§ 11. "That a sum, not exceeding £12,005,475, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1906, for Expenditure in respect of the following Services included in the Estimates for Revenue Departments, viz.:—
|4.||Post Office Packet Service||531,790|
|5.||Post Office Telegraphs||2,572,547|
§ Resolutions read a second time.
§ First two Resolutions postponed.
§ Third Resolution:—
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said he thought it only right that the House should take some notice of the claim set up on behalf of the Government by injudicious supporters of the Government in and out of the House and in the newspapers that supported the Unionist Party, that the country would resent the resignation of the Government at this time when foreign affairs made it absolutely essential 112 at any cost to themselves that they should stay in office. It was well to examine if there was any foundation for that belief prevailing on the other side of the House. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to be firmly and honestly persuaded that their tenure of office was necessary to the proper conduct of foreign affairs, but it was natural enough that the Opposition should refuse to share this belief and that they should enter a caveat against its being fostered. True enough, the supporters of the Government did not urge that doctrine in the House itself, but they preached it among themselves all the same.
As far as he could judge, the claim rested on two or three bases. The doctrine suggested at the Foreign Office meeting was different from the doctrine suggested in the Conservative Press of last week, when there was a question of the resignation of Ministers. The view that prevailed at the Foreign Office meeting was that the dangerous state of Europe exacted their retention of office. But the opinion of all the best informed diplomatists invariably was that the state of Europe was always dangerous, in fact, he had never known them think it was perfectly sound and peaceful, except when war broke out. But the view of the outside public that nothing was going to happen in Europe of the kind indicated was a sounder and truer belief. Certainly the extraordinary panic that prevailed recently in this country and on the Continent as to the condition of European; affairs was not justified by the facts. The country had been told that there was a great chance of one great European Power making an attack on another Power. He was convinced that, if there had been any such intention, the country would have heard, not of the intention, but of the attack itself. It was the common opinion throughout the world outside this country a short time ago that we were meditating an attack on a great military Power; and, though that belief seemed to us incredible, it was the fact that there was an honest belief prevailing on the Continent of Europe to this effect.
But a definite statement had been made with reference to the Japanese Treaty. He was one of those who had always held the 113 strongest possible doctrine against what were called peace alliances, but he believed that there were many persons who would say now, starting where we now were, that it was not possible entirely to ignore the war alliance with Japan. That we should not have an interest in the terms of peace by which the war was concluded seemed to him to be in the circumstances impossible. But when it was claimed that the Government must remain in office to sign the treaty with Japan, he thought that the House would be right in believing that the lines of the future arrangement with Japan were already laid down in a form which the overwhelming majority of both Parties in the State would support. It was impossible under the circumstances to contemplate a wild scheme of absolute offensive and defensive alliance in all parts of the world. The lines of any understanding which had been come to must evidently concern the preservation of the status quo in Asia. But the notion that we needed a military alliance with a foreign Power for the defence of the Indian frontier was one that ought to be repudiated at once. Any alliance in support of the status quo in Asia against possible disturbance from any quarter must have the effect of a virtual guarantee to the position of certain Powers who were no parties to that alliance. Any guarantee of the status quo must be a virtual guarantee of the occupation of Kiao-chau by Germany as of Tonking by France. Therefore an understanding or alliance for the maintenance of the status quo in Asia must tend to the preservation of permanent peace in that part of the world. Delicate questions were bound to arise, but this great fact was assured—that a profound desire for peace was now as strong in this country as in France itself. The tendency of the debates in the French Chamber on the Anglo-French Convention was towards common action by France, the United States, and ourselves in support of the maintenance of peace—an understanding to which, even in face of the Russian alliance, almost all the speakers in the French Chamber admitted our alliance with Japan might contribute. There was every reason to hope that, when the present war was ended, common action by the Powers mentioned would 114 secure peace for a long time. The notion that we should think of outraging the feelings of the world by going out of our way to attack for any fancied interest a possible rival naval Power was preposterous. Such a policy of digging up dangers would be fatal to an Empire like ours. But some people seemed to think that we ought to anticipate dangers which were foreseen, perhaps, in the distant future, but which might never arise; and that we should, by a state of perpetual war, bring about an eventual peace.
There was a third claim apt to be made by the Party opposite—that they had produced the good understanding with the United States and France, in which all rejoiced. It might be necessary to point out that this result represented a very sharp and recent change of policy of some Gentlemen opposite; but all Parties in this country were united now in favour of this understanding, and there was no chance of its being jeopardised by any change of Government. There were some subjects which the delicacy of the present situation made it only possible to mention. The war and the state of anarchy that paralysed one of the great Powers must suspend a large number of questions It was useless to discuss them when everyone was waiting for peace. Such were questions of neutrality and the British claims for compensation; of the neglect of China to carry out official promises; and of Germany's activity in the province of Shantung. All the arrangements of the great Powers between themselves were, of course, affected by the present position of affairs. The balance of power, which had a certain reality, was disturbed by the temporary disappearance of one of the great Powers. In ordinary circumstances the House would have heard a good deal of what was happening in Crete. British, Italian, French, and Russian troops were all in garrison there, and these forces had recently been engaged in operations against the Christian inhabitants. If in consideration of the delicate relations of the great Powers the Government were not pressed on this matter, they must not mistake forbearance for indifference. For the same reason, the state of the Balkans was 115 a topic to be avoided. Though some had thought that the elimination of Russia would be Austria's opportunity, the very contrary had proved to be the case; and the temporary extinction of Russia's influence had paralysed that of Austria. At present no progress with reforms was possible until beneficent peace had put an end to the war.
The one question on which he wished to press the Government was one in which the honour of this country was deeply concerned—the question of the Congo. He would not go back to any circumstances except such as were beyond dispute, and were revealed in the published despatches. Last year the Under-Secretary admitted the overwhelming case for searching and impartial inquiry. He admitted, too, our responsibility to see that the Congo State carried out their obligations, and he suggested that they had violated the free-trade provision of the Berlin Act and that they appeared to be concerned not with the native administration but only with the collection of rubber. The Congolese Government had promised to find a tribunal to inquire if the position had been abused and the trust betrayed. The Report of that inquiry, which they hoped would satisfy the average man, if not those who held extreme views on the question, had been kept back. He could not help thinking that it might have been ready a long time ago. The Commission was out in the Congo State for a very short time and visited very few places, though it did hold a detailed investigation into some particular cases. It took so short a time over the inquiry that it was difficult for our official, who was deputed to attend its meetings, to reach it in time, in spite of the fact that Lord Lansdowne, in his despatch to the Congo Government, impressed on them the necessity for ample time for investigation, and the Congo Government in reply admitted that necessity.
The territory investigated by the Commission was chiefly that of one of the concessionnaire companies, and though the inquiry was almost restricted to that territory, the secretary of the Commission had written stating that the evidence had disclosed many irregularities. The 116 connection between this company and the Government was very close, and light had been thrown upon the intentions of the Government with regard to the execution of any reforms which the Commission might have recommended by the fact that since the Commission had returned the former Governor-General, who had held office four times before, had returned to the Congo for the fifth time, although he was very deeply compromised in some of the abuses previously disclosed. Furthermore, since the Commission had returned to Brussels, His Majesty's Government had become aware of the existence of slavery quite of the old kind in the southern portion of the State, Katanga. That Katanga was now mined by slavery he had no doubt, and he did not think the Government had any doubt either.
If the Congo State was guilty of a violation in this portion of its territory of the Brussels General Act, and if it failed to redeem its pledge to make known to us, at the earliest possible period, the results of this solemn inquiry which it had promised, then it became the duty of His Majesty's Government to make further inquiry on their own account. Had the two Vice-Consuls who were to be under the Consul at Boma been appointed and gone to their posts? As regarded other portions of the territory, especially those which had been the subject of debate in Italy and those adverted to by Lord Cromer in his Report, an inquiry might be made from other British quarters. It would be possible to utilise some of Lord Cromer's excellent staff from Darfur and the Bahr-el-Ghazal, and to employ our staff from Unyoro and some of the staff of the Administrator of Barotseland. The Government ought also to be prepared, as suggested by Sir Harry Johnston, to revive our Consular jurisdiction in the Congo State, the right to which, under the Convention of 1884, was only temporarily waived by Lord Salisbury, and to take into our own hands the cases of British subjects and British-protected subjects. It was impossible to stand still in regard to this question in view of the facts which had been officially obtained and supported, and he pressed the Government to take further action, either in the sense which 117 he had indicated or in a sense which would seem better to themselves.
To leave out '£1,319,058,' and insert '£1,318,958.'"—(Sir Charles Dilke.)
§ Question proposed, "That' £1,319,058' stand part of the said Resolution."
§ *MR. EMMOTT (Oldham)
said that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean showed the right hon. Gentleman's great knowledge of every aspect of this subject. He did not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman in many of the topics he had touched upon. He, however, desired to ask the noble Lord a Question of considerable importance to his county. His right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean had mentioned the somewhat delicate question that had arisen in regard to the seizures of ships and the goods on our ships during the present war. He wanted to ask the noble Lord as to the Russian view of whether cotton was to be regarded as conditional or as absolute contraband of war. He wanted full information on that point, as it was of the most enormous importance to this country that cotton should be treated as conditional contraband of war. Would they, in course of time, have full information placed before them about the judgment of the Russian Appeal Court, as obviously to the part of the country which he had the honour of representing this matter was of enormous importance.
On the subject of the Congo Free State one was obliged to speak at the present moment with a certain reserve, because the Commission of Inquiry had not yet issued its Report. He acknowledged the care and patience with which the Commissioners had investigated some of the complaints put before them. It was true that they had only covered a very small portion of the territory of the Congo Free State, and that some of the grounds through which they passed had been specially prepared for their visit. But the Commission would in time report, and one was obliged to wait until one saw that Report in order that one 118 might be in a position to judge how far they had satisfactorily investigated the questions put before them. If the Commission had merely investigated the question of whether cruelties had been committed and had not gone behind that in order to consider whether those cruelties had not inevitably arisen from the system existing in the country, he feared that whatever Report they wrote would not satisfactorily deal with the facts lying at the root of the situation.
A new feature of the situation was that in Italy, he was glad to say, there had been a great deal of discussion owing to the revelations that had been made in that country. He had seen it stated in the Press that France was anxious to enter into a conference with us and the other Powers in regard to the whole question of the Congo Basin. He wanted to know if that was true. It was perfectly true that in some places in the Congo there appeared to have been some improvement during the last twelve or eighteen months. He was glad to acknowledge that. He should be only too glad if this subject could disappear from the debates in the House. He drew attention to a district in which there had been a reduction in taxation from four thousand rods per fortnight to two hundred rods per fortnight. That was a curious illustration of how enormously the people must have suffered from over-taxation before the reduction was made.
He expressed his regret at the action of the Congo Government in objecting as long as they could to the representative of this Government attending the meetings of the Commission of Inquiry. He thought it was on September 6th that the Congo Free State Government definitely refused, so far as they had the power, to allow representatives to attend the meetings of the Commission. Lord Lansdowne very properly made a very grave protest a few weeks later to the Congo Free State Government in regard to it. But suddenly a new idea appeared to have occurred to the Government, and on November 2nd they wired out to the Acting Consul asking if the Commission itself had any objection to a representative of this Government attending the meetings of the Commission. 119 The Commission was up the River at the time and had already taken a large part of the evidence. It took a month to get the reply, and Mr. Mackie, who at that time was in Portugal, was ordered by the Government to go out in order that he might act as a representative of the Government on the Commission. He did not suppose, however, Mr. Mackie himself ever attended any of the meetings of the Commission. He only wished the Government had taken this course at an earlier date and asked the Commission whether it had any objection to the Government being directly represented at all the meetings.
He associated himself with the remarks made by the right hon. Baronet in regard to the appointment of Baron Wahis as Governor-General of the Congo Free State. His predecessor committed suicide; and he did not think there was any part of the world where so many officials had put an end to their lives. The record of that baron was not a happy one in regard to the Congo Free State, but it did show that he could have no great desire to effect any reforms in the government of that country. He asked whether the Government had any information as to what was going on in the Abir territory. MR. Harris had reported that atrocities as horrible as had ever been perpetrated before were now going on. He wanted to to know whether that report had been confirmed. In the debate on June 9th the noble Lord said that instructions had been sent to the Abir authorities that freedom of commerce should obtain throughout that territory. He should like to know what result had followed these instructions. Again, he stated that a High Commissioner had been appointed to inquire into the state of affairs in the Abir territory, with power to remove officials and set right abuses. The Commissioner appointed was M. Malfeyt, and when he went to inquire he stated that he had no power to remove officials, but had only power to see and hear.
His right hon. friend had alluded to the new slave-raiding in Katanga and Kasai, and he had nothing to add to what his right hon. friend had said, but he wanted to ask one or two Questions about the French Congo. The French 120 Congo Administration had unfortunately adopted some of those principles in regard to land which had produced such deplorable results in the Congo Free State; but the French officials had not carried them out to their logical completeness, because they had not called in the aid of force to compel the collection of rubber. Even so trouble had arisen, and it showed the bona fides of the French that their Government had sent out one of the most eminent colonial statesmen in France to inquire into what was taking place in that colony. He asked whether any advance had been made in the negotiations with the French Government as to the grievances of the British traders owing to the commencement of the French concessionnaire regime. He did not want to say one word which would wound the feelings of our French allies. He attached the greatest importance to the entente cordiale, and he believed that it really arose from the desire of the people of both countries to live in amity with each other. That was of more importance than that the diplomatists of the two countries should be on friendly terms. But there was a great injustice in regard to the case of the English traders in the French Congo—few though these were—and that had been admitted. The trouble was two - fold, firstly the violation of free trade in the free - trade zone, and secondly the forcible confiscation of our traders' goods. He had seen a report that the French Government were very willing to enter into a conference on the question. He hoped it was true, for he and those interested in this matter believed that they had a solid grievance as to the violation of the free - trade clauses of the Berlin and Brussels Acts. The English traders had been trading there for many years, but they not only had their factories closed but their goods confiscated. This was not a matter of a grievance of a private trader, but a question of a great principle. The French were a great and a generous nation, and he could not think that they would leave this sore spot rankling in the relations between this country and France.
§ *MR. J. F. HOPE (Sheffield, Brightside)
said he could not help observing 121 with regard to the French Congo that the hon. Member who had just sat down had made out an excellent case for retaliation, but he would not pursue that subject. With regard to the Congo Free State he fully agreed with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean that the greatest possible light should be thrown upon these charges. There was some danger, however, in generalising too freely with regard to the Congo Free State, because, although the evidence extant with regard to certain portions of it showed that the state of things was as bad as it could be, there were other portions of the Congo Free State in which it was exactly the reverse. But with regard to the substantial point raised by the right hon. Baronet he quite agreed that too much light could not be thrown upon these matters. When it was suggested that Belgium should take over the administration of the Congo Free State it was found to be a matter of some difficulty, and although the matter was mooted the feeling of the Belgian people was found to be against it.
He joined in the hope that had been expressed that his noble friend would be able to say something as to the progress of our efforts with regard to Macedonia, and would be able to tell the House whether the hands of our Ambassador at Constantinople had been strengthened.
He desired to protest also against the tendency, rather too common in the Press, to assume that when we made friends with one country we were committed to a policy of active hostility to another. Some writers seemed to think we ought not only to have a standing Army but a standing enemy. In the course of past history there had been at different times rulers and Ministers of foreign States who had attracted special attention and suspicion of the English people. They might have been the most dangerous of men, or they might have desired to impress this country with the fact that they were more formidable than they really were. However that might be, the diplomacy of such individuals had never been hindered, nor had our diplomacy ever been helped, by wild articles in the public Press. Such articles could not, and did not, really 122 affect the immediate course of diplomacy, but what they could and did do was to sow the seeds of distrust, which caused indefinite mischief later on when other matters came up. The Anglo-French Convention was a most admirable convention. It removed many causes of danger, but he thought there was a tendency to expect too much from it. It was, after all, only an excellent business arrangement founded on common interests. If the community of interests ever ceased no amount of sentiment, however genuine, would supply its place. Therefore, whatever benefit we derived from it now gave us no title to provoke enmities elsewhere.
§ *MR. JOSEPH WALTON (Yorkshire, W. R., Barnsley)
said the House must, on both sides, feel with profound satisfaction that the outlook, so far as foreign affairs were concerned, was much more reassuring at this time than it was twelve months ago. They all rejoiced to know that at length there was a prospect of the plenipotentiaries of the two Powers engaged in war in the Far East meeting to consider the possibilities of arriving at terms of peace, and they must all hope, in the interests of civilisation and the progress of the world, that those efforts might be fruitful in their results and that a durable and honourable peace might be arrived at.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, in his most statesmanlike, interesting, and instructive speech, made reference to the attitude of the Liberal side of the House towards the Anglo-Japanese Agreement and its renewal. They all felt assured that the existence of the agreement during the last two years had been a powerful influence in preventing other nations being dragged into this dreadful war. The agreement, amounting as it did to an agreement to preserve the equal rights of all nations trading in the Far East, and inflicting no injustice on any nation, was an agreement which should be viewed without suspicion by any foreign nation. The noble Lord the Secretary of State, in a recent speech in connection with this matter, said that the only practical question for consideration was whether means should 123 not be sought to strengthen and consolidate the alliance. Within twenty-four hours of the utterance of those words by the Secretary of State his right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition, speaking in the country, stated that any Liberal Government would follow out faithfully and zealously the line of policy which Lord Lansdowne had assumed. The overwhelming opinion on both sides of the House was that it would be of advantage to the whole world to have a more extended alliance, and if the Secretary of State, before the Government left office, succeeded in rearranging that agreement with Japan, he would receive the support and the hearty congratulations of men of all Parties through-out the country. In the Far East this country had an unselfish object in view. Our only desire was to secure equal opportunities for all nations to trade in the Far East.
In regard to foreign affairs no one would desire to utter one word which would be against the public interest, but he certainly did hold that we had important commercial interests in the Far East which ought to be vigorously safeguarded. They rejoiced that an entente cordiale between this country and France, such as we had not been able to arrive at for generations, existed, but at the same time he would like to know whether the Government were taking advantage of the present state of feeling existing to secure facilities for British trade. In Southern China we had an agreement with France, dated 1896, by which each nation agreed with the other that in the provinces of Yunnan and Tzechuen all the privileges and advantages of any nature conceded to France in the agreement of 1895, and which might be in the future conceded either to Great Britain or to France, should, as far as rested with them, be extended and rendered common to both Powers and their nationals and dependents, and each engaged to use; their influence and good offices with the Chinese Government for that purpose. Therefore he ventured to hope there would be opportunities of commerical co-operation on the lines of the agreement of 1896, though at present our trade was somewhat hindered in these pro- 124 vinces by the transit duty of 10 per cent. on goods sent through French Tonquin.
Another quarter of the Empire in which our interests would seem to be in great danger was in the province of Shantung, with its 30,000,000 of population. There seemed to be a danger that Germany would do in Shantung what Russia did in Manchuria. He remembered when for some time our commercial interests in Manchuria were considered as past praying for; but the situation to-day in North China was very much altered. He believed that ultimately the sovereignty of Manchuria would be restored to China, and that in common with other nations, including Russia, we should enjoy the fullest facilities for trade in that region. On the whole, the outlook was encouraging, and the Government should use every effort to prevent the creation in Shantung of a state of things similar to that which had existed in Manchuria. It was true that Germany had Kiaw-chau, and a small district round it, but under the Anglo-German Agreement the contracting parties undertook to endeavour to secure that China should remain free and open to trade and every other legitimate form of economic activity on the part of all nations without distinction, and it was noteworthy that the United States, Japan, Austria, Italy, and France had unreservedly given in their adhesion to the principles of that agreement, which might be summed up as that of the "open door" for all nations throughout the Chinese Empire. If Japan and England, with the cooperation of the United States, and, he hoped, of France, resolutely adopted that line of policy, there would be unlimited possibilities of the expansion of trade in that, the greatest of all markets, in the world. But British trade with China was at present declining. The Germans in Shantung appeared not to be fully adhering to the terms of the Anglo-German Agreement. The German Ambassador had said that Germany had acquired—A special position in Shantung, whereas Great Britain not having occupied any place in the Yang-tsze region, that region is still unreservedly open to German enterprise.We did not object to the Yang-tsze region being unreservedly open to German 125 enterprise equally with British, but we claimed equal freedom for British enterprise in Shantung. It was reported that the German Government had insisted upon the three new Customs officers in Shantung being Germans. As to mining rights, there were new and extended arrangements giving the Germans an absolute monopoly of all minerals for fifteen miles on each side of the railways they were constructing, and preventing the Chinese from employing machinery and modern methods in the mines already opened. Those arrangements, he submitted, were a violation of the principle both of the Anglo-German Agreement and of the "open door." A policy which secured for Germany exclusive preferential rights would meet with disapproval of other great Powers, and it was the duty of the Government to uphold as far as they could the principle of the "open door" in the province of Shantung.
He hoped the noble Lord would give the House any information he could about the Mackay treaty. In reference to that treaty seventy leading merchants at Shanghai had sent a telegram to the following effect:—The British merchants draw the Government's attention to the fact that China ignores the Mackay treaty, rendering the same ineffective in most essentials. China actively opposes the currency, mining, taxation, and navigation stipulations. We beg the British Government to insist on the treaty being made immediately operative.That telegram was laid before Lord Lansdowne, but no instructions regarding it appeared to have been issued. The Under-Secretary had, however, stated that a telegram had been addressed to His Majesty's Minister at Peking requesting him to obtain from the signatories a detailed statement of the matters which formed the subject of their complaint, and that the statement would receive the careful attention of the Government. He would have imagined that the Foreign Office ought to be posted up to date with all that was necessary to give effect to the provisions of the Mackay treaty. The treaty should have come into force in January, 1904. Had any progress been made towards obtaining the necessary assent of the other Powers to the abolition of likin? It would be interesting to know 126 also how far China had given effect to her engagement to remove obstruction, in the inland waterways, in the Whang-po leading to Shanghai, and in the river leading to Tientsin. Then, instead of providing a uniform national coinage, as she promised, China had begun to manufacture a debased coinage of sixty different sorts, which would yield large profits to the local authorities but was bound to be disastrous to the financial future of the Empire. As to mining regulations, the Chinese Government undertook—With all expedition and earnestness to go into the question of mining rules, and—selecting from the rules of Great Britain, India, and other countries regulations which seem applicable to China—to initiate and conclude the revision of her existing regulations—within a year. Up to two months ago nothing whatever had been done in this most important matter; on the contrary, native officials in the interior had issued proclamations forbidding the opening of mines in which foreigners were interested. In the matter of the navigation of inland waterways, according to a communication from Shanghai within the last month the regulations were unworkable, every obstacle being thrown in the way, and a protest addressed to Lord Lansdowne expressly named this as one of the stipulations which the Chinese authorities "actively oppose."
There were other provisions of the Mackay treaty which up to the present had been a dead letter; he would not dwell upon them, but simply ask the noble Lord to make such a statement as would show that His Majesty's Government were fully alive to the importance of getting that treaty carried into effect. The need for this was shown by the fact that British trade with China was declining. Between 1896 and 1903 there was a fall in British trade with China from one-fourth to one-sixth, and, whereas in 1903 as compared with 1902 our exports to China fell more than £800,000, the exports from Japan to China went up by £2,000,000. With a Government in power which claimed to be intensely interested in the promotion and expansion of British trade, it was only reasonable to demand that they should show themselves more active in upholding British commercial interests in the Far East. Between 1896 and 1901 there 127 was a decline of 11 per cent, in British shipping in the Far East, while German shipping went up 10 per cent. and Japanese 9 per cent. He submitted, therefore, that our interests required to be more actively pushed.
There seemed to be a tendency on the part of the Government to take a back seat in the Yang-tsze region. He alluded to the changes which had been made in the patrolling of the Yang-tsze by British gunboats and sloops with regard to which he had received the following communication from one of the best informed men in Shanghai—I venture to say that there is as great, if not a greater, disappointment in the withdrawal of the sloops and gunboats from the Yang-tsze which have hitherto acted as guardships to the principal ports on that river.The noble Lord, in reply to a Question, led him to understand that the control of the Yang-tsze River was being continued as heretofore, but he had in his hand a list of at least twelve sloops and gunboats which used to patrol the Yang-tsze River but which had now been withdrawn. At the present moment they had only six small gunboats in the whole of the Yang-tsze region, whereas Germany, with only a tithe of our trade, was represented by a larger number and larger gunboats. He did not know what defence the Government would offer for this course, but he thought it was certainly "penny wise and pound foolish" to effect a trifling saving that such a change should take place.
With regard to Shanghai, he thought our prestige had been considerably lowered there by the change made in the title of the Lord Chief Justice. He had received a telegram upon this matter which ran—Abolition of title of Chief Justice a ruinous mistake; pray urge retention.This title had been given to the head of the Court at Shanghai for forty years, ever since the Court was founded in 1864. This title had a great effect in enhancing the status and prestige of this official in the eyes of Chinese and foreigners alike. No other Power had ever had a Court at Shanghai apart from its Consulate, and this fact had given great prestige to the British Court and the presiding Judge. The Court at Shanghai 128 was the appellate Court for the whole of China as far as British interests were concerned, as well as possessing jurisdiction in every treaty port. Therefore, to change the title of the Lord Chief Justice appeared to him to be a totally unnecessary step, and one which was opposed to British interests. He had received a very strong remonstrance in regard to the state of chaos that had resulted from the withdrawal of the rules and regulations governing the procedure of the Court. It stated that—A new Order in Council has been sent out which came into force on the 1st instant. It repeals previous Orders in Council, including all the rules governing the practice of the supreme Court here and the Consular Courts throughout China, which had been in force for forty years. No new rules have been sent, and consequently the whole practice is in a state of complete chaos.He apologised to the House for having taken up so much time, but this was practically the only opportunity they had had of raising these questions.
Then there was the question of the interest on the arrears on the Chinese indemnity. He trusted that they would hear from the noble Lord that the influence of this country had been exercised with the object of securing fair treatment and justice for the Chinese in this matter. China had agreed to pay the interest in gold, and they had deposited £1,200,000 in the bank from January 1st ready to hand over. The Powers, however, could not agree as to how they were to receive it, and they were still insisting that China should pay £250 a week in interest upon the money in the bank which was ready to be handed over.
With regard to British interests in Persia the Prime Minister on May 11th said—With regard to Persia, I did not deal with Persia; but, of course, the question of Persia has engaged our most anxious attention, and necessarily will do so. But I do not think that it is so important a matter as that which I did discuss in connection with India. I do not think it probable that the main attack on India will be through Persia. I do not at all deny that subsidiary and collateral dangers might be apprehended from the regions to the west and south of Afghanistan itself; and I indicated that in my speech. But I rightly confined myself to the two lines of advance which all military critics are agreed are those which would be the principal lines along which dangerous invasion is likely to take place.129 In that House a debate on British interests in Persia took place on January 22nd, 1902, on which occasion, in moving an Amendment to the Address, he had the satisfaction of having that Amendment seconded by the noble Lord to whom he was now addressing these Questions, and they were then in agreement practically as to British interests in Persia. There was, in his opinion, no question which was less of a Party question than that of upholding British interests in Southern Persia and on the Persian Gulf for the safeguarding of India. There was an agreement which had been affirmed and reaffirmed between England and Russia to maintain the independence and integrity of Persia, and he thought the attention of the Russian Government should be drawn to the violation of her repeated declaration to maintain the independence and integrity of Persia involved in debarring Persia from granting railway concessions or borrowing money except from Russia. He did not know whether the noble Lord could give them any information as to the present situation in Persia. The declaration of the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs was quite satisfactory on January 22nd, 1902, and he would not repeat it to the House. He thought, however, it would be more satisfactory if they had an assurance from the noble Lord that our policy in regard to the Persian Gulf and British interests in Persia had in no respect been altered. The Prime Minister seemed to think that there was no danger whatever of any advance on India through Persia, but he did not think that was the opinion of all the authorities. The opinion was held by a good many people that if Russia were allowed to come down the Persian Gulf with a line of railway, she would be able to turn the flank of our North-West Frontier of India, and it would not be through Afghanistan but through the plains of Beluchistan that the danger would come. He was not making these remarks in any alarmist sense, and his sole object was to have a definite understanding in regard to preserving the independence and the integrity of Persia. They did not desire more than that. He hoped the Government were doing all they could to improve the caravan routes, and also to increase 130 and improve the Consular service. He hoped the noble Lord would be able to make a reassuring statement as to the position of British interests in Persia, and that the policy declared in 1902 remained unchanged.
§ *MR. MOON (St. Pancras, N.)
hoped his noble friend would regard the small attendance of Members as a tribute to the confidence the House felt in His Majesty's Government, and more especially in that part of it which he so ably represented in that House. He thought the House of Commons and the country were satisfied with the conduct of affairs in the Foreign Department, and they might congratulate themselves that no very urgent topics had been brought forward by those who had so far taken part in the debate. He did not propose to follow the hon. Member opposite in all the points he had raised upon Chinese questions, although he thought it was exceedingly useful that British interests in the Far East should have been raised so fully. With regard to the future, he hoped the Foreign Office was watching closely the movements of Germany in Shantung. He was not aware of the particular words which the hon. Gentleman opposite had attributed to the German Ambassador, but if a special position was claimed for Germany in the whole province of Shantung based, upon the fact that the Emperor of Germany happened to own a small tract round Kiao-chau then he thought this country might claim special privileges over the whole province adjacent to Hong-Kong.
Another matter not so much of present but of future interest was the navigation not of purely Chinese waterways but of waterways in the North of China which many years ago were restricted by agreements entered into between Russia and China to the use of the ships of one or other of those two nations. Russia redressed the balance of losses in one part of the world by advances and additions in another, and it was very shortly after the unsuccessful result of the Crimean War that Russia acquired from China various provinces on the Pacific coast, alleging that Russian, interests were affected because this 131 country was engaged in a joint expedition to Pekin. By this means Russia not merely acquired fresh territory but also induced China to enter into an agreement by which the Amur and the adjacent rivers Sungari and Ussuri should be restricted to the use of Russian and Chinese ships. The Sungari River was solely in Chinese territory, and it was unreasonable that that great waterway should be shut to the commerce and ships of other nations. It was true that the Amur at the mouth was bordered on both sides by Russian territory, but considering the length and size of the river, he could not but think that when the peace negotiations to which the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had referred would be the subject of negotiation we should not stand aloof. If China desired to do what Russia did in 1870 in regard to the Black Sea Clause of the Treaty of Paris of 1856, and to revise the Treaty of Aigun of 1858, by which these rivers were shut to the commerce and ships of other nations, this country would do well to support China.
As to the state of affairs in the Balkan Peninsula, it appeared to him that the policy of His Majesty's Government this year had been marked by a considerable change. The King's Speech had a paragraph on the subject, and the question of the importance of the financial treatment of that part of the world was brought before the British public, he thought, for the first time. From a Blue-book issue at the beginning of May, it appeared that Lord Lansdowne, as far back as December 20th, drew attention in a despatch addressed to our Ambassadors at Vienna and St. Petersburg to the importance of that consideration. In that despatch Lord Lansdowne said that financial regularity was the first indispensable element in good government, and that upon it must depend the improvement which was so sadly needed in the administration of Turkey. That was repeated in not very different language in speeches which Lord Lansdowne made in another place on February 15th and March 28th, and the prominence given to that aspect of the question culminated in a speech made 132 by him on July 18th, in which he gave what was stated to be the substance of the Note presented by all the Powers to the Porte on May 8th last. Certain words in the official report followed in inverted commas, but he did not know whether they were intended as a résumé of the contents of the Note or as part of the text. It was nowhere explained what these schemes were, and perhaps the Under-Secretary would enlighten the House as to the precise nature of the financial scheme which was to he superintended and carried out by these delegates. It was true that early in the month of March it was stated by the Wiener Neuer Tagblatt, a paper of some position, that the Porte had entered into an agreement with the Ottoman Bank on lines somewhat similar to the proposals which were known to have been made jointly by Austria-Hungary and Russia. Apparently, as far as he could make out, the revenues of the three vilayets were to be paid into some central fund in the Imperial Ottoman Bank. When there, the money would be controlled by the financial delegates. The Note said—The budgets must be submitted to the Commission before being Dually adopted. The Commission will have the right to modify any proposals dealing with the receipts or expenditure which may not be in conformity with the laws or with the economical and financial wants of the country.These last words gave wide power and scope to the financial delegates. The Note still further said—With a view to facilitating their mission, the Commission will have the right of nominating in each vilayet an inspector to superintend the agents employed in the various duties connected with the collection of taxes.They had all heard that on July 12th the Porte had given a categorical refusal. In answer to a Question the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs had stated that the Powers were insisting and The Times correspondent telegraphed that on Monday the Dragoman of the Austro-Hungarian Embassy at Constantinople presented a Note from the Powers insisting on these terms. The House would agree that the patting of the financial considerations first was a new departure. Besides being a new departure in itself, it had the further feature that 133 the control so devised was internationalised. That was to say, we appeared to have broken with the principle of the mandate which introduced the experiment dealing with the settlement of Macedonia by two Powers. We had reintroduced the principle of what might be called the steam-roller of all the Powers being jointly represented on the board which was to have so much power.
He thought everyone would be disappointed that progress in two directions had been so slow. A year ago it appeared to him when in that country that the work which had been so well done by the Gendarmerie in the British sphere and also in the French sphere would by this time be equally well done in the other spheres. Whether it was owing to the disorderly internal condition of Austria - Hungary and of Russia that the two Governments had not made their sections of the Gendarmerie more efficient he could not say, but so far as he could hear no more vigorous action had been taken by them than when the Gendarmerie scheme was first started. As to tithe, his noble friend, replying to a Question to-day, stated that the experiment had been so thoroughly successful that it was intended to introduce the scheme gradually. Why should the introduction of it be gradual? Having taken up the question of financial reform, which lay at the bottom of judicial and administrative reform, and having internationalised the body which was to supervise the reform, the Governments had taken a most important step, and one which would go very far to improve the conditions in that unfortunate and unhappy country called Macedonia.
§ CAPTAIN ELLICE (St. Andrews Burghs)
said he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the question of affairs in Crete. A critical condition of affairs arose in the beginning of April, when the peasants began to sympathise with the insurgents, and endeavours were made by the authorities to prevent contact between the gendarmes and the insurgents. Troops were lauded from His Majesty's ships, and constant skirmishes had taken place since that time. In the beginning of May the Mohammedans were leaving the 134 island for Asia Minor, and it was suggested that a plenary amnesty should be offered to the insurgents—the Powers undertaking not only to examine the financial relations, but to carry out a revision of the Constitution and to remedy all genuine grievances. On May 27th, the situation was growing worse when the Sussex regiment arrived, and on June 7th the revolutionaries again urged administrative and financial reforms and advised the people to maintain order, protect the Mussulmans, and leave their arms at home. When the British troops were landed in Crete, objection was made in the Greek Chamber, and the Greek Premier informed the Chamber that Prince George had told the Greek Government that the reinforcements sent to the island by the English were not asked for by him but by the British Admiral who had promised to protect the Mohammedan inhabitants. The Premier added that he had declared to the Powers that the Greek Government alone would be able to restore order. What he wanted to ask was what the Government were now doing in Crete; how many British troops were employed there now; had any collisions occurred between them and the insurgents; and what they proposed to do when the island was pacified. Would the destitute Cretans who arrived in this country be considered as political refugees, or would they be sent back to Crete to continue the insurrection?
*LORD HENRY BENTINCK (Nottingham, S.)
said he wished to bring to the notice of the noble Lord a matter which had aroused a great deal of feeling among his constituents, particularly among those who were engaged in the lace trade. He referred to the piracy of British industrial designs by foreign competitors. The foreign manufacturer had complete protection here under British law for his designs, but the British manufacturer had none at all for his abroad, particularly in Germany and Austria, unless he set up machinery abroad for the manufacture of his designs. This was an impossibility for any one engaged in a trade depending on frequent changes of fashion. The consequence was that British designs were completely at the mercy of any un- 135 scrupulous foreign manufacturer, who could pirate them without let or hindrance. This was a great and genuine grievance. The production of a successful design was an expensive business, for he was told that out of, say twelve designs, only two or three were as a rule successful. It was also necessary to make five or six different widths of each design, and a large stock had also to be made, and the hard part of it was that, as often as not, the British manufacturer found that when he had produced a successful design, the foreign manufacturer had pirated that design and forestalled him in the market.
Now as to the remedy. In 1892 Germany, Italy, and Switzerland came to an agreement as to the protection of designs. Under that agreement a Swiss manufacturer, for instance, had protection for his designs in Germany, although he might have only manufactured his design in Switzerland. Great Britain, in common with most European countries, belonged to the International Union for the protection of Industrial Properties. The best solution of the difficulty would be for the Government of this country to induce the Governments of Germany, Italy, and Switzerland to extend their agreement to the entire Union. He did not go so far as to suggest that the Government should threaten the use of the loaded revolver, but his noble friend had a most effective weapon if he cared to use it, for it would not be difficult for the Government to alter the patent law so as to allow to foreign designs that amount of protection, and that amount only, as was accorded to British designs abroad. But whatever course the Government adopted, he appealed to the noble Lord to push this matter as vigorously as possible, for the present state of the law was a serious handicap to one of our oldest staple trades, and if he succeeded he would confer a great benefit on British industry and British labour.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)
said that the question of the Congo government, or he might say misgovernment, of these enormous regions was a subject on which the Members of that House could give a 136 definite opinion; but at the same time it was a pleasure to all, irrespective of Party, to be able to acknowledge that the course pursued by His Majesty's Government in reference to the Congo had been one of conciliation coupled with firmness. It was necessary to remember that the Congo Free State, so-called, was an artificial creation, and what international agreement had made under the Berlin Statute of 1884 it could also unmake. The supporters of the Free State in Belgium also needed to be reminded that the situation of some of the State's most important situations was such that it would not be difficult for Europe to exercise judicious pressure, should such pressure be thought desirable.
In the matter of the Balkan Peninsula he did not speak as a critic; but he hoped the noble Lord would not do as he did earlier in the session, and speak in a sense wholly different from that of his chief, the Foreign Secretary. On that occasion the noble Lord uttered a laboured defence, if not a panegyric, of the Government of the Porte; but it was to be hoped that later experience of the conduct of the Turkish Government would now cause the Under-Secretary to speak in a spirit more in accordance with the lead given by the Foreign Secretary in another place. It was very desirable indeed, acknowledging all the difficulties of the situation, that there should be no flinching in regard to the attitude of the Government and the House of Commons; because the House was still the appellate tribunal of the oppressed nationalities of Europe. It should be understood that there was still a strong hope that the day was not distant when in these oppressed regions something like a civilised form of government might be found. It was clear, and it was not unnatural, that the Government of the Porte believed Russia to be unable to take a strong course of action. When this country was able to take a more active line in the Near East he believed that it would either be as a member of the European Concert or as the mandatory of that body.
Turning to our relations with Japan and the question of the renewal of the Japanese alliance, he said he had seen with regret the attacks which 137 had been made upon his right hon. friend the Member for Stirling Burghs for his utterances on this subject, and the attempt which had been made in some organs of the Press to draw a distinction between the speeches made by his right hon. friend and those made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Northumberland. In a speech made within forty-eight hours of a speech delivered on the same question by the Foreign Secretary, his right hon. friend the Member for Stirling Burghs declared distinctly that, in regard to this matter, there was no difference of opinion between the two sides of the House, and he endorsed what the Foreign Secretary had said. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean also had said that he considered it would be most unwise if the alliance with Japan was not renewed. The absolute necessity for continuity in the foreign policy of this country seemed to him to be an even stronger argument for the renewal of the alliance than the very strong arguments which could be alleged for the original conception of that alliance. The alliance had been justified by results. It was absolutely necessary to have continuity of foreign policy in this country, and that a change of Government should not become a counter, as it were, in the calculations of foreign Powers, and that the policy of Great Britain should be a policy, not of a Party, but of Great Britain. It would be an absolutely fatal thing if, in an important matter of this kind, after we had encouraged others to act on the assumption that the alliance was likely to continue, we were suddenly to retire from it.
The favourite count in the indictment of German writers and professors against the British Foreign Office was that in times past there had been occasions when this country had encouraged other nations to act in a particular manner and then suddenly left them in the lurch. He would not discuss whether or not the charge was true, but no one who had watched recent developments in Germany could deny that it was the favourite charge of those writers who desired to create and foster ill-feeling between the two countries, and it would be absolutely fatal at such a time to do anything 138 which would appear to justify those who raked about with an historical muck-rake in the records of the distant past to find occasions when such a charge could be made, and to use it for the purpose of embittering present relations. This was no fanciful argument. It was true that too much attention should not be paid to the statements in certain reviews and newspapers, but he thought the hon. Member for the Brightside Division struck a sympathetic chord when he asked writers in reviews to bear in mind their great responsibility when they wrote on foreign affairs, and not to use their brilliant literary abilities in pouring out ink to foul the fair waters of peace and amity between nations. We might undoubtedly think that we had a grievance against certain foreign writers, but we ought to make sure that there were no English writers against whom foreigners might feel they had a similar grievance. The fact that we were very friendly at one moment with a particular country seemed to lead some minds to the illogical conclusion that we must be on bad terms with another, and that gave rise to the idea that our foreign policy might be unreliable. This impression was not limited to writers in the Press. One of the most important chapters in Prince Bismarck's own Memoirs was that headed "The Unreliable Character of British Foreign Policy," in which he argued that this country could not be depended upon to pursue a coherent and consistent course. Now was the time to show that such a notion was wrong, but to throw over the Anglo-Japanese alliance would immensely strengthen the impression which obtained abroad. A great Austrian statesman, now departed, said the next European war would be made, not by statesmen, but by writers in the Press. He hoped that would not come true, but in view of the writing that now want on on both sides of the Channel, a special debt was owing to those writers who kept their heads in times of crisis. It was the bounden duty of all to do nothing, to increase the difficulties of the Foreign Secretary.
There were moments when it was exceedingly difficult for anybody not in the Foreign Office to judge of a situation, but so far as he could 139 form an opinion his view of the present situation was the same as that of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. A great wave of excitement and alarm had been passing over Europe, but he did not think we had been within measurable distance of a real breach of the peace. During the last twenty years there had been movements accompanied by an imminent risk of a breach of the peace. He alluded to the settlement of Europe which followed the peace between Germany and France. Those who had to deal with foreign affairs knew that in 1874–5 it was believed there was a serious danger of a breach of the peace of Europe, a catastrophe which was averted largely by the wise policy of the late Lord Derby, and the high infiuerce of Her late Majesty in the Councils of Europe. In 1884–5 there was another moment of great difficulty. He was then Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Although there was great excitement it was not believed, and the belief proved to be well founded, that it would or was intended to lead to a disturbance of the peace, or that it was anything more than a diplomatic campaign. Some diplomatic campaigns were intended to end in war; others were merely meant as diversions in a period of peace. His reading of the present situation was hat a diplomatic campaign was going on, and that the peace of Europe was not, and had not, been threatened. He hoped the noble Lord held the same view. In any case, however, when the balance of power had been disturbed, the events of the next year or two were bound to be of grave moment, and at such a time it would be felt throughout the country that in foreign affairs there should be no difference between patriotic Englishmen, but that, whatever their quarrels might be over domestic affairs, on foreign policy they were a united nation.
§ SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbrightshire)
said the noble Lord had emphatically enunciated the constitutional position that ought to be taken with regard to foreign policy, but unfortunately the position was not always adopted. In his opinion, individual Members of either political Party who 140 paraded their constituencies and recklessly introduced the names of foreign nations were far more to blame than the writers of journalistic articles. Continuity of policy was certainly required; that had always been the view of the Party to which he belonged, and he had often noticed that when a general election was approaching the opposing Party, from patriotic motives, fell into line on foreign affairs with the Party going out. Continuity of policy was now a popular idea, and it was said that the present policy was to be continued during the next five years. He hoped that would be so, but it could not be forgotten that some politicians had not viewed very favourably the Anglo-French alliance, and that many others equally disapproved of the Japanese alliance, which had been so highly lauded in the course of the present debate.
With regard to Macedonia, they knew the terrible distress and anxiety that prevailed there. In view of the winter which would speedily be upon them and. all the terrors of the climate and the cruelties which might possibly again prevail, he was sure they would all be most anxious to mitigate those dangers and try to secure better government for the people. He felt sure that his noble friend would do his best in the matter. The procedure was very slow, but what they wanted was to show the people there that there were a great many people in this country behind them. No Government could move in this matter unless the public pulse was beating strongly, and if there was a large body of resolute opinion against Macedonian cruelties and demanding better government, then the Government might act with a firmer hand and be more resolute than they could otherwise be. This consideration made them all the more anxious to secure better government for the people of those parts. He thought that when the Austrian-Russian mandate came to an end it should not be renewed, for it had done practically nothing. The Gendarmerie, it was true, had been appointed, and assessors, but there was no authority to enforce real reforms; that was the plain English of the matter. The foreign officers were powerless, and 141 the Turkish Government were opposed to any reform.
He would give the House two illustrations of their utter inability to do anything. In Feburary last Captain Cimetierre, a Russian officer, was despatched by the commandant of the Salonika section to report on what he saw. He reported that the town had been sacked, and that thirty-eight persons had been killed, including two women and an infant of eleven months, whose brains were dashed out. This officer gave a good and reliable report, which showed far more than he needed to trouble the House with. It stated that the place was ruthlessly sacked by the soldiers and Bashi-bazouks, and sixty-four out of 104 houses were burned down. A protest was made, but no punishment followed, and nobody was likely to be punished for these outrages. On March 27th similar excesses occurred when the troops and Bashi-bazouks fell upon the village of Zervi. In this case twenty-three were killed, including nine women and two children, and even an outrage like this was taken as a matter of course. There appeared to have been no punishment whatever for this occurrence, and the wrong was done with impunity. He especially wished to draw the noble Lord's attention to these massacres. The foreign officers were absolutely powerless, and there was no doubt whatever about it. The native population had very little confidence in either Austria or Russia. Surely our Foreign Office should insist on the financial scheme being at once accepted. It would be ridiculous and impossible for this country to go into the matter alone, there must be agreement between the nations, but it the present scheme did not succeed another one would have to be tried. Winter was approaching, and bad times were in store for Macedonia. The condition of the people was very bad indeed at this moment, not only from fear of the revolutionary party, but from many other causes, and there was not likely to be peace unless a firm Government was established in the country.
§ *SIR EDGAR VINCENT (Exeter)
expressed his pleasure at the declaration of the noble Lord the Member for 142 Cricklade regarding the Japanese alliance and the necessity of continuity in our foreign policy. In no case could that continuity be more desirable as in that of the Anglo-Japanese all ance which had borne excellent fruit. It had localised the present war and modified the balance of power in a sense not unfavourable to this country. The noble Lord's declaration would do much to confirm the confidence of our allies and of European nations in the continuity of this country's policy. He regarded with less approval the suggestion that the House of Commons should be considered the appellate tribunal of the Christian population of South-Eastern Europe. This country had no such jurisdiction, and the prevalence of the idea that they could appeal to us to interfere effectually in the Government of Turkey might have the most unfortunate results. However much they deplored the unfortunate occurrences in Macedonia, to encourage agitations in the belief that this country would intervene by force of arms in their disputes would be to raise hopes which would not be justified by our future action, and would lead to acts of rebellion which could not but result in terrible disaster and grave massacres. He ventured, therefore, to say that this country, although sincerely sympathising with the lot of these unfortunate people, was not prepared to act alone or embroil our military forces in an enterprise where they could not and should not play a decisive part.
It was worthy of consideration whether recent even's affecting Russia and the recent absorption of Austria-Hungary in internal discussions might not possibly exercise a favourable influence upon affairs within the Ottoman Empire. There could be no question that the origin of much of the trouble which had occurred during the last century had proceeded from centres outside Turkey, and had been produced by ambitious schemes—he would not say intrigues—promoted by politicians, in countries who desired either to extend their territory or to increase their influence among the Christian populations of the Turkish Empire. He was not far from hoping that the concentration of the attention of Russia in other parts might 143 possibly inaugurate a more peaceful and a more progressive period for Turkey. He believed that the lot of the Christian population still remaining under the rule of the Sultan would not be rendered more hard than it had been in the past.
Mention had been made in this debate of the financial scheme which had been, prepared, and which had, he believed, received the sanction of the Powers of Europe in regard to the three vilayets of Macedonia. He hoped the noble Lord in his reply would give the House whatever information it was in his power to give, without danger to the public interest, regarding the details of the financial arrangement which it was proposed to introduce. He had great confidence in the favourable working of private organisation connected with financial administration, and he would draw the attention of the House to this historical fact, that the only really successful reform which hid been introduced in the Ottoman Empire in the course of the last twenty-five years had been the establishment of the Council of the Public Debt. He would also draw attention to the fact that in Egypt at a previous period the origin of the administrative reforms which we had perfected and which had been such a magnificent success lay in the international administration established under financial auspices. In a third country in Southeastern Europe, namely, Servia, he believed also that administrative reform had been largely advanced by similar international administration. He hoped, therefore, the experiment which had been initiated of confining a large portion of the three vilayets of Macedonia to the Ottoman Bank, under some sort of international control, would be as successful as in the case of similar experiments in the past in Turkey, Egypt, and Servia.
§ *THE UNDER - SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Earl PERCY,) Kensington, S.
said he should be wanting in courtesy and gratitude if he did not recognise, on behalf of himself personally and on behalf of the Government, the very friendly tone of the seeches of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean and the other speakers 144 in the debate. These speeches were a striking evidence of the recognition by the House of the ability and success which marked the administration of foreign affairs by the present Secretary of State, and they were also a proof to other nations of greater continuity in the foreign policy of this country than some of them might be inclined to credit.
He did not propose to deal with all the questions of foreign policy on which the right hon. Baronet had touched, nor did he think the right hon. Gentleman would expect him to do so. It would serve no useful public purpose to discuss at the present juncture the changes in the situation in the Far East which might be effected eventually by the war between Japan and Russia, or the modifications which it might be desirable to introduce into the Anglo-Japanese alliance when, in the opinion of the Government, the time for considering the question of its renewal arrived. But he noticed with satisfaction the declarations of the right hon. Baronet and the noble Lord opposite that there was no difference of opinion on that side of the House as to the desirability of renewing that alliance.
He associated himself with what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet with regard to the general state of Europe. The situation in Europe presented no special cause for anxiety; and he agreed that it would present even less cause for anxiety were it not for the unnecessary ingenuity of irresponsible persons who were perpetually attributing to this country Machiavelian motives of which we were quite innocent, and who were always imagining that we could not enter into arrangements with one country for our mutual convenience without having a hostile intent against some other country.
He would pass on, then, to the question of reform in the administration of the Congo State. This was the third debate that had taken place on the subject. He did not regret that it should have been raised once more; because, although it was impossible in the circumstances that a discussion should be otherwise than inconclusive, the fact that the question had been placed in the forefront of their debate that afternoon 145 emphasised the importance which they attached to it, and showed that they were not only agreed in their objects, but in the pursuit of those objects were animated by purely philanthropic and humanitarian motives. At the public meeting which was held in London, the other day, presided over by Sir Harry Johnston, a resolution was passed declaring that the proper solution of the problem was the resumption by the Belgian Parliament of direct responsibility for the administration of the Congo. It would not be becoming in him, as the representative of His Majesty's Government, to express any opinion in favour of or against that particular suggestion; but, as everyone knew who had studied the question, it was a policy which had been for years constantly present in the minds of the founders of the Congo State, and would, no doubt, be one of the alternatives which they would consider in connection with any recommendations the Commission might make. The resolution, at all events, showed that the agitation ii this country was animated by no political motive, but only by a desire to see an improvement in the condition of the subjects of the Congo State. As far as His Majesty's Government were concerned, the main object they had in view was achieved. That was to induce the Congo Government to recognise that there was a case for inquiry. An inquiry had been instituted; and it only remained for His Majesty's Government to express an earnest hope that it might be followed by action as prompt and as effective as possible, and that it would not be made the excuse for unnecessary delay, much less for shelving altogether the question of reform.
He wished to remind the House how matters stood last year. His Majesty's Government had made two propositions to the Congo Government. The first related to the trading system which prevailed in the Congo State, and which we had always said was diametrically opposed to the provisions of the Berlin Act. The Government had asked that that question should be referred to the Hague Tribunal. To that request they had never received a definite answer; 146 and if they had not pressed for one it was because they recognised that the question was one which did not concern the Congo State alone, but affected other Powers, notably France, and that it would be infinitely more satisfactory that the question should be decided by a Tribunal before which all the signatories of the Berlin Act would be represented and whose decision would be recognised as binding upon all, than by a suit which would take the form of a litigation between two parties only. As the House knew, the system which obtained in the territories of the French Congo was one which had resulted in serious injury to the British firms who were established there long before the concessions to the French firms were given. His Majesty's Government were under the impression last year that they were within measurable distance of arriving at a satisfactory agreement with the French Government, but unfortunately their hopes were doomed to disappointment. The French Government then expected that the firms might arrive at an amicable settlement between themselves, but they were not unwilling to consider favourably the question of submitting to an arbitral tribunal the interpretation of the free-trade clauses of the Berlin Act as bearing on the practice actually followed by the signatories of that Act in their African possessions. After prolonged negotiations, the French firms and the British had failed to come to an agreement. The matter could only be settled, so far as he could see, by arbitration; and the French Government, while willing to accept arbitration, held that a tribunal which was suitable to decide on private differences between individual companies was not the best fitted to decide on the interpretation of an international instrument. The French Government recognised that the British firms were entitled to compensation if it could be shown that they had suffered material injury from the concessions granted to the French firms; and as regarded the wider issue it should not be impossible to discover some satisfactory solution to a controversy which, while it lasted, must tend to throw great doubts on the value of international conventions, and be a constant, 147 irritating, and unnecessary source of friction between neighbouring countries which desired to live in friendly relations with one another.
The second proposal which they had made to the Congo Government was in regard to its administrative system. They asked that that system should be examined by a conference of the Powers which signed the Berlin Act That request was refused by the Congo Government, but at the same time an inquiry was promised. He expressed no opinion with regard to that inquiry because at that time he did not know what was to be its scope or who were to be the agents by which it was to be carried out. Since then a Commission had been appointed; and he thought there were satisfactory indications that the Congo Government had been actuated by a sincere desire to meet to some extent the wishes of His Majesty's Government. The Commission was not an International one, nor did it represent the signatories of the Berlin Act; but at all events it included one eminent representative of a foreign State in the person of M. Schumacher, head of the Department of Justice at Lucerne, and a well-known exponent of the doctrines and principles of free trade, while the other two members, M. Jaassens and Baron Nisco, were both men of recognised legal weight, and though connected more or less with the administration of justice in Belgium and the Congo State, neither was responsible for the executive system which formed the subject of their inquiry.
Another point which he thought was satisfactory was that the decree appointing the Commission conferred upon them "complete liberty, autonomy and initiative," and enabled them to take voluntary evidence as well as to compel the attendance of witnesses. The local authorities were enjoined to afford them every facility, they were allowed complete discretion in regard to the scope and duration of the inquiry, and at the same time the most stringent penalties were enacted against all those who attempted in any way to intimidate witnesses. In these circumstances the Government felt themselves justified in communicating to the Congo Government the full text of Consul 148 Casements report, but with the express proviso that it should not be published until after the inquiry was concluded, and, of course, not communicated to the officials whose conduct was in dispute. There was one unsatisfactory feature, namely, the secrecy with which the earlier part of the inquiry was conducted. His Majesty's Government had from the first pressed that the inquiry should be a public one and that they should be allowed to depute a representative to watch the proceedings. Mr. Cuvelier was opposed to these suggestions on the ground that publicity would facilitate collusion between the witnesses and defeat the objects of cross-examination. But the matter was left to the final decision of the Commission itself, and the Commission eventually decided in favour of our views. Unfortunately they did not arrive at that, decision for some time and they omitted to communicate it to His Majesty's Government.
As soon as it was made known, in answer to our inquiries, Mr. Mackie, Acting Consul at Dakar, was appointed as the representative of His Majesty's Government to attend the proceedings. He could not leave before the close of December, and was unable to catch up the Commission before the beginning of February, but he attended four of the sittings and accompanied the Commissioners on a tour among some of the villages. He did not think it proper to discuss the reports which had been sent either by Mr. Mackie or by the missionaries during the last few months. The Government had preferred not to publish them until the Commission reported. Mr. Mackie stated that the Commission sat 138 days and examined 650 witnesses. It traversed a considerable portion of the territory, though not the whole of it. It left Boma on October 6th, and returned on February 23rd. Mr. Mackie was not allowed to see the earlier depositions made by the missionaries, but he had sent home extracts from some of the evidence given at the later sittings.
The impression left upon his mind by the attitude of the Commission was that the evidence which had been taken had corroborated to a large extent the truth 149 of the allegations made, and that the principal reason why it had spent so short a time in the Abir territory was that the evidence it had already received was sufficient to prove that hundreds of natives had fallen victims to the system there in force There were other indications of the serious view which the Commissioners took of the situation. No sooner had they arrived than a special decree was issued that the old system which had been so justly criticised of paying the employees of the Administration in kind instead of specie was to be discontinued. Inspectors-General had been appointed to examine the stations and report atrocities, and Mr. Malfeyt had been sent as Royal Commissioner to the Abir district after the Commission had left. A judge had also been appointed—and this was an important point in view of the mortality among witnesses brought down to give evidence at Boma—specially to reside at Basankusu, the headquarters of the district. Four persons accused of atrocities against the natives had also been committed for trial. Another indication that the whole system of administration in the Free State had shown a tendency to improvement owing largely to the friendly representations which we had addressed to the Congo Government was that Lord Cromer and Sir Reginald Wingate both reported a marked improvement in the Lado enclave.
The right hon. Baronet suggested that the Government might take steps to obtain information with regard to other parts of the Congo State where there was some reason to suppose that the slave trade was rife. A report had been received recently from one of our Consuls on the subject which gave the impression that the state of things was far less serious than was supposed. The bulk of the slave trade was carried on by revolted Congo soldiery, and he believed that steps were being taken to check it. The hon. Member for Oldham asked whether he could give any information as to the state of affairs on the Upper Congo since the Commission left the country. The reports of the missionaries contained many allegations of a kind with which we were already familiar, but it was not very easy to extract from them a 150 connected story. They all said that the state of things at present was not better—possibly it was worse than before the Commission arrived. Armed sentries were being employed as before, outrages were being perpetrated on the natives which had produced a serious state of exasperation, so that the safety of the missionaries themselves was in danger, while in several cases there had been attempts to intimidate or to punish those who gave evidence before the Commission. It was impossible for the Government at this distance, and without any means of sifting the evidence, to judge how far those accounts were accurate or not. The Congo Government had been earnestly pressed to take every step in their power to make a recurrence of such incidents impossible.
A suggestion had been made as to the action which His Majesty's Government might take independently of what the Commission might report. The proposal was that the Government should reassert their claim to extraterritorial jurisdiction, but it should be remembered that those who had been the subjects of oppression had been natives who were not British subjects, and that the claim to extra-territorial jurisdiction would not be reasonable unless they could prove that adequate provision for the administration of justice did not exist already. He did not dispute the contention of the right hon. Baronet that we had the right if we chose to assert this claim, but he did not think it would be fair to do so unless we could prove a miscarriage of justice. Mr. Nightingale stated that since he arrived at Boma no case had been brought to his notice by a British subject to which any particular exception could be taken except in those of Silvanus Jones and John Brown, and that petty complaints were settled, fairly by the Director of Justice. But the uneducated West African natives, who formed the great proportion of British subjects, required special measures of protection, and in deference to their representations the Congo Government had arranged that in future due notice should be given to the British Consul of oases in which British subjects were concerned and of the dates on which they 151 might come before the Law Courts. There were very nearly 3,000 British subjects in the Congo State, and they were widely scattered about the country. Consequently, His Majesty's Government thought there were good grounds for increasing our machinery for supervision, and had decided to appoint two new Vice Consuls, one at Leopoldville and one at Stanleyville. One of them was already on his way to his post.
Several hon. Members had addressed to him Questions in regard to the present position of affairs in Macedonia. He did not think that the criticisms which had been made contained much that was new, and certainly he had not much that was new to say in reply to them. The burden of the complaint was that more had not been done. He did not deny that His Majesty's Government also were much disappointed that the progress had not been greater. But some allowance should be made for the special difficulties with which the Powers were confronted in trying to introduce administrative reform into a country where there was no element of union between the various subject nationalities. It was never contemplated by the authors of the Mürzsteg programme that reform could be carried out in a day; and they expressly provided that the regrouping of administrative areas and judicial reform should be postponed till pacification had further progressed. But some progress had been made. It was something that the great majority of Bulgarian refugees had been re-established in their homes; that £60,000 had been distributed in relief, besides relief in kind; and that the abolition of the tithe-farming system, which had been one of the chief causes of oppression hitherto, had been attended with complete success and was to be applied throughout the whole of the three vilayets. In these matters it was necessary to proceed by steps. It was impossible, and it would be useless, to carry out a sweeping reform of this kind unless there were the machinery of supervision on the spot, and, therefore, the new system was to be applied, in the first instance, to seven more cantons. 152 It was satisfactory that during the last few months salaries had been punctually paid, and that there had been an addition to the number of examining magistrates for the purposes of criminal jurisdiction. The reorganisation of the Gendarmerie had been conspicuously successful in the British sphere and the French sphere; and there was no reason why the same good results should not be obtained in other spheres, despite their larger areas and greater admixture of races, if zeal and energy were shown.
With regard to finance, three schemes had been put forward. First was the Turkish scheme for a 3 per cent, increase in the Customs. That was for the moment in abeyance, because His Majesty's Government had pointed out that they could not assent to such an increase—seeing that this country had the largest share in the trade with Turkey—without proof positive that it was required, and that a proper administration of the Customs would not produce the necessary revenue. They must also insist on sufficient guarantee that the additional money raised would be devoted entirely to the reforms in these provinces. Then there was the general scheme of financial reform presented by the Austrian and Russian Governments, and an alternative scheme presented by Turkey. Both were alike in contemplating control by the Ottoman Bank. But they differed in this—that the Turkish scheme did not provide for any control by the Powers. In principle His Majesty's Government thought the Austrian and Russian scheme a good one, though it certainly was not a new one. The Ottoman Bank by its original charter was authorised to receive the revenue of the whole Empire. The Austrian and Russian scheme authorised the bank to receive only that residuum of the revenues of the three vilayets which remained over after obligatory and administrative expenditure had been met. His Majesty's Government had urged that such an arrangement would provide no guarantee against undue interference from headquarters and local misappropriations; and from that point of view the Turkish scheme was undoubtedly superior, because it provided that the payments should be made into 153 the bank at an earlier period, and that all expenditure was to be viséd by the Ottoman Bank.
There were two points to which His Majesty's Government attached special importance. In the first place they were anxious that this scheme of financial reform, which they had long advocated, should be placed at once on that footing of permanence which it would not have as long as the control was vested exclusively in the two civil agents who were not financial experts, and whose mandate would, in the ordinary course of things, expire next October. They wished that this scheme should be given at once an international character by being placed under the control and supervision of all the Powers. That suggestion commended itself to the Austrian and Russian Governments, and in consequence a Note was drawn up intimating to the Porte that the Powers would accept the Turkish scheme on condition that they were represented by four financial delegates to be associated with the civil agents and the Inspector-General on the Board of Control, and that these should have the power to appoint three inspectors, one for each vilayet. The Board would supervise the budgets and object to any expenditure or taxation which was not in accordance with the economic requirements of the country. The Turkish Government had for the moment rejected this demand of the Powers.
The noble Lord the Member for Crioklade had delivered a rather heated and unmerited invective against a speech he had made earlier in the session. The noble Lord seemed to think that the language which he had used was calculated to encourage the Turkish Government to reject the good advice of the Powers, and that he had rather underrated the responsibility which attached to the Turkish Government for the state of things in Macedonia. He did not think that was fair. He did not think he had ever said one word in extenuation of the conduct of the Turkish Government. But he had said that a certain responsibility also rested on the Christian races and the insurgent bands in Macedonia, and he gladly took 154 that opportunity of saying that during the last few months there had been fewer reports of crimes perpetrated by Bulgarians, though a very horrible outrage was committed a few days ago. Unfortunately their methods had been imitated to some extent by the newly-formed Greek bands. No one would deny that a certain degree of blame rested upon them, and it was obvious that insistence on the exclusive responsibility of Turkey must tend to divert attention from the responsibility of the Powers themselves. The chief responsibility rested, he thought, with them. They had invented the machinery which in their opinion was adequate to effect the results which they wished to produce in Macedonia, and it was for them—
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE
, interposing, said that what he had complained of was the difference in tone and, to some extent, in matter between the speech of the noble Lord and that of the Foreign Secretary in another place.
§ *EARL PERCY
said he was afraid he could not discuss the question of tone. He could discuss what he said, and he did not think he said anything which was in the least degree contrary, which was not in fact identical in spirit, with the statements repeatedly made by Lord Lansdowne himself. So far as the responsibility of the Turkish Government was concerned, he thought it was unnecessary to insist upon it, if for no other reason than that the Turkish Government never seemed to lose an opportunity of emphasising it itself. There was nothing more provocative of despair to those who wished to see an improvement in Turkey carried out under the auspices of the existing Government than the inveterate tendency of that Government on every occasion to resist reforms which in themselves were reasonable, which, were obviously inevitable in the long run, and which, if accepted at once, would enable them to claim a certain amount of credit for good intentions. There was complete unanimity among the Powers as to the absolute necessity and urgency of these financial proposals, and the Government viewed with especial pleasure the fact that in this 155 matter Germany had taken as strong a view as those who hitherto had been more prominently associated with the introduction of reforms.
There was another point to which he must allude before he passed from this subject, and that was the question of the application of the scheme to other areas. His Majesty's Government were anxious that as this finance scheme was admittedly a new departure and an enlargement of the Murzsteg programme it should be given as wide an extension as possible, and should include, if possible, at least the vilayet of Adrianople. They thought that desirable, both in the interests of the population, who might otherwise imagine that their interests, not less urgent than those of other portions of the Turkish Empire, were being altogether overlooked, and also in the interests of the Turkish Government itself, whose prestige must inevitably suffer by the existence side by side of two finance systems, one immeasurably superior to the other owing its initiation to European pressure, and serving as a constant contrast and reminder of the necessity for foreign intervention. The other Powers, however, did not take that view. It was not that they did not think that the remaining areas eventually should be included, but they did think that to mix up the question of the extension of the programme of reform with the question of the extension of the area to which the reforms were to apply was to offer an unnecessary encouragement to opposition on the part of the Porte. His Majesty's Government adhered to their opinion. But, on the other hand, they could not say, in the light of what had happened since—the refusal of the Turkish Government to accept even the moderate scheme put before it—that the attitude of the Powers was entirely without justification; and they certainly were not prepared to incur the charge in the future of having made the prospects of reform more difficult by insisting on a course which they were warned beforehand would hamper the efforts of diplomacy at Constantinople.
It was manifest, however, that if the Turkish Government persisted in its decision, a very serious situation would be 156 created, and His Majesty's Government would have to reconsider their position. He sincerely hoped that that situation would not arise. Circumstances had changed since the Murzsteg programme was first presented to the Porte. It was not unreasonable then that the Turkish Government should view with a certain amount of suspicion reforms which had never been tried, but they had been tried now, and it was hoped that the result might have convinced the Sultan and his Ministers that those suspicions were ill founded. His Majesty's Government took as a hopeful augury the fact that the Sultan had recently appointed a Commission on his own initiative to consider the applicability of the scheme for the reform of the Gendarmerie to the province of Adrianople. They trusted it was an indication that he recognised that the reforms could have no other object or result than to strengthen his own authority as well as to promote the cause of good government as it was understood in Western Europe. So far as His Majesty's Government were concerned they had emphasised the importance which they attached to the question by reappointnig a British Consul at Adrianople and by impressing on the Turkish Government their view that the time was ripe and over-ripe for an extension of, at all events, a modicum of reform to the Adrianople vilayet. He could only say in conclusion that if the Sultan decided of his own accord to include the Adrianople vilayet in the area to which these reforms would apply the measure would certainly not lose in value because it came as a spontaneous concession from the Sovereign himself, and not at the instance and under the pressure of Western diplomacy.
An hon. Member opposite had asked what view His Majesty's Government took of the situation in Crete. The Powers were all agreed that the demand for union with Greece was obviously inadmissible in view of the pledges they had given to Turkey; but, on the other hand, they had never concealed their belief that the administration and the financial condition of the island did require very careful examination. As long ago as April 3rd they presented a 157 Note to the High Commissioner in which they offered to guarantee a prolongation of the surtax with a view to paying the indemnities, five millions of which would go to the Cretan and Greek claimants and one million to foreign claimants, and also, as a special concession, to waive their claim to interest on the 4,000,000 francs loan which was advanced to Prince George for the expenses of administration when he first took over the government of the island. Further, the Powers had given a collective pledge to the Cretans that in no circumstances would they ever annex the island or allow its annexation by any other Power against the wishes of the inhabitants. The number of British troops in the island was, he believed, 920, and there had only been one collision which resulted in fatalities between them and the insurgent troops. The necessity for proclaiming martial law, however, had been impressed on His Majesty's Government by the commander of the military detachment in the Candia district, in view of the unprovoked attack which was made on the troops, the general insecurity prevailing in the district, and the difficulty of affording adequate protection to the Mussulman population, whose lives and property the Powers undertook to safeguard when they induced the Turkish Government to withdraw their garrison from the island.
In reply to the hon. Member for Barnsley, he did not think any fresh declaration of policy was required in regard to Persia. He could see no contradiction between the speech of the Prime Minister on the Committee of Defence and the declaration made by Lord Lansdowne two years ago with reference to the view which the Government would take of any encroachment by a foreign Power in the Persian Gulf. The Government adhered to that declaration.
He would now pass on to the specific Questions which had been addressed to him in regard to China. The hon. Member expatiated at some length upon the violation by the Germans of the principle of the open door in Shantung. He did not know on what evidence that charge was made. It was certainly not true that the German Government had entirely monopolised mining enter- 158 prise in Shantung, and until the Government received positive evidence of a violation of the principle of the open door in that quarter of the world he did not see that any steps on their part were required. It was quite true that the Germans had made rapid strides in the development of the leased territory. It was not surprising, considering the vast amount of money they had spent upon it, and the energy which they had displayed. That should be rather a spur to similar exertions on our own part than a cause for complaint.
He believed it was true in the course of the past year that British trade in China had fallen off. So had the trade of almost every country in Europe. The truth was that almost the only country which was rapidly increasing its trade with China was Japan, and there was no doubt whatever that an extension of railway enterprise in China, desirable as it was from the British point of view, would lead to the same competition by Japan in the inland markets as on the sea board. It would not be reasonable to quote as a proof that the British Government was not paying sufficient attention to the protection and development of British commerce the fact that our trade like that of Europe generally was not increasing in proportion to that of Japan, which had special advantages of cheapness of labour and proximity to which we could not lay claim. The Government were fully alive to the importance of obtaining fresh markets in the interior of China for British enterprise, and the necessity of railway development with that object. Unfortunately British capitalists were not as ready to put their money into railway construction in China as the capitalists of some other countries. That was not, however, a matter that was within the control or competence of the British Government. All they could do was to press for those concessions which they believed to be valuable—the construction of railways which would benefit British trade—and having done that the rest, of course, must necessarily be left to private enterprise.
In regard to the principal railway they were anxious to see constructed—the railway from the Yang-tsze valley up to the 159 Red sandstone basin of Szechwan—the Chinese Government had given them a definite promise that if this line could not be built by Chinese capital the Chinese Government would apply in the first instance to British and American capital. His Majesty's Government fully shared the views which had been expressed by the hon. Member as to the importance of acting so far as possible in concert with the French for the promotion of our common interests in that part of the world. They had been in negotiation with the French Government on the subject of the joint construction of this line for some weeks past. And he hoped that, in a very short time, a satisfactory arrangement would be arrived at by which this railway into the heart of the richest and most populous province of China, would be built under the auspices of the two Powers on that footing of equality contemplated by the Treaty of 1896.
He was reported to have said in answer to a Question the other day that the British Government had no knowledge that any infractions by China of the Mackay treaty were alleged, and he saw that that had produced consternation in Shanghai. What he said was that the British Government had no evidence to support the allegations. He was well aware, of course, that such allegations had been made by the mercantile community at Shanghai who had been invited to forward any evidence in their possession to the Government, and they were still waiting a despatch from Sir E. Satow on the subject. So far as the Government were aware the main stipulation of the Mackay treaty which had not been yet carried out were those which related to the mining regulations and currency reform. Most of the charges made by the merchants of Shanghai in their memorial, even if the facts were as stated, had no connection with the Mackay treaty at all, They might involve breaches of the provisions of the Final Protocol of 1901 or of the earlier treaty of Tientsin, but not of the Mackay treaty. Complaints had been made as to irregularity in the levying of the likin. The only complete remedy for such abuses was that provided by Article 8 of the Mackay treaty—the total abolition of 160 likin. But Article 8 was not to come into operation until all the Powers had agreed to the increase of the customs-tariff, and hitherto the United States, Japan, and Portugal were the only States which had made commercial treaties assenting to such an increase. As regarded the mining regulations, the Chinese Government did issue new regulations some time ago, but they only applied to Chinese or joint Chinese and foreign enterprise, and not to enterprise exclusively foreign. The regulations were, therefore, referred back to the Chinese Government, because they did not fulfil the condition that mining regulations were to be drafted so as not to offer any impediment at all to foreign capital. The rules for inland navigation were published long ago. All the ports of call on the Yang-tsze and West River had been opened for more than a year, and of the five treaty ports which were to be eventually opened under Article 8, two—Changsha and Uongmoon—were already opened, one under Article 10 of the Mackay treaty, and the other under the treaty between China and Japan. The reform of the currency was engaging the attention of the Chinese Government, and the office of Financial Administration had memorialised the Throne in favour of the establishment of a central mint at Tientsin. They could not expect that the Chinese Government would carry through at once such a vast change as that involved by the adoption of a gold standard. Professor Yenks' scheme, which was put forward with that object, involved the immediate raising of a loan of at least £4,000,000. It was not unreasonable that the Chinese Government should take some time to consider the methods by which a reform in the currency was to be brought about, provided that nothing was done meanwhile to prejudice its future chances of success.
A question had been addressed to him with regard to the protection of lace patterns; it was quite true that the system, for the protection of patents in this, country did give the foreigner an advantage not enjoyed by British subjects in other countries. In this country it was only necessary in order to get protection to prove within six months of registration 161 that they had used or sold the design. In foreign countries it was necessary after registration that they should actually manufacture the design abroad. The German Government had already concluded treaties with Italy, Switzerland, and Servia, by which the reproduction of a design in one of the contracting States was sufficient to secure protection in the others. His Majesty's Government were at the present moment in communication with all the States included in the Union for the protection of industrial property with a view, if possible, to securing a general application of this principle
MR. HARWOGD (Bolton)
said the noble Lord had referred to the advisability ofr enewing the Japanese alliance. This was a delicate subject, and he knew that it would be improper to enter into details, or to say anything which would make the position of our Government difficult. At the same time, he must claim that the House of Commons was not to be continually considered as a place which strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel. He did not think they were called upon to hold their tongues about great subjects which might completely alter the future history of our country and probably the history of the world. He did not think it was just to the Government that the enormous responsibility should be left upon them by this House of dealing with such a question without their having the advantage of hearing what were the views of the country in regard to the great step which they contemplated in the renewal of the Japanese alliance. It would not become him to enter into details in such a delicate matter, but if what the noble Lord foreshadowed was at all true, they might be on the eve of important political changes affecting the whole shaping of the world within the next fifty years. Therefore, if the House of Commons was to be anything more than a mere register, if it was to be the governing body of this great Empire, it was called upon to say something about a matter of this weight, and not skirk it, as he thought it had been shirked that afternoon. He thought the word "alliance" which the noble 162 Lord had used, was going a little too far with reference to the present treaty.
And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the debate stood adjourned till this Evening's Sitting.
Subsequent and postponed Resolutions to be further considered at this Evening's Sitting.