December, said—In view of the attitude of a section of the Unionist Party, a very insignificant section he believed."—The hon. Member must have been alluding to Members, he was certainly not alluding to intellect—It was the clear duty of everyone who differed from their views to say so unmistakably. He did so. He sympathised with Mr. Chamberlain's proposal; not only so, but he really believed that a trade preference would be the direct result of any change of our fiscal policy—a trade preference which had been alluded to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; a policy which had been denounced by every member of the Cabinet and which was tabooed by the Amendment which had appeared on the Paper that morning but had not been allowed to remain. He did not go too far when he said the situation was an intolerable one, degrading to the dignity of the country—free-traders at 3.30 in the afternoon and protectionists at night. Had the Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Benches no opinions of their own? The President of the Local Government Hoard, speaking at Bristol in January, 655 after stating his acceptance of the policy of the Prime Minister, said he should always believe that the policy which Mr. Chamberlain had been advancing with such marvellous ability and such wonderful success would have to be adopted by the people of this country, if they were going to save the position, for themselves, and that he would stand at the next election distinctly on the platform of fiscal reform. Very different words were now used in this House, and the Shakespearean quotation was very apt—Now the lion "roars you as gently as any sucking dove." This struck at the very root of our Parliamentary institution. The Government at the present moment were led by manœuvres and tactics instead of by principles, and the interests of the country were made subservient to the individual interests of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench. He had listened with great attention and at times with great advantage to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister ever since he (Mr. Pirie) had been a Member of the House, and up to very lately he had listened to the right hon. Gentleman with a great deal of admiration because of the references he always made to the great traditions of the country and this House, and the one ray of sunshine that illuminated the lamentable episode of the last few months was that hon. Members could go back to the glorious traditions of this House and not find a parallel to what had taken place during this unhappy period.
His Motion condemned protection. The free-traders believed that on free trade depended the purity of public life, and the purity of public life was one of the greatest assets which this great country possessed. Its greatness had been due to free trade, and those who believed in free trade aspired to expand its principles and widen its scope, because they believed that the more its scope were widened the greater would be the blessings for the commerce of this country, I which had done more for the peace of this world and for the welfare of mankind, perhaps, than even the efforts of the individual Gentlemen now seated on the Treasury Bench. The free-traders would fight for the purity and the maintenance 656 of the credit of this country with the same fervour as in the past mankind fought for religion. It was in those circumstances he begged to move the Motion standing in his name.
§ *MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
seconded the Motion. He would not, he said, disguise from the House that he would have preferred that the reference to His Majesty's Ministers in the Motion had been omitted. He felt that it would have been better if the House could have had before it the simple broad issue between a preferential and protective policy on the one hand and the principle of free trade on the other. Though he made that reservation, he felt bound to state that the words alluding to the language of certain Ministers were true in fact, and were not put in merely as a tag upon which to hang the Motion. It was the utterance of certain Ministers which had caused much of the confusion and trouble which had fallen upon the public mind. He was struck by the observation of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in the debate on the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose to the Address, that to his surprise all the criticism was levelled at the policy of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, and that so little criticism was directed at the policy of the Government, whatever it might be, a point upon which even now he (Mr. Taylor) would hesitate to dogmatise. He had heard that expression of opinion with surprise, because he should have thought it obvious, not only to the Chief Secretary, but to every Minister, that the attention both of the House of Commons and of the country was riveted, not upon the policy of the Gentlemen who sat upon the Treasury Bench, but upon the more hustling, full-blooded, and intelligible policy which had emanated from Birmingham. What was exciting the interest of the country was neither the policy of the Government nor the changes in that policy, but the attitude which the Government was prepared to assume towards the much more virile policy which had emanated from the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. In the memorable speech delivered by the President of the Board of Trade, he 657 alluded to the right hon. Member for West Birmingham's policy in very significant language. He said—Mr. Chamberlain has given a somewhat detailed account of his proposals, and a detailed account of a proposal to an eager Opposition is like a pot of honey to flies in summer. You have only to look at the treatment which Mr. Chamberlain's scheme has received in order to judge of the wisdom of the premature disclosure of details.What he complained of was that the Government in their official capacity had studied too much what was known as the doctrine of economy. They had officially not disclosed enough of their policy to satisfy them, while in their private capacity they had disclosed a great deal too much. The difference between the official voice and the pious opinion was strongly marked in the utterances from the Ministerial Bench, and, curiously enough, the pious opinion of the Minister was often more audible and aggressive than the official voice with which he spoke. That was infinitely more true of the speeches delivered with greater freedom outside that Chamber. In particular he would refer to what fell from the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Halifax on the 11th December as to the possibility of better relations with the Colonies, when the right hon. Gentleman said it was in the yet further development of the Government's commercial policy that would be found the best means to that end, and he asked those whom he was then addressing to co-operate in that development. The free-traders on that side of the House had a right to ask from the Government an explicit statement officially as to whether they were, or were not, opposed to the protective and preferential programme enunciated from Birmingham. When they asked for finality from the Government, they were confronted with a formula. "Liberty to negotiate" and "fiscal reform" were useful phrases, which might carry a meaning of one kind or another, according as the future exigencies of the situation might develop. Until some clearer indication had been given to the House and to the country of what those formulae meant, he, at any rate, reserved his adhesion to them. In the present temper of public opinion, what was really required was an explicit 658 statement, and not a formula, as to whether the Government were, or were not, officially opposed to the programme which had emanated from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. It could not be said for a moment that the attitude adopted by the Government had been either for the comfort of the Unionist free-traders, or for the benefit, as a whole, of the Party of which the Prime Minister was the head. He appreciated fully the difficulties which his right hon. friend had to face, and would be the last to deny what he believed to be the lofty motives by which he had been actuated in taking the course he had. But, none the less, it had been disastrous to the Party, and, certainly to the cause which free traders had at heart, it had been of the most disappointing character. It was the custom in China—though he would speak with diffidence with the Colonial Secretary present—if a Chinaman had a grievance against an opponent, not to cut the throat of his opponent, but to cut his own upon his opponent's doorstep. He hoped, as a Party, they would not adopt Chinese ideas in Party warfare.
The Motion before the House referred to preferential and protective proposals, and condemned them in emphatic language. He associated himself fully with that, and was prepared, with other Members sitting on those Benches, to offer those proposals the most solid and lasting opposition which it was in his power, politically, to do. The British Empire was a maritime Empire, although, during the recent debates on the fiscal question, that was a point of view apparently sometimes ignored. It was impossible to exaggerate the peculiar economic conditions of this country, which differentiated it altogether from countries like Germany, the United States, or Russia. Our great lines of communication with those colonies, of which we were so proud, were by sea, and only by control of the seas could we hope to hold that Empire together. Any proposals which, by their protective character, would add either to the cost of building, storing, or repairing our ships, must prove in the long run detrimental to the best interests of an Empire which depended upon shipping for its actual cohesion. It was a significant fact that 659 the cost of victualling a ship in America was at least 10 per cent. above the cost in English ports. Was it not a significant fact that, in a small island densely populated, producing little of sustenance for itself, we should find this state of things as compared with a continent like America, furnished with boundless resources, and able, so far as stores were concerned, to undertake to compete with all the world? And if that were true of stores, was it not true in other directions? They were congratulating themselves in that House the other day on the purchase of two battleships intended for the Republic of Chili. How was it that we were able to build battleships for all the world, and how was it that we were able to keep the cost of construction in this country infinitely less than in protected countries? It was because of our free-trade system. "What had enabled us to get together all the materials for that construction far more cheaply than even the other countries that produced them? He had listened with intellectual pleasure to the speech which the Secretary to the Board of Trade had delivered on this question, and when that hon. Gentleman was speaking of the steel trade he had felt inclined to put this question to him—How was it that in America, where the steel industry was stimulated by every artificial aid of tariff and trust, they had to pay for ship plates £8 a ton, as against £5 10s. in this country? How was it that, as a result, the shipbuilding industry of America had utterly failed either to keep pace with that of other countries, or still less to compete with the enormous building facilities of this country? Germany was often held out as a model of shipbuilding, and yet it was a fact that we added to our mercantile marine, between 1880 and 1900, 2,700,000 tons of shipping, more than the whole German fleet as it existed to-day, and this after allowing for all the advantages that Germany had had, and allowing for the materials for shipbuilding being free and not subject to duty. These considerations, which affected our world-wide interests as no considerations affecting only our internal industries possibly could, had not received in the course of recent discussions the amount of attention to which they were entitled, and until a far stronger case had been 660 made out of injury to our internal trade, it would be a suicidal act to adopt a policy which would increase the cost of stores, or building ships, to the jeopardy of our trade and our Empire.
The right hon. Member for West Birmingham, in the fiscal campaign to which he had brought matchless eloquence and tireless energy, had appealed to much that was high and enduring in English character, and to certain other elements in that character which, though equally enduring, were not quite so lofty. He had made an appeal on the grounds of commercial advantage, Imperial unity, and economic revenue. From whom had the right hon. Gentleman got a response? Who were the "active citizens" who were furnishing the fighting powers for the campaign? He thought it one of the most serious features of the situation that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had called into being forces which he himself could not control, forces which, legitimately enough, when the opportunity was offered for prosecuting and benefiting their own trades, had naturally enough set themselves in motion to obtain all the benefits that might be possible from what the right hon. Gentleman called "a scientific tariff." He felt that in this matter what had to be faced was a conflict of ideals. The ex-Colonial Secretary, if he was not mistaken, bade his countrymen turn their backs upon the England they had known—that England whose principles of commercial freedom, though they might not have conquered or converted the world, had permeated large portions of it with a salutary and a beneficent influence. He was confident that by adhering to the principles of commercial freedom, as opposed to those of monopoly and privilege, there was no risk of sacrificing the unity of the British Empire or of jeopardising, what was still more important, the ultimate cohesion of the Anglo-Saxon race. For these reasons he with a clear conscience seconded the Motion, and he hoped the House would endorse it as an emphatic condemnation of the policy of preference and protection.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That this House, noting the continued agitation in favour of preferential and protective tariffs, which is encouraged by the 661 language used by certain of His Majesty's Ministers, deems it necessary to express its condemnation of any such policy."—(Mr. Pirie.)
§ MR. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said that the Motion seemed to condemn the policy of preferential and so-called protective tariffs, and he hoped it would not be adopted by the House. He was strongly in favour of preferential tariffs, and he believed that the term "protective tariffs" was not used in its right sense either by the mover or seconder of the Resolution. Now, as regarded preferential tariffs, he did not think that the main question was an economic one at all. There was no greater question at the present time in our politics than the future union of this great Empire as between its various parts—the Colonies on the one side and the mother country on the other. The large amount of support which was undoubtedly given to the right hon. Member for West Birmingham was due to his having, on this colonial question, rightly interpreted the feeling of this country and of the Empire. They ought not to go off on any side issue. The true question was whether it was desirable to take further steps to promote the permanent solidarity of our great Colonial Empire, and upon this point—he saw the First Lord of the Treasury present, and he had heard his Sheffield speech—there was no difference whatever, so far as he could understand, and as regarded a main principle, between the Prime Minister and the right hon. gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. [An HON. MEMBER on the OPPOSITION Benches: That is what we say.] What he meant when he made that statement was that both these right hon. Gentlemen had said that if there was to be a permanent solidarity of our great Colonial Empire it ought to be based on some form of commercial union. The difference was this, and he thought they could well appreciate it, at any rate on that side of the House, that although there was no difference in principle on that point, it was well open to difference of opinion as to whether it could be best pressed forward under one condition or another. He begged humbly to agree with the standpoint that in a great policy 662 of this kind, which went to the root of the Imperial position in the future, that we ought to have what the Prime Minister called the heart and conscience of the people with us. He believed that as the people of this country realised that it was no petty question of an economic character that was involved, but this great question of our whole Imperial position in the future, they would in their heart and conscience agree with the Prime Minister and the right hon. gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and that we would carry through what, to his mind, was more important than any other political question at the present day, the foundation of our great Colonial Empire permanently on a solid and constructed basis. He did not look at this question of preferential tariffs himself on any other basis. He did not discuss whether the sum to be sacrificed by the people of this country in that behalf was great or small; but if the people believed that we ought to have commercial union with the Colonies the first step towards that union must be in the nature of preferential tariffs, and that the people would not be slow to make the sacrifices demanded of them for that purpose. He went beyond that point. Any measure of commercial union could not, of course, be fully developed in the first instance. He looked on any question of preference as the first step only to a higher ideal, which was that, in the future, we might have a great free trade Empire; that we might have not only free trade between the mother country and the various colonies, but free trade between all the component parts of the Empire. A great free trade Empire of that sort would be in an economic position to hold its own either against the United States or Germany, or any combination of protective nations. He wanted to know whether, at the outset, all possibility of any advance in a great policy of that kind was to be stopped because of a mere side issue—that the people of this country, however great the prospective advantages might be, were so selfish that they would make no sacrifice for it. He did not believe that of tie people of this country, and he did not believe that of the great Lancashire constituency which he had the honour to represent. When they realised that fact these small aide issues would be disregarded and the 663 policy of the Unionist Party would be to hand down this great Empire upon a permanent, constructive, and solid basis.
It was customary in debates upon this question to speak as though there was a contest going on between free trade and protection, but he joined issue with that contention, for they had not got free trade. They could not have free trade without free exchange, and that meant freedom in the two countries and not free imports in one country only. With regard to the real economic question, it was an extremely difficult subject, which could not be approached by merely general assertions. It could only be faced by a great industrial community, and it was no use having an insurance after your house had been burned down. When they had a free import country surrounded by countries with high tariffs, they had a new economic condition which was never dealt with by Cobden or any other free-trader, and what they had to do now was to see in reference to that new economic condition what was the true economic remedy. Did anyone deny that a free import country was placed at a disadvantage by having her natural markets taken away from her by the imposition of high tariffs? He would put this question to so-called free-traders opposite. Would any hon. Gentleman opposite say that conditions of that kind were in accord with what Mr. Cobden or any other economist would call free trade? If they had a high-tariff country with its own home market, and if they allowed that country free access into our neutral market, then they gave them an unfair advantage which could never exist under free trade. If they could not bring about free exchange then they intended to insist that the conditions should be those of fair exchange. What was meant by fair exchange? No doubt they would have to have artificial provisions, but only in order to equalise the disadvantages which a free import country was under if it had to compete with a high prohibitive tariff. Beyond that he did not think anybody wanted to go. He did not call that a protective tariff, but simply a defensive tariff, in order that our manufacturers should have the same advantages as our foreign competitors.
664 He noticed that questions had bean put to the Government asking whether these defensive measures were likely to be permanent or temporary. How could the Government answer questions of that kind, because, whether they would be temporary or not did not depend upon this country, but on the Governments of foreign countries, who were putting on these high tariffs. If retaliation was effective and brought about either free exchange or fair exchange it would have accomplished its purpose. If, on the other hand, foreign countries would not change their high tariffs, it was not for the people in this country to criticise the economic conditions of foreign countries. If foreign countries maintained those high tariffs which they thought were to their advantage, on the other hand, the defensive measures of this country must be maintained until the fair conditions of trade for which this country were asking were conceded. Could anything be more insane, in seeking free or fair exchange, than to say that we would withdraw these defensive tariffs although this country did not get the benefits for which they were put on? A policy of that kind would be suicidal as regarded a great constructive commercial policy. He had no sympathy with that reactionary Party who refused to realise these new conditions, who spoke as though free trade existed when they knew it did not exist, and who suggested that they were taking some new aggressive step in our commercial policy, whereas they were doing nothing more then adopting a defensive attitude to protect our commercial interests against attacks made upon them purposely and intentionally by certain foreign countries in the shape of high protective tariffs. As long as he took any part in political life he would never assent to an injury of that kind being done to our great commercial interests without demanding of any Government that might be in power that they should find some effective remedy.
The support given to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was not, in his opinion, as regarded the details of any scheme he had brought forward, because this question was much 665 too serious to decide upon any one suggestion. They wanted the whole matter threshed out. The commercial community of this country realised fully that they were suffering at the present time under a serious disadvantage and it was that disadvantage they were seeking to remedy. Something had been said about Imperial and economic topics. But was it really suggested by any responsible person in this House that if measures of this kind were necessary to protect the trade of this country the morality of this country was so low that it could not adopt them without poisoning the purity of commercial and political life? That was an indictment against the morality of the whole nation. He did not believe, if they wanted to apply effective remedies, that they would have to sweep them on one side because their morality was too low, but what he pleaded for was that as regarded preferential tariffs the leading idea was not economic but Imperial, and he held that there would be a closer relationship with the Colonies under the policy initiated by that great Colonial Minister (Mr. Chamberlain). As regarded the economic position, he hoped they would not be frightened by those bogeys of free trade and protection. Let them see what the real evil was and recognise the true economic difficulty, and ask the Government to provide a remedy by declaring that if they could not have free trade at least they must have fair trade.
§ MR. M'KENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
said the speech just delivered curiously illustrated the Prime Minister's declaration at Sheffield that he meant to lead, and it contradicted every principle laid down by members of the Government. The hon. and learned Gentleman who bad just sat down said that if he considered colonial preference was desirable he should support it, and he said that amid the cheers of the great body of hon. Members opposite. But in the debate on the Address the Home Secretary said that preference was not a part of the Government policy at all. The hon. and learned Member advocated protection, but called it fair trade. He might point out that they had known it for years under that name, but whatever name he gave it meant putting taxes upon goods which came into this country. 666 They called that protection, but the hon. and learned Member called it fair trade, and yet the Home Secretary on behalf of the Government denounced protection, and now the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, amid the cheers of his own side, had declared himself in favour of fair trade. Did the Prime Minister really mean to lead? Was he going to adopt in this House the same policy as was adopted in the Cabinet? Had he got two Amendments, and if one did not serve had he got another in his pocket? [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!"] He was speaking within the knowledge of the House [MINISTERIAL interruptions]—the House knew that there was an Amendment on the Paper on behalf of the Government dealing with protection and preference. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet described that as "a put-up job," and instantly the job was put down. But that was not all. Another Amendment was circulated contradictory of the first Amendment, but as both the first and the second Amendments had been withdrawn he expected that before long insular notes would shortly be considered as no longer being before the public. He preferred a clear, downright statement such as had been made by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. They understood what was meant by free trade or free imports, because they had had it for sixty years, and they understood protection, because it would be the protection which they had sixty years ago. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh, oh!"] Did anyone understand the policy which was going to offer nothing to a great commercial nation but a series of wars of retaliation? That policy had been brought forward for the purpose of keeping the Party together. If that object had been attained by the Prime Minister there would have been something to be said for his policy, but both inside this House and in the country they had seen that far from bringing the Party together, on the contrary it had been disastrous to the Conservative and Unionist Party. Surely the Party opposite ought to declare definitely whether they were in favour of free trade or preference and protection. The Home Secretary in the debate on this Address said it had been recognised that men holding different views on this question might be in the same Cabinet 667 It was true that men holding different views on any question might be in the same Cabinet, but they should not be defending different views. When they had an issue of this sort upon which every by-election had been fought, it was not only unseemly but contrary to every tradition that the Government should speak with two voices. What were they to say of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had been going up and down the country putting forward protection and preference, and declaring his sympathy with the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham in all its branches? If the plea for latitude of opinion was a good one, why did the late Colonial Secretary resign? Surely the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was just as much bound as the late Colonial Secretary, if he wished to advocate a policy of preference, and he was just as much bound as the late Colonial Secretary to give up his office in the Government. But this was not the pious opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for he had gone about the country advocating this policy with all the zeal of a new convert. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken every opportunity in his official capacity to push forward his views on this subject, and a striking instance occurred only last week. A well-known association wrote asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make certain changes in the regulations dealing with tea, and immediately the right hon. Gentleman seized the opportunity to promote his fiscal propaganda, and he replied that he could not under the present fiscal system give a preferential duty in favour of Indian tea. The association wrote back stating that they never asked about the fiscal system, and did not want preferential duties, and all they wanted was that the Government should set up a standard for teas coming into this country such as had been adopted in other countries. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman used his official position to promote his own views.
But there was a far more serious danger if the right hon. Gentleman remained a member of the Government and was allowed to advocate those views unrestrained by a vote of this House. As 668 they all knew the sole control over the spending departments of this country was in the Treasury, and so long as the Government of the country was dependent upon a majority of this House they were quite sure that when they introduced Estimates they would be carried. But behind the Government stood the Treasury, and every Estimate of every other Department had to be passed and approved by the Treasury before it came to this House. Suppose they had as Chancellor of the Exchequer a right hon. Gentleman who had no interest in economy. Let them suppose that that Chancellor of the Exchequer had discovered a means by which taxes were no longer a burden, but were to be made an instrument for promoting national prosperity. Suppose a few extra taxes were imposed, and a depression in trade was caused that would be given as one more illustration of the decline of British trade. Holding such views the right hon. Gentleman could not have the same interest in economy as his predecessor in that office, who knew that if he allowed any expenditure to be incurred he would have to introduce taxes which would fall upon the people of this country. He looked upon the freedom of the Treasury from any taint of protection as necessary to the real interests of this country. When they remembered what the Chancellor of the Exchequer believed; when they remembered that the right hon. Gentleman thought they were at a critical time of their history, and at the parting of the ways; when they bore in mind that the right hon. Gentleman thought the British Empire was in danger of dissolution, and that he had discovered a means of increasing wages, and making employment more constant, hon. Gentlemen opposite must agree that that would be a dominant motive with him, and that in his conduct of the finances of this country he was bound to do everything he could to bring about a policy which he thought was essential. There was only one test possible for the Chancellor of the Exchequer under the circumstances, and that was a vote of the House of Commons. The House was being asked in the interests of the good Government of the country, and of our Colonies, to throw over the policy of free trade. Only the other day they had an illustration of the bad effect on the Colonies of the present vacillation between two policies, for the 669 Governor-General of the Australian Commonwealth made a speech in which he welcomed colonial preference. Now we were deluding the Colonies in regard to that. The Prime Minister did not mean to give them colonial preference. The Home Secretary had declared in that House, on behalf of the Government, that the policy of the Government was not protection, that the policy of preference was not included in the policy of the Government, and that "if an appeal were made to the electors and a majority were returned in favour of the Government's policy, that would not entitle us to go further and carry out a policy of preference." In face of that declaration he was justified in saying that when the Ministers went up and down the country advocating preference they were deluding the Colonies. They were raising hopes which they could not fulfil; if they did fulfil them their only course would be to resign.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devonshire, Honiton)
said that after the speech of the hon. Member for Stratford it was impossible for him to remain silent. This Motion condemned the Government, because individual members of it had from time to time, and not very recently, advocated the policy of the Member for West Birmingham. That policy was very attractive at the first start; it appealed to the Imperial instincts of the country; it appealed to their desire to weld their great Empire together, and, as such, many of them thought that it deserved the fullest consideration at the hands of the people. But the difficulty of carrying out that policy had shown very clearly that it was not a policy to be adopted without hesitation and consideration, and he heartily supported the Prime Minister when he said that this policy of preferential tariffs and taxation of food could not be carried without carrying with it the heart and conscience of this country. It certainly had not done that yet. He was satisfied that the Government had adopted the right policy. It could not be denied that some liberty must be allowed to individual Members. They had plenty of evidence of that on the other side in connection with the question of Home Rule. Liberty must be allowed, but he hoped it would not be given to too great an extent. Nothing had happened which 670 justified a Motion condemning the policy of the Government. He hoped that that policy would be reaffirmed and reiterated by the Prime Minister that night, and that the right hon. Gentlemen would show that the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was not the policy of the Government, and that it would not be so even after the next General Election.
§ *MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
There are few more edifying spectacles than that of a man who, having fallen into temptation, has been rescued before he has taken the fatal step. I confess I never anticipated that the right hon. Member who has just sat down would have afforded us that spectacle. I congratulate him most heartily that he, more wary than others, drew back his foot before it was plunged into the morass. My right hon. friend, I think, is mistaken in his estimate of this Motion as being in its nature a vote of censure on the Government. [Cries of "What is it?"] We shall know presently. What is the object which my hon. friend had in view when he put forward this Motion? As I understand, it was this. It is a very simple—I think a very patriotic—one. It is that, in view of the ambiguities which have hitherto surrounded the declarations and the attitude of His Majesty's Ministers in relation to this question, it is the duty of the House of Commons, unless and until, upon the highest authority, those ambiguities shall be cleared away, to express in the most emphatic terms its resolute hostility to the policy of protection and of preferential taxes on food. It is idle to say that that policy is not before the country. The speech of my hon. and learned friend the Member for Stretford showed clearly that the policy is still alive. It is quite true that the noisy propaganda of the autumn has for a time subsided into silence. [Cries of "No."] Well, we heard very little of it during the debate on the Address. There has been a set-back, a momentary lull. But I venture to submit to the House that it would be the most short-sighted folly to assume that, because the common-sense of the British people has so signally and so significantly repelled this first assault, therefore the attack 671 is not going to be renewed. The movement secured the avowed, and so far as I know, the unrecanted, support of a considerable number of hon. Gentlemen who sit opposite. [Some MINISTERIAL cheers.] They are not so vocal as I expected. It had, and I am not sure that it has not still, the sincere, if less articulate, sympathy of a considerable number of others. And what is more important, it has received, as has been abundantly proved to-night by the citations from speeches that have been made during the course of the autumn and the winter, the open patronage of not a few of the Gentlemen who sit on the Treasury Bench. My right hon. friend who has just sat down said, in a deprecatory and apologetic way, that these speeches where not recent ones. Perhaps not; but though not recent, unless the House takes the opportunity of recording its sense of the situation, they may, before we are much older, be renewed. And I think that, if proof were needed of the necessity for this Motion, we could not find a more significant one than the mysterious disappearance of the Amendment which was on the Paper. Why has that Amendment been withdrawn? Let me invite the House to remember its terms. The Amendment would have invited the House to apprpve—The explicit declarations of His Majesty's Ministers that their policy of fiscal reform does not include either a general system of protection or preference based on the taxation of food.Why has that gone? I will tell the House the only theory I can advance for its premature end. It is that it was found that you could not count on a majority of the Party opposite expressing their satisfaction that the policy of the Government is not a protective policy. If that is so, surely no declaration could be more opportune, or of more imperative necessity, than that which the Motion of my hon. friend asks the House to make to-night.
I want to ask the House to look at this matter in view both of the avowed and the unavowed policy of His Majesty's Government. What is the avowed policy? I do not know, and I do not believe that anybody in this House, unless it be the Prime Minister, does know. We are certainly no clearer 672 upon that point than we were at the beginning of the session. It is quite true that we debated it for six nights. We missed the Prime Minister very much. I am sure, however, that the Prime Minister, as the head of a rejuvenated Government, would have been the last to say, as the excessive modesty of some of his colleagues prompted them to say, that the debate should not have taken place in his absence.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I do not know whether the Prime Minister has heard what went on while he was away. If he had been here I can assure him he would have witnessed from that Bench the most magnificent display of argumentative impartiality which has ever been presented by a united Cabinet to an admiring House. On alternate nights we had proclaimed alternative doctrines. Protectionist succeeded free-trader and free-trader succeeded protectionist. It was a triumph of stage management. And then the whole thing culminated—I am still informing the Prime Minister—in aluminous speech from the Home Secretary, the gist of which was, as far as I understood it, that the Government, while opposed for the present to the taxation of food, would welcome the support of those who were not so opposed, provided always that they were on sufficiently good terms with their local associations. The policy—I am speaking now of the avowed, the official policy—of the Government has been described in different phrases—freedom of negotiation, power of retaliation, sometimes in the still vaguer, more indefinite, but more concise phrase, fiscal reform. There is only one point, I must tell the Prime Minister, on which all his colleagues were agreed: that they could not define any one of these terms in his absence. Let me take the last and the most concise of these phrases, fiscal reform, which I think is a term which has been used not infrequently by the right hon. Gentleman himself. Fiscal reform, in the view of the Prime Minister, I should judge, is not a milk-and-water affair. In his speech at Sheffield he told us that in his view it involved a fundamental reversal of 673 the fiscal canons and traditions which had governed the policy of this country for sixty years. The Prime Minister is a master of language. We all know that terms like those would have been grossly exaggerated and inappropriate to describe a mere power or practice of applying to Parliament ad hoc for its sanction for particular measures of reprisals against some country or countries which had outraged fairness in relation to our trade. That a suggestion of that kind exhausted the Prime Minister's idea is sufficiently disposed of by two facts. The first is that such a power already exists, and the second is that only in the very year in which the Prime Minister was speaking, without any appeal to the country or mandate from the electors, the Government had in the Sugar Convention Bill obtained opportunity to exercise that power in its most drastic form. Therefore, if any intelligible meaning is to be attached to the language of the Prime Minister, I have always felt—and I hope that he will tell us to-night whether this is so or not—that it meant that we were to entrust the Executive with the power of putting on a general tariff, to be put on or taken off at its discretion in regard to the countries against whom we were supposed to have a grievance. I wish to put this point to the House. Is that tariff or that power, whichever it is to be, to be used in the case of countries which supply us with food and raw material? Is it only to be used against countries which supply us with manufactured goods? If that is so, I need not point out, what has been abundantly demonstrated before, that it can be of no possible use as an effective instrument of retaliation or protection against the two markets of the world, the United States and Russia, in which the wall of tariffs has been erected most extravagantly high. Therefore, I say, before I pass from this part of the subject, apart from all constitutional objections, either retaliation in the Prime Minister's sense must extend to food and raw materials, or it must be an ineffective weapon in the cases in which; it would be most obviously needed.
But I want to come to the policy which the Government does not avow, the policy which is not included in the official programme, the policy to which in moments of pressure, as the other night 674 when the Home Secretary was speaking, they have declared that they are going to offer a provisional resistance. I do not care very much what are the present limitations of the avowed policy. To think that the people of this country are going to vote blindfold in favour of a sketchy and nebulous plan of so-called retaliation without asking themselves what is to be the next step, in what direction they are being led, what is to be the next stage of the journey, is, I think, to entertain a very complete and most unwarranted contempt for their intelligence. It is of importance, therefore, to see in what spirit and with what ulterior purposes this policy of retaliation is put forward. Now I am not going to say anything, because it is not strictly relevant to the Motion, about the unhappy and unexampled controversy that has arisen as to what took place between old colleagues and friends at and immediately after the Cabinet of September. [Cries of "Oh."] I say I am not going to say anything about it. But there is one thing which is unchallenged, and that is that the Prime Minister himself produced both at the Cabinet in August and at the Cabinet in September, in addition to the pamphlet which we have all read—I must be very careful in the use of words—a written thing—which I suppose I may without prejudice call a document.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
§ *MR. ASQUITH
Well, perhaps it was printed.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I presented no document.
§ *MR. ASQUITH
It was stated by the noble Lord the Member for Ealing, and it was not denied by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If the noble Lord made the statement, which I do not think he did, I do deny it.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON (Middlesex, Ealing)
I am sorry, but I did not quite catch what my right hon. friend denied that I said.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am sorry. My noble friend and I had no controversy about this. The right hon. Gentleman alleged that at the Cabinet meeting in August, and again in September, I brought forward a printed document. [OPPOSITION cries of "No, a written document."] Well, if anybody knew my objection to writing they would not say a written document. But I brought forward no document in September. [Cries of "In August."] Or in August.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
I am very sorry to come into controversy with my right hon. friend, and I can assure him that it is my last wish, and it is most painful to me. [Some MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh."] I say it is most painful to me. What I asserted was that there were two documents under our consideration at the Cabinet at the end of the session, and I understood, and so did other of my right hon. friends, that those documents were both under our consideration at the Cabinet in September.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, that is a mistake.
§ *MR. ASQUITH
But really what difference does it make?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
§ *MR. ASQUITH
If one was produced in August, there it was. At any rate, it was not withdrawn.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
But it was not there.
§ *MR. ASQUITH
Well, but it was there in August.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
§ *MR. ASQUITH
Well, I will not call it a pamphlet, because I believe a pamphlet is a thing which is sold and circulated, nor will I call it—for I have never seen it—a tractate in favour of protection, because the right hon. Gentleman has told us that neither in nor out of the Cabinet has he ever advocated protection.
§ MR. BALFOUR
§ *MR. ASQUITH
Still I would observe, and would ask the House to observe, that people, even endowed with the rarest dialectical gifts, are sometimes either unable or unwilling to realise the logical consequences of their own reasoning. At any rate, I take of it the description given by the noble Lord, which is that it was a memorandum putting forward proposals which included preferential tariffs and the taxation of food. That is a description which the House will observe has never been denied. What is it that aroused the indignation of the Prime Minister when he spoke in January and here again the other night? Not that description of the document. What aroused his indignation was that Lord Rosebery and others should have said that he had put before the Cabinet two contradictory policies. Very well, what follows? It follows that, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, there is nothing contradictory or inconsistent with the policy of the Government, whatever that policy may be—what it is is accurately known only to Heaven and the Prime Minister himself—but there is nothing inconsistent or contradictory, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, between the policy of the Government and the policy which does include preferential taxation of food. If that is so, who can say that the House of Commons is wasting its time, or performing a task of supererogation when it asks the majority to affirm that they are not in favour of any such policy? But we are not left in this matter—all important particularly after the declarations made by his colleagues in his absenge—without some further guidance as to what are the views of the Prime Minister. We have got the published correspondence with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, supplemented and illuminated by the right hon. Gentleman's speech at Sheffield. Hackneyed as the subject is, the House will pardon me if I read one or two passages. ["Oh."] They will see in a moment it is very much ad rem. The Member for West Birmingham, in his letter of 9th September, says this—I suggest you should limit the present policy of the Government to the assertion of our freedom in the case of commercial relations with foreign countries.677 Observe "the present policy of the Government." What does the Prime Minister reply?As to taxation upon food, I am convinced with you that public opinion is not yet ripe for such an arrangement.Not ripe! And the right hon. Gentleman adds—I think a most significant addition—The reasons may easily be found in past political battles and present political misrepresentations.Then he proceeds—and I ask the particular attention of the House to these words, because "fiscal reform," as we all know, is the official name of the Government policy—This branch of fiscal reform is not at present within the limits of practical polities.I think in substance he repeated the same thing at Sheffield. What does that come to? Surely it comes to this—that in the opinion of the Prime Minister in a complete scheme of fiscal reform preferential taxation of food would be included. If he opposes it, he opposes it not on grounds of principle, not on grounds of conviction. His opposition to it rests upon, is confined to, and is limited by, the immaturity of public opinion. And to what does the right hon. Gentleman attribute that lamentable unripeness of the opinion of the nation? To rational or irrational causes? In the main the causes are, in his view, both irrational and removable. They are due to prejudice, to ignorance, and to misrepresentation. What was his attitude to the Member for West Birmingham when they parted company for what they apparently both hoped was to be a very brief separation? His attitude was this. If you return empty-handed, as I am afraid you will, I shall be able to say, "I told you so." If, on the other hand, you return bringing your sheaves with you, I shall be able to say, "My heart was always with you; let us now proceed to share the spoils." That is what is called, in these days, giving a lead to one's Party. It may succeed—so far I do not think it has been a brilliant success—in keeping a Party together in this House; but I venture to say that the right hon. Gentleman may label and limit his official programme as much as he pleases, but he cannot label and he cannot limit the 678 issue which will be submitted to the country at the next election. The country when they come to be appealed to will set very little store by the niceties and obscurities of retaliation. They will discriminate—so far as I can foresee, that will be the sole ground on which, in this matter, they will discriminate—between those who in intention and in conviction are protectionist and those who in intention and conviction are free-traders. The right hon. Gentleman, as I have said, spoke with regret, or apparent regret, of the unripeness of public opinion. I want to ask him one concluding question. Does he still feel that regret at the unripeness of public opinion? Does he desire to see it ripen? Will he help it to ripen? Will he encourage or discourage in this propaganda the colleagues who surround him and are jointly responsible with him for the government of the Empire? There are questions that we are entitled to ask. They are questions which I think the right hon. Gentleman is bound to answer; and according as he answers them in one sense or the other, so will he, and so will the Government, be judged by the nation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The Motion as it appears on the Paper has reference rather to the expressed opinions of my colleagues than to any opinions that I have made myself responsible for ["Oh."] Well, I will withdraw that phrase, and say the Motion on the Paper referred to my colleagues and not to myself. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman referred to myself and not to my colleagues; and I do not in the least quarrel with the change of venue. I should have been perfectly ready to answer for my colleagues had they been personally attacked by the principal critic of the Government; I am perfectly ready to answer for myself, as the attack has been transferred from them to the head of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman asked me in the early part of his speech whether I adhered to the view that the fiscal programme of the Government involved a fundamental change in the policy pursued in this country for the last two generations. In my opinion it does involve that. The right hon. Gentleman has said with absolute truth, and speaking as a lawyer—that is 679 no reproach to him—that there is no possibility of contradicting the proposition which he laid down—namely, that the Government have the power to propose in this House before a general election everything that they or their successors have the power to propose in the House after a general election. No one denies that. As a legal proposition it is incontrovertible; but I entirely differ from the right hon. Gentleman when he says to-night, as he has said on previous occasions, that it would be within the limits of constitutional propriety, as distinguished from constitutional law, to suggest to the House of Commons that we should adopt, as I hope after the next general election the Government of this country will be able to adopt, a policy dealing with what is called retaliation and a policy dealing with what is called "dumping." It is perfectly true that as far as "dumping" is concerned the sugar bounties which we have recently dealt with may be regarded as an example of that unhappy practice; but the sugar bounties have always been treated as a separate item in financial reform. I presume it is unnecessary to remind the House that while Mr. Gladstone never dealt with the general question of "dumping" in any of his speeches—because when he had to deal with questions of finance these modern developments had not occurred—he did make a distinct announcement on the subject of the sugar duties, and they had always been treated separately from the general problem of "dumping," with which I admit in abstract political economy and pure logic they are rigidly connected.
As regards retaliation, it has not since the Cobden era, certainly not for two generations, been regarded as competent for a Foreign Minister of this country to go to those with whom he is negotiating in foreign countries and to say to them, "If you impose such and such a duty on British goods I shall suggest to my Government that such and such consequences as regards your trade shall follow." I hope after the next general election it will be competent to take that course, and that for the first time within living memory it will be possible for a British negotiator to meet 680 on equal terms, so far as commerce is concerned, those with whom he has to negotiate. Therefore it is that I regard as—should the word be a legal evasion or would it be lacking in politeness?—simply a technicality of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends when they ask, "Why do you want to have a general election to give this power?" We want this general election because it is a great and fundamental change. [OPPOSITION cheers and cries of "When?"] I gather from these cheers that those who support the right hon. Gentleman entirely agree. Then the right hon. Gentleman proceeded to put a, series of questions to me about protection, and he seemed to suppose that I was properly to be described as a protectionist because I hold, as I believe every sound economist in this country for fifty years has held, that there are economic and other considerations which incidentally may justify a duty being put on which has some protective effects. I cannot believe that any hon. Member opposite denies that. Within the last three weeks right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have made two great attacks on the Government—one in connection with fiscal reform, and the other in connection with the introduction of Oriental labour [OPPOSITION cries of "Chinese labour"] that is Oriental labour. They may be perfectly right in objecting to the introduction of Oriental labour [renewed cries of "Chinese labour"]—well, Chinese labour—into South Africa; but, as I know they have all been ardently studying the principles of political economy during the last six months, they must be perfectly well aware that their policy, however moral and however expedient, was contrary to the traditions of free trade. ["Oh, oh!"] Free trade, as any economist opposite will allow, and every student of Cobden will ardently preach, means that capital and labour throughout the world should be allowed to distribute themselves in the manner which conduces to the greatest result.
§ MR. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
How about the compound and indentured labour?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman asks, why the compound and why the indenture? 681 Those are lamentable interferences with free trade, but they are much less interferences than the policy which the hon. Gentleman proposes, which is that labour should not be allowed to go into Africa at all. And all that the hon. Gentleman has proved by his interruption, and he has proved it conclusively, is that there is one point in connection with fiscal reform on which both sides are ardently agreed—namely, that there are causes which justify a departure from free-trade doctrine, and that there are issues even greater than producing in the cheapest market and selling in the dearest, and giving the consumer the best possible terms for his money. I am glad to think that on a subject on which we have disputed so much both sides of the House are agreed. [Cheers and cries of "No."]
§ MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)
Man is not a chattel.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Man is not a chattel. My hon. friend will know, if he has carried out to the full, as I am sure he has, his study of the question of economic production, that political economy does not deal only with chattels but also with the labour which produces chattels. Now, Sir, when we come from the criticism which the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has passed upon my words to the principle underlying the Motion, and the speeches of the mover and seconder, it appears to me that there is a profound confusion of ideas. It is perfectly true that every Government and every Party, so far as it is a coherent Party, must agree that for the practical work it has to do it must have a policy. [OPPOSITION cheers, and an HON. MEMBER: 682 Declare it.] It must have a policy, and, no doubt, it must declare it. But what is not the fact, and what the House must remember has never been admitted to be the fact, is that there should be some absolute agreement as to the principles underlying that policy, and as to the theories on which it is to be defended. We are not theologians starting a religion. We are practical men on both sides. Well, on that side they are practical men who agree as to the general lines of the policy to be carried out for the benefit of the country whose interest we all, whatever our opinions, desire conscientiously to serve, and it is perfectly childish to support this new theory, that not only is the Government to be agreed as to what it proposes the House and the country should accept, but that it is to be agreed as to the exact reasons why that policy is to be adopted and is to go far beyond that policy and see what developments it may conceivably be capable of. That has never been suggested, I believe, in the whole history of the government of this country before, and I do not believe that anything will he gained by us on this side, and I am sure that everything will be lost by gentlemen on the other side, if they try to get any such doctrine accepted as sound constitutional doctrine for this country.
I quite understand why some of my hon. friends on this side who are ready loyally and fully to accept what has been called the Sheffield programme are never the less anxious lest in time to come there should be developments of fiscal policy with which they differ. I quite understand their position. No doubt every departure from a rigid laisser faire attitude is open to danger. I am the last person to deny that. There was a time in the history of 683 this country when all thinkers who conceived themselves to represent the true intellect of the country accepted the laisser faire theory, not merely as regards fiscal reform, but as regards the whole field of legislative action by this House. With Mr. Cobden himself the free-trade doctrine was merely a fragment of the general laisser faire theory. In every other department of legislation we have abandoned the rigid laisser faire doctrine. I think we have rightly abandoned it. But I do not deny, and I never have denied, that in so doing we run some danger, and that there is an attractive simplicity about the abstract theory that the State should do nothing, but a real danger in the opposite doctrine that the State should do everything, which may well give pause to those who take account of any new departure. Therefore, when my hon. friends say, "We agree with the departure from laisser faire which you suggested in your Sheffield speech, but we fear that many who support you would go further than we are prepared to go." really sympathise. But with the exception I understand their point of view. But let them remember that after all the remedy for that danger is not a rigid adherence to a doctrinaire policy which has became antiquated, impossible, obsolete, and absurd, but a common sense the hon. Member for Waterford. Six control as to the extent to which you are going to depart from that rigid policy. I, therefore, would point out to my hon. friends who feel, as I feel, that a departure is not without its dangers, that the true course for any man interested in the subject to pursue is to do his best to keep any change within reasonable limits, to get all the advantages you can from the elasticity which I hope will be given to the Government of this country, and to 684 see that that elasticity is never abused. Then there are others who appear to think that a Resolution of the kind may do something, as it were, to petrify public opinion, and to keep our policy within the exact limits which public opinion now desires to impose upon it. No Resolution of the House, frame it as you will, is going to control in the future the movements of public opinion in this country. It will neither hasten the development of that opinion nor delay it. Supposing Mr. Gladstone in June, 1885, had proposed a Resolution committing this House and the country, as far as this House could commit the country, to a non-Home Rule policy. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose would have voted against it. [Cries of "No" and laughter.] Certainly, the genuine Party loyalty of the right hon. Gentleman and his genuine agreement with the general policy of Mr. Gladstone might have induced him to vote for a Motion with which he did not really sympathise. But with the exception of the right hon. Gentleman a Motion by Mr. Gladstone in 1885 against Home Rule would have been carried unanimously, with the exception also of the hon. Gentlemen opposite who now follow the hon. Member for Waterford. Six months passed and the whole scene was changed. [A LIBERAL MEMBER: The franchise was changed.] Yes, that may possibly have been the reason. But, at all events, the whole scene changed, and Mr. Gladstone, who had not mentioned Home Rule until after the general election, came in with a Home Rule Government. I only mention that familiar historic instance in order to show the futility of a Resolution of the House in committing either a Party or 685 the country. And let none of my hon. friends on this side of the House, who are nervously anxious lest in some remote future the Sheffield programme should be exceeded, suppose that they will then necessarily find these Gentlemen (pointing to the Liberal Benches) on their side. Three months was enough to convert them to Home Rule. [An HON. MEMBER: The constituencies?] What has it got to do with the constituencies—three months was enough to convert the individuals. That was Home Rule. I really do not know that so much as twelve weeks will be required under favourable circumstances to convert them to protection.
Then there is only one other cause of anxiety which I think can possibly assail my hon. friends on this side of the House with regard to the declarations of the Government. I can hardly imagine it, but it is just possible to suppose that they think those declarations not sufficiently explicit. [OPPOSITION laughter.] Well, I confess I should have thought that they had been as precise as language could make them. What I have told the country to the best of my ability— I have had no opportunity of telling the House as yet—but what I have told the country is, reckoned broadly, on the face of public documents of my own. I have told them that the policy I recommend is a policy which will enable the Government to deal, as far as retaliation can deal, with hostile tariffs, and to deal, as far as fiscal arrangements can deal, with the great evil of dumping. I have also told them, as the right hon. Gentleman has truly reminded the House, that I do not think public opinion is in a position to accept any propositions with regard to taxation of food, or fiscal union with 686 the Colonies so far as that depends on taxation of food. Well, I cannot imagine anything being put with greater precision or with greater clearness. But let me say—and I do not think it has been sufficiently understood—that in going so far I and my friends have gone much further in the direction of taking the House and the country into their confidence than has ever happened with any Government in the history of this country. Consider the absurdity of the cross-examination which hon. Gentlemen opposite have thought themselves justified in subjecting my right hon. friends to, on this Bench, during six day's debate. Of course the Government may be cross-examined as to the policy which it is proposing to the country; of course we may be cross-examined as to our legislation, as to the foreign policy at the moment, as to our action either in the Colonies or abroad, as to our Army policy, or any of the other matters with which from day to day the Government is expected to deal. But never in the whole history of this country before has it ever been supposed that a Government is to be cross-examined, not as to its policy now, but as to the policy which it would pursue were it to be returned after the next general election. We may not be in after the next general election [OPPOSITION cheers]; I almost think I have heard declarations from very high authorities on the Front Bench opposite that in their view the current of public opinion was running so strongly against us that we should certainly not be in after the next general election. Then, I suppose they will be in—hon. Gentleman opposite—well, then, let us cross-examine them. We, at all events upon this and upon other subjects, 687 have explicity declared what our policy is [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh, oh!"]; have they declared their policy upon any subject, I do not wish to put it too highly, but upon any subject? Are they agreed on the fiscal question? I understand the Member for Waterford, an ardent supporter [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: Of both sides.]—an ardent supporter when it comes to turning us out—I understand he has explicitly declared himself to be sympathetic with doctrines which I cannot accept, but doctrines of rather advanced protection. Is there agreement, even, as to how we are to treat the Colonies, to protect the Colonies which are being attacked because they favour us in their fiscal system?
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was very angry with me because I, in all good faith, but perhaps mistakenly, took a version of his views as expressed, or implied last session which he thought was inaccurate or a misrepresentation of his real position. But what is the real position of the Opposition, of the people who are going to be in power after the next general election? Do they think the protection of our Colonies, like the questions connected with Chinese labour, are sufficiently important to enable them to break through the rigid doctrines of free trade, or do they not—a very interesting question, but one of which we have no solution. Some of my right hon. and hon. friends on this side of the House are strongly in favour of the policy of the Sugar Convention. That has been systematically voted against by the legitimate Opposition. [An HON. MEMBER: And others.] Yes, because even the anti-fiscal reformers on this side are not quite agreed. There is a difference of 688 opinion on that matter. There are many other subjects connected with fiscal reform on which I see no symptoms of that happy concordat which I should have expected among people who spend their whole time reproaching us with our differences of opinion. After all I think that fiscal reform is a very important subject, but it is not the only important subject; and I should really like to know whether any body, supposing the next Administration which I see before me were subjected to the cross-examination which, for reasons unknown to me, they think legitimate with regard to us—I should very much like to know whether they are all agreed on the subject of religious education; are they all agreed upon their Imperial policy, are they all agreed upon their domestic policy? Are the Labour Members, for example, who, I understand, accept generally the views passed at the annual meeting of the Trades Union Congress, in full accord with the gentlemen who will have to legislate after the next election upon questions of property in this country? Finally, are they agreed upon Home Rule? I was given, just before I came into the House, a very interesting question and answer which passed between the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down and one of his constituents in East Fife. I am not going to discuss Home Rule, but I am discussing the principles of Party unity and agreement, and on that question this is quite relevant. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will be interested in this. Mr. Garvie, a constituent, asked this question—Should the Liberal Party be returned to power, will Mr. Asquith support Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman in introducing a Home Rule Bill for Ireland?689 Mr. Asquith replied:—I have already expressed my views on that, subject. That is purely an academic question, which is of no practical or political urgency.Now, surely the position—I am assuming the results of the next general election to be what they are supposed—of witness and cross-examiner should be reversed. Surely we ought to ask these Gentlemen opposite, whom we see arrayed in their enormous and admirable variety of opinions, to come forward one by one and tell us what they think, not merely on fiscal reform, but on the great questions with which the next Parliament will have to deal. Observe this, I do not ask—I think as I have explained to the House it would be ludicrous to ask —that there should be similarity of theory underlying all the practical opinions expressed. I do not ask that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife and the hon. Gentleman who leads the Irish Party should be agreed as to their motives and reasons for any policy which they are going to pursue in common. What I do ask is that if they are going to belong to the same Party they should tell what their policy is.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
They should tell us the policy which they propose to pursue. [An HON. MEMBER: They have not joint Cabinet responsibility.] The utmost variety of abstract opinions may be allowed, but we must have some common policy which is to be carried out. Now, Sir, I think I have indicated the general principles on which the House should come to a Resolution to-night. We, at all events, on this 690 Bench have done what no previous Government has ever been asked to do and certainly what no previous Government has ever done. We have stated, in other words, what it is we intend to propose at the next general election. [An HON. MEMBER: What is it?] Well, I have already stated it once in language which will match, I think, in lucidity and explicitness anything uttered on that side of the House. What, then, are we asked to decide to-night? There are, no doubt, Members on this side of the House, What, then, are we asked to decide to-night? There are no doubt, Members on this side of the House, a few, who, though among us, are not of us.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
Put them in gaol.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
And if my diagnosis of their object is accurate, there is nothing they wish so much as to aid in the operation of substituting Gentlemen opposite for us in the government of the country. No appeal I can make to them is likely to have much effect; but the great body of Gentlemen on this side of the House I believe are prepared frankly to accept, whatever their opinions may be on other questions, what has been called the Sheffield programme. That programme I have, on my responsibility as, for the moment, the Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, put forward. That is the programme which, if I had to write an election address tomorrow, I should lay before the country so far as fiscal reform is concerned. I would ask those hon. Members, that great body of friends of mine, who do agree with that policy whether they think it desirable or expedient, because at some future period they may have to resist other propositions of which 691 they disapprove—whether it is either wise or statesmanlike to throw in their lot with those from whom, even on the fiscal question, they differ so widely, and with whom, in spite of the immense variety of opinions from which they have to choose, they probably could not find any subject on which they agreed. I cannot believe that that is either a wise or a statesmanlike course. We have declared, not merely on the fiscal question, but on other questions, the policy we propose to the country. We have made no concealment of it. We have stated it in the clearest terms. Can any man who regards himself as a supporter of the Unionist Government give a vote against that Government if he agrees with the declared Sheffield policy, which is now in question? I cannot believe that that is so. I cannot believe that any Gentleman will take that course.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
How in the struggle for existence between the two Parties can the Party which is always dwelling upon its insignificant differences successfully compete with the Party which is always endeavouring to conceal its fundamental differences? No doubt, historically, hon. Gentlemen opposite are accustomed profoundly to differ in principle and theory, but not to act practically together. They have been so inoculated by the microbe of dissension that they bear it with tolerable equanimity. Let us, whose differences are relatively absolutely microscopic, learn something from them. We have not much to learn from them, but that, I think, we may learn. If we look on 692 that Bench and see that from the Gentlemen there is to be selected, if not the next, at all events in no distant future, a Government agreed upon a policy, knowing what are the essential differences dividing man from man surely we have that practical knowledge of public affairs and that common sense which will enable us, as long as we are agreed upon a practical policy, not to split on speculative and future difficulties which may never arise, and not to abandon a certain and present unity because at some future and unknown epoch we may find ourselves in opposite Lobbies. For these reasons I trust that every Member of the Unionist Party who agrees with the policy which I put forward in my responsible capacity at Sheffield as the one which is to be advocated at the next general election will find it in his power to vote against the Motion proposed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman this evening.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
said the speech of the Prime Minister was one of brilliant ability marked by all the humour with which he knew so well how to delight the House, but he thought his right hon. friend had misconceived the purpose of the Motion and the great gravity of the issue, both personally and politically, for a great number of hon. Members. The Motion was not directed against the policy of the Government, but against the policy developed by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. When the Prime Minister treated the Motion as a vote of censure on the Government he was reading into it more than it would bear. There was one phrase which did seem to reflect on 693 Ministers, and if the right hon. Gentleman would consent to leave the division as an open question he would move to omit that phrase. Throughout his speech the right hon. Gentleman had overlooked the fundamental fact that the great question before the country was not the policy of the Government, but the policy of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham. When the right hon. Gentleman described his policy as one of retaliation it was necessary to ask for the definition of terms all along the line; and yet the right hon. Gentleman suggested that for the sake of a policy so indefinite they should be willing to support him in rejecting a Motion which did not condemn his policy, but did condemn the policy of protection. His right hon. friend said it was absurd to be so nervous, and that the Sheffield policy was the only policy that would be pressed; but surely he was aware that Members of his own Party were being driven out of candidatures, not because they would not assent to the policy of the Government, but because they would not assent to the policy of the Member for West Birmingham? If it were because they would not assent to the Government policy it would be hard enough, unless that policy were defined in all its terms; but it was much harder when it was not that policy, but a policy as to which the Government had not taken a definite attitude. Suppose a majority returned to support the policy of the Member for West Birmingham, would the Prime Minister support or would he oppose it? That was not an academical, it was a practical question. All over the country candidates were selected according to their pledges for or against that policy; 694 he admitted that the country had taken a turn that made the situation safer; but they had a right to know whether his right hon. friend would support that policy. Without a word from his right hon. friend it would be their duty to support this Motion, a Motion directed definitely to the rejection of that policy. It was a Motion in favour of free trade and against protection. His right hon. friend spoke of "those who are among us, but not of us." Did his right hon. friend apply that term to him?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No, no, emphatically, no. I may differ from my noble friend on some questions, but emphatically I say I do not include him among those I mentioned. I say he is of us.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
said it could not have escaped his right hon. friend's ears that many of his supporters did not agree with him. He differed from the policy of the Member for West Birmingham and also from the policy of driving out of the Party Members who had been treated in a manner which was not encouraging to loyal co-operation in the ranks of the Party. He was accepted by his right hon. friend as a Conservative, and believing with his whole heart that in Conservatism lay the true future of the country, he was most anxious to preserve it from contamination by protection, which would degrade its character and ruin all chance of it being the National Party of the future as in the past. Within the Party he wished to fight the battle and save it from that danger that threatened it and the ruin that would overwhelm it, and for that reason he would vote for 695 this Motion and for every Motion that was emphatically in favour of the principle of free trade.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said everybody admitted the absolute sincerity of the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich. He hoped that he would be credited with equal sincerity when he referred to a single sentence near the close of the speech of his right hon. friend the Prime Minister, lest it might afterwards be said that by their silence they gave it their consent. The Prime Minister said, if he were to write an address to his constituents to-morrow it would be written in the sense of the policy laid down at
§ Sheffield. He believed that all on this side of the House agreed with that policy, or nearly all, so far as it went. But he should be misleading his right hon. friend, and misleading many others, if he were not to say that if he had to write an election address it would be of a some-what different character, going a great deal further than the Prime Minister, and he had the best reason in the world for knowing that he would be expressing the opinions of a very large number of Members of the Party.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 243; Noes, 289. (Division List No. 46.)699
|Abraham, William (Cork N E.)||Cullinan, J.||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldom|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Dalzier, James Henry||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim|
|Allen, Charles P.||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Grant, Corrie|
|Ambrose, Robert||Davies M. Vaughan- (Cardigan||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Berwick)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Delany, William||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Denny, Colonel||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Devlin Charles Ramsay (Galway||Hain, Edward|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Dewar, John A (Inverness-sh.||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord G (Midd'x|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hammond, John|
|Bell, Richard||Dilke, lit. Hon. Sir Charles||Harcourt, Rt. Hon Sir William|
|Black, Alexander William||Dobbie, Joseph||Harmsworth, R. Leicester|
|Blake, Edward||Donelan, Captain A.||Harwood, George|
|Boland, John||Doogan, P. C.||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Duncan, J. Hastings||Healy, Timothy Michael|
|Brigg, John||Dunn, Sir William||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Edwards, Frank||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh||Elibank, Master of||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Ellice Capt E C (S. Andrew's Bghs||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Hobhouse Rt. Hn H Somerse'tE|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Burke, E. Haviland.||Emmott, Alfred||Hope, John Deans (File West)|
|Burns, John||Evans Sir Francis H (Maidstone||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.|
|Caldwell, James||Eve, Harry, Trelawney||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.|
|Cameron, Robert||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Farrell, James Patrick||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Fenwick, Charles||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Joicey, Sir James|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Ffrench, Peter||Jones, David Brynmor Swansea|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Field, William||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund||Jordan, Jeremiah|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Joyce, Michael|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Flynn, James Christopher||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Kemp, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Kilbride, Denis|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||Kitson, Sir James|
|Cremer, William Randal||Fuller, J. M. F.||Labouchere, Henry|
|Crombie, John William||Furness, Sir Christopher||Lambert, George|
|Crooks, William||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Laugley, Batty||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N,||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||O'Malley, William||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F (Accrington||O'Mara, James||Spencer, Rt. Hn C R (Northants|
|Leigh, Sir Joseph||O'Shaugnessy, P. J.||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Leng, Sir John||Parrott, William||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Levy, Maurice||Partington, Oswald||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Lloyd-George, David||Paulton, James Mellor||Sullivan, Donal|
|Lough, Thomas||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Lundon, W.||Pemberton, John S. G.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe|
|MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Perks, Robert William||Tennant, Harold John|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Power, Patrick Joseph||Thomas, Sir A (Glamorgan, E.|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Price, Robert John||Thomas David Alfred (Merthyr|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Priestley, Arthur||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.|
|M'Crae, George||Rae, Russell||Tomkinson, James|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Reckitt, Harold James||Toulmin, George|
|M'Kean, John||Redmond, John E. (Waterford||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|M'Kenna, Reginald||Redmond, William (Clare)||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Rigg, Richard||Wallace, Robert|
|M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin||Ritchie Rt. Hon (has. Thomson||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds S|
|Mansfield, Horace Randall||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Moonoy, John J.||Robson, William Snowdon||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Roche, John||Wason, John Catheart Orkney|
|Morley, Charles (Breconshire||Roe, Sir Thomas||Weir, James Galloway|
|Morley Rt. Hon John (Montrose||Rose, Charles Day||White, George Norfolk|
|Murphy, John||Runciman, Walter||White, Luke York, E. R.|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Russell, T. W.||Whiteley, George York, W. R.|
|Newnes, Sir George||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland||Whitley, J. H. Halifax|
|Noland, Joseph (Louth, South||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Norman, Henry||Schwann, Charles E.||Williams, Osmond Merioneth|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Seely Maj J E B. (Isle of Wight)||Wilson, Fred W. (Norfolk, Mid)|
|Nussey, Thomas Willians||Shackleton, David James||Woodhouse Sir J T. Huddersf'd|
|O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|O'Brien Kendal (Tipporary Mid||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||Young, Samuel|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Yoxall, James Henry|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Sheehy, David|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W||Shipman, Dr. John G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Herbert Gladstone and Mr. William M'Arthur.|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|O'Doherty, William||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Slack, John Bamford|
|O'Dowd, John||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Boscawen, Arthur Grithth.||Colomb Sir John Charles Ready|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Boulnois, Edmund||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole|
|And, Sir John||Bousfield, William Robert||Compton, Lord Alwyne|
|Allhusen Augustus Henry Eden||Bowles Lt.-Col H E (Middlesex||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Brassey, Albert||Cox, Irwin Edward Bain bridge|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cripps, Charles Alfred|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Brotherton, Edward Allen||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)|
|Arnold-Fortser Rt. Hn Hugh O.||Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savil|
|Arrol, Sir William||Bull, William James||Cubitt, Hon. Henry|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Oust, Henry John C.|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon Sir H||Butcher, John George||Dalrymple, Sir Cnarles|
|Bagot, Capt Josceline Fitz Roy||Campbell, J H. M (Dublin Univ||Davenport, William Bromley|
|Bailey, James Walworth||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Davies Sir Horatio D (Chatham|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Cavendish, V C W. (Derbyshire||Dewar Sir T R (Tower Hamlets|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Cecil, Evelyn (Ashton Manor||Dimsdale Rt. Hon Sir Joseph C|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. S. Manch'r||Chamberlain Rt. Hn J A (Worc.||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph|
|Balfour, Capt C. B. Hornsey||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Dixon-Hartland Sir Fred Dixon|
|Balfour Rt. Hn Gerald W Leeds||Chapman, Edward||Dorington Rt. Hon. Sir John E|
|Balfour, Kennoth R. Christch.||Charrington, Spencer||Doughty, George|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Clare, Octavius, Leigu||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers.|
|Banes, Major George Edward||Clive, Captain Percy A.||Doxford, Sir William Theodore|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. Windsor||Coates, Edward Feetham||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Cochrane, Hon Thos. H. A. E,||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Bathurst Hon Allen Benjamin||Coddington, Sir William||Dyke, Rt. Hon Sir William Hart|
|Beach Rt. Hn Sir Michael Hicks||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Egerton, Hon, A. de Tatton|
|Bigwood, James||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Faber, George Denison (York)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Fergusson Rt. Hon Sir J (Manc'r||Lawson John Grant) Yorks N R||Renwick, George|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lee, Arthur H (Hants., Fareham||Ridley, Hon M W. (Stalybridge|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||Leverson-Gower, Frederick N S.||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Fison, Frederick William||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Robinson, Brooke|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. H.||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Fitzroy, Hon Edward Algernon||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Long, Col. Charles W (Evesham||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Flower, Sir Ernest||Long, Rt. Hn Walter (Bristol, S.)||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Forster, Henry William||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Royds, Clement Molyncux|
|Foster, Philip S. Warwick S. W.||Lowe, Francis William||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Fyler, John Arthur||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Lucas, Col Francis (Lowestoft)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Gardner, Ernest||Lucas, Reginald J (Portsmouth||Sadier, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Garfit, William||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Samuel Sir Harry S. (Limehouse|
|Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Macdona, John Cumming||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Gordon, Hn J E (Elgin & Nairn||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Maconochie, A. W||Saunderson Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J|
|Gordon Maj Evans. (Tr'H'mlets||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Gore, Hn G R C Ormsby- (Salop||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Majendie, James A. H.||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Malcolm, Ian||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Manners, Lord Cecil||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Greene, W. Raymond. (Cambs.||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn W. F.||Stanley, Hon Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Gronfell, William Henry||Maxwell, Rt. Hn Sir H E (Wigt'n||Stanley, Edward Jas (Somerset|
|Gretton, John||Maxwell W J H (Dumfriesshire||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lancs)|
|Groves, James Grimble||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Stewart, Sir Mark J M'Taggart|
|Hall, Edward Marshal||Middlemore John Throgmorton||Stock, James Henry|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Milner, Rt. Hon Sir Frederick G||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hambro, Charles Eric||Milvain, Thomas||Stroyan, John|
|Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry||Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Hardy Laurence (Kent, Ashf'ord||Molesworth, Sir Louis||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Montagu, C. (Huntingdon)||Talbot, Rt. Hn J G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Harris, Dr. Fredk. R. (Dulwich)||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Moore, William||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Morgan David J (Walthamstow||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Morpeth, Viscount||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Morrell, George Herbert||Tuff, Charles|
|Heath, James (Staffords N. W.||Morrison, James Archibald||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Valentia, Viscount|
|Holder, Augustus||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Vincent Col Sir C E H (Sheffield|
|Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.||Murray, Rt. Hn A Graham (Bute||Walrond, Rt. Hn Sir William H.|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel||Myers, William Henry||Welby, Sir Charles G E (Notts.)|
|Hogg, Lindsay||Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon|
|Hope, J F (Sheffield Rrightside||Nicholson, William Graham||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Horner, Frederick William||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Whiteley, H (Ashton und. Lyne|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Whitmore Charles Algernon|
|Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham||Parkes, Ebenezer||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Hozier Hon. James Henry Cecil||Pease Herbert Pike (Darlington||Willoughby, de Eresby Lord|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Percy, Earl||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Hunt, Rowland||Pierpoint, Robert||Wilson A. Stanley (York E R.|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Wilson-Todd, Sir W H. (York's)|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Plummer, Walter R.||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn E R. (Bath)|
|Kennaway, Kt Hon Sir John H.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wolff, Gustav, Wilhelm|
|Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbighs||Pretyman, Ernest George||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Konyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop||Pryee-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Wrightson Sir Thomas|
|Kerr, John||Purvis, Robert||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Keswick, William||Pym, C. Guy||Wyudham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Kimber, Henry||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Knowles, Sir Lees||Randles, John S.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Rankin, Sir James|
|Law, Andrew Ronar(Glasgow)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th||Reid, James (Greenock)|
§ Adjourned at a quarter after Twelve o'clock.