§ Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words,—
§ "But this House humbly expresses its regret that the persistent, refusal of Your Majesty's Government to modify the fiscal system of the country is imperilling the advantages at present derived by British commerce from the preference granted by Your Majesty's Dominions over seas, has deferred the closer commercial union of the Empire, and has deprived the country of the most effective method of inducing 457 foreign countries to grant fair treatment to British manufacturers."—[Mr. Austen Chamberlain.]
§ Question again proposed: "That those words be there added."
§ Debate resumed.
§ Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
I wish to make clear what, I think, was made abundantly clear yesterday, what the purpose of the Opposition in moving that part of the Amendment which relates to Colonial Preference is: It is not to criticise the Canadian Government. It is not to criticise the Government of the United States. Our object is, and it is best to state it with perfect frankness, that a censure should be pronounced upon His Majesty's Government for their loss of a great opportunity. I may be asked what that great opportunity was. The opportunity was that of making between the United Kingdom and Canada, both, be it observed, fiscally independent nations, a commercial treaty based on mutual preference. That is the opportunity we say His Majesty's Government missed, and it is for that that we invite an expression of the deepest regret from the House. I say that position was substantially established yesterday—the position I mean that we have not sought to criticise either the United States or the Canadian Government.
I think that that was accepted in substance by the responsible speakers on the Government Benches, and by the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Buxton). There were two sensitive spirits on the opposite Benches, the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire (Mr. Chiozza Money), and the hon. Member for Swansea (Sir Alfred Mond), who were oppressed by the belief that our attitude had not been and was not correct towards the Canadian Government, and that we had trespassed upon what was due and fitting towards that great dominion. I do not take that objection very seriously. It was not stated by the representative of the Government on the Bench opposite. I understand that the hon. Member for Swansea has had a recent, though brief, experience of Canada, and has made during the course of his tour a great many Free Trade speeches. I do not think that that has aroused any very great agitation. The Canadians, who are fiscally independent, and who have been declared by this country to have absolute autonomy in regard to their own affairs, are not sensitive 458 of discussion in this House on affairs which relate to our business as well as to theirs. I have often had to deal with Colonial matters during the last eight or nine years. I am well aware that in regard to some questions they are justly and properly very sensitive, but they know perfectly well that no party and no individual in this country seeks to abate by one jot or tittle their fiscal independence. They are, I am convinced, a wise people, with a sense of proportion, people with a good knowledge of history, people who study our debates and the course of proceedings here, and who are perfectly willing to allow us, without the slightest sensitiveness, to discuss matters upon which, as citizens of the Empire, we are deeply and vitally interested. I therefore think I may pass from the objection of the hon. Member for Swansea. I will not dwell upon his tour in Canada. He was received, I believe, in a spirit of kindly amusement by most of our kinsmen overseas. I think he was reminded on one or two occasions that he was a somewhat singular emissary of Free Trade inasmuch as in his own businesses, he was a party to an arrangement which had been made between very large groups of capitalists, whereby, I think, in the case of the Mond Nickel Company 15 per cent. was paid in Canada and in this country, whereas, by this arrangement, a less sum was paid in the protected United States. However, that is merely in passing. I think it is an observation which may be made after his speech of last night, which was not heard by many people. Perhaps it is well to observe to the public of this country, as well as the public of Canada, that in their own affairs and their own businesses. Free Trade orators who advocate the natural flow of trade and hold the maxim, "Let nature decide," when confronted in practical matters with this maxim are very often found to be exceedingly reluctant to put their theories into force.
I think the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire correctly stated the issue between us here, when he asked whether the acceptance of the Canadian offer, and of the counter-gift by us of Colonial Preference would have arrested reciprocity with the United States. I think that is the question to which I must now address myself. In other words, it is said by the other side—it was said, I think, by the Prime Minister the other day—that this arrangement which has taken place between the Dominion and the United States is inevitable, and was at the time 459 in 1907 when the last offer was made. That is the position which I have to traverse. What was the mood of Canada when that offer was rejected in 1907 and rejected by the speeches of Ministers continually after that period? What mood had Canada towards reciprocal arrangements with the United States? Like many who have taken great interest in Colonial affairs, I have been a student of Canadian history, and what are the facts with regard to the attitude of Canada towards American reciprocity? We know that in 1854 Lord Elgin negotiated a treaty of reciprocity between the United States and the Dominion of Canada, and that the treaty was received with great acceptance in Canada until 1866. Then it was denounced by the United States, who, undoubtedly then believed that Canada would be compelled in order to regain the reciprocity lost in 1866, to come into a political union. Against that many Canadians protested, and for a period preceding 1878, Sir John MacDonald, advocated throughout the country, and eventually succeeded in carrying a national policy. The national policy was a protective policy against America, and it was certainly aided by the railway policy of which we heard shortly afterwards, whereby the first great steel channel was laid from East to West. I mean the Canadian Pacific Railway. That railway system has been added to substantially within recent years, so much so, that there are now three great through trunk lines from East to West in Canada, and a fourth, the Hudson Bay line, is now projected, and indeed, I believe it is begun.
That shows immense progress in the direction which, I think, nobody now denies of the East and West business. It did not stop with the organisation of railways. There was also, I think I might say with accuracy, great organisation of finance. This country is, of course, and has been, one of the wealthiest, perhaps the wealthiest of all countries, and during this period of which I have been speaking, not merely has this great organisation of railways taken place, and this great organisation of business taken place between Canada and this country, East and West, but there was also passing from this country great loans. Great financial assistance was given to Canada for putting into operation the development of the young country—loans which I do not for a moment say were not highly profitable to this country, but loans which immensely 460 increased the prosperity of Canada. That organisation of finance has also been a means of augmenting the organisation of business of which I have already spoken. Throughout the years between 1878 and 1891, Sir John MacDonald pushed with the utmost energy the East and West policy, though it is perfectly true, as was urged by Mr. Fielding the other day, that in the earlier part, and even, I think, in the later part of that period. Sir John MacDonald would have been willing to accept a certain treaty of reciprocity with the United States. But as business organisation became more and more completed, as railways became more and more extended, as finance flowed more and more in one channel, so it became also the case that the attitude of Canada, generally favourable and originally strongly favourable towards American reciprocity, cooled very sensibly. In 1891, almost on his deathbed, a very few months before his death, Sir John MacDonald fought his last election. His last election address contained a passionate protest against anything approaching commercial union with the United States, and not merely did he, with the immense authority which attached to his position, succeed on that occasion in persuading the majority of the country that the views which they had held for the thirteen years preceding were right, but he also was so fortunate as to persuade his opponent, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Blake, whom many of us knew in this House, and who up to this time had been opposing Sir John Mac-Donald's party in Canada.
It is worth while mentioning that Mr. Blake the Leader of the Opposition, the Liberal party in Canada, wrote a letter in which he used these words:—Assuming that absolute Free Trade with the United States, best described as commercial union, may and ought to come I believe that it can and should come only as an incident, or, at any rate, as a well understood precursor of political union, for which indeed we shall be able to make better terms before than after the surrender of our commercial independence.The position, therefore, in 1891, was that a long contest had largely weaned Canada from her originally desired reciprocity with the United States. It had taught the majority of the Canadians to look and hope for an eastern outlook to their business rather than a southern one, and a vast organisation had been created to that end. But there was a greater power behind it than these material interests, great though they were. The national consciousness was instinctively opposed to the commercial union which was held 461 by Mr. Blake and a great many people to imperil national integrity. Canadians had long been taught, at that time, and have been taught since, that commercial union spelt political union; though I think it would not be right to say in view of the splendid and majestic development of Canada at the present moment, that the danger of political union is anything like the character it was in those days. But even though I believe Canadians, rightly, do not fear political union now still hon. Gentlemen opposite know perfectly well that when for years, for a great number of years, it has been preached to a country that commercial union is identical with political union, it takes a very long time before that notion subsides and perishes. As I have stated, in my view, the mood of Canada was in 1891, and was up to 1907, against reciprocity with the United States. But, after all, the decisive word on this question must not be with an Englishman, but must be with a Canadian. The hon. Member for East Northamptonshire (Mr. Chiozza Money), referring to a copy of the Canadian official Parliamentary Report, traversed the quotation of Sir Wilfrid Laurier which was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain). I have not had access to that Report, and, of course, I accept the word of the hon. Member that he has been unable to find the quotation in that report. That is quit" immaterial because it is in a report of the speech made in the great Debate on commercial preference in 1907, which report was gathered together in proof and was corrected by all those who took part in the Debate. What did Sir Wilfrid Laurier say on this question? He said:—There was at one time wanted reciprocity with the United States, but our efforts and our hopes were negatived and put aside, and we have said goodbye to that trade and we have put all our hopes upon the British trade now.I care not if in the report which the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire had he has not been able to find it; I care not whether that remark was made by Sir Wilfrid or not. It is now perfectly clear that at the crucial period in 1907, when His Majesty's Government refused the Canadian offer finally, Sir Wilfrid said that they did not want the United States' reciprocity. Their hopes were then in 1907 upon this country. Their eyes were directed towards Great Britain. If this is so, is it not clear that His Majesty's Government in refusing the offer then, at any rate, if I may put it in the most mode- 462 rate terms, precipitated by at least five or ten years the acceptance by Canada of the United States offer, an acceptance the probability of which was the subject of specific warnings upon numbers of occasions by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) and by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Balfour) so lately even as last year? I wish to ask is this present time a period in which we can afford to loosen the nexus which binds us now to Canada, and to contemplate with equanimity what will happen on a great scale, not at present, but as it undoubtedly will be in the future, as a development from this bargain which is now taking place between the Dominion and the United States? I understood the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Sydney Buxton) to say yesterday that as regards competition between this country and her rivals in the markets of protected countries this country had nothing to fear, and that recent experience showed we had nothing to fear. This was directly contradicted by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham sitting behind me.
I have had figures before me which prove as conclusively as I think it is possible that the President of the Board of Trade is labouring under a very great mistake in this matter. These figures give a comparison of exports to protected markets by Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom for 1895 and 1907. In 1895 the United States exported £10,000,000 worth of manufactured goods to protected markets. In 1907 these had increased be £43,000,000. In 1895 Germany exported £58,000,000 worth of manufactured goods, and in 1907 these had increased to £122,000,000. In 1895 the United Kingdom exported £78,000,000 worth of manufactured goods, and in 1907 these had increased to £107,000,000. So we see that between 1895 and 1907 the increases of our two great rivals were—United States, £33,000,000; and Germany £64,000,000; while the United Kingdom was only £29,000,000. On those figures how can it be contended for a moment by the operation of the most-favoured-nation clause or by the operation of any other virtues of Free Trade that we have not lost substantially in the competition as between ourselves, the United States, and Germany in the exports of manufactured goods to protected markets? If we eliminate Germany and the United States from the totals I have just given you have an even greater contrast. The United Kingdom only shows an increase of £17,000,000 463 between 1895 and 1907; Germany shows an increase of £53,000,000, and the United States shows an increase of £23,000,000. Whether you take in under either calculation it is perfectly clear there is an immense progress in favour of our rivals in the increase of their exports to protected markets. I was very much surprised when I heard the figures put forward by the President of the Board of Trade yesterday, because I had before seen collected by a gentleman of great ability and acknowledged merit the figures for 1907. I should like to give what those figures are. They seem to me most remarkable. The classification of the world's markets is made in this way. Take Europe and the United States, and roughly you get in that area the greatest and most efficient industrial and competitive area. Then you have in the second place intermediate countries, such as the Argentine and Turkey, in which a fully competitive system is not developed. And then you have tropical countries, in which there is practically no manufacture and no competition. The first area, the united States and Europe without Turkey, comprises a population of 550,000,000. Now mark the figures in that area, which is the great competitive and industrial area. Into that area, out of a total export of her goods of the value of £340,000,000, Germany exports £290,000,000. In other words, 85 per cent. of her whole export, obtains entrance in the most highly protected competitive market. No greater possible test of industrial efficiency could be by any chance supplied. Out of a total export of £420,000,000 from this country only £190,000,000 go to this highly competitive area. The whole balance of the £420,000,000—that is, £230,000,000—go to the Tropics and the intermediate countries which I may call the neutral markets.
I submit to the House that no more conclusive proof could be given than these figures afford. We have, first, Germany, which is well equipped to succeed in the most highly competitive and most difficult markets. Secondly, though it is probable but not certain that we are less well-equipped, because it may be, and is, our interest to send goods at present to neutral markets and to the tropics—which we now hold by prescription and by virtue, no doubt, of our long and great oversea preeminence—is it possible to expect in the future that Germany and the United States, Germany especially, who has given such signal proof of her industrial 464 efficiency in the great competitive markets of the world—is it conceivable that they will not compete, and compete with the greatest possible keenness, if we are not well worthy of the greatest possible success in the tropical markets? I venture to ask, in this state of things, not a state of things, I think, that warrants undue alarm, but which does warrant great vigilance, whether this is a time in which, after the repeated solicitations and the repeated suit of Canada and the other great self-governing Dominions, we can lightly turn away from one neutral market, or, rather, intermediate market, in which we have already a substantial interest by virtue of the preference given to us? I submit to the House that the figures show very conclusively that this time ought to be of all others the time in which we should look ahead—look to the greatness of the Dominions, and make that strong fiscal nexus with them which we fear is now going to be greatly jeopardised. Above all, and for the reasons which have existed in the past, now is the time when we should not relax our efforts towards that end, but should rather increase them. The question of defence, which does relate largely to this matter, I put to the House in this way: We all know that the Prime Ministers of the Great Dominions have a difficult task when they are recommending the payment of taxes for an Imperial Navy to many of their constituents, who are busy in the very arduous task of developing new countries. Would not the position be greatly easier for them if they were able to say, when they were asking for taxation for an Imperial Navy, for a Navy in Canada, a Navy in Australia, and a Navy in New Zealand, that this Navy is destined primarily to protect, not so much the trade from the Argentine, the trade from Russia, or the trade from the United States with the United Kingdom, but the trade which has been bound to you by agreements of mutual Preference. I saw this morning a letter from my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham, in which he dwelt on the great and paramount importance of the subject which I have so imperfectly brought before the House. I hope I may, without presumption, on behalf of myself and my friends, venture to convey to him the affectionate assurance that we have not abandoned the cause of which he was for so long the central and inspiring figure, to which he devoted so much labour, and for which he has done, and, I may say, has suffered so much. We are, indeed, powerless at the 465 present moment to affect anything for the triumph here and now of our cause, but this much we can at least do—and I trust every member of our party will join me—we can record in the most emphatic manner our protest at the inaction of the Government and the irreparable loss of a great opportunity.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The Amendment which is now before the House says—humbly expresses regret at "the persistent refusal of your Majesty's Government to modify the fiscal system of the country," which has led to disastrous consequences. That Amendment in terms, and I suppose in intention, is a vote of censure on His Majesty's Government, but as has already been pointed out in the course of this Debate, in substance and in fact, it is an indictment of the electors of this country who sent us here. The House of Commons are positively asked to censure the Government for not doing that which the electors of the country never desired them to do, and that which they have given most solemn pledges to the electors to abstain from doing—the most paradoxical vote of censure in the annals of this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, on the first night of the Session, drew a very lurid, and also a somewhat pathetic picture of the inaction and lethargy of His Majesty's Government, which year after year, and indeed, with a happy indifference to the prosaic fetters of chronology, he described as decade after decade, had turned a deaf ear to the clamorous supplications of their Colonial fellow subjects. The right hon. Gentleman's chronology can take care of itself, but, as a matter of fact, as has been indicated already by previous speakers, that Colonial Preference began in 1897, when the right hon. Gentleman sat on this bench. What happened? For eight years he and his colleagues continued in possession of power, with an undisputed majority, not only in this House, but elsewhere. What response was made during all those years to the appeals and petitions and demands of our Colonial fellow subjects? Not a word. And when in the year 1903, after six years of indifference, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham started his campaign, and very honourably and properly left the Government for the purpose of doing so with greater freedom, the Leader of the Opposition, who says we are turning a deaf ear to this Colonial appeal, spent two years in this House in evading debate, and still more in avoid- 466 ing any declaration of policy. Why? Upon the plea, which those who were Members of that Parliament, as I was, remember well, the plea repeated over and over again, that no Government could possibly initiate so far-reaching and so fundamental a change in the traditional system of this country unless it had the declared approval of the electors of the country. It was a sort of dim and prophetic adumbration of the Referendum. Well, we had the Referendum.
We went to the country in the month of January, 1906, but in answer to the right hon. Gentleman's request to the country to give its instructions as to whether or not it desired its fiscal system to be fundamentally transformed, the electorate returned the most crushing parliamentary majority that has ever been known in our history. The disproportionate size of that majority has, I agree, been somewhat modified in subsequent Parliaments, but here we are, nevertheless, after two more General Elections, a solid and unbroken phalanx. It is under these conditions, and with that parliamentary and electoral record that the right hon. Gentleman has the courage to get up on that bench and ask the House of Commons to censure the constituencies who have sent us here. Before I come to the one new fact, the Canadian-American Agreement, since our Debate a year ago on the same topic—a new fact around which, not unnaturally, a great deal of this discussion revolves—I should like to say one or two words in regard to the topic which was brought forward at the beginning of his speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain)—I mean our supposed disability in consequence of our adherence to Free Trade, our relative impotence, as compared with protected countries, in commercial negotiations in regard to tariffs. We have had the old picture, the picture of this country with its empty armoury, its revolver without any ammunition, and its unfortified markets. And owing to our having, as we are told, divested ourselves of the armour and equipment which other nations possess, we are at a standing disadvantage as compared with those other countries that have kept their armour bright, and equipped themselves even with the latest and most murderous form of fiscal armour, the automatic pistol, in negotiations and in admission to foreign markets. I should like one tittle of evidence in support of that argument.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The hon. Member is bold enough, and I think rash enough, to interrupt by referring to Japan. The right hon. Gentleman opposite yesterday mentioned Japan. Would not it be wise for hon. Gentlemen to wait until they see what is the result of our negotiations with Japan? What do they know about our negotiations? Absolutely nothing, except the announcement made in the Gracious Speech from the Throne that in the opinion of His Majesty's advisers there is likely to be a satisfactory result. Hon. Members, therefore, had better postpone what they have to say about Japan until they know what happens. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the figures?"] The figures the right hon. Gentleman gives have nothing whatever to do with the point I am making. The point I am making is this: It is alleged that foreign countries, through the possession of fiscal weapons of which we have deprived ourselves—namely, Tariffs—find admission upon easier terms to foreign markets than we do. I deny that. I ask with some confidence for some support of the allegation, for the burden of proof lies undoubtedly on those who make it. It is perfectly true that foreign countries like Germany—we having started far in advance—have organised their industries, and have organised, I am sorry to say, with greater promptitude and effect than we have their technical and business education, and have equipped themselves for the industrial competition of the world in every possible direction. It is perfectly true that they show a greater percentage of increase in their relatively small figures than we do in our relatively high figures. That is not the point. The point is whether the possession of tariffs, the possession of the power of retaliation, the existence of a "loaded revolver," enables them to get admission to foreign markets upon fairer and freer terms than us. I say there is not a shred of evidence in favour of that proposition.
I want to come now to what is, after all, the main point in this Debate: What is the charge which is made against His Majesty's Government, and, through them and behind them, against the intelligence of the electors of Great Britain and Ireland. The charge is this. That during all these years the Colonies, the Dominions, have been knocking at our doors, and that we have turned deaf ears on their appeal, and that the first fruits of our indifference and neglect are to be found in this Canadian-American agreement, which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the 468 Opposition told us on the first night of the Session if it is ratified by the two contracting parties will be a disaster to the Empire. Have they been knocking at our doors? What do they say themselves? I venture to quote only two or three statements, and they are the latest of the most eminent Canadian politicians. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, speaking on 13th August last, said:—It is not the policy of the Canadian Government to ask Great Britain to change her fiscal policy one iota. We make our own fiscal arrangements to suit our own interests. So it is with Great Britain.And Mr. Lemieux, another of the Canadian Ministers, speaking still later in London on the 5th October last, said:—The duty of Canada was to maintain her British Preference against all comers. They asked nothing in return from the Mother Country.It is absurd in the face of statements like that to say that our Colonial fellow subjects have been knocking at our doors. When Canada gave us her Preference, the value of which in some departments of British trade I and others have always been ready to recognise, it was suggested that we should impose a duty on foreign food. Why did we refuse that request? We did so for a great many reasons, but for two main reasons, the one domestic, the other Imperial, which, in my judgment are now, and I hope in the judgment of the House of Commons just as valid to-day as they were eight years ago. The domestic reason was this; we could not tax our main source of supply. After all, Canada is not our main source of supply; the Empire is not our main source of supply. We could not tax the main source of our present supply without raising, at any rate for a time, and, possibly, for a long time, the cost to the consumer of the first necessaries of life. It was agreed then, it was common ground then, though we have discovered a great many things since, that that would be the effect of taxing our foreign source of supply of corn. Is that denied? [HON. MEMBER: "Yes."] I must refresh the memories of some of those recent recruits. To go back to the fountain head, if it was not so, what was the meaning of speaking of the taxation of foreign corn as, primâ facie, a sacrifice. Why was the sacrifice unless on the ground that the consumer would have to pay more if the corn was taxed? What was the meaning of exempting from the scope of the new taxes certain commodities on the ground that they were the food of the poorest classes of the people? Why was that done unless the effect of imposing a tax on corn would be 469 to raise the price? What is the meaning, and I am still going back, as I must remind these novices of what their master taught us less than ten years ago, what was the meaning of proposing compensatory reductions in other articles of general consumption like tea and sugar and the rest? What were they to compensate unless there was to be a rise of price of corn and bread?
Therefore, I say it was then common ground, admitted quite as much by the advocates of Preference as by us who were opposed to them that the immediate effect, possibly the continuous effect, for some time to come of this new policy, would be to impose on the consumers of this country higher prices for the first necessaries of life. That was our domestic ground. What was our Imperial ground? It was one which is equally unanswerable and equally true to-day. I venture myself to say, and I took some considerable part in the controversy, that you could not possibly establish a system of Preference between different parts of the Empire without friction, without inequality, without embitterment in particular Colonies and Dominions with particular classes of produce. We have said from the first, if you would exclude raw material it is quite plain in Canada, for instance, there is a very large class of producers who would gain no benefit from Preference, and it is still more plain when you come to Colonies and Dominions like South Africa, which send us no food supply at all, that they would get no advantage, so that Canada and Australia would be preferred to them. I am afraid these are rather old and familiar arguments. There is nothing novel about them. The novelty would be if anybody could supply a reply, but I have never heard any yet.
What is the new thing? What is the new tact, the one new fact which is produced here to-day as an illustration, or what is called the object lesson of the folly of this policy of refusal. It is the agreement that has been provisionally entered into between Canada and the United States. I will deal first with the question which was put by the right hon. Gentleman yesterday, and that is, what is the effect of this agreement, or what would be its effect, if ratified, on British trade—first of all British trade with Canada, and next upon British trade with the United States? The agreement was a perfectly independent agreement entered into between Canada and the United States, in 470 pursuance on the part of Canada of that fiscal autonomy which she has long enjoyed and on which nobody proposes to trespass. Conclusions of the various stages of the negotiations were carefully watched by our British Ambassador, who was in constant communication with the Canadian negotiators, and who very properly kept his eyes on the special interests of British trade. I need not say it was not necessary for him to urge upon his Canadian colleagues the necessity of safeguarding those interests. They were always most ready to accept and anticipate, or if not to anticipate at any rate to consider, if not to accede to, his suggestions. But what happened? In the first place they assured him, and that assurance has been repeated by Sir Wilfrid Laurier in the Canadian Parliament, that so far as our materials to Canada were concerned the British preference would be carefully maintained. When you put articles on the free list the possibility of preference ceases to exist, but in so far as duties remain in respect of a particular class of commodity the British preference will be scrupulously maintained. I think the anxiety of the right hon. Gentleman was rather with regard to what might happen on the other side of the border—namely, as to British importation into the United States. It is quite true that owing to the reductions which this agreement provides for certain commodities going from Canada will enter into the United States upon lower terms than corresponding commodities imported from this country. Mr. Bryce pointed that out to the Canadian negotiators in the course of the negotiations.
We have got a most-favoured-nation treaty, but as is common knowledge, and the right hon. Gentleman referred to it yesterday, the United States does not place on the most-favoured-nation clause in commercial treaties quite the same interpretation as we do. It is quite possible, and I think it is probable, having regard to what has happened in the past, that the United States would say that the most-favoured-nation clause in our treaty, as a matter of treaty right, would not entitle British goods to come into the American market on the same terms as has been accorded to Canadian goods. Therefore, it becomes important to see what the goods are and how they affect British interests. We have examined the matter carefully. As a matter of fact the manufactured goods, and I am not speaking of the effect on raw material, the manufactured 471 goods affected by the agreement are in almost every case goods of which the Canadians have so small a share of the trade as to render probably the effect on them as infinitesimal, if not non-existent. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire referred to two commodities in particular, one was motor-cars and the other cutlery. As regards motorcars the importation from the United Kingdom into the United States is a very small affair. It amounts to £47,000 and into Canada £4,000, so that I do not think we need trouble ourselves very much about that item. As regards cutlery, the total value of cutlery of all kinds imported by us into the United States was £75,000, and the total value of the cutlery into Canada was £7,000.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Does the right hon. Gentleman put that forward as an excuse for the Government's not attempting to secure for British manufacturers the advantages which the Canadian Ministers have secured for Canada?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I should be extremely glad if we could get in on the same terms. What I am pointing out is that the matter is a case de minimibus. The particular articles in regard to which Canada gets preference are articles in which our trade is very small, and in which Canada's trade is infinitesimal.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am afraid I did not make my meaning clear I was not complaining of Canada having an advantage; I was complaining that we, under our system, do not get a similar advantage. It is immaterial from my point of view whether the Canadian trade is big or small. My complaint is that the Government has not used its powers to get these advantages.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
What I am pointing out is that the proposed agreement does not affect a single article in which we are seriously concerned. Having disposed of that question of fact, I come to another matter. It is alleged against us that if we had been wise enough to put a tax upon foreign food coming into this country—in other words, to give what is called a preference to the Colonies—we might have stopped the conclusion of this agreement, or, at any rate, postponed it for many years to come. In whose interest were we to do that? Was it in our own interest, to increase the price of 472 food to the population of this country, in order that the wall of tariffs might still remain between Canada and the United States? Was it in the interest of Canada? Surely Canada is the best judge of her own interest. Was it in the interest of the Empire? I do not think the matter can be better put than it was put in a speech by Sir Wilfrid Laurier—a speech which he actually did make. In the House of Commons in Canada, as late as 21st November last, he said:—Ever since we have been in office, the last fourteen years, it has been our constant endeavour to force Canadian trade in all possible directions, north and south as well as east and west, and to find an outlet for the energy of our people, and for the great and accumulating volume of our business. We have spared no efforts to find new markets. There is at our doors, alongside of us, a nation of nearly 100,000,000 people to-day, which man to man is perhaps the wealthiest to be found on earth, which man for man consumes more of the necessities and luxuries of life than any other nation on earth, which by deliberate policy up to the present moment has refused to have friendly commercial intercourse with us.That is the position in which Canada found herself. When she had an offer from the United States to lower the wall and open the door, was she to continue, in her own interest, or in the interest of this country, or in any supposed interest of the British Empire, to refuse to her manufacturers the natural outlet for their products and the natural inlet for the things which they need? Sir Wilfrid Laurier goes on in the same speech to say:—I think that a great deal would be gained both for Canada and the British Empire if our relations with the United States were more friendly than they are.Having referred to Sir Wilfrid Laurier's speech, and having read the declaration made by Mr. Fielding in yesterday's paper that for fifty years it had been the common policy of all parties in Canada to seek for reciprocity with the United States and to find access to this great market at their own door, I listened with very great surprise, with something like bewilderment, to the quotation which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) read yesterday from a supposed speech of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. I will quote his exact words. Having alluded to what I said on the first night of the Session, he said:—There is an even higher authority on that subject, and that is the Prime Minister of Canada. Instead of the Prime Minister of this country after the event, let us have the Prime Minister of Canada speaking before the event. Speaking in the Canadian House of Commons on November 22nd, last year, Sir W. Laurier said: "If the result of the British elections should prove to be a victory for Tariff Reform, there would be little prospect of any large measure in favour of reciprocal lowering of tariffs with the United States."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1911, col. 305.]473 I confess I listened to that quotation with very considerable surprise. It seemed to me so totally different, not only from Mr. Fielding's declaration of yesterday morning, but from the passages I have already quoted from Sir Wilfrid Laurier's actual speech, that I thought there must be some mistake. Where did the right hon. Gentleman get his quotation from?
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I got the quotation from a despatch of the Ottawa correspondent of the "Standard," published in the "Standard" of the 24th of the same month. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say that I was informed that it had been confirmed by a private cable as well.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
From the "Standard"? I am not sure whether the right hon. Gentleman gives the full title. I think it is the "Standard of Empire."
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I have here the "Standard of Empire." It is quite true, as I subsequently learnt—because I have investigated the matter closely—that the sentence quoted by the right hon. Gentleman does appear in what purports to be an abbreviated report by a correspondent of a speech made by the Prime Minister of Canada. I and others have searched with the utmost care in the speech of the Prime Minister, which is here—in the official "Hansard" report of the House of Parliament in Canada—accessible to the right hon. Gentleman, accessible to anybody who would take the pains to look it up, and there is not a syllable in that speech which corresponds, or has the remotest resemblance to the passage which the right hon. Gentleman quoted yesterday when he said, "Let us appeal to the Prime Minister of Canada." This is a very serious matter, because I am lectured by great organs of opinion this morning, and asked how I am going to explain or explain away—as if it were my business to do so—Sir Wilfrid Laurier's declaration. Am I to explain or to explain away something Sir W. Laurier did not say? This is a very serious matter. The quotation which it is said was confirmed by a cable is from the correspondent of a paper called the "Standard of Empire." Was the simple precaution taken to compare what the correspondent said with the authentic official report of the Prime Minister's speech? I am the 474 last person in the world, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, to accuse him of any intention of deliberately misleading the House. I am not suggesting it for a moment; but I do say that this incident is of a piece with the persistent and incurable sloppiness which has characterised this Tariff Reform agitation from its inception down to the present moment. I venture to say that Sir W. Laurier never said anything of the kind. I shall be very much surprised if he did.
Now let us see what the situation is which right hon. Gentlemen opposite are asking the House to censure us for not having brought about. Supposing we had given not what the Colonies have demanded but what right hon. Gentlemen have demanded on behalf of the Colonies, and put a tax on the food of the people of this country; what would have been the situation as they themselves now represent? It is said that we should have stopped this agreement—this fatal disastrous agreement—which opens the markets of the United States to the Canadian farmer and the Canadian manufacturer. Just think what would have happened and what a splendid result would have followed the Canadian farmer ex hypothesi—I am following the right hon. Gentleman'-e argument—would have been getting less for his corn, because he would have been sending it to the English market, and he would not have been allowed to send it to the American market. The Canadian farmer would have been getting less for his corn—that is result No. 1. The Canadian farmer would have been paying more for his agricultural machinery, which he is now going to get in from the United States free [An HON. MEMBER: "At a reduced duty."] Yes; he is going to get it cheaper any way. He would have been paying more for his agricultural machinery—that is result No. 2. The British consumer here would have been paying more for the necessaries of life—result No. 3. That is the way to cement the Empire! That is the way in which, if only we had pursued this great Imperial policy, we should have drawn together in bonds of common interest and common affiction the producers of Canada and the consumers of the United Kingdom!
I do not think it is necessary to say much more. I will, however, add this one consideration, which, I think, must have become abundantly apparent in the course of this debate. Supposing you had entered into this bargain, supposing you had given 475 Colonial Preference, supposing you had put a tax upon foreign food, and the whole thing was working smoothly. Is it not obvious from what has happened that any day of the week or any month of the year, without any reciprocity at all, the ninety or 100 millions of people in the United States could have toppled the whole fabric over? It was not necessary for them, when their own interests and their own wants dictated to them the importance of having free sources of supply of food and raw material in Canada to enter into any bargain with Canada at all. They had only to lower their own tariff wall; American manufactures go into Canada, Canadian corn goes into the United States, and the very foundation of your edifice of Imperial Preference is completely undermined. A more crazy structure, resting upon a more unstable basis, and more certainly doomed by the inevitable play of economic forces, to decay, was never created by the imagination of politicians! I am not foolish enough to suppose that the Protection movement is dead in this country. It appeals to so many fallacies which are dear to the ordinary and uninstructed mind, and it appeals to the support of so many interests, that it will take a very long time to give it its coup de grâce. But I think we are celebrating the obsequies of that which used to be called Imperial Preference. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) yesterday said we want a man of courage and resolution. I do not know to whom he was particularly referring. I suppose to his own leader?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I presume a Government to the right hon. Gentleman's own liking? The right hon. Gentleman needs courage and resolution! What is his motto then? I read with great interest a night or two ago a speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour). It was on this subject, and the only motto, the only rallying, the only war-cry, I could extract from it was: "While there is life there is hope." I make the party opposite a present of that inspiring watchword. Meantime, we should be thankful for the common-sense and political instinct of the electors of this country, which has saved it from an invitation to adopt what would have been one of the greatest and most disastrous political impostures of modern times.
The right hon. Gentleman spent the greater part of his speech in defending Canadian statesmen from what he seemed to regard as unfounded aspersions made upon them by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) and others on this side of the House. But the most violent attack I have ever heard on Canadian statesmanship was contained in the very last words that the right hon. Gentleman uttered as he sat down. "A crazy imposture," I think he called it. He sat down telling us that the whole scheme of Imperial Preference was one of the craziest impostures that ever occurred to the minds of deluded politicians. That crazy imposture has occurred, not only to the minds, but it has received the earnest endorsement of every one of our Colonial Prime Ministers. That crazy imposture has been earnestly recommended to the right hon. Gentleman face to face with Sir Wilfrid Laurier himself, and deliberately rejected by him. Very strong language was used even in 1907 in regard to the policy of Imperial Preference by the present Home Secretary and by others. But certainly "crazy imposture" was not a word——
Well, greatest political imposture. The words "political imposture" were not luckily used by the Prime Minister of Great Britain to the Prime Minister of those great Dominions across the seas, who came across the sea to urge this "great imposture" upon you. We know there are worse rhetorical faults than "incurable sloppiness." There is nothing sloppy about the final epithets of the Prime Minister. They are perfectly unmistakable: their outline is cut in the clearest manner. They accuse not merely a great party which contains about half the population of these islands of not only being parties to a great political imposture, but they associate with that charge every great party in every great self-governing Colony throughout the whole of this Empire.
What justification has the right hon. Gentleman for either the terms of his peroration or for the arguments which appeared in his speech? He began by telling us that there was no evidence whatever for the suggestion that the possession of something to bargain with helped you in bargaining with foreign nations. I 477 should have thought that the figures given by the right hon. Gentleman to-day were sufficient. But surely you need not go to figures! I speak to a party which certainly contains many business men and claims to be a business party. Have they ever found in any transaction of life that they could make a better bargain with anybody from whom they had only got to receive, and to whom they had nothing to give? But this does not depend upon nice considerations of figures; it depends upon the broad facts of human nature. These are as true of individuals as of great business firms and of nations as they are of individuals. Of course, you get better terms if those with whom you are bargaining think that they will gain if they yield to your representations than if it is a matter of absolute indifference. I did not suppose that any man living still thought that the provisions of the "most-favoured-nation" clause could be a substitute for direct arrangements between Government and Government. I do not underrate the benefits of the "most-favoured-nation" clause. It does offer to this country a considerable share of advantage. But the idea that people when they are negotiating their tariffs will so arrange that what is best for them will also be best for you, who are the common rival of both, really shows—if I may say so—an ignorance of the broad facts of human nature, whether shown in the relations of Governments or individuals, which certainly is the sloppiest thing that I have ever heard seriously presented by a responsible statesman. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to complain that we had brought up this Motion at all. Why, he says, it is a vote of censure on the Government; the Government are in a majority, and therefore you are censuring the majority. How audacious! He did not say it, but I almost understood the implication was: How unconstitutional! That is quite a new view of the duties of the Opposition. If we were not in a minority we would not be the Opposition. If we were in the majority and the right hon. Gentleman was in the minority—as he has been and perhaps may be again—he would not be prevented from censuring us. To do him justice, I should say he would be quite unfitted for his position if he hesitated to censure us merely because we happened to have won a General Election. Of course, I admit we are in a minority. I quite admit when the right hon. and learned Gentleman goes into the Lobby on the Amendment, because 478 it is in the nature of a vote of censure, he will have the support of a great many gentlemen who probably are in much closer agreement with us than with him on this point; who are much more nearly holding than otherwise those economic heresies on which he has poured such invective and scorn. For reasons which, if not sufficient are intelligible to all of us, the right hon. Gentleman will get on this occasion the support of people who do not agree with his economic views, and do not desire to see carried out his economic policy. All that will not absolve us from doing what we are doing—that is to lay our views, which we hold strongly, as to the Imperial difficulties which the neglect of the Government have involved us, before the House or before the country—whatever be the result of the division. And when the right hon. Gentleman tells us, as he has told us to-night, that it is almost audacious on our part to bring this subject before the House after three elections decided against us, I want to know whether it is his view that the last election was on his side! In a different connection the right hon. Gentleman has always urged that the verdict of the country was on the Constitutional issue. You cannot imagine two questions in the sphere of politics which are more widely separated, and which are supported or opposed by arguments belonging more completely to different spheres of discussion, than the economic and political considerations involved in Tariff Reform and the Constitutional issues involved in the Parliament Bill. Is the same tribunal supposed to have given a conclusive verdict upon, at the same time, and by the same acts to causes so utterly different and so widely separated? If the right hon. Gentleman chooses, as he did choose, to say to-night, to suit the purpose of this immediate Debate, that the verdict of the country was given upon the fiscal issue, then I hope he will not urge that the verdict of the country was given upon the constitutional issue when we come to later, and perhaps even more heated, arguments in the course of the Session. The right hon. Gentleman used some of the old arguments, quite right of course, and again brought out of the Free Trade armoury the old argument that these kind of bargains and preferences between us and our Colonies would be a cause, not of closer union, but of perpetual friction, controversy, and difficulty. I 479 think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Russell Rea) told us that these sort of arrangements were not cement—they were dynamite. But a little later in the Debate we had a speech from the hon. Baronet the Member for Swansea (Sir Alfred Mond), and what did he tell us? He said you are looking forward, you Tariff Reformers, with your narrow vision, merely to the closer union of Great Britain and her self-governing Dependencies. With imagination of a bolder sweep, the hon. Member said this new arrangement between Canada and the United States was to be the prelude of an Anglo-Saxon agreement in which shall be embraced all the English-speaking countries of the world. [AN HON. MEMBER: "It was to be universal."] No, not so wide as that! Well, Sir, may I ask why that which is dynamite when it takes place, or if it takes place, between Great Britain and Canada, is cement when it takes place between Canada and the United States. Whenever there is an arrangement of tariffs between two foreign countries hon. Gentlemen opposite are loud in their plaudits of the progress of civilisation, the movement of friendly feeling, the new treaty bond that bring together great civilised communities, but when it is between the Mother Country and the Dominions, you would think that, next to a declaration of war, there could not be a prelude to controversy more clear and more decisive than that of coming to a friendly arrangement between the Mother Country and the Dominions, though the Dominions ask for it, and though a vast section of our own population ask for it also. I really cannot imagine on what this is founded. The right hon. Gentleman has repeated again the old fallacy, as I venture to think it—he is quite consistent with the repetition of it at all events—he says: "How can you have a friendly arrangement with your Colonies when you cannot give to each Colony the same terms as you give to others; will not that inevitably produce jealousies and difficulties between the two?"
This exact point was raised, and necessarily raised in the Colonial Conference of 1907, when Dr. Jameson, now Sir Andrew Jameson, at that time Prime Minister of Cape Colony, pointed out that the Colonies were not so unreasonable as to suppose that the same terms and the same preferences were to be given to them all, considering that their economic conditions 480 were so different, their products so various, and the trade relations necessarily so varied. That surely is the answer. But do let the House mark what the present Prime Minister said upon that occasion. Pressed by the arguments of Dr. Jameson, and unable to find an answer to it, the right hon. Gentleman at last took refuge in this. He said of this policy, which was to give preference, not necessarily the same kind or amount of preference to each of the Colonies:It means that we are to consider the question whether we shall treat the foreigners and the Colonies as it were differently, and that we conceive we are not able to do.There you have got it. There you have got the real root objection which the Government of 1907, and presumably the Government of 1911, and presumably also the battalions which support them, really are moved by. They will not treat the Colonies better than they treat foreign nations, and that is the broad difference between us. We think that it would be for the benefit of the Empire as a political whole, for the benefit of the Empire as an economic whole, if we did treat our self-governing Colonies better than we treat the foreigners. That is the difference between the Government and ourselves, and upon that difference I am perfectly certain that in the long run the good sense of the people to which the right hon. Gentleman man appeals, certainly the verdict of history will be on our side.
There is only one other point of an argumentative character raised by the right hon. Gentleman's speech, on which I shall say a word. Talking of this arrangement, of the proposed reciprocity treaty between Canada and the United States, and drawing a picture of the evil consequences that would follow had we obtained preference—had our policy been carried out and the present Canadian and American policy not been brought upon the tapis, he said, "How dreadful the consequences would have been." "Now," he said, "the Canadian farmer will get his machinery cheaper and will be able to sell his corn dearer." Had we carried out our wicked will, I presume his idea is the Canadian farmer would have to pay much more for his agricultural machinery, which I greatly doubt, but the British consumer would have suffered by the increase in the price of corn due to the preference. I cannot quite understand these two alternatives about corn. Apparently he thinks that the British consumer is going to have his corn cheaper under the new system than he would have had it 481 under the system that we propose. How is that consistent with the idea that under the system now proposed between Canada and the United States, he admits the Canadian farmer is going to get more from his wheat? The right hon. Gentleman drew a picture with these three dreadful consequences.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I took the hypothesis of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I certainly did not put it myself in that way.
I thought the whole of the passage of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, which was developed with his usual force and lucidity, consisted in pointing out three things. Firstly, that under the new treaty the Canadian farmer will get more for his corn; secondly, that under the new treaty he would pay less for his machinery; and, thirdly, that if instead of these things we had preference with the Colonies the unhappy British consumer would have paid more for his corn. Then is it not quite clear that if the Canadian farmer is to get more for his corn under the new treaty than he would have got under Preference, the British consumer is going to pay more?
It seems, at all events, a conclusion of some plausibility. If the Canadian farmer is going to get more under the reciprocity treaty with America than he would have got under Preference with England the British consumer would pay more under the reciprocity treaty than under the other. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I think if hon. Members will follow my deductions from the right hon. Gentleman's speech, they will see that there is a great deal to be said for it. I rose immediately that the right hon. Gentleman sat down, I had not meditated over his aphorisms, but, it seems to me, in dealing with his argument, that the conclusion to which I have ventured to call the attention of the House follows rigorously from the premises he laid down. I must just again call the attention of the House to the position of the Canadian Government and of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, its eminent head, on this question. It seems, according to the right hon. Gentleman, that my right hon. Friend near me in doing what I rather believe ninety-nine out of every hundred Gentlemen opposite are in the habit of doing—that is, relying upon 482 the newspaper reports of speeches—I believe the right hon. Gentleman led the House to think that the doctrine attributed by my right hon. Friend to Sir Wilfrid Laurier is one absolutely inconsistent with the general views of that statesman. I do not doubt that Sir Wilfred Laurier is quite glad to have good commercial relations, and desired to have good commercial relations, and properly desired to have good commercial relations with the United States, I do not quarrel with that at all. There is also no doubt that Sir Wilfrid Laurier did say:—We shall be glad to treat with them. It never was intended nor thought at the time that the intermediate tariff would apply to the United States.
Yes, it is because you have done nothing since the Colonial Conference of 1907 that we are now quarrelling with you. Sir Wilfrid Laurier proceeded:—There was at one time wanted reciprocity with them; but our efforts and offers were negatived and put aside. We have said goodbye to the trade, and we put all our hopes upon the British trade now.There is nothing "sloppy" about that, because it is in the Blue-book. That I have no doubt accurately represented the attitude of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1907, and it certainly represents in its general terms the minds of all the Colonial Premiers who were here in 1907. What we say is that had you made a response to the appeal which Canada made, and which all the Premiers made in 1907; had you, when Canada said to you: "We put all our hopes upon British trade now," replied: "We will second your efforts," had that stream of trade from East to West been passing to our shores, do you believe there would have been the least chance at the present time of Canada making such an arrangement. Under these circumstances—we do not know what future economic forces may produce—do you think we should have heard of any far-reaching agreement at the present time between the United States and Canada. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] I do not think so, and all the evidence we have is against it. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite have talked as if we were almost impious in desiring that trade should flow along routes and in directions which in their view are not pre-arranged by the immutable laws of nature, and what they conceive to be the natural and inevitable effects of geographical position. I do not think we ought to consider great Imperial problems 483 in a fatalistic spirit. I do not say dogmatically—of course nobody could say it dogmatically—that the condition of any community is merely and solely the result of the human factor in that community. Like all great results it is a combination of many causes. But, Sir, that we should be merely the slaves of space and time in this sense seems to me utterly absurd. The British Empire has not been built up by men holding those fatalistic views, and it will not be preserved by men who preach fatalistic doctrines.
May I appeal to hon. Members opposite, in conclusion, to make one reflection, and it is that you must not be led away by such arguments as were laid before us by the hon. Member for South Glamorgan, who spoke, I believe, on behalf of the Labour party. He derides those who attempt to look ahead, and who see that the horizon extends far beyond the immediate and present necessities of the moment. As long as steam coal is exported, or, as he says, "dumped" in foreign countries, he is content; but you cannot deal with the great and varied interests of an Empire if each hon. Member who comes down to this House thinks solely of the immediate commercial position of his own particular constituency. A wider and more distant outlook is required of every man who wishes to do his duty as a representative of his country in this great Assembly of the nation. After all, the merits of our actions are really not determined by what happens in the Division Lobby, nor is the Division Lobby the real test. Of course, you are going to get a majority when you divide to-night. I do not know how far it will come up to the nominal majority of those who do not agree with us upon broad constitutional questions, but you will get a majority I do not doubt. I go further and I say it is true that so far we have not convinced the majority of the country that our fiscal policy is right, although that is a very difficult thing to prove one way or the other so long as the issues of our elections are of the mixed character which is almost necessary and is inevitable under existing circumstances. But we are acting and working now not merely for the duration of a Parliament, but we are working—I say this in spite of what the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Glamorgan said—for distant years, and the effect of our policy on distant years cannot, and will not, be decided by what happens on this or that day. History, and history alone, is the tribunal 484 before which such actions as we take now must be judged, judged in the light of events, judged in the manner on which an Empire, possessing many great sources of strength, but threatened with many obvious weaknesses, deals with a new situation and adapts itself to new necessities. The criticism that we pass upon the Government and upon those who support the Government is that they have relied too much on these old and worn-out for mulæ, and have not sufficiently adapted themselves to new circumstances. They have not shown that flexibility which every organisation must show as the circumstances under which it is thrown change. I greatly fear the decision which the House takes to-night will postpone for a long time, or at all events for some time, that change which I believe to be absolutely necessary to meet the changing conditions of environment in which the British Empire now finds itself, and for that reason I regret this renewed refusal of His Majesty's Government to take advantage of the opportunity which our colonial brethren have so persistently laid before them.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
I speak to-night not so much as a Member of the House of Commons but as a Canadian who cannot be accused of want of experience in the Dominion of Canada, of want of loyalty to Canadians, or of a want of knowledge concerning a country with which I have been so intimately connected. I shall not attempt to follow the Leader of the Opposition in his Debate with the Prime Minister, but I do wish to deal with a sentence the right hon. Gentleman used on the opening day of the Session. He referred to the agreement between Canada and the United States as an Imperial disaster. You cannot say that the result of the action of any statesman in Canada is an Imperial disaster unless you accuse those responsible for it of being traitors to the Empire. While the Government here is being arraigned for a refusal to carry out the impossible, Canada is also being arraigned for doing what she thinks is best in her own interests and in the interests of the Empire. The underlying thought of this Amendment to the Address, the underlying motive for 10,000 speeches in the country against the Imperial Government is that unless you link up Canada by fiscal bonds the Canadians will drift into the capacious maw of the United States. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Unless that be the danger what 485 is the object of this Amendment? Unless hon. Members opposite are doubtful of the loyalty of their Canadian kinsmen, why complain of the refusal of the Government to do what it is impossible for them to do?
Speaking as a Canadian, I approach this subject in no party spirit. As the majority of hon. Members have never seen Canada because they have not sufficient leisure to take a trip there, allow me to inform the House that Canadians have two great policies, one political and one commercial. The political policy is to maintain the most intimate connections with the Home Country as long as the Home Country wishes that connection to be maintained, and as long as the Home Country is worthy of the connection. The second great sphere of Canadian activity is the commercial policy, and that is a policy which ever since the introduction of Sir Wilfrid Laurier's Government in 1896, has been steadily tending towards Free Trade. Sir Wilfrid Laurier was returned in 1896 as a Free Trader. He did his best to lower the tariffs in Canada against the world, and he certainly lowered them under the name of Preference in favour of the Home Country. I will quote to the House the view which this great Canadian Minister expressed in 1897, at the time when Preference was granted to England. At that time Sir Wilfrid Laurier said:—If England were willing to give us a preference over other nations, taking our goods on exceptionally favourable terms, I should not object. But for how long would it last? Would it be an advantage in the long run? That is what men who think beyond the passing moment have to ask themselves. Supposing England did such a thing and abandoned her Free Trade record, she would inevitably curtail the purchasing power of her people. And do you not think we should suffer from that—we who alone have natural resources enough to feed millions from our fertile lands? I have too great a belief in English common sense to believe they will do any such thing. What we have done in the way of tariff preference to England we have done out of gratitude to England, and not because we want her to enter upon the path of protection.That was the opinion of this distinguished Minister when the preference was granted, and he came fresh from a victory for Free Trade in Canada after the General Election of 1896. Canada is not only prepared to give a preference to England; Canada is prepared to give a preference to any country in the world in the interests of Canadian commercial development, and that development surely makes for the well-being of the Dominion. The Canadiana, at any rate, think so, and I think they are right. Whatever strengthens them commercially, in my opinion 486 strengthens the British Empire politically. Their commercial policy is entirely separate from their political policy. I am amazed to hear, untravelled men, I admit, on the other side of the House, talk about the danger of eight millions and an ever growing number of Canadians falling into the orbit—I believe that is the word—of American Continentalism.
I do urge the House to remember that in dealing with the Dominion of Canada the mind of the people of this country must not be affected by too constant contemplation of the petty states of Europe. Canada is not a Belgium, or a Holland, or some German principality. Canada is an enormous country being more rapidly peopled than any other country in the world, and has possibly the most virile population of any part of the world. [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] If the compliment is to me, I am but a humble and modest example of the human product of the Dominion. Nothing is more offensive to a Canadian, and nothing is more offensive to Mr. Fielding, the Minister of Finance, who is primarily responsible for this agreement with the United States, than the remark of the Leader of the Opposition when he referred to this agreement as "an Imperial Disaster." I admit that the Canadian people are sensitive on this question of loyalty, but ever since 1903 they have been subject to what an hon. Member considers bribes in the hope of bringing them into some fiscal scheme that originates with the Mother Country. This constant suspicion of Canadian loyalty, this constant imputation of the desire of the Canadians to drift from the British Flag to the Stars and Stripes is unworthy of the Mother Parliament and cannot work for good. Within my short life, I have seen the antagonism to annexation by the United States grow stronger and stronger. There is not a sign of such annexation now, but there is a sign of the growing strength of the commercial life of the Dominion, and I for one am glad to welcome an agreement between two kindred nations, which strengthens, and can only strengthen, the commercial power of Canada, and, in the long run, the power of the Old Country.
Let me pass from that to a speech dealt with by the Prime Minister in his most smashing address—if I may use the term—this afternoon. I refer to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) quoted, or was alleged to quote, from 487 a speech of Sir Wilfrid Laurier which was in fact never made. It was also quoted by the hon. Member for East Birmingham (Mr. Steel-Maitland) as the last and final nail in the coffin of the Government. Let me say here, if it is possible for men to use quotations unverified but easily verifiable from papers that are known to be strongly partisan, accuracy in debate is bound to go to the winds. This is an example, and, singularly enough, it comes from Birmingham, of all places, of what not only Canadians but Members who disagree with the Opposition have to put up with throughout the country. These quotations of a distinguished minister in Canada, quite contrary to the whole tenor of Sir Wilfrid Laurier's life and career, are given in the House of Commons, without any attempt to verify them, and they are being used, I doubt not, upon hundreds of platforms to-night throughout the whole of the realm.
Speaking of one who knows Canada intimately, let me just expose, if I may, the methods of some right hon. Gentlemen opposite on this question of Tariff Reform. Ever since 1903 miles of newspaper columns have been distributed free to all the papers in the Outer Empire. Those columns contain everything that can be said against the Government of the day, and in depreciation of the Old Country, including exaggerated stories of unemployment, and things of that sort. On the other hand, salaried correspondents have been appointed in all the great cities of the oversea Dominions, and especially in Canada. I know many of them. They write to me privately, and their private communications differ vastly from the communications which they are paid to send to the newspapers. These men have instructions to send everything and nothing but those things that will be helpful to the Tariff Reform party in this country. What an extraordinary thing it is that the salaried correspondent of Canada for "The Standard of Empire" is now quoted as a greater authority than the Canadian Hansard. I submit that such methods cannot and have not had a unifying effect between the Oversea Dominions and the Old Country. I for one, speaking with a greater intimacy than anyone in the House, know that Tariff Reform is the most tiresome subject in the Dominion of Canada to-day. It is not taken seriously. The Tariff Reformer is looked upon as a man who is using the great Oversea Dominions as pawns in a domestic party game. 488 That is exactly as they are being used. During this Debate speaker after speaker has quoted Sir Wilfrid Laurier as if he were in favour of Protection in England—he, a member of the Cobden Club himself; he, a man who holds up England as the shining example in the fiscal systems of the world; he, a man who said at Winnipeg on August 12 last year:—I am a Free Trader of the English school, but Gladstone, Cobden, and Bright are my models.They are not the models of any hon. Gentleman opposite. When I find the name of Sir Wilfrid Laurier quoted by hon. Members opposite, I am bound to confess I regret that there is not a place in this House for a distinguished Minister like Sir Wilfrid Laurier, so that his name should not be quoted without his having an opportunity of replying.
Just one word as to what I call the tin-sheet argument of the hon. Member for East Birmingham. He addressed the House on the necessity of dealing seriously with this question. I am in full accord with him. So serious do I consider this discussion, that I think it would have made for better feeling between the Mother of Parliaments and the Dominion Parliament if the discussion had not taken place at all. Let us see what we are doing. After a Bill has been introduced into the Canadian Parliament, and before it has had its second reading, it is being discussed in this Parliament where divergent views are being expressed by different Members, and I submit that the arguments from that side of the House show a tendency to criticise the loyalty of the Canadians in making this agreement. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] If that be not the basis of this Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, why is it put down at all? If there is no doubt about the continuance of Canada within the Empire as the strong right arm of the Empire, then I say why debate the question at all? Let us come to the speech of the hon. Member for East Birmingham, whose hectoring and lecturing way I am bound to say did not appeal to me at any rate. When urging us to treat the matter seriously, this is the best argument he can bring against the schedule now before the Dominion House of Commons. He says:Returns show Canada imported £300,000 value galvanised sheets during 1910. Fear withdrawal of 5 per cent. duty would very gravely jeopardise this business."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1911. col. 336.]There is an hon. Member urging this Imperial House to object to the Canadians 489 passing legislation with the object of breaking down tariff walls between Canada and the United States, because it interferes with some tin sheet business of one of his friends. If ever there was a flimsy basis for criticising the great Dominion Colony, it strikes me the tin sheet basis is the flimsiest of all.
I should like to say a word or two about the actual agreement which, as far as I know, has not been dealt with in the House at allIt is perfectly truesays Mr. Fielding,that for 50 years the Canadians have been ambitious to enter the American market, as they are ambitious to eater any market in the world,It is a singular thing that in the House today we have the hon. Member for Newmarket (Sir C. D. Rose), whose father was one of the pilgrims who went from Ottawa to Washington to arrange a reciprocal treaty with the United States, and also the hon. Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) whose distinguished father, now, I am sorry to say, out of the fray, also went, in 1889, to Washington to arrange a reciprocal treaty between Canada and the United States. That treaty, still known as the Bayard treaty, was never promulgated, because the Senate of the United States, urged by the politicians of America, declined to pass a treaty which had anything in it friendly either to Canada or the United Kingdom. Is not the friendliness of the United States now due to the fact that, happily, bitterness against Ireland in this realm is declining, and that the political hopes of the Irish people of this country, of the United States, and of the Colonies have made it easier, indeed have made it possible, for without their support it would be impossible, to arrange this agreement, which will undoubtedly be consummated between the United States and Canada. The Chamberlain-Bayard Treaty did not become law, but everything within that treaty is now contained in the Fielding agreement. Just a word as to the course of this agreement. A communication was first made by President Taft to Mr. Bryce asking him, as Foreign Minister of the Crown, if he could open negotiations with Canada for making reductions in the Tariff. Mr. Bryce, as a lover of democracy, sent the communication to the Foreign Office, and I believe that nothing further has been heard of it there, and nothing, I hope, will be done. But he also sent a duplicate of the communica- 490 tion to the Canadian Government, and Mr. Fielding, on behalf of that Government, met the President of the United States, with the result of the drawing up of schedules upon scores and scores of articles which will be admitted into the United States and Canada either free or at a reduced duty. There is no treaty in the business in the ordinary acceptance of the term, but concurrent Bills including the schedules have been introduced into the democratic Houses of both the United States and Canada, These Bills contain the schedules, and I want to read the official paragraph in reference to the effect generally:—There is no entanglement in regard to the British Preference. The reductions in Canada's tariffs are mostly in food stuffs, farm implements, printing machinery, coal, and certain sorts of iron and steel products in which Great Britain does little or no trade with Canada. The great import trade from Britain is in textiles, particularly woollens, linens and cotton, and in a wide range of highly finished manufactured iron and steel—these things are not touched under the arrangement,And Mr. Fielding, with that splendid loyalty that characterises all Canadians, went into the arrangement on the understanding that no question should arise to affect the British preference. He said in his speech in the Canadian House of Commons in introducing the Bill:—The general result of these schedules in reference to the Home Country may be summarised in these four sentences. First, there is no discrimination against the Home Country in favour of the United States: Secondly, a great majority of the articles scheduled in the concurrent bills are not and cannot be sent to Canada by the Home Country; Thirdly, the Home Country continues to enjoy the present Preferential rates; Fourthly, further Preference in favour of the Home Country is possible.Indeed, Mr. Fielding, the Finance Minister of Canada, in answer to a question in the House of Commons, led that House to understand that he contemplated not less but more preference to the Old Country, carrying out thereby the accepted policy of the Laurier Government since 1896—a policy which makes for Free Trade with all the world, with Preference as one step in that direction.
An appeal was made by the Leader of the Opposition—I think a most unworthy appeal from a right hon. Gentleman who has been Prime Minister of this country and may be again, in spite of many of his supporters. He suggested that Tariff Reformers in the Old Country should ally themselves with those in the oversea colonies. I say the most serious thing that could happen for the integrity of the British Empire is to interfere by political organisation with the absolute self-governing integrity of the colonies over the seas. 491 I stand in this House to-night a great-grandson of a rebel who fought in 1837 in Canada against an attempt to maintain the preferential rates of those days, and to maintain an autocratic Government in that country; and I confess that my blood runs a little hot in my self-governing colonial veins when I hear suggestions made that the great Conservative party in the Old Country is going to take an active interest in the political affairs of the Radical Home Rule Colonies of our great Empire. Nothing could be fraught with more serious results. You cannot treat growing dominions like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as if they were Uganda or Zulu-land or, say, Burmah with its sullen, semi-civilised population. The greatest danger that could happen to this old Empire is for the Conservatives or any other party to endeavour to link up political forces there. And I believe the same danger would follow in trying to link up the commercial system there with any forces or systems in the Old Country. The opposition to the Fielding-Taft arrangement in Canada is practically nil. I admit that the correspondents for certain Tariff Reform papers still say that the opposition to the agreement is growing. It is their business to say that, and they will keep on saying it as long as the funds hold out.
But let us come to the serious position. A very able Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Borden, held a meeting of the Members of his party the other day. They passed no resolution but left the members free to vote as they thought fit. When a party caucus holds a meeting without passing a resolution you may depend upon it that it was not unanimous. The plain fact is that the feeling in Canada, as well as in the United States, against tariffs is rolling up; it is rolling higher and higher, and as these schedules in the main affect foodstuffs and the necessary implements of agriculture, no member of any rural constituency—and most of the constituencies in Canada are rural—could go before his Constituents and justify his opposition to this agreement. It will pass through the House of Commons of Canada without the slightest doubt, and the Upper House in Canada is so constituted by the chastenings of the past that they will never attempt to upset the decisions of the Lower House.
I hope this House will forgive me if I endeavour to substantiate this fact that the great prosperity of Canada is not due to the Protection established in that 492 country in 1878. I know it is a common thing in this House, and in somewhat stronger language outside, for speakers to state that the Dominion of Canada owes all her prosperity to the protective tariff. I can remember living in Canada from 1878 to 1895 when there was no prosperity and no great emigration into the Dominion. The great tide of emigration was southwards into the United States and the three great maritime provinces scarcely held their natural increase of population, although there was protection there then as there is now, but in a lesser degree. I may say that these three great Eastern provinces will specially benefit by this free exchange of raw materials and foodstuffs between the United States and Canada. Canada's prosperity dates from 1896 or 1897 with the emigration policy of the Laurier Government, a policy which started most strongly in 1900. Since then nearly 1,500,000 men and women have come into the Dominion and have settled on the land. The prosperity of Canada is not due to her protective system. It is due to this organised system of emigration which has placed people from all parts of the world on selected lands from this country, from the Scandinavian districts of Europe and from the United States. To-day the whole tendency is against tariffs, and I myself look forward to seeing a sweeping reduction in the United States tariffs as soon as the Democratic party come into full power. They now control the majority in the House of Representatives, but not the majority in the Senate. I look forward to still further reductions in the Canadian tariff, and especially to further preference to goods from this old country. I am one of those who believe that preference has done a great deal for the traders of this country. Preference was given to the old country first because it made for free trade in Canada, and secondly as a token of gratitude for the protection afforded by the Army and Navy. I thank the House for having thus listened to me. I repeat that unless there is some unreasonable meddling with the Home Rule of the Dominion of Canada, her commercial exports, be they to the United States or elsewhere, have nothing to do with her political entity as the greatest daughter within the ambit of the British Empire. I have heard with amazement a suggestion to-day about the courses of trade north and south, east and west, a form of argument that lends itself to ready gesticulation. I should like to 493 ask those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite can one of them tell me how many lines there are running southward in Canada? As I expected, no one can. Ever since Canada started to develop southwards it has been essential, owing to climatic and other reasons, to have exits southwards. The Canadian Pacific Railway has three different lines running south of the United States, to the eastern and Atlantic coast, and the Grand Trunk Railway has two great lines in the United States. In fact it is impossible for any railway to carry on its business unless it has the direction and control of lines running through parts of the United States. No one could quote any distinguished railway man in Canada as complaining of this alleged diversion of traffic by reason of this agreement, and further than that I have seen no shrinkage in the value of shares in any of the Companies, which, after all, is one of the best tests. I believe the ideals of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are the same as mine. We want a strong and united Empire We all start from that basis. I say that the loyalty of Canadians is more certainly assured by allowing them to develop themselves commercially as they see fit, and instead of calling their arrangements with a friendly Power an Imperial disaster, welcoming it as a source of strength to this great Dominion over the seas and a source of strength to the whole British Empire.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
The hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House has said a good deal about the loyalty of the Canadians, but, in the first place, that is not in question, and, secondly, it is not the subject before the House. In connection with the general discussion on tariffs and preference there has been considerable debate upon the agreement entered into between the United States and Canada, but is it not singular that the agreement has not been submitted to this House, and that we are proceeding now on the second day to discuss an agreement whose contents we have to take from the newspapers. While we have been discussing that agreement a general discussion has also proceeded as to the value of Free Trade and Protection, which I use as conveniently short terms. There is one thing that would strike anyone going from this country to our great Colonies, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada. I might almost include South Africa, but I will not do so on this occasion—the first thing which Strikes one on going to those Colonies is 494 that everyone of them is prosperous, and the next is that every one of them is Protectionist. That is to say, every one of them has adopted the economic policy which is so much condemned by hon. Gentlemen opposite. This is an object lesson to us. The right hon. Gentleman who first addressed the House this evening gave a very succinct and accurate description of the development of events in Canada up to the present time in connection with fiscal matters, but there is one thing additional which I would say, and that is that the national policy of Canada was not adopted in 1878, but in the following year. That, however, is a matter of comparatively trifling importance. But under what circumstances was it adopted? The national policy was a policy of moderate Protection—incidental Protection—a species of Protection which was intended to encourage industrial development and give employment to the people of the country.
For some years before it was effected the people were deserting the country. They could not make a living in the country—I know that of my own personal knowledge. I know that the young men of the country looked forward to no prospect whatever, and many of them, including a number of my own friends, went away to the United States of America in order to earn a living there as best they could. In other words, they fled from a country which had no tariff, or a very low one, to a country with a high Protection. Some remained in the States, but some returned to Canada. But when did they return? They did not return until after the adoption in Canada—after 1879—of what was known as the national policy—that policy which first instituted the fiscal change of granting a moderate degree of Protection. Subsequently there was added to it, a few years afterwards, what is known as the railway policy, and the two are known together as the national policy. The railway policy could never have taken place had it not been for the fact that hope and confidence and a reasonable degree of prosperity was restored to the country by a moderate measure of Tariff Reform in that country. My hon. Friend who is sitting near me (Mr. Hamersley) was in the country with me at that time, and these facts must be familiar to him and to others. Indeed I do not think there is anyone to-day in the Canadian House of Commons, though there may be a few in this House, who will deny that the foundation of the prosperity 495 of Canada was the national policy introduced by Sir John MacDonald. For years that national policy was in operation, and during that time it was condemned by its political opponents—by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Mr. Richard Cartwright and others in the House of Commons and throughout the country. It was styled legalised robbery; it was said that it was a policy of making the rich richer, and the poor poorer—words with which we are very familiar in this country.
But events belied all these predictions, and the men who had condemned the policy so emphatically and determinedly, when they themselves came into power in 1896—when they came to look about and see whether they would carry out their threats of uprooting the last vestige of Protection in Canada and restoring a reasonable degree of Free Trade—what did they do? They quietly adopted the policy of their predecessors, and with a slight modification they have gone on under it through these fourteen years of prosperity that they are so proud of boasting of to day. So that the system of so-called Protection or moderate Protection, as I should call it, has received the approbation of both political parties in Canada. I am not speaking from text-books, or from the words of theorists. I am speaking of facts, and they have been established by the verdict of history. From the depths of despair and the lack of hope Canada has risen and risen through this policy to the position of prosperity that it has attained to-day. Now although Sir Wilfrid Laurier came into power and thought he was wise to go on with the policy of his predecessors, something remained to be done. I am not going to disparage the value that Preference has been to this country. Too many people are not aware—I will not say in this House, but outside of it—that this Preference, which was called a Colonial Preference, was a free Preference given to the Mother-country, that it reached about 33 per cent., and that in the case of Germany, it amounted, as regards its relations with this country, to an advantage of double that amount. The question arose here last night as to why Canada had adopted this Preference in favour of the Mother-country? It was said, and it has been said elsewhere, that it was out of gratitude to the Mother-country. That may or may not be so, and at all events it is a very convenient umbrella under which to take cover in re- 496 spect to certain incidents that occurred a few years previously when the party which is now in power in Canada somewhat suffered in general estimation in respect of that word which I regret my hon. Friend has referred to here, namely, loyalty.
I do not think myself that the reproach is properly applicable to them, but this much is certain, that they were in favour of unrestricted reciprocity with the United States. They were in favour of commercial union with the United States, and even the leader of the present Canadian Government said at a great meeting at Boston that the American dollar was quite as good for the Canadian as the English shilling. So when they came into power they had a record which was not very savoury, and this suggestion of a Colonial Preference came in very conveniently to deodorise the conditions under which they existed. It was also said last night that this Preference was given to this country in order that the party might keep its pledge in regard to Free Trade, but that is not a correct statement. They have never adopted Free Trade; they have never practised Free Trade; they are Free Traders in theory, but Protectionists in practice. An hon. Member said last night that Sir Wilfrid Laurier was a Free Trader, but that is not the case. He is nominally a Free Trader, but really he is a Protectionist. He is a Protectionist while he is in power, and a Free Trader when he is out of office. It is quite true that Mr. Fielding stated in his letter that there was a traditional policy in Canada favouring the interchange of natural products between the united States and Canada, but not of manufactures. That was the policy up to a certain time—that was the traditional policy, not for the full time, that Mr. Fielding mentioned in his letter. It was the policy up to the time that Preference was given to the Mother-country, namely, 1897, but from 1897 the national policy was the traditional policy. To that they added the railways and it continued from that day until a few days ago, when we were informed that an agreement had been arrived at between the United States and Canada. So that there was a departure from the traditional policy—the policy of building up and developing the resources of the country by the railways running eastwards and westwards, in order that the great western part of the country might by railways 497 through the sterile section north of Lake Superior be brought into contact with the highly settled and advanced eastern part.
That was the object of the railway policy—to unite the country east and west. The hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House said that there were a certain number of railways running now southward from Canada. It is quite true. For instance, there is the railway running from Montreal to the border line, fifty or sixty miles, and the Grand Trunk continues south and finds its exit, and goes to Portland, but these are not the roads which would endanger the existence of Canadian trade. The real roads which would endanger the existence of Canada by this agreement coming into operation are railways which would tap the great central plain of Canada, at Winnipeg, 500 miles west of the great Jakes, and other western points, and then running southward. That is where the danger is of tapping the enormous fertile country that is west of Winnipeg, so as to throw the trade from north to south, and by sending out of the country the products of the soil and the mines to promote the trade which will naturally arise from the United States, instead of that trade going eastward and westward, and contributing to the development of the country on lines that were originally intended. My hon. Friend stated that no railway men had taken exception to this policy, but if he will only read a speech delivered about six or eight months ago by Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, the President of the Canadian Pacific Railway, he will see that he pointed out that the interests of Canada were inextricably committed to the development of the country east and west; that the policy adopted was a wise policy, and nothing could be more detrimental to the country than to divert the trade of it north and south, and tap the country at its very centre, and throw the trade into American channels. I think Sir Thomas Shaughnessy will be accepted as an authority on that subject. What is to happen to the railways to the north of that, the Canadian Northern Company, and others? I saw an interview the other day with Sir Wm. McKenzie in which he said the scheme was unnecessary, but that he was not clear whether it would benefit or injure the country or the railways. This must always be remembered—that when people have railways to build they come to England to get the money, and in order to 498 get the money they have to float their bonds and securities, and I think there is not a man in the House who will not agree that those who are coming here to get money through the flotation of their securities and their mortgages upon railways will have either to maintain a very considerable silence with regard to the subject of this treaty or gloss over it as lightly as possible. I imagine this treaty may have very serious consequences, possibly not to a great railway like the Canadian Pacific, but to other railways which are more in their infancy.
Now I come to another branch of the railway subject, one perhaps which is sometimes overlooksd—I think it has not been referred to in this Debate—in proof of the fact that the policy was continuous until comparatively recently in developing the country east and west. Why did the Dominion of Canada undertake, in 1903, that is later than the national policy and later than one of the conferences, to build a new railway, the Transcontinental Railway, as it was called? The Transcontinental Railway consists of two main sections. One is the section west of Winnipeg, running to the coast, and the other is east of Winnipeg, running to Moncton, New Brunswick. The section which runs from Winnipeg to New Brunswick is 1,803 miles long, and that section is being built with money advanced by the Canadian Government. They are building it by their own engineers in the expectation that at a later period the Great Trunk Pacific Railway will take over that section of the road. I am sure hon. Members will realise at once the enormous cost of building to say nothing of operating, a road through a section of 1,803 miles, about four times the distance from here to Edinburgh, and about the distance from here to Iceland. Until that section reaches Quebec it does not pass through half a dozen villages. It passes through an unsettled portion of the country, some portion of which is fertile, but it is doubtful whether other portions are fit for cultivation at all. There is no traffic over that section, and the only object in building it was, as stated by the Government of today, that they might have a free line through Canadian territory east and west, where they would touch on the Western Pacific, a Canadian harbour. Prince Rupert, and on the east some convenient place, Halifax or St. John. The object was to have a thoroughly all- 499 Canadian route, east and west, so as to be independent of the United States altogether, and of what is known as the bonding privilege, a privilege that the United States might revoke at any time by notice. These were the great objects put forward when that enormous expenditure was undertaken in connection with that route east and west. That was the policy in 1903. The estimate was that the Government section of the road would cost about sixty or seventy-five million dollars. It is now nearly 200 millions, and the prospect is that it will cost four times the original estimate. What was the view of Canadian statesmen at that time? Was it not the building up of the country by lines east and west. If they are departing from that policy to-day what is the reason for it? What is the necessity for it? Sir William McKenzie said that he does not see that there is any necessity for it. The country is prosperous, and there has been no popular demand for this departure. It is simply a new thing that is suddenly sprung upon the public, and must have been a surprise to Canada itself as well as to this country. I want to read two or three words from the speech of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in connection with the building of the Transcontinental Railway. He says:—I have the greatest possible admiration for the American people. I have always admired their many strong qualities. But I have found in the short experience during which it has been my privilege and my fortune to he placed at the head of affairs by the will of the Canadian people that the best and most effective way to maintain friendship with our American neighbours is to be absolutely independent of them. These are the reasons why we apply to Parliament to give its continuance to the policy which I have outlined, a policy which will give to this new Transcontinental Railway its terminals in our own harbours, and an all Canadian route to reach them.In another portion he says:—The Canadian Confederation would have been a Union on paper and a Union on paper only but for the fact that the Grand Trunk Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Inter-Colonial Railway brought all parts of our country together to act in unison and to beat with the same heart. This new railway (that is the Transcontinental) will be another link in that chain of union. It will not only open territory hitherto idle and unprofitable; it will not only force Canadian trade into Canadian channels; it will not only promote citizenship between old Canada and new Canada, but it will secure us our commercial independence and it will for ever make us free from the bondage of the bonding privilege.In other words it will make us independent of the United States. The policy adopted now is exactly the opposite. What is the reason for this extraordinary change, without necessity and when the country is in a great state of prosperity? The references to what has been done by 500 the United States and Canada have been treated with the greatest delicacy on both sides of the House. Having seen something of Canadian Parliaments and Legislatures, and having seen something of American Legislatures, and something of life across the Atlantic, I strongly suspect myself—I will not say it goes beyond myself so that no one else will be compromised—that there is a very considerable nigger in the fence, as they say across the Atlantic, with regard to this agreement. Political parties very often look to their continuance in power. I know my countrymen are very fond of power, and a crisis has taken place lately in the affairs of the Canadian Government party. The main stronghold of the Liberal party is in Quebec, from which Sir Wilfrid Laurier comes, but recently his power has been undermined there; and in a recent election in a county which was absolutely secure for the Government they were beaten horse, foot, and artillery. The word has gone forth that the power of the Government is declining. It might be very useful in an emergency of that kind to create a diversion of some sort. Then cross the line and go to the United States. We know there has been a very serious cleavage in the party in power there—the Republican party. We know that the insurgents have not been bowing to the will of the old guard, and that the party is seriously endangered by internal division. It might be very convenient there to start some new issue which might re-unite the party, and I strongly suspect that there are some politics at the bottom of this agreement.
With regard to the Amendment, it states that the preference granted by Canada to this country has been a benefit, and that the benefit is being imperilled now by what has happened, and that the Government are responsible by their inaction. Last night it appeared to me that some hon. Members really questioned whether the preference to the Mother country was a benefit or not. Upon that point, surely, no hon. Gentleman can have any two opinions. It was admitted at the Colonial Conference that it was a great benefit. Before the preference was granted to this country the importations of British manufactures into the Dominion were rapidly declining, while the importations from the United States were rapidly increasing. But immediately after the granting of the preference the British importations continued to increase and those of the Americans continued to decline. [HON. MEM- 501 BERS: "No."] But, of course, owing to proximity and to obtaining the despatch of goods more quickly the American importations still were considerable.
I want to make an observation with regard to the suggestion that the Prime Minister threw out this afternoon, that, being a Free Trade country, we are under a supposed disability in negotiating with other nations. I submit for your consideration whether what has happened here in the making of this agreement has not come about by the very fact that the United States have a tariff in respect of wheat, lumber and fish, and whether they did not have something in their hands and went to Canada and said: "If you will give us something we much require we have something in hand to give you in return." In any negotiations that we might have with any country we should not have had that advantage. I will give another illustration. It is the power that the United States had by reason of their tariff in compelling Canada within the last twelve months to lower its tariff in respect of several articles in connection with which they had given a preference to France. The United States said to Canada: "You, in your French Treaty, have given certain advantages to France which you have not given to us."
"Unless you give us the same advantages you give to France we will apply to you our maximum tariffs." That would have had a most disadvantageous effect on Canadian trade. Consequently, having the power, the United States exercised it, and obtained what they wished in that respect. That is one of the advantages in a tariff.
I wish to say a word as regards what will be the probable effect of this agreement. Whatever else may be uncertain, it is certain that the effect of this agreement is going to be to draw Canada away from the Mother Country and nearer to the United States. In trade it must have that effect, and we all know what are the natural consequences of two nations trading together on very familiar terms. If they come in contact from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, and year to year, and if their business relations become intermixed it would not be at all unnatural for them to ask themselves the question—Having so much to do with one another, why should we not be politically under one organisation? I have no doubt you have observed that some American papers have been 502 pointing out that already. They say that it will not come now, but that it will come later. I agree to some extent with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond) last night. I do not think the affection of the Canadian people towards the Mother Country will be affected by anything that is done. Yet affection is one thing, and business is another, and with the continuation of business on business lines with a neighbouring people, speaking the same language, reading the same newspapers, transacting business with the same currency, and in many ways indistinguishable from one another, it would not be surprising if, having encouraged by legislation the impact of one nation with another in friendly relations, some day it might occur to them to say that they might as well be united. Having regard to the interests of this country and the great heritage our Colonies have in connection with this country and having regard to the development of our great Empire, surely everything that can be done should be done to maintain that Empire in its integrity.
With regard to the effect of Preference in respect of wheat, I wish to say that I am not one of those who believe that Canada is going about crying out for preference. The people of Canada are too proud to do that. They would not demean themselves to do it. They are not asking for it, but they say: "We leave it to you to act." That is the attitude taken up by Canada, and when the Prime Minister cited the speeches of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and M. Lemieux he only stated the common sentiment of the Canadian people. M. Lemieux said: "We expect nothing in return." Perhaps he went beyond the actual fact when he said so. It is only natural when one country grants to another country a large and beneficial preference, and there is nothing in return, and it finds it is not treated any better on a trade basis than foreign nations with hostile tariffs, that the country so treated in that position might ask itself the question—is it any use giving this preference at all? I am glad that the hon. Member for Swansea said: "Go to Canada and see the country." I always say to the people of Canada: "Go and see the Old Country. You have got a good deal to learn there." I say to the people of this country that they have still something to learn from the millions over-seas. I am persuaded I only give it as my own judgment from my knowledge of the country, and with good- 503 will to the Mother Country—that there is much warrant, if not for the actual fact, at all events for a well-grounded suspicion that the ultimate effect of this agreement may justify the words which were used by the Leader of the Opposition, namely, that it may amount to an Imperial disaster.
What would be the benefit of preference amounting to 2s. on wheat? It would encourage the greater growth of wheat on the fertile plains of Canada, and if wheat were grown in much greater quantities and exported to this country the tendency, surely, with the greater supply would be to decrease the price of wheat and flour and the price of the loaf. Estimates made by well skilled men in America with respect to the fertile plains of Canada indicate that there is a capacity there for the growth of four times the quantity of wheat required to feed the whole of the people of the United Kingdom. If that is so—and I have no doubt whatever that it is so—is it not a reasonable thing, not with a view of increasing the price of the food of the people, but with the view of providing the means of lessening the price, that a preference should be given of something like 2s. in the quarter to encourage the greater growth of the product and its exportation to the Mother Country. I realise the important geographical advantage the United States have in regard to this tariff. It is perfectly true that the United States by abolishing the tariff on the bushel of wheat may enable Canadian producers to send it across the border, and that this would, for a time at least, lessen the price of food there. It might be the same with regard to fish and certain other commodities. It is true that the United States have a leverage in that respect. The difficulty for us now is that we have waited too long. The injury is about to be done, and the object of the Amendment to the Address, which amounts to a motion of censure, is practically to say to the Government, "You should have acted before. You are wise after the event. Having permitted time to pass, you are speaking now a day after the fair, and you are endeavouring to put the best face you can on the situation which has arisen." There can be no doubt that if preference had been arranged a few years ago, wheat from Western Canada would have come to this country at a price which would be the price in 504 Liverpool and not the price in Kansas City or St. Louis. I believe that the difference between the St. Louis price and the Duluth price is often as much as 2, 3, or 4 cents per bushel, and there are cases in which the price at Winnipeg is as high as in any of these markets. There is another thing which we must remember in regard to Canada, and that is that a large portion of the population of the Dominion is foreign. I do not refer to our esteemed fellow-citizens who are of French origin, but to the fact that there are a great many Americans, and that a good number of them have never taken the oath of allegiance. They have been crossing the border in multitudes during the last four or five years. This inrush does not suggest that there are any bad conditions prevailing in the country, but it is necessary, I think, to have regard to the fact that they are coming to Canada. The Western section of Canada would be easily cut off from the East. It is largely settled by foreigners. The United States territory is on the south, and also on the north. There is Alaska. A combination of forces there might seriously endanger our position in the great fertile plains of the north-west. If that should happen, it would mean a great deal of dear food to this country. The hon. Member for Swansea said that the people of Canada realised that it was the consumer who paid the duty. I did not acquire my knowledge of Canada by mere globe-trotting, or by gossiping during a tour. I obtained it in the actual struggle of life, financially, professionally, and politically, of which I have had a fair share. Let me tell the hon. Member that the people of Canada have no ideas different from those held by others in regard to the payment of duty. Every Member in this House knows that if he buys a pound of tea, which he is going to consume, he pays all the duty. There are other cases in which an exporter, in order to get his goods into a protected market in another country, must take into consideration whether, in order to get over the tariff wall, he can abate his profit to a limited extent. If he does so, he pays the duty to the extent that he abates his profit, and the other portion of the duty is paid by the consumer.
I would ask the hon. Member for Swansea a question about Canada, where this system of Protection prevails. Has he been able from one end of the country to the other to discover a poorhouse? It would have taxed his vision very considerably to 505 have discovered even one. Another hon. Gentleman picked up a St. Louis paper in which he said he found the statement that there were 4,500,000 people unemployed in the United States of America. That is not a very authoritative source; we do not know what the paper is or its standing, and the hon. Member does not know personally—he only knows by hearsay. A short time ago I saw a statement of this kind in the Press of this country, and I asked a gentleman occupying a very representative position in this country representing the United States the truth about it. Of course it was not such a monumental statement as that about the 4,500,000 people. It was only a statement about a few millions. This official, who is qualified to speak on the subject, characterised the statement as a "gross exaggeration." I very strongly suspect that the number mentioned must have been millions in excess of the actual number of unemployed people. It is undoubted that the cost of living has increased in the United States, and that the price of certain articles has increased. That is sometimes said to be due to the tariffs, but as Mr. Taft in his address to Congress a year ago said it was a remarkable thing that some of the articles whose prices have increased had no duty at all. I made inquiry with regard to the cause of this a short time ago, at the end of 1909, just before the General Election, of Mr. Wilson, who was and is Secretary for Agriculture in the United States, and he reported in his letter, which I will not trouble the House by reading, and it also appears from his official report that there were two main grounds for the increased cost of living. One of those was that the supply from the soil did not exactly keep pace with the increase of population. That applied particularly to wheat. What of beef! He gave what I thought a most clear and decisive explanation; he stated that up to a few years ago the great American plains were used very largely for ranching, for the raising of cattle, and, consequently there were a great many cattle that were raised for food purposes and were sent to the Eastern markets, and there was a very bountiful supply of beef from the plains and prices were fairly well kept down. But in recent years the ranchmen had given way to the settler, who was taking up land for the purposes of cultivation, and the ranching business was diminished and consequently beef became dearer by reason of the failure of supply.
506 In this communication made to me, in speaking of the prosperity of the country, he says, "but our people live prosperously, live well, live highly, in fact." These two official communications with regard to the number of unemployed and as to the increase in the price of living in the States, which is usually attributed to Protection, combination and trusts, show how little reliance is to be placed on the contrary statements to which I have referred. Much of the ground I have gone over has been traversed by others much better than I could possibly do it, and I merely make these few statements to accentuate the fact that in my honest belief if we had in time granted a reasonable Preference to the people of Canada they would gladly have accepted it, and, I believe it would have warded off, not merely for the day but for many years to come, the taking down of the American tariff wall. Although there may be some benefit from taking down these tariff walls at the outset, it is by no means certain that it will continue, and what is more serious still is the political problem. I believe it is the first great wedge in the cleavage of the Empire. Happily, it is not passed yet. Is there still hope? I verily believe that even if it passes the Canadian Legislature, in such case it certainly would be made the issue at the next General Election in Canada, and that when the Canadian people themselves come to understand it apart from any question of Free Trade or Protection that divides Members of this House, they will see it is an attempt by stealth to annex their country and to deprive them of their heritage, and that the votes of the people will restore a party and Government to power that will abolish any concessions that are made in connection with it.
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
I know I will not appeal in vain to this House for the indulgence which is always extended to a new Member. How great is the need of that indulgence I feel very acutely at the present moment. I should like to commence what I have to say by making an observation or two on the speech to which the House has just listened. It was the speech of one able to speak with some authority on this question from long experience in Canada, and there were one or two observations in that speech which settled clearly in my mind. The first of them was this, that the reason that this agreement was being entered into between Canada and the United States 507 was because in both those countries the Governments were uncertain of their position. The Government of Canada, he told us, wants to strengthen its position in the Dominion and for that reason is introducing this scheme. What better proof could we have than the admission on the authority of hon. Gentleman that this scheme will evoke the sanction of the people of Canada. The same observation was made in regard to the policy of the Republican party in the United States, that the reason why President Taft has brought this agreement forward is because he felt uncertain of his position, and he sees that by this agreement he will strengthen his position with the people of his country. There you have, on the authority of an opponent of this agreement, the admission that it has behind it the public opinion of the two great countries that are interested in this agreement. It was also said by the hon. Gentleman that Protection is one thing and business is another, and he urged this Amendment to be carried because business reasons were in favour of it. I would like to ask him to read in the morning the report that will appear in the newspapers of the lofty appeal made by the Leader of the Opposition before he sat down, in which he asked this House to consider not business or financial or political interests, but that we should judge this on its merits and on the effect it is going to have on the development of our country in the future. There is a very sharp distinction between an appeal such as that of the Leader of the Opposition that we should not appeal to self-interests and the ground on which this agreement has been condemned in this House to-night.
We heard again from the hon. Gentleman the same old story about the 2s. tax not only not going to increase the price of food, but actually going to lessen the price of food. If it is going to lessen the price of food, why stop at 2s.? Why not make it 3s., and lessen it still more? The very fact that this agreement is being entered into proves that the taxes on food do increase the price, and the United States of America are taking the tax off this food because they know that the people who buy the food have got to pay the tax. Why are the United States taking off this tax if it is not paid by the people who buy the food? Will hon. Gentlemen explain why, if 2s. should lessen the price, a 3s. tax would 508 not lessen it still a little more? Let us have an answer rather than derision. If there is an answer it will be received on cur side of the House with a great deal of gratitude. Then we are told that there is no poor house in Canada, and that Canada is satisfied with the existing state of things. If so, why, then, is Canada entering into this agreement If the existing state of things in Canada has produced a condition entirely satisfactory to the Canadian people, why are they now proceeding to alter in the drastic way which has been described to you to-night as driving a wedge into the Confederation of the British Empire? It is indeed strange language to fall from men who commence their speeches by professions of their desire to do nothing to interfere with the fixed opinion of Canada. Chief in my recollections of my first appearance in this House will be the words that fell from the Leader of the Opposition some days ago, when he ventured to describe an agreement entered into by the people of an autonomous self-governing dominion of our Confederation as being disastrous to the Empire. There was a very chastened tone to-day in regard to that kind of criticism adopted by the right hon. Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. Lyttelton) and it was indeed gratifying to notice how very different was the way in which the right hon. Gentleman approached this question from the way adopted by the hon. Gentleman. There was nothing in his speech—and on this side we noticed it gladly—about this agreement being disastrous to the interests of the Empire. What will be disastrous to the interests of the Empire, and what will be disastrous to the interests of Canada and of this country, will be any continuation of that kind of attempt to interfere with the free action of Canada. I venture to go so far as to say that every vote given for this Amendment in this House to-night is a vote in condemnation of the action of Canada. Each vote given in this House in support of the Amendment will be a vote in condemnation of this agreement. Speaker after speaker has risen here to-night and yesterday, and has said that it is not our business to comment upon or to criticise the action of any of our brothers. The Leader of the Opposition said that we were not to criticise, but if the policy was carried out he would regard it as an Imperial disaster. Is not that criticism? The men who are responsible for this agreement are said to be embarking upon a policy 509 which is to be a great Imperial disaster. I think the men in the Dominion of Canada may well say, "Save us from our brothers." If it is the opinion of the Leader of the Opposition that this agreement will result in a great Imperial disaster, I think the men in Canada will reply—as "The Times" correspondent has already told us—that they resent the expression of opinions of that kind and language of that sort. I believe that one of the things that will be most remembered throughout the country in connection with this debate will be that expression used by the Leader of the Opposition. In a letter from the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, which appears in the newspapers this morning—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]—I join readily in that cheer, for a brave and clean fighter, now unhappily laid aside—he says:—Without presuming to offer advice to the people of Canada about their own affairs. I cannot help feeling that they are rather premature. I could at least have wished that they bad waited.There is no desire to criticise, but they are actually "premature," and he would rather have "waited." The right hon. Gentleman in introducing this Amendment to the House declared:—Nothing is further from my thoughts than to criticise Canada, nothing is more removed from my purpose than to tender advice to Canadian citizens. Far he it from me to criticise the action and motives of Canadian statesmen, but——There is always this "but"—But the vast resources of Canada all now go to build up the influence and power of a foreign state.The one thing right hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite cannot resist is the desire to criticise the action of Canada in entering into this agreement. There is now going on, I believe, in the country, both in the Press and in Parliament, a concerted attempt to try and prevent this agreement going through. We have heard it in the speeches, we have seen it in the leaders in the Tory newspapers—a concerted attempt to prevent this agreement being ratified between these two countries. I hope and believe that the attempts will fail. Although we are unable on this side of the House to indulge in the same large language about love for the Empire, because real love to the Empire is something which cannot be so readily talked about, yet it is our view that the Empire is best built up by the adoption of that policy of Imperial wisdom, to mind our own business. Any man reading, without political bias, the quotations which I have submitted here to-night cannot but see that they are distinctly criticisms of the action 510 of the Canadian Parliament in proposing to enter into this agreement. It is said that this agreement is going to increase the cost of food in this country, and the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) said that as a result of this agreement our food will cost us more. Those were his words:—What will be the result of this agreement on our own consumers? Their food will cost them more.I wrote a letter to "The Times," which appeared on Monday, in regard to this agreement. I took the trouble of going through the article this morning, and I will read to the House a passage from it. It has the imprimatur of the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire:—Whilst the most hopeful source of our wheat supply, capable of direct conveyance across the Atlantic, appears to be distinctly threatened, the effect of any great impetus being given to American exports—meat, pork, ham, bacon, lard, poultry, cheese, etc., must inevitably be most serious.It appears that what we lose on the swings we shall gain on the cokernuts. The agreement is going to increase the price of corn in this country; it is also going to increase the price of all these meat foods. The right hon. Member for East Worcestershire told us that the agreement was a blow at the stock-raising industry in this country. How is it going to do that? By increasing the exports, I take it, of American meat into this country?
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
I should like to have a definite instance. I should like to know how the stock-raising industry is going to be ruined, except by the introduction into this country of goods at a price with which the British stock-raiser cannot compete. I think we are entitled to have an answer to what I myself regard as a pertinent observation on that particular statement. This agreement has been described as being a disaster to the Empire. It is not a disaster to the Empire, but it is a disaster to the policy of Tariff Reform. I have listened to nearly every speech which has been delivered in connection with this Amendment, and in those speeches we on these benches have been lectured as if we were responsible entirely for Canada having entered into this agreement, and so ruining the policy of Imperial Preference. I admit that this agreement is a blow at the policy of Imperial Preference and Tariff Reform. But that is not the only blow from which that policy has suffered during the past few months. A more serious 511 blow was dealt by the right hon. Gentleman who sits on the Front Opposition Bench, and who leads with so much distinction the Unionist party. That blow was dealt at the Albert Hall by the Leader of the Opposition when he introduced the Referendum. I do not know whether those who represent the Opposition here to-night are in favour of the Referendum, or its desirability. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Those who are present on the benches opposite speak for the Unionist party as being in favour of the Referendum, and they do not regard it as a blow at the great interests of Tariff Reform. There is another Member of this House well qualified to speak for the Tariff Reform party—the hon. Member for the Bordesley Division (Mr. Jesse Collings), who, I suppose, speaks with even greater authority. That right hon. Gentleman wrote to "The Times" within the past few weeks as follows:—The Referendum now suggested seems to me to be a novel and un-English proposal. The effect of this proceeding must be to weaken the position of Tariff Reform.Therefore, it is not the agreement between Canada and the United States which has alone dealt this blow at the policy of Tariff Reform. There was the blow dealt by the Leader of the Opposition when he introduced the Referendum. Lord Ridley referred to the effect of the Referendum on Tariff Reform in equally emphatic language. The reason why we on this side are opposed to the policy of Imperial Preference is because of the immediate effect we think it will have on the great mass of our people at home. While we do not yield to any in this House in our love to the Empire, and while we do feel that the greatest interests of the Empire lie at its heart, and that it is amongst the great mass of its people at home that you best lay the foundation of Empire, we do say that any policy which is going to put a tax on the food of the people in this country is less likely to act as a cement, and is more likely to act as a solvent. It may be a small thing to Members of this House who have never known any difficulty in making both ends meet, but I represent a Constituency where many of the labourers are working for 18s. a week, out of which they have to pay 5s. a week in rent, and many of these men are married, with four or five children. A proposal to put a tax on the imports of flour and wheat into this country means a serious difference in their ability to make both 512 ends meet. This policy of Imperial Preference to which the party opposite is committed means a tax of a halfpenny on every quartern of bread. There is not merely the two shilling tax on wheat, but there is another part of Imperial Preference of which we have not heard nearly so much. I refer to the proposal to put a tax on the import of flour—not a small tax, but a tax of 15d. per cwt. Not a bad beginning for a tax on one of the essential foods of the people of this country. The sum of 15d. per cwt. wholesale would amount to more than a penny on 7 lb. of flour. Nobody of practical experience can deny that. [An HON. MEMBER: "The milling will be done in this country."] If you get the milling done in this country you will have to admit foreign imports, because the object of your policy, as I understand it, is to keep out the imports of foreign flour. What is the good of putting the tax on unless you enable the home miller to get a better price for his flour? For I think that is what you are driving at. I hope the House will realise the seriousness of this proposal. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham on one occasion said:—I attach some importance to the duty on flour. I propose to put such a duty on flour as will result in the whole of the milling of wheat being done in this country.That is what they want. They want the wheat to be milled into flour in this country. [HON MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] They admit it. I know something about the milling industry, which is one of the best organised industries in this country; and when, as these Gentlemen would do, you have relieved the millers from the competition of foreign flour, you will have the interesting spectacle of a ring of millers meeting together, which has been the experience in the united States. You will have the ring of millers sitting round a table and regulating the prices not by a free market, but by what they think they can wring out of the consumers. To my mind that is one of the most dangerous parts of the policy of Imperial Preference. Hon. Members opposite, in the course of this Debate, have spoken with some heat about the way in which we have dealt with these proposals to put a tax on food. They do not understand the hate with which the poor people regard the proposals to put this tax on their food. An hon. Gentleman opposite said lately that if the tax upon land continued to be increased he was prepared to draw the sword of his ancestors rather than he would sub- 513 mit to a condition of things of that kind. If that hon. Gentleman feels so deeply about the proposal to tax land, I would ask, what does an agricultural labourer with 14s. per week think of a proposal to put a tax on flour and to put a tax on bread. The real danger of language of that kind, and of language such as is used by the hon. Gentleman from Ulster, is not that it is taken seriously in this House, but that it may go into the mind of some discontented man, and, rankling in his mind, may lead him to put into practice the warlike councils of the hon. Gentleman. I do not believe myself, if I may be allowed to quote what was said the other day, that the hon. Member is nearly so fire-eating a rebel as he looks. I thank the House for the hearing which it has given me. I will ask hon. Gentlemen on the other side to believe this, that in the support which we have given to the action of the Canadian Government, support which was necessary in answer to the criticisms in this House, we have been guided by the desire to do everything that is humanly possible to strengthen the connection between the Mother Country and the Great Dominion. Although the right hon. Member for St. George's, and the Leader of the Opposition, deride the idea of a confederation of English-speaking people, I can assure hon. Gentlemen on the other side that that ideal of a confederation of English-speaking people is one which we will not readily lay down. So long as some of us are enabled to do anything in this country, we will use that influence in order to bring about a furtherance of that ideal.
§ Mr. J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS
This being the first time I have the honour of addressing the House, I am glad that it is to be on an important matter of such great interest. In spite of the views of the hon. Member who last spoke, I should like to mention that my Constituency, consisting of nearly all working men, sent me to this House because of my Imperial views. It is quite evident, and the Debate has certainly made it clear, that the Government of the day have not the slightest intention of trying to bring about closer or Imperial unity by adopting, in any shape or form, our method of Imperial Preference, which we advocate as having the tendency to consolidate this great Empire of ours. What is still more alarming to most of us who have the interests of the Empire at heart is that the Government during 514 this Debate have not made any suggestions, nor do they appear to realise that there is any great urgency, or any urgency whatever for safeguarding our Imperial interests. Imperial preference is, after all, a means towards bringing about a commercial union between this country and our self-governing Dominions. I think that the majority of our kinsmen who reside in the various sections of our Empire agree with us that that is a policy which would materially assist towards that end. Hitherto the Government have done absolutely nothing to show that they are prepared to treat the Dominions in any different way to that which they mete out to foreign nations, and as far as one can gather, they are, if anything, a little more polite to foreigners. The terms of the Resolution reaffirmed at the Conference of 1907 by all the members of the Conference, except the representatives of His Majesty's Free Trade Government, were as follows:—That this Conference recognises that the principle of Preferential trade between the United Kingdom and His Majesty's Dominions beyond the seas would stimulate and facilitate mutual commercial intercourse, and would by promoting the development of the resources and industries of the several parts strengthen the Empire.Nor were these mere empty words. Canada, of which so much has been heard during this Debate, has already given earnest of her desire to promote the unity of the Empire by granting preference. Probably I have not as many years' experience of Canada as some who have spoken, but I speak with a considerable knowledge of that country. Only yesterday I heard the hon. Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond) state that there was a strong feeling for Free Trade in Canada. I fail to see or to realise where he got his facts. He was constrained to admit that he got them from the editor of the Toronto "Globe." I had the privilege of being attacked by the assistant editor, and, as a matter of fact I think when the hon. Member for Swansea was there that the editor was away, but I should like to point out for the information of some hon. Members that the Toronto "Globe" is a more rabid Social-Radical paper than our finest home production in that line. At the time the Radical Press of England were talking of "Free Trade Canada" In big head lines, I received a cablegram in Winnipeg, where I then was, asking if that were true. I can assure the House that my difficulty was to find those Free Traders. After some considerable trouble and time I was successful in unearthing an obscure organisation of 515 which I took very great care to get minute particulars and details which were published in the Press here. With reference to that Free Trade which was referred to in such a prominent way by the Radical Press, I may state that the Free Trade League located at Winnipeg consisted of 300 members, the population of Canada being about eight millions. I also have, if any one wishes to avail himself of it, the name of every single member of this organisation and how it was fanned into existence by anti-British interest. The hon. Member for Swansea also mentioned, or inferred, that there were no papers west of Winnipeg advocating the Protection policy, and insinuated that there was hardly a paper which supported anything else but the Free Trade policy. Those statements are made unintentionally, no doubt, but they are absolutely contrary to the fact, and, I think it is the duty of anyone who realises that it is so, to take the opportunity of clearly showing and proving that they are such. I have the pleasure of knowing many of the editors or owners of those papers. I have here a list of seven or eight papers west of Winnipeg which are Protectionist up to the hilt. "The West Regina," of 26th October, 1910, contained the following:—Under present conditions American capital is pouring into this country and establishing Canadian branches of great United States industries. If the Tariff is reduced materially this influx of money and factories will cease. Canadian raw material will cross the line to be manufactured by the United States workmen into finished articles of commerce for the Canadian market. Why take the work away from Canadian workmen?The assertion which has been made for party purposes in this country that there is a Free Trade movement in Canada in the sense we mean is quite contrary to facts. What has been called a Free Trade movement is really a movement for the readjustment of tariffs, and a movement that must periodically take place in all protected countries, according to the law of supply and demand. That was purposely misnamed by the Radical Press for party purposes. I would like to emphasise that such misrepresentation made for the interest of parties does much to upset good feeling, and it is a regrettable fact also that the extraordinary ignorance which is shown in this country about our Empire is a matter of unending astonishment to our fellow-countrymen overseas. Attempts have also been made to prove that there is a strong desire in other parts of the Empire in support of Free Trade. In which other Dominions is it manifest? 516 If you take Australia, there you have a Labour Government which is Protectionist, and protects its labour and the products of labour in every shape and form. Does that evince any desire for Free Trade, and is there any evidence in favour of Free Trade in New Zealand or South Africa? I have personally visited most of those countries, and lived and worked in almost all of them, and I failed to see any trace whatever of Free Trade as we know it in this country.
I go further, and, speaking from experience, say that practically no Free Trader ever leaves these shores and permanently resides in any section of the British Empire, without openly admitting, when he has seen for himself, that although he was a Free Trader when he left England he is now a staunch Protectionist. I have met scores of men who held out for a long time—mainly Scotsmen, who are very obstinate in the matter of giving up their views or changing their opinions, but, speaking generally, I do not know a single one among all those whom I have met in the many years that I have spent abroad, who has ultimately advocated Free Trade as beneficial either to this country or to any section of the Empire. I refer, of course, to practical men—one does not meet many theorists in our Dominions or Colonies.
This Debate might go on indefinitely without any resultant benefit to the Empire. Party divides us so much that it is impossible to arrive at a middle course which might be in the interests of the Empire. I have fought two elections on this question of Imperial unity, and have tried to get to a higher plane than that of mere party, to see if the obstacles cannot be overcome. If we cannot secure Imperial unity by or through Imperial Preference it seems to me that it may be possible by some definite or non-party step ultimately to bring us into closer intercourse with our kinsmen across the seas. Although from many speeches it would appear that there is no hurry about the matter the situation of the Empire to-day demands unusual effort from every Member of this House, and I hope that before this Debate concludes the Government will state if they have any suggestions to make for promoting the cause of Imperial unity. Although the various Dominions have their own Parliaments, we have to recollect that this is the Imperial Parliament and the Mother of Parliaments, and that collectively our Dominions look to us to safe- 517 guard their interests. This Parliament, however, as at present constituted, is Imperial in name only. Just as our Empire has expanded, so must we expand our Constitution to cope with the present situation unless we want to run the risk of disintegration As it is evident that no form of Imperial Preference will be accepted by the present Government, I suggest that as a means towards Imperial unity the Government should consider the advisability of appointing a Committee, representing all sections of the House, to go expeditiously into the question of the commercial and other relations between the different parts of the Empire, with a view to ascertaining in what way we can improve and permanently strengthen the ties between us. I emphatically maintain that if such a committee were appointed and took evidence, barring matters of a controversial nature, the Government would obtain several valuable suggestions to lay before the next Imperial Conference.
From experience gained in some twenty years in various parts of the Empire, I am convinced that the oft-made statement, "Let the Mother Country lead, and we will follow," truly expresses the desire of our fellow-subjects over-seas. There is a universal desire, bordering on anxiety, that we should combine our forces in some more definite manner. To whatever section of the Empire you might go—and I have been in three sections only recently—the feeling does exist, uninfluenced by party polities, that all is not well in the Empire, There is a real anxiety for the future. That may be due to the increasing strength of another Power, or to the influx into various parts of the Empire of alien blood, bearing no allegiance to the British flag, or to the consciousness of the extraordinary apathy with which so large a section of the British public regard the Empire; but, whatever the cause, there does exist the feeling that while there is time steps should be taken to evolve some means of consolidating our interests and of knitting together the various parts of the Empire in some real and effective manner, instead of depending mainly on sentiment, as we do at the present time. In my opinion the only solution of this difficult and complex problem, which is at present blocked at every turn by party politics, is that such a committee as I have suggested should be appointed to devise some means of creating a permanent Imperial Council or Senate by which, once for all, matters of Imperial interest might 518 be raised above the plane of party politics. I intend to take the earliest opportunity of asking the Prime Minister if he will take some steps to this end, and I hope when I do so that hon. Members opposite, who contend that the welfare of the Empire is as safe in their hands as in the hands of hon. Members on this side of the House, will do their best to support me in endeavouring to press the matter to a successful issue. I thank the House for its indulgence on this the first occasion on which I have addressed them.
§ Mr. STEPHEN WALSH
Friends of mine who have been to the United States tell me that when any revision of the tariff is under consideration the lobbies of the House of Congress are thronged with people specially interested in the revision, and that the question they are generally submitting is, "What is there in it for me?" I was thinking that probably if the working people of Great Britain could be present in greater numbers to listen to the Debates on this subject, they would say to themselves, "What is there in it for me?" A great deal has been said about the United States and Canada; but, with the exception of the speech of one hon. Member on this side, we have heard very little as to how Imperial Preference, and the results which will certainly follow, would affect the working men of Great Britain. Much may be said about Empire with very little consideration. As has already been said, these sentiments of Empire lend themselves to very effective gesticulation; but I contend that the root of the matter is, how will it affect the working people of the United Kingdom. It is so easy to indulge in vague generalities. We have had a lot of it from both sides. People talk of prosperity. They say that this or that nation is wonderfully prosperous; they make assertions without the slightest attempt at argument or proof. Last night we were asked whether there was a single person who could deny that Germany under her system of scientific tariffs had become wonderfully prosperous. There are a good many people who deny it—many of them in Germany itself. Indeed, the strongest political party in Germany is very anxious, and has been for years, to break down the scientific tariff which exists. [An HON. MEMBER: "Which is the strongest party?"] The Social-Democratic party. [An HON. MEMBER: "It has only forty-one or forty-three members."] I know. By the manipulation of the electoral vote you can easily secure that the 519 millions of the people have the smallest representation. I am speaking of the people themselves, not of the number of members they have in Parliament.
If we could understand what was wanted in these proposals it would be very much better. If people would endeavour to make their meaning clear, and if, when they attempted to make their meaning clear, they were not so contradictory, it would be better. For instance, the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Page Croft) last night asked if anyone believed that an increase of 2s. per quarter on the price of wheat—"a mere paltry 3d. per bushel"—would make the slightest difference in the cost of food. We sat in respectful silence. To-night the hon. Gentleman for Chertsey (Mr. Macmaster), who spoke with some Canadian knowledge, said that, after all, the best authorities in Canada state that Canadian agriculturists could raise four times the amount of corn they are already raising, and asked whether it would not be better to give them a real incentive to raise more corn by giving them a chance of the better prices which the 2s. per quarter would yield? It is, of course, the best arguments that will serve two sets of people, that will serve the people who say the price will not rise, and the people who say it will. In the manufacturing districts it is always the best policy to say that 2s. per quarter will never in the smallest degree raise the price of bread. But that policy will not do for the agricultural districts. So we have the hon. Gentleman the Member for Christchurch ask: "Does anybody really believe that 2s. a quarter on the price of corn would raise the cost of food to a single person," and we have the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chertsey, saying: "Would it not be a good thing to put the 2s. per quarter on as an incentive to the Canadian agriculturists? "Hon. Gentlemen had better make up their minds as to which policy to stand by, because they cannot have both. In order to achieve political success there is no saying to what extent politicians will go. Within half a mile from my own home there is at present on the hoardings a statement bearing the signature of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. In this he says that this small tax upon Colonial produce and this larger tax upon general foreign produce will not only not increase prices but will positively have the effect of lowering 520 prices. This is the ground he has stated it upon: that, inasmuch as agriculturists, both colonial and home, will have a greater incentive because of increased prices, they would therefore put more land under cultivation, and a greater amount of land brought into cultivation would consequently lower the price of food. It is at least an arguable proposition and a conceivable thing, that if you could, even by this lopsided process of taxing things to make them cheaper, help to develop the raising of food, that you would lower the cost of it.
The only way to test such a proposition as that is to submit it to the experience of the years that have gone. I ask if that really is a genuine proposition, how is it that during the last fifteen years—because I have just taken the last statistical abstract—if that theory is even approximately correct, how is it it has not naturally justified itself in fifteen years? What is the history of prices during the last fifteen years in our own Kingdom? Prices have gone up enormously. In 1895 the price of a quarter of corn was 23s. 1d.; five years later it was 26s. 7d.; in 1905 it was 29s. 8d.; and in 1909 36s. 11d. Here you have an average increase of 35 per cent. in the price of corn. One would have thought that that increase of prices would have brought more land under cultivation—if the theory of hon. Gentlemen opposite is a correct one. [An HON. MEMBER: "Are you taking Canada?"] I am taking into consideration the land of the United Kingdom and the prices prevailing in the United Kingdom. I say that if the Opposition theory is true that increased prices would be an incentive to agriculture, and would therefore bring more land under cultivation, that that theory should have proved itself in fifteen years. What are the facts? In 1895, for corn crops, there were 7,400,000 acres under cultivation. In 1900 there were 65,000 acres less; in 1905 there were 281,000 acres less, and in 1909 there were 31,000 acres less. The average acreage under cultivation was less, it will be seen, by 31/2 per cent., although prices had increased by 35 per cent.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Tennant)
Does it include Ireland?
§ Mr. WALSH
I do not think so. It refers to England and Wales. It may very well be argued: "All this is perfectly true, but you have had a corresponding increase in green crops as compared with a falling off in corn crops." The contrary is the case. In 1895 the price of green crops was 21s. 11d.; in 1900, 24s. 11d.; in 1905, 24s. 4d.; and in 1909, 26s. 10d. The average increase in the green crops was 16 per cent. in the price, and the falling-off in the area cultivated was 3½ per cent., so that taking our own land, and with all our faults, we are not so erratic as not to follow out natural laws; we are not cursed with a double dose of original sin if your theory is correct the incentive given by increased prices would have justified itself in the United Kingdom. It has not done anything of the kind. There are other and fundamental conditions beneath this controversy altogether and of vastly more importance which hon. Members opposite conveniently leave out of sight. The thing, it may be said, has taken place in Germany: Germany has had scientific tariffs since 1879. Prince Bismarck started at the very figure that hon. Gentlemen opposite have been urging since 1902, namely, a 2s. per quarter duty upon foreign corn, which he promised would never be increased. What is it to-day? 40s. per ton, 8s. per quarter. [An HON. MEMBER: "12s. per quarter."] There you have 60s. per ton, as against 10s. in 1879. This thing is like other vices—it grows by what it feeds upon. Has it given the necessary incentive to the German agriculturists? Not at all; because, as a fact, the proportion of agriculturists in Germany in the population has gone down within the last seven years from 36 per cent. to 28 per cent. But it is again said, "You would have increased cheapness." Let me just give one or two quotations from the Consular reports from Germany. They are not merely unsupported assertions; they are the Consular reports from Berlin, Bavaria, and Frankfurt, and they contain definite statements and facts of which even right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite might have possessed themselves had they been so minded. Let us see what the Bavarian Consul says. It is, of course, said by Tariff Reform theorists, there may be a little sacrifice at the beginning; you may have to pay a little more at the commence- 522 ment, but things will so right themselves that any sacrifices you may have to make at the commencement will be altogether obliterated in a year or two, and then we should go on our way rejoicing, plenty, I suppose, existing over a smiling land or something of that sort. Listen to this:—Leaving out of account the fluctuations of the market——and even poor miserable Radical governments can hardly be responsible for the errors of the clerk of the weather—It is quite undisputable that for a period exceeding two decades the cost of living has steadily risen and this increase has been particularly remarked lately.There you have the Bavarian Consul, who shows that, leaving out of account the fluctuations due to weather and natural conditions, for twenty years "the cost of living has steadily increased, and has been particularly remarked lately. In a more remarkable paragraph he says:—It is true the workmen have been able to affect a considerable improvement in their wages, and the salaries of the officials have been raised.The officials have a remarkable knack of getting increases in their salaries which do not come to the ordinary workmen; and when we remember that, after all, whatever good comes from trade unions, only about one in seven in that country is in a trade organisation, we can easily imagine what the conditions of the poor underpaid clerk, or the seamstress, or millions of people who are not m the trade organisations are, whenever officials have great difficulty in getting their salaries raised. The Report goes on to state:—But the possibility of saving money does not seem to have increased in the slightest owing to the fact that the Empire, the Government and the communities have intervened with increased taxation. The Nation's income has not risen a single penny, nor have the Tariff increases added to the national wealth; the only result has been to take the money from the pocket of the consumers and put it into the pockets of the producers.I think I might leave the matter there. We prove our case from the mouths of the people, who know exactly what they are speaking about. The hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Croft) spoke of the wonderful progress and the prosperous state of the people in Germany. I wonder, when statements of that kind are made, why it is that people do not verify them. What is notorious is this: that the prices of staple commodities in Germany have risen enormously in the last few years. For instance, since 1905 the prices have risen as follows:—Milk 10 per cent., butter 20 per cent., eggs 16 per cent., rye bread 12½ per cent. 523 beef, 12½ per cent.; pork, 10 per cent.; mutton, 25 per cent., and margarine, 10 per cent. That is a statement of fact about the staple commodities used by the people. But it may be said they have got a corresponding increase of wages to meet the increasing prices. Have they? Take the case of the best organised trade probably in the whole of Germany, namely, the miners. Now, if there is any chance of receiving increased wages to meet the increased cost of living, that chance is best brought into force by the best organised trade. The miners are the best organised trade in Germany, and what are the facts? Not only have they not secured an increase, but they have had to submit to a very serious reduction in their wages. In 1907 the actual average earnings per year of the coal hewer were 1,562 marks; in 1908, his wages fell to 1,494 marks, and in 1909 they fell to 1,351 marks, so that there was a constantly increasing cost of living together with a steady lowering of wages. We were told by the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. R. A. Cooper) last night that we really should extend the range of our reading, and that we ought to give more serious consideration to this subject. The hon. Member made a most amazing assertion, which was this, that he had been reading "Hansard," and had seen Mr. Gladstone's statement in 1861, when initiating the Treaty with France, to the effect that after all, if you were to develope the highest standard of well being among the people you must operate among the staple things that came to their homes, and he adduced the remarkable fact that Mr. Gladstone in 1861 was in favour of this theory of taxing the foreigner a little more than the Colonies, and of putting a tax upon everything practically that come into the homes of the people. A more remarkable statement than that I never heard. I can imagine the wrath which that powerful statesman would have felt had anyone tried to prove from anything he said that on these matters he was not a convinced follower of Sir Robert Peel.
He said the only effective way to meet hostile tariffs was by the system of free imports upon which we are existing to-day. If that great statesman had listened to the statements made by the hon. Member for Walsall I cannot imagine what he would have thought. Take the case of Germany, a country with a fine scientific tariff. What has been the result? During some of the 524 speeches I have heard hon. Members opposite mutter "black bread." Let me point out that the harvest of 1909 in Germany was the greatest harvest of human memory. One would have thought that at least a preference would have been given to their own people. That, however, was not so. Under the scientific tariff of Germany, which hon. Members opposite wish to introduce into this country, this is what happened. I am quoting from the Consular Report on the Trade of the Consular District of Berlin for 1909:—Wheat.—The consequence of this briskness, in the export trade was far more noticeable in wheat than in rye. The last rye harvest but one in Germany showed an increase of over 1,000,000 tons, as compared with the harvest preceding it, and of over 700,000 tons as compared with the record year 1994. Consequently the market prices of rye did not fluctuate to any appreciable extent, and Germany was able not only to cover her home consumption, but also to supply foreign countries formerly dependent on Russia. The scarcer wheat became in Germany, however, the higher the prices rose. The quotations for home-grown wheat which stood at about 205 marks per thousand kilos on the Berlin Corn Exchange at the beginning of 1900 rose towards the end of May to 272 marks per ton, and during June. July and August, home-grown wheat could not he bought at any price whatever on the Berlin Bourse.That is to say, that the price of their own home-grown wheat rose from 205 marks to 272 marks, or an increase of nearly 38 per cent. We have been charged with making slanderous statements about black bread. May I be allowed to state that during June, July and August home-grown wheat could not be bought at any price whatever on the Berlin Exchange. If speculators cannot buy the wheat, the people who are dependent on the millers must eat something else, and they are forced to eat black bread in consequence. Rye bread itself went up very high in price. During the four years 1905–1909 the price of rye bread in Germany went up by 12½ per cent. Then we are told that under Tariff Reform we should do such an enormous trade in home milling, under a scientific tariff. Here is a further quotation from the Berlin Consular Report:—The small quantities still obtainable in the provinces were snapped up by the millers in the neighbourhood, the selling price being 290 marks In some cases the price of 300 marks was realised. During May a number of mills came to a standstill owing to lack of wheat and great reluctance was manifested in buying.I will not trouble the House with any more quotations. I only wish to point out that, after all, as the Chairman of the Labour party pointed out last night, we must look at these questions from the view of the working people of the United Kingdom. To them cheap food is not a luxury, but an absolute necessity of life. It is hard enough under the best conditions to make 525 anything like a comfortable living, but if you make it harder to procure the decencies and the necessaries of life for the working people of the nation; if by any process you make it more and more difficult to bring food in sufficient quantities and of decent quality into the homes of the people, then you are building up your Empire upon the miseries of your native population. The Empire cannot exist under those conditions. All our fine, ancient traditions, all the driving force, our historical connection and everything is here in the centre of the Empire. This vast population of forty to forty-five millions of people are living under conditions to-day that they cannot afford to have made any harder. It is not true that we lack any of that high Imperialistic instinct which hon. Members opposite seem to believe is their own peculiar possession. In everything that goes to make a real Empire worth defending and honouring, I think we on this side, the poor Labour party of forty to forty-two members—can say that we are just as true Imperialists as the best hon. Member opposite. As Tennyson says;—He is the true cosmopoliteWho loves his native country best.If any preference is given we want it given to our people. The Preference of the hon. Gentlemen opposite would make the lot of the poor harder still. Your theories are simply vague generalities and musty rhetorical declamations. You have never submitted your policy to the test of proof at all. Some criticism has been passed upon the statement made by the hon. Member for South Glamorgan that there were 4,500,000 unemployed in the United States to-day. I do not think my hon. Friend need retract his statement at all. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is untrue."] You can see the figures for yourselves in your beloved "Daily Mail" Year-Book. Consult that book, and you will see that the number of people out of employment in the United States as a whole from one month to three months runs into hundreds of thousands every year—from three months to six months to nearly one million, and from six to nine months the total in some cases is over one million. Those figures go to prove the statement made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Glamorgan. If you test Preference by its effect upon the general standard of comfort, by the probability of any increase in the amount of land brought under cultivation, or in regard to the general prosperity of agriculturists, on everyone of those 526 heads your Tariff Reform and preferential theories fall to the ground. Even in Germany to-day, the small capitalists and landowners are breaking away from the great Landowners' Union. They find themselves that they have to pay heavier prices for everything, and that they are not getting the increased prices promised them. We do not look at this as mere prejudiced politicians. We take this stand and preserve this attitude because we believe free access to all the markets of the world is the only way in which the prosperity of the working classes of these islands can be built up.
§ Mr. HOUSTON
In rising to take part for a very short time in this Debate I shall endeavour to avoid as far as possible anything in the nature of controversial argument, or to wander into those flights of oratory which are so effective on the platform but not in this House. So much has been said about Canada that I wish to devote my remarks to the latter portion of the Amendment before the House, and, in doing so, I wish to direct those remarks more particularly to hon. Gentlemen opposite sitting below the Gangway, who, like myself, represent purely working-class constituencies. I have had the honour to represent in this House for twenty years a purely working-class constituency, in which I do not think there is a voter who is not a wage-earner. My hon. Friend the Member for South Glamorganshire (Mr. Brace) who speaks with authority, I understand, being deputy-chairman of the Labour Party, claimed, because he had been returned three times by his constituency, to speak on behalf of the democracy. I also, if I may suggest it, speak on behalf of the democracy, and I am sure hon. Gentlemen opposite, some of whom at least know something of me, will credit me with always having the best interests of the working classes at heart.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite largely represent trade unions, and I, during the whole of my business career, have been brought more or less in contact with trade unions. I am in entire sympathy with the avowed objects of trade unions. They are to protect and to benefit members. They endeavour in doing so to get the maximum wages and the minimum hours, and they are perfectly entitled to do so. They further endeavour to protect their members in some of the more skilled trades by regulating the number of apprentices, and in other trades by regulating the output. 527 I take no exception to that. I see one of the avowed objects of the Trade Union Congress is to obtain a minimum wage of 30s. per week, and I am in entire sympathy with that. I join issue with the trade unions not where they endeavour to protect the member but where they fail to protect the working man from the competition of products of foreign countries which are introduced into this country, and of possibly less paid labour. That is where I take exception to the trade unionist. I think he is illogical.
A challenge was thrown out by the Prime Minister as to how a tariff would benefit this country. I am afraid, to prove my argument, I shall have to give the House the benefit of my own experience, which they will not find in any Blue Books or in any newspaper reports. Many hon. Members opposite know I am a shipowner in a large way of business and run lines of steamers from this country and also from the Continent and the United States to Argentina. I am also a shareholder in the large Argentina railways which have been created by British capital and which are owned by British shareholders. A short time ago one of those railways wished to purchase 70,000 tons of rails. They asked a price from an English maker, an American maker, and a German maker. The price of the German maker was the cheapest. I urged the directors to place the order in England. They replied that they were trustees for the shareholders and must buy in the cheapest market, and by doing so they were protecting my interests as a shareholder. I suppose Free Traders will entirely agree with that theory. Fortunately, I was in a position, although the order for the rails was placed in Germany, to do the carrying of the rails to Argentina and of getting the freight. I suppose it will be said that I at least have no cause to complain and ought to be satisfied. But I am not satisfied for this simple reason. What becomes of the British workman? These rails represent three hundred and fifty thousand English sovereigns spent in Germany, and at least £300,000 represents the wages earned by the iron workers, the miners, and by those engaged in the transport of the rails from the interior to Antwerp. Where did the English workman come in? The German workman got three hundred thousand sovereigns put into his pocket, whilst the English workman got nothing. Wages have gone out of this country into German pockets which ought to have gone into 528 British pockets. There is no denying that. It must be admitted.
See how far-reaching it is. I take those rails from Antwerp to Argentina. I require occasionally to repair my ships before starting on a voyage. I have to do those repairs in Antwerp, and again employ German in preference to English workmen, much against my will. The loading also is paid for to a Belgian stevedore instead of to an English stevedore, and that money is lost to this country. I have taken a concrete case of one company which only quite recently placed an order for 70,000 tons in Germany. Three other companies have placed orders in America for 120,000 tons within the last few months. That has also been lost to the British workman. You ask "Why is this?" and I answer at once, "Because the British manufacturer's price was higher than the German's or the American's." I hold no brief for the British manufacturer; in fact, if anything, I, like hon. Gentlemen opposite, have a grievance against him because he cannot sell as cheap as his German or American competitor. There are some hon. Gentlemen sitting on those benches who are interested in the iron trade, and they well know that some years ago rails were sold in this country by the manufactures at £3 15s. per ton. The present price of English rails is about £5 15s. per ton, and American rails £5 5s., and German rails £5 5s. You will say, "Why is this?" It is because there exists at the present moment what is known as the International Rail Combine. This combination is divided into three groups—American, British, and Continental—and according to the geographical spheres and the percentages, whether minus or plus, they are in a position to demand certain prices. If the German wants the contract he can stipulate that the English maker shall charge a certain price. I am not defending the rail manufacturer; I am endeavouring to state the case honestly and justly. Why did the English rail manufacturer join the combination? As I have stated, a few years ago he was able to sell rails at £3 per ton for export. The American and Germans wanted to capture a market that belonged entirely to the British manufacturer—the Argentine market—and to enforce their demands they urged the British manufacturer to join the combination. He stood out, but then what did the American do? He sold rails to an English railway company at about £1 per ton less than the English manufacturer could produce them, and he did that as 529 an object-lesson of what he would do in the future. That, of course, was striking a blow at the heart of the British manufacturer. It was taking away work from him, and it was also taking away work from the British artisan. The result was that the British manufacturer was forced into this combination. He could not retaliate upon the German or the American because there was no tariff wall to protect him. Had there been such a tariff wall he could have remained outside the combination. But in the absence of it he had to give up this special market. He had no means of retaliating upon the German or the American in these matters. Hon. Members who have any knowledge of the manufacturing industry must know that the larger quantity of rails you produce the lower is the average price at which they can be produced. At one time we sent to America every rail they used there. That was before they started manufacturing on their own account. Assume, for argument's sake, that the actual cost price of rails is £5 per ton. If the American can sell them in his own country at £6 per ton, he can export a corresponding quantity at £4 per ton without loss to himself. That is the advantage of the tariff.
We have another example of the disadvantage at which British firms stand in connection with the Automobile Club which is now being erected in Pall Mall. As a matter of fact, although the difference in price between the English and the Continental manufacturer was but £90, all the construction work in that building has been lost to British workmen in consequence. The hon. Member for South Glamorgan, representing the coal mining industry, I take it, rather believes in dumping South Wales coal abroad. So do I, but we are enabled to do that because Nature has bestowed upon South Wales coal which is superior in quality to any other coal in the world. It is, therefore, in great demand, and it must be bought for certain purposes. Having consumed some hundreds of thousands of tons in my time I know full well the advantages of South Wales coal. But suppose there was another coal in existence in Germany which was equal in quality to that of South Wales, and could be produced at a lower cost and less wages and dumped in South Wales Where, then, would my hon. Friend be?
§ Mr. BRACE
May I correct the hon. Gentleman? When he talks of South Wales 530 coal he should remember that of the total output of that coal not more than 25 per cent. is of the best smokeless quality. A very substantial proportion of the coal you send to Germany, which for this purpose is a Free Trade market, is of a quality equal to that which they produce in Germany itself.
§ Mr. HOUSTON
I know the Glamorgan coal is of the very best quality. I have reason for knowing it. I know all about the Western and Eastern Valley (Monmouth) coal, and that, in my opinion, and I hope in the opinion of the hon. Member, is superior to German coal. There is no question about that. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend's views as to dumping. I should like to dump everything we can into foreign countries, and I object to foreign countries dumping their goods into us. That may sound very selfish, but it is sensible Would hon. Gentlemen argue that the British workman has in any way benefited by the 300,000 sovereigns taken out of English banks and paid into the pockets of German workmen connected with the Argentine coal contracts? The hon. Member must know, as I do, of many works in this country which at one time produced large quantities of rails, but are not now producing any at all. He must know of amalgamations of works that have taken place, and which have resulted in the contracts going abroad, and in the British manufacturer becoming practically a pensioner, but not providing any work for the British workman. Do not let hon. Members forget that that does not provide any work for the British workmen. What are the manufacturers doing at the present moment? [An HON. MEMBER: "Making big profits.] That is not my argument. Hon. Members opposite always ran away from the idea which we try to present to them. The point I am dealing with is employment for British workmen. I am not talking about whether the manufacturer is making a profit or a loss. I want to find work for the British workman, and if it comes to that I practise what I preach, and I have invariably done so. My standing orders for the last thirty years have been that none but British seamen should be employed on my ships. Take your Liberal Free Traders. What do they do? I have no hesitation in saying that they believe not only in theory in free imports, but they practice free imports—foreign imports not only inanimate, but animate, and they employ Chinese coolies, Lascars, and 531 Scandinavians. [An HON. MEMBER: "They would employ monkeys if they could work."] That may be so, and that course does not benefit the British workmen. Hon. Gentlemen may laugh and sneer, but I am speaking now from the patriotic point of view. Patriotism can be displayed in other directions, and on more occasions than on the battlefield. You can have patriotism in your business and in your transactions with your own countrymen, and as I take it patriotism means doing everything one can to benefit one's country and one's countrymen, and making a sacrifice if it is necessary to secure that end.
I am sorry that hon. Gentlemen do not see the point of my argument. From first to last I have endeavoured to avoid anything of a controversial nature, or of the nature of a platform cry. I have resisted the temptation to follow the right hon. Gentleman into his flowery and poetic illustrations; I am trying to talk over this matter from the business point of view. I have dealt with one particular branch of the iron trade—rails. I could deal with any of the other branches, and show that the work is leaving this country, and I am very sorry for it. There are very few who are in as good a position to say that as I am. I am carrying manufactured articles from this country to the Argentine, and from Germany and New York to the Argentine, and the growth in the case of the two latter countries has been enormous. From the States to the Argentine there was practically no trade in times gone by, and now it is growing enormously. Where I can get a 5,000-ton steamer from this country I can get a 10,000-ton steamer from America. What has become of all of our wire trade, of which the Argentine used to take hundreds of thousands of tons? It has gone. First to Germany, and then to the States. We are losing item after item of trade annually. How does this concern our working man, and what does the sturdy, honest, British working man want? I will tell you what he wants by means of an illustration. At the last election at a meeting I was referring to old age pensions, and a voice cried out, "Give us constant work and wages, and we will find our own old age pensions." And that is what the sturdy British workman wants: constant work and good wages. I am not going upon the question of cheap food or dear food; but I say this, without wages 532 a man cannot buy any food at all, whether it is cheap or dear.
I am sorry to have been diverted rather from my argument, but take the case of shipbuilding. I remember in my experience—because I am a practical shipbuilder as well as a ship owner—I remember thirty years ago that the only steamers which flew the German flag at all were the North German Lloyd, and they were built on the Clyde. When I was in the shipbuilding industry, who were the young gentlemen alongside of me in the works at Greenwich? The young gentlemen who came from Germany, and who are now at the head of the great shipbuilding concerns in that country. Germany can now build ships as cheaply, if not cheaper, than ourselves. [An HON. MEMBER: "Free Trade."] Free Trade in Germany, I am not talking about Free Trade, and I do not understand what is meant by Free Trade in shipbuilding. But is not Germany now doing what we used to do—occupying the first place in the world in the export of iron? [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] She is, and she manufactures her own iron; and what are we doing? We are drifting into selling pig iron to the Germans. Does the British workman benefit by that? There is, as one hon. Member explained, less labour employed and less wages paid in producing pig iron than in producing plates and rails. We are producing the half-finished article, and handing it over to Germany to finish. It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen to laugh and sneer at this, but I am dealing with this from the point of view of the British workman, and I say that he is being ousted out of the markets of the world, and will very soon be ousted out of the Argentine. An hon. Member spoke about a decrease in the percentage of the agricultural labourer in Germany. I quite agree with him. But why is that? He did not tell us what the increase of the industrial worker was in Germany. Forty years ago what was Germany? She was a purely agricultural country, or almost entirely an agricultural country, and the people who were agricultural peasants then have immigrated in large numbers—in tens of thousands—to America. How many thousands go to America now? Very few. They are finding employment m their own country, not at agriculture, but at these trades and industries which are decreasing so seriously with us. A large mass of our countrymen are going abroad. I am glad some of these people are going to Canada, 533 because it is our own possession; but some go to America. The best blood of our country is going out of it, and is being replaced by these wretched aliens from the Eastern part of Europe. That is what the British blood is going to be mingled with. I want hon. Gentlemen opposite, Labour Members, to understand that patriotism has been the keynote and the mainspring of Germany's prosperity and power. Patriotism at one time meant our prosperity and power, and I can only hope that the spirit which inspired our forefathers to carry the flag and the trade to the farthermost parts of the world is not dead in our breasts, but only dormant, and that their eyes will be opened.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
I was very much impressed and naturally enjoyed the musical voice of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) and the eloquent, energetic, and admirable periods, so far as concerns the manner of his address, but at the end of the speech I found myself, after the fanciful picture which he depicted to us, entirely unconvinced. He referred to the railways in Canada and the United States. I happen to have a little experience of these great transcontinental lines, having been engaged in London till within the last two years in finance. His conception of the trend of trade in that part of the world as being likely to be diverted North and South has no foundation whatever in fact. Anyone who has had anything to do with finance in America knows that. I think without any exception, there is not a single railroad in the United States which is a purely North and South line which has ever been prosperous. Certain railways there go both East and West and North and South, and they, of course, have benefited to that extent. The idea which underlay the right hon. Gentleman's speech, that this compact between Canada and America would be likely to lead to a diversion of the trend East and West, to my mind, has no foundation in the past experience of America itself. If this compact goes through, though it will not break down the entire barrier between Canada and the United States it will bring the conditions of that Continent more or less on a par. In the United States, where you have inter-State Free Trade and a high tariff against the outside world, if these conditions which prevail through this compact approach that ideal, one may judge from the experience of the United States as applicable to Canada, and if we find, those of us 534 who have any experience of the condition of affairs in the United States, that the North and South railroad is not prosperous as such, I think we may rest assured, those who may he perhaps interested in the great transcontinental railroads of Canada and the United States, that under this agreement that diversion of trade from East and West to North and South will dissipate into thin air. Of course, I believe that this compact will lead naturally to more trade and commerce between Canada and America, but that in turn will make for the further development of the great North-West of Canada, and with that greater development and increased purchasing power will come still greater trade again with Great Britain and with Europe. The articles, for example, which will pass between Canada and the United States will not, I believe, compete to any very large extent with what Great Britain is at present sending to Canada. For example, I believe that Canada will largely import from the United States agricultural machinery and tools for pioneer work and pumping and other machinery which, no doubt, we can supply to some extent, but, at the same time, that in turn will lead to a greater development and the opening up of the great North-West and the trade which we will participate in as the result of the opening up of the great North-West will be a finer type of manufacture, namely, the textiles, the products of the Midlands and the manufacturing cities in the United Kingdom. Therefore, I think, we can welcome, as we naturally welcome, any measure which is likely to lead to a greater development all round.
There was another aspect of this question which the right hon. Gentleman referred to, namely, the diversion of our food supply. One would gather from the speeches we have heard that we were largely dependent upon Canada for our supply of food. I wonder whether hon. Gentlemen are aware of the exact facts and figures as to where we derive the great bulk of our food supplies from. In 1908, and I do not suppose the figures have altered very much in the last few years, we obtained in wheat from Russia 4,600,000 cwt., from Roumania 1,800,000, from the United States 27,000,000, and from the Argentine 31,000,000, giving a total from foreign sources of 68,000,000. What do we obtain from our Colonies? From Canada we obtain 14,000,000, from India 2,900,000, and from Australia 5,500,000, giving a total of 22,000,000 cwt. from our 535 own possessions, as against 68,000,000 from other parts of the world. I think we need not altogether lose heart or distress ourselves that we are going to be starved out merely because a commercial arrangement has been entered into between Canada and the United States. After all, I believe that this development will lead to a still further increase in the supplies from Canada and although some grain may pass over to the United States, possibly with a view to shipment to Europe, I think the fact that we already obtain from the United States 27,000,000 cwts. is surely eloquent testimony that the supply even from America has not yet come to an end.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to speak of the terrible hardship which would result to British commerce from those trucks, which he grew quite eloquent upon going filled to the United States and coming back filled with American products. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman really understands the A B C of political economy. If these trucks did not come back with something in them the trucks would be stopped going there altogether. Trade is a system of barter, and if you have not something in your trade both ways your trade comes to an end. If you have trucks filled only one way, where is the money to come from to pay the interest to British investors who have put their capital in Canadian railways? You cannot have a system of railways and transshipment of trade going one way. [An HON. MEMBER: "Has the hon. Gentleman never seen an empty luggage train?"] I possibly may, but I cannot see how that affects my argument. I am speaking in general terms. We occasionally see an empty train, but we surely all know that the basis of railroad prosperity, shipping prosperity, and commercial prosperity, is in trade going in both ways, so that in the total volume of exports and imports we may get the trade profit which we derive as individuals and as a nation. I want to mention another matter in connection with this question of trade. You may not be prepared to give credit to my argument with regard to transcontinental lines, because I sit on this Bench, even though I venture to express opinions which are based on economic truth, I believe they will stand the test of examination, and the mere fact that I sit on this Bench will not, I hope, invalidate their soundness or in any sense prevent them from appealing to you if they are true. But if you are pre- 536 judiced against the argument because it is put forward by me, I would refer you to the opinion of Sir Donald Mann, Vice-President of the Canadian Northern Railway, one of the great transcontinental railways which traverse Canada. He cabled to "The Times" the other day, giving his opinion in regard to the reciprocity agreement with the United States. I think hon. Members will agree that when the Vice-President of a transcontinental railway expresses his opinion that this compact is likely to lead to the increased prosperity and earning power of the railway over which he presides we need have no fear, and we need not accept the fallacious argument which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) advanced yesterday. It is evident to anyone who understands the conditions that oversea trade is likely to increase between the great American continent and the countries of Europe for the reason that if you have 90,000,000 of people in the United States and about 9,000,000 in Canada all anxious to trade with the untold millions of Europe, nothing, not even a temporary commercial compact between Canada and the United States, will have much effect on the continuance and development of that trade. The last speaker referred to the shipping trade with the Argentine, and especially to the matter of steel rails. I do not wish to dwell upon a speech which touched so many controversial points, although the hon. Member said he did not mean to be controversial. It occurred to me while I listened to his account of his many great interests to ask if his trade had been confined to only British manufactures where the great shipbuilding industry would be. We do not wish to deny Germany an order occasionally for steel rails, but surely we should not manage our business affairs as though we were engaged in taking in each other's washing. We have to be prepared to trade with other countries. If it were not for the fact that British ships are able to carry goods to and from our own and foreign ports what would become of our great shipbuilding industry, our shipping, banking, and the other great industries which we have built up, and which have made London the greatest city in the world.
§ Mr. ALFRED HAMERSLEY
In the course of this Debate there has been no disposition in any way to criticise Canadian statesmen for having proposed this 537 agreement. The right hon. Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. A. Chamberlain) when he proposed the Amendment stated that we could not dissever the agreement from Imperial interests, and especially the connection of Canada with the Empire. I am not going in any way to criticise the action of the Canadian statesmen or their proposals. I lived in Canada for many years, and had the privilege in 1891 of supporting Sir John MacDonald when he was returned to power at the head of the Conservative party, avowedly pledged to the National policy of Canada, under which policy that country has by leaps and bounds arrived at its present prosperous condition, and is moving, as far as we can judge, to a far greater position. We have seen that under the national policy the whole intention, desire, and aspiration of the Canadians has been to build up their commerce east and west, and to build up as far as they can the prosperity and consolidation of the Empire as a whole. Suddenly an agreement is proposed between Canada and the United States which must inevitably divert and alter the line of that national policy under which Canada has acted with us for many years past.
When we know that that condition of things has arisen because we in England have not the power, as we have not a tariff, to enter into a preferential agreement with Canada, we naturally are very much disappointed and feel that the Government have not done their duty, and done what the Canadians wish us to do and what all our Dominions overseas wish us to do—that is, put ourselves into a position to make similar agreements with Canada as is now proposed with America. There was a statement made by the President of the Board of Trade yesterday that I could not help taking down, because it seemed to me in point of argument so absolutely in favour of our contention. He said if we had the power of making preferential rates Canada would have had to come to us in this instance to consult us before any arrangement was made with the United States. That is exactly the position that we wanted, and that Canada in those days wanted to be put into. That is exactly the position we say the Government ought to have put Canada in. And if they had Canada would have had to come and consult us by means of an agreement voluntarily made by Canada at her own request, and not in any way dictated by us. And if that had been the position, as the President of the Board of Trade says it would have been the posi- 538 tion, we should not have had this Debate to-night. We should have had no reason, as lovers of our Empire and desiring to build up our Empire and consolidate it in future, to come here to complain of the action of the Government as we are doing now. But through the fault of the Government, through the fault as we say of their not putting themselves in that position of preference, as the President of the Board of Trade said, Canada need not come, and does not come, to consult us now, and is making this agreement as she is absolutely entitled to do. I speak as one who thoroughly appreciates her doing so. My interests are in Canada. If we told her that we would not deal with her preferentially, we cannot tie her hands and say that she cannot do it with another country. But what we do blame this country for is not having made this agreement long ago, so as to prevent that state of things which has come about now.
The prime minister stated to-day and the other day that we are bringing an indictment against our Government for not carrying into effect certain preferential agreements and bringing in a tariff, when in fact the electorate have denied us the power to do it. That sounds very logical and very reasonable, but I heard him say only a day or two ago that the electorate had voted on an entirely different subject altogether, that was the constitutional question, and that they had not voted at all on this issue. Now, which horse is he going to ride? Is he going to stick to what he said to-day, that the electorate had given a mandate to have no tariff, or is he going to say that they did not vote on the tariff at all, that they voted on the constitutional question? He will have to choose one or the other. For my part, as far as I can judge, I believe that the electorate voted very largely on this Tariff question, and I believe they voted against the Tariff being instituted, not from any objection they had to any Imperial Preference, because I believe the voters of England are as anxious as we are every man of us on both sides of the House, to build up this Empire. But they voted against a tariff very largely owing to the grossness of the misrepresentations made to them as to the rise in the cost of their food. If the other side had met us in fair argument on that, then the people would have voted for the Tariff being established in England without a shadow of doubt? But they have been misled grossly in these elections by the cry of dear food, black bread, horse-flesh, and offal. I 539 know Canada, America, and these other countries. It is a very extraordinary thing, if you go to Canada to-day, and examine into the price of all the necessaries of life, you will find that the dearest of them, in comparison to the cost in this country, is bread. I have gone from east to west of Canada myself, last October, and I carefully priced every article of the necessaries of life, and the only necessary of life that was dearer than in this country was bread, the bread from wheat grown in a country which, in proportion to its population, is the greatest wheat producer in the world. How can that high price of bread arise from a tariff? When you go to other tariff countries you find the cost comparatively lower, possibly because of the law of supply and demand. The export of the wheat from Canada makes it dearer, and the wages paid to the baker.
It seems to me the whole of this subject before us now can be brought to one small question for us, small in point of time, but very great in the future of our country and our Empire. It is simply this: Should we not in England provide ourselves with the same power of agreement, the same power of bargaining, the same power of making commercial contracts, that all other countries in the world have? Hon. Members on the other side of the House applauded the Member for East Worcestershire when he talked about the proposed agreement between America and Canada. They said it was an excellent thing to have. If it is a good thing for America and Canada to be able to do this, or for Germany and Canada, or for France and Canada, why is it not and should it not be a good thing for us, the Mother Country, to do? And also, if the agreement is good for them, and they reap the benefit from it, and it is applauded by hon. Members opposite, why should they not give the same privilege and power to us. That is all we ask, because if we had this power we should never have had the situation which has arisen. As to what may happen, I do not say that, under this particular agreement the Home Country is going to suffer. I have gone through all the items, and I am perfectly frank in saying so. I do not wish in any way to magnify or make much of the agreement, but I do say this, that it is evidence of the tendency that is bound to increase. When Sir John MacDonald, in 1891, went to the people of Canada and asked them to condemn the very thing that some of the Canadians wish to do now, he did it on the 540 ground that, although at that time he might have made an agreement that might seem hurtful to us, but would have been beneficial to them, yet it was necessary to build up their country from the Empire.
That was the policy which we wish to follow out. We conscientiously blame the Government because they have not through the years since 1907, when the Imperial Conference met in this country, made the concession which other parts of our Dominions asked for. They will wake up some day, not only faced by some small agreements dealing with a very few items of commerce, but by agreements which will affect most profoundly our trade, and inevitably result in events that may shake the Empire. I absolutely agree with the language used by the Leader of the Opposition that this agreement is a disaster to our Empire, and I hope that agreements will be entered into with the Mother-country, and that we will try in future to keep ourselves safe from such arrangements as this, which must inevitably do harm to the Empire. We believe that the loyalty of the Canadians is unshaken. In Canada they are as keen for the Empire as any man in this House or any man in England. I know full well that commerce and business must be done, and we ought to step in in such a way that commerce and business may in the future go hand in hand with love of the Empire.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
I could not quite clearly gather from the hon. Member who has just sat down whether he did or did not regard the agreement as a national calamity. He repeatedly used the term "disaster," and predicted awful results; and he also incidentally stated that he did not expect it would seriously affect the trade between the Mother-country and Canada.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
Between those propositions it is difficult to choose. If anything is clear I think it is that hon. and right hon. Gentleman opposite have made up their minds that the agreement is a calamity to the Mother-country, and that the volume of trade between Canada and the United States will increase. They have all avowed perfect confidence in the loyalty of the Canadians; that is, they have not the slightest fear—there have been, perhaps, a few exceptions in which somewhat ambiguous language was used here and there—but the general impress- 541 sion is that hon. Members opposite have not the slightest fear that the Canadians will ever drift away from the Imperial connection They are agreed, however, that the increased trade between Canada and the United States would be disastrous to us; and their impression is that there is something disastrous and terrible in this agreement. Either it must be one thing or the other. Either as to the political agreement they are afraid about what they call the loyalty of Canada, or on the other hand, it is an agreement which will increase Canadian trade with the United States, and they think that such an increase in the trade of those two countries must mean a decrease in the volume of trade from this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) said:—These vast resources will now go to build up the influence and power of a foreign state.That is to say, that the growth of the influence and power of a foreign State is a bad thing for us. I wish to call attention to the singular confusion in political and economic theory in this Debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. Lyttelton) to-day went into the history of the commercial policy of Canada, and he told us of the pressure they put upon Canada by way of tariffs to force Canada into union. They believed they would succeed. He admits that was a delusion. They were never able to drive Canada into union. Incidentally hon. Members told us that the prosperity of Canada has advanced by leaps and bounds since the tariff policy was resorted to. That is not so. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland pointed out that Canada had a long and bad period under Protectionist policy. That raises the next question as to the tariff policy of Canada—has it had the effect that tariffists predicted for it? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, at the beginning of his speech yesterday, claimed that this agreement at least proved one point, namely, that tariff is a valuable means to force an opponent to his knees. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, argued at great length and with great labour to-day that the Canadians had found themselves perfectly powerless to bring the United States to their knees. He told us that Canadians had become so hopeless of forcing the United States to 542 terms that in 1907, as Sir Wilfrid Laurier said, "our hopes are now all for British trade." If that means anything—though there is always a difficulty in understanding what the words used by hon. Members mean—it means that after many years of retaliation the tariffists in Canada have found their weapons fail them, so that tariffs were broken down on that side also. The right hon. Gentlemen the Member for St. George's (Hanover Square) made it a reproach against the Government that the Canadians had practically given up any hope of forcing the United States to come to terms, and said that when they had given up nope the Government ought then to have stepped in and made the arrangement which hon. Gentlemen opposite propose. I hope hon. Members on the other side realise how these two demonstrations are flatly opposite to each other. The contradiction in argument is perfectly clear. Hon. Members opposite see no contradiction, and believe both. I might point out, in passing, that on the words used by Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1907 "that our hopes are in British trade," it might be argued on the other side that he did not really mean that the United States would never come to terms. But on that view you cannot quote Sir Wilfrid Laurier's words in 1907 by way of casting reproach against this Government for not making the arrangement now proposed. The hon. Member who spoke last reproached the Government for not doing what they were pledged not to do, but he ought to have used words of invective against hon. Gentlemen opposite for not doing what they professed to believe in I want to deal with another proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's. He professed seriously and deliberately to have given us a perfectly conclusive argument to prove the value of the big revolver of a tariff system as a means of extending your exports. That is an idea in the Amendment that has not been attended to very closely by any of the Members on the opposite side. The closing words of the Amendment are a declaration that the policy of the Government "has deprived the country of the most effective method of inducing foreign countries to grant fair treatment to British manufacturers." Does that mean that if we had a system of Preference with Canada that system of Preference would have been the means of forcing foreign countries to take down their tariffs against us? I can attach no other meaning to it.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
But if that is what it means you take out your particular item so that your Amendment is a mere blind. I will deal with the Amendment as it stands. It amounts to this, that if you have a preferential system with Canada you would be able to force down foreign tariffs. What would follow? If foreign tariffs came down you would have to bring your Preference down so that the system, if it succeeded, would have to be abandoned the moment it began to succeed. That brings us to the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire. He did argue, and I suppose he was so far consistent, that the agreement between Canada and the United States is a striking proof of the value of a tariff system of almost any kind in forcing opponents to come to terms. I have just been showing that the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for St. George's, does not believe that at all. He has been struck by the fact that for ever so many years Canada has been unable to influence the United States and the United States unable to influence Canada. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for East Worcestershire, says, "See how powerfully Canada has influenced the States." That means, I suppose, that Canada put on a higher tariff against the States in the hope of bringing the States to terms. So that it has not been a mere fluke, and she wanted it. Then why does he lament the result of the operation of the Canadians in doing what they presumably wanted to do? That is one of the little difficulties in the system. In point of fact the right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. This arrangement has not been come to as the result of the reciprocal pointing of revolvers. That has been going on for many years without any result on either side. That is admitted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's.
Hon. Members opposite one and all are trying to disguise the fundamental fact that this arrangement on the side of the United States is not the result merely of pressure from the Canadians, very little in that way, but the result of the smashing defeat of the Tariff party at the polls. That is why it has come. The right hon. Gentlemen advanced a great many general propositions in history. Following their example, I will venture one. Broadly 544 speaking, tariffs are never reduced as the result of hostile tariffs. You may occasionally get an exception, you may have a concession, or an arrangement about one particular article, but tariffs are never taken down as the result of hostile tariffs, except that this process may take place at the end of a ruinous tariff war, and then you stand where you stood before. So both hon. Gentlemen happen to be wrong, although they were taking up opposite positions. What has happened is that in the United States there is a revolt, not merely against tariff arrangements against Canada, but against all the tariffs in the United States. That revolt happened in the one way in which tariffs are pulled down, and that is by the discovery of their destructive effect on the trade of the country. The hon. Member for Denbigh told us that the scheme on the part of United States politicians by the reciprocity between Canada and the United States was to draw a ring round the whole of North America against the rest of the world. We have only to look at the result of the last election to see that that is an absolute mis-statement. The revolt in the United States is a revolt against the whole tariff system. President Taft, seeing his party defeated on his tariff policy at the polls, has, in a sense, stolen a march on the other side and agreed to this arrangement with Canada, which is a surrender. There is every reason to expect that what we shall see in the future will not be the drawing of that fabulous ring round the whole of North America, but the gradual lowering of the American tariffs, in which the Canadians are very glad to participate. There are one or two more points of economic theory raised by right hon. Gentlemen opposite which are perhaps worth discussing. I allude to one raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, where he told us and assured us it was a perfectly conclusive argument in support of the value of tariffs that certain tariff countries, notably Germany, had increased their exports of manufactures to other protected countries in a given time at a greater rate than we have done. He gave an illustration which he carefully drew. He selected the European area which is singularly described as an intermediate tariff area. That was the term he used, leaving out Turkey.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
I said the United States was the most protected, and the Argentine and Turkey intermediate.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
Then the case is worse. He bakes the European area, a large part of which is not industrial. Is Austria industrial? Is Bulgaria? Is Bosnia Herzegovina? Is Roumania? Is the whole of Russia? He knows very well he has been cooking the case. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I use it in a technical sense. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] If the right hon. Gentleman objects I will withdraw. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I will withdraw. He has adjusted the case. I will give you the real case. Does Germany take more from us than France? Does France take more from us than from Germany? The right hon. Gentleman has taken advantage of the fact that Germany is so placed in Europe that she is the natural supplier of a very large area, because she is close up to it, in the middle of it, and can send it at less cost of carriage on her own railway system. The right hon. Gentleman takes out all the exports in that way and pretends he is giving us an impartial picture of the effects of a tariff.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that the United States sends more manufactures into the Continent of Europe than we do? I have given the real tests. The right hon. Gentleman selects cases where he knows the situation is such that the argument will yield the results he wants, but excludes the real test. [Several HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover must be aware that exports to neutral markets are the real test of the exporting power of a protective country. These are all excluded; but you have the exports of Germany into Central Europe, where Germany is bound to have an advantage owing to her juxtaposition. If we send more to Germany than France does, and more to France than Germany does, it is another proof that your tariff power is not a power that forces exports at a greater rate than they can be forced by a Free Trade country.
I will deal with one or two arguments of the Leader of the Opposition, who referred to a number of points, some economic, others non-economic. His main argument was the good old a priori argument, that it you have something to give in a bargain, you must be in an advantageous position Does it ever occur to 546 hon. Members who use that argument that it has been used for sixty years, that it has been discussed a thousand times, that it has been constantly countered, and that the restatement of it as a matter of course is a rather childish proceeding I Did not Peel give his answer? He tried for years, with his revolver in his hand, to make a bargain, but never could make it. Surely that fact ought to deter hon. Members opposite from repeating a platitude which has been countered ten thousand times. The answer to the right hon. Gentleman is this. His analogy about bargaining between individuals is absolutely fallacious. He assumes, as a matter of course, that if in a bargain between individuals the power to offer something is an advantage to either side, the same state of things happens in the case of bargaining between Governments, and the same argument applies. But a bargain between Governments in the matter of tariffs, is a totally different thing from a bargain between individuals in trade, A given Government represents a hundred interests, most of which do not want to give away anything. They only want to get something. They do not care two straws about other interests. The result is that this bargaining theory breaks down when you make a comparison. Tariffs have been put on continuously during ever so many centuries, and at a great rate in the last generation. Do not hon. Members opposite themselves constantly tell us that the tendency of tariffs is to rise? Do they not see that that means that their tariffs fail to force down other tariffs, and that the tariffs are always going up? That disposes of the a priori argument of the right hon. Gentleman, and the historical facts sufficiently dispose of the theory in a general way. We see that tariffs are always rising. We see every power threatening other powers; still we see tariffs going up; and still hon. Members tell us with perfect confidence that if only you hold up your revolver tariffs will go go down at once. So much for the theories of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, which end as usual in self-contradiction. I hope the right hon. Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, will fight out the contradiction with the right hon. Member for East Worcestershire, as these two right hon. Gentlemen hold totally different views in theory as to the effect of the big revolver, although they may agree on other points.
Let us come to the great, social and political question which underlies all this 547 economic discussion. We have this appalling fact—that a great political party in this country is still satisfied to contend that a great increase in the volume of trade and in the well-being and prosperity of a foreign State is bound to mean some impoverishment for us. It is economic nonsense. It is another instance of the deplorable attitude of mind of some politicians. An increase in the volume of trade between Canada and the United States must tend to make both countries capable of doing more trade with us. Hon. Members opposite point to the case of Germany. Germany has undoubtedly progressed greatly in recent years, not from the causes which hon. Members opposite specify, but from causes which they always ignore—in particular the development of a capacity to work iron, which, prior to thirty years ago, was altogether unworkable. There has been a great development in the well-being of Germany. Does anyone seriously allege that that has been accompanied by any fall in the well-being, wealth, and prosperity of this country? Of course not. Germany becomes a better and better customer for us, precisely in proportion as her trade expands. In this case we see economic obscurantism going hand-in-hand with that attitude of hostility to the foreigner which is one of the main inspirations of the whole tariff movement. Hon. Members opposite have a perfect dislike of foreign countries, which makes them think it a calamity when the natural resources of Canada and the United States are to be far better exchanged than before. They have to get rid of that insensate spirit of hostility towards every foreign country, even when it is a country of their own blood and speaking their own language, with which they usually profess to wish to be on the most friendly terms. They must come to see the economic fact that the more the total production of the world grows and expands, and the more its exchange between other countries expands, the better becomes the chance of trade with this country, whose policy is, has been, and happily is going to be one of free exchange with them all.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir John Simon)
As has already been pointed out, the name of Canada does not appear in the terms of this Amendment; but it was natural, indeed, I think it was inevitable, if this Debate was to be raised at all at this time, that the discussion should have 548 been concentrated upon events present and prospective on the North American frontier. If there is any risk in raising a discussion on the subject in the British House of Commons at this moment, the responsibility for that risk lies upon the shoulders of those who initiated the discussion. I wish, however, for my part, to say at once that the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) certainly set us all an example as to the caution with which it is right to deal with a subject so necessarily delicate at the present time. Assuming that the question was to be raised here and now, I think he has shown us, and I hope to imitate his example, that it is possible to debate it without the risk of unnecessary and possibly dangerous misunderstanding. That example has been generally followed on both sides. It is a fortunate circumstance that in the course of this two days' debate we have not had language, as it seems to me, so unfortunate in its terms as that used on the opening day of the Session by so responsible and so celebrated a statesman as the Leader of the Opposition. It is obvious by this time that a grave risk is run of real injustice to the feelings of us all, if it goes forth that it is the opinion of any responsible section of this House of Commons that we are entitled to criticise the possible action of Canadian statesmen, as action which is going to produce the "most disastrous consequences upon the fortunes of the Empire." However that may be, I believe from my heart that the feeling that we have in this matter, of real patriotism and friendship to Canada, not confined to one side of the House, has been the real and guiding principle by which Members on all sides have been controlled in their conduct of this Debate. I am to some extent relieved when I reflect upon the very doleful tone and the very positive tone in which the Leader of the Opposition prophesied evil if this agreement goes through. What was the last occasion when the Leader of the Opposition was equally doleful and equally confident in the realm of Colonial policy? When did he last assume the mantle of a political Cassandra? It was in 1906, when he felt it his duty to state that the proposal to grant self-government to the Transvaal was going to produce, or was calculated to produce, another disaster just as great. The right hon. Gentleman was then just as doleful, just as confident, and entirely wrong. 549 There is this difference between the two cases; when the right hon. Gentleman some few years ago used the language which he did use about granting self-government to the Transvaal, at any rate we were then debating in this House of Commons a matter which it was the responsibility of this House to determine. It was for us to judge. It was for us to decide. Whether the opinion then expressed was wise or unwise, at any rate it was an opinion which had to be expressed in order that the judgment of the House of Commons might be taken. We in this Assembly to-night are not parties to the bargain, which is in course of negotiation between the great Dominion of Canada and the united States of America. That is one of the great distinctions that exists between the present case and the previous one. What is the other? It is this: It will be conceded by every reasonable person that the proposal which was previously denounced in such doleful terms was a proposal in the nature of an experiment. It was to give autonomy to a colony which had hitherto not enjoyed self-government under the British Crown. But if anyone, any responsible statesman of any party, comes forward to-day and uses the language of that time about the contemplated and possible policy of the Canadian Government, he is using it, not with reference to some community of whose loyalty we have no experience, but using it in reference to the great Dominion which has enjoyed fiscal autonomy as well as local and political autonomy, for half a century, and whose record in relation to this country is one of ever-increasing devotion and loyalty.
There are, it seems to me, some aspects of this reciprocal agreement which may safely be discussed in this House without raising resentment across the Atlantic or giving rise to misunderstanding. One of them is a very important one raised very prominently by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, who opened this Debate. It is this question: Assuming that this reciprocal agreement goes through, what is likely to be the effect of that agreement on the price of corn in this country? That is a matter which we are perfectly entitled to consider and discuss; indeed, a matter which we ought to discuss. The right hon. Gentleman expressed a very positive view about that. The right hon. Gentleman thinks, as a result of this reciprocal agreement, if it is confirmed, that food prices will be increased here by the American 550 demand for Canadian corn. Yesterday he used the phrase, "Your food will cost you more." May I be permitted for a few minutes to suggest that which makes me very much doubt whether that conclusion should be drawn quite so confidently. In the first place it is very curious if that is so that the Americans should be so anxious to enter into this agreement. If the result of this agreement is that it is going to increase the price of corn in this country, it is going to increase the world price, and the world price of corn is the price of corn all the world over, assuming you take the same quality once you allow for the extent of transport, and once you allow for the additional price caused by tariffs. And in the second place—and here I ask for confirmation, if needed, from the Leader of the Opposition—the theory which is now being put forward by the right hon. Gentleman, as to the effect of this agreement in rising the price of corn, is the precise contrary of the argument which has constantly been employed by him to prove that Colonial Preference would not involve any great increase in the price of that same article. What was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman? He said, for instance, twelve months ago, at the time of the last General Election but one, if you increase the demand for Canadian corn, if you intensify and concentrate the demand upon Canada, you will not thereby increase the price of Canadian corn, but on the contrary, to use his own language, you will bring into utility the vast untouched areas and fertile regions which the British Empire possesses. If that is going to be the economic consequence of concentrating the demand upon the Canadian cornfields does anybody in this House suppose that the consequence is different according as the additional demand comes from the United States or comes from the United Kingdom. The Leader of the Opposition took this view twelve months ago. I notice the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment said some nine months ago that the result of Colonial Preference, in his view, would be to call into existence new sources of supplies of wheat, and so increase the world supply.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Perhaps I did not make my meaning clear to the hon. and learned Gentleman. That, in my opinion, would have been the result of Preference, but there would have been an 551 additional condition present, that will not be present now. It would not have diminished the wheat cultivation elsewhere. My argument yesterday was based upon the fact that the new agreement must diminish the area of wheat cultivation in America, and the new supplies from Canada will therefore not be an addition to the world supplies, but in substitution of existing supplies.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
The right hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that I had not entirely followed his argument. I must further say I do not quite follow it now. I presume we shall all be agreed that the world price of corn depends in the absence of conditions imposed by tariffs, the cost of transport and insurance, upon natural circumstances, all the world over; and if it be true to say, as was said, twelve months ago, that concentrating the demand upon Canadian corn is going thereby to produce such a great addition to the production of corn in Canada, that you will not have a rise, but indeed a fall, in the price of corn in this country, I confess I am quite unable to understand how that consequence is not supposed to follow if that same demand takes place merely from a different quarter. There is another condition. It is not disputed that the result of this reciprocal agreement will be to cheapen the price of agricultural implements, ploughs, and the like, to the Canadian farmers. The cost of production in Canada is to be reduced by this agreement. The law of increasing return is going to begin to apply, and while I am certainly not going to be so rash as to prophesy, I submit that there is good ground for thinking that it would be rash indeed to assert that a reciprocal arrangement between the United States and Canada is going to increase the price of the world's supply of corn. Can it be seriously contended by anyone, considering this matter in its broader aspects, that the "pooling" of the production of two exporting countries is actually going to raise the price of the article they export? [An Hon. MEMBER: "What about trusts?"] Do trusts arise under Free Trade or under tariffs? The real truth is that once you invite the Tariff Reformer to discuss a working living model of fiscal regulations he finds himself continually tripped up at every stage of his argument, and compelled by the very arguments he uses to confute the very propositions he has been endeavour- 552 ing to enforce upon his country. Does any hon. Member opposite dispute that the Americans, who are keen business people, want to throw down their tariff walls to get Canadian corn in free in order that they may have it more abundantly and cheaper? What becomes of your argument, repeated in every village, that if you put up a tariff wall you will not make corn less abundant or cheap? Does any hon. Member dispute that the Canadians to-day imagine that if you remove the tariff on American manufactured agricultural implements they could buy them at a lower price. Then what becomes of the argument used in every town in England that you can put a tax on manufactured imported goods and the foreigner will pay the duty? The Amendment which is before the House bewails the non-adoption of Imperial Preference, and it takes the view that if it were adopted at this time all would be well. I may add it lays the blame for this upon His Majesty's Government. [Cheers.] May I point out to the hon. Member who cheers that he does not know what he is cheering. The real thing he is saying is that the blame ought to attach to the Opposition, which for eight years have conducted their agitation so badly, in spite of all the tariff subscriptions, all the tariff conferences, and all the tariff arguments, that they cannot persuade the people of this country to believe in the gospel they have gone about preaching.
There has been no concealment about the attitude of the Government on this question. This Government is a Free Trade Government, and its majority is a Free Trade majority. We have not found it necessary to propose a Referendum to solve our fiscal doubts. You say that we bar and bolt the door upon your policy. So we do; we admit it, and in spite of all the efforts which you have made for seven or eight years past, you cannot open the door by an inch. Then, after all this, you move an Amendment designed to say His Majesty's Government ought to have introduced Imperial Preference. I cannot help suspecting that the language in which this Amendment has been framed, carefully chosen as I am sure it is, and selected so as to express a vagueness which is characteristic of the Tariff Reform party, is designed to present to this House and to the country the somewhat unusual spectacle of a united Opposition. It is not we that are to blame because Imperial Preference has not been established. 553 It is you that are to blame. I do not say which of you. Some of you think it was the Leader of the Opposition that was to blame. Others of you think it was your Chief Whip that was to blame. The rest of you think it was the Central Conservative Office that was to blame. But, whoever was to blame, it was not us. It is your business to convince the people of this country, if you can. You have not done so yet.
Let us see what really is the degree of sincerity and devotion which hon. Gentlemen opposite can show to this policy of Imperial Preference. I do not go back to the history of some years ago, when they had the opportunity of adopting it if they had thought it right. Let me take entirely recent history, and let me ask the House and hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider whether the facts of which I am going to remind them, really do show that devotion to a policy that one would expect if it was the only way of preventing the Empire from breaking into pieces. I suppose, at any rate since the last Colonial Conference, the Unionist party has been conscious of the great truth that, if you are going to keep the Empire together, why then you must adopt a system of Tariff Reform. But I will not go back as long as the last Colonial Conference. I will take last November, the very month in which Sir Wilfrid Laurier did not make the speech of which he is accused. Last November, be it observed, was not only the month in which this reciprocal arrangement was being discussed in the New World, but it was also the month in which a General Election was pending in this country. By that time, as I understand, hon. Gentlemen opposite were firmly convinced that the only way to save the British Empire from disruption was to adopt, at the earliest possible moment, in unqualified terms, the offer which, according to them, the Colonies had been making for years, and thereby avoid an unparalleled disaster. The sands were running out, the hour was striking, now was the time; and, just one week after that 22nd November, when Sir Wilfrid Laurier did not make the speech, there was a meeting in the Albert Hall, and the Leader of the party, which believes that no time is to be lost unless the Empire is going to be lost, addressed his faithful followers in that historic building. That was the time, as the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday, for amen of courage and resolution. You 554 have the position that the Unionists party of that time thought that the only way to save the Empire was to accept this offer there and then. But your Leader went to that meeting and pledged himself that he would interpose the novel machinery of the Referendum between his arrival in office and the adoption of the one and only means for saving our imperial state.
I am unwilling to interrupt, but, as the hon. and learned Gentleman referred very pointedly to me, perhaps he will allow me simply to say that I never contemplated by any proposal I made that the proceedings on the Budget would be so long delayed as the proceedings on the present Budget had been delayed by the present Government.
§ Sir J. SIMON
The right hon. Gentleman will, I hope, not think me discourteous if I say I cannot help observing he could only have heard half of my sentence. I do not realise from his remarks that he had heard all I said. He will excuse me for saying that to my mind his observations were the observations of a gentleman who had not heard. The right hon. Gentleman will not think I mean anything personal when I say that the statement he made neither assisted nor obstructed the argument I was using. May I repeat it? In the month of November the right hon. Gentleman was the Leader of a party which thought the Empire could only be saved if a system of tariffs was set up, and that is the occasion when he offers his pledge that there shall be no attempt by him to carry into law this one and only means of saving the Empire—until he has put into motion this novel machinery of the Referendum.
§ Sir J. SIMON
At any rate, let us see what the audience thought of it. Did the audience say "The Empire is safe," or did it say "Then the Empire is lost"? No, the audience said "Then the election is won." Let us suppose for one moment that by some magic wand the Leader of the Opposition found himself here as responsible head of the Government, and believed that the Empire could only be saved by the immediate adoption and putting into force of the Imperial Preference. What would he have to do? The first thing he would have to do would be to devise, 555 frame, introduce, explain, and pass into law this Referendum—and all this time the sands would be running out. I hear some hon. Member say it could be done in six weeks. But surely no private Member's time would be taken! And when, after that, he had carried his Referendum proposals through this House, then there would follow an equally elaborate and equally candid discussion in the other House across the way, and when he had done all that he would not be any further on, because his promise is not to refer the principles of Tariff Reform to the Referendum—he is not going to save the Empire by doing that—his promise is to bring in a Tariff Reform Budget, and after he has done that he will make that subject to the Referendum. How long will that take? And these are the Gentlemen who come down here and say they entertain the opinion that the Empire can only be saved by prompt and immediate action, although by their own profession and declaration within the last few months they never expected to carry anything of the sort into law in the time such as they prescribe.
Even supposing their complaint is well founded, I would ask right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider what really is involved in the contention that if there had been Imperial Preference adopted, we should have avoided this reciprocity agreement being carried into effect. What is the justification for that view? What is the reason why it is asserted as though it was a plain and undisputed fact? What is your preference which you think would have saved Canada from this reciprocity agreement? It is a preference as a maximum of 2s. a quarter on corn. What is the preference which America by this reciprocity agreement is offering to Canada? The duty on imported corn imposed by America is 25 cents per bushel, equal to 1s. There are eight bushels in a quarter, and that is equal to 8s. a quarter. Do you really suppose that you by means of a preference of 2s. a quarter would prevent a preference of 8s. a quarter proving attractive if offered to Canada by her next-door neighbour? It amounts to this, that the preference which this reciprocity agreement proposes is a preference which never could have been avoided by proposals such as you advocate. There are two ways, and only two ways, by which you could possibly have hoped by adopting Imperial preference to have persuaded or induced Canada to refuse the terms which America 556 now offers. What are they? You could have done it indeed if, instead of giving Canada a preference of 2s. a quarter on corn you had gone on and increased that preference until it was 10s. or 15s. Is that your policy? You always are careful to assert that your proposition is limited to 2s. And what is the only other alternative? The only other way in which it would be possible to prevent this reciprocity agreement proving attractive to Canada, even after the Imperial Preference, would be if you, as a term and condition of Imperial Preference, bound Canada that she should not enter into any such agreement with her neighbour. I am quite sure that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen do not mean that, but if they do not mean that, what do they mean? There are no other ways but those two by which you could possibly support the proposition that the granting of your Imperial Preference to the Colony across the sea would even reduce the temptation to enter into a reciprocal agreement.
I cannot help thinking that a great deal of the confusion which has arisen in these discussions is due to the fact that the word Preference is really used in two different senses, according as you are speaking of the preference which Canada offers to British manufacturers, or as you are speaking of the preference which the Unionist Party would like to see established over the British Empire. When Canada grants a preference to the British merchant she is not on that ground reversing her fiscal policy. She is not imposing any additional burdens upon her own people. She is merely adjusting the favours which her fiscal system enables her to bestow. But do you suppose that is what is involved in your Imperial Preference? Your Imperial Preference is not an adjustant of favours equal or unequal. It is the imposition of unequal burdens on the people of your own country. Imperial Preference in this country does not mean what preference means in Canada—slight modifications, or it may be substantial modifications, of an existing fiscal system. It means the rooting up of the fiscal system root and branch. It means not the taking off of taxation, but the imposition of new taxation. It means not making things cheaper but dearer, and in the true sense of the term there never can be a preference except in the case of articles which are on the free list. In our case all the articles in respect of which you propose Imperial Preference are on the free list of the country at this moment. That is the reason why confusion sometimes, it seems 557 to me, arises between the two uses of the word preference in this discussion. It closely corresponds to the difference which was pointed out by the hon. Gentleman (Sir Gilbert Parker) yesterday. He pointed out that Tariff Reform means something quite different in the New World from what it means here. Here it means the imposition of new taxes. A Tariff Reformer wants to put on new duties, but in the New World a Tariff Reformer is a man who who wants to take off taxes. Just as there is that distinction in the use of the phrase Tariff Reform, so there is that distinction in the use of the word Preference.
Now that we have reached the end of this seven years' war, it is possible to look back and see whether or not the contentions upon which the case was originally founded have proved in the event to be established by time. What were the three fundamental assertions which were made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain), whom we are all sorry not to have here to-night, and on which he based his gospel of Tariff Reform? He first asserted that as he read the figures, British trade, measured, as he declared it ought to be, for this purpose principally by the figures of the export trade, had been practically stationary for twenty years, had reached its zenith, and showed signs of decline. Does anyone say that now? The first of his three assertions, though sincerely put forward by him, at that time, is one which no one acquainted with modern trade statistics could for a moment support. The second reason was that he thought and said seven years ago that the system of scientific tariffs was calculated to produce industrial contentment and social peace in the countries which enjoyed the blessings of a scientific tariff. Does anyone, with the history of industry in the protected countries of the world during the last two years, affirm that proposition to-night? It cannot be affirmed with any regard to contemporary historical fact. What was the third assertion? It was that whether you agree with his reading of the statistics or not, whether you agreed with the industrial consequences which he anticipated or not, he thought—and this I know is an argument which has always appealed to the right hon. Gentlemen opposite—that you must come to a tariff system, because there was no other way in which you could raise revenue. Does anybody say that to-day? [An HON. 558 MEMBER: "Yes."] Apparently somebody does so, and yet I was amused to observe that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, when he went to the Bingley Hall in September, 1909, spoke to a resolution framed for him by the party which he leads, declaring that the Budget, which was not then passed, was in their view intended to postpone indefinitely Tariff Reform. If Lord Lansdowne said at the election twelve months ago, and he did say so, that unless the Tariff Reform party were now able to win, the electors would sign the death warrant of Tariff Reform—if that is the case what is the position of the party opposite on the question of Tariff Reform? The real truth is that this Debate has been useful because it has shown upon how insecure a foundation any system of Imperial Preference was based. It now appears that in your view—you who believe in a system of Imperial preference—it means that the Canadian farmer was to receive a lower price for his corn than you think he is going to receive under a reciprocal arrangement. It now turns out that this structure you sought to set up is one that can be overthrown by any foreign country the moment they wish to throw down the tariff wall and receive Canadian corn without duty.
I began by saying that the name of Canada does not appear in this Amendment. There is another thing that does not appear in the Amendment. I notice that, whether by accident or design, the words "food taxes" do not appear. I do think that we have a right to complain, because we are still without information as to where hon. Gentlemen are. Have they come here in order to conduct a revival of their food tax campaign, or to pronounce a funeral oration over it? Are they engaged sounding a reveille, or ringing the Last Post? Have they come to bury Cæsar or to praise him? I strongly suspect that this Debate has been taken advantage of in order that the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment might praise Caesar, and that the right hon. Gentleman who spoke to-day might bury him. However that may be, deep as the differences are that divide us, they really proceed, I think hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree, from this that they and we have approached the question from different points of view. They imagine that the prosperity of the world is a constant quantity, and that if one country gets more prosperous another country gets less prosperous, but we hold a different faith, which was once professed 559 by the right hon. Gentleman opposite himself, that the prosperity of one nation may be best served by the increasing prosperity of its friendly rival. They think that Canada can only be kept loyal—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I am sure that the last thing I want to do is to say anything which could be offensive to feelings which we all respect. They take a different view as to the best way in which to cement the different parts of the Empire. The last thing that I wish to do is to appear to misrepresent them. But, though the differences which divide use are wide and deep, there is, I know, no man in this House of any opinion or of any party who does not from his heart desire that Canada at this crisis in her history may choose what is best for her and best for us. At this very moment the debate
§ in the Ottawa Parliament is proceeding. While it may be that in the acerbities of debate language which hon. Gentlemen opposite resent has been used, they will give me none the less the credit for sincerity, when I say that our united wish now is that we should send from this British House of Commons to Canada the message that whatever our differences may be in this matter, and whatever may be the choice which Canada now of her own free will makes, we are confident and we are certain that the choice which she is now going to make will make no difference to the ties of affection and devotion which now unite us.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 222; Noes, 324.563
|Division No. 4.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Aitken, William Max.||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, t.)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Arson, Sir William Reynell||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Horne, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Craik, Sir Henry||Horner, Andrew Long|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Astor, Waldort||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Hunt, Rowland|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Croft, Henry Page||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Dalrymple, Viscount||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Dixon, Charles Harvey (Boston)||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Doughty, Sir George||Kebty-Fietcher, J. R.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers.||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Keswick, William|
|Banner, John S. Harmood.||Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Baring, Captain Hon. Guy Victor||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Kintoch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Falle, Bertram Godfray||Kirkwood, John H. M.|
|Barnston, Harry||Fell, Arthur||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Finlay, Sir Robert||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Fisher, William Hayes||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'm'ts., Mile End)|
|Beckett, Hon. William Gervase||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Lee, Arthur Hamilton|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Fleming, Valentine||Lloyd, George Ambrose|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Forster, Henry William||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Bird, Alfred||Foster, Philip Staveley||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Boscawen, Sackville T. Griffith-||Gardner, Ernest||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Boyton, James||Gibbs, George Abraham||Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Gilmour, Captain John||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Goldney, Francis Bennett-||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Goldsmith, Frank||Macmaster, Donald|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Gordon, John||M'Calmont, Colonel James|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Goulding, E A.||M'Mordle, Robert|
|Butcher, John George||Greene, Walter Raymond||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Gretton, John||Malcolm, Ian|
|Campion, W. R.||Guinnes, Hon. Walter Edward||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Haddock, George Bahr||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Cassel, Felix||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Cattlereagh, Viscount||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||Moore, William|
|Cator, John||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Morrison, Captain James A|
|Cave, George||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r)||Harris, Henry Percy||Mount, William Arthur|
|Chambers, James||Helmsley, Viscount||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Clay, Captain. H. H. Spender||Henderson, Major H. (Berks., Abingdon)||Nawdegate, F. A.|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Newman, John R. P.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. J. (Birmingham)||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Compton, Lord Alwyns||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Hills, John Waller||Nield, Herbert|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Norton-Griffiths, J.|
|O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Ormsby-Gore, William||Salter, Arthur Claven||Touche, George Alexander|
|Paget, Almeric Hugh||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Sanders, Robert Arthur||Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||White, Maj. G. D. (Lancs., Southpert)|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Spear, John Ward||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Stanier, Beville||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Pollock, Ernest Murray||Stanley, Hon. G. F (Preston)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Starkey, John Ralph||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Quilter, William Eley C.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Ratcliff, Major R. F.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.||Wood, S. Hill- (Derbysh., High Peak)|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Stewart, Gershom||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Rawson, Col. Richard H.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Remnant, James Farquharson||Sykes, Alan John||Yate, Col. C. E. (Leics., Melton)|
|Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan||Talbot, Lord Edmund||Yerburgh, Robert|
|Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N. W.)||Younger, George|
|Rolleston, Sir John||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Ronaldshay, Earl of||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir A. Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Royds, Edmund||Thomson, W. Mitchell. (Down, North)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Crumley, Patrick||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Adamson, William||Cullinan, John||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hayward, Evan|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Helme, Nerval Watson|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, W.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Alden, Percy||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Henderson, J. M'D. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Dawes, J. A||Henry, Sir Charles S.|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Delany, William||Higham, John Sharp|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hinds, John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Devlin, Joseph||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Dillon, John||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Donelan, Captain A.||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Doris, William||Hudson, Walter|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Duffy, William J.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hunter, Wm. (Lanark, Govan)|
|Barton, William||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel|
|Beale, William Phipson||Edwards, Allen C. (Glamorgan, E.)||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)|
|Beauchamp, Edward||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||John, Edward Thomas|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Edwards, Sir Frank (Radnor)||Johnson, William|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid.)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Elverston, Harold||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Esslemont, George Birnle||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Falconer, James||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Farrell, James Patrick||Jones, W. S. Glyn. (T'w'r H'mts, Stepney)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Fenwick, Charles||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, N.)||Ffrench, Peter||Joyce, Michael|
|Brace, William||Field, William||Keating, Matthew|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Brigg, Sir John||Fitzgibbon, John||Kelly, Edward|
|Brockiehurst, William S.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Kemp, Sir George|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Furness, Stephen||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Bryce, John Annan||Gelder, Sir William Alfred||Kilbride, Denis|
|Burke, E. Haviland.||Gibson, Sir James Puckering||King, J. (Somerset, N.)|
|Burnt, Rt. Hon. John||Gill, Alfred Henry||Lambert, Ernest H. (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Glanville, Harold James||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lansbury, George|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Goldstone, Frank||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Byres, William Pollard||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld., Cockerm'th)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Haywood)||Greig, Colonel James William||Leach, Charles|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Griffith, Eills John||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Chancellor, H. G||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Chapple, Dr William Allen||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Logan, John William|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Gulland, John William||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Clough, William||Hackett, John||Landon, Thomas|
|Clynes, John R.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hancock, John George||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||MacGhee, Richard|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hardle, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||M'Callum, John M.|
|Cotton, William Francis||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Cowan, William Henry||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||M'Laren, H. D. (Leices.)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs. Saiding)|
|M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Pickersgill, Edward Mare||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Pointer, Joseph||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Pollard, Sir George H.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Power, Patrick Joseph||Summers, James Woolley|
|Mathias, Richard||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Meagher, Michael||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Sutton, John E.|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Primrose, Hon. Nell James||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Pringle, William M. R.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Menzies, Sir Walter||Radford, G. H.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Middlebrook, William||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Molloy, Michael||Rainy, A. Rolland||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry||Thorne, G. R. (Welverhampton)|
|Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Toulmin, George|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Reddy, Michael||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Mooney, J. J.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Morgan, George Hay||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Morrell, Philip||Redmond, William (Ciare, E.)||Wadsworth, John|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Rendall, Athelstan||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Munro, Robert||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Wardle, G. J.|
|Nolan, Joseph||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Wason, J. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Robinson, Sidney||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|O'Dowd, John||Rowlands, James||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Ogden, Fred||Rowntree, Arnold||Wiles, Thomas|
|O'Grady, James||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||St. Maur, Harold||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|O'Malley, William||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Scanlan, Thomas||Wilson, Henry J. (Yorks, W. R.)|
|O'Shee, James John||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Scott, A. M'Callum (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Seely, Colonel Rt. Hon. J. E. B.||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N. E.)|
|Parker, James (Hallfax)||Sheehy, David||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Simon, Sir John Ailsebrook||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Smith, Albert (Lancs, Clitheroe)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Soares, Ernest Joseph|
ADJOURNMENT.—Resolved, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Master of Eli-bank.]
Adjourned accordingly at Ten minutes after Eleven o'clock.