§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [14th February] to Main Question [12th 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. Tomkinson.)
§ Which Amendment was—
§ "At the end of the Question, to add the words, 'But humbly regret that His Majesty's gracious Speech does not include proposals for repealing the penal clauses of the Vaccination Act.' "—(Mr. Lupton.)
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ *MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kingston)
said that, before speaking on the Amendment, he wanted to recall to the attention of the House exactly what had happened last night. The effect of the Amendment, if carried, would be to recommend to His Majesty the repeal of the penal clauses of the Vaccination Acts. The hon. Member who moved it had attacked the whole system of vaccination and the establishment of compulsory vaccination, and had adduced arguments and figures of the most striking character. He used the word "striking" for the moment as a useful expression. Having heard that speech, he had looked to His Majesty's Government and especially to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, who, of course, had in his charge for the moment the public health of the country, to give to the House some kind of guidance, on the matter discussed in the hon. Member's speech. But he had done nothing of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman rose, and, in the five minutes he gave the matter, entirely put on one side the whole question raised by the Amendment and the speech in support of it, and made to the House a most important announcement, namely, that his 425 Department intended very shortly to introduce a Bill the effect of which would be to give certain instalments of the abolition of compulsory vaccination. First, exemption was to be made very much easier by prescribing that, in place of the present duty of applying to a Court of summary jurisdiction for a certificate of exemption, the person requiring exemption for his child should make a statutory declaration of his objection to vaccination. Secondly, the penalties under the Vaccination Acts were to be made lighter and easier than they were now. This was a very serious matter, and they were entitled to know whether the Government adopted the arguments and figures, the reckless figures, as he thought, put before the House by the Member for Sleaford? Were they opposed to compulsory vaccination on principle? What view did they take as to that question? What view did their medical officers—after all, the advisers of the country—take on the subject? Were they prepared to throw over the policy which had ruled the country under all Governments within the memory of any Members of the House? No Minister had yet said to the House that compulsory vaccination was wrong. No Minister, until last night, had proposed a measure the effect of which would be to destroy compulsory vaccination; and he thought the country ought to know what view was taken by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends upon the matters discussed in the speech of the mover of the Amendment. He need hardly say that the view taken by the Government was a very important matter, apart from any Bill they might bring in, because if they were opposed to vaccination, the effect on Government Departments, on boards throughout the country, and on officers of health would be very great indeed. Therefore, he hoped to get from somebody on the Front Bench a definite pronouncement in favour of compulsory vaccination. He could hardly suppose that they would say a word the other way. He, of course, was not an expert on the matter; he had no advantage in that respect over either the mover or seconder of the Amendment. But they had all studied the question and knew something about the figures; and he could not suppose that a practice which was supported by an 426 overwhelming majority of medical practitioners in the country, and, he supposed, still more overwhelming majority of medical officers of health, which had been supported by a Royal Commission after hearing a great deal of evidence, which had been supported and maintained by every Government of this country hitherto, would be abandoned by the present Government under any pressure whatever. They knew the enormous and beneficial change which had come over the country since the introduction of compulsory vaccination. They had all read something of what smallpox was in the eighteenth century. He did not think anybody could read books relating to that period without learning what a scourge smallpox was to the country. Lord Macaulay said—It was the most terrible of all the ministers of death, always present, filling the churchyard with corpses, tormenting with constant fears all whom it had not yet stricken, leaving on those whose lives it spared the hideous traces of its power.Smallpox was a loathsome and terrible disease, and they should be very careful that no stops were taken which would have the least tendency towards its reintroduction. But apart from that historical matter, he had figures in favour of vaccination which were extremely striking. One set of figures had reference to the epidemic in Sheffield in 1887–8. During that epidemic a census was taken to find out the numbers of vaccinated and unvaccinated persons in the town, and the number of each class attacked by the disease. It was found that out of every thousand vaccinated persons sixteen were attacked, and out of every thousand unvaccinated persons seventy were attacked. Or to take another figure, it was found that among the children under five years of age, out of every thousand vaccinated four had smallpox, and out of every thousand unvaccinated forty-seven were attacked, or more than eleven times as many. And the deaths were in the same proportion. As regarded the deaths caused by the disease it was found, on figures relating to the whole population, that among 100,000 vaccinated persons of all ages there would have been seventy-five deaths, and among 100,000 unvaccinated, 3,479 deaths. Those were very striking figures. Then there was the London epidemic in 427 1901 and 1902. In that outbreak there were 6,945 cases of smallpox in vaccinated persons treated in the hospitals under the Metropolitan Asylums Board and 705 died, equal to 10.1 per cent. of those attacked. As regarded unvaccinated patients, they numbered 2,278, and amongst that total there were 753 deaths, equal to 33.5 per cent of those attacked. In regard to children under ten years of age, amongst the vaccinated class there were 134 cases with two deaths only, whilst amongst 1,274 unvaccinated cases there were 442 deaths, or over 34 per cent. Those were figures which could not be lightly set aside. Again, had anything happened to destroy the effect of the report on this question which was obtained from Germany by Dr. Bruce Low not many years ago? It was astonishing what conclusive results had been obtained in Germany by a consistent and resolute adherence to vaccination. In Germany, at one of the great medical colleges, they had had to import smallpox cases from other countries in order to show the students what smallpox was like. He wished to know whether the Government adhered to the view expressed in that well-known report as to the effect of vaccination and re-vaccination in Germany. He did not need to labour the general question further; but if the Government adhered to the principle of compulsory vaccination, he hoped nothing would be done to palter with the question. No doubt he would be taunted with the conscientious objection clause in the Act of 1898. Personally he was no admirer of that clause, and if he had been in the House at the time his vote would probably have been given against it. It was the thin end of the wedge. But, whatever opinion might be held as to that clause, he hoped that no alteration of the law would be made which would extend the area of exemption. It was some kind of check upon objectors that they must now come into a public court to declare their objection to vaccination, and must satisfy a magistrate that the objection was really and conscientiously held. The cases of exemption up to the present time were not very numerous. There was in the county, a part of which he represented, a population exceeding 500,000, and a birth-rate of about 13,500, and the yearly exemptions granted numbered about 500. 428 He did not know the number of refusals, but he would be very much surprised if they exceeded fifty a year. If they were to substitute for the present system a mere statutory declaration to be made by anybody, without any obligation to satisfy a Bench of magistrates, they would considerably extend the area of exemption. If they had 500 cases now in his own county, they would probably have under the alteration of the law suggested 1,000 cases next year and 2,000 the following year, and the number would still further increase, not because there were so many people who conscientiously objected to vaccination, but because those claiming exemption would not be confined to that particular class. Exemption in future would be claimed by the idle and ignorant, and by those parents who desired to avoid the trouble of nursing a child after vaccination. Consequently we should get a very large number of unvaccinated persons in this country. It had been said that the magistrates made it too hard for an objector to obtain his certificate. He agreed that in some cases magistrates had gone beyond what was required of them. Magistrates had to satisfy themselves that there was a conscientious objection in the mind of the applicant, and for this purpose, they had been in the habit of putting certain questions to an applicant in order to ascertain the existence and conscientious nature of his belief. They were quite justified in taking that course; but it had sometimes happened that a certificate was refused, merely because the answers given by the applicant were unreasonable. He thought that was entirely wrong. He had never refused a certificate, and as a matter of fact the more unreasonable the applicant appeared to be, the more ready would he be to believe that the man had a conscientious objection to vaccination. But if hon. Members would look into the matter they would find that the cases where a certificate were refused upon wrong grounds were extremely few in proportion to the numbers granted; and since the issue of the Home Office circular they had practically disappeared. It was now only where the applicant would not take the trouble to satisfy the Bench that the certificates were refused. He hoped they would not have any reckless change in the law. He felt very strongly upon this point. He trusted that 429 hon. Members on both sides would pause before they decided upon a course which might seriously affect the working of the Vaccination Acts; and he believed that any Bill which would have the effect of weakening the Vaccination Acts would receive strong opposition from many quarters of the House.
§ *SIR W. J. COLLINS (St. Pancras, W.)
said that as one who served on the Royal Commission of 1889–1896 which investigated this subject he would like to say a few words. He wished at the outset to dissociate himself from the rather lurid pathology of the hon. Member for the Sleaford Division. He would confine his remarks to the terms of the Amendment rather than wander over the whole question, because that was fully dealt with in the Report issued by the Royal Commission on Vaccination. That Report gave a full history of the question up to that time. In his opinion both Parties in the House had committed themselves to the principle that the honest objector ought not to be subjected to compulsion.
The hon. Member who had just sat down had alluded to the Royal Commission. He would like to quote exactly what were the recommendations of the Commission of which he was a member. The late Lord Herschell was chairman, and had among his colleagues the late Sir James Paget, the late Sir William Guyer Hunter, Sir Michael Foster, whose death they had recently had to lament, Mr. Jonathan Hutchinson, Sir Charles Dalrymple, Mr. S. Whitbread, Mr. Picton, the late Mr. Meadows White, and the junior Member for Oldham, who took the place of the late Mr. Bradlaugh on the original Commission. He submitted that the question immediately before the House raised by the Amendment to the Address was not whether vaccination effected a large amount of protection against small-pox or not, or whether it was a proceeding which was safe or had attendant risks. The particular problem was—What were they going to do with the honest objector? The honest objector had troubled both the present and the previous Government. The legislation of 1898, he regretted to say, did not follow the advice tendered to Her Majesty by the Royal Commission—either by the majority or by the dis- 430 sentient Commissioners who signed a Report. He might say that when they addressed themselves to the question of the administration of the law at the beginning of their sittings, they found a state of things which he could only describe as harsh, unsatisfactory, and indeed almost brutal. Men were brought before the Commission who had been subjected to penalty after penalty—sometimes ten, twenty, thirty, or even forty penalties—and imprisonment in some cases accompanied with hard labour, he believed illegally; and men had been treated as criminals, fed on prison diet, and put in prison dress for disapproving of this particular medical prescription. The Commission had not sat many months before it agreed, unanimously, that that state of things must cease. It recommended at once that repeated penalties must go, and that the treatment of default—of medical nonconformity if they liked—should not be that of crime, and that the prison teatment should not be that of a criminal. On these two points the Commission were absolutely unanimous. When they came to the final stage of the Report the point was raised, and the problem was very carefully considered by Lord Herschell as to what was to be done with the honest objector. Seven members of the Commission favoured the view that he should be required either to state before the local authority that he objected to vaccination, or that he should make a statutory declaration. Two members of the Commission alone advised that he should be brought before a magistrate according to the practice followed under the law since 1898 when the amending Act was passed, whereas four members of the Commission, Mr. Samuel Whitbread, Mr. J. A. Picton, the junior Member for Oldham, and himself signed a Report to this effect—We, the undersigned, desire to express our dissent from the proposal to retain in any form compulsory vaccination. We cordially concur in the recommendation that conscientious objection to vaccination should be respected. The objection that mere negligence, or unwillingness on the part of parents to take trouble might keep many children from being vaccinated, would be largely, if not wholly, removed by the adoption of the Scotch system of offering vaccination at the home of the child, and by providing for medical treatment of any untoward results which may arise. we therefore think that the modified form of compulsion recommended by our colleagues is unnecessary, and that in practice it could not be carried out. The hostility which compulsion has 431 evoked in the past towards the practice of vaccination is fully acknowledged in the Report. In our opinion the retention of compulsion in any form will, in the future, cause irritation and hostility of the same kind.He thought that had been verified by what they had seen of the action of the magistrates in the last ten years.
The right of the parent, on grounds of conscience, to refuse vaccination for his child being conceded, the offer of vaccination under improved conditions being made at the home of the child, it would in our opinion be best to leave the parent free to accept or reject this offer.If the Legislature had consented to follow that recommendation of the four members of the Commission, or even the recommendation of the seven majority Commissioners, possibly there might not have been the irritation which was going on at the present time. But the legislation of 1898 did not follow the recommendations of the Royal Commission; it did not even carry out the intentions, as he gathered, of the authors of the legislation. As the hon. Member for Kingston had alluded to the question as being whether there should be compulsory vaccination or not, in language implying that no Government had ever surrendered the principle of compulsion, he must read the words of Mr. Chaplin when this matter was discussed. He said—The question at issue is perfectly clear, whether vaccination should be voluntary or compulsory in future…. I am compelled to recognise that the administration of a law of compulsory vaccination would be impracticable in the future.And again—No Government and no minister in the face of that opinion would be able to enforce it.The Legislature had placed itself in this position. It was not possible for either party to revert to the old days of compulsion with repeated penalties, prison treatment, and so forth. He very much doubted whether the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board merely to substitute a statutory declaration would enable him to find any rest for the sole of his foot there, and whether he would not find that in this, as in other matters, it would only be an instalment leading up to the larger policy, and that the repeal of the law with regard to compulsory vaccination would be the final result in 432 accordance with the recommendation signed by Mr. Whitbread, Mr. Picton the junior Member for Oldham and himself. He did not view that condition of things with alarm. As a medical man, he confessed that he would rather that their prescriptions and surgical operations were effected by moral suasion than by being associated with policemen, judicial penalties, and threats of the law. They constantly met with cases in which patients might not be prepared to take the advice tendered by the physician or surgeon. For instance, in the case of strangulated hernia, where the patient was standing, as it were, between life and death—
§ *SIR W. J. COLLINS
said he knew he would be met with that interruption, and he was prepared to deal with it. There was also the case of tracheotomy in diphtheria to relieve the patient from death by suffocation. There medical men were limited to moral suasion; and he believed their advice was more likely to be taken than if it were backed up and supported with the iron hand in the velvet glove, or any attempt at coercion by police or imprisonment. The hon. Member had said very properly that they were not dealing in hernia with an infectious case. But if there was anything which ex hypothesi ought not to require compulsion for its assistance it was vaccination which claimed ex hypothesi that he who accepted it voluntarily was indifferent to the acceptance or refusal of it by his neighbour. Let them review for a moment what were the scientific principles underlying this question; and he took it that this House would not be either bullied or frightened into any change of the law, but would be guided by scientific evidence—he did not say opinion or authority, but the scientific evidence at its disposal. The two principles or policies which every civilised nation had adopted with regard to the treatment of the disease of smallpox were, on the one hand, that they might proceed on the theory that every individual should be purposely inoculated either with the old-fashioned smallpox inoculation described by Lady Mary Wortley Montague, which was practised up to 1840 when it was made a penal offence, or with cowpox; 433 or they might adopt the alternative theory that the proper procedure was to separate the sick from the healthy, to notify and isolate as early as possible every infectious case, to adopt sanitary organisation, and to secure disinfection of infected persons and things; and so rather keep out the invasion of the infection than accept it as inevitable and secure an operation on every individual. At present they relied wholly on neither the one nor the other. So far as the legislature had tackled the question of compulsory vaccination it had brokendown much of the theory that underlay the first proposition, namely, that every one should be submitted artifically to the disease, and thereby rendered in future immune from attack. According to those who were hottest and strongest in favour of carrying out that principle, it was absolutely necessary that the preventive process should be applied to every individual, and that it should be repeated every ten or seven years, and some had suggested oven shorter periods, in order that everyone might receive the maximum amount of protection which the operation was able to confer. Legislation had made holes in that wall, for the case might be compared to a low lying country surrounded by a wall to keep out the invasion of the flood. Holes had been made in that wall by saying to the conscientious objectors, "You shall go free." And they had lowered the height of the wall by not insisting on re-vaccination, although that was essential to this theory in order to secure immunity.
Alongside of this principle and process of protective inoculation there had grown up in practice in many towns, and largely in the metropolis, the principle of notification and isolation, and disinfection of persons and things. And the evidence before the Commission on this subject was so striking that all the Commissioners signed a statement to the effect that a sound system of sanitary organisation and isolation was a potent factor in the prevention of smallpox and in securing immunity for the people. Let them take the notable case of London, especially alluded to in the Majority Report. It was shown that down to 1885 very little progress had been made in reducing the mortality from smallpox. From that 434 time isolation was adopted and the infectious hospitals were removed from the crowded districts, and a notable decline took place in the metropolis, which according to Lord Herschell and his colleagues must be attributed largely to this new system of sanitary organisation. It was because of the recent development in many countries, and even in imperfectly vaccinated communities, of this system that it was possible to repress and keep down the disease of smallpox. Sheffield had been alluded to. But in regard to Sheffield the members of the Royal Commission were informed that the vaccination laws had been obeyed better than in many large towns, up to 88 per cent. of the population having been vaccinated. But there, in the absence of a system of notification and isolation, although that town was well vaccinated in the eyes of the law, a severe epidemic of smallpox was experienced. It was therefore maintained by some, with a good deal of evidence to support their contention, that in imperfectly vaccinated communities a system of notification, isolation, and sanitation was able to cope with an outbreak of smallpox, whereas with such vaccination as the present legislation required, they were unable to keep out the disease unless there was also some system of notification, isolation, and sanitation. This altered the scientific position in regard to the mode of dealing with the disease. In proportion as they came to rely on the stamping-out process rather than the stamping-in process it was evident that the need for the universal application of vaccination to every child, or the repetition of vaccination every seven, five, three, or two years became relatively less important. That was a point which had been lost sight of. It was being recognised by medical officers of health throughout the country, and they put a good deal of reliance on isolation and disinfection which had been so successfully practiced even in crowded places like London, as well as in other urban areas. He did not wish to go into the larger question raised by the hon. Member opposite, but as regarded statistics it was rather a drawn battle when the statistics quoted were compared with those on the other side.
The question need hardly be treated with levity. There were members of his own profession, whose reputation and 435 standing could not be disputed, who were profound sceptics in regard to vaccination. He admitted they were a minority, but no one in the profession took up the position to-day that was taken up when compulsion was first introduced in 1853, when Lord Lyttelton's Bill, introduced in the House of Lords, was based on the principle, as its author stated, that the certainty of vaccination as a preventive was unanimously supported by the medical profession and also that the operation was perfectly free from ill result or harm. Neither of these propositions could be maintained to-day by any member of his profession with a reputation to lose, nor did the Reports of the Royal Commission, majority or minority, support either of these propositions. The hon. Member for Kingston's own statistics showed that the claim now made was not for an absolute protection, but a limited and temporary protection. He regretted to say the Royal Commission had before them cases of injury, including erysipelas, sloughing and blood poisoning, which, he also regretted to say, they could not guarantee by the use of any kind of lymph would always be absent, although they might be made relatively fewer. The President of the Local Government Board could not tell them for certain what were the original sources of the lymph employed. As the micro-organism of vaccine had never been discovered, the lymph did not admit of being standardised and the dose scientifically measured. Other facts in regard to the pathology of vaccinia showed it to be in some respects allied to diseases far from pleasant to describe. It was because of these considerations that the Legislature had to revise its position in regard to the question of compulsion and have regard to the development of sanitary activity throughout the country, notably in the matter of isolation and disinfection, which in the opinion of some eminent men had been the means of reducing the prevalence of smallpox when vaccination had got the credit for it.
On these accounts he felt that even the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board might not be a final one, but only an instalment leading up to a larger policy. When his Bill was introduced some of them would feel it necessary to push it in that direction. At present he 436 welcomed the right hon. Gentleman's sympathetic attitude as suggesting that he shared something of the views he had endeavoured to express to the House. In conclusion he ventured to say he opposed compulsion as a surgeon, because he would rather have his advice recommended by a process of moral suasion than imposed by the co-operation of policeman, penalties, and imprisonments; he also opposed it as a Liberal, because he thought it unwise and unjust to force vaccination on those who regarded it as useless or dangerous.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said he desired to say a few words in this debate, because he had been at the Local Government Board himself for five years, and responsible for the administration of the Vaccination Acts. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment had made a quotation from some past speech of his which, the hon. Member had insisted, contained a specific declaration that primary vaccination was a farce. He had not been able to find a copy of any speech of his which contained an expression to that effect. But there was a speech in which the hon. Member would find that he was dealing with the argument used by some anti-vaccinators that vaccination had been proved to be a failure, because in certain cases serious results had followed from it, in the contraction of either small-pox or some other disease. He found that no believer in primary vaccination had ever contended that primary vaccination alone was a complete safeguard from small-pox.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said that he was dealing with contemporary opinion. The speech of the hon. Gentleman opposite had been listened to with the greatest possible pleasure and interest by the House. It would be superfluous for him—perhaps almost inpertinent—to say that they all recognised not merely the high authority of the hon. Gentleman when he spoke on this or on many other questions, but also the great ability, dexterity, and charm with which the hon. Gentleman put his case before his hearers. The hon. Gentleman had said that if there were a complete system everywhere of sanitary administration and isolation that would be the best preventive 437 they could have against small-pox or any other disease. But any one who had practical experience of administration of local government at the present day could, he insisted, scarcely agree with that argument. He had been in the Local Government Board as Secretary and President for eleven years, and he could affirm that there was no more difficult work imposed on a Government Board than that of trying to induce local authorities to adopt sanitary precautions. In the first place, these were very expensive and difficult of application, and in the second place, even if those sanitary precautions were satisfactory in themselves, he did not think that anybody would suggest that there was any hope of securing their general adoption throughout the country. The hon. Member for west St. Pancras had pointed out some of the weak spots of the vaccination system. Of course, there were weak spots in every human device; but although the hon. Gentleman threw some doubt on the figures produced by the hon. and learned Member behind him, and warned the House that statistics were dangerous things and could be quoted on both sides, and that experts could give evidence on both sides, they must look to the fact that since the amending Act of 1898 many people who held the view that the concession to the conscientious objector would result in less vaccination, recognised that the actual general result of the passing of that Act had been a very large increase in the number of people vaccinated in this country, and in the number of children submitted to primary vaccination. That showed that that change in the law had removed a substantial grievance in the operation of the Vaccination Acts, and that a largely increased number of people had adopted vaccination. The hon. Member for West St. Pancras did not attempt to deal with the case quoted by his hon. friend behind him—which had never been answered—he meant the case of Germany. One of the ablest inspectors on the general staff of the Local Government Board—a man of knowledge and experience, and, though to some extent sympathising with the view opposed to that of the anti-vaccinators, was a man of the highest possible integrity and ability, and whose report therefore might be accepted as an accurate account of what he had observed in Germany—had put 438 clearly the experience of Germany in favour of vaccination. He himself could never understand how people who condemned the system of vaccination had never attempted to meet the case of Germany. But Germany was not the only case. In India the most remarkable results had followed the universal practice of vaccination. The President of the Local Government Board held very largely the views of the hon. Member for West St. Pancras, and if those views prevailed in the administration of the Local Government Board he should look forward with less security than now to the future. He understood that the right hon. Gentleman had only made a short speech the previous evening because he thought the debate was closing; but he did not understand that the right hon. Gentleman's general attitude on the question had in any way been altered since he became responsible for the administration of the Local Government Board, and that the right hon. Gentleman was endeavouring to remove some of the difficulties in regard to the issue of certificates to conscientious objectors and to fees. As to the now form of certificates he would say nothing; but the question of fees was one that called for treatment. The late Government provided for domiciliary vaccination. It was found at first that it was impossible for medical men to decide what sort of a fee they should receive for the work, and in many cases their fees were undoubtedly excessive and imposed a great burden on the local authorities. In regard to the general question, it could not be denied that the condition of this country in regard to small-pox had largely improved. It was perfectly true that there had been an advance in sanitary science and sanitary administration, but that advance had not by any means covered the whole of the country. There was, no doubt, a great improvement in the sanitary administration of our large towns, but there was a great deal to be done in that regard in our smaller towns and in the rural districts, and he thought it could not be claimed that by sanitary advance alone, or even to a large extent, this change had been effected. Yet hon. Members would find that there had been an enormous reduction in the number of small-pox cases throughout the country. The hon. Gentleman had stated that those who believed in general vaccination and 439 regarded it as a safeguard ought to be content to be vaccinated themselves and go about feeling that they were immune; but, really, was that an argument that a Government should seriously consider? This was a case in regard to which they were bound to think for those who had neither the leisure nor the opportunity of considering and speaking for themselves, and if they could provide for them a reasonable and simple plan by which they need not be called upon to carry out the law if they did not desire to do so, and by which the penal clauses of the Act were only made applicable where they wilfully neglected the most simple precautions provided by the law, surely that was enough. Was it not going too far to say that they were to condemn the whole plan and to relinquish the safeguards and machinery which applied to the community because they could protect and render themselves immune? For himself, he did not believe that for a long time to come, or until people could produce stronger and weightier evidence than had yet been brought forward any responsible Ministry would do anything to weaken the administration of the vaccination laws. He trusted that any proposal to do so would not be supported by the President of the Local Government Board. They had had innumerable debates upon this point upon non-party lines, except when they had taken place on a Motion for the reduction of the salary of the Minister of the day, and then, self-preservation being the first law of nature, Party had been called into play. As a rule, however, the question had been discussed quite independently of the Party views of Members. He hoped that always would be the case, because this was a question which ought not to be brought within the range of Party politics. He apologised for speaking upon this subject, but he only spoke as an old Local Government Board official in defence of the system which he believed to be wise and in the best interests of the community as a whole.
§ *SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
said he felt a certain amount of responsibility in speaking upon the matter, because he was, he believed, the parent in this House of the conscientious objectors—a family which had grown up in the country and which had been despitefully 440 used by various Governments and by magistrates in consequence of words used in regard to them in the last Act upon the subject of vaccination. It would be in the recollection of the late Prime Minister that he carried an Amendment in 1898 in favour of the conscientious objector, and that the right hon. Gentleman would not accept the words which he wished him to accept in carrying out the views which he expressed on that occasion. If his words had been accepted they would have had none of the trouble and turmoil which had been going on in the country ever since, because under his proposal every one who was a conscientious objector could obtain a certificate by making a declaration before a Court or magistrate. That he believed to be the ideal system, because, under it, if a man had a conscientious objection it would be left to the man himself to decide the matter. It was impossible, as he conceived, for anyone to form a judgment as to the conscience of another man, and if a man came up and made a declaration he ought to receive exemption. He did not think the present system ought to be perpetuated by any Government, and he was delighted that the President of the Local Government Board had announced to the House that this bad system was to cease, and that they were to have a reasonable arid rational method by which people who did not believe in vaccination could obtain freedom from compulsion. The reason he was induced to take that line with regard to the Act of 1898 was that after the Royal Commission had reported that a certain loathsome disease could be communicated through vaccination he felt that the whole case for compulsion must cease to have effect. The moment that fact was admitted, as it was admitted by the Royal Commission, and recognised by the medical profession, they had no right to compel any man to take the risk of communicating that disease to his child. Therefore the principle of compulsion had broken down, and they must allow any man freedom from any attempt to force his child to be vaccinated. It the right hon. Gentleman had accepted the words which he proposed and had made this process automatic without the obligation of satisfying the Court, a lot of trouble which had existed in the country would not have been incurred, and we should have had 441 more satisfactory results in regard to vaccination at the present moment. It was always a mistake where men had a conscientious objection to make martyrs of them. What had happened under the present system? Scores of his own constituents and of other Members' constituents had had to lose part of a day's work, spend in Court fees 1s. 6d. or more, because they wanted their child freed from liability to be vaccinated. That was a monstrous tyranny which ought not to exist. The Conservative Government of 1898, when they were beaten in the House of Commons, ought to have made it easy for the conscientious objector to get his relief instead of introducing into an Act of Parliament stupid words which had created this great trouble in the country, and given rise to the agitation against vaccination which had been going on over since because men who went into Court to claim exemption were made martyrs. The course which the late Government had taken was not worthily taken, because it was done in order to save the face of the Government in view of a proposal which had come from the Opposition side of the House. When they accepted and carried the proposal to admit the conscientious objector to a statutory position they were also promised by the Government a Bill for revaccination,. To attempt to carry out the vaccination laws without that in a compulsory system was to depend upon a broken reed. He believed in vaccination. He had gone through three small-pox epidemics and what he saw had led him to believe in it, because he had seen the different developments of the disease in vaccinated and unvaccinated patients. The differences were so terrible that he would not attempt to describe them. But although he believed in vaccination, it was only as a protection for a short period; and in order to make it thorough it ought to be resorted to again after a few years. It ought to be repeated at least once or possibly twice before the adult age was reached. His hon. friends would complain that he wanted more vaccination. Well, if a thing was good to protect they could not possibly have too much of it. At all events they wanted as much as would give them protection from this terrible disease. That they could not get by simple vaccination; they should have 442 re-vaccination as well. When the last Bill was before the Committee upstairs he proposed what would have been a more efficacious system than that which Mr. Chaplin adopted. He suggested to Mr. Chaplin that he should meet the difficulty by dropping compulsion altogether and giving every doctor a too for each child he vaccinated properly. He believed that if that policy were followed they would get a much larger number of children vaccinated than under any compulsory system, because the system of personal persuasion by a doctor at the bedside was more efficient than any other means of inducing a mother to have her child vaccinated. The answer to that proposal was that it would cost £72,000 a year, but under the present system we were spending six, seven, or it might be ten times that amount. Finally, the conscientious objectors clause in the Act of 1898 was an example of bad economy, bad drafting, and bad statesmanship. As to isolation, he had always held a high opinion as to its value in preventing not only small-pox but other diseases. But it would cost much money, and people were very sensitive about rates; even more sensitive than they were about vaccination. Besides that, there were many parts of the country where he believed the whole sanitary system was in a state of inefficiency. If we had an outbreak of cholera to-morrow there were miles of country districts where the people would be decimated by the disease if it once got in. And that condition must go on until the President of the Local Government Board took into consideration the Amendment of the Public Health Acts. A system of thorough isolation would be effective not only against small-pox but against all other contagious and infectious diseases; but the expense would be enormous, and it would lead to such rates as he was afraid the country would not bear. He did not think it was a practicable scheme at the present time, although he was glad to seethe system carried out in Leicester, and he hoped other places would follow the sanitary efficiency of that town. He was glad to find that the conscientious objectors were now going to receive justice. For years past the way in which these poor men had been subjected to cross-examination by Justices of the Peace and the manner in which they 443 had been exposed to waste of time and money had been a perfect scandal. Men actuated by a conscientious motive had been sneered at by the Bench and mulcted of half a-day's work as well as fees, and he believed that any method the right hon. Gentleman took to save them from these odious penalties would do much to popularise vaccination.
§ *MR. EUGENE WASON (Clackmannan and Kinross)
said there were certain portions of the British dominions where the conscientious objector did not exist, and he rose to inform the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board that while he understood from the answer given to him on a previous occasion that the Bill he proposed to bring forward would extend to Scotland, he now understood that it would not do so. However that might be he hoped that, the same facilities for exemption would be extended to those who had conscientious objections to vaccination in Scotland as were about to be extended to the conscientious objector in England. He himself was only a half believer in vaccination, and those who had seen its evil effects were not quite so enamoured of it as others who believed it to be more or less of a preventive. He had seen a young child suffering in a terrible way from it with holes in its legs and ulcers in its mouth, and he believed that the suffering could not have been more had the child had the smallpox. He therefore desired to get some assurance from the Secretary for Scotland that he would give a favourable consideration to the position of the people of Scotland who conscientiously objected to vaccination, and that if they made a statutory declaration of their conscientious objection to vaccination they might be exempt from fine or imprisonment. Some persons in Scotland were in prison at the present moment for having broken the law in this respect, but their conscientious objections in this matter should be respected.
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. SINCLAIR, Forfarshire)
said he had no difficulty in giving the assurance for which the hon. Member had asked. In his view it was quite indefensible to refuse to Scotland what was given to England in a matter of this kind; the rights of conscience were the same in each 444 case. The House, however, would be aware that there was a difference in the law of the two countries, and for that reason it was not possible for the President of the Local Government Board to extend to Scotland the proposals he intended to lay before the House. He (Mr. Sinclair) was not acquainted with the details of those proposals, but when they had been formulated, and before if possible, he would confer with those who had charge of this matter in Scotland as to the position of that country in the matter, and give it the consideration which he had been asked to give.
§ *MR. T. F. RICHARDS (Wolverhampton, W.)
said he would not have intervened in the debate had it not been for the fact that he came from Leicester, a town which had played a very important part in this movement. For fifteen years they had in Leicester enjoyed perfect immunity, or in other words they had evaded the law. The position of the town of Leicester geographically was an important one, inasmuch as it was situated in what might be termed a cup, and in so far might be described as an insanitary town had not the sanitary authorities there been of opinion that sanitation was very much better than vaccination. They believed vaccination to be neither necessary nor essential, and as a consequence the people as a whole had studied this question very carefully. They found that complete sanitation was much better than either inoculation or vaccination, and they had done their best to make the town as sanitary as possible. The suggestion was made that the time would come when Leicester would be visited by an epidemic, not of their own production, but one imported from a vaccinated town. The birth-rate of Leicester for the last twenty years had been about 6,000 a year, and the proportion of that number which had been vaccinated had not been 230 per year. The medical officer had told him that he might take it that Leicester was an absolutely unvaccinated town. When the epidemic came they had 250 cases and only fifteen deaths, and the outcome of the epidemic made such an impression upon the mind of the medical officer that he had arrived at the conclusion that vaccination was not necessary for the town except when an epidemic was in 445 progress. If they could convince medical men as to the necessity of sanitation, and if it were true that they could not get the great towns to perfect their sanitary conditions, it was a matter in which the Local Government Board should exercise more pressure. Had the late President of the Local Government Board been in his place he would have asked him whether he had made any suggestion with regard to the sanitation of Leicester that had not been adopted. He was glad to be able to make these statements with regard to Leicester, because that town had been much quoted throughout the country. They had converted the Local Government Board to the fact that sanitation was the best policy, that it was better to have covered grids in the streets instead of open ones, and that they should be closed and sealed, and a ventilation shaft erected. This policy had since been adopted by the Local Government Board, and they had converted the Board in other matters also. One hon. Gentleman had suggested that if they took their minds back to the old days they would come to the conclusion that vaccination prevented smallpox. It would have been a great advantage if, when he quoted Sheffield as a vaccinated borough, the hon. Gentleman could have given the House more particular information. It had been stated that 3,079 unvaccinated persons had died out of 100,000, but he would ask whether the hon. Gentleman was satisfied that those 3,079 persons had never at any time been vaccinated, because immediately the fact was driven home to the medical faculty that these persons had been vaccinated they always contended that they were unvaccinated unless vaccination had been performed within seven years. So far as the Leicester epidemic was concerned he could say definitely and defy contradiction that several of the fifteen that did die had been vaccinated.
§ *MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said he had listened carefully to the debate, and was somewhat alarmed at the position in which this vaccination question stood. The debate had shown the power of a small resolute minority, who were persistent in their efforts, who ignored all the salient facts of the case, and who argued from a false sentiment; and it was evidence of the pitch of 446 artificial importance to which such a minority could bring this or any other question. He was unfortunately old enough to remember the days when vaccination was not. He happened to be one of the last who was inoculated and had smallpox as they did have after inoculation, but when in a state of health. Those who were, old enough to remember the days before vaccination came into use would remember what the state of things was then, when one in every seven or eight persons they met among the population was marked with smallpox, and many of them disfigured. When he heard such arguments as those used by the hon. Member who had just sat down as to sanitation being the remedy, he could only reply that sanitation was, of course, a palliative of all diseases. No doubt the more perfect the sanitation was the better. When, however, they had a scientific preventive presented to them it seemed to him a very short-sighted policy to interfere with it. He was quite aware that before the recent improvements at the Local Government Board there was great cause for complaint of some liability to danger. When vaccination was taken from one arm to another it was quite possible that besides immunity from smallpox there might be diseases introduced into the system of the child, but by the action of the Local Government Board every possibility of that kind had disappeared. As he understood, no vaccination took place at the present time except with pure lymph from the calf. That being so, how was it possible to transmit disease from one child to another? He would not labour the point. He remembered when this question came up before the House twenty-five years ago, and he remembered the medical evidence that was given on it—evidence of perhaps the greatest authority of his day, Lord Playfair, who convinced the House over and over again of the perilous course which the anti-vaccinator was pursuing. He had no hope of persuading any anti-vaccinator upon this question. He had friends full of common sense on every other point, men whom he listened to with respect on other matters, but with whom one could not argue on this question. One might as well argue with a brick wall. It was a question which with them was a fixed one, their opinion upon which they would hold until they 447 died. He asked the House and the President of the Local Government Board to consider the millions of children whose safety would be affected. He asked them, as the nation was now practically immune from what in former days was a terrible scourge, not to interfere with the present position of the vaccination laws, or to open up any road of danger by going back to the old state of things. The hon. Member for West Wolverhampton had spoken of sanitation, but he asked the President of the Local Government Board to look this matter in the face not from the point of view of the fanatic, who looked at the matter from a purely sentimental point of view. He likened the anti-vaccinator to the prisoner who was in a dark cell, into which all the light he had came from a little chink in the wall, and who, when they proposed to pull the prison down, begged them not to do so lest the chink should disappear and he should lose the little light he had. He had a great respect for anti-vaccinators, because he knew that as a rule they were most estimable men upon every other question. It was said that all men were insane upon one particular point, and that might be so, but he would appeal to those Members of the House who were not more than usually insane and ask them to hesitate before they took a step, the effect of which might not be seen Yet, but which, if it resulted in the infecting of the nation, might end in this scourge overcoming us and sweeping away whole populations. We were safe now, and for his part he could not understand what argument could be brought against vaccination. It was quite true there was the alternative policy of sanitation and other remedies, but why not carry these on as well as the preventive that had borne the brunt of the day, and had shown itself to be effective in saving, not only the lives, but what was almost as important so far as half the population was concerned, the faces of millions of the people from being marked and scarred. What the anti-vaccinator wanted to do was to do away with vaccination altogether. Surely that was a very great step to take in the face of the highest scientific medical evidence of the last thirty years. Most of the medical evidence given on the other side was given by faddists rather than by 448 scientific men. If hon. Members went to the highest authorities of the past they would find that that evidence was based, not on sentiment, but on the result of absolute experience. When he entered the House he had no idea of saying a word on this subject, but when he listened to the inconclusive arguments put forward and saw that the enthusiasm and determination and fixity of purpose were all on one side, he feared the effects that such statements might have. Thus it was with all the blessings we enjoyed. If they were universal no one said a word in their favour, but if a defect was shown in any one of them, then; was sure to be a host of people to come up and complain, and to suggest that the blessing itself should be destroyed. He implored the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, whatever concession he might make, not to take that fatal step which might result in years to come in our becoming an infected nation.
§ *THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Dr. MACNAMARA,) Camberwell, N.
said his right hon. friend the President of the Local Government Board last night made a very important statement. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman lay under any charge because his statement was short, for he had simply made it brief in the belief that there was a desire to close the debate last night. Whilst the statement which the Minister made was a most interesting one, it involved this serious consequence for him, that the President had exhausted his right to speak that day, and therefore it was that he himself had to come to that box for the first time, to speak upon one of the most controversial and one of the most complicated questions within the whole range of public problems. The matter, however, had been so recently and so fully debated in that House that he need not go into the merits of the case for and against vaccination. Indeed, if he endeavoured to do so. he would find himself in considerable difficulty. The expert anti-vaccinator got up and bombarded him with absolutely irrefutable statistics proving vaccination to be a barbarous and silly operation, fraught with real danger to the health of the person on whom it was performed. 449 Immediately on his sitting down, up got an expert pro-vaccinator, who bombarded him with figures showing that vaccination was of vital necessity to the health of the community. India and Germany were vigorously claimed by both parties to prove their case. The most convincing statistics were given by both sides, and he confessed that he knew none more perplexing, unless it might be those of tariff reform. In his infancy, his parents, in their wisdom, had him vaccinated, but neither party was entitled to claim him on that account, because it was a matter over which he had had no control one way or the other. But as he had listened to the Speech last night of his hon. friend the Member for Sleaford he really felt that he ought to have died a hundred horrible deaths because of that early operation. On the other hand, the speech of his hon. and learned friend the Member for Kingston went far to convince him that but for his having been vaccinated the odds were that he would not have been there that day to tell the tale. The solid fact was, however, that from 1853 onwards there had been a growing irritation on the part of the working classes against compulsory vaccination. His own view, taking it for what it was worth, was that what ultimately became a protest against the thing itself, originated to a large extent from a well-founded objection to the way in which it was carried out. Poor people, he knew, took the gravest objection to arm-to-arm vaccination, and they were generally treated with scant consideration in the matter. As the House knew, the whole thing culminated in 1889 in the appointment of a Royal Commission, in connection with which they had had such an admirable speech by the hon. Member for West St. Pancras, who had gone fully into the terms of the Commission's Report. The Report of the Commission was presented in 1896, and the majority of the members said—After careful consideration and much study of the subject, we have arrived at the conclusion that it would conduce to increased vaccination if a scheme could be devised which would preclude the attempt (so often a vain one) to compel those who are honestly opposed to the practice, to submit their children to vaccination, and, at the same time, leave the law to operate, as at present, to prevent children remaining unvaccinated owing to the neglect or indifference of the parent.Then two distinguished medical men, Sir William Guyer Hunter and Dr. 450 Jonathan Hutchinson, went entirely in the opposite direction. They said—We think that in all oases in which a parent or guardian refuses to allow vaccination, the person so refusing should be summoned before a magistrate, as at present, and that the only change made should be to permit the magistrate to accept a sworn deposition of conscientious objection, and to abstain from the infliction of a line.A further Report was signed by Mr. Samuel Whitbread, Mr. John A. Bright, Sir W. J. Collins, and Mr. J. Allanson Picton, who strongly and unreservedly rejected the idea of compulsion in any form. Arising out of what Sir Guyer Hunter and Dr. Huchinson reported, they had the legislation of 1898, which caused a great deal of discussion in the country. That legislation gave up, once and for all, compulsory vaccination. There could be no doubt about that, and so with all respect for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bordesley Division, he seemed to have overlooked what that legislation did. It provided that—No parent or other person shall he liable to any penalty, under Section 29 or Section 31 of the Vaccination Act of 1867, if within four months from the birth of the child he satisfies two justices, or a stipendiary or Metropolitan police magistrate, in petty sessions, that he conscientiously believes that vaccination would be prejudicial to the health of the child, and within seven days thereafter delivers to the vaccination officer for the district, a certificate by such magistrates of such conscientious objection.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said he was quite aware of that, but as a matter of fact the state of the law had led to very few exemptions.
§ *DR. MACNAMARA
said it was a matter of interest to state that in 1903 there were 948,353 births, and 37,675 exemptions. That was the result of the state of the law. But it could not be denied that a great many magistrates, challenging the wisdom of this enactment of 1898, deliberately set themselves to make relief under that section as difficult and onerous as possible. They frequently went out of their way to pour ridicule and contumely upon people who sought to avail themselves of the law of 1898, and to inconvenience them in every possible way. In some cases they showed the most contemptible discrimination in the treatment of the poor applicants as compared with the treatment of the rich. All I this was clearly not consonant with the 451 letter or even the spirit, of the Act of 1898, and certainly was not contemplated by the Royal Commission. If magistrates were all like the hon. Member for Kingston, who never refused an application, they would not be there that day with the tale they had. On April 25th last year, the hon. Member for Sleaford brought the whole matter before the House on the Motion—That in the opinion of this House vaccination ought no longer to be obligatory on those who regard it as useless or dangerous.That Motion was ultimately withdrawn on account of the pledges which were given by the President of the Local Government Board. His right hon. friend had last night rehearsed the pledges he had given on that occasion, and, on his behalf, he proposed to repeat those pledges. It was proposed to substitute for the present system under which a parent must obtain a certificate of conscientious objection, a new system which would enable a person who conscientiously objects to vaccination to secure exemption on making an ordinary statutory declaration. His right hon. friend was not in a position to indicate more definitely the nature of his proposal, but it was intended to make the new procedure as little onerous as possible Having regard to this assurance he trusted his hon. friend would see his way to withdraw the Amendment.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leigh Burghs)
said that, if any change of the law with regard to Scotland was in contemplation, full consideration should be given to the state of public opinion in that country in reference to vaccination. No doubt there was a very small minority in Scotland in favour of a change of the law, but he believed that the great preponderance of public opinion there was in favour of its maintenance. Upon the whole, the administration of the Act had been better in Scotland than in England, though there had been some very bad cases in Scotland as well as in England, and the administration of the law ought to have been far better. The methods of enforcing vaccination had left very much to be desired. But in spite of that, on the whole, the compulsory law had been upheld by public opinion in Scotland, and he did not believe that there was any large section of public 452 opinion in favour of a change. He did not speak personally from any love for vaccination. He had suffered from small pox, though he had been repeatedly vaccinated, and really the cure seemed to be about as bad as the disease. Nevertheless, though the methods left a great deal to be desired, he frankly supported the existing law as being in favour of compulsory vaccination. He would ask his right hon. friend to consider very fully the state of public opinion in Scotland before introducing any legislation which might render apparent to that public opinion that they were less insistent upon every precaution being taken against small-pox.
§ *MR. SMEATON (Stirlingshire)
said he entirely disagreed with the hon. Member who had just spoken. In that part of Scotland with which he was acquainted and which he represented, the feeling was very strong indeed, not so much against a properly administered system of vaccination as against compulsion. The people felt that if compulsion was not required in England, it was certainly not necessary in Scotland. What they were insisting upon was that they should have the same relaxation of the rigour of the law as was allowed in England. It was claimed that exemptions which were statutorily permitted in England, ought to be allowed in Scotland. At the present moment there was no such thing as a statutory objector in Scotland. That was pathetically illustrated by a letter which he received from an exasperated parent who had lost his child through vaccination—I am compelled by law to allow them to kill my child, but in England a man may save the life of his child by paying a fine.That was the position taken up by a very large number of people in Scotland, and they wanted a guarantee that whatever treatment was meted out to England in the coming Bill should also be meted out to Scotland, and he warned the right hon. Gentleman in a friendly way, that, if he was unable to give that guarantee and carry it out, his chance at the next general election would be very small.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
said that, although the statement and promise made by the Government did not go so far as some of them wished, 453 it did go a very considerable length to meet their views. That a person should obtain exemption by making an ordinary statutory declaration was the provision which in the debates on the Bill of 1898 he and his friends sought to obtain. That, however, was refused them. They were put off with the statement that going before a magistrate would be a purely formal matter. Experience had falsified that assurance, and had shown that persons who made applications to magistrates had been treated with the utmost contumely and contempt; and that the whole process had been made particularly odious to the applicants. All that would have been avoided if, at that time, there had been instituted procedure by ordinary statutory declaration instead of the present method. Having regard to the promises that had been made, he ventured to appeal to his hon. friend to withdraw his Amendment.
§ *MR. LUPTON
said that after the pronouncements of the President and of the Secretary of the Local Government Board, he was glad, at any rate, that some instalment of what the country desired had been promised, and he hoped more would be conceded. He would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)
rose to move the addition of the following words to the Address, "And we humbly submit to your Majesty that, in accordance with the precedent of 1902, it is desirable that the first Question to be laid before the delegates from your Majesty's Colonies at the coming Colonial Conference should be the importance of the fuller participation by the Colonies in the cost of defending your Majesty's dominions." He did not think he need apologise to the House for bringing this matter before them. Its importance, he was convinced, was recognised fully by both sides of the House, and he would only venture to quote the opinion of two distinguished Members of the Party opposite. He quoted the opinion of the late Secretary for War the Member for Croydon, whose illness they all regretted. The right hon. Gentleman wrote—The system of imposing the whole burden of Imperial Defence upon the shoulders of the 454 British taxpayer is absurd in theory and unjust in practice. But it is certain that unless the facts be clearly stated, and frequently brought under the attention of those whom they most concern, the absurdity will never be removed nor the injustice abated.In December, 1904, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, now Viscount St Aldwyn, on the occasion of a deputation on the subject to the then Prime Minister, said—It was the primary duty of the Government to put this in the foreground as the most urgent and essential matter for consideration.Ono of the most important facts in connection with this subject was contained in a statement by the Under-Secretary for the Colonies on the 29th of March of last year, when he said that the total military and naval expenditure of the United Kingdom was £66,000,000, while the total naval and military expenditure of the Colonies was £887,000. The discrepancy was enormous. It might be said, however, that we were richer, and that our population was greater, than was the case with our Colonies. But how much? Our revenue in the year, ending 29th March, 1896, was £143,000,000, and that of the Colonies £85,000,000, some of which was of a local character. Making a large deduction on this account, they could safely put the Colonial revenue at £70,000,000, so that the revenue of the Colonies was about half as much as ours. Taking the proportion of revenue the Colonies ought to contribute 50 per cent. of the cost of imperial defence; taking population, we should have a contribution of 25 per cent. from the Colonies, instead of which they paid 1.3 per cent.
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend)
Does that apply to the whole of the Colonies, including the Crown Colonies and India?
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
It does not include India. In taking the population comparison, he thought they must all admit that it would be quite unfair to limit the comparison to white colonists. In Natal, for example, nearly all the real work of the Colony was done by the coloured people. Upon this matter of Colonial contribution some progress had been made within the last few years, and at any rate the principle had been adopted that military defence should be left to the Colonies 455 themselves. That principle had been carried out in Australia and more recently in the case of Canada. It would have been carried out earlier in Canada if a strong line had been taken up and if the Government had insisted that the British garrison should be withdrawn from Halifax and Esquimalt. It was only by the War Office taking up a strong line that this scandal of England having to pay for the garrison of two Canadian towns had been brought to an end. With regard to South Africa, in February last our military establishment there was costing £2,400,000 a year, and towards that expenditure the whole of the South African Colonies contributed only £4,000 a year, and all that came from the little Colony of Natal. When the Cameron Highlanders were sent not long ago to Maritzburg the cost was £245 per day. Therefore it would be seen that the whole of the Natal contribution towards military expenditure was swallowed up in sixteen days by the Cameron Highlanders alone. With regard to the Crown Colonies they were still garrisoned at our expense. Mauritius had a garrison which had cost this country £101,000 ten years ago. For some reason or other the cost of that garrison had now gone up to £279,000. What had been the contribution of Mauritius towards that expenditure? It used to be £18,000 a year, but now it had risen to £28,000. Consequently, this country was paying ten times as much as the Colony itself for a purely local garrison. The case of Singapore was somewhat better, because Lord Ripon there insisted upon a substantial contribution of £209,000 towards a total cost of £246,000; but, nevertheless, this country was still left responsible for a considerable sum. In Ceylon the state of things was about the same. With regard to Jamaica, while sympathising with the island in its recent misfortune, he wished to point out that England still maintained a garrison there at a cost of £200,000 a year towards which Jamaica did not contribute a single penny. Passing on to naval defence, so far from the principle he had been laying down being accepted, that the Colonies should maintain their own defence; nothing had yet been done to get any substantial contributions towards what was, after all, the main defence of the Empire. With regard to sea power, both Parties had accepted the doctrine that 456 our Empire was held together by the Navy, and that as long as the supremacy of the Navy was maintained the Empire was safe. That being so, surely the Colonies as well as the Mother country ought to contribute to the Navy. There was no reason at all why the starving peasants of Connaught should have to pay for the naval defence of Australia. Some Australians themselves recognised this principle. Sir John Forrest, the Australian Defence Minister, drew up an important memorandum dealing with the whole question of Imperial defence, in which he said—So long as the sea supremacy of the Mother-country is maintained Australia is fairly secure from invasion. The position we occupy in Australia to-day in being all-British territory, and in having always enjoyed peace and security, is absolutely attributable to the protection given to us by the British flag.With regard to Canada the position of that country was rather peculiar. Canada was defended not only by the British Navy but also by the American Navy, owing to the Monroe doctrine. Therefore, Canada relied upon two navies and paid for neither. But that was not all. The Canadians must admit that the strength of the British Navy was of considerable importance to them in any negotiations they had with the United States. Moreover, the British Navy was actually employed in doing police work for the Canadians. Certain ships were detailed for the protection of the Canadian fisheries, and yet the Canadians did not contribute anything towards the cost of those ships. He would like, for a moment, to institute a comparison between Canada and Mexico. Mexico had to maintain a very large army for her defence, and her defence expenditure was five times as great as that of Canada. While England would be bound to help Canada in time of need, Canada could not possibly help this country if the necessity arose. The need for Canada to help this country would arise if we were attacked by a combination of navies, and Canada, having no navy, would not be able to come to our aid. On the other hand, as long as this country maintained its naval supremacy, we could pour men into Canada to help her in case of need. In the little Colony of Newfoundland the late Government undertook to establish a branch of the Royal Naval Reserve at a cost of £18,400, to which the Colony contributed £3,000. With regard to 457 Australia the position, although nominally better than Canada, was really worse, because the Australian contribution was intended to be for purely local defence. Lord Carrington, who was the Governor of New South Wales in 1887, stated that the Australian contribution would have been refused unless the ships had been confined to Australian waters. It was true that the Australian waters, by the agreement of 1902, included the India and China Stations, but the view in Australia was that the Australian squadron was for Australian local defence Under the agreement of 1902 the contribution from Australia and New Zealand had been increased from £126,000 a year to £240,000 a year. That, however, was not really an increase in the expenditure upon defence by the Colonies. In October, 1902, Sir E. Barton said—No extra cost to Australia would be involved. The Commonwealth will be relieved of the expense of training local seamen which will be done at the cost of the Imperial Government. There will also be an increase in the subsidy paid to the Australians under training.So that, although there was nominally an increase, the Australians got a quid pro quo which more than covered what they contributed. Under the Agreement of 1902 arrangements were made for giving positions to Australians in the Army and Navy, but there was no reciprocity whatever in the matter, and neither Australia nor Canada gave any kind of preferential employment to citizens from England, Scotland, or Ireland. The whole attitude of Australia was to keep all employment, military and civil, for Australians born. Upon this point the Melbourne Age said—Except for an occasional visit of inspection for special purposes no British officer will again exercise influence or authority in this land. Every regiment will have an Australian at its head and every fortress an Australian-born commander.That really meant "Australia for the Australians, Canada for the Canadians, and England for the Empire." What was the position at present? There was an Australian squadron intended for local purposes, to which the Australians contributed £240,000 a year, while the cost was £670,000 a year. So that the Australian contribution was really a minus quantity. It should not be forgotten that, but for our Navy, Australia would be at the mercy of Japan, or of Germany, or of a regenerated China 458 inspired with the European doctrine of grab. Why should this country be compelled to subscribe money to relieve wealthy communities in Australia and Canada of what was after all their primary duty, namely, the defence of their own country? By our relieving them of this primary duty these Colonies were enabled to spend money upon things which we could not afford. The main obstacle to old-age pensions in this country was that the taxpayer could not afford them. In Australia they had old-age pensions.
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
Possibly not, but the point is that their old-age pensions are paid for with our money. The tariffs adopted by Australia and Canada against English goods were often more hostile than the tariffs of foreign countries. During the past fifty years our Empire had been expanding in every quarter of the globe, and yet we continued to export to foreign countries twice as much as we exported to all our possessions put together. Of course our greatest market was India, but she paid for her own defence and she had never even asked for preferential tariff. If he confined his figures to the self-governing Colonies which did not pay for their own defence and yet imposed hostile tariffs against British goods, he found that they only took one-tenth of the goods exported by this country. Not only did those Colonies exclude British goods, but they also excluded British subjects. In this respect there was an incident so significant of Australian feeling that he thought it was desirable the facts should be known. Many hon. Members might recollect that some years ago six hatters were not allowed to land in Sydney for over a week. Commenting upon this incident the Sydney Bulletin, one of the most influential papers in Australia, said—The right of Australia has been once for all established definitely to keep out of this Continent English-born citizens if in her own interests she so chooses.Although England paid for the defence of the great colony of Australia yet the Australians claimed the right to exclude British people from that country.
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
said the quotation he had read from the Sydney Bulletin was written after the hatters had been admitted, and his point was that this quotation, though based on only one concrete case, laid down a general principle. It was not only English-born subjects that were excluded; because the self-govern colonies excluded other British subjects equally loyal with themselves. He referred to the insulting regulations with regard to British Indian subjects in South Africa. It should be remembered in this respect that not only did India pay for her own defence, but she also contributed largely to the defence of the Empire. It was the regiments maintained on the Indian establishment that saved Natal from invasion. When he was in India he was immensely impressed with the strong personal loyalty to the British Throne of all Indians he met. One student he met happened to be reading in some Radical organ a suggestion as to the abolition of the Monarchy, and he came to him in great distress and asked what it meant and inquired whether England was going to establish a Republic. He told this student that he need not take the journal in question very seriously. The student went away remarking "I can only tell you if ever those Radicals in England put the Queen off the Throne we will raise an army in India and put her on again." He would like now to deal briefly with the Colonial arguments against contributing to Imperial defence. The first argument they used was that England would have to pay for the defence of her commerce in any case. Surely where trade was reciprocal between us and our Colonies it was as much their duty to pay as it was ours. If he took a cab with some other hon. Member it would be extremely mean if one refused to contribute towards the fare on the ground that the other would have had to pay for the cab whether he had been accompanied or not.
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
said he was quite sure the hon. Member opposite would not do it. No less than 25 per cent. of the sea-borne trade of the Empire had no connection whatever with the United Kingdom. Consequently it was not fair to charge the tax-payers of the United Kingdom with any part of the cost of the defence of that trade. In addition there was another 8 per cent. representing half of the reciprocal trade between the United Kingdom and her other possessions over sea. Therefore the Colonies and India ought to pay the whole cost of defending 33 per cent. of the sea-borne trade of the Empire. What was their actual contribution? The actual contribution of the Colonies and India towards naval expenditure was only 2 per cent. of the total, and the bulk of that 2 per cent. was contributed not by the self-governing Colonies at all but by India, although India maintained a huge army which was always at the service of the Empire. Another Colonial argument against contributing was that preferential tariffs were an equitable return for the absence of any contribution to Imperial defence. The Australian preferential tariff was practically worthless. Canada was the only Colony which gave a substantial preferential tariff. The duties paid on British goods were £2,000,000 a year. That was 33 per cent. less than the duties which would have been charged on the same goods if they had been foreign goods. If the goods had been foreign the duties would have amounted to £3,000,000. But if we were to credit Canada with the £1,000,000 which she did not levy on our goods, we must also debit her with the £2,000,000 which she did levy. We had practically to bear a burden of £2,000,000 in order to obtain a remission of £1,000,000,. which was hardly good business. He might be told that we got trade which otherwise we should not get. He maintained that even that argument would not hold water. Before preferential tariffs were imposed we had one-third of the trade of Canada, and since then we had had only one-fourth. It was American trade which had gone ahead most since the imposition of the Canadian preferential tariff. Then it was said that the Colonies were too poor to afford to pay for their defence. That 461 was an argument that we had never been able to afford to use. If our ancestors had ventured to use such an argument there would have been no British Empire to-day. It was said also that the Colonies were too young. On that point he thought he could not do better than quote the words of a Member of this House, the absence of whoso vivifying personality they deeply deplored. Speaking on this question at the Colonial Conference in 1902, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said—While the Colonies were young and poor it was perfectly natural, but now that they are rich and powerful, think it is inconsistent with their dignity as nations that they should leave the Mother-country to bear the whole, or almost the whole, of the expense.…If the whole strain is to be thrown on one stick, there is very little advantage of putting them into a bundle.The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—This is a state of things which cannot be permanent.That was his own proposition to-day. The right hon. Gentleman also said—No empire is on a sure foundation which is not based on a community of sacrifices.Was there a community of sacrifices? Was it a fact that the Colonies sacrificed anything like the amount we did for the common defence of the Empire? Every inhabitant of the United Kingdom paid 29s. 3d. for defence, every Canadian 2s., and every Australian 3s. Then it was said by apologists for the Colonies that they had no representation. Representation had been repeatedly offered and refused. The Colonies did not wish to risk their independence by being involved in a common Imperial Parliament. We had to face the fact that under the existing condition of things the Colonies would not pay for their own defence, and still less would they contribute for the common defence of the Empire. The utmost offer they had ever made was to help us in time of need, if they chose to do so. Was it possible to make a more unfair offer, seeing that we were under obligation to help them under all circumstances? The position was not equal, and, therefore, he believed if that was their last word, we should have reached an impasse. He hoped that was not the case. For 300 years this nation had been throwing off 462 shoots which had taken root in distant soil. We had watched these branches grow, we were proud of their origin, proud of their growth, and proud to call them ours. He thought we, as a nation, would deeply regret it if we were compelled to say to them "Good-bye." But we must have a frank explanation. There was no use going on glossing over the facts. We must not treat the Colonies as children, we must treat them as partners. But before we could do that we must look frankly at their standpoint as well as our own. He did not think he could do better than quote the Melbourne Age which, on October 20th, 1902, commenting on the Australian standpoint, said—We have, as a people, expressed our preference for the gradual formation of an Australian Navy. We have very little confidence in the wisdom either of the British War Office or of the Admiralty…We shall then stand in line with Canada in undertaking the beginning of our own naval defence, rather than adopting the centralised policy of the British Empire.In a word, the Colonies preferred to spend their own money in their own way. From the strategical and economic point of view that was probably a mistake. He believed that the most economical way of defending the British Empire was to have one central Navy, but there were other considerations that must be borne in mind. He did not believe that we should ever get the Colonies to contribute to a central Navy. Their ideal was national independence, and he did not think we could blame them for having that ideal when we remembered that they had our blood in their veins.
Then what could we do? What bethought we might do was to open negotiations with the Colonies for a partnership upon strictly defined and equitable terms. He ventured to submit the analogy which we had in the case of Japan. We had a partnership, limited it was true to five years, but it was a partnership equitable so long as it endured. During that time our alliance with Japan was infinitely more valuable to us than that with the Colonies, because Japan had a force which the Colonies had not. we wanted the partnership with the Colonies to be permanent, and also our hope was that they would always be proud of the flag which we had given to them. In order to attain this ideal we should cease to treat the Colonies as children, and begin to treat 463 them as partners. He thought we should have, so far as the self-governing Colonies were concerned, to drop the word "Empire," because that implied external dominion. The phrase we should use, and the ideal at which we should aim, was a free confederacy of sister nations.
§ MR. HART-DAVIES, (Hackney, N.)
in seconding the Amendment, said this was a matter of considerable delicacy, because we could not dictate to the Colonies, but he did not think an intimation that on the whole we were not very well treated by them would do any harm. The matter should be brought before the Colonial Conference, and at all events form the subject of argument. He had visited Canada, and when there he had talked a great deal with the ordinary "man in the street," who, referring to this matter of Imperial defence said: "Why should we pay for anything which we can get for nothing?" Still he had always found the Canadians reasonable, and he thought the present discussion would tend to clear the air. He believed the appeal to their good feeling and sense of loyalty would show the Colonies that they should come to our help in the matter of expenditure, especially in regard to the Navy. There was a feeling, no doubt, in the Colonies, and particularly in Australia, that so far as naval defence was concerned, they ought to have a navy of their own, which would be under their own control. He sympathised with that feeling, and he did not see why the idea should not be carried out. A similar feeling existed in Canada. He did not see that there would be any harm in that, so long as the navies which might be established worked in harmony with our own. The suggestion that the Colonies should participate in the cost of Imperial defence was one which we must leave entirely to the good sense and loyalty of the Colonies. He was sure if we did this we should not be disappointed.
§ Amendment proposed—
§ "At end to add, 'And we humbly submit to Your Majesty that, in accordance with the precedent of 1902, it is desirable that the first question to be laid before the delegates from Your Majesty's Colonies at the coming Colonial Conference should he the importance of the fuller participation by the Colonies in the cost of defending Your Majesty's Dominions.' "—(Mr. Harold Cox.)464
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
I do not suppose there can be any objection to bringing before the Colonies, though not in the words of the Amendment, the problem of Imperial defence—a problem in which the Colonies are quite as much interested as is the Mother-Country. But I hope it will not be brought forward at the Conference in anything like the terms which appear to be suggested by the Mover of the Amendment. I acquit the hon. Member for Preston of the least indifference to the existence of the British Empire, which, however, he desires to dissolve into a collection of allied states. I am sure in his heart he does not wish to weaken the bonds between us and our Colonies. Nevertheless there ran through all his speech, and especially through the earlier part of it, an apparent desire to deal in the spirit of a "debtor and creditor account" with the Colonies with regard to the whole subject of national defence, to ask each Colony what is the exact pecuniary equivalent of the defensive power for which we pay, to ask them to take that equivalent upon their shoulders and to deal with the problem of Imperial defence rather in a strictly bargaining spirit than in that spirit of free interchange of services between different parts of the Empire which after all is, and ought to be, one of the greatest links between them. Even stated in the strictly commercial manner which commends itself to the hon. Gentleman, I am not sure that the Colonies would not find it very easy to make serious holes in his argument. His argument ran somewhat in this form. The whole cost of the Fleet as well as the whole cost of the Army falls upon the British taxpayer. [An HON. MEMBER: "India"] India and the British taxpayer. Practically the whole cost of the Fleet falls upon the British taxpayer.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, there is unfortunately no single word—I will say the taxpayer of the United Kingdom.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I will make it perfect by saying on the taxpayer of the still United Kingdom. The benefit of the Fleet, however, is largely enjoyed by the Colonies. Each Colony gets its fraction of advantage; each Colony, therefore, should pay its fraction of the cost. That put very concisely was, as I understood it, the argument ably developed by the hon. Gentleman, and of course there was an element of truth in it. But by how many first class battleships would the hon. Gentleman desire to reduce the Fleet if by any mischance the Colonies were to declare themselves independent; how many fewer battleships would be required to defend the coasts of this country; and how many fewer cruisers would be required to defend the commerce of this country? I do not believe that our Naval Estimates would be diminished by a farthing if we lost Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Cape to-morrow. I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that it does not settle the question, but it surely does not leave it open to us to say, "We are bearing a burden too heavy for us. You gain from it, you ought to help us to sustain it." We have to sustain it whether they help us or not. If they chose, as they well might choose, to take part of that burden upon themselves, that is another matter; but the idea that our taxes would be relieved, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have an easier job to deal with, that we should have money for old-age pensions And for the payment of Members of Parliament—those are the two cases which the hon. Gentleman chose—
§ *MR. HAROLD COX
May I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman? I said that the Australians were able to pay for old-age pensions because we pay for their defence. I did not suggest that our expenditure upon defence would necessarily be reduced.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, I am very glad that the hon. Gentleman does not suggest that, but surely his speech did. He never dwelt upon the fact that I have dwelt upon, which is that the cost of our Fleet would not be diminished, even if we lost those Colonies which are, in my opinion, our glory and the great strength and support of our Empire. But really that is not the whole case, though 466 I think it is a very important part of the case. It is quite true that the Colonies get from us for nothing a great strength and a great security. But they also, through their connection with us, do run some dangers from which otherwise they might be free. The hon. Gentleman has conjured up the possibility of attacks upon New Zealand and Australia by Germany, by Japan, or by a regenerated China, if we were not there to act as their protectors, and I quite agree. I think the problem which the Australian and New Zealand statesmen would have to consider would be profoundly modified if they were left entirely to their own resources. But let the House remember that the British Empire touches world-polities at a very large number of points, which do not directly concern either New Zealand or Australia except in so far as the inhabitants of New Zealand and Australia are citizens of the Empire as a whole. They have no direct connection with all the complicated questions which arise with regard to the Continent of Europe, the problems of the Near East, the problems of which Egypt is the centre, the problems of which China, India, and the Far East are the centres. We may at any moment be involved in a conflict with some first-class Power, which does not obviously concern the interests of Canada, New Zealand, or Australia, and all the dangers that we run from such a conflict they have to run, because they are part of the Empire of which we are the head. Therefore, though it be true that we boar the whole cost of the Fleet and a very large part of the cost of the Army, and that they profit in many of their relations by that fact, they have, from the very nature of the case, and because they belong to this world-wide Empire—because they belong to a community which touches other nations at points in every continent of the world—they have to run dangers which, were they self-contained, small, and isolated communities they would, for that very reason, altogether escape. If that be true, I think the case is not so clear, is not so simple, as the speech of the hon. Gentleman would suggest. But I have another set of considerations which very briefly—for I do not intend to detain the House—I will put forward as a vital and important part of this problem. In one portion of his speech the hon. Member indicated very clearly that he is quite alive to the fact that if the forces of the 467 Empire are to be turned to the best strategical account they must be under a central control, and that control must of necessity be, on account of preponderance in population and wealth, in these islands. What is the corollary of that? The corollary is that if we are to make these great self-governing colonies contribute efficiently to national defence they must in effect become contributors to our Naval and Military Estimates. In other words, when the Secretary of State for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty lay their Estimates on the Table, they must in form and substance contain a contribution in aid from the self-governing colonies; that is the only way, under the existing system, in which the money of the Colonies could be really efficiently used. But are we seriously going to ask the taxpayers of Canada, of Australia, of New Zealand or the Cape, to vote in their respective Chambers money which somebody else is going to spend? It really is an impossible proposition; you cannot ask it. You might—and it has been done—suggest to the self-governing colonies that they should provide an army and a fleet adequate for their own defence, and that when we are involved in war they should put that army and that fleet entirely under the control of our generals and admirals. Is that at all likely under a treaty with this country? I do not think it is. My right hon. friend beside me reminds me that they do something of the kind, but of course I am talking of contributions on the scale suggested by the hon. Member for Preston. I am quite sure they would not, and I am sure that we, arguing as representatives of Colonies having free representative Assemblies, would not, contemplate such an arrangement. But I turn from that, which is beside my main argument, and I ask whether, instead of a contribution to the Estimates, we should enter into a kind of treaty arrangement whereby the Colonies should provide ships and troops and hand these over to our military authorities in the event of Imperial complications arising. That is a far more possible proposal than the other, but I deprecate earnestly any attempt, I will not say to force it, for we could not enforce it—I deprecate even the pressing of it. I should view with the deepest misgiving the proceeding of any Government of this country who went to the Colonies 468 and said, "You are not doing your duty to the Empire unless you spend money on ships and men and are ready to put these under a central control, which must be British in time of war." I do not believe that can be done, or ever will be done, until you have some more centralised organisation by which all parts of our scattered Empire are combined into one more highly organised body. I do not think there can be such a political union as is suggested. I do not believe that public opinion in any part of the Empire is ripe for it. I do not believe it would be approved in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or else where, or, when the population of this country realise that they, in their turn, would have to give up for this central political organisation some part of the independent power they now possess, that it would receive commendation in the United Kingdom. I therefore, though I would never suggest that the idea of closer political relations should be abandoned, say, as a practical politician, it is not now in sight and is not worth discussing in an Assembly which has naught to do with remote developments which may come in our Constitution, and is concerned with more immediate problems which press upon us at the present time. Not until that closer organisation comes, and until the machinery is devised by which foreign and Imperial affairs can be discussed by some body beyond the Parliament of this country or the Parliaments of the self-governing colonies, can you expect it. How can we expect that the whole management of military and naval forces paid for by the self-governing colonies can be handed over to an authority responsible only to the Parliament of this country? I am sure if we ask for it we shall not get it. I for my part desire, so far as the problem of national defence is concerned, to submit that in all the affairs which are necessarily incident to the very loose organisation of the British Empire there are advantages and disadvantages. It is a disadvantage, for instance, that, in case of Imperial danger in a conflict between this country and any great naval or military nation, we should, no doubt, so far as the Colonies are concerned, have to rely on their voluntary assistance. But I think—nay, I am quite sure—it is better to rely on that voluntary assistance than to attempt to give to it that rigid 469 involuntary character which naval and military authorities would legitimately like, because it would enable them to count upon a certain force at any particular point. I am sure we should get more out of colonial loyal, voluntary enthusiasm than we should by any attempt at a hard and fast organisation. I believe that when naval and military authorities express a desire, as they often have, that there should be an absolutely fixed and rigid system which would enable so many troops to be ready at the Cape, so many in Australia, and so many ships provided by the self-governing colonies—if they could get this on paper, which they never would—if they got this on paper, it would come absolutely to naught unless we had with us the enthusiasm of the Colonies, in the unhappy event I am supposing of our being in conflict with some great Power. Put what you like on paper, if the Colonies objected, if they thought we were wrongly engaged in the quarrel with another great Power, you would not got that assistance you thought you had a right to count upon. The only method is to trust to voluntary patriotic enthusiasm; you cannot have anything more rigid and systematic until you unite the several communities of the Empire into a rigid systematic organisation. That system is not in sight, and will not be for long years, and, until it is, do not let us talk of this illusory scheme of rigid, fixed contributions for the defence of the Empire from self-governing colonies, but let us trust in the future, as we have trusted in the past, and as I hope we ever may with increasing confidence, to that feeling of Imperial patriotism which is no monopoly of citizens of the Empire living in these islands, but is shared to the full by our fellow citizens in every quarter of the globe.
§ *MR. CHURCHILL (Manchester, N.W.)
I hope I may without presumption say, that the speech to which we have just listened from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition seemed to me, as it must have seemed to a good many Members on this side of the House, to be inspired throughout by most profound political wisdom. My hon. friend the Member for Preston has an intellectual predilection for the unfashionable aspect of things. Whether in Imperial or domestic affairs, he always 470 takes the shortest, straightest course which will secure his being in a position of serene isolation. But I only do justice to my hon. friend, and I think the House will agree with me, when I say that he always expresses his views with so much knowledge and so much conviction and courage that his contributions to our debates are always very welcome, and perhaps all the more welcome from the strong contrast he presents to the prevailiug currents of opinion. My hon. friend finds, no doubt, a great deal of support in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham at the Colonial Premiers' Conference of 1902, and I am bound to say that almost every argument which was put forward by my hon. friend this afternoon finds countenance and support in the statements, or a great number of them, made by that right hon. Gentleman to the Colonial Premiers, which will be found in the Blue-book recording the proceedings of that Conference. I am not at all prepared to say that the point of view put forward by my hon. friend is not pertinent to many of the controversies with which we now have to deal. Our affection for the Colonies and our pride in these great democratic communities, which are so often the pioneers hi adventurous social experiments, and which are dear to the hearts of men of all Parties in this country, prompt us to dwell not so much upon the services we render them as upon the strength and confidence their presence lends to the mother country. But when we consider them those services are very great indeed. Apart from all this great question of defence both by sea and, in some measure, by land, which is the subject of the Amendment we are now discussing, there are the resources of British diplomacy, which, I venture to think, while they may not always secure for the Colonies all that they would desire, nearly always secure, at all events, far better terms than they would be able to make unaided for themselves. There are the large resources, amply used, of British credit, which have enormously stimulated, and are at the present day rapidly stimulating, the development of these Colonies, and there are all those sentimental considerations, which they certainly do not undervalue, associated with Windsor Castle and with Westminster Abbey. I think it right 471 that that should be occasionally stated, but I certainly agree with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down that we should be wrong if we tried, either on our part or on their part, to measure the money value of the services exchanged between us. Still less ought we, I think, to try to draw invidious comparisons between the contributions made on either side or the benefits which are reciprocally interchanged. Our view, on this side of the House, and I think in a great measure on both sides of the House, is that the British Empire is not a business proposition, and must not be looked upon in that light. It is based on the principles of a family and not on the principles of a syndicate, and we decline to haggle and bargain with our children either on the precise amount of their military contribution or upon any matters connected with commercial treaties. On Monday next, when we are to be perhaps reproached with ingratitude for not adding to those great services of which I have spoken, and which impose upon us, to some extent, heavy burdens, the additional burden of obstructing our whole system of seaborne trade by the erection of a tariff round the shores of the United Kingdom—when we are to be reproached with ingratitude for not adding to those great services what are nothing more nor less than subventions collected in this country by the most inconvenient and cumbrous processes, I think it should then be borne in mind that the hon. Member for Preston has brought forward considerations of very great substance and importance. We are put to immense charges in this country, in common with other modern Powers, for military and naval armaments. Those burdens are sensibly felt by all classes in this country, and I think they are felt most severely by the poorest classes, because all social pressures take a downward direction, and it is upon the weak and the poor that the greatest burden of modern States descends. We all realise what an enormous boon and advantage it would be, what great expansion of life, of hope, of joy, there would be in all the cottage homes throughout this land and in India, aye, and in many another land, if we could do something to lighten the burden of armaments, which future ages, I venture to think, will indicate as the blackest reproach upon the civilisation, the science, and the 472 Christianity of the twentieth century; but I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that it is not maintainable that the great cost of the British Army and Navy is in any large measure due to our association with the self-governing Colonies. No doubt their possession, and the high place of the British Empire among the nations of the world, impose many grave and serious responsibilities upon the Crown, and those who conduct the Government under the Crown; but it is not easy to tell to what extent our military preparations could be reduced or relaxed, either by sea or by land, if the self-governing Colonies, and all the responsibilities attaching to them, were altogether removed from our sphere. It is not possible to analyse, or to allocate with any precision, to what particular needs of the Empire particular charges in our defensive arrangements are due; and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it seems certain that the main cost, for instance, of the British Army arises not out of anything connected with the self-governing Colonies, but out of the needs of the United Kingdom, and, more particularly, out of the needs of the great dependency of India. And I agree that, whether we had an Empire or not, we should still be forced to secure the effective command of the sea, in order to protect our trade and our food supply, and to secure our own domestic peace in these islands. On the other hand, it is unquestionable that if the self-governing Colonies were, by some melancholy and improbable drift of events, to be removed from the shelter of the Mother Country and from the protection of its great instruments of war, they would have to embark on naval and military expenditure—certainly on naval, and, I think, also on military expenditure—far in excess of any provision which they are now required to make, or seem likely to be called upon to make in the future. And while I join with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in deprecating anything in the nature of hard commercial reckoning with the self-governing Colonies of the British Empire, I think there is no doubt that it is their duty to contribute, as opportunities may occur, to the common resources of what, I think, Lord Rosebery finely called our "defensive league." I think the Colonies recognise the propriety of 473 coming to the assistance of the Mother Country and contributing to the general defence of the Empire. The contributions which they have made are no doubt, as the hon. Gentleman has pointed out, not very large, but they imply very valuable principles, and they are increasing. The contribution of Australia was increased at the last Conference from £104,000 to £200,000 a year. Those of the Cape and Natal increased from £30,000 and £12,000 a year respectively to £50,000 and £35,000. And then, in addition, there are the Colonial preferences which Canada and other States have given to us, all of which, although we have differences of opinion as to their value, we, nevertheless, esteem because they are not thrown out as a sprat to catch a whale, but are given as a recognition of the benefits derived from participation in the British Empire and as the expression of sincere and growing amity. This recognition by the Colonies of the common interest which all parts of the Empire have in Imperial defence is also shown by the importance that Colonial Prime Ministers attach to the subject. I think it is the third subject on the list for discussion at the approaching Conference. I do not intend to say anything which would appear to be anticipating the very important discussions which we shall have at the Conference on the different military and naval subjects which are to be submitted—I do not think it would be proper for me to do so—but I can tell the House shortly some of the subjects which will be upon the agenda. We shall be able to consider the constitution of the Committee of Imperial Defence and the question of the possibility of colonial representation upon it; we shall be able to consider the Australian naval agreement, and the very complicated questions of naval policy involved in it and arising out of it. We shall further consider the strategic principles governing Imperial and military defence, the practicability of the Colonies' organising their forces for war on principles laid down in this country, the expansion of colonial reserves of war stores for use on mobilisation, which should be of a pattern uniform with those authorised in the United Kingdom. And, if time allows, we may, I hope, further discuss the question of the interchange of units between the United Kingdom and the Colonies, questions of 474 the pay and conditions of service of colonial contingents which the Colonies may hereafter think proper to offer in time of need, and the question of the interchange of officers between the United Kingdom, the Colonies, and India, and other matters also of great and of practical and immediate importance.
There is another branch of this subject of colonial contributions to which my right hon. friend also referred. I mean the provision the Colonies are making for the defence of their own soil. In this branch there has been a considerable advance. It has been the policy of this country for the last forty years to entrust to the self governing colonies the duty of protecting their own soil from outside attack; and I venture to submit to the House that the tendency of modern methods of warfare and the improvement of modern weapons seem to render the self-governing colonies increasingly capable of making good their own land against any assailant. The great multiplication of defensive power which modern weapons of precision are undoubtedly producing, and the consequent need for a very high individual standard of initiative and personal quality in the private soldiers who take part in modern battles, as opposed to the rigid qualities of discipline which were exacted from the drilled troops of standing armies in the past, seem to teach every day with greater force the lesson of the immense power of volunteer citizen forces when arrayed in defence of the land in which they live. If that be true, Canada and Australia, and of course South Africa, seem to possess in an especial degree the very kind of military personnel which will he most efficient and formidable in the future developments of warfare. Just as we are undertaking in our own country the re organisation and improvement of the citizen volunteer forces upon which we must so largely rely, so the self-governing colonies have, in the last few years, made large and substantial increases in the sums of money which they devote to the purposes of their own defence. Whereas in 1902 Canada contributed to the purposes of defence, Imperial as well as domestic, at the rate of 2s. per head of the population, or a gross sum of £582,000, in 1905–6 she expended at the rate of 4s. per head, or an aggregate sum of £1,374,808. 475 Australia spent in 1902, 3s. per head, or £809,000, and in 1905–6 5s. per head, or £976,836. Cape Colony, which in 1904 spent 2s. 6d. per head, is now spending 4s. 9d.; and Natal, which spent 2s. 9d. per head in 1902, is now spending as much as 7s. Of course, in the meanwhile there has been a slight increase in the military expenditure per head of the United Kingdom, which I understand is now 30s. I am not at all trying to deny that there is a great disproportion; I am only showing that that disproportion has to some extent been reduced. I do not think that we who uphold the doctrine of peace and retrenchment ought to feel disquieted at the increase of expenditure by those self-governing colonies upon their own military forces, because this voluntary citizen soldier, who, I believe, can be made the most powerful defender of his own country, is also the most cumbersome and least adapted agent for aggressive designs on the lands and territories of other people.
I venture to say in conclusion that we do not expect the great competition in military armaments which marks and darkens the modern era to last for ever. We trust the days may come when the tide will turn. I am ready to admit that those days are not reached yet. But, perhaps, by the strict observance of international law, and earnest persistence in the paths of peaceable arbitration and negotiation, we may do something to lighten the burden which presses upon all alike. We as a Government do not wish to cast the British Empire permanently into a rigid military mould. Such a character is altogether foreign to its genius and its constitution. While we welcome every step which the Colonies are prompted to take by their own good feeling, their sense of justice, and the prudential considerations which actuate them, to make an addition to the common stock of our defensive resources, we do not mean to urge them to join in that fierce competition, that rivalry of arms, in which so many of the polite peoples of the earth are so ready to engage. We make no demand on the Colonies. Whatever they give to us they give voluntarily, and we will accept it gladly, and do our best to derive the utmost possible advantage from it by every device which the state and organisation of our military science enable us to supply. We do not antici- 476 pate that the disproportion to which the hon. Member for Preston has drawn attention will soon be redressed. We do not expect that it will be redressed in our own time. Meanwhile, it is, of course, clear that the supreme control of foreign relations must necessarily and inevitably devolve upon that partner in our widespread league upon whom would fall, in the event of any struggle, the main burden and the peril of war. For the rest we are content to await the broadening harvest of future years; to go on with what has been the traditional policy of both great Parties in the State over long periods of time, cherishing all that will bind together the various parts of this great Empire, trying to smooth away, or keep out, all questions, however benevolently raised, that would tend to disrupting issues; and we look forward for the relief of the military burdens under which we suffer, not only to the growth of unity and comradeship within the wide circle of the British Empire, but also to the sure and patient consolidation of international confidence and good will.
§ *MR. RUSSELL REA (Gloucester)
said he was glad to hear from the speech of the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies that he was not animated by the same spirit as his predecessors at the last Conference, but by one which was in harmony with the statesmanlike, and he believed, historic speech which they had heard from the Leader of the Opposition. His hon. friend the Member for Preston desired that there should be a frank explanation to the Colonies of our position, and that there should be no "glossing over" of the condition of things. There was no glossing over at the last Conference, but plenty of frank explanation, and, in his opinion, the presentation of this question in the last Conference was an example not to be followed, but to be avoided. In speaking on the general question of Imperial Defence at the last Conference, of the meagre contributions of the Colonies in cash to the defence of the Empire, the right hon. Gentleman the late Colonial Secretary, the Member for West Birmingham, said it was—A state of things which cannot be permanent.He told the Colonial Premiers that—No one will believe that the United Kingdom can, for all time, make this inordinate sacrifice,477 and he asked that the Colonies should bear some proportionate share of the burden of Empire. It was pointed out to them by the First Lord of the Admiralty that while we at home paid 14s. 1¾d. per head for our Army, and 15s. 1d. per head for our Navy, the Colonists paid only 2s. 5d. for their military defence, including the cost of their local forces, and only 4d. per head towards "our common Navy." It was pointed out that while we paid more than £5 per head of our population for the South African war (a Colonial war) they did not pay 5s. per head. It was carefully proved to them that, excluding trade between the United Kingdom and the Colonies, in which we might be supposed to have a common and equal interest, amounting to £211,000,000 sterling, their oversea trade with foreign countries and among themselves, a trade which our Navy existed to protect as much as it did our own, amounted to £327,000,000, or nearly half as much as the foreign trade of the United Kingdom, which amounted then to £660,000,000. To all this, and much more of a similar nature, not only were the Colonial Premiers compelled to listen, but into their hands were placed many tables and papers to prove it all—papers since published and distributed throughout the Empire and the world. What had been the response of the Colonies to this appeal, so powerfully and persistently, and, apparently, so unanimously made to them by this country? It had been just as firm and almost as unanimous a refusal to comply with it. And this refusal by the Colonies was deliberate. Unlike ourselves, they had had our side of the question presented to them as well as their own, not only by us, but by a Party among themselves, a small and diminishing old Colonial Party. They thoroughly understood the position and admitted the force of the case presented to the House that evening. They understood it perfectly well, and they met it with a blank refusal. Canada would not give a penny as a direct contribution to the cost of the Imperial Navy, and although the persuasive tongue of the late Colonial Secretary did draw a promise of a few paltry thousands out of the Premiers of the Australian Commonwealth and New Zealand, that minute concession was accompanied by conditions more onerous to us than the cash was worth. Yet this small concession seemed 478 to have cost Sir Edmund Barton and his Ministry dear. The next year, in July, 1903, he had to introduce a Bill into the Commonwealth Parliament to give effect to his promises in London the year before, and this Bill he passed with very great difficulty, and might not have passed at all if he had not had the support—a very half-hearted support—of Mr. Reid, the then Leader of the Opposition. It passed the House of Representatives by a majority of only fourteen, and the Senate by a majority of seven. The Government of Sir Edmund Barton passed its Bill, but it never recovered from this Pyrrhic victory. How were we to interpret this strong and general opinion of the Colonies in opposition to the views of his hon. friend? It was not due to disloyalty to the Empire, it was not due to ingratitude, or to meanness. It was due to a fundamental difference of view, both of their duty in this matter, and, still more, as to the right method of carrying it out. They had their reasons for their action and their non-action, and, in his opinion, their reasons were valid and sufficient. First, they could not afford to do it, for although it might be true that individually the Colonials were better off, on the average, than we were at home, yet they had not the accumulated and concentrated capital and the stability of occupations, or the permanence of settlement, that form the basis of our income tax and our death and stamp duties. They could only attempt to raise any considerable additional taxation by doubling their import duties, chiefly on the goods we sent them, a method which would not commend itself to us, and would be ruinous to them. If we were to divide our present naval and military expenditure between Great Britain and the self-governing Colonies in proportion to population, we should have to demand from Canada £7,000,000 per annum, from the Australian Commonwealth nearly £5,000,000, from New Zealand nearly £1,000,000, and so on. All who were acquainted with the taxable resources of the Colonies, and their present financial position and credit, would admit that such a taxation would be utterly beyond their power to sustain, and to propose any considerable fraction of it was outside the range of practical politics. But the Colonies had a second, and even a bettor, reason for their refusal. They looked 479 across the ocean and saw the States of Europe, and England among them, fast bound in the toils of what they regarded as a most gigantic, oppressive, and wicked military slavery, and they had resolved, and openly declared, that they would never consent to be drawn into the "vortex of the European military system." Who would blame them? Certainly not he, for one. He held that they were right to refuse, and very confidently he hoped they would continue to refuse, adequate contributions to the naval and military services while they continued to exist on anything like their present scale. But their third reason was the strongest. It was elevated into a point of principle, both by Canada and Australia. It was due to the growing feeling of nationality in our greater Colonies. They were determined that money voted by them should be controlled by them and spent by them. It was impossible to misunderstand either the action or the words of the Canadians. Canada had followed up its refusal to contribute a penny as a direct contribution to the Navy by taking upon itself the whole burden, and also the whole control, of the establishments of Halifax and Esquimalt, rather than contribute a smaller sum as a direct contribution. All Canadian statesmen were at one in explaining the significance of their action. Sir Wilfred Laurier's constant theme was "Canada a nation." From a naval or military point of view he did not criticise the action of the Colonies. He was not capable of doing so. Their attitude was one deliberately taken, and both generally and firmly held, and it was a phenomenon which we must recognise, and to which we must, whether we liked it or not, learn to accommodate ourselves. In the next Colonial Conference we should not escape this question of Imperial Defence, and we should find Colonial opinion strongly consolidated and crystallised in the manner he had described. He put it to the House whether the better part would not be to cease to worry our Colonies for contributions in cash which 480 they could not and would not, and, in his opinion, ought not, to pay. We should get far more out of them by accepting their own method of developing their defences in their own way, at their own expense, in co-operation with, though not by entire absorption into, our home services. In relation to this question, it was unjust to overlook the indirect contribution made to this country in the form of a tariff preference. Canada and New Zealand had freely given us a preferential position in their tariffs. This country had decided, and, he believed, finally decided, that a preferential tariff could not be met by a reciprocal tariff preference for the Colonies. That was too much to ask. But he thought it would be a shock to all the people in this country were these preferences, this sign of sympathy, and a sense of our essential unity, to be withdrawn. The continuance of these preferences depended, in a great degree, upon the spirit in which we accepted them. Why should we not, on both sides, frankly agree to give and accept them as a contribution to the Imperial Navy? Free traders might object that Canada had profited as much as we had done by her reduced tariff in the form of the increase of our mutual trade; that they had given what, in fact, cost them nothing. This might be true, but they must remember that Canada was not a free-trade country. The Canadians believed it had, and did, cost them something; that it was a contribution by sacrifice to the Motherland. Sir Wilfred Laurier said—We give England this preference, and we ask nothing in return. Why do we give it? Out of gratitude, pure gratitude.He uttered these words before the rise of the fiscal controversy, but since that date, in spite of all temptations to regard this preference as a bid for a return in kind, colonial statesmen had on the whole maintained this generous attitude. And in relation to this indirect contribution by the Colonies, he considered that the conduct of the representatives of this country at the last Conference afforded an example to be 481 avoided rather than imitated. They could now see that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was, at that time, preparing the way for his later proposals. Not in the spirit of gratitude, the spirit of one who received an unclaimed benefit, but in the spirit of one already "bargaining" he told the Canadian Premier that—The substantial results of the preference have been altogether disappointing to us, and I think they must have been equally disappointing to its promoters.He presented to the Conference elaborately drawn-up statements and tables to prove his case. To these representations Canada replied by a long and carefully drawn reply, which ended with these words—It is respectfully submitted that the advantage given by Canada to the British manufacturer is proved beyond all question. If he has not fully availed himself of it, that is not the fault of the Canadian Government or of the Canadian fiscal policy.He maintained, that this was a spirit not to imitate but to avoid in the next Conference. It was as impolitic as it was unjust to undervalue the contributions the Colonies had made, and might make, in other forms than that of cash. It was doubtless at present an inadequate contribution, but it was something, and would grow with the growth of the Colonies in population and prosperity. Both parties to the fiscal controversy had, for different reasons connected with it, united to minimise the beneficial results of the Canadian preference to British Trade. Both sides had united to point out that since the date of the preference the imports into Canada from the United States had increased in greater proportion and in greater amount than those from the Mother Country. But this was an unfair comparison. The only useful comparison was to consider separately the imports of those articles in which we competed with the United States in the Canadian market. He had shown elsewhere that, taking a large group of these trades, in seven years our exports had increased 131 per cent., while those from the United States had increased 482 only 52 per cent; in actual value our imports had increased 2½ millions, and those of the United States of those classes of goods, only by £300,000. In some trades our shipments had increased threefold, in others they had more than quadrupled, while those from European nations had been stationary. It was impossible to deny that the privileged position of British goods in the Canadian market had been of great value to us, and if it was continued it would prove of even greater value. We were asking the Colonies for cash which they would not and could not, and he believed, ought not to give. They gave what they could give, and we had received it with scant gratitude. Why should we not frankly accept the position from which after all we could not escape? Why should we not consent to receive their contributions in the form most convenient to them, and leave them to develop their defences in the only way in which they would consent to develop them at all—in co-operation and co-ordination with our own services, but not by direct contributions to the? He was prepared to admit that on both these great subjects of debate between the Mother Country and the Colonies the policy he advocated implied a tie less close than was advocated by many, perhaps by most, of those who had spoken and written on the subject of our future Imperial organisation. The tie might be less close, but not less strong. It might be less close but far stronger on that account. Two ships might sail together attached by a hempen rope, they could not sail together attached by a bar of steel—the bar of steel would snap. He looked forward to a league of free nations under one Crown, rather than to a federation with a federal constitution—to a union which was rather diplomatic than organic. There were two great tendencies in this modern world—the most striking tendencies of the age. The aggregation of peoples into great "world powers" on the one hand, and the revival of national sentiment in old nations, and the creation of new national sentiment in 483 new nations on the other. It was the business of the statesman to reconcile these two apparently irreconcilable tendencies. In the old world an empire was always built upon the ruins of crushed nationalities. The British Empire had begun to show the world, not without making grievous errors now and then, how an empire might be built out of living nations. It was this above all at which we must aim in dealing with our Colonies.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said that this was a subject upon which he had taken a very considerable amount of interest and upon which he had spoken in this House on other occasions. Therefore he desired to say a few words. More than once he had pointed out that as the matter stood at the present time it was an unjust and illogical thing that the poor population of Ireland should be called upon to pay a considerable proportion towards the maintenance of the Army and Navy of the Empire, while the numerically larger parts of the Empire, Australia and New Zealand, and infinitely more wealthy parts of the Empire, were allowed to escape altogether. That was in favour of an entire rearrangement with regard to Ireland's contribution to Imperial defence. He had often urged this question from that point of view, but at the same time he had never found fault with the Australians for making their own arrangements, and he had never insinuated that they were really endeavouring to avoid their proper responsibilities because they did not see their way to contribute a large sum towards the maintenance of the British Fleet. In Ireland there was a good deal of dissatisfaction that any of the hard-earned money of the Irish people should be devoted to the maintenance of the British Fleet; because the people were convinced that they got in return no corresponding advantage. They did not see circulating in their country any of the money that was spent for the maintenance of the Fleet, and they did not believe, owing to their geographical position and their 484 connection with England, they were in the slightest danger of having their shores invaded. In Australia the feeling was very much the same. The people there did not feel called upon to contribute large sums of money for the maintenance of the Fleet, because they did not see under existing circumstances what particular advantages or benefits they derived from it. But it was suggested from time to time that Japan or Germany or some other great Power might invade the shores of Australia, and that without the assistance of the British Fleet the country would be perfectly helpless. But if any such contingency did arise there was a very grave doubt in Australia as to whether under the present conditions the British Fleet would be able to afford the protection which they were asking to be paid for beforehand. It was very difficult for them to see that Australia would be in any danger except through her connection with England, and if England were protecting herself, the Australian people failed to see how she would be able to send her Fleet out for their protection. Of course, nobody supposed that any such contingency would arise, but supposing such a thing did arise, and the British Fleet was sent to the assistance of Australia, and considerable sums of money were spent, would anybody in this House imagine that the people of New Zealand and Australia were so mean and parsimonious that they would refuse to pay for any direct assistance rendered to them by the British Fleet, or the Services of this country? They would pay for services rendered, but they objected to pay towards the maintenance of a fleet which they knew would have to be maintained, and would have been in existence if Australia did not exist at all. He was exceedingly sorry that the hon. Member for Preston had adopted the tone he had on this occasion. The reason why he had taken an interest in the question was that these colonies were as much the heritage of the Irish as of the British people, they 485 were no more British than Irish Colonies, and it certainly was a source of irritation to him, and he got very heated, when he heard them constantly referred to as British Colonies. Both in New Zealand and Australia it would be found that the Irish element was exceedingly strong, and everything that affected them gave the Irish representatives in this House just as great a right to speak in their favour as any British Member. His remarks would apply equally to Canada and the United States of America, but he mentioned the two colonies, Australia and New Zealand, because the tone of the speech of the Member for Preston would have irritated any member of those Colonies who might be sitting in the Strangers' Gallery. The hon. Member seemed in his speech to start with the assumption that the one ideal in the life of the Australian people was to avoid the payment of something they ought to pay, and so obtain a service for which they were prepared to make no return, and that there was in Australia a strong desire to injure and humiliate, if not to swindle, the people of this country. In Australia there was one case where certain tradesmen who had emigrated were refused permission to land, it being alleged that they had engaged in an unfair contract, which would interfere with the wages of men in Australia. Those men were detained for a few days, and when the true facts were known, they were allowed to go to their work. That was the only case where any white immigrant had been detained for even twenty-four hours before being allowed to land, and the hon. Member for Preston had quoted that one case as if it was one instance out of many, and therefore had not given a very fair impression of the attitude of these Colonies. The fact was that they were only too glad to welcome suitable immigrants, and they were not to be blamed for trying to prevent their shores being invaded by scores and hundreds of wasters and unsuitable people. Given fair conditions, there was no 486 country in the world which was so glad to give a welcome to those who came to settle as Australia. They had made most generous offers, and largely paid the passage of desirable emigrants who desired to make that country their home. Yet the hon. Member for Preston conveyed the false impression that these men on the other side of the world, whoso money we were asking for, were of so extraordinary a disposition that they would not allow a desirable immigrant in their country. The hon. Member also found fault with Australia because she taxed imports from this country. What did the hon. Gentleman want? Some people imagined that the people of New Zealand and Australia must be exactly the same as the people of this country. But it should be rememberd that the people of these colonies to-day were of the second and third generation who, unlike the old-time Colonists, had never seen England; who had lived their whole lives in Australia and had never seen any other country but Australia, and who had no knowledge whatever of this country except what they had read in books, or what they may have heard from their grandparents. In the very nature of things such men must be not Englishmen but Australians and New Zealanders, and their own country the only country for them. They were bound by every natural law to do their best in the interests of their own country. The hon. Member for Preston had spoken as if he thought they ought to act as though England was the first and only place in the world. Such a tone was more likely to break up than keep an Empire together. The hon. Member had found great fault with the fact that Australia so far as possible made arrangements to have Australian officers with the Australian land forces, but surely they must not be blamed for that. The theory of the hon. Member for Preston certainly, so far as principle went, was perfectly right, but the tone he had adopted was more likely to do injury and give offence than anything else. The hon. Member for Gloucester had made a very wise 487 observation when he said that one of the reasons why Australia looked askance at all proposals for a contribution to the naval and military expenditure of the Empire was because generally they were against the spirit of militarism. They did believe in having a strong military force at home, and that every man in the country should be able to defend his own hearth and home, but great standing armies were things which everybody knew were extremely repugnant to the New Zealander, the Australian, and the free peoples of the new world. The politicians who followed closely what was done in this country saw that while many millions were spent on ships and an enormous Army, at the same time there were hundreds of thousands of men and women in a state of semi-starvation in our streets. They saw that here there was some system of Poor Law, which they had not, under which men, women and children were kept from starving in a sort of prison; they saw that in this country there were no old age pensions which they had; that there were those things side by side with the enormous expenditure on the Army and Navy, and they came to the conclusion there would be more of these things. Therefore when we asked them for money to build ships and maintain enormous armaments they said "No. It is against the spirit of our democracy. We will protect ourselves, and if you come and help us we will pay you for your services, but we will not enter into any arrangement to maintain your military system, because we think it is wrong and that you ought to reduce your expenditure." He would further tell the House that these people on the other side of the world were very sensitive, that they would not stand anything in the shape of superiority, or bullying, or lecturing. They were willing to treat and be treated fairly, but they would brook no superiority of tone from anyone.
§ *MR. BOULTON (Huntingdonshire, Ramsey)
pointed out that the figures 488 quoted by the hon. Member for Preston must have been made from some Return other than that from which the figures quoted by the Under-Secretary for the Colonies were taken. The hon. Member for Preston had put the amount contributed by the Colonies towards Imperial defence at £887,000, but those figures were hopelessly out of date. The figures given by the Under-Secretary showed that there had been a large increase upon that. Canada in the year 1895 expended on her own defence £300,000; in 1905 and 1906 the amount of money expended by Canada was £1,300,000, which worked out at something like a tax of 4s. a head on the population. Not only had Canada very largely increased her contribution for Imperial defence, but she had done something towards lessening the expenditure of this country upon armaments, by taking over the cost of the defence of Halifax and Esquimalt, which relieved this country of military expenditure amounting to £180,000 per annum. With regard to the suggestion that Canada should contribute a considerably larger sum towards Imperial defence than she did at present, he would point out that the Canadian people were determined that the expenditure of whatever money was voted out of the taxes of their country should be controlled by them. If a large sum were handed over to the Imperial Government for Imperial purposes by the Government of Canada the people of that country would no longer have any control over that money, and that would give great dissatisfaction to the people. The same thing he was sure would follow in Australia. The feeling that had grown up in the Colonies was that money expended for Imperial defence should be expended under their own control. Canada and Australia were young countries, and it was only since 1867 that this doctrine of the Colonies sharing in Imperial defence had come into Imperial politics. Up to 1867 the idea obtained that we should maintain large bodies of troops in the Colonies in order to protect them and keep them as part 489 of the Empire. That doctrine was completely exploded by that great statesman Mr.Gladstone when he withdrew the Imperial troops from the greater Colonies. The Colonies had year by year since then increased their expenditure for Imperial defence. It must be remembered also when speaking of contributions for Imperial defence that there were other things besides expenditure for soldiers and fortifications. Canada had given a preference to this country in the shape of a reduced tariff, given without any expectation of any tariff preference in Great Britain, but solely as a matter of gratitude to the mother land. Beyond that, Canada had done other things which contributed to Imperial defence. A very large sum of money had been expended by her on a trans-continental railway. The building of the Canadian-Pacific Railway gave this country an alternative route to India, which in his opinion might be regarded as some contribution towards Imperial defence. There were two other trans-continental railways being projected by Canada, the Grand Trunk Pacific and' the Canadian Northern Pacific, while the contribution she was making to the All-British Cable connecting Canada with Australia and New Zealand would show that the contribution made by her directly and indirectly towards Imperial defence was very great. He was thoroughly in accord with every thing that had been said with regard to the voluntary movement, which he considered was the strength of the Empire Lord Lytton once said at a great banquet to the Australian Colony in London—Gentlemen of Australia, you will one day have great cities where you now have small villages and you may have your harbours filled with ships. It may be in that day England the mother of free nations will be attacked by the despotic Powers of Europe. I believe if that day comes your ships will come across the broad ocean thick and fast, your sentiments being that while Australia lasts England shall not perish.The feeling that the Colonies should not be pressed in this matter was the right one, and it was leading to the Colonies year by year taking a greater part in the defences of the Empire. He 490 thought that was the spirit in which the Empire should be defended.
§ *MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)
protested against the language of the hon. Member for Clare in imputing to the hon. Member for Preston the intention of displaying superiority and patronage of Australia and New Zealand in the treatment of this question. Hedenied the hon. Member's right to represent Australia or New Zealand in the matter; on the contrary, he asserted, as a colonist of many years standing, that the hon. Member for Preston had done good service in bringing the question forward, because nothing would so much tend to create suspicion and ill-feeling on the part of the Colonies as the absence of free discussion. By freely threshing out the question the Colonies and the Mother Country would remain, if possible, even better friends than they were at this moment. With regard to the remarks of the leader of the Opposition, he invited the right hon. Gentleman to compare them with a speech which he delieved to a deputation last year, and he would be astonished at the absolutely inconsistent tone of the two speeches. It would be a great thing if this whole question could be fairly and freely discussed with the Colonial representatives, and it was worse than ludicrous for the Leader of the Opposition to assert, with all the authority attaching to his position, that in the event of Australia, Canada, and South Africa becoming separate independent States we could not reduce our fleet by a ship or our naval expenditure by a shilling. Australians knew better, and the people of this country would think of small, independent countries like Denmark, where there were practically no poor, where they had old-age pensions and land, and enjoyed great comfort, and were not crushed down by a great expenditure on armaments.
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend)
expressed the opinion that at no time 491 could this question have been raised so opportunely as at the present, coming as they were to the opening of the Colonial Conference. The speech of the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for the Colonies was one which the Colonies and the whole Empire would accept with great satisfaction; its only blemish was that the hon. Member had permitted himself to drag in the fiscal question, which might well have been left to the coming week, when an Amendment raising it would be moved. He frankly confessed he was much surprised to see how strong was the spirit on the Government side of the House that the Colonies should not be pressed on this matter, because during the last Parliament speeches were made in the other direction which were, however, well backed by the soundest knowledge. There was no constitutional right on the part of this country to demand any return for what had been done for the Colonies. That right was given away when we gave responsible government to them. But there was, in his opinion, a moral obligation on the part of the Colonies in this matter. He did not think the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition would be encouraging to those who had been pressing for local contributions, even in those places where their views upon this subject had been growing in intensity. The strides that had been made in Australia in this regard were enormous. They recognised their unusual position and the difficulties in which they were placed when their interests conflicted with those of other nations, and they were prepared, and have shown their willingness, to contribute to Imperial defence. Many times to-day it had been said that the Colonies had not voted money. But they had done so and would continue to do so. Australia had nearly doubled her contribution of a few years ago, and it was unworthy on the part of the hon. Member for Preston to quibble in the way he had. Then there was the question of Canada; there were two races in Canada and 492 the Canadian people were a continental people. Ten years ago the average Canadian could not understand that the Navy could be any use to Canada except for coastal defence. It was only beginning to dawn upon an unsophisticated people that the Navy was for the protection of commerce as well as for strategical purposes. But during the last six years the increase of knowledge regarding the relation of our Navy to commerce in Canada has been very great indeed; Canada had opened markets in China and Japan. If by any chance she was faced with a closed door in Japan or China, or in Germany or Russia, standing alone she would be incapable of claiming an open market. She could not do so unless she had the English Navy where it was, with the power to enforce Canada's arguments simply because it was the British Navy. He was certain that when Canada recognised her indebtedness to England in regard to the Navy, which she was bound to do, these donations would be made by Canada as well as by other dominions of the Crown. He had changed his mind upon this subject a great many times in the last twenty years owing to the development of Colonial opinion, and he now believed that if this question was only approached by the Under-Secretary for the Colonies with resolution and the open mind and the spirit which had actuated him this evening a solution of the difficulty would be found and a settlement arrived at.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ Motion made and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Earl Percy,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.
§ Adjourned at one minute before Five o'clock till Monday next.