§ MR. ASQUITH,
in moving "That this House, at its rising to-morrow, do adjourn 2015 until Monday, the 12th October next; that for the remainder of the session Government business have precedence at every sitting; that at the conclusion of Government business on each day Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without Question put; and that on Fridays the House, unless it otherwise resolves, shall at its rising stand adjourned until the following Monday," said that this Motion completed the sessional arrangements foreshadowed about a fortnight ago. The substance of the Motion was that the House at its rising to-morrow should adjourn till 12th October, and for the remainder of the session should give precedence to Government business. This was directly in accordance with precedents which had been followed for many years in respect to autumn sessions, and any other arrangement would involve an intolerable strain on the time and attention of hon. Members. The only innovation was the last clause which provided that on Fridays the House should stand adjourned until the following Monday. That was a convenient arrangement, because if it was not put in the Resolution the Speaker might be compelled to take the adjournment until Saturday. It was, however, only a very formal matter. On 12th and 13th October they would take the Children Bill, the Prevention of Crimes Bill, and other small Home Office Bills if time permitted. On Wednesday, October 14th they would take the next of the allotted days for the Licensing Bill and dispose of Clause 2, and on 15th and 16th October they would proceed with Clause 3.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
asked whether it was proposed to proceed with the Committee stage of the Bill de die in diem.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Not necessarily He would not like to commit himself on the point, but he thought that substantially they would proceed without interruption. There might be an interval of a day here and there. On the first day of the sitting the President of the Board of Trade would move his instruction on the London Electric Power Bills, and if it was not disposed of at that sitting they would ask the House to take 2016 it after Eleven o'clock on one of the allotted days. He begged to move.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House at its rising to-morrow do adjourn until Monday, 12th October, next; that for the remainder of the session Government business have precedence at every sitting; that at the conclusion of Government business on each day Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without Question put; and that on Fridays the House, unless it otherwise resolves, shall at its rising stand adjourned until the following Monday."—(Mr. Asquith.)
§ *SIR CHARLES W. DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said the Prime Minister had suggested that this Motion was in accordance with precedents for many years. There were two precedents but they were not the same. This Motion had the effect of overriding the 4th Standing Order under which the House carried on its business. When that Standing Order was first moved it stood in a form in which it was open to the same objection that this Motion was open to, and the argument was so strong on that occasion that the Government gave way. That was in April, 1902, and it was pointed out that an autumn session had lasted on one occasion, well remembered by many hon. Members, until nearly the middle of March, and the following session began a few days after. There was almost no recess at all. It was obvious that it would have been absurd to suspend the rights of private members, to give no opportunity for the discussion of public affairs, and to confine themselves to Government business for so long a period. That argument was pressed with very much force, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite offered a large concession to meet that particular case by promising to insert "until December," but the House was not content with that Amendment, and insisted on putting in "until Michaelmas," and those words row stood in the Resolution. No one would desire to revive, in an autumn sitting of the House, the whole rights of private Members as enjoyed in the earlier part of the session, but there should be some opportunity 2017 for discussing public affairs. The autumn sitting should not be absolutely confined to Government business, but should include debates on matters that seemed to be of first-class importance. He would not extend his remarks by pointing out what the subjects were; they had been mentioned in the course of the debates during the past two or three days. There were matters pending which might call for the sudden attention of the House of Commons, and it was not sufficient to rely on the ordinary practice of giving the regular Opposition a day for debating a Vote of Censure. These were matters on which the House of Commons should be free to express an opinion apart from the action of the Opposition expressed in a formal Vote of Censure. It seemed to him the case was so strong that some attempt ought to be made by the Government to meet it. At all events they should now, on this the last day but one of the present part of the session, decide it for themselves. This power ought not to be given to the Government until October came. Why should they tie their hands now as to what they should do when they met again in October? In 1902 the right hon. Gentleman opposite gave notice in August of the Motion which he intended to move in October, if the circumstances remained the same. They were separating at an earlier date this year than w s the case on the two former occasions. In 1902, when the House met in October, the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who was then Leader of the House, made a Motion somewhat similar to that which they were now discussing, though not so drastic, and it was accompanied by a pledge that the House would not sit past Christmas, and he named a date in December when probably the House would rise. Though in 1902 the House did not meet till 16th October—rather later than the date at which it was proposed they should meet this year—they had full opportunity when the right hon. Gentleman brought forward his Motion of properly debating the question whether all the time should be given to the Government. The only precedent for the Motion now before the House was one which was set in the present Parliament by the late Prime Minister in 1906 on 2018 the last day of the sitting in August. Most of the Members of the House had gone away without knowing the terms of the Motion which was to be submitted. On that occasion Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman gave a private assurance that the House would not sit past Christmas. He (Sir C. Dilke) moved to leave out all the words after "12th October next." That would enable the House when it met in October to raise the whole question in exactly the same way.
To leave out from the word 'next,' to the end of the Question."—(Sir Charles Dilke.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. ASQUITH
said the sole question was whether this Resolution should be put as a whole or whether it should be put in two instalments. Personally, he did not see why the House should not decide at once both matters raised by the Resolution. He did not believe that anybody would suggest—he gathered his right hon. friend did not suggest—that they should keep alive the whole of the rights of private Members during the autumn session, but as regarded the opportunities given to private Members to raise matters of importance, he would point out that the Resolution scrupulously preserved the right of moving the adjournment of the House on a definite matter of urgent public importance on all other than allotted days. He would be prepared to insert in the Resolution words limiting the length of the autumn session, say, to a date before Christmas, but he could not accept his right hon. friend's Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
thought this suggestion would meet some part of the complaint of the right hon. Baronet opposite. He had two objections to the course the Government had pursued. The first was that he thought it very unfortunate that they should propose a Resolution of this kind without any notice. That was quite new and quite 2019 unnecessary. The Government had long known that they were going to have an autumn session, and that they were going to meet in October, and it was rather a violation of the practice of the House that they should only know what was going to be done in a matter of this importance to the general conduct of business on the very morning when the question had to be decided. It was too late to put that matter right now, but he earnestly hoped that the Government Whips, or whoever was responsible, would see that there were no more of these unnecessary breaches of precedent. The other objection related to the liberty of the House to deal with other than Government business during the autumn session. As he pointed out yesterday, this was the very first time in Parliamentary history that Parliament was asked to meet in the middle of October without any liberty at all to discuss matters of public importance. He did not deny that on the first and second nights of the session, when the Children Bill and some other non-controversial Bills were on the Order Paper, it would be possible for any Member to move the adjournment of the House. But when those were over, they were going to have a great block of public business. Twenty-three days were to be entirely concerned with one Bill, and whenever that Bill was put down, then the whole of the rights and privileges of the House as regarded the discussion of matters other than Government business were absolutely suspended. The House had never made any conditions of that kind. It was quite abnormal, quite improper. And he did not know whether it was going to end there. He was confident, knowing the ways of the Government, that they would try to pass more Bills, and would move another Closure Resolution, and the whole of the rights of the House in respect of business other than Government business would be taken away. He hoped the Government would even now consider whether they could not give some relaxation to the rigidity of this rule.
§ SIR FRANCIS CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
said he wished to ask the Prime Minister a question in regard 2020 to some Orders still on the Paper. The Government had taken away a good deal of the time of private Members, but they had atoned for so doing in the last few weeks by giving facilities for certain non-contentious Bills being passed through all their stages with the general consent of the House. He thought the same procedure should be maintained in the autumn sitting. He had had the honour of presiding over a Committee which had dealt with a number of Bills which, he believed, all sections of the House would be willing to have passed into law. There were five or six practically non-contentious Bills on the Order Book, and it seemed to him that it would be a great scandal if, after hon. Members had taken the trouble of balloting on these Bills, and after the Bills had passed through the Standing Committee and through the Report stage in the House, they were not to be allowed to pass in the same way as several Bills which had been passed during the last fortnight. He would point out that if these derelicts were left on the sea of legislation they would remain blocking the way, and occupying time which might otherwise be given to other useful measures introduced by private Members, or occupying time which might be given to Government business. He thought it would be good tactics to pass these Bills.
§ MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
joined in the appeal to the Prime Minister to consider whether he could not, consistently with the well-known objects of the Government, give private Members a little more liberty in the autumn session. The Motion said: "That at the conclusion of Government business on each day Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without Question put." That practically deleted from the Order Paper all private Members' Bills. He thought they were all agreed that it was not only desirable but absolutely necessary that some words should be devised to preserve to private Members the right of raising any pressing question on the Motion for the adjournment of the House. If the right hon. Gentleman could accept that suggestion, he would go far to meet the objection 2021 to the Motion in its present form. There were questions which were not of sufficient public importance to justify Mr. Speaker in granting leave to move the adjournment of the House, but which might very properly be raised on the Motion for the adjournment of the House at the close of business.
§ LORD R. CECIL
suggested that the last clause of the Motion, "and that on Fridays the House, unless it otherwise resolves, shall at its rising stand adjourned until the following Monday," should be omitted. That would give an opportunity once a week of raising questions of the kind to which the hon. Member for Leicester had referred. On a former occasion the Prime Minister was asked whether private Members were to have any lights in the autumn session, and the right hon. Gentleman replied that that would be a matter to be decided in the autumn session. They might have misunderstood what the right hon. Gentleman said, but if that was so, it emphasised sill the more the necessity of having this Motion in a form which would enable them to raise these matters in the autumn session.
§ MR. J. MACVEAGH (Down, S.)
supported the appeal to the Prime Minister to consider (luring the recess whether the latter part of the Motion should not be amended so as to preserve some of the rights of private Members. So far as the Irish Party were concerned, they had always contended for the rights of private Members. There was no doubt that the whole tendency nowadays was for Parliament to become more and more merely a record of the wishes of the Executive Government for the time being. He found himself for once in his life in hearty accord with the Leader of the Opposition. He was glad to find the right hon. Gentleman at last standing up for the rights of private Members. It was not often that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the front benches were found showing anxiety and tenderness for those rights. The two front benches always made common cause in that matter, because ex-leaders who were in opposition thought that some day they would be back on the Treasury bench. What he quarrelled 2022 particularly about with the Leader of the Opposition was that he was the means of destroying one of the most valuable rights private Members ever possessed, namely, the right to interrupt public business at any time. The right hon. Gentleman practically abolished that right. He gave instead the right to move the adjournment of the House at nine o'clock at night when few Members were present, and when speeches on most important questions might be addressed to empty benches. A division might be taken when hon. Gentlemen found it convenient to return from a dinner party, and then they went into the lobbies without having heard a word of the debate. He hoped that a protest would be made against this deprivation of the rights of private Members, and that some measures would be taken for the restoration to them of that most valuable privilege. As the hon. Member for East Northampton had said, several important Bills had passed through Grand Committee, and now awaited the Report stage, and some only the Third Reading; but under this Motion as proposed by the Prime Minister all chance of passing them would be absolutely destroyed. His hon. friend behind him had introduced an important Bill for the repeal of the Coercion Act in Ireland. It passed through Grand Committee upstairs without any opposition in something like two minutes and a half. The Bill met with general acceptance in the House, but under the Prime Minister's Motion it would be massacred in the autumn session. Among other Bills was one which would specially appeal to the Prime Minister, viz., the Bill to give votes to women. The Second Reading of that Bill had been passed at an early period of the session, but it had been hung up waiting for an opportune time for its further progress. The strong and deep interest which the Prime Minister and his colleagues had taken in this measure should make them the last men in the world to deny the House the right of deciding the question in the autumn session. On the general question he appealed to private Members to shake themselves free of the malign influence of the front benches and to record their votes in favour of the 2023 preservation of some at least of the rights and privileges of private Members.
§ *MR. JOWETT (Bradford, W.)
said he interpreted the friendly nod of the Prime Minister in answer to the appeal of his hon. friend the Member for Leicester, to mean that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to make a concession in the Resolution under consideration. He had no wish in any way to add to what the hon. Member for Leicester had said in support of the contention of the Leader of the Opposition; but he would make this further appeal to the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman had given a promise to the Leader of the Opposition that in the event of the responsible Leaders of the Opposition wishing to move a vote of censure on the Government, he would provide an opportunity for the discussion of such a Motion. The unfortunate circumstances under which they, in that part of the House, were placed was that some of the subjects they thought most important and most fitting to be made the subject of a Vote of Censure on the Government, the Leader of the Opposition was not concerned with, because he did not share their views, or wish to support a Vote of Censure which they might move. For example, they might take the subject of the unemployed. On those benches there was an overwhelming desire to discuss the issue of unemployment, but they had no reasonable opportunity for doing so. The other evening discussion dodged round motor cars, tuberculosis, unemployed, and a great number of other subjects; but there was no possibility of getting a direct vote on unemployment. He maintained that the Labour Party had a right to put that issue before the House and the country from their own point of view. The Leader of the Opposition did not feel at one with them on that matter; the right hon. Gentleman had a perfect right to his opinion, but the Labour Party claimed the right to have their opinion also. What he had just said, he was convinced, had the full support of a large mass of the population of the country, and he appealed to the Prime Minister in the full knowledge of that to give their Party the same privilege of moving a vote of censure on 2024 the Government when they asked it as the regular Opposition had.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
appealed to the Prime Minister for some consideration being given to the Local Authorities (Education) Bill which would provide for the teaching of agriculture in schools. That Bill passed unanimously its Second Reading some time ago; it was non-contentious; and he asked the right hon. Gentleman to allow it to be starred. There was another Bill which he thought had been hardly treated. He meant the Small Holdings Amendment Bill, which he held should be starred so as to be considered in the autumn session.
§ *MR. ASQUITH
said he was anxious to make this Resolution as practically consistent with the general convenience of the House as was possible to carry out its main object. The terms of the Resolution followed verbatim a similar Motion proposed a few years ago by the Leader of the Opposition. The points raised divided themselves into two groups. First, in reference to private Members' Bills, he thought the Government had shown every consideration to those which had secured anything like general assent, and he was prepared to do the same with other Bills standing on a similar footing—that was to say, if they had a general measure of acceptance and the same absence of serious controversy. He was afraid that could not be said of the Bill mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley, nor could he include the repeal of the Crimes Act for Ireland in the description; he would be glad if it could receive universal assent; but it certainly could not be said to be non-controversial. As regarded Bills that did fall within that category, the Government would extend similar facilities to those they had extended to others in the earlier part of the session. As to the point raised by the right hon. Baronet, the right to raise important matters on a Motion for adjournment, he would be prepared without changing the phraseology of the Resolution, to undertake that, when it was represented to the Government that there was, on the part of any body of Members, a serious demand of the kind with sub- 2025 stantial support, the adjournment should be moved before the remaining Government Orders were reached at half-past Eleven, so that the time might be occupied with the discussion of that Motion.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. A. E. W. MASON (Coventry)
said he would like to call the attention of the Under-Secretary for the Colonies and of the House generally, to a Paper which had perhaps been overlooked in their discussions, but of the value and importance of which there could be no doubt whatever. He referred to the report of Mr. W. L. Mackenzie King, Deputy-Minister of Labour in the Government of the Dominion of Canada, on his mission to this country in connection with Asiatic labour. He need not refer in particular to the details of the mission. Mr. Mackenzie King came over here in March, on the initiative of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, to consult with the British authorities on the great and important subject of Asiatic immigration; and owing to the co-operation between the India Office and the Colonial Office, and the Colony represented by Mr. Mackenzie King, a settlement was arrived at. That Report was of great value, if only for the extreme cordiality of its tone and frank recognition by Canada of obligations of citizenship within the Empire. But the Report was still more valuable, not only as a settlement of a particular incident, but as a statement of a great problem which would have to be faced in the years to come, and which, if not treated with the greatest discretion and sagacity, would undoubtedly become a very great and constant danger and even a menace to the integrity of the Empire at large. In this Paper he was inclined to believe the principle and policy of Asiatic immigration was laid down for the first time, and was capable 2026 of a much wider application than in the particular instance of Canada. The hon. Members for Leeds and York rather swept the problem out of the way by stating that we must take it as a sure thing that the Colonies would not accept Asiatic immigration. That was only stating half of the problem; in this Paper they found the whole problem stated by Mr. Mackenzie King as follows—The variegated character of the British Empire is in no particular, perhaps, more fully exemplified than in the circumstance that within its confines are to be found all the features which the problem of Oriental immigration presents,Thus, they had two sides to the question; they had the Colonial side and the Asiatic side, and he believed that the Paper to which he had referred would be often quoted in the House as the beginning of a settlement of the problem. They were quite clear on one side of the problem. The Colonies had the right, universally recognised nowadays, to restrict Asiatic immigration according to their own wishes and desires. The Colonial restriction was the result of their economic policy; the entry of Asiatics into their territory was liable to lower the standard of living; while, on the other hand, there was a growing disinclination in this country to interfere at all with internal Colonial Government. But we had to consider not merely the question of the Colonies restricting Asiatic immigration, but also the problem of Asiatics trying to find their way into those countries and being treated under circumstances which involved suffering, and, as they conceived, humiliation and degradation on their part. He would like to urge particularly in dealing with this question of Asiatic immigration that our policy in England should be to teach the native Indians that they had a right arising from British citizenship. It was essential that the native Indian should be aware that the Imperial policy in so far as he was concerned, was a policy of great solicitude for his welfare, and that that should be brought home to him by his contact with the Indian Administration. That was a question to which the most serious thought and consideration must 2027 be given. The problem was bound to grow, as the desire of emigration on the part of Asiatics, especially in India, was bound to grow. Take the over-crowded frontier towns on the North-West of India. Within the year 1906, 48,000 Afghans migrated into the frontier districts, which were already over-populated. When he was out there not long ago on a frontier trip, he found that not a man was at home; all had gone to Bombay seeking work in the mills, or serving on board ship, and sending their earnings home. That was certain to be more and more the case as long as the British power remained in India; and he was one of those who believed that the British power in India was the one safeguard against rebellion and war. What was true of the North-West frontier was also true of other parts of India where the desire to spread abroad was getting greater and greater. We could not shut our eyes to this problem. We could not say to the Colonists that we had solved the whole problem; but he believed that in this Paper by Mr. Mackenzie King there was the germ—much more, the principle—of a definite policy which was capable of great extension, and which, if extended, might save us from great danger. Here was to be found an arrangement arrived at by means of co-operation between the India Office, the Colonial Office, and the Indian Government. There were men in India who were deluded as to the prosperity that awaited them if they emigrated, and the whole affair had been settled with the cooperation of the British and Canadian Governments. But if that co-operation had taken place before the emigration had begun, the whole trouble, and a rather dangerous subject, would have been avoided. He thought they should get some co-operation between the Government and the India Office, in which case a great step would be taken towards the solution of this very difficult question. He believed that in the new machinery which had been set up by the Government they had a means by which this co-operation could be obtained. What was required was some sort of Imperial Intelligence Department. What was called the Conference Secretariat might be used and extended for this purpose. He believed that 2028 if that office could be enlarged so that it should form a sort of clearing house for information, an intelligence department through which information might be disseminated throughout the Empire, the dangers which had arisen in the past and which awaited us in the future, unless this matter was grappled with, would be avoided. We had, as he had said, the machinery, and he urged the Under-Secretary to take into his consideration the necessity of insuring that in a short time all the necessary information should be sent to the Governments concerned, so that these troubles might be put an end to. He thought this was a most important question, and well worthy of a few moments' attention on the part of the Government. In the Conference Department they had the opportunity and would be able to tell whether in any part there was or was not any opportunity for Asiatic labour. There was also another consideration, and that was the terms on which Asiatic labour should go to any Colony. If the Department could arrange those terms, they would arrive at a certain harmony between the various British Dependencies and others parts of the Empire which did not exist at present, but which certainly must be insured if this vast Empire of ours was to be kept flourishing.
§ THE UNDER - SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Colonel SEELY, Liverpool, Abercromby)
said he was sure no Member of the House would quarrel with his hon. friend for having brought this matter forward, and that the House would not wish a matter of such overwhelming importance to be left where it was without some statement from the Government; for it was true that the whole future of the Empire depended on the steps now taken, and that it was quite easy to shatter the Empire by taking a false step. The matter was brought to a stage of acute difficulty only a few months ago, and, in consequence, they had this Report, which the hon. Gentleman had referred. He wished to say at once on behalf of the Government that they appreciated most warmly the manner in which the Canadian Government had met them in this most difficult matter. They also appreciated 2029 warmly the manner in which Mr. Mackenzie King had conducted the negotiations; for he had shown that, however difficult a matter might be, when a man of attainments, sincerely desirous of preserving the unity of the Empire, was concerned in its discussion, a common agreement for the common good might result. That was the justification for the hon. Member's bringing this matter forward. Although Mr. Mackenzie Kings Report showed that he himself realised that the diplomatic considerations involved were so delicate that one must speak with restraint, it was, nevertheless, important that there should be the fullest discussion on the matter and that it should be looked fairly in the face, and his right hon. friend the Prime Minister shared that view. The difficulties arose in consequence of the immigration into Canada, not only of Indians, but other Asiatics, and especially Japanese and Chinese. He would not dwell on the Japanese immigration, because the Japanese Government had agreed to restrict emigration as far as possible, and had shown the most friendly desire to co-operate with the Canadian Government and our own Government. But, on the general question, might he appeal to the House not to adopt any superior attitude in this matter—not to say, as people were tempted to say, "Surely all men in the Empire are equal," and not to hold too closely to the principle of "Civis Romanus Sum, and say: "Being a citizen of the Empire, I can go where I please," and that any attempt to exclude a citizen of the Empire was unjust and must be resented by the Imperial Government. It was easy to utter those very proper sentiments, because we had no corresponding dangers menacing us in this country. Not only had we no menace of the kind, but objections were raised at the slightest symptom of Asiatic immigration. He had heard a statement from his right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade that he was proposing to take action in regard to the increase of Chinese seamen in British ships in the coasting trade of this country. He did not say we ought not to take these objections, but he said we ought, and therefore we 2030 ought not to take up a superior attitude against the Colonies who found themselves confronted with a far more urgent danger. His hon. friend was quite right. He had told them what happened on the frontiers of India, where happily owing to British rule the people were turning to peaceful pursuits and the population was increasing. The outward extension of Asiatics was not likely to diminish, but there were indications in the Colonial Office and, he understood, also in the India Office, that there was plenty of work in India for able-bodied men to do, and that the tendency towards extension was confined only to certain areas. Having given that word of caution or comfort, whichever hon. Members might think it to be, he must admit that the matter was of urgent importance. The burden of the cry of those who said that we must take a stronger attitude to induce our Colonies to accept the immigration of any of our fellow-subjects was Civis Romanus sum. A citizen of the British Empire, it was said, ought to be able to go where he pleased. Of course a difficulty was caused. When we had some great function here, and a citizen of the Empire from India shook our statesmen by the hand, immediately afterwards citizens of the Empire from Australia and Canada went through the same ceremony. On the other hand, Euclid's statement that things which were equal to the same thing are equal to one another was not always capable of application to political matters, and could not be carried to its logical conclusion, because there were reasons, racial and economic, which made people of a particular race determined not to admit persons of another race or another and lower stage of civilisation. Notwithstanding the temporary abandonment of the doctrine of Civis Romanus sum, there was reason why they need not regard it as a complete disaster. He would remind the House of a better Latin saying: Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto. In English he would say: "God made all men in his own image; and therefore all men are my kith and kin." That was a wider doctrine than the doctrine that in matters of civil liberty the citizens of the Empire should have a privilege over the citizens of the world. 2031 Even that wider doctrine could not be applied, first of all because of climatic conditions. Mr. Mackenzie King's Report was conclusive on that point. He said—It was clearly recognised in regard to emigration from India to Canada that the native of India is not a person suited to this country; that, accustomed as many of them are to the conditions of a tropical climate, and possessing manners and customs so unlike those of our own people, their inability to adapt themselves readily to surroundings entirely different could not but entail an amount of privation and suffering which renders the discontinuance of such emigration most desirable in the interests of the Indians themselves.He believed that to be absolutely true. The immigration into Canada that took place resulted in great suffering to the Indian immigrants. They were not suited to the places they settled in, and this also applied to those who went to British Columbia. He had seen all the papers, confidential and other, and he could assure the House that Indian immigration into Canada had been a failure from the point of view of the immigrants themselves. Then there was the economic difficulty—the trade union difficulty—caused by the determination of the men in the country not to have their wages cut or a race introduced which could work for less because on account of its physique it could live on less, and because on account of its habits it did not require such a high development of comfort. That was a point which must never be lost sight of. Great white communities could not be expected to allow their economic standard to be lowered in this way by a vast immigration of those who could live on next to nothing, work longer hours, and who required none of those accessories of life to which the white population had been used for centuries. But the most important difficulty was racial antipathy. It was all very well to say that all men were equal and brothers; there were many people who would not assent to that doctrine. It was the duty of philosophers and Christians to remove racial antipathy before statesmen and politicians introduced an alien element. To take the opposite course and enforce the principle that a citizen of the Empire should be able to go all over the British Empire before a favourable state of feeling had 2032 been created could only cause infinite suffering to both the races concerned. A striking, almost tragic, illustration of this fact was to be found in the present situation in the Southern States of America, where the presence of an alien race had caused acute suffering to both black and white races. What policy ought they to pursue? He spoke on behalf of the Government and could not be expected to speak with that precision which one could do if one was speaking at large without reference to views which must have relation to all parts of the world as well as those which they were now discussing. The first principle was that while they trusted that the self-governing colonies would realise to the full the immense difficulties that must be brought upon the Empire by a policy of cruel exclusion against the 300,000,000 of Asiatics who formed an integral part of the Empire, they must agree to the demand that those colonies might exclude whom they pleased. They admitted that if a self-governing colony decided that they must exclude a certain class of persons, the Home Government could not interfere. Why was there anything contrary to the best doctrines in that assumption? He would ask those who considered it a cruel doctrine to reflect on the words of Herbert Spencer. Herbert Spencer said—I am entirely in favour of the policy of excluding Asiatics from America or restricting them within the narrowest limits, and for this reason—if they come in large numbers either they will mix with the population or they will not. In the latter event they will ultimately become, if not slaves, practically in the position of slaves. If they do mix they will form a bad hybrid. In either event difficulties must arise, and in the long run immense social disorganisation.Though the Government had no wish or intention of interfering with our self-governing Colonies in regard to the policy of exclusion, certain principles could be laid down to which he thought the whole Empire would agree. If persons were admitted they must be given civil rights. "Free" or "not at all" seemed to him the sound principle for the British Empire. He would not trench on controversial ground. Some people might say that this raised the whole problem of Asiatic immigration 2033 into the Transvaal. He thought not, for those who were in favour of that course always stated that it was a temporary expedient to overcome an emergency caused by the war. If a people were admitted at all, there should be a common standard of liberty and all should be potential citizens. There was the other plan of making the best of both worlds—admitting people and then sending them back after using their labour, but nobody agreed with that. He therefore thought that they must agree to the principle that if anybody was admitted under the British flag, he must be admitted as a potential citizen. The third principle they might lay down was that those who were already there must be treated well, fairly, and generously. He had before him two great Blue-books dealing with the situation of the Indians in the Transvaal. He did not pretend that the Government viewed without concern what might happen to those Indians if the policy of exclusion was carried to the length of the dismissal of those who were there. It was a strong thing to ask that any subject of the King should be deprived of his living through no fault of his own. It was undesirable to make a mystery of a matter, but he might say that on this matter negotiations were proceeding and telegrams passing probably even as he spoke, so that he could not make a statement on that portion of it, but he thought they might agree that if the self-governing Colonies asked that they might exclude the fellow-subjects of the King because certain reasons made it imperative that wages should not be cut down, because the climatic conditions would make them unhappy, or because racial antipathy might cause riots, at least we might say that they should treat with the utmost generosity those subjects of the King who were there already. From that Report it would be seen that in Canada they had met us in a friendly spirit, and he could only say that in all the conversations which took place there was one note only, and that was that Canada was determined to make things as easy as possible for the home country in dealing with that difficult problem. The Government had confidence that the Governments of Australia, Natal, the Transvaal, the Cape, and New 2034 Zealand would show the same spirit as Canada had shown, realising that ours was a great heritage, and that it could only be held together by mutual forbearance on all sides. His hon. friend had suggested that we might bring this mutual forbearance a little nearer and make it a little more real if we were to ask what he called the Conference Secretariat, which, he thought, was a better name than the Imperial Secretariat, to take up this matter. He thought it was necessary for us to make the Imperial Secretariat a reality, to make it, as it were, the great clearinghouse for the Empire, where all the different laws might come and be considered and reported upon to the other Colonies by the Secretariat, so that it might be possible for every part of the Empire to know what the other parts were doing. He thought that should be done, and he would represent to the Secretary of State the desirability of doing it. He could only say in conclusion that if this matter was difficult, he did not think it was unsolvable or that there was anything to prevent, before very long, complete co-operation.
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend)
said that they must have listened to the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman with great interest and pleasure, because the Under-Secretary had recognised the principle which, if this Empire was to hold together, must be maintained by the central Government here in London as well as by the Colonies themselves, and that was that the Colonies must have the fullest of control over their own immigration. He wanted to draw a distinction between the native question, the coloured labour question, as found in the native races resident in, say, South Africa, and those who came from different parts of the Empire. As the Under-Secretary very aptly said, when there came a question of lascars or the employment of Chinese on British ships running from here to the Southern Seas, there were protests in that House from all parts. We were extremely jealous not only of our standard of labour but of the standard of wages and of any invasion of the native rights in labour of the citizens of this country. The Under-Secretary had said there were 2035 three reasons why the Canadians objected to Indian immigration, but there was something deeper than either of those three things. It was a credit to the thought and the feeling of patriotism of the race. They did not want to incorporate into their country the effects of the old plantation life, which meant simply that the white man would not himself do the lowest forms of work so long as the black man did it. The real reason why the Australians and the Canadians objected to Asiatic immigration was this—the fear that it would produce the effects produced in the Southern. States, the West Indies, and everywhere where Polynesian and Oriental labour had been introduced. Unless the structure of their national life was built up from the lowest forms of labour performed by the white man from the beginning, they knew that that national life must be rotten in the end. If they were to have a national life at all the white citizen should do all the work, from the digging of the ditches and the trenches to the highest, or else the civilisation would be unsound. That lay behind the action of Australia and Canada. The Under-Secretary smiled, no doubt thinking of South Africa, because of course it might seem strange that he should make that statement, but his position regarding the importation of Oriental labour into South Africa had always been that it was only to tide over a very difficult time of reconstruction of finance and commerce there. He had felt that it was a bad thing for South Africa to-day to be obliged to import coloured labour from outside. It complicated her own great native question if she imported 45 per cent. to 48 per cent. He sympathised deeply with the position taken up by the Under-Secretary, and he believed that what he had said that day would have its echo in every corner of the Empire, because lie had recognised the constitutional position and the national position which our Colonies had taken up. If the Government had pursued the same policy regarding immigration in the New Hebrides a different result would have followed. He commended the Government on taking the view of appealing to the Colonies for mutual counsel, and asking that they should send 2036 representatives to confer with the Imperial Government. That was the real basis of a true Imperial Parliament, and from just such interchange would come the great solution of our Imperial questions. If this Government and future Governments and other Colonies did what Canada had done, we were on the highway to placing our Colonial policy on the ground where we had placed our foreign policy, where private Members would hesitate to intrude, and would trust the Government of the day, believing that its policy was continuous.
§ *MR. MACKARNESS (Berkshire, Newbury)
asked if the Under-Secretary was in a position to make any statement with regard to the Imperial Government's paying the salary of Dinizulu, whether he had been committed for trial, and on what charge he would be tried. He put those questions because Dinizulu was a British subject for whom the Imperial Government had incurred special obligations, and Dinizulu had the right to have them fulfilled, even although self-government had been granted to the white people in Natal.
§ COLONEL SEELY
said he would read a telegram which had just arrived, and which, concluding as it did an unfortunate misunderstanding between the Government of this country and Natal, he would very much like to give. The telegram began—Ministers have asked me to communicate the following minute: 'With reference to the concluding portion of the Secretary of State for the Colonies' telegram No. 2 of the 23rd inst., Ministers have this morning been advised by your Excellency that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to make payment to-morrow on account of Dinizulu's salary. Ministers understand from Secretary of State for the Colonies' telegram referred to that His Majesty's Government has been influenced in respect of payment of Dinizulu's salary by belief that his defence will be prejudiced by lack of funds. Ministers are equally anxious with His Majesty's Government to avoid such a contingency, and whilst maintaining that their contention is correct on question of suspension of salary they are prepared, if approached by Dinizulu, to provide sum of money to assist him in his defence.'He need hardly say that his noble friend proposed to telegraph back saying that he welcomed that telegram, and that he assumed that the sum they proposed 2037 to pay would be at least equal to the salary which we should have paid, the important thing being that money should be forthcoming for the defence of this native chief. The actual merits of the case remained as before, but they were a subject for friendly discussion later on. For the moment they were paying the money for the defence of Dinizulu, and the Government welcomed this conclusion to an unfortunate difficulty and trusted that no such difficulty would occur again. He regretted he had not got the other information asked for, but as soon as it came he would have it communicated to the Press.
§ MR. LAURENCE HARDY (Kent, Ashford)
said he wished to ask the Government to define the position they held in regard to the hop industry. At the beginning of the session the Prime Minister, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, promised to receive a deputation on the subject, and in reply to a speech which he made in connection with the Address to the Crown he suggested an inquiry instead of receiving a deputation. The inquiry was held, it had take the whole session to conduct that inquiry, and now they had the Committee's Report before them. Therefore he thought he had some claim to ask the Government to proceed in the autumn session with the legislation indicated in the conclusions arrived at by the inquiry, for if they had not had the inquiry they could have had the matter dealt with this session. He would like to refer to a speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer a few days ago, in which he seemed to have been led rather far by the conclusions which the Hop Commitee had arrived at. He personally very much regretted the decision of the Government to take no steps to deal with what he believed was the real root of the difficulty, viz., the competition from America. He did not think the Committee really dealt with that point, and the Government who had thought it necessary to support a Committee in reference to the Meat Trust might well have given more attention to the question of whether there was not a Hop Trust also trying to destroy this native industry in our midst. The right hon. Gentleman, in his speech the other day, seemed to have been influenced 2038 by the fact that there were 3,000,000 less barrels of beer drunk now than before, and that therefore there must be less hops used, but the whole argument of the hop growers was that the special difficulties under which they were suffering had arisen within very recent years, in the last two or three years. The statistics in the Report showed that in the last three Years there had been no diminution at all in the number of barrels consumed, the figures being 34,400,000, 34,000,000, and 34,300,000, The right hon. Gentleman had also laid stress on the fact that much less hops were used in each barrel of beer, but in the last three years that had remained practically the same, viz., 1.83 lb., 1.86 lb., and 1.85 lb., and therefore those arguments did not apply to the present condition of things, which was what the growers complained of. If they turned to the question of the relative supply of home hops to the foreign production, they would see that during the last three years the percentage of home production to the total supply had really got to the smallest figure except that of 1905, when there was a crop far in excess even of the total consumption. The figures for the last three years were 55.96 per cent., 52.59 per cent., and this year it had fallen very much below that figure, and yet the Committee suggested that 70 per cent. in their opinion was the actual relation which they might depend upon of home-grown to foreign hops. Therefore, all these statistics, if dealt with for the period to which the growers desired to call the attention of the Government, showed that the points on which the right hon. Gentleman relied, trusting to the Report, did not really apply to the present condition of things. The hop growers were most urgently asking the Government to find some remedy, and if they could not go so far as to carry out some remedy which would really deal with the question they must content themselves with something less. On the only occasion when the question of a duty was brought to a division before the Committee, only four of the eleven members of the Committee voted against the duty; three voted for it, and there were three absent, and those three who were absent were the hon. Member for Rye, who had already proposed a duty in his own Report, the 2039 hon. Member for Faversham, who, although intimately connected with the hop-growing district, did not attend the meetings in connection with the Report at all, and the hon. Member for Falmouth, who made a strong speech in favour of dealing with foreign competition in introducing a deputation to the right hon. Gentleman the other day; therefore every member absent was more or less in favour of dealing with this question. He could see that the Government were in a difficulty in dealing with the question. It was difficult to separate it from the general question of tariff reform. He had always urged that it should be dealt with separately, as a matter of dumping and unfair competition, but it was extremely difficult for the Government to deal with it, and he was not surprised that they were not willing to deal with it in that war; and if that was so, he thought they had some right to ask the Government to promise them that in the autumn they should have legislation dealing with two other main points of the Report. He was grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's sympathetic words the other day in answer to a deputation, and his object in raising the question now was to raise the hopes of the growers with the belief that they would have some relief for their difficulties in the autumn. On the question of hop substitutes, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would confirm the Answer he gave to a Question the other day and make it clear that the Government intended legislating seriously, and not merely to bring in a Bill which, if there was any opposition, would be dropped. He believed that in the main there would be no controversy raised on that subject. He knew the hon. Gentleman below him, who was connected with the brewery trade, might say there were some preservatives which had nothing to do with hops, but what they desired was that all substitutes or supplements which took the place of hops should be barred, for in the opinion of the Committee their use should be prohibited. In regard to the question of marking, he hoped the Government would assure them that that question also would be dealt with during the autumn session 2040 in the same Bill. As marking had always been a peculiar characteristic of the hop trade, there could be no very strong arguments for alleging that the foreign hops should be free front that which applied so strongly to the home production. They had been told that the American trade was now depressed, but when they remembered that the trade in Oregon increased from 304 acres in 1800 to 3,000 acres in 1890, and to 15,000 in 1900, they could see that the increase had been so enormous that the depression now in no way dealt with the difficulties they were contending against. They must remember that neither substitutes nor marking would satisfactorily deal with Oregon hops, and it still lay with the Government to find some measure for relieving the industry in that respect. He would like to ask the hon. Gentleman representing the Board of Agriculture whether he could give him an assurance that further information should be obtained for them, that in the foreign countries they should have agriculture experts who would give them the information the growers required, and that in the internal arrangements of the Board of Agriculture itself more attention would be paid to giving information as to the best qualities of hops and other details, such as were recommended by the Committee in the last paragraph of the Report. Something might be done administratively, and he thought more could be done legislatively, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would calm the minds of the hop growers throughout the country by enabling him to assure them that the Government appreciated their case, and that in the autumn session some legislation of a remedial character would be given them.
§ MR. ESSEX (Gloucestershire, Cirencester)
said the hon. Member for Ashford had pointed out that he had put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day asking him whether he could see his way to introducing a measure prohibiting the use of hop substitutes in the manufacture of beer in the United Kingdom, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his reply had declared himself to be highly favourable 2041 to the introduction of a Bill in the autumn on some such lines as that, if he could be sure that it would not be received in an antagonistic spirit by any considerable section of the House, and would meet with general support. He did not know what knowledge the hon. Member for Ashford might have, but he himself was inclined to believe that a proposition of that kind, if presented to the House in a certain form, might well meet with very strong and warm support. The other claims which were made were, he thought, wholly untenable. They could not possibly ask that this one industry should have preferential treatment by the imposition of a duty on foreign competitive supplies coming to this country. Every other industry, that of the barley grower, for instance, would want similar treatment, and the whole vicious programme would be opened up. There was no earthly reason why their friends in Kent, hard as their case might be, should come before that House and demand to be specially treated. He was not so much concerned about marking, but he was afraid that a mistake was being made by its Kentish advocates, for they had proof that this marking was in many cases an advertisement for the foreign growers. He would point out to the hon. Member for Ashford that the trouble complained of all over the two counties to which the hon. Gentleman referred was one of which we had not the sole enjoyment in this country. The Hop Report told them that this terrible business of grubbing, which sounded so awful in the ears of agriculturists, was not unknown in Oregon or Washington. In this voluminous Report he had not been able to put his finger on the exact figures, but he thought he was correct in saying that no less than 30 per cent. of the hop area of Oregon had been grubbed up within a recent period because they, like ourselves, were finding that the world's markets were for some reason or other not so eager to purchase their products as they had been. That had happened constantly; and if there was a depression in one great market, in all probability that depression would be felt in other countries and amongst other people. It was apparently so in this case, and in the Colonies those who grew hops were making com- 2042 plaint among their own people. As they had got the sympathetic ear of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, lie would like him to deal not only with hop substitutes but with substitutes for malt extracts. He did not propose that they should go on the lines of a pure beer Bill, but he had been told, in reply to a Question, that the right hon. Gentleman did not think that the matter of substitutes for malt extracts was on the same footing as substitutes for hops. How the Chancellor of the Exchequer arrived at that conclusion he did not know, but he was bound to say that he thought the right hon. Gentleman had some reason in his active mind which had not leaked out in the carefully considered printed Answer which he had given him the other day. If the right hon. Gentleman found it difficult to deal with the matter on the same lines as hop substitutes, might he suggest that the Bill, with regard to all hop substitutes, should take this form, namely, that as other articles, such as coffee and butter, were by law to be declared what they really were when they were mixed—the one with chicory, for example, and the other with some ingredient other than pure butter—so a man, when he bought a glass of beer, should have declared to him the composition of the liquor, where it consisted of substitutes, so that he might know when he was buying a product of the doctors shop or of the laboratory, instead of a product of the fields of his own or other countries. It seemed to him that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might well go on with such a Bill; it would not in the least interfere with the principle of free trade; for if the chemist brewed a better beer—and he was glad to see one of the great experts present—than the brewer placed on the market, at any rate he was sure that the farmers and agriculturists of the country generally, and of Kent and other counties, would be only too glad to welcome the placing of this particular product on the market under conditions not less severe than those to which many other traders had to submit in reference to other products.
§ MR. GRETTON (Rutland)
said he so far agreed with the hon. Member's 2043 case in regard to hop substitutes that he believed he could brew better beer from malt and hops only than from any combination of substitutes. He did not know whether that was the view of other brewers, and he did not think he ought to pursue the subject without consulting them. As regarded the question of hops, he found himself in entire agreement with the views of the hon. Member who opened the debate. The hon. Member very properly brought before the House the very urgent condition of the hop industry. That was abundantly proved before the Select Committee by all the witnesses who represented the hop industry, whether as growers, importers or factors. There was no doubt that during the last two or three years the hop trade generally had been through a period of exceptional stress and difficulty, and he believed they had a very urgent case indeed for consideration. He was sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer, from what he had said to deputations, would not take that step which they considered to be the only step which would really be effective in placing the English hop industry upon a sounder and more stable footing. Every grower and merchant, with very few exceptions, had urged on the Committee that the only remedy was a duty upon foreign imported hops. An import duty would undoubtedly place the English grower on a sounder and more stable footing in competition with hops which were grown abroad and imported into this country. It appeared to him that one of the main arguments in support of this view was the fact that hops in many cases abroad were grown in climates which enjoyed a great proportion of sunshine and were more regular than the climate at home. When we had a bad season, which was unfortunately not very seldom, it was certain that there would be foreign hops of higher quality grown under more favourable conditions. That appeared to he the strongest argument, and if the English grower was to continue to grow hops, as they all desired that he should—every brewer wanted as many good English hops as he could get—the English grower must have some assurance of stability in prices in order that he might not make great losses, which undoubtedly had occurred in the last season. That, however, was not a practical question at present, as the 2044 Government firmly turned their faces against suggestions in that direction. He entirely supported the proposal for the prohibition of hop substitutes, but the hop-growers, in resolutions which they had recently passed, had gone a little further than that, and had expressed the opinion that preservatives, which were necessarily used also, took the place of hops. That view was put before the Committee, but the witnesses who advanced it were not able to maintain it. They failed to produce any evidence to support it, and the expert witnesses expressed an opinion exactly contrary to theirs. This was a very much larger and wider question than the House realised. Preservatives were used in nearly every liquor sold in the country, and in jams and preserved fruits. With regard to the ma king of hops, he had not much expectation that it would afford any substantial relief. It had been rightly said by the hon. Member for Cirencester that it might very easily become a two-edged sword and it would undoubtedly in some cases give greater prestige and a greater guarantee of the market quality of foreign hops. But it would tend to put an end to the system which they had evidence existed in some cases of the mixing of foreign hops of an inferior kind with those of a rather better grade, and selling them as the growth of a particular district in this country. There was no evidence before the Committee, nor was it his experience, that this was a practice largely resorted to, but there was evidence that in some cases it did occur, and marking of hops would undoubtedly tend to do away with it. The marking of hops however, was a rather more complicated question than might appear. Foreign countries had their own system of marking hops. For instance, those most in demand on the Continent and in America were grown in small allotments. No one grower had a sufficient number of hops to send to the market, and they were taken into a town and there marked with an official seal. That was not on all fours with the system which prevailed in this country. He was in entire agreement with the hop-growers that on the whole it was desirable that foreign hops should be marked as far as possible in the same 2045 way as was now required by law in this country, and on these lines he was perfectly prepared to support a measure. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take early steps to deal with this question. The Board of Agriculture could undoubtedly do a great deal. The hon. Member for Ashford had urged upon the consideration of the Board of Agriculture the question of collecting statistical information. Then there was the question of carrying on upon an organised scale the growing of hops. The cultivation of hops was a scientific industry which they had not been able to go into as thoroughly as they should have done. The Board of Agriculture ought to undertake experiments and organise investigations into the question of which were the best soils for growing hops in England. If they established agricultural research institutions they could have those experiments carried out by experts. He made that suggestion because he was convinced from his own experience that a great deal might be done by obtaining fuller information and having carefully worked out experiments on practical as well as scientific lines in regard to hop-growing in this country.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
pointed out that this question had been brought before him recently by a deputation who put their case to him ably, lucidly, and temperately, and who fully realised the limits beyond which the Government could not be expected to go in dealing with the difficulties of the hop industry. He thought he might say that on the whole they were satisfied with the undertaking the Government had given. The hon. Member who introduced this subject had challenged one or two statements he had made to that deputation, and he wished to say a few words in reply to his criticism. He pointed out to that deputation that, as a result of ah careful investigation made by a Committee of the House which had been inquiring into the matter, so far from there being an increase in the importation of d foreign hops, there had been a considerable decrease in the last few years, and, therefore, the difficulty did not arise from the importation of foreign hops. The figures v of the importation of foreign hops showed 2046 a very considerable decline in the in the importation——
§ MR. LAURENCE HARDY
said he did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman had before him the figures circulated in answer to a Question put to him in May last, because those figures showed that there had been an increase.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that if the hon. Member had taken a range of thirty years for his survey he would have found that the great evil was not in the increased importation of hops from foreign countries, which had, in fact, decreased and was a diminishing evil if it was an evil at all. The hon. Member said they should look at the figures for the last three years, but surely that was not sufficient. They were bound to have fluctuation in the market, and they might have a very good year in hops in one particular year followed by a bad year. The hop industry was bound to import more foreign hops in a bad year than when the hop industry in this country was in a flourishing state. Consequently a great deal depended upon fluctuations, and it was a fairer test to take twenty or thirty years, and taking a period of that kind showed a very considerable decline in the importation of foreign hops. Thirty years ago the average importation of hops into this country was 215,000 cwts., but the average for the last ten years was only 186,000 cwts., showing a decrease of nearly 30,000 cwts. Consequently if the hop industry was suffering it was not due to any increase in the importation of foreign hops. He pointed out to the deputation that it had been clearly established that the present condition of the industry was due to the fact that there had been a smaller consumption of beer, amounting to 3,000,000 barrels in the course of the last seven years.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said it was not the last three years that established the drift of any trade. They had to take a much wider view. The hon. Member had taken too narrow a view of beer, and he ought to look at it from a broader point of view. The difficulty was mainly due to a smaller consumption of beer. The hon. 2047 Member should approach the subject freer a freer and broader point of view. If they rushed into legislation on this subject they might make a mistake. The hon. Member was not conservative enough to his mind. He did not like the revolutionary tendency of the hon. Member. He was much too violent and extreme a man to his way of thinking. The hon. Member asked for sweeping legislation because in three years there had been changes in the trade. The changes were due to several causes. There had been a reduction in the production of beer to the extent of 3,000,000 barrels in the course of seven years. That was due to a change in the habits of the people, a change not to be deplored, and, if less beer was required, there must be less use of hops. Then again less hops had in recent years been used in brewing. But the people could not be compelled to drink more beer or brewers to use more hops. There was another factor which the hon. Member had ignored, the use of cold storage. In the old days when there was a good hop season all that were required by the brewers were used and the remainder destroyed, but now when there was a good season the brewer bought large quantities because the price was low, and he could lay up what he did not then require in cold stores and had a reserve upon which he could draw. This cold-storage system the hon. Member did not approve of; probably he would like to go back to the old days when these fantastic ideas were unknown. But he could not do it; these were progressive days, and we must adapt ourselves to them. It might be a comfort to our own producers to know that, if they suffered, foreign competitors suffered also. In Oregon things were so bad that it was resolved to grub up 30 per cent, of the hop plantations. The American cultivator was ready to do this, and he, finding one cultivation was not remunerative, used his land for another; he did not ask for the artificial manure of legislation. Of 16,000 acres under hops in Oregon 5,000 were converted to something else in a single year; and out of 5,000 in Washington, 2,000 had been converted to something else in a single year. That was due to the smartness 2048 of the American farmer. He would point out incidentally that hop land paid about £3 per acre, whereas the same land used for another purpose would only pay 30s. per acre. While in Kent the acreage of land under hops had decreased, in Worcestershire and Herefordshire the land under hops had increased in the last thirty years. Worcestershire and Herefordshire were formidable competitors of Kent for the time being, but the hon. Member for Kent did not want a 50s. duty on hops from the West of England. The hon. Member had made something out of the fact that the duty suggested in the Committee was only thrown out by a majority of one. There were three absentees, and he tried to suggest that they would have voted for a duty. The hon. Member for Rye would have voted in favour of a duty. It was not correct, however, to say that his hon. friend who introduced the deputation to him was in favour of a duty, for he had distinctly stated that he was against it. The hon. Member for Faversham went into the Committee with a predilection in favour of a duty on hops—a predilection to which no doubt he was assisted by representations made to him—and after listening to the overwhelming evidence against it he found it was absolutely impossible to support that proposition. He had already written to the papers to say that he approved thoroughly of the recommendations of the Committee. Now he came to the position in which the Government stood in the matter. The Committee had reported against hop substitutes. He was quite prepared to act on that recommendation. The hon. Member for Rutland himself acknowledged that deleterious substitutes were used in certain cases.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
Very well; they did not want a matter of that sort to be imported when it had the incidental effect of being detrimental and injurious to a British industry. The Government were, therefore, prepared to act upon the recommendation of the Committee in that respect, and that the same obligation of marking hops should be imposed on the foreigner 2049 as was imposed by law on the British hop-grower. That was not at all inconsistent with the principles of free trade. At the same time his experience at the Board of Trade was that on the whole the British trader suffered who insisted on the marking of foreign goods. In many cases it had been merely an advertisement for the foreign goods.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that the suggestion was to mark the foreign hops absolutely with the producer's name, and the advertisement would be still greater in that case. He would seriously invite the hop-growers of Kent to reconsider the matter and see whether they would really benefit by it. They knew their own business best; and it was a business matter after all. It could not be an injustice if they were deliberately of opinion, after careful reflection, that it would be an advantage to their industry to impose the same obligation on the foreigner as on the British producer. He now came to the question as to whether the Government proposed to deal with the subject effectively. The other day in answer to a Question he stated that they certainly proposed to give effect to the unanimous recommendations of the Committee, but that that depended upon the opposition which the Bill would meet with. The hon. Member met his statement with the objection that if the passage of such a Bill was made conditional upon the absence of opposition they might get no Bill at all. He wanted to point out to the hon. Member that the Government could not devote much time in the autumn session to a Bill of this kind, although he did not see why the Bill should occupy much time. It was perfectly clear that the hop-growers were unanimous on the two points referred to, the Committee was unanimous, and the House was practically unanimous. He felt it was in the power of the Opposition to enable the Government to deal with this matter before the session was over, and with their assistance and approval he hoped to do so. He had 2050 already given instructions to have a Bill drafted. It would be necessary to bring in a general Revenue Bill, and whether the Bill he promised would be a separate Bill of two or three clauses, or would be incorporated in the Revenue Bill he had yet to consider, because he had to consult with his experts and with the authorities of the House. He had not wished to give merely a sympathetic answer to the hon. Member for Ashford, but a promise, and he meant to redeem that promise with the assistance of the Opposition.
§ *MR. MORRELL (Oxfordshire, Henley)
said he wished to draw attention to a matter of the utmost importance to the rural districts of the country, viz., the working of the Small Holdings Act. The Act had aroused the greatest possible interest, and the highest possible hope in the rural districts. In the course of a few months 20,000 applications had been made for land, most of them, perfectly substantial and sound. But they represented only a small part of the enormous number of people who were waiting to see how the Act worked before they put in applications. At present very little had been done except to inquire into the applications. The amount of land which had been actually granted was very insignificant, and the amount of land proposed to be dealt with under all the schemes that had been submitted came to a very small fraction of the total demand. He was not prepared to say that the delay could not be justified. He believed there were a great many reasons for it. He knew that the county council of Oxfordshire were doing a great deal of work under the Act, and that there was much to be said for the present policy of the Commissioners in not bringing pressure to bear on the county councils too soon because, obviously, they must wait and see how the Act was going to work before the Commissioners stepped in. But if the delay was justifiable it made the argument all the stronger for saying that they must make quite sure that sooner or later the Act was going to succeed. What he wanted to know was whether the Small Holdings Commissioners at the present time were really 2051 doing all that was necessary to guarantee success. Were they carrying out their present duties in such a way as to ensure that every suitable applicant would be able to get the land which he required? He did not mean the actual piece of land that a man asked for, but whether the Commissioners were carrying out their duties in such a way as to ensure that a man would get the amount of land he required. He thought not, and he would give his reasons for so thinking. Under, Clause 2 of this Act the Commissioners were required to ascertain for themselves the extent of the demand and the means by which that demand could be reasonably satisfied. That was the substance of the second section of the Act. If it had any meaning at all it meant that the Commissioners ought to know not merely the sum total of the applications, but the amount of land required by, and the name of each applicant. At the present time it was true to say that out of the 20,000 applications that had been sent in the Board of Agriculture had no detailed knowledge of more than 2,000; that so far as the remainder were concerned they had only the information supplied by the various county councils that 18,000 applications had been received. He did not think that with regard to any of the whole 20,000 application they could at the moment say what was the name of each applicant, the amount of land he required, or the date of his application. They certainly could not say so with regard to 18,000 of them, and yet that information ought to be in the possession of the Board of Agriculture, because until they had got a proper record of the applications it was impossible to tell what was the extent of the demand. They had been told that the county councils had this information and that they were always able and willing to give the information to the Board of Agriculture, if it was applied for. That might be so, but there was no real guarantee whatever that the county councils had got the information in the right form. He did not know whether the county councils preserved particulars of all the applications they received, including applications rejected by them, and the reasons for such rejections. He thought 2052 the Board of Agriculture would be in a far stronger position if they had in their own possession the actual record of the demand made. The Committee were told that that would entail a great amount of work and much duplication. Surely more Commissioners ought if necessary to be appointed to see that the Act was properly carried out. If there was a proper register of all the applications the delay at present occurring would not greatly matter, because they could say to each applicant: "Although there is at present a difficulty in getting the land you want, sooner or later it will be provided. Your application is on the books of the Board of Agriculture, and if your claim is good you will get the land." That in itself would do good, because many of these applicants had not much faith in county councils, and if they knew that their application was recorded in the books of the Board of Agriculture they would be more inclined to hold on. It would also be a check upon the county councils. After all, sooner or later, the Commissioners would have to take action. There would be many cases with which the county council would not be able to grapple. Therefore he wanted to see the Commissioners prepare the ground now so that there would be a proper Court of Appeal, and he did not think they could do that unless they started with a proper register. Then with regard to experimental holdings. Under Clause 16 the Commissioners had power to acquire land, divide it up into small holdings and demonstrate the fact that small holdings could be a success. Under Clause 39 they were empowered to initiate schemes of co-operation for the small holdings they had established in this way. It was a remarkable fact that nothing had been done to put those clauses into operation. The argument was that it was unnecessary to demonstrate the feasibility of the matter, but it was never superfluous to show any successful experiment, and if they could get colonies of small holdings established by the Board of Agriculture with a really good system of co-operation, with good credit banks under the direct supervision of the Board, so far from that being a discouragement to the county councils it would form a most instructive and 2053 valuable inducement to them to put the Act more fully into operation than they did at present. It was idle to argue that because experimental holdings were started in a county there would be difficulty in enforcing the other provisions of the Small Holdings Act. It seemed to him that it would put the Board of Agriculture in a much better position for saying to the county councils: "We require you to carry out schemes, and to start small holdings," if they themselves had shown the way. It was of the utmost importance that the Board of Agriculture should reconsider their policy on those two points if they really wished to make the Act a success.
§ *MR. MONTAGU (Cambridgeshire, Chesterton)
said that no one who had listened to the debate could have failed to realise the importance of the subject to those who lived in agricultural districts, and the great misgivings they had on the subject, and all those interested in the Small Holdings Act ought to be grateful to his hon. friend who had played so large a part in directing Parliamentary attention to the working of the Act. He himself represented a part of a county where the Act was working, he thought, remarkably well. Ten thousand acres of land had been applied for. A large number of local inquiries had been held by a small committee, and even with the most energetic application of the provisions of the Act, there must inevitably be a very great delay in the working of it. In scattered districts the applications required a large amount of time and travelling, and a scheme had then to be put forward, and the committee had to get the county council to consent to put forward a scheme. Therefore, he did not feel despondent about Cambridgeshire, where three farms had already been bought, and where the county council was putting itself with great determination to satisfy the demands, although it realised that if the existing demand was to be satisfied before Michaelmas, 1910, it would be necessary to acquire land at the rate of 500 acres per month. He could not speak too highly of the patriotism of the committee which hid set an example to the whole country. The demand for small 2054 holdings was necessarily greatest where experiments showed that small holdings were a success, and the problem which the county council had to face was the application for nearly all the land in a parish where it was already farmed by small holders from whom they could not even if they would take land. He wished there had been a provision adequately to compensate sitting tenants, but that was "chose jugee." It showed that the way to get a demand for small holdings was to prove in particular parishes how well they worked, and it also showed the great need for not hesitating any longer to put into force those portions of the Act which entitled the Board of Agriculture to start experimental small holdings. As regards other counties he would remind the representative of the Board that one great obstacle in the way of the successful working of the Act was the timidity on the part of those for whom the Act was designed. The Board should make it obvious to possible applicants that even if they feared to make application to the county council, at any rate to the Board of Agriculture they might fearlessly make their applications and be greeted sympathetically. He would give an experience of his own with regard to a scheme for small holdings before the Act came into force. Certain of his friends desired to start a scheme. Public meetings were held, and applicants were asked to stay behind and give in their names if they would take small holdings, but no applicant ever stayed behind. A canvass from door to door of possible applicants was undertaken, by people interested in the scheme, but no applications were received. It locked almost honeless to start small holdings in that neighbourhood, but when, in enthusiasm, the gentlemen interested took the land and got it ready, in a very few weeks there were more applications for small holdings than could possibly be satisfied, and the explanation was that no man was going to mark himself as being discontented with his lot until the land he was going to till was there under his eyes. His object in quoting that was that these were exceptional cases. It was the case that there was distrust of small holdings in some districts, 2055 particularly where the people had not been shown their feasibility or utility. But everybody must acknowledge that in some districts there were great objections to small holdings. Many men dwelling in the country did not want to see them, and many speeches were made against them, and a large amount of the delay in the working of the Act was caused by the objection to the establishment of small holdings, and on the other hand, by fear on the part of possible applicants that a desire for small holdings might militate against them. Under those circumstances he would implore the Board of Agriculture to go out of its way to advertise throughout the country its earnest desire, which all knew the President of the Board of Agriculture had, to ensure the good working of this Act, and to demonstrate to the people who were going to apply for small holdings the best methods of cultivating the land. He further thanked the Government for consenting to pay half the expenses incurred, in inquiries, but hoped they would eventually pay the whole cost, for the rates must be carefully safeguarded if the Act was to be a success.
§ THE TREASURER OF THE HOUSEHOLD (Sir EDWARD STRACHEY, Somersetshire, S.)
said he could assure the hon. Members for Henley and Cambridge that their fears were really groundless. If they had been able to make inquiries, as the Board of Agriculture had been making and were continuing to make into the working of the Act by the various county councils, they would be quite satisfied that in the great majority of cases the county councils were doing their very utmost to put the Act into force, and that they had done an immense amount of work and almost as much as could be expected of them in the short time which had been at their disposal since the passing of the Act. Reference had been made by his lion, friend to the number of applications. Some 19,000 applications had been received for somewhat over 300,000 acres of land. When the Report asked for by his hon. friend was printed and circulated, his hon. friend would know a great deal more of the details, and it would, he believed, make it clear that the Board had done very 2056 useful work. He regretted with his hon. friend that the Report was not in the hands of hon. Members at the present moment. But that was not any fault of the Board of Agriculture. They had brought up the Return to 30th June last, and the Report was now in the hands of the printers. It did not rest with the Board of Agriculture as to how soon it would be circulated, but with the Stationery Office, and he hoped there might be no great delay but that the Report would be shortly in the hands of hon. Members.
§ SIR EDWARD STRACHEY
said not more than usual. Like the two hon. Members who had just spoken, he was an enthusiast in the matter of small holdings; and, like them, not only did he represent a county division, but he also lived in the county he represented, and took a great interest in the working of local administration. Taking into consideration the short time the Act had been in force, and other considerations, he contended that the county councils had done their very utmost and there was no doubt they were most anxious to put the Act into force. It was only a question of giving the county councils time. It would be seen in the Report when published that 2,000 acres of land had been either bought or leased by county councils up to 30th June, but his hon. friends would be interested to know that since then a further 1,000 acres or more had been applied for under schemes. Sooner or later every applicant would be able to get land, provided he was suitable and qualified to take a small holding, having the necessary capital, and ready, perhaps at some inconvenience to himself, to move out of his particular district, and not insist that he must have land provided for him at his back door or even within a mile or two of his home. Every applicant had, of course, a right of appeal to the Board of Agriculture. There were numerous applicants who were dissatisfied and had appealed to the Board of Agriculture, and in every case the Board had investigated the case and seen that justice was done. There was a 2057 case the other day which showed that county councils were not always to blame. In the county of Dorset a very good farm consisting of 1,100 acres was offered. It was inspected by one of the inspectors of the Board of Agriculture, and held to be entirely suitable. The council were prepared to take the farm at £450 a year. There were a good farmhouse and buildings and a good water supply. When the county council offered it to the applicants there were twenty-two in number, but when the inquiry was held only one of the applicants was willing to take one of the small holdings of thirty or forty acres, the farm being considered too far away from the place where they lived. He also assured his hon. friend that the Commissioners were doing their duty admirably, and there was no reason to complain of the way they were carrying out the Act. They were, indeed, most anxious to see that the Act should be carried out. He had already informed his hon. friend in answer to a Question that the noble Lord the President of the Board of Agriculture did not think it was necessary to go to the expense and the trouble of having a separate register kept of every single applicant. His noble friend thought it was quite sufficient to leave the details in charge of the county council, who could get at any time the name and occupation of any man in the county. At the same time, his noble friend had reports giving a certain amount of details as to the applicants and their professions, but what, of course, the Board relied upon principally was that at any moment they could call upon the county council to give information as regarded not only the total number of applicants in any particular district, but any particular application. It was not necessary to appoint more Commissioners, because the county councils must carry out the obligations placed upon them in respect of the details of the Act. It was the essence of the Act that the county councils should carry out the whole of' the details, reserving power to act to the Pres dent of the Board of Agriculture. He could as sure the House that Lord Carrington would not be afraid to act if the county councils refused to carry out their duties; but at the present moment there was nothing to ead him to suppose that the county 2058 councils did not intend to carry out their duties or were not carrying them out at the present time. As regarded the question of putting Section 16 into force, there again it was perfectly clear to everyone that the President of the Board of Agriculture would be unable to put that section into force, because he would be only able to do so if the Board, after inquiry, thought it advisable to do so with a view to the establishment of small holdings in any county. But, up to the present, the President of the Board of Agriculture was quite satisfied, and did not think it necessary to put the section into force. With regard to what the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire had said in the matter of the Board setting up experimental farms showing the best means and modes of cultivation, he had great sympathy with the idea, not only as regarded small holdings but as regarded large holdings. It was, however, impossible for the Board to set up these experimental farms under the Act, and he could assure his hon. friend and the House generally that the Board, from the President down to the Commissioners, were doing everything in their power to facilitate the easy working of the Act and the acquisition of land by suitable applicants, and he was sure that if his hon. friends were only patient they would see in a very short time a very large number of men established in small holdings.
§ MR. SEDDON (Lancashire, Newton)
said he was sorry to intervene at that hour, especially when he knew that the thoughts of Ministers and Members were far from there; but the fault was not his. He intended on the Home Office Vote to raise one or two questions, but owing to the limited time given to that very important Department he was unable to raise the question, and because of that inability he was compelled to keep the Home Secretary there that afternoon. The first question he wished to raise was with reference to the Isle of Man. Some six months ago the right hon. Gentleman received a deputation from the island——
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I am very doubtful if the Isle of Man is under the jurisdiction of the Home Secretary.
§ MR. SEDDON
said he only wanted an assurance from the Home Secretary. The deputation, the right hon. Gentleman would remember, waited upon him in February of this year. According to the report, the Home Secretary's attitude was sympathetic throughout, and the right hon. Gentleman intimated that he was convinced of the desirability of reform. The deputation asked that a more democratic state of affairs should be brought about that would approximate more to the democratic character of the Isle of Man, and that the Governor should be appointed for a term of years and not for life. They also asked that the Legislative Chamber should be partly elected and partly nominated.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
That would surely require legislation. That could not be done upon the ipse dixit of the Home Secretary, but must be done by a Bill.
§ MR. SEDDON
said he was extremely sorry, but it was quite evident that the deputation thought the Home Secretary had the power of giving them the relief they sought. However, he would not pursue the subject further, except to ask whether it was true that the Island Authority had sent a secret document on the subject to the Home Secretary, as was freely rumoured in the Island. All he wanted was a statement from the right hon. Gentleman that no such document had been received, and that when the question was treated it would be treated on its merits. He turned to the other question, which was of great importance. It was the question of dock regulations. Two years ago when a certain Bill was before the House certain gentlemen interested in the shipping trade used their influence and made representations to certain Members, including himself, to remove their opposition to the Light Dues Bill. On that Bill he put down a blocking Motion, so that the shipowners should meet the representatives of the dockers in friendly conference with reference to a Memorandum sent out in 1904. On that occasion one or two of the shipowners met one or two representatives of the dock workers, and a friendly arrangement was understood to exist that the former at some time in 2060 the immediate future would meet the dock workers in conference with reference to putting these regulations into operation. The regulations he referred to were issued in 1904, and three years grace was given. The three years had elapsed, and last January the regulations were supposed to come into operation. The particular regulations to which he desired to call the attention of the Home Secretary were those referring to the loading and unloading of ships. In Paragraph 6 of the Memorandum it was stated quite clearly what were the functions and duties of shipowners. It was stated that either ladders should be attached to the hatchways, where they should be vertical, or there should be handrails. His complaint was that these regulations were honoured in the breach. He was informed that two shipping firms in Liverpool had tried to carry out the regulations, but none of the others had. The dock inspector reported and reported, but nothing further was done, and now, instead of the other shipowners carrying out the regulations, they were using their influence to compel the two shipping companies who were using ladders to take them away, because the Home Office was not concerned in carrying out the regulations in the Memorandum. His complaint was that the inspectors were helpless and hopeless. They reported and reported, and that was the end of their operations. There was no hope of bringing about a change unless the inspectors were instructed to prosecute the shipowners for not carrying out the regulations. He held that any regulation or law that was not put into operation destroyed the moral influence of that House and the public respectively, and when he read in the paper such a statement as that made by a leading shipowner in the North of England, and not distantly removed from one of the members of the Cabinet—he referred to Sir Walter Runciman—he was not at all surprised that the shipowners had not carried out the regulations laid down by the Home Office. Sir Walter Runciman, speaking the other day, said that whenever the Government introduced legislation into commercial affairs they always made a mess of it. He had a list of various accidents which had occurred at the various docks in the 2061 country. He could give the right hon. Gentleman the names of ships that had been lying in the docks at Liverpool which had no means of access at all so far as the holds were concerned. He would give one only. The vessel was owned by the Dublin Steamship Company, and was named the "Kilkenny." Some time ago one of the dockers was engaged trimming coal. There was no means of access or egress. This man went down to trim coal which began to move. The man was in danger of being smothered, and one of the other dockers had to straddle across the hatchway and pull him up by a rope. His life was saved, but he was considerably Bruised.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GLADSTONE,) Leeds, W.
Was that this year?
§ *MR. SEDDON
thought it was last year, before the regulations came in force, but his complaint was that in the meantime no attempt had been made to secure greater safety for the dockers. He asked the right hon. Gentleman through his inspectors in Liverpool and other ports to get sufficient information to enable him to prosecute shipowners who were wilfully ignoring these regulations, which were in the interest of life and limb of those engaged in docking. If the right hon. Gentleman was unable to take that course, then let him call a conference of shipowners and dockers, or let him receive a deputation of dockers' representatives, and he would have such an unanswerable case presented that from humanitarian motives alone he would enforce the regulations and compel the shipowners to carry out their obligations in the interests of the dockers.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
said it was true that he received a deputation from the Isle of Man. He agreed generally with the case in favour of the reform of certain institutions and gave a generally sympathetic reply. If the matter had not proceeded further it was entirely on account of want of time. The constitution of the Isle of Man, which was interesting and historic, raised all sorts of difficult questions on a small scale, which were by no means easy to manage He could not say to what extent legis- 2062 lation would be necessary to make any alteration, but it was his impression that certain changes in the constitution could be made without reference to Parliament. With regard to the specific question, asked by the hon. Member, there was no foundation for the statement that any communication, had been made to the Home Office. With regard to the question of docks he thought he could show his hon. friend that the case was not so bad. The regulations had in fact been enforced in a great many cases, but there were great difficulties. He did not gather that the hon. Member made any complaint with regard to shore work but limited his remarks to ships. He gave the case of the steamship "Kilkenny," but so much of the regulations affecting the vessel as require structural alterations only came into force in January this year. He could not say, therefore, whether or no there was any failure to enforce the regulations in that particular case.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
agreed there was difficulty with regard to regulations so far as ships were concerned, and especially in the case of foreign ships. There had been two prosecutions in Liverpool this year, and during April the services of two inspectors were wholly devoted to the question of enforcing the regulations. They had a letter from Mr. Sexton not long ago making certain, allegations, and they asked him to supply them with particulars of the cases he had in mind, but no answer had yet been received from him. As soon as the particulars were received from him they would be closely examined. The superintending inspector for the division was ready to meet Mr. Sexton at an early date in Liverpool so that he might personally investigate the question of enforcing the regulations. He did not know that he could say anything more at the present moment except that their inspectors had found considerable difficulty from the lack of assistance given by the workers. There had also been a noticeable falling off in complaints. In 1905 there were sixty-eight complaints; in 1906, twenty-five; and in 1907, only sixteen, of which 2063 seven referred to foreign vessels. That was an indication that a great deal had been done. The inspectors would be greatly assisted if the dockers concerned gave them more direct and immediate information. He hoped his statement would be satisfactory.
§ *MR. CLELAND (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
said he was loth to enter into the debate, but his intervention was justified by the importance of the question he had to lay before the Secretary for Scotland. He thought it was common knowledge that the state of trade at the present moment in this country was far from satisfactory, and he knew of no place which had suffered so acutely and where the industrial crisis was anything like so serious as it was at present in the West of Scotland. He desired particularly to point out that in the course of the next three or four weeks they would be face to face with a most serious state of affairs which, he ventured to hope, the Government would do something to relieve. He had lived in Glasgow for many years, but he knew of no time during the last twenty-five years, even in winter, when things were as bad as they were at present. The shipbuilding industry was practically at a standstill, and although they were fortunate in not having to depend entirely upon one industry, still all the industries were slack, and the extreme slackness in shipbuilding had hit every single industry on the Clyde and the western counties. If that was their problem in the summer time, what was it going to be in the winter? With regard to what had happened between the Scottish Local Government Board and the local distress committee, he pointed out that some months ago a local fund was opened for the alleviation of distress in order to aid the local committee in putting into operation the provisions of the Act of 1905. They raised locally £8,000, since which time they had contributed £4,000, which was more than the whole of the rest of the United Kingdom had raised. They had up to the present moment received in grants £9,600. In other words, they had raised locally almost £12,000, and received in grants under £10,000, compared with London, which raised £500, and received in grants £63,000, and Edinburgh, which 2064 raised £500 and received in grants £6,600. The Scottish Local Government Board on 1st February issued a circular letter to the distress committees in Scotland. In that letter it was pointed out very properly that the distress committees should not consider that their work was circumscribed and limited to the winter months. That was perfectly clear and fair, but what the circular did not state—and in this matter he did not wish to impute any blame to the Scottish Local Government Board—was that if the distress committees did not ask for the total sum they wanted before 31st March, no fresh grants could be given in the intervening months between 1st April and 1st August. Possibly all distress committees ought to know the provisions and rules under which the Treasury acted, but unfortunately the Glasgow Distress Committee were ignorant of the Treasury rules when they responded to the circular of the Scottish Local Government Board. They told the Board in clear and unambiguous language that they wished a certain sum to carry out their work up to 31st March and a little beyond. They did not ask for more, because they hoped the present collapse was temporary, and they did not desire to put forward a large lump sum until they were able to verify what the requirements would be in the next few months. He ventured to think that that was a reasonable and businesslike way of setting about the matter. Weeks passed, and some weeks after 31st March the distress committees appealed to the Scottish Local Government Board, and then they were told that not one penny piece further could be forthcoming before the end of August. He did not wish to enter into the matter of the somewhat strained relationship which then ensued between the committee and the Scottish Local Government Board. It was sufficient to say that eventually a very serious crisis was just averted. The Distress Committe threatened to resign, and that would have meant that 800 men would have been thrown on the streets of Glasgow. That crisis was, however, avoided because the Glasgow Corporation very generously came forward and provided funds in order to carry out the work and prevent those men being thrown on the streets. He knew that charges had been made against 2065 the Glasgow Distress Committee, but he fancied those charges had not been based on plain facts. They were told, for example, that they had been paying the men more wages than they received when in their regular employment. That was not the case. He had taken out the figures with considerable care, and he found that the average wages of these men in their previous employment were 21s. 7d. per week, whereas at the relief works at Palacerigg they were 13s. 2d. Then they were told that Palacerigg was attractive, and that it was a pleasant holiday for the men to go out there. Palacerigg was some 600 acres in extent, about fifteen miles from Glasgow, and was land which the distress committee had acquired for afforestation and reclamation. It was one of the bleakest and dreariest places in the whole of the West of Scotland, and after he had spent some hours there the other day he did not want to see the place again. Then they were told in addition that some of the men had been wastrels, that some of them had been seen going in and out of public-houses, and that some of them were shirkers. He had no doubt that was true to some extent, but in an aggregation of people out of work they were bound to find a certain proportion of men who were not proper recipients of this form of relief; but what he contended—and he had gone into the matter with some local knowledge and devoted some amount of time and care to the question—was that these men and the work they performed would bear favourable comparison with that of other distress committees. But they would be face to face again with the same crisis within the next fortnight or three weeks, when the additional contribution which the corporation had voted would be exhausted; and what they felt was that, having regard to the fact that they raised so much more money than any other place, it would be extremely difficult to get still further ocal subscriptions. They did not ask for favours; they only asked that they should be treated proportionately as other cities had been treated. He had always held the view that this system of giving doles and subscriptions in carrying out the Act of 1905 was a totally wrong system. 2066 It would be far better to place the whole thing on the rates, But they had to face accomplished facts, and he appealed to the Secretary for Scotland not to place them in the unfortunate position of either having to appeal for funds, which, he feared, would not be successful, or closing down those works and throwing 800 men on the streets of Glasgow to swell an already congested labour market. The Secretary for Scotland, if he exercised his influence over the Scottish Local Government Board, could help them much. He hoped he would exercise that influence, and do all he could for this great industrial community in the west, in order that this sad history of misconception and misunderstanding might not end in a local tragedy.
*MR. DUNDAS WHITE (Dumbartonshire)
supported the appeal of his hon. friend. In Glasgow and in many places round it there had been unemployment, but the local authorities and the people had done exceptionally well towards relieving it. It seemed rather hard in the circumstances that the distribution of the grants had boon conducted along lines which were technical rather than sympathetic. He hoped that in the distribution of the grant for the current year some more generous lines would be followed. He quite recognised that this was rather in the nature of a palliative, and whatever sum of money was distributed, and however it was distributed, it would not touch the root of the evil. There was the strange phenomenon that while their large centres were overcrowded people were still flocking in from the country districts. The problem of the town was the problem of the country too. They would never settle the problem of the centres until they had settled the problem of the outlying districts. They wanted to settle more people on the land, and that could never be done until unused land could be obtained at a fair price. That question would never be solved until they went on the principle of rating land at its market value. They wanted to improve their farming and industries in various ways. Over and over again, in the county he represented, people had complained that they had to pay too much for the land, and as soon as they began 2067 to improve it by useful work their assessment and rates went up, and thereby development was checked, opportunities for employment narrowed, and the labour market in the towns became overcrowded. They wanted, as far as they could, more direct employment on the land, and in order to get that they must have such land reform which would give the cultivators that abiding interest in the land which alone would keep them on it. It was only by legislation strenuously directed along these lines that they could hope to deal effectively with the evils which they deplored. These evils affected not only men and women, but in a still graver degree the children of to-day, who would be the men and women of to-morrow, because the homes were not what they might be, the nourishment was not what it might be, and children were forced into the labour market at far too early an age. These were the evils they wanted to check, and they wanted to deal with the, problem as a whole. Palliatives might be necessary for the time being, but they must deal with the causes of the evil. They all recognised that any Minister who had a grant to dispense was placed in exceptional difficulties, because all the applicants believed that their need was the greatest. These ministerial difficulties would continue until they went further than palliatives and dealt with the real root of the problem. When they did that he believed that they would find in many cases that these palliatives for unemployment would prove to be unnecessary.
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. SINCLAIR,) Forfarshire
said that anybody who had had experience of the work of distress committees or even voluntary agencies which had been dealing with this question must know that the distress committee of Glasgow had been carrying on their work during the past year with great anxiety and at the same time with great earnestness and diligence in the endeavour to cope with the evils with which they were appointed to deal. He was glad to take that opportunity of bearing his testimony to the way they had conducted their work. The hon. Member for the Bridgeton divison seemed to take a somewhat melancholy view of the public 2068 estimate of the work of that committee, and he had also spoken of the misunderstandings, misconceptions, and even charges made against their administration. It was not his (Mr. Sinclair's) duty that day to defend the work of that committee in detail, but he might say one word about the relations between the Local Government Board and that committee. He could not find in the transactions which had taken place in the last few months any substantial reason to think that as between these two authorities there was really any considerable measure of misunderstanding or misconception, or, indeed, ill-feeling of any kind. His hon. friend put the case in a nutshell when he mentioned that the prolonged distress, which had continued not only during last winter but down to the present time, had really taken everybody by surprise. It was never anticipated by the distress committee, and certainly not by the Local Government Board for Scotland and by the Government, that the depression of trade and want of employment which existed in the Clyde district was going to be so prolonged as it had been, and it was that fact which had added to the anxiety of all those concerned in this matter of administration—not only the distress committee, but also the Local Government Board. It was the fact that they had been taken more or less by surprise that had added considerably to the difficulties of the situation. It would not be the desire of his hon. friends that he should go into detail with regard to this subject now. It was a very simple story. The end of the financial year was 31st March, and no Government, unless it came to the House for authority, could expend money after the close of the financial year. The House had been very continuously occupied during the present session, and it was only two days ago that the House gave its sanction to the further grant included in the Supplementary Estimates—a further grant at the disposal of the Treasury for application to this purpose. His hon. friend and those interested in Glasgow would, therefore, be relieved to know that this fund was now with the Treasury, and the Government could now draw upon it. He could also tell the hon. Member that the application which had now 2069 been received from the Glasgow committee by the Local Government Board for Scotland had been forwarded by him to the Treasury for consideration—he hoped favourable consideration—in connection with this matter. He did not think he need add any more to the general discussion of the question, which was a very difficult one. The Unemployed Act, under which they were working, was not a permanent statute, and it was only a matter of time when its amendment must be considered by the House. When that time would come it was not for him to say, but statute or no statute, amended or un-amended, this was a question of great complexity, which must be looked at from two points of view—from the point of view of a melancholy depression of trade and also in the more favourable light of things when trade was more brisk. It was a question of great importance, but as there were many varying views, he thought he would be consulting the convenience of the House if he deferred his further remarks to some other time.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
said he ought to apologise for intervening even for a moment with regard to a matter which was of some local interest. Unfortunately this was the only opportunity he had had this session of mentioning the matter, notwithstanding that it was of very considerable importance to his constituency. When Parliament sanctioned the Forth Bridge a statutory obligation was laid on the railway company to run a boat between Granton and Burntisland. The company concerned had failed to carry out to the fullest extent that statutory obligation, and great hardship was thus placed on an important portion of the community in the East of Scotland when people came to Granton with the intention of crossing the Forth and found that the boat did not run. He had brought the question on many occasions before the Board of Trade, and he only asked an assurance from a member of the Government that the railway company was to be compelled to carry out its statutory obligation.
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
replied that he was desired by the President of the Board of Trade, who was unavoidably called away, to say that this matter was 2070 under consideration. His right hon. friend had received some communications from the company concerned, and he had full hope he would be able to send to the hon. Member in a few days a detailed reply which would give satisfaction with regard to the complaint he had made.
§ *MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
said he wished to mention a case in regard to India. He had not even warned the Minister concerned, who had so many cases brought before him in this House which were not grievances and came from only one clamorous and not widely representative class. The grievance India had was that the grievances brought before the House were not her true grievances, but he was anxious that a grievance of loyal chiefs should be mentioned. He had no complaint to make of the action of the India Office in this matter; they gave him an answer that they were inquiring into it, and he was sure that they would do everything which was right. But it was of very great importance when those who were loyal to the British in India had anything to complain of that they should at least have their complaint mentioned in the House of Commons. The Kathi chiefs were afraid that the Government were interfering with their rules of succession, and were trying to enforce the rule of primogeniture, which they did not follow. He did not believe that that was the intention of the Government of India, and he was sure that the memorials which were under consideration would have every possible attention. But he wanted to mention the matter because, when he heard, as he did with the utmost indignation, sympathy expressed in the House with cowardly and seditious journalists who incited half-educated and ill-educated youths to crimes so foreign to the character of our admirable and amiable British-Indian fellow-subjects, he was anxious that at least in the case of friendly, loyal, and honourable chiefs, it should not be said that when they had anything of which to complain, it was not even mentioned in the House of Commons. He also desired to allude to a matter in which his constituents were greatly interested, and that was the question of the relations of the Board of Education with the Welsh Central Education Board. This time last year he questioned the late Education Minister, 2071 who did not stick to that desk but went to sea. His successor, he was glad to say, made a satisfactory announcement in the House concerning the point on which he then interrogated him, and satisfaction had been given, but only after a struggle. But there was still the question of the attitude towards the Welsh Central Board. Several speeches had been made on the subject, and everyone praised everyone else so profusely that it was astonishing why anybody thought it necessary to make any complaint at all. He had no objection to officials of any sore, he knew their merits and trusted them, but he knew their little ways, one of which was to be acquisitive, and to grasp everything that came within their reach. He wished to warn them, on behalf of the Welsh people, not to attempt to interfere with the Welsh Central Board, which did its work well, and was a body to the last degree democratic, and had given everybody satisfaction, even the Welsh people, who were as hungry for education as any Brahmin in India. He begged the Education Board to be exceedingly chary of giving the Welsh Central Board even any suspicion that they wished to interfere with them, to curtail their authority, or to boss them from Whitehall. He also expressed his satisfaction with the statement made by the Undersecretary for the Colonies that day. He regarded it as the grossest hypocrisy to attempt to force on any self-governing Colony any system, which we would not stand in this country, and which he was certain they would not stand in the Colony. No one would dare propose that in Britain Asiatic immigrants should be admitted to compete wholesale with British labour. Why then did we pretend that the Colonists were harsh, unsympathetic, and tyrannical, for acting in precisely the same way as we should act ourselves? He heard with great regret the tone in which in certain quarters the actions of our fellow country men in Africa were criticised, and his last word, in what looked likely to be the last speech of that section of the Session, was that such action and the spmpathy expressed, not with the relatives of our I innocent and foully murdered fellow countrywomen, not with a grossly misrepresented administration, not with a slandered public service, but with cowardly and seditious procurers of 2072 assassins, filled him with the deepest indignation.
§ Resolved, That this House, at its rising To-morrow, do adjourn until Monday, 12th October next; that for the remainder of the session Government Business have precedence at every Sitting; that at the conclusion of Government Business each day Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without Question put; and that on Fridays the House, unless it otherwise resolves, shall at its rising stand adjourned until the following Monday.