§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment [15th February] to Question [14th February], "That an humble Address be presented to His-Majesty, as followeth:—
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ "We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Mount.),
Which Amendment was—
At the end of the Question, to add the words, 'And we humbly represent to Your Majesty that, the various aspects of the fiscal question having now been fully discussed in the country for nearly two years, the time has come for submitting the issue to the people without further delay."—(Mr. Asquith.)
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. TOMKINSON (Cheshire, Crewe)
said no one who had been present during the delivery of the lucid speech of the learned and hon. Member for South Shields could do otherwise than regret that it was delivered to so scant an audience on the benches opposite, and it was more to be regretted that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham should be conspicuous by his absence, as it was only across the floor of the House that it was possible to put straight questions requiring straight answers, and to challenge the right hon. Gentleman to make good and confirm in the House the statements he had made throughout the country. The whole question of protection and retaliation rested on what was called the outrageously unfair treatment meted out to England by foreign countries in practically excluding her products from their markets, whilst they themselves found a perfectly free and open market in this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had, at various meetings, elaborated, the suggestion, illustrating his 389 arguments by means of the tariffs of Germany and the United States of America, but everybody know his statements were not true; everybody knew we could not buy without selling and that if we bought from foreigners they, in their turn, must buy from us. He had said at Newport—You cannot compete with the United States, for they have a population of 70,000,000 from whom their tariffs practically exclude you, while they have in addition your market of 40,000,000; consequently their market is 110,000,000 to your 40,000,000. Similarly Germany has the market of her 55,000,000 people from which she excludes you; she has, therefore a market of 95,000,000 to your 40,000,000.Now the Board of Trade Returns showed that the United States of America, France and Germany took from us goods to the value of £98,000,000, of which more than £60,000,000 represented our products and more than £30,000,000 transhipments. A most lucrative trade and one we had because we were the only free market in the world. Such statements as those made by the right hon. Gentleman showed an ignorance that was little less than criminal. France, Germany and America, whom he had thus attacked, were, in fact, our best customers, far better than any other white customers we had, including the Colonies.
Some economists had imports on the brain. They looked upon them as a loss, but he could give the House a concrete instance of the fallacy of that theory. A friend of his freighted a ship with 2,000 tons of Welsh coal at a cost of l5s. a ton, making an export of £1,500 which he sent to Manila. That coal sold for £3,500. The money was invested in 400 tons of Manila sugar which was brought to this country, when it was valued at £7,000. It could hardly be said that that transaction—export 2,000 tons of coal at £1,500, import 400 tons of sugar at £7,000—resulted in a loss to this country. In dealing with the question of exports and imports, it was contended by some that our imports were loss and our exports gain, and he supposed that if this ship, on her return, had been sunk with this cargo of sugar, it would have been said by those Gentlemen that we had gained thereby. It appeared to him that the only way to understand protectionist logic was to read 390 it standing on one's head. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had gone about industriously searching for ruined industries, but, unfortunately for the right hon. Gentleman, wherever he went he found trade flourishing. Cotton was flourishing, the tinplate trade was flourishing, in fact that trade was the greatest instance of the triumph of free trade over protection that could be found. No doubt the McKinley tariff affected it greatly at first, but it had recovered from that and now had markets all over the world, and trade was never better. It was said that the straw hat manufacturing had been ruined; that the poor girls of Luton who made straw plait had been ruined by Japanese plait imported into this country. As a fact, the girls who used to make straw plait were now earning twice the wages they did when they made it themselves. Luton had doubled its population in seventeen years. With regard to agriculture, he made bold to say that agriculture under proper conditions of security was better now than it had been for a long time, and infinitely better than it had been under protection. In the days of protection, farmers were ruined by thousands. Committee after Committee of this House was appointed to inquire into the wretched condition of agriculture, and farmer after farmer came before those Committees to say that agriculture could not be carried on, if the present rents were to be paid, if wheat was allowed to fall below 80s. a quarter. Then with regard to milling. Milling was doing well, and although the little country mills could not compete with the great steam rolling-mills, they made a good business in selling and grinding foreign feeding-stuffs, and so far from our having a shortage of offals we sold between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000 cwts. to Denmark and other countries every year. There was not a single industry which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham tried to make out was decadent and ruined, but what had done remarkably well. Ever since the right hon. Gentleman had started his campaign, in spite of the undoubted depression of the home trade which then existed, and which was the result of the war, our foreign trade had gone up until it had reached the astounding total of £920,000,000. When Sir Robert Peel 391 repealed the Corn Laws our total trade was only £120,000,000, although prices were much higher then than they were now. There had been an increase on the trade of eight-fold, but if we took the decrease of values into consideration it would be sixteen-fold. We did more than three-quarters of the carrying trade of the whole world, and yet there were some who wanted it all. We had had depression and suffering at home, but he distinctly dissented from the view that so great a portion of our population were on the starvation line. He believed the figures here grossly exaggerated. Let the House remember that what in one country was comfort was scant commons in another. He read only that week of the miserable condition of 300 horses which were landed at Antwerp every Monday and which, after being examined and certified by the veterinary surgeon to be suffering from no contagious disease, were taken away to be slaughtered for food, a food that our people here would not eat.
The question he desired to ask was, whether on the whole foreign tariffs damaged a free-trade country. He thought when a balance was struck they did us an immense deal of good; they gave us the carrying trade of the world. American protection had ruined American shipping. At one time it was nearly equal to our own; now it was only 800,000 against our 10,500,000 tons. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was a master of lucid speech and expression, and hon. Members had heard many of his utterances quoted, but there was one expression upon this question which he (Mr. Tomkinson) had not seen quoted. It was not to the right hon. Gentleman"s detriment. In 1885 the right hon. Gentleman summed up the protective system, and said the effect of it was "to stereotype inferiority." The right hon. Gentleman had been going about trying to account for our unemployed by foreign tariffs, but he had nothing to say about the wasteful expenditure of the war, although everybody knew that unproductive expenditure was one of the greatest causes of unemployment, while productive expenditure was the best means of providing it. Protection was a quack remedy. It gave an inducement to every interest to rise up in turn and say, "What 392 is going to be done for me." That was inevitable, because it taxed some industries to protect others.
It had been said that the Government"s mandate was not exhausted, and that there was no need to appeal to the country. On the 8th October, 1900, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham sent a message to his constituents expressing a hope that the men of Crewe would not be so unwise or unpatriotic as to return a friend of the Boers, but the reply they gave to this mesage was that they returned him to Parliament again with a majority of 1,200. The right hon. Gentleman told them at the last election that the real issue was not a question of domestic policy, but a question of the existence of the Empire. Having got the votes of the electors upon that issue, the Government proceeded to legislate upon questions of domestic policy which the electors were assured were not at issue. Some fifteen months after that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, telegraphed to the Unionist candidate at Dewsbury reminding the electors that at that election patriotism came before Party, and declaring that there were only two Parties, those who were for their country and those who were for the Boers. It was for those reasons that he contended that the Government"s mandate had been misused, and was now exhausted, and the by-elections had emphatically pronounced against them by an unexampled turnover of votes.
§ SIR HENRY KIMBER (Wandsworth)
said that, judging from the speeches which had been made in this debate, it was clear that the word " protection" had in the minds of different men a very different meaning. They had been told in another place by a distinguished nobleman, who was understood by many to be the future Leader of the Liberal Party, that the hon. Member for West Birmingham had the design of introducing into the House and the country the protection of 1843. Only yesterday the hon. Member for Durham spoke of the antiquated protectionism of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. But the protection of 1843, represented by a 28s. duty on corn at a 50s. price was a very 393 different thing to the protection presented by the ex-Colonial Secretary, which was a 2s. duty upon a 27s. price. [An HON. MEMBER from the OPPOSITION side: It is the same thing.] He contended that it was not at all the same thing. Why was the duty of 1843 imposed? It was put on simply to raise the price of the home produce in favour of the home producer, for the purpose of putting large profits into the pockets of a particular class of people at the expense of the rest. The object of the, policy of the lion. Member for West Birmingham was not to raise prices, but to enable us to meet our competitors on equal terms, and to enable our Colonies to have a fair chance, unhampered by unfair competition with the rest of the world. Therefore the 2s. duty on corn now suggested was a far different thing not only in amount, but also in principle. [OPPOSITION cries of "No, no !"] He had risen to present to the House the views of one of the largest of the Metropolitan constituencies, composed for the most part of men engaged in commerce and finance in the City of London. He ventured to say that over 90 per cent, of his supporters were in favour of the, policy propounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. When this question was first brought forward the Opposition were opposed to all inquiry. If any of His Majesty"s subjects were suffering under a grievance, he wished to know what objection there could be to an inquiry. In the present case the Opposition not only declared that there should be no reform, but also that there should be no inquiry as to whether reform was necessary.
The new fiscal policy had been described by the hon. Member opposite as an unclean thing and a quack remedy. The hon. Member imagined that these duties were to be imposed for the purpose of raising prices, whereas the proposal was one for making the foreigner pay the duty. What did it matter about imposing a small duty if the foreigner paid it? Two years ago they placed a Is. duty on corn, which brought £2,500,000 to the revenue, and this did not raise the price of bread by one farthing. [An HON. MEMBER: Why did you take it off then?] All they desired was to protect the men who were hounded out of their trade unfairly by 394 underselling. Let them suppose for a moment that a 2s. duty was placed upon corn. Who were the vendors of corn? Russia, Argentina, the United States, two of our own great Colonies and others. In the case of a 2s. duty the effect would be that these, vendors would drop their profits by the amount, of the duty, and it did not follow that the price would be raised in this country by that amount. When France put a duty of 12s. 2d. upon corn the price was not raised in France more than two-thirds of that amount. He admitted that the tendency of an import duty was to raise the price, because it was an additional burden upon the producer of the commodity. But this was not the only factor in the operation of the law of supply and demand. An import duty tended to lessen the price to the consumer, because it increased the supply and stimulated home production. While he supported the policy of the Prime Minister, which he thought was the best and most cautious policy, yet at the same time he was a believer in the principles propounded by the, right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. He might add that he should not be a believer in the new fiscal proposals if he thought they meant a return to the, protection of 1843, but if they read the whole of the speeches made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, both inside and outside of the House of Commons, he was sure they would not find the slightest trace of what the hon. Member for Durham called "antiquated protectionism."
He professed and believed he was a thorough free-trader, hut he did not believe that free-trade principles precluded anybody from supporting proposals to prevent the dumping of goods upon our shores at less than cost price, which had the effect of destroying our industries. The alleged benefits of dumping were, in his opinion, very dearly paid for by the destruction to such a large extent of the industries of the people of this country. They had already lost profits amounting to £30,000,000 in industries which had been destroyed by unfair competition, although he was glad to say that they had been able to make up for it in other parts of the world. If everything they bought was produced abroad, the workers here would be idle. It was true that the 395 rich could go on buying these dumped goods, but what about the unemployed? Under such circumstances what would be the position of this nation amongst the other nations of the world? They would simply be a people existing upon their riches and depleting their resources, and giving away those industrial occupations which maintained the vigour and the manhood of the people. Was that the position which this country desired to occupy in the future? They had been told by various Leaders of the Opposition that the remedy for men being out of employment and for sacrificed industries was that capital and labour must look out for fresh employment. He knew, of one industrial undertaking which cost £300,000, and in consequence of dumping by foreigners it had recently been sold for £50,000. What had become of the capital and labour that used to be employed there? When these works were stopped these skilled workers were obliged to take up other employment, and he knew one of these skilled workmen who had become a porter on one of the railways. That was a sample of the way in which skilled artisans were obliged to transfer their labour in consequence of dumping. Was that the way in which the great industries of this country could be maintained? In conclusion, he urged the House not to reject fiscal proposals which at on e period were abused for objectionable purposes, but which were now to be utilised to keep industries in the country, to increase home production, and to put money into the revenue at the expense of the foreigner.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)
said he thought the speech of the hon. Member for Wandsworth proved, if any proof were needed, that the arguments on the fiscal question were before the country. In that speech he seemed to hear the arguments of Mr. Ackroyd in 1881, and all those gloomy predictions as to the fate of our trade and the ruin of our industries. Each and all of these had been falsified by twenty-four years of time, and now the hon. Gentleman said that the state of this country was so disastrous that it was only because it was a rich country that it had been able to buy in any market. How did it become so rich? Was it by following 396 the principles of Mr. Ackroyd or those of his hon. friend? No, it was by this island continuing to be the dumping ground, if they would, for all the cheap goods the world could produce, and using that great element of cheapness to transform it into the industrial workshop of the world. The hon. Member said he was the enemy of cheapness. Everybody was the enemy of cheapness who wished to sell dear, and that was the whole story now in a nutshell. Those enemies of cheapness who wished to sell dear were also the enemies of those who wished to buy cheaply, and, after all, it was a struggle between the producer wanting a high-price market, and the consumer wanting a low-price market. No argumentation would conceal from the country or the House of Commons that this was now the threadbare argument, namely, that cheapness was the curse of a great consuming nation. But his hon. friend claimed for himself that he did not wish to go back to antiquated protection, stating that he was a free-trader. Yes, but with a difference. He was a free-trader who was in favour of a tax on corn. How did we get rid of antiquated protection? By a huge agitation headed by Mr-Cobden and Mr. Bright. It was owing to the Anti-Corn-Law League, whose primary object was to get rid of the heavy tax on corn which his hon. friend wished to reimpose.
§ SIR HENRY KIMBER
I did not say I was in favour of a tax on corn at all. [OPPOSITION cries of "Yes."] I pointed out that in the circumstances there was a great argument in its favour
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
said that made the matter wonderfully clear. The hon. Member was not in favour of what there was a great argument in favour of. Why did he give the House the argument while concealing his disrelish for it? It was always the way. When they got hold of those persons who were arguing that they were free-traders, and when they were found to be in favour of a tax on corn and were reminded of all the miserable memories of the country in connection with the tax on corn, they fought shy of it.
§ SIR HENRY KIMBER
I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. I did not pretend that I was in favour of a tax on corn. I do not wish to sail under false colours. I did not propose a duty on corn or anything of the kind, but I said that under circumstances where it would not raise the price I was not unfavourable. I did not say that I was in favour of a duty on corn simpliciter.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
said that made it still clearer. The first stage was that he was not in favour of a tax on corn; but he thought there were arguments in favour of it. The second stage was that he was not adverse to a tax on corn, and the third stage was that he was in favour of a tax on corn where it would not raise prices, so that they had the old story back again. It was a tax on corn coupled with the prophecy that they would not put so much on as would raise prices. Much the agriculturists of the country would thank them for that. It was always the way. The tax always began in the innocent thin-edge-of-the-Wedge form, and. once they had any departure from the principle of taxation for revenue purposes only, there was no saying what stage they might go to.
The Amendment pointed plainly to a dissolution of Parliament. He must confess to some dissent from some views expressed on his own side of the House with reference to the disturbance of trade caused by the present agitation. One of the enormous advantages of a free-trade country was that trade took its own course irrespective of the tactics of politicians. A remarkable instance of this was to be found in the figures of 1904. The year 1902 was admitted to be a record year. Our total foreign trade for 1902 was £877,500,000. But in 1904 it had actually risen to £922,500,000. Then the great argument was that our exports of manufactured goods were bound to decline. But within the past two years those exports to foreign countries and the Colonies had increased by no less than £16,500,000. In view of those figures any one who said, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, that any candid man viewed the present situation of trade with anxiety was fit 398 to make any assertion with regard to the prosperity of the country. He seemed to have lost sight of the elementary distinction between prosperity and adversity. He hoped that the day was far distant when trade would be in the hands of any persons who were able to control the tariffs and the political movements of the time. It was only by trade being left a free course that it could be magnified in our country, and the moment they produced arrangements, and trusts, and cartels which were the ancillaries of these tariffs, they might reasonably expect the depletion of our splendid existing trade.
He attached little weight to the influence of these discussions on the trade of the country, but there were other interests which were far greater, and that was where the politician came in, and made two propositions which he ventured to say still held the field. These propositions were so wide as this, that there was to be no Empire without preference, and secondly, that there was to be no preference without the taxation of food. Notwithstanding all that had occurred these propositions absolutely held the field. They depended upon the taxation of the food of the people of this country, and, therefore, the gravity of the situation was no less than this. The proposal was to postpone a great Imperial issue and prevent the people of this country from making a pronouncement on it—an issue which involved the question that in order to build up or conserve our Imperial unity it was necessary to put an increased burden on the poorest of the community. His reason for approving of the Amendment was mainly this, that he thought the case with regard to protection and preference was fully before the country. That was demonstrated by the action of the Prime Minister himself, who said that his views on the subject were so clear that they could not be restated with advantage, and of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham who, having nothing new to suggest, said the same old things over and over again. The whole case had been stated over and over again by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who talked about that obliging foreigner who was to pay a large proportion of our import taxes. 399 All that might be right, or it might he wrong, but at all events the country had had it from him over and over again. Had they not heard with the utmost clearness from the right hon. Gentleman that his view was that the taxation of food would lead to an increase of employment and wages in this county. That was an argument which must go home to every person, if true. It was said that, on the whole, it would not increase the price of living, but that it would tend to help our general trade, especially the export trade, which employed so many hands. That was the case on one branch of the argument. Now he proposed to show equally high authority on the other side. The authority was the right hon. Gentleman himself, because he had dealt with all these problems before. He had dealt with the arguments of Mr. Ackroyd just as they were dealing with the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman himself to-night. The view which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham then took with regard to the taxation of food was this—A tax on food would mean a decline in wages. It would certainly involve a decline in their productive value. The same amount of money would have smaller purchasing power. It would mean this, for it would raise the price of every article produced in the United Kingdom, and it would indubitably bring about the loss of that gigantic export trade which the industry and energy of the country, working under conditions of absolute freedom, have been able to create.In these circumstances both sides are fully and fairly before the country, and they have been represented by the same high authority. [An HON. MEMBER: What is the date?] The date was 1881, and the speech was reported in "Hansard." [An HON. MEMBER: Times have changed.] The arguments with regard to the Imperial nature of the case were such as would do nobody any harm. They were now perfectly accustomed to the beating of this drum, in the country, and they had heard it reverberating in the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But when they came to a close issue as to the appointment of a conference they were on far more serious ground, because here was a proposal as to the basis on which the conference was to meet. It had been asked whether 400 we had anything to offer to the Colonies. It was suggested that we must have something more to offer than we had given already. He regretted that these issues were raised, because they made people consider the actual relation of the mother country to the Colonies. Was it not sufficient that for every shilling the Colonies paid for naval defence the people of this country paid £5, and that whilst the Colonies for the most part surrounded themselves with protective barriers we kept our ports open to the free importation of their products. Was there to be something put to that? Must we make it a measure of the patriotism of the people and of their attachment to the Colonies that we should tax the food of our own people in order to benefit the Colonies? What this Government had done with reference to the treatment of land, licensing, and so on, had raised a good many more points than they had settled, and it was much to be regretted that this question should be raised now as a matter between the two Parties. The Liberal Party had not introduced it, but they deplored its introduction, because they were convinced that it could lead to no good whatever. It was said that apart from fiscal matters there was nothing for the colonial representatives and our country to discuss. Was there not? He thought there were a good few things to discuss, and he would cite only two. He knew nothing more worthy of discussion than the contributions of the Colonies to our Imperial defence; and with regard especially to our newest colony, let them follow the colonial representative into conference and discuss with them the bearing, moral and social, of the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal. He understood that it was a cardinal principle of Members opposite that there was to be no taxation of raw material. If that were so they were in a difficult situation. If there was to be no preference with regard to raw material, as to which Australia would not benefit, they would not only introduce trouble between the Colonies and the mother country, but trouble between the Colonies themselves.
Besides all this trouble there was a great Constitutional question involved here. He attached no great weight to by-elections, but after all the country 401 counted for something, and the only way in which, under the Constitution, they could express their mind was at elections. During this discussion no supporter of the Government had ventured to declare that in his opinion the House now represented the actual mind of the country. What was the Constitutional position they were brought to? He could not express it more briefly than in the language of Burke, who said in a passage quoted by Mr. Green—The value, spirit, and essence of the House of Commons consists in its being the express image of the feelings of the nation.That being settled doctrine, who could say that this House of Commons was the express image of the feelings of the nation? The fact, as they all admitted, was that it was an effete, broken, and distorted representation of the feelings of the nation, and that if the nation only got the slightest chance it would make a vast change in the personnel and composition of the House of Commons. It was altogether inconsistent with the dignity of the House that this kind of thing should go on. He knew that it was possible to go on evading issues, and with regard to the evasion of issues he would only say this. He did not think that the position could be better expressed than by the words used by Sir Robert Peel in a letter to Mr. Cobden—I do not consider the evasion of difficult, and the postponement of troublesome, questions to be the carrying on of a Government.On the whole, he contended that this debate had illustrated that all the arguments on both sides were now before the country, and that the only new question to be discussed was how long the country was to be kept from pronouncing its verdict. Varieties of phraseology were indeed employed with regard to the issue now before the House. The hon. Baronet who represented Truro, for example, had asked—Is this Government to be put into the melting-pot to enable us to see who is to take hold of the handle of the ship of State?No one could now deny that, although the issue was the same old one, it might be presented in a fresh and attractive form.
§ MR. MALCOLM (Suffolk, Stowmarket)
said that the speech to which they had just 402 listened almost tempted him to forget that they were engaged in a most elaborate sham fight. When he saw in the Amendment on the Paper that the country had had enough of discussion of the fiscal question he was inclined to doubt it. Judging by the state of the Benches during the last two or three days, however, he was inclined to think that the House of Commons had had enough of it. He wished to add, for a few moments, his reflections on the Amendment, which contained two perfectly irrelevant propositions in regard to fiscal policy and dissolution. He was one of that despised sect known in, the language of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife as a "pure Balfourian"—pure and, he hoped, undefiled. He did not understand the position of the Opposition. He could not understand their definition. Their political photographs had been somewhat difficult to recognise; they had been both undeveloped and over-exposed. He thought he understood the creed of the Prime Minister, although other people did not, and the reason might be because he wanted to understand it, while hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House did not want to understand it. Anyhow, he would venture that evening to give his definition of it, and likewise to relieve his own conscience. He approved most emphatically of the Prime Minister"s scheme for retaliation, a retaliation which would help and not hinder us in our trade. There was a point of disagreement between himself and the right hon. Member for Berwick. The right hon. Baronet said that retaliation meant liberty to go to war, but he thought that what it meant was to give us liberty to arm ourselves when tariff war was declared against us. In the second place, he believed most thoroughly in the summoning of a conference with the Colonies, India and the Crown Colonies to discuss our Imperial position. He did not mean the ordinary conference which would come on in the ordinary course next year, but a conference ad hoc to discuss whether our commercial relations were based on the mutual advantage of all parties concerned. He thought that the right hon. Member for Berwick was mistaken the previous night in stating that they, on that side of the House, were 403 making Party capital out of the Colonial Conference question. He seemed to think that the conference next year was the conference referred to by the Prime Minister in his speech the previous day. The Prime Minister meant another conference, to include the discussion of all our commercial relations; and to his mind a conference without India and the Crown Colonies included would be a farce and a sham.
Much had been made of the question whether the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham agreed in principle. That entirely depended how the principle was defined. His own definition of the principle was that the British colonial trade should be encouraged inter se as between manufacturers, buyers, and distributors. And in the second place, that by some scheme of give-and-take, advantages not now available between the Colonies and Dependencies and the mother country should be strengthened by mutual agreement. He believed that to be the principle which the Prime Minister had in view. He hoped he might be allowed to say, however, that he widely disagreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and the Tariff Reform League on the question of methods and of 10 per cent. import duties, for he saw no difference between these and protection. He believed that that was a most unscientific plan for benefiting the trade of our country. He was somewhat led to wonder why it was that we got most of our pauper labour from highly protected countries. If high protection benefited employment, that pauper labour would stay at homo. He thought that those who agreed with the Prime Minister might be allowed to reserve their judgment on the question of food taxation until the conference had been called and had reported. Until that had been done their judgment would not be worth anything. Again, he disagreed most entirely with the treatment meted out to the Unionist free-traders by the Tariff Reform League. It was not to be forgotten that the Tariff Reform League was headed by gentlemen who, with the exception of his right hon. friend, a few 404 years ago proudly called themselves protectionists, and who now, when they found the word "protectionist" stank in the nostrils of the nation, said they were not protectionists at all.
On the question of dissolution he agreed with his noble friend the Member for Greenwich. To employ a proverb of our native country, they were not prepared "to buy a pig in a poke." Before giving hon. Gentlemen opposite the opportunity of coming into office, he wanted to know what they were going to do when they did come in. As his noble friend below him had pointed out, what they wanted to know was what they were going to do with the Education Act? Were they going to upset it? And were they going to upset the Licensing Reform Act? Were they going to fight as in 1899 and refuse the renewal of the Agricultural Rating Act? And, above all, what were I they going to do in regard to Home Rule? Until they told the House and the country that they could not expect that they would be supported in their demand for a dissolution. With all respect for their stupid Amendment, the Opposition had managed to spike their own guns, and had lost from twenty-five to thirty votes of free-traders on the Ministerial side. Until he knew what the Opposition were going to do in office he, for one, would never dream of voting for the Amendment.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL- BANNERMAN
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made, I think, the most interesting speech in the whole debate. I had some difficulty in hearing him, but I think he declared himself a "pure Bal-fourian." Well, that is the first we have had in the course of this debate. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh!"] I have been pretty constantly in the House while the debate was proceeding. We have had free-traders who criticised the attitude of the Government and who were either merely not going to vote against them or going reluctantly to vote for them. We have had whole-hearted supporters of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham. But if we have had any one who said that he would support the policy of the Prime Minister, he also added a great deal of sympathy for, 405 and advocacy of, the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I think, then, I am not wrong when I say this is the first instance we have had of a "pure" unadulterated "Balfourian" speaking in the course of this debate.
I am not going to speak at any great length, because I am painfully aware that I made a largo call on the time and patience of the House two days ago. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, with that sympathetic anxiety which distinguishes him, said I had forestalled the speech of my right hon. friend the Member for Fife. I may relieve that anxiety when I state that I acted not only with the consent, but with the encouragement of my right hon. friend. The two things we have now arrived at beyond all question are these. First, the Prime Minister will not make in the face of the House of Commons a plain statement of his views and aims, and, particularly, he will not make such a plain statement as to the degree to which he accepts the doctrines and principles of the right hon. Member for Birmingham. And that is a most important point. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham told us how much he agreed with the Prime Minister; but for him to agree with the Prime Minister is a matter of small moment. It is a very different matter how far the Prime Minister agrees with him. That is the first thing we have made sure of. The second thing that is perfectly obvious is that there is another thing the Prime Minister will not do. He will not face the country. Now, as to the first of these points perhaps we need not trouble the Prime Minister any longer. We have given him both in the country and here an ample opportunity of making the statement of his views that we have requested from him, and we have done this in the interests, as we think, of political and Parliamentary propriety. But, after all, with the help of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, assisted by the whole record of the Prime Minister in this matter, and several incidents in it, I think that we may dispense with any open confession on his part. The incidents that I would 406 mention in his record are first of all his letter to the Member for Birmingham when he resigned wishing him Godspeed in the propaganda which he had undertaken; then we had the message last summer of "unabated sympathy" sent through Lord Lansdowne to the reconstructed Liberal Unionist Party in the Albert Hall; we have the speeches of his own colleagues which would form a most interesting bouquet if we were to take the trouble to cull them; and we have the curious episode of the Sugar Convention in which the Prime Minister appeared undoubtedly as a food-taxer, because although sugar is not subjected under that Convention to any duty in this country, it is subjected to something a great, deal worse, namely, total prohibition, and the only respect in which that differs from a high sugar duty, a retaliatory duty, is that in that case we should have got some income out of the transaction, whereas now the whole proceeds and profits go into other people"s pockets. Therefore the right hon. Gentle man is committed up to the hilt by his own actions and his statements to the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham in its principle. And then we have the letter which I quoted the other night stating that to be his opinion. They differ from each other, as the letter stated, only in methods and in tactics and not in principle. Which is principle and which is method? Take for instance, the question of the special Colonial Conference. The right hon. Gentleman has not yet explained, as I asked him to explain the other day, the reason for his change of front with regard to a Colonial Conference.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
It never was changed.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
There was a change of expressed attitude, at all events. The front may be turned the same way; but we can see the attitude has been completely altered. Let me interpolate here that our complaint as to the conference and our reason for objecting to it is not that we are not 407 as willing as any one else—and as desirous—to have the fullest communication with the Colonies and, if you like, a conference every year on subjects generally, if that were necessary or desirable, but we object to a special conference which would have the effect of committing this country to a certain action which we know the people of this country will never willingly take or attempt. My right hon. friend the Member for Northumberland used the words that he would have a conference without prejudice. The right hon. Gentleman took hold of that as if he had said "without prejudices." I take it my right hon. friend rather meant in the lawyer"s sense "without prejudice"—that, whatever your opinions, you should not be held to be publicly committed to any course before you entered the conference. As to the objection of the right hon. Gentleman to our representatives in the conference entering it with special instructions, I would ask him whether he thinks any colony all over the world would send it"s representatives here without giving them any instructions as to their attitude. Is the conference a question of principle or tactics? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham says in effect that every vote given for the conference is a vote given for colonial preference and food taxation. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] Practically it comes to that. So that, then, it is a matter of principle. But "Oh, no," says the Prime Minister, "a vote for the conference which I shall ask from you at the next general election leaves you entirely uncommitted and with a free hand." That is a matter of tactics. You cannot have a general election turning upon a mere question of method and tactics. One thing stands out evidently from the whole position as we now see it. When the election comes the issue will not be the partial and nebulous policy of retaliation, but the full-blooded policy whose principle, at all events, is jointly agreed in by the two right hon. Gentlemen.
The present object of the Government and their friends appears to be to gain time. If they believe in their nostrum why do they hesitate? Why 408 do they themselves propose to introduce the gigantic and mountainous obstacle of redistribution of seats? Let us turn our minds back. What was the reason for the introduction of this question? What was the excuse put forward by the right hon. Gentleman when he first brought it forward? It was the extreme urgency of the situation, the imminent peril affecting both our trade and the unity of the Empire. Why was the Cabinet reconstructed in the month of September? This was no slumbering question which could be dawdled over and discussed at leisure with a view to forming a well-informed opinion upon it. It was not a subject like old age pensions, for instance, on which you could have one scheme after another, one Committee after another, and go on with it for years. The trade and the unity of the Empire had to be saved, and did not admit of being treated in that leisurely way. This was the only ground upon which it was taken up and upon which the Government was re-reconstructed. The doctrines were not new. They were archaic. They were well understood. They have been always with us. The name on the high altar of protection was slumbering a little. It had flared up in the days of the fair-trade agitation, but latterly it had only been kept alive by the ministrations of the permanent priest—the gallant Member for Sheffield. But the element which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham has the credit of introducing, with the sympathy of the Prime Minister, was the extreme urgency of the matter. That is the particular contribution he made to the argument—the only novelty that I can see in the argument. But now the urgency is not to save the country, but to save themselves from the country. Anything is caught at that will stand between the country and the application of their remedy. What would be the meaning of this vote? The old story—confidence in themselves and no confidence in their principles. The more the country loses confidence in them, the more confidence, if it is conceivable, they have in themselves. They are using the machine of the Party to postpone the first step in the policy which they declare to be essential and vital. 409 I have looked into this matter a little a view to calculating the future, with a view to forming some sort of idea what the nature of all these manifold elections; and negotiations will be. There is to be an election—perhaps next year, or the Tear after. That is to result, we are told by members of the Government and others, in their defeat and in the elevation to power of [An HON. MEMBER on the MINISTERIAL BENCHES: Who?] the Party opposite. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham said, what I can well believe is his estimate of what will happen, it would not be Hug before that Party, if it came into power, would be hissed off the scene. I am not so certain he can be sure who it is will be hissed off the scene, but what I am referring to is the length of time that will be, allowing a year or two to the duration of the Government that succeeds them. There will then be an election, which the Party of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham are to win. Then he is to come into power. Then we are to have a Colonial Conference. Then after die Colonial Conference has come to certain conclusions those conclusions are to be submitted to the several Colonies and the mother country. But supposing some of the Colonies do not agree? Supposing it requires a great deal of adjustment in the results of the conference to bring about this great commercial bond of Empire? It will not be easy to do all that in a day or two. So big a work takes time. I have come to the conclusion that before the goal is reached and the Empire saved the youngest man among us will be completely superannuated. Here is this mighty task, this great reform, this high undertaking which between them these two right lion. Gentlemen have set themselves to do; and on their own showing, because the forecast which I have made has all been based upon their ideas and not on mine—mine would make very much shorter work of it—and having this great prospect before them, what do they do? In the direct path of this mighty reform, two sessions are to be given up to redistribution, one of the biggest and most complex problems that Parliament can tackle. What a commentary on the plea of urgency ! What 410 a commentary on the plea of sincerity! The postponement which is now threat ened is more than a political outrage. It is a cause of positive injury to the trade of the country and to the interests of the Empire. It brings disquiet and confusion and unrest into our commerce. The truth of the matter lies in a nutshell. The Government and their friends dare not face at the polls the people whom they have been inciting up and down the country to revolutionise our fiscal system. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the long campaign of Mr. Cobden and to the many Parliaments that were involved before that campaign was ended. But, Sir, it was not by these mysteries and subterfuges that Mr. Cobden fought his great battle. Fie conducted his campaign openly and above board, and no one, friend or foe. misunderstood for one moment what his object was. It was not by methods and tactics such as we now see that the battle of our commercial freedom was won; and our great consolation is that it is not by such methods and tactics that the advantages we then gained will be lost.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right lion. Gentleman referred at thy beginning of his speech to the disability under which he suffered from having already made a considerable contribution the other night to what is practically the same debate as that in which we are now engaged. I suffer from a like misfortune. I have, in truth, very little to add to what I said on Tuesday last; nor do I think that anybody who has listened to the right hon. Gentleman will feel that anything he has said gives me much to reply to with which I did not sufficiently deal on a previous occasion. The Amendment which is before us is, I think, of a very special, if not of an absolutely unique character. It says that we have discussed the fiscal question so long, and are therefore so intimately acquainted with it, that the time has come for submitting the issue to the people without further delay. I should have thought myself that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment—that the fiscal question had been sufficiently discussed—was a singular prelude to a two days debate, in which it has been still further 411 discussed; and if, as the hon. and learned Member for the Border Burghs has told us in his contribution to the discussion, we really know all about it, I do not quite follow the logic which has induced him to state his very natural desire to turn the Government out in the particular terms which he has selected for the purpose. I am not sure, indeed, whether the passage at arms or brief dispute which took place between the right hon. Gentleman the mover of the Amendment and my right hon. friend the Member for West Birmingham does not show that there are yet some questions which required to be discussed.
My right hon. friend the Member for West Birmingham has been throughout these debates contrasted with myself as the lucid speaker compared with the obscure speaker, the plain and direct exponent of a policy with the nebulous metaphysician who wraps up abstract doctrines in unintelligible language. I am not at all disputing my right hon. friend"s greater claims to the title of a lucid exponent of his views; I hope I do not fall very much behind him; but as I regard him as one of the clearest speakers of my acquaintance, I do not pretend in that respect to put myself on an equality with him. But it appears that, lucid as he is, clearly as every hon. Gentleman opposite professes to understand what he desires, far as he rises above anything that I can do in the way of expounding the fiscal policy, he has not yet succeeded in driving into the head of the right hon. Member for Fife, who certainly does not lack intelligence, the fiscal principles which he is recommending to the country. For the Member for Fife gave us yesterday what struck me as a very strange version of the principles of my right hon. friend—though it is not my business to deal with the subject. My right hon. friend gets up to-day and points out to the Houes that the principles of fiscal policy he recommends are of a totally different complexion 412 or [HoN. MEMBERS: Oh.]—That is what he did say.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Of a totally different complexion from those which the right hon. Member for Fife was good enough to put into his mouth. Well, Sir, I am a little consoled by my total failure to make my views clear to hon. Gentlemen opposite when I find no greater success has attended the even more continuous and able efforts of my right hon. friend.
My noble friend the Member for Greenwich was good enough this afternoon to come to my rescue and to explain that among the ignorant he at all events was understanding—that if nobody else comprehended the obscure metaphysics which I am pleased to describe as a fiscal policy, he at all events understood them now and had always done so. And I am sure he does understand them and has always understood them. But my noble friend was not content with my having succeeded in explaining my views to him in a manner which made them comprehensible; he said it was the bounden duty of every public man to make them understood by everybody, and that if a public man was misunderstood he was not fit for the responsibilities which he had taken upon himself—rather a hard doctrine, I think. I am not sure that even my noble friend is always understood. I am not sure, if we are to proceed to the discovery of each other"s views by the process which is now so favoured a one among Gentlemen on the other side—namely, the framing of Questions in their own language, putting them to one across the floor of the House, and demanding aye or no for an answer—if that is the future organum of investigation which is to be adopted by this House and the country, I am not sure that my noble friend would fare very well if he 413 were questioned on subjects in which he takes a profound interest, and in regard to which he has made valuable contributions to the debates of this House. If, for instance, somebody were to ask him, "Are you a Ritualist?" Now I know as a matter of fact that my noble friend is not a Ritualist. [An HON. MEMBER: You understand it.] I understand it, and I know he is not; but I am convinced that a series of Questions might be put to him by the Gentlemen who specially arrogate to themselves the proud title of Protestant, put to him across the floor of this House, which he would be very sorry to answer by a direct aye or a direct no. And if they said to him, "Well, it is quite evident you cannot give a plain answer to a plain question, and the natural conclusion is that you are little better than a Papist," my noble friend would, in my opinion, have great reason to complain of the injustice of the operation. But I think he would find it extremely difficult to distinguish it from the species of cross-examination which hon. Gentlemen apply on economic subjects to me and to others on this side, Gentlemen who know in some cases as little about economics as the supposed questioner of my noble friend would know of the mysteries of theology. My noble friend is an economist. He does understand, whether he agrees or not, the economic problems with which he deals. He understands the argument and the distinctions that are necessary—distinctions absolutely ignored in a great deal of the platform splashing-about that goes on during the recess. But there are Gentlemen who really do seem to think that the whole science of political economy can be adequately embodied in two or three sentences, and that the whole body of 414 economic thinkers must fall either into the division which they are pleased to label with some obscure definition of their own as free-traders or into the division which they label with some equally obscure definition which they describe as protectionist. That rough-and-ready method of dealing with great and complicated questions does not help to their serious and sober solution; and I should be sorry to think that the prolongation of this discussion, so much deprecated by the right hon. Gentleman, would not do something, at all events, to clear the air of certain of the fallacies which appear to govern the thoughts, and still more the speeches, of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have been informed—I have not verified the quotation, but I believe it to be true—that Mr. Bright had considerable qualms about the economic orthodoxy in the matter of free trade, of John Stuart Mill. John Stuart Mill, who, on the whole, perhaps contributed more to economic science than any man in the last century, or, at any rate, in the last three-quarters of the last century, like other economists, had pointed out that there were certain cases in infant communities in which it might be held that a system of protection could give important aid to nascent and struggling industries—nowadays a perfectly familiar contention to those with even a smattering of knowledge of this subject. But I believe that Mr. Bright said that that one proposition of Mr. Mill"s did more harm to the cause of free trade than all the good, done by the rest of the two volumes which embodied economic science as it was then understood. I believe that nothing is gained by allowing ourselves to become not the masters, but the slaves of the language we use. What we want to 415 know is not the particular classification of, a particular opinion or a particular policy, but what the policy is.
The right hon. Baronet the Member for Berwick, in a speech he made last night, showed that he was one of those who like my noble friend the Member for Greenwich, did not find any difficulty in understanding the doctrines I have tried to preach to the country. But he said it was impossible to argue against them, because they were of too abstract a character. "How," he said, dealing with the particular question of retaliation, "Can you argue in the abstract about war?" I do not like the name, but for the sake of convenience, I will use it. No doubt the policy of retaliation does resemble war. It is a kind of peaceful war. [An HON. MEMBER: A sort of war.] Well, it is war without bloodshed. And the right hon. Baronet asks, "How can you discuss so abstract a thing as war?" and says, "As you cannot discuss so abstract a thing as war, in the same way you cannot discuss so abstract a thing as retaliation." You may not be able to discuss so abstract a thing as war, but you can discuss that very concrete entity, armaments, fleets, arms, and the matériel by which war is made. And that is really the precise parallel between a war in the ordinary sense of the word and retaliation. Liberty of negotiation, as I prefer to call it, does for you in your commercial affairs precisely what fleets and armies do for you in the political arena. They do not mean, as some hon. Gentlemen seem to suppose they mean, war. On the contrary, as everybody knows, they are often the very condition of peace, and so it is with the power, the freedom of negotiation. Attempts will be made against the commerce of this country unless we 416 have this power, which would never be made if we had it. It will not even be necessary to consider how the attack is to be met, because the attack will never be made. It is a thing that cannot be proved; but I believe that the very fact that that policy has obtained so large and, as I think, so growing a measure of support in the general community, has already had a good effect upon the commercial policy of other nations. And if the country were to grant that mandate which we ask of them, then, Sir, I believe that, without changing a tax or going through the labour of considering your fiscal policy, this country would be saved from a vast number of commercial outrages from which we are now unwilling, reluctant, but patient and helpless sufferers.
I have not much more to say to the House upon the Amendment strictly considered, though I have something to say. But before I come to that final word, I do not think I can wholly put on one side some observations made to me in the nature of an appeal by my noble friend in the very interesting speech which he made this afternoon. I was sorry that my noble friend dragged before this House questions of domestic differences among us, the reality of which, of course, I do not deny, and never have attempted to deny. But these, I think, are not matters to be dealt with before an audience which is naturally, and from their point of view, quite rightly, hostile and contemptuous. [An HON. MEMBER: Sympathetic.] I think that perhaps it is that we on this side of the House, are young and inexperienced in these difficulties. We have not been inoculated with a virus which, with long practice, has perhaps made hon. Members opposite immune. I noticed 417 the other day, for instance, that among the triumphs—I think the most recent triumph—at by-elections was the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Dorset. Well, the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Dorset, as I am informed, has explicitly pledged himself against Home Rule. He has explicitly pledged himself in favour of what his friends call "doles"; and he has adopted a sympathetic attitude even to that iniquitous measure the Licensing Bill of last session. They do not advertise these facts.
MR. WILLS (Dorsetshire, N.)
If I am in order perhaps I may be allowed to make a single remark. Although in his first two statements I think the right hon. Gentleman may be described as being partly accurate, in his last statement he is absolutely inaccurate.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his interruption and for correcting a misrepresentation which I can assure him was absolutely unintentional. The hon. Gentleman, then, was not sympathetic towards the Licensing Bill, but he is pledged against Home Rule, and he is pledged in favour of "doles."
I think the right hon. Gentleman is probably aware of the actual facts of the case with regard to what he has called "doles." The pledge I gave was in favour of the retention of the Agricultural Rating Relief Act until such time I as the Liberal Party can deal with the rating question upon a proper basis, which is, not partial relief to one set of ratepayers, but relief to all.
MR, A. J. BALFOUR
I might comment, perhaps, upon the elysium In which everybody is to be relieved of 418 rates, but I will not. The hon. Gentleman is a new Member of this House, and the last thing I should desire to do would be to make an attack upon him. I only want to point out how very much better these little differences are managed on the other side of the House than on this. I regret my noble friend found it necessary to enter into the argument—not strictly relevant, I think, to the question before us—with regard to the position of some members of the Party in their constituencies. My view is that it is the business of the constituencies to select the Members, and, so far as I am concerned, I welcome every man of Unionist opinions who will support the Government, and would be glad to give him any aid in my power. It is injurious to the best interests, not merely of the Party, but what is of much more importance, the causes the Party represents, to have unnecessary divisions in this House or in the constituencies.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
What I want to know from my right hon. friend is for whom would he vote if he were an elector of the city of Durham?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Does my hon. friend the Member for the city of Durham come under the category I have described? Is he a supporter of the Government?
§ MR. ELLIOT
As Durham has been dragged into the discussion more than I could wish, might I say that the real question is not so much my own position, as whether or not a candidate brought forward by the Tariff Reform League and not accepted by the local Conservative Association is or is not an accepted exponent of the Government policy?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Surely the constituents have the right to select and return whom they please, whether they support the Government or whether they do not? Very well, and surely my duty is confined to giving aid to those who support us? ["Oh, oh!"] Is it suggested that any other principle obtains on the other side of the House? Is it suggested that when they are in power their organisations aid other than the supporters of the Government? Of course the same rule must apply to all Parties. It is a fundamental principle of Party organisation, and nobody can suggest any other. Now it is said this question has been adequately discussed, and I think the last person to make that statement was the hon. and learned Member for the Border Burghs. How did he support it? He said—We have heard all that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has got to say and all that the Prime Minister has to say; we know the whole question; why go on debating a matter which has been thoroughly expounded?Well, I dissent from this theory that the questions are all to be asked on one side and to be answered on the other. I put the question on Tuesday, and none of the speakers since have thought fit to answer it: "Why are all the questions to be put to us, and none by us?" ["Because you are the Government."] Is that the accepted answer? Very well. I should have thought that, as this matter relates entirely to what is to happen after the election, the people to be cross-examined are those who are to become the Government after the election. If, therefore, the hon. Gentleman holds with others on that side that those who think with him will be the Government, then it is to them questions should be addressed. But suppose that argument 420 has a flaw in it. We are now considering whether the country is apprised of all the elements it ought to have before it in order to come to a decision. How can it have all the elements before it unless right hon. Gentlemen opposite have undergone their catechism and given their plain answers to plain questions? What do they think about retaliation? Are right hon. Gentlemen of opinion that nothing in that direction is desirable? Are right hon. Gentlemen prepared to allow any steps in tariff negotiation to be conducted under their eyes, however injurious to this country, without making some attempt at all events to stop them? ["Answer."] I do not hold with the methods of cross-examination which require an immediate answer. I am putting questions which might be answered not monosyllabically, but at some length before we come to a decision. I observe that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen cannot answer that question monosyllabically. I will ask another question. Are right hon. Gentlemen who have criticised the Sugar Convention of opinion that we ought to permit the extension of this system of bounties and drawbacks to be organised in foreign nations, in such a way as to prevent the natural sources of supply in our own Empire being developed, and with no future advantage to the consumer at all? Again there is no monosyllabic answer given. I will ask one more question. ["Oh, oh!"] Why are hon. Gentlemen so impatient when I ask two or three questions, seeing they have been showering questions upon us. I have had a great deal of patience with them; let them have a little patience with me. Are the right hon. Gentleman and his friends prepared to state upon their authority as leaders of their Party that 421 they do not think that the Colonies should be permitted with us to discuss freely and openly, without prejudice and without limitations, that which the Colonies have over and over again said is one of the greatest interests that they have in connection with drawing closer the bonds of Empire? I do not say whether a scheme is possible or impossible—the difficulties are great; but are you going to allow them to be discussed freely and openly in conference, or are you going to refuse that permission? That is a question which I think could be answered monosyllabically. That is a plain question; and again the same melancholy silence reigns upon Benches which have been pouring forth questions hour after hour since the House met. Now I hope that these questions will be pressed home in this House and out of it, in the election and before it. I hope that when in the fullness of time this House is dissolved we shall not have simply before us the criticisms of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen upon the fiscal policy which we propose on this side, but that we shall have very distinct answers to our plain questions as to bow they propose to deal with difficulties which all must admit to be real, whether they think them remediable or irremediable. I confess that if they are going to sit down permanently under these national and Imperial disabilities, if they arc going to shut the door against even the consideration of methods by which they are to be mot, they will be ill fulfilling their duties as responsible for the conduct of one of the two great Parties of the State.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition indulged in an unwonted vein of prophecy and drew a fancy picture of tin length of time it would take in order 422 to carry out any material portion of that policy of closer commercial union with the Colonies for which my right hon. friend and we on this side have so earnestly pleaded. I think the House makes a great mistake with regard to these matters. I notice they are deeply perturbed by the movement of prices in a given six months, and by the Returns which the Board of Trade may show for this year or that. We are dealing—and this is a fundamental thing to be kept in view—with phenomena which do not affect this year or next year, which do not affect our lives alone, but which affect generations It is not as if these Colonies of ours wore stationary communities, always going to remain of the same relative magnitude as at the present time. They are rapidly growing nations with a commercial and industrial future before them which it is impossible to measure and difficult to picture. In what direction that commercial future will develop—whether it will be one in which we are permitted to take a large and permanent share may depend upon the decision which, not this House, but this country conies to in the near future. What answer is it to a consideration like that to say that a mouth here or a general election there may put off the great and final issues? What we really have to keep in mind is the proportions of the great problem we have to deal with. It is not the problem which presents itself here and now in this country. The problem we have to determine is whether these great creative and formative forces which are moulding the commercial destinies of the Empire shall be turned to the best advantage for Imperial unity, or whether we are to sit quietly by with folded hands idly repeating old formulas, 423 true but in many cases inapplicable to the present condition of affairs, or whether we are to do our best against difficulties the magnitude of which I have never attempted to minimise, and to see that responsibilities greater than which have never been placed on a free people are productive of the greatest results, not for ourselves, not for labour or capital
§ as it is at this moment in these islands, but labour and capital as it is and will be in the vast countries over which the King rules.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 248; Noes 311. (Division List No. 3.)427
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.||Dilke, Rt. Hn. Sir Charles||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Dillon, John||Johnson, John|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Donelan, Captain A.||Jones, David B. (Swansea)|
|Allen, Charles P.||Doogan, P. C.||Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark)||Jordan, Jeremiah|
|Asher, Alexander||Duffy, William J.||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Duncan, J. Hastings||Kennedy, P. J. (Westmeath, N.|
|Asquith, Rt.Hn.Herbert Henry||Dunn, Sir William||Kennedy, V. P. (Cavan, W.)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Edwards, Frank||Kilbride, Denis|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Elibank, Master of||Kitson, Sir James|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Elliee, CaptEC (SAndrw's Bghs||Labouchere, Henry|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Lambert, George|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Langley, Batty|
|Beaumont, Wentworth, C. B.||Emmott, Alfred||Law, H. Alex. (Donegal, W.)|
|Bell, Richard||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)|
|Benn, John Williams||Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone)||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Black, Alexander William||Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)|
|Blake, Edward||Eve, Harry Trelawney||Leigh, Sir Joseph|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Farrell, James Patrick||Levy, Maurice|
|Brigg, John||Fenwick, Charles||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Bright, Allan Heywood||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Lloyd-George, David|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Field, William||Lough, Thomas|
|Brown, G. M. (Edinburgh)||Findlay, Alex. (Lanark, N. E.)||Lundon, W.|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Flynn, James Christopher||Mac Neill, John Gordon Swift|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Mac Veagh, Jeremiah|
|Burns, John||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Crae, George|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||M'Hugh, Patrick A.|
|Caldwell, James||Fuller, J. M. F.||M'Kean, John|
|Cameron, Robert||Goddard, Daniel Ford||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Grant, Corrie||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Grey,Rt. Hn. Sir E. (Berwick)||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Griffith, Ellis J.||Mooney, John J|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Morley, Rt. Hn. J. (Montrose)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Moss, Samuel|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Harcourt, Lewis Vernon||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Hardie,J.Keir (MerthyrTydvil)||Murnaghan, George|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Murphy, John|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Harrington, Timothy||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Harwood, George||Newnes, Sir George|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Hayden, John Patrick||Nolan,Col.JohnP. (Galway, N.)|
|Crean, Eugene||Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Helme, Norval Watson||Norman, Henry|
|Crombie, John William||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Cullinan, J.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Higham, John Sharpe||O' Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Davies, A. (Carmarthen)||Hobhouse, C.E.H. (Bristol, E.)||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary Mid)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan||Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Delany, William||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Hutchinson, Dr. Chas. Fredk.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|O'Dowd, John||Russell, T. W.||Toulmin, George|
|O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Samuel, H. L. (Cleveland)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.)||Schwann, Charles E.||Ure, Alexander|
|O'Malley, William||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|O'Mara, James||Seely,Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight)||Wallace, Robert|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Shackleton, David James||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Parrott, William||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick, B.)||Warner, T. Courtenay T.|
|Partington, Oswald||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Paulton, James Mellor||Sheehy, David||Wason, J. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Perks, Robert William||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Slack, John Bamford||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Smith, Samuel (Flint)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Price, Robert John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Rea, Russell||Soares, Ernest J.||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Reckitt, Harold James||Spencer, Rt.Hn.C.R (Northants||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Reddy, M.||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)||Stevenson, Francis S.||Wills, A. Walters (N. Dorset)|
|Reid, Sir R. T. (Dumfries)||Strachey, Sir Edward||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)|
|Richards, T. (W. Monm'th)||Sullivan, Donal||Wilson, F. W. (Norfolk, Mid.)|
|Rickett, J. Compton||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Tennant, Harold John||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)||Wood, James|
|Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Thomas Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.||Woodhouse,SirJ T.(Huddersf'd|
|Robson, William Snowdon||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Roche, John||Thomas, J A (Glamorgan, Gower|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Rose, Charles Day||Tillett, Louis John||Herbert Gladstone and Mr.|
|Runciman, Walter||Tomkinson, James||William M'Arthur.|
|Age-Gardner, James Tynte||Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ.||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Carlile, William Walter||Dyke, Rt. Hn Sir, William Hart|
|Aird, Sir John||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Chamberlain, Rt, Hn. J. (Birm.||Fergusson, Rt.Hn.Sir J (Manc'r)|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hon. H. O.||Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.J.A (Wore.||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Arrol, Sir William||Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Finlay, Sir R. B. (Invern'ss B'rghs|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt.Hon.SirH||Chapman, Edward||Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Coates, Edward Feetham||FitzGerald,Sir Robert Penrose-|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Fitzroy, Hn. Edw. Algernon|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Balcarres, Lord||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Flower, Sir Ernest|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Colomb,Rt. Hon. Sir John C. R.||Forster, Henry William|
|Balfour,Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.)|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Galloway, William Johnson|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Gardner, Ernest|
|Barry, Sir F. T. (Windsor)||Corbett. T. L. (Down, North)||Garfit, William|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.|
|Beach, Rt.Hn.Sir Michael Hicks||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Gordon, Hn.J.E.(Elgin & Nairn|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Gordon,Maj Evans-(T'rH'mlets|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Cust, Henry John C.||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Bigwood, James||Dalkeith, Earl of||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Bond, Edward||Davenport, William Bromley||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Davies, Sir Horatio D(Chatham||Greene,Sir E. W. (B'ry S Edm'nds|
|Bowles,Lt.-Col. H. F. (Middles'x||Denny, Colonel||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)|
|Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Dickson, Charles Scott||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)|
|Brassey, Albert||Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Grenfell, William Henry|
|Brodrick, Rt, Hon. St. John||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Gretton, John|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)||Dorington, Rt, Hn. Sir John E.||Guthrie, Walter Murray|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Doughty, Sir George||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Bull, William James||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Halsey, Rt, Hon. Thomas F.|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Hambro, Charles Eric|
|Butcher, John George||Duke, Henry Edward||Hamilton, Marq.of (L'nd'nd'rry|
|Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)||Majendie, James A. H.||Samuel, Sir Harry S (Limehouse)|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Malcolm, Ian||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Manners, Lord Cecil||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Marks, Harry Hananel||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Hasle, Sir James Horner||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H. E. (Wigt'n||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Heath, Sir. J. (Staffords. N. W.)||Maxwell, W.J.H. (Dumfriessh.)||Shaw-Stewart, Sir H. (Renfrew)|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Helder, Augustus||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Henderson, Sir A.(Stafford, W.)||Milvain, Thomas||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Smith, A. B. (Hertford, East)|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Smith, Rt Hn J. Parker(Lanarks|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Hogg, Lindsay||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)||Spear, John Ward|
|Hope, J.F.(Sheffield, Brightside||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Moore, William||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lanes.)|
|Horner, Frederick William||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Morpeth, Viscount||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Hoult, Joseph||Morrell, George Herbert||Stock, James Henry|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Morrison, James Archibald||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Stroyan, John|
|Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Mount, William Arthur||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Hutton, John (Yorks N. R.)||Myers, William Henry||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Nicholson William Graham||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Palmer, Sir Walter (Salisbury)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Tomlinson Sir Wm. Edw. M|
|Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Parkes, Ebenezer||Tritton Charles Ernest|
|Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington)||Tuff, Charles|
|Kenna way, Rt.Hn. Sir John H.||Peel, Hn. Wm. R. Wellesley||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh)||Pemberton, John S. G.||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W||Percy, Earl||Turnour, Viscount|
|Kerr, John||Pierpoint, Robert||Valentia, Viscount|
|Keswick, William||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Vincent, Col.SirC.E.H (Sheffield|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Plummer, Sir Walter R.||Walrond, Rt.Hn. Sir William H.|
|Knowles, Sir Lees||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Pretyman, Ernest George||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Lawrence, Sir J. (Monmouth)||Purvis, Robert||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunton|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Pym, C. Guy||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)|
|Lawson, Hn. H. L. W. (Mile End)||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon|
|Lawson, John G. (Yorks., N. R.||Randles, John S.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Rankin, Sir James||Whiteley, H. (Ashton und.Lyne|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Ratcliff, R. F.||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Reid, James (Greenock)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Wilson, A. S. (York, E. R.)|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Renwick, George||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Bristol, S.)||Ridley, S. Forde||Wodehouse, Rt .Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Lowe, Francis William||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Robinson, Brook||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Lucas, R. J. (Portsmouth)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Royds, Clement Molyneux||TELLERS TOR THE NOES—Sir|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Alexander Acland-Hood|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|M'Calmont, Colonel James||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|M'Iver, Sir Lewis(Edinburgh,W||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
Motion made, and Question, "That the debate be now adjourned,"—(Dr. Macnamara.) put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question again proposed.428
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow.
§ Adjourned at five minutes after Twelve o'clock.