§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Edward Grey)
There is some information which I should like to give to the House with regard to Foreign Affairs which I think the House certainly ought to have before it separates, and on which it is necessary for me to make some explanation. As the House is aware, there has been ever since last, December continuing in London meetings of the five Ambassadors of the Great Powers and myself, discussing certain points connected with the difficulties in the Balkans. The announcement I have to make is that those meetings are now adjourned for the holidays. We had our last meeting yesterday, and we have come to the conclusion that we have reached a stage in the original work of those meetings which justifies a pause, and the meetings have been adjourned with the intention of reassembling whenever it may become necessary, and it may be the unanimous desire of the Governments concerned that there would be utility in the meetings being resumed. But I should like it to be clearly understood that the fact that what have been called the meetings of the Ambassadors had adjourned for a considerable time is no ground whatever for drawing any ill-omened inference as regards the relations of the Great Powers to each other. For 2282 some time the meetings of the Ambassadors have been regarded as the symbol of the existence of the Concert of Europe, but we have happily reached the stage at which I trust the Concert of Europe is so firmly established that the mere fact of the meetings of the Ambassadors being adjourned for the holidays will raise no doubts as regards the health and well-being of the Concert of the Great Powers of Europe. On the contrary, I think everyone who considers how startling, distressing, and sudden have been the events of the last few weeks in the Balkan Peninsula, and then at the same time recalls the fact that during these last few weeks there has been no talk of a cases fœderis arising among the different sets of Allies of the Great Powers, that there have been no rumours of mobilisation on the part of any of the Great, Powers, and no alarming reports of tension between any of the Great Powers—all that there was in the earlier stages of this Balkan trouble—anyone who remember.; that within the last few weeks we have had such startling and surprising events, and yet that there have been none of those rumours as to the intentions of the Great Powers which we had in the earlier stages, I think will be convinced that at the present moment the relations between the Great Powers are not in a condition which threatens the peace of Europe or gives rise for apprehension.
It is true, of course, that there has not been unanimity between the Great Powers. Anyone who reads the Continental Press will see that there is not unanimity on all points. The opinions expressed in the different countries on the merits of the different points of the Treaty of Bucharest differ, but there are no differences of opinion which show a tendency to divide the different groups of the Great Powers into opposing camps. And so, Sir, the meetings of the Ambassadors have been adjourned primarily because it is essential that the personnel of which they have been composed should have some rest. They have been working for many months. I believe that even all machines, whether a high-speed motor car or slow-driving mill machinery, must have a rest. The meetings of the Ambassadors have been the machinery by which communications between the Great Powers have been interchanged, and their personnel, being human, are not exempt from the law which applies to inanimate machinery. We all need rest. The work of the Foreign Office would have been heavy even with- 2283 out the meetings of the Ambassadors. The work entailed on each of the five Embassies would in any case have been exceptionally heavy during the past five months, but the fact that London has been the clearing house, so to say, for the opinions and discussions of the Great. Powers with regard to the Balkan crisis, has, of course, added greatly both to the work of the Foreign Office and the work of the respective Embassies. And so I trust that the Ambassadors are going to take some holidays which are thoroughly due to them, and no doubt they will get some of the refreshing inspiration which they get when making visits to their own countries and coming into personal contact with their own Governments. Personally, I propose to enjoy such leisure as is compatible with the ordinary work of the Foreign Office.
In the next place, I would like people to realise what it is that the meetings of the Ambassadors were called into existence to do. It has been an axiom of diplomacy for many a year past that if ever war broke out in the Balkans it would be impossible, or almost impossible, to prevent one or more of the Great Powers being dragged into the conflict. Suddenly, last October, we were confronted with that situation which had been regarded as so threatening and ominous to the peace of Europe, and the peace of the Great Powers themselves. Up to the time of the outbreak of that war in October there had been universal expectation that if war took place in the Balkans, the Great Powers, or some of the Great Powers, would be unable to keep out of it, and that, if one or more was brought it, it was impossible to say how many others would be brought in. I ought to say that the Great Powers at once set to work to see if they could not disappoint that gloomy expectation by localising the conflict, at all events, in the Balkans. They saw at once the necessity of keeping in touch with each other with that object. The ordinary method of diplomatic communication by which the Great Powers keep in touch with each other is that of telegrams between the different Capitals. That is a machinery which in the case of six Great Powers requires for its working six 'foreign Ministers and thirty Ambassadors—a personnel of thirty-six in all—necessarily a very cumbrous and slow-moving machine, and the meetings of Ambassadors in London were called into existence 2284 then as an emergency expedient by which through a simpler machinery than the ordinary diplomatic methods, the Great Powers might keep more constantly and more quickly in touch with regard to each difficulty as it arose. The object was to localise the war, and we found after surveying the ground that if Constantinople and Asiatic Turkey were not to be brought within the area of the war, and if these questions were not to be raised in the course of the war, then the Great Powers might find themselves in agreement, provided they came to an understanding with each other about Albania and the Ægean Islands. For that purpose we set to work to come to an understanding on these two points, taking Albania and the Ægean Islands as a matter of discussion between the Great Powers, on which it was essential to them to reach an agreement, if they were to keep in touch and friendship with each other, and to localise the war, and in this sense that with regard to the rest, provided Constantinople and Asiatic Turkey and the Straits were not touched, the rest could be fought out among the combatants themselves without interference.
That was not the only difficulty that was referred to the Ambassadors in the course of the last few months. As other questions arose they were from time to time brought up for discussion between the Ambassadors, because I think I may claim for that meeting that it became in a short time trusted by all the Powers, to this extent: that it was regarded as an eminently safe place at which to raise questions for discussion, and that if we could not settle things we did not, at any rate, make anything worse which was brought before us. But our main work was to secure agreement between the Great. Powers by dealing with the question of Albania, and in the question of Albania I include that of commercial access to Servia, to the Adriatic and the Ægean Islands. We have at last, after discussing many tedious details, reached an agreement which covers Albania and the Ægean Islands. I will not go into any details about what the actual agreement is. Roughly it is this, that an international commission of control is to be established with regard to Albania, with a gendarmerie under officers selected from one of the smaller neutral Powers, the object being to set up an autonomous State, eventually under a Prince selected by the great Powers. The difficulty of coming to an agreement about particular 2285 frontiers has been very great. Everyone will remember how difficult and how critical at some points were the questions raised in connection with the settlement of the north and north-eastern frontiers of Albania. They were settled some time ago. We have now come to an agreement for the delimitation under certain agreed conditions of the southern and south-eastern frontiers of Albania, which will complete the whole frontiers of this State. I am quite aware that when the whole comes to be stated it will be open on many points to a great deal of criticism from anyone with local knowledge who looks at it purely on the merits of the locality itself. It is to be borne in mind that in making that agreement the primary essential was to preserve agreement between the Great Powers themselves, and if the agreement about Albania has secured that it has done the work which is most essential in the interests of the peace of Europe.
Then there has been the question about the Ægean Islands. There are three points to be borne in mind about the Ægean Islands. In the first place, the bulk of the nationality of these islands is Greek. But there are other considerations than that to be borne in mind. Some of the islands have most important strategic positions; sonic of them command the entrance to the Straits; and the control of the entrance to the Straits is a matter, of course, vitally affecting Turkey and vitally affecting Powers which have a particular interest in seeing that the Straits are kept open. Besides that, some of the islands are exceedingly close to the coast of Asiatic Turkey, and if, as we trust, in future the Turkish authorities with improved government and sound finance are to continue to preserve the integrity of the Turkish Dominions in Asiatic Turkey, then it is essential that none of these islands should be used as a base from which disturbance may be created on the mainland in Asiatic Turkey. All those considerations have to be borne in mind. With regard to the greater part of this scheme we have not felt that British interests—I speak now of the whole of the Albanian and the Ægean Islands question—were so directly concerned as to make it necessary for us to take the leading part in initiating what the decision should be, but with regard to the 2Egean Islands there is one point on which we do feel that, owing to our position in the Mediterranean and to naval considerations, we have a particular interest, and it is this: that no one of these 2286 islands should be claimed or retained by one of the Great Powers. If one of these islands passes into the permanent possession of a Great Power it roust raise questions of great importance and great difficulty. The Great Powers themselves feel this and at the beginning of the Conference passed a self-denying ordinance in this sense, that to preserve union amongst them they would none of them take advantage of the conflict still proceeding in the Balkans to claim territory for themselves. We have had a special interest to see that that should hold good with regard to the Ægean Islands and that interest remains. The Ægean Islands have been complicated by the fact that there is a special Treaty of Lausanne between Italy and Turkey, of a date prior to this outbreak, under which Italy is in possession temporarily of certain of these islands until Turkey has fulfilled the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne and withdrawn all Turkish officers and troops from Cyrenaica. The provision of the Treaty of Lausanne has not yet been fulfilled on the part of Turkey and Italy remains in occupation of those particular islands.
That Treaty is, of course, a matter between Italy and Turkey which the Great Powers would not naturally take into consideration, but they were forced by this war in the Balkans to consider the question of these islands and they could not consider the question of the islands except as a whole. The agreement we have really come to is this. The destiny of these Ægean Islands—all of them including those in the temporary occupation of Italy—is a matter which concerns all the Great Powers, and must be settled eventually by them and no Great Power is to retain one of these islands for itself. Until the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne between Italy and Turkey are completely fulfilled, of course, the final settlement as regards these particular islands in Italian occupation cannot be made, and naturally the question may arise of what is to happen supposing the fulfilment on the part of Turkey of the Treaty of Lausanne with regard to Cyrenaica is indefinitely postponed and the Italian occupation of these islands is therefore indefinitely prolonged. Italy has never allowed us for one moment to doubt that it is her intention to complete that part of that Treaty with regard to these islands and retire from these islands when Turkey has completed her part. We have complete confidence in her good 2287 faith. Indeed it would be entirely wrong to suggest for a moment that there was any doubt of her good faith in the matter. We have complete confidence in that. We know that she is pressing Turkey and is anxious to get Turkey to fulfil her part of the Treaty, and therefore the question of what will happen if that is indefinitely delayed is one which need not occupy us at the present moment. The great thing is that the principle should be laid down that the destiny of the Ægean Islands is one which concerns all the Powers, and that no one Great Power can claim one of those islands for itself.
The matter has been complicated by the Treaty of Lausanne, but the way in which Italy, whose original Treaty has not yet been fulfilled, has been ready to come to a general agreement about these islands which will take effect when that Treaty is fulfilled, I take as evidence of the friendliness of the Italian Government, and as evidence that they are entirely at one with us and the rest of the Powers that the question of the Ægean Islands is a European question to be settled by all the Powers. There is no more on these points of Albania and the 2Egean Islands that could be done by the Powers at the moment, and I think that it ought to be borne in mind that the meetings of Ambassadors have not really been meetings of Plenipotentiary. We have been criticised sometimes for not settling this matter or the other. It has not rested with the meetings of Ambassadors to settle questions. It is true that personally, of course, I go there as a Plenipotentiary in a position to give the assent of the British Government when required, but the Ambassadors themselves are not Plenipotentiaries. They are only ordinary Ambassadors acting under the instructions of their respective Governments, and things were referred to the meeting of Ambassadors for discussion, and it did not rest with the meeting of Ambassadors to settle the questions off-hand at the meeting. Whatever they discussed or recommended had to be referred to their respective Governments for settlement. Whenever I look back on the past few months on certain episodes with regard to the frontier of Albania, and the anxiety and tension which took place as to the way in which difficult corners which had to be turned in a comparatively limited time were successively turned, I think I may claim that as regards the relations between the Great Powers, the 2288 meetings of Ambassadors have been of great use at moments of great and urgent crisis in the relations between the Great Powers. But for the facilities which were provided by these meetings here of Ambassadors, some of the agreements which were reached on controversial points might not have been reached at all, or might not have been reached in time.
On the other hand, there is another side of providing great facilities for discussion between the Great Powers. In times of crisis, urgency, and stress it has been exceedingly useful, but when you come to further points, the very facility with which points can be raised and discussed at such a meeting is apt to multiply the number of points which are raised. When things are very serious everybody subordinates points of minor importance to the discussion of points of greater urgency, and, when things become less serious, the mere fact that it is possible at any moment to have any question brought on for discussion has a tendency to multiply the number of points, and for the time being, while the holidays take place, the Great Powers will, of course, continue the many important questions which remain to be discussed through the ordinary diplomatic channels, which people should remember are still fully available, though what I call the emergency expedient is not for the moment working. I want to say to the House something on the situation of the moment. There are two most serious and difficult questions which the events of the last few weeks have made it necessary for the Powers to consider. There is the effectual settlement of Thrace and the settlement of Macedonia; in other words, the two great questions occupying the minds of the Powers at the present moment, and which must occupy them for some time to come, are the Turkish reoccupation of Thrace and the division of Macedonia under the Treaty of Bucharest. I will take the question of Thrace first. The Turkish Government has disregarded the Treaty which was drawn up in London under the auspices of the Powers, and, as the Prime Minister has said, when the ink was scarcely dry, they disregarded the line fixed by that Treaty, and have reoccupied Thrace and Adrianople. That was a Treaty to which the Great Powers were not actual parties, but which was made under their auspices.
2289 Then there was another agreement made under the auspices of the Great Powers, an agreement between Roumania, and Bulgaria, which was made at St. Petersburg. That also has been disregarded. More distressing than any of these events, or at least as distressing, has been the fact that, as the Prime Minister said in the same speech, Macedonia has been drenched with blood by war between those who were lately allies, joined in an alliance cemented by bloodshed in a common cause, and who have in the last few weeks turned upon each other and been engaged in a war between themselves, accompanied by most terrible circumstances. I find it impossible, in looking at the situation of the last few weeks, to select a high, ethical, and moral standard, and single out one particular Power from the rest for judgment. Every State connected with the war in the Balkans in the last few weeks has, it seems to me, with a disregard of Treaties, agreements, or alliances, set itself in its own way to take advantage, or attempt to take advantage, of the situation, and I do not see that any good purpose would be served either to British interests, or that it would be in the interests of ordinary fairness, that we should select any one particular State among these and head the hue and cry against it for having disregarded the Treaties. One satisfaction there is, at any rate, and that is that peace, or at least, the cessation of hostilities has now taken place, and that peace is apparently assured by the fact that demobilisation is being pursued. That, at any rate, is some relief. Now with regard to the question of Thrace and Adrianople. The Powers made a representation at Constantinople that, roughly, that the Enos-Media Line laid down by the Treaty signed in London ought to be respected, but that in requiring the Turkish respect to that they were willing to take into consideration any points that Turkey regarded as absolutely indispensable for the defence of Constantinople and her frontier.
Some of the best military opinion is that, from the strategic point of view alone, the occupation of Adrianople by Turkey would be a great mistake. I agree, and I think all the Powers agree, that the object of the Treaty of London was to give the Turks a good frontier by which they could defend Constantinople. A good frontier can be given on the lines of the 2290 Treaty of London; but the retention of Thrace and of Adrianople would, in some of the best opinion, be an extra burden on the finances of Turkey in time of peace, and a positive source of weakness to Turkey in time of war. The Great Powers have a right to expect that their advice and wishes on this question should be regarded. The Enos-Media Line might never have existed, but for the knowledge that on the part of one or more of the Great Powers there would have been intervention had the question of Constantinople or the straits been raised during the war between Turkey and the Balkan Allies; that is to say, had the Balkan Allies pressed their success at one point so far as to raise, not the question of the Enos-Media Line, but the question of Constantinople, one or more of the Great Powers might have intervened; that is to say, but for the fact that the Great Powers had an interest in this question, the question of the Turkish frontier might not have been so favourable to Turkey even as the Enos-Media Line. If it is due directly or indirectly to the influence of the Great Powers that the terms of the Treaty of London stopped short of the Enos-Media Line, and did not go beyond it, then the Great Powers are entitled to make their wishes known, and to give their advice at Constantinople when it comes to be a question of settling the Turkish frontier now. Our policy towards Turkey is that which I have stated in the House before, of consolidating and securing Turkish authority and Turkish integrity in her dominions in Asiatic Turkey, and in the territory left to her behind the Enos-Media Line — that policy which depends upon reforms in Asiatic Turkey, which depends on sound finance if it is to be successful, the establishment of justice, order, and good government in the Turkish dominions.
The real danger to Turkey is not from external attack, but from internal disorders and internal weakness. The policy which we wish to pursue is one which for its success depends on the consent and goodwill of the other European Powers. It is idle to suppose that we alone, by lending British officers to Turkey, or giving assistance of that kind, can make a success of that policy. Asiatic Turkey interests so many of the Powers, and interests them so importantly, that whatever is to be done there must be done with the consent of all. We have expressed our opinion with regard to the assistance that should be 2291 given to Turkey in the form of sound finance by being constantly of opinion that Turkey should not have placed upon her, as a consequence of this war, an indemnity which would cripple her finances and make the re-establishment of her authority difficult or impossible. We are anxious to see that she should have a good strategic frontier for Constantinople. That, we believe, is the true policy and true interest of Turkey, but it needs the goodwill of all the Powers. That goodwill cannot be obtained unless the advice of the Powers is taken with respect to Adrianople and Thrace. It is not for us to use the language of threats, unless we are ourselves contemplating separate coercive measures, and I use no such language, but, if Turkey does not accept the advice of the Powers, it will from the beginning paralyse any policy dependent on their goodwill, and sooner or later, whether it be by financial distress or whether it be by armed intervention on the part of one or more of the Powers, the disregard of their advice about Adrianople will, I am sure, bring on the Turkish Government disastrous consequences from which we cannot protect them.
I believe it would be a most disastrous mistake if Turkey in this matter did not take the advice of the Powers. I believe—in fact, I know—that if she is prepared to take the advice of the Powers, they will be prepared to put before her a satisfactory proposition for a good strategic frontier, and for assistance in carrying out the policy which I have indicated as the policy in which we wish to join, and as the policy we wish to see pursued. But the difficulty about Adrianople and about Thrace may wreck the whole prospect of that. That is why I speak, I trust, in sufficiently clear language, not the language of menace, and not in any but the language of frankness. I am speaking from what we believe to be the true interests of Turkey itself. I should like to go a little further on this point, and the point of our relations with Mahomedan Powers generally, and to say this: No Minister of the Crown can speak on these matters without remembering that the King has many millions of Mahomedan subjects. What responsibility does that entail? I wish there to be a clear understanding as to what that responsibility is. For one thing, and one thing only, have we absolute and entire responsibility, and that is for seeing that inside the British Dominions the racial sentiments and 2292 religious feelings of these Mahomedan subjects are respected and have full scope. That is the only thing for which we have complete and entire responsibility. That duty we will fulfil, and we do fulfil absolutely. I think we may go further, and rightly claim that in deference to the susceptibilities of any great section of subjects of the Crown our policy should never be one of intolerance or wanton or unprovoked aggression against a Mussulman Power. That, I think, we are entitled to claim. But we cannot undertake the duty of protecting Mussulman Powers outside the British Dominions from the consequences of their own action. Where there be any question of real outrage on Mahomedan feeling and sentiment in any part of the world, that we will make clear is not a thing in which we can join, and there might even be circumstances in which, say, if a pilgrimage to Holy places was interfered with, or things of that sort, we might say it was absolutely necessary, in the interests of vast subjects of the Crown, that we should see that outrage was not done to our people. But to suppose that we can undertake the protection of and are bound to regulate our European policy so as to side with the Mussulman Power when that Mussulman Power rejects the advice given to it, that is not a claim which we can admit.
I pass from that to the other question of the Treaty of Bucharest—the treatment of Macedonia. I think it is desirable that if there be interference with the Treaty of Bucharest it should be the minimum of interference, and that that Treaty should be regarded as valid, subject. to modification on any particular points which each individual Great Power whose interests they may consider are more closely affected than ours wished to make. I do not for a moment and I do not think anybody disputes the right of any of the Great Powers to select a point or points in that Treaty of Bucharest and to say that it requires modification in their opinion, and that, therefore, it must be discussed. But, it ought to be borne in mind, if revision is suggested on any one point of that Treaty of Bucharest by one Power, it is probable some other Power will suggest revision on another, and it is quite clear that it is futile to suggest modification of the Treaty of Bucharest with the temper of those who have made that Treaty unless the Powers which propose that modification should be made are prepared to assert their will by 2293 force. And so I say, with regard to the Treaty of Bucharest, we are prepared to acquiesce in whatever decision will secure the assent of the Great Powers, but we do not ourselves propose to suggest any point of modification or to take any initiative in suggesting modification. I think with regard to Macedonia and with regard to Thrace the Powers probably would require more time to examine the whole situation created by the Turkish reoccupation of Thrace and by the Treaty of Bucharest to decide finally what demands they have to make or what steps they desire to take. There are one or two recent events one cannot pass over in silence. I suppose seldom has Europe witnessed a more distressing spectacle than the events, the progressive events, of the months since the war began. It began as a war of liberation, it became rapidly a war of conquest, and it has ended, if all the stories are true and all the charges are true which the different States engaged in the war bring against each other, in being a war of extermination.
I do not say that all the charges the different States have made, whether they be charges made against Turkey or made against Bulgaria, or made against Greece, or made against any of the others, are true. I have no doubt there has been considerable exaggeration, but I fear that we cannot say, if the whole truth were known, that all the charges are wholly unfounded against any of them. Anyhow, it is distressing enough that people who were lately Allies engaged in a common cause should be engaged not only in fighting each other, but in circulating against each other the most terrible accounts about outrages committed upon one nationality by another. The conflagration, I think, has nearly burned itself out, because everything consumable has been consumed; but what of the future? I think anyone who dwells on the awful passions and ferocity might well argue nothing good could come. All we can trust is that out of suffering will come the serious mind, and that to every one of these States comes the chance, after this time of carnage is over, to profit by experience and by new opportunities, and that time will show what qualities of character and growth there are in those different nationalities which may secure for them their respective places in the world. We cannot judge of the present without remembering the past. It is during the last few months 2294 that the pent-up passions and hatreds of generations have been let loose, as anyone who has read day by day the accounts in the Press knows. These things have happened in history before, and, while there is not much to make one optimistic, there is a great deal in the knowledge of history to prevent one being completely pessimistic. Although I think it is impossible not to comment on the distressing aspects of the situation, and impossible not to be apprehensive as to what the future may have in store for this country which has been the arena of conflict, one hopes that, at any rate, the awful experiences through which they have all been will have done something to deepen their character and produce the serious mind.
The Concert of Europe, I suppose, is criticised because it has not prevented these things happening. I am afraid the Concert of Europe is not very sensitive to criticism. Lord Salisbury compared it once to a steam-roller, and a steam-roller never gives one the impression of being very sensitive to criticism. But it ought to be borne in mind that the Concert of Europe set itself to one object, and that was, to localise the war, and on the whole, I think, the Concert of Europe has been wise in setting itself that object and not going beyond that object. To attempt more might have been to endanger the whole Concert. It is easy enough to talk about the great strength of the European Powers, and how they could make their will respected if they chose to do so. Of course, they could do what is possible by naval demonstration when such things are likely to be of use but if the Powers were to have intervened effectively in recent events, they would have had to use troops; they would have had to land those troops, and march them to shoot at the risk of being shot. In your own country's quarrel you do those things but it is exceedingly difficult to get the Powers of Europe, or any of them, to vote money and to use its troops in any cause except one which it feels the interests of its own country absolutely requires. The question of going to war in order to impose peace is always a very doubtful question, but I would not have it supposed because the Powers have not used force, and have not intervened by force, that under no circumstances will any one of them do so. I think if intervention comes by force it will probably not be by the Concert of Europe, and it will probably not be by the Concert of Europe giving a mandate to one of its members, but it may 2295 be that one of the Great Powers or another may be so provoked that it may take matters into its own hands in its own interest, and the others may deem the provocation is such as to justify its action. Under certain circumstances that might become a very real contingency. I do not think it is one which I contemplate as coming home specially to us; but I do think that those States, whether it be Turkey or the Balkan States, must not count upon the fact that the abstinence of the Great Powers from intervention by force during the last few months means that under all circumstances no one of the Great Powers would intervene if sufficient provocation is given.
I thought it right to make some statement to the House about Foreign Affairs before the Session ends. We are not committed in this country to any new engagement. Where British interests are threatened or primarily affected, of course statements ought to be frequently made. Over the bulk of these matters British interests have not been directly affected, or not so much affected as those of some other Powers. In one instance, that of the Ægean Islands, where I think our interests may be directly affected, I have explained the position explicitly this afternoon. It is always difficult to make these statements on questions of this kind when we know the susceptibilities of some of those interested in this Balkan question and who are more directly affected than we are, and more keenly alive than ourselves, and it is very difficult to survey the ground from time to time without feeling that it is impossible to speak with a freedom which might not be agreeable to other Powers which are more closely engaged. But I would like to recognise whenever the Prime Minister or I had occasion to speak through this Balkan crisis, the Press of other countries has shown goodwill towards anything we have had to say, and we have every reason to be grateful. The amount of good that any one country can do in promoting the peace of Europe, depends very largely upon the credit which it has for good intentions. If it has credit fur good intentions, it may say a great deal, and if it has not that credit, even the wisest and most carefully guarded words may do more harm than good. I do gratefully acknowledge in all criticisms which I have seen upon the action of the British Government, or utterances made 2296 on behalf of the British Government, we have had in other countries during this crisis, credit for being animated by good intentions. That credit, I trust, we may continue to deserve, and the House may be assured that if there is a question of British interests being directly affected, or this country being committed to engagements, we will take the House into our confidence, and the House may rest assured we will continue to work as closely as possible with other Powers in the interests of common peace, which is our great object to secure.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The right hon. Gentleman concluded by pointing out how difficult it is in cases where other Powers have interests more close than ours for him to make a statement with regard to it. I feel it is necessary for me to say a few words after the speech to which we have just listened, and I shall try to avoid saying anything that could by any possibility do any harm to the policy which the right hon. Gentleman is carrying out. He spoke of what has been happening in the Balkans, and the view which he expressed about it is, I am sure, the view of everyone who heard him. It is less than a year since the war broke out there, and during that time the events which have happened are indeed remarkable. The Allies in the war against Turkey succeeded with a rapidity and a completeness which, I think, surprised all the Chancelleries of Europe. In that war the Allies displayed qualities of courage, discipline, organisation, and national sentiment, which won universal admiration, and I think I am not wrong in saying that the world, which is not unmindful of the debt which it owes to Greece for the past, was not sorry to see the part which the Hellenic Kingdom played in these events. But what has happened since is, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, a very different thing. The Allies have turned their swords against each other. The Balkan Peninsula has always been a cockpit of war — I suppose there is no part of the world where war has been more almost universal—yet. I do not think that in the whole history of that region there has ever been a war which seems so deplorable as that which has just come to a close. The amount of suffering, misery, and loss of life is probably greater than was caused in the war against Turkey, and the nature of that suffering will probably never be known. As the right hon. Gentleman said, the great Powers had to look on, and with the best 2297 intentions were unable in any way to prevent what was going on. It is easy to sneer at the powerlessness of those Great Powers, but I am not inclined to join in that sneer. When we remember how great the difficulties were, and how different were the interests of the Powers which were more closely affected than we were—differences both of interest and sympathy—I think it is difficult to imagine in what way they could have interfered without running the risk of a calamity greater even than that which occurred. At all events, we have this to be thankful for, that the Powers succeeded in limiting the area of conflagration and preventing a European war, which would have been the most appalling calamity that anyone can conceive. For that result I think the action of the right hon. Gentleman deserves some credit. That calamity has been avoided.
Apart from the action of individual Powers, two considerations emerge which give us hope for the future. One of those is—at least it seems so to me—that the grouping of the Great Powers in alliances, while not a guarantee of peace, does tend in the direction of peace. I think it is evident to everyone that when each Power that is interested, and would like to intervene, knows that it must carry with it the other Powers with whom it acts, action is likely to be more deliberate, and in that way there is a greater probability that the peace will not be broken. The other fact which emerges is that it is evident that no Great Power desires war; for during the past year there have been many opportunities for it, and, if they had desired it, nothing would have been easier than to bring it about. I think, therefore, we may be confident that all of them feel as strongly as we do and I cannot put it higher than that—that our main interest is to preserve the peace of Europe. In all that has happened the right hon. Gentleman has played not only a, part, but I think in this case almost a leading part. It was at his suggestion, I think, that the Conference of Ambassadors to which he has alluded was arranged, and while it has been very useful in dealing with the specific subject to which he referred, it was probably more useful in keeping the Powers in touch with each other and preventing any outbreak of special animosity or special feeling. In playing that part the right hon. Gentleman had two great advantages, to one of which he has referred. I think he will agree with rile that there never has been a Foreign 2298 Secretary who was less hampered in a critical time by what happened at home. I am not speaking merely of our party. On the whole, I think the support which lie has received from his country has been almost greater than has ever fallen to any Foreign Secretary in the past. The result of that has been that he has been able to speak always, and the world knew that he spoke, not for one party, but for the British nation, and that power has added emphasis to everything he has tried to do.
The other advantage is one to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded, and I think it has been even greater than the other, namely, that in the events which were happening we had no selfish interests of any kind. Even the matter of the Ægean Islands, to Which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, was only of interest to us in our desire to preserve the peace of the world. We had no selfish interests, and the world recognised that we had no selfish interest, and our disinterestedness gave us a weight which could not have been enjoyed by any Power more directly concerned in what was happening. In addition to that, I must say that, from all that I have heard, the. personality and the reputation for straightforwardness and candour which the right hon. Gentleman enjoys enabled him to snake use to the utmost of the advantages to which I have referred. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the machinery needing a rest. I can assure him that everyone who has watched these events closely has felt how great must have been the strain which was borne by him. It was not only that the circumstances were difficult, but the strain was so long continued. When one difficulty was got out of the way Another more menacing arose in its place. I am sure that everyone is delighted that the machinery has a chance of resting, and no one will enjoy a holiday with more goodwill from the whole House of Commons than the right hon. Gentleman. I think we have reason to congratulate him and the country on the statement which he has been able to make to-day. It is a great thing that the Albanian difficulty has been got out of the way. If the Great Powers have agreed upon it, however much room there may be for criticism, it may be considered that the difficulty is in the main removed. That is a great thing. We all know that difficulties still remain. The right hon. Gentleman referred to one of them, the most 2299 important, and that is the present position of Turkey. I have great hesitation in saying anything about that, but. I feel bound to say that with every word which he said, so far as I understand the situation, I entirely agree. I think nothing can be more unreasonable than to have taken up the attitude which I see in some quarters that Turkey is breaking the 'Treaty of London, and that she ought to be coerced to obey. That can hardly be said when all the Powers are practically in the same position of neglecting obligations under which they have come.
But that does not alter the real facts of the situation. It is true that we have an immense number of Mussulman subjects, and certainly nothing would be worse than that they should have any idea that because of religion there was to be one measure meted out to Turkey and another to the Christian populations. Such a position could never be taken up by any British statesman. I think it is true, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that the best hope for Turkey now, after what has happened, is in the consolidation of the great heritage which still remains to her, and I agree with him also in thinking that that consolidation can only take place with the good will of the other Powers as well as ourselves. For that good will it is necessary that. Turkey should at least pay some regard to the wish of the Great Powers of Europe. I am sure that if the Turkish Government seriously and earnestly deal with what is left of their Empire, they will find that it has been not weakened but strengthened by what has happened, and that there is still room for what is certainly the interest of Turkey, of Great Britain, and, I believe, of all the Great Powers, namely, that Turkey should still continue to exist in a solid and substantial set of circumstances. I have nothing more to say, except that the right hon. Gentleman is to be congratulated, and I am sure the whole House congratulates him on the way in which, so far, he has emerged from difficulties as threatening as were ever faced by the Great Powers of Europe. We congratulate him on his success up till now. We can at least feel sure that the greatest of all the dangers which we feared, the danger of a European war is gone, and we cannot but believe that the success which has attended him as far as the rest of Europe is concerned, will continue until all these matters have been satisfactorily settled.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. NOEL BUXTON
It is no mere commonplace to congratulate my right hon. Friend at this stage of a crisis which has now lasted for nearly a year on the prestige that has accrued to this country in the councils of the world, and on the peace which has been secured in spite of fears which have lasted for so long. I would like to add my congratulations on matters which seem to me even more real than those. I should like to congratulate my right hon. Friend on the fact that the corner has been turned, and that a. very stiff fence has been got over, in spite of the danger which there was cause to fear on account of the tradition so long prevalent in regard to Austria's ambition in the Balkans—the tradition that Austria intended to go to Salonika, which, after all, she has waived. Upon the fact that that fence has been surmounted my right hon. Friend is entitled to much congratulation. But there is a more positive ground upon which I would put my congratulations, and that is that at the end of this crisis the grouping of Europe is a subject of far more congratulation than it was at the beginning. The division into groups has largely gone. You have this significant illustration, that Russia is not divided from Austria on the immediate question of the moment, but is closely associated with her, and that the two Powers notably associated on the difficult point of an Ægean port are Germany and France themselves—associated in friendship instead of being divided by sundering difficulties. If it is particularly appropriate that this subject should be debated in this House, it is because my right hon. Friend has made this country prominent amongst the Great Powers who have taken action in connection with the Balkan war. My right hon. Friend said not long ago that there was no reason why announcements should be made here more often than in other Parliaments. The fact that they have been made here rather more often than in other Parliaments is a measure of the importance and of the success of my right hon. Friend's policy, and a measure of the congratulations due to him. We have seen during the last few months a very extraordinary and curious episode, in which certain small nations hitherto hardly known in the world at all have suddenly leapt into prominence and into a very considerable popularity because of their fighting feats and their military capacity, hitherto unsuspected except to military 2301 students of military strategy and military statistics. During the last few months, too, we have seen this country, which blew so hot last autumn, blowing cold again towards those small nations, and to the interests of the Balkan races. Interest was easily aroused by the success in fighting. We have seen a very chilling attitude because of the reports of outrages and atrocities—exaggerated, as my right hon. Friend has said they are. There is great disappointment, I think, prevalent in the public mind. That disappointment I only allude to because those of us who know the Balkans very well cannot but feel that that disappointment is largely ignorant disappointment. What has happened is not so vastly different to what was expected and what was bound to happen. Perhaps the greatest authority upon the Balkan Peninsula is the well-known correspondent of the "Times." He has held from the beginning that the differences between the Balkan States were of such a fundamental and well-grounded kind that there could not but be a very serious strain upon their relations and that there must be war unless the Great Powers intervened to prevent it. I am not saying they could have prevented it. But you must not judge the Balkan States as if they were so vastly different from the great European States. What they have done has been based upon causes for war very much greater than the comparatively slight causes which have often led to war between the Great Powers.
We have now a period when some violent feelings have arisen between the different sections and the advocates of the different nations in the Balkans. My hon. Friend whom I see on the other side proclaims justice for Albania. Another sets forth to proclaim the rights of Turkey. Another stands forward for the Greeks. For my part, I would say that it is better o to avoid in these matters sentiment, nationalist or personal, which naturally leads us to prefer one nation or the other. Had not we better remember that what we are really discussing, and perhaps differing about, is the question which Government is the best Government for the unfortunate population composing the populations of the Balkans, who have themselves been the unhappy victims of this fighting, and not the cause of it? Having no animus against any of the nations, certainly not against the Turks, and having perhaps among even then as many keen personal 2302 friends as any hon. Member who may take a specially pro-Turkish view, I would like to appeal for the application now of pure reason to this question of the future of the Balkans, and to test the policy which should be pursued simply by this—a somewhat mechanical test, if you like—Is it a policy which will lead to the most happiness of the largest number of human lives, the greatest amount of trade, the greatest prosperity, and the greatest economic development in that part of the world? Certainly for those of us who know the Balkans as amateurs, who have gone there to study the question what it was like, it is not for us to parade our knowledge of high politics or diplomatic facts. If we are of any use it is because we know sometimes even more than the diplomats what are the local traditions. There are, fortunately, in this House many men on both sides familiar with the Balkans and with Asiatic Turkey—men who have travelled there. If the Balkan Committee, so often quoted, and, if I may say so, misquoted, is of any use, it is because it has got together a good many men who know the Balkans intimately from travelling there. I submit that what we can most usefully do is to bring to the public notice, and to the notice of the Foreign Office too, the opinions of men like Sir Arthur Evans, the archeologist, who, from his innumerable journeys in the Balkans and his knowledge of the dialects of the different districts, knows extremely well what are the wishes of the inhabitants with regard to future government. There is also Mr. James Bryce and Sir Edwin Pears, the leader of the Consular party in Constantinople. These know the situation. The Balkans are better known in this country than in almost any of the great States of Europe. It is a somewhat singular fact that owing to our past action in that part of the world, the interest that English people take in relief funds and so on, that there are actually, I think, many more independent travellers, including many Members of this House on both sides who know Turkey than you will find in Vienna, or Paris, and certainly Berlin.
Of the three points which are of special interest at this juncture, one and not the least important which I would like to say a. word or two about is the matter of the relief work which interests so many hon. Members of this House. May I thank my right hon. Friend very sincerely for the interest he 2303 has taken in this relief work. It. is through the permission of the Foreign Office that several of the Consuls have taken part in it. This work is not at all without value from the point of view of the information gained by the Foreign Office; but incidentally it, is of very great value in the cause of saving life among these unfortunate people. One I would like particularly to mention whom I did not know before, and scarcely know personally now, is Mr. Wilkie Young, of the Consular staff at Philippopolis. I hope he has not overworked himself in the service of the Relief Fund during the last winter, but he certainly, through his work, has made a difference to many many hundreds, if not thousands of human lives, who would have perished but for the assistance of the Foreign Office, given in that way. I submit it is only fitting that the English Foreign Office should help in this way, because we have historically and otherwise a duty to these countries and to these people. It is not denied—indeed you may read it in the most pro-Turkish papers, like, for instance, the "Morning Post," that we should have done better to have left the Treaty of San Stefano alone. Granting all that, on which there is now no difference of opinion, we have a great duty to that part of the world. We have also the tradition of impartiality and benefaction, very suitably applied to the Balkans. The English public, as distinguished from the English Government, has done extremely well in this matter, and I think it deserves a word of commendation. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary told the House the other day that something like £100,000 had been subscribed in this country for the relief of the refugees in the Balkans. The English Government, as a rule, is hampered by the necessity of working with the other members of the Concert. In regard to this matter of charity, which it can assist through the Consuls, it is very fitting that it should be generous. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary also told the House the other day that conditions might arise in which the British Government would take part in the actual giving of money. I hope that those circumstances may not be as far off as appears at the moment. There is this fact, which is not known in regard to help of this kind, and which cannot be known to those who have not travelled there, that the Consuls in that part of the world have not the same mainly com- 2304 mercial functions as Consuls of the ordinary kind. The Levant Service is as muck political as commercial. For instance, eight and six years ago the Consuls in Macedonia engaged in the melancholy task of compiling statistics of murder. It is only natural that, closely associated with their work, they should be given the charge of relief operations when crises occur. I would urge upon my right hon. Friend that the utmost use should be made of the Consuls. The test of all is the actual saving of as much human life and' preventing as much human misery as possible. Some of the members of the Consular staff have gained high honour in this connection, and nothing could be more appropriate. For instance I should mention Major Doughty Wylie, who was wounded in the massacres at Adana. Because of the magnificent work which some of these gentlemen did they should have the honour which justly belongs to them.
May I say a word on the question of the settlement between the Allies which has taken such a strange form after all that appeared likely three months ago? There are three principles which, among all the principles which have to be applied to arriving at a settlement, may be urged by those who know the Balkans as of particular importance. Firstly, there is the consent of the governed themselves. If there is peace in view and permanence is desired, if the people themselves are to be considered at all, then it is very important to know what are the wishes of those people. It. is not denied that the population of Central Macedonia as distinct from those of the Coast, is, by the Treaty of Bucharest, coming under Governments which are alien to it, and which will be repugnant to it. I wish I could bring to the mind of the House what this actually means. Seven years ago I was travelling near Monastir—my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the o Treasury may remember the occasion. In a village on the edge of the plain we found ourselves in a district where, under the protection of the Turkish Government in those melancholy times, Greek bands had been allowed to force the population to call themselves Greek. Those people were Bulgarians. They could not, speak a word of Greek. In the little village school, a tiled building, with a mud floor, rather larger than the majority of the peasant houses, perhaps thirty children were sitting on very rude benches. They were sitting in a melancholy manner before their 2305 Greek books and learning, or professing to learn, from a Greek teacher and being made into little Greeks. The Bulgarian priest meanwhile had gone. The Greek priest had come. The notables of the village had gone. Those who were rich enough to move had gone away. The place was being forcibly made into something which it did not want to be. You had there a microcosm of what will obtain all over this enormous district of Bulgarian Macedonia, which will now by the Treaty of Bucharest find itself under an alien Government. Economically there is, of course, another argument for these people to refuse such a settlement. We have seen the Treaty of Bucharest in regard to the port of Kavala. I suppose my right lion Friend would not deny that it is very probable that the Bulgarian people, if they are to be progressive and economically developed, should have some port on the Ægean, and the only port which is possible for Bulgaria proper is Kavala. It has been placed in the very corner, and a narrow corner, of the new frontiers of the Greeks, and there is no hinterland which is Greek at all—the Bulgarian frontier coming immediately behind it. The district beyond will be drawn away by very expensive railways to the cast. That will be wasteful to the world. This is one of the greatest tobacco districts in the world. The tobacco goes over to Egypt to be made into Egyptian tobacco. It goes through the port of Kavala. But now you will have, as the Treaty stands, the extremely uneconomic influence of a particularly good port with no hinterland, and you will have a hinterland from which all the trade is drawn away to another port. No one can say that that is likely to last or to be of advantage to the world. Not only is the port of Kavala, taken away, but there is not even a port for Eastern Bulgaria, because there is no access to Dedeagach while Turkey holds Adrianople. I submit that from the point of view of the Concert and from the point of view of the permanence of peace there is practically no chance at all that the Bulgarian State will acquiesce in contemplating such a frontier between itself and a port which is, above all, of importance to Bulgaria. It is not at all impossible that the best friends of Greece are disappointed that some pressure should not be put upon her by the Concert's 'representatives in this respect. It is always impossible for a State to make concessions of territory, 2306 and it is the last thing to which reasonable argument can be applied. The last Bulgarian war probably broke out in defiance of the wishes of the chief men in the Allied States, and in spite of such men as M. Venizelos and in obedience to the noisy elements in their country and the military influence. These particular elements made it impossible for M. Venizelos and the leading statesmen of Greece to prevent the war, and they would not be unthankful if there was some pressure put upon them so as to save their face and make the danger of war remote in the future. But from the point of view of the Concert, to put it upon the plainest ground of self-interest, we know what the menace has been in the Balkans for years. The Concert wishes to put an end to that for the future. If the Treaty stands as it is, that certainly cannot be looked for for long.
There remains the question of the invasion of Thrace, to which my right hon. Friend referred, and may I say I am very glad of the way in which he did refer to it? It is really the chief question before the Concert now. There were various arguments Used in connection with the queston of compelling respect to the Treaty of London. There is the question to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, the mere fact that the Treaty exists; but the prestige of the Concert is more important, and the fact that Bulgaria is cut off from the Ægean is another important fact. There is divergence of opinion upon the question because of the campaign of out rage, the campaign of calumny as it largely has been, which has been made a reproach against, the Balkan States, and particularly against Bulgaria. My right hon. Friend nut it mildly when he said that exaggeration is familiar in the Balkans. Anyone familiar with the Near East and the Levant will take statements in regard to these matters as not having exactly the same meaning as they convey in English. My hon. Friends opposite will support me in this familiar fact. Probably 80 per cent, of these statements may be true, and there has been, at all events, a most deplorable breakdown of human nature, as is bound to occur amongst populations long kept under savage conditions, prevented from advancing in education, and compelled to resort to mere violence in contrast with the use of reason or constitutional agitation in any form. It has been bad enough even at the smallest, but it is not fair that 2307 our condemnation should be visited upon these people because in this case, at the end of a war in which there were Allies, they should find that their natural difficulties, with their populations overlapping, excited war amongst themselves.
There has been an outburst of horror against Christian nations fighting between themselves; but are we not perfectly familiar with war between Christian nations? Is that argument used when there is a question of war between ourselves and other nations? Is it not hypocritical to find so much fault with these people, not different from ourselves, who are of European stock and having the germs of progress, because they go to war with each other? What is essential is that on the very first opportunity of advancing their own affairs, they have advanced very quickly, and the marvellous thing is that they have always established order and that massacre has never been found under the Government of one of these smaller peoples when they are allowed their own way. There is ground for the hope of my right hon. Friend that there is very much brighter period in store for those peoples. These outrages are nasty and we would gladly ignore them, but I do hold that the question of outrages in connection with the nature of government is very fundamental to the question that my right hon. Friend has dealt with. The really final test that ought to be applied in all these things is this: What is the form of government which leads to the most order and happiness and prosperity? I cannot help coming to the conclusion—and I wish hon. Members who differ from me would persuade me otherwise—that the Turkish Government has been in the past, and we see no reason to think that it will be any different now—whether it is due to the character of the Turks or not—a Government which has led to disorders which do not occur under other Governments. And the ruin is not only economic; it is a ruin of property and lives, and the ruin of the honour of women, which we do not find, as a matter of fact, under any other Government. I challenge those who differ from me to give me a single case where under a Government which has been liberated from Turkish rule there have been in times of peace massacres and gross disorders comparable to what historically happened time and again under Turkey. What seems to me most 2308 melancholy is, in addition to massacres, the constant demoralisation of the population which lives under Turkish Government.
We are absorbed in high political ideas and the glamour surrounding this business of the Concert's work, but we want to, recall our minds to what is really the most important factor — welfare in the homes of the people. Those of us who are familiar with these things—and I was familiar with them during the war—know that many Greek families who live in Thrace came under the Bulgarian Government. I wish to bring home to the minds of hon. Members the actual personal life of those people whose fate is in question There you have a highly educated Greek population. Their houses were requisitioned by the Bulgarian military authorities. You had there such of the population as had not fled; you had the old and the young, and you had there girls in schools who could well take their place in European circles, and who would not be distinguished from other people in London drawing-rooms, living in good order and personal security. Under the Turkish Government they had actually found it impossible even to move about with security and freedom in the towns in which they lived. What has happened since the Turks' return? There has been within the last fortnight, as we know from official and unofficial authority, most disastrous and quite cold-blooded massacres of these people. These are things which do not occur under so-called Christian government of the Balkans, and I challenge those who take the Turkish view to give any instance where there has been massacre in times of peace among the liberated States. After all, there is a question long settled in English opinion. Before the English Government began to take the Turkish side, before Pitt became convinced that in the interests of India we must take the side of Turkey, Burke had laid down, what nobody denied, that the Turkish Government in the Near East did not provide a decent existence for those who differed in faith from the Turks. I think probably the whole House is very glad that my right hon. Friend spoke with no uncertain voice as to what was the intention of the Powers with regard to the Enos-Media Frontier. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the responsibility of the Concert in a very interesting way. He said the Powers were entitled to give advice to. 2309 Turkey upon this point because they had saved her from a much more unfavourable frontier. I think that was putting it in a humorously mild way—to give her advice is certainly a very cautious expression—but may I put it in another way? If the Powers have saved her from a worse frontier it is due to the Powers that the Allies had a worse frontier than they would have had if they had remained in their impregnable position opposite the Chatalja lines, and there comes in the moral responsibility of the Powers to see that Thrace does not return under a Turkish Government.
There are various objections constantly and rightly made to coercion. As a rule there is the difficulty that there is division among the Concert, but in this case the two Powers most likely to be divided, Austria and Russia, are the two most closely and immediately concerned in seeing that Thrace is not restored to Turkey. There is the greatest difficulty, again, in applying coercion when there is no one Power keen upon it, but here you have two Powers anxious for it. Another objection is that there is no convenient physical means of exercising coercion. That also is absent in this case. These are, of course, high matters of policy which unofficial persons cannot know much about, but the House will welcome the statement of my right hon. Friend that there will be coercion if suasion is not enough. What the House will look at is the prestige of my right hon. Friend and the success which has resulted from his work in helping to bring this long crisis to an end. There will be a general sense of dissatisfaction and disappointment if the edifice is not completed, and if, after all, there is to be an upsetting of the wishes of the Concert, and more trouble in Armenia, because that will mean a failure in the work of my right hon. Friend which looked like being attended with such magnificent success. It is a general question between a belief in order and a sentimental preference for a picturesque anarchy. My right hon. Friend's reputation and prestige has been built up on the basis of a general public opinion that Turkey, at all events in Europe, has been a nuisance to Europe, and there has been general satisfaction at her disappearance from Europe. No wonder my right hon. Friend spoke lately of the desirability of the Great Powers acting together as a police force. By sanctioning the Treaty of London they 2310 have played that part, and have enabled the course of events to lead up to a situation which was likely to mean peace and good order in the future. A final chance of correcting the mistakes of the past has occurred through the Balkan War, and, above all, we may congratulate my right hon. Friend on the fact that he has helped more than any other man to secure the saving of an enormous amount of human life. He has laid the foundation for a growing prosperity in the future, and has secured a great economic and moral, step in the progress of Europe.
§ Mr. ARNOLD WARD
I wish to make a few observations upon that part of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affair's statement which dealt with Turkey and the situation in Thrace, and more particularly from the point of view of our Mahomedan fellow subjects in India, from whom I have received a number of communications. For these reasons I wish to represent their case to the House this afternoon. It is well known that there has been grave unrest in the Mahomedan world for some years past, for they have seen their territories encroached upon both in Asia and in Turkey. They have seen Persia divided as to the greater part of her territory into spheres of influence between Russia and England. They have seen Morocco occupied by the French, and they have seen Tripoli annexed by the Italians. Undoubtedly there is a very uneasy feeling amongst our Mahomedan subjects that they are gradually to be shorn by the nations of Europe of all their power and territory and be reduced merely to a religious community. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will feel that that is not a matter which the British Government ought to do anything to encourage. There have been serious Mahomedan riots in India lately, arising ostensibly for other reasons, but undoubtedly having at the back of them this feeling of unrest on account of Christian oppression. We have seen in India a remarkable approximation of the policy on the part of the Mahomedans of the National Congress and a tendency on their part to join in the demand for self-government in India. That, undoubtedly, proceeds from the same source, namely, the desire to obtain compensation in India for the losses which the Mahomedans have sustained elsewhere. Coming on the ton of all this we have the struggle in the Balkans. It may be right or it may be wrong, but, undoubtedly, 2311 there is a feeling amongst Mahomedans in India that our Government and a certain section of the public in this country have not shown impartiality towards the Ottoman Empire. Let me recall to the House the first step of great importance which our Government took in October last on o the very eve of hostilities. Declarations were made by the Foreign Secretary in this House and by Lord Crewe to the effect that whatever the outcome might be of those hostilities, in no case would the Powers permit any alteration in the status quo. Then followed the events of the latter part of October, and only a month later we had the Prime Minister's declaration at the Guildhall on 9th November, when he told the country that—things would never again be as they were before in Turkey, that the map of Eastern Europe has to he recast, and I believe the general feeling of Europe to he unanimous that the victors are not to be robbed of the fruits that have cost them so dear.You cannot defend both those declarations, for if one was right the other must have been wrong. The effect of the declaration of the Prime Minister on 9th November upon Mahomedans in India was, undoubtedly, that they were not being fairly treated and were beginning to believe that when a Mahomedan country went to war, it was a, case of "Heads I win, tails you lose." No one will dispute that if the military operations had gone in the opposite direction the Powers would have maintained their original attitude and would not have allowed the Turks to annex a single strip of territory belonging to any of the Balkan States. I pass from that to the incidents of the second war and the reoccupation by the Turkish troops of Adrianople and the territory behind the Maritza. Another speech was made by the Prime Minister on 21st July almost immediately after the news came of the reoccupation of Adrianople by the Turks, and in that speech the Prime Minister did not give any pledge with regard to coercion, but he severely criticised the action of the Ottoman Government and denounced the course they had taken as ill-advised, while he had no word of reproof to offer to Bulgaria or any other of the Allies when they went to war with each other. That speech also caused considerable pain in Mussulman circles, because they felt that it did not show the traditional friendly feeling which this country had entertained towards the Ottoman Empire.
2312 There are three points in our attitude over this question of Thrace which I am sure the Government will bear in mind, and I should like to put them to the Foreign Secretary. The first is that Adrianople and Thrace were ceded to the Balkan League and not to Bulgaria, but since that time the Balkan League have ceased to exist and the Allies have themselves been engaged in a fratricidal struggle. I think that diminishes any blame that can be attributed to the Turks for having broken a Treaty which they have signed desire to ask the Foreign Secretary whether, in taking up the attitude he has taken up, he has made inquiries as to the character of the Bulgarian Government in Thrace during the Bulgarian occupation, because there have been very grave Turkish allegations made against them by the whole Turkish Press. The country has been devastated, massacres have taken place, and those not massacred have fled across the border, and, therefore, I think, we ought to be informed of the real facts, and we ought to know whether on investigation those charges turn out to be true. There is a third point which I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman. I want to know whether he has inquired of the Greek Government what their views are as to the future government of persons of Greek nationality in Adrianople and within the frontier of the Maritza. It would be very surprising if the Greek Government show any enthusiasm over the handing back of such a large number of men of their own race and religion to the Government of Bulgaria after the terrible charges which the Greek Sovereign and his Government have made against Bulgaria in Macedonia. It is interesting to know when we come to look at the country of Eastern Thrace from an ethnological point of view that there is a great Mahomedan majority in the territories recently reoccupied by the Turks, and that of the Christian minority only a minority of it is Bulgarian. I have had the figures very carefully made out of the population in the sandjak beyond the Enos-Media Line, and I find in every sandjak, except one, there is a substantial Mahomedan majority over both Greeks and Bulgarians combined, and that in every case there is a very large Greek majority over the Bulgarian population.
Looking into a population composed in that way, and in view of the charges brought against the Bulgarians by Serbians, Greeks and the Turks, I think the 2313 facts call for an inquiry as to whether Bulgaria is strong enough and highly civilised enough to be permitted greatly increased responsibilities of empire and the government of alien population. With regard to the policy of the Government at the present juncture, the declaration made by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon will be received, so far as it goes, with gratitude in Mahomedan circles, when he gave a pledge that this Government would not take any separate coercive action. I earnestly ask the right hon. Gentleman to extend that pledge, and to pledge the Government not only to abstain from separate action, but also to abstain from any joint coercive action against the Mahomedan Empire. The Mahomedans would be satisfied, in the first place, if there is no coercion on our part, and, in the second place, if our Government does not participate or consent to pressure upon Turkey, either direct or indirect, to the same end. Whatever may happen in Eastern Thrace it would be a good thing for our interests in India if the Foreign Secretary wore to give an assurance that there will be no less of goodwill on our part towards the Ottoman Empire. We cannot be responsible for, and perhaps we cannot influence, the Russian or Austrian policy in that regard, but if we do not at all events take up an attitude of that sort there will be a lasting sense of injustice among more than 60,000,000 of our fellow subjects in India, and a feeling that when Christian States come into collision with Mahomedan Powers the dice is unfairly loaded against them,
Sir MARK SYKES
With regard to the remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Norfolk (Mr. Noel Buxton), who referred to the badness of the Ottoman Government on all occasions, I think, though it is not for me to take up a brief on behalf of a Government that has in the past been notoriously bad, there is one consideration which the House should bear in mind, and that is that there are very few countries which have had such very singular neighbours. I submit there have been persons with the advantages of some civilisation moving about in the various provinces of the Ottoman Empire with the object and intention of provoking massacres in order to enable people to protest against them afterwards. That is a policy which may explain some of the trouble which the unfortunate inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire have experienced in the past, but I think, after all the blood- 2314 shed and horrors which the past twelve months have seen, that we should try to look forward to the time when that policy will at least come to an end through natural causes, and that we should also look forward, not to a continuance of that kind of policy, but to a general co-operation in Europe and among the neighbours of Turkey to put the Ottoman Empire, both within and without, on its legs. I submit that as far as the Ottoman Empire is concerned Great Britain is in a double position: as part of the Concert of Europe, and as an individual State with very close ties with the Ottoman Empire. I would venture to submit that any event which happens West of Constantinople affects us as part of the Concert of Europe, and that such changes and such events as take place East of Constantinople affects us directly as a directly interested party. If there is one lesson which I think the Balkan events of the past two or three months can teach the world, it is that the exit of the Turk does trot always bring an immediate cessation of the troubles which people thought might end with his departure. Supposing by any untoward event there should be a second crusade started from very high motives, as the Balkan war started, for the benefit of the Asiatic subjects of the Ottoman Empire. I venture to think that we might have the same results and the same troubles only multiplied by a hundredfold, because in that case we should have to consider not the rivalry of Balkan States, but that of the Great Powers of Europe.
I submit that as far as this country is concerned the ease for a determined effort to reform and to preserve the Ottoman Empire is absolutely overwhelming. The break up of the Ottoman Empire in Asia must bring the powers of Europe directly confronting one another in a country where there are no frontiers, because the mountains run parallel to the littoral, and because there being only three rivers, one moving in a circle, and the other running side by side over a level plain, it is very difficult for any Power to find a frontier. That very awkward geographical situation troubled the mind of Alexander the Great, the mind of Augustus, the mind of Diocletian, and the mind of Constantine, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman has no wish to share in the troubles of even such distinguished and august company as that. In fact, even if the Ottoman Empire gave way, and I think there is a serious danger of the Asiatic 2315 Empire giving way at the present moment, there would be European frontiers in Asia Minor, and a European war from being an occasional remote possibility would become a probability which people would have constantly to bear in mind. I think one may say that the Ottoman Empire, bad as it may be within, has without got excellent frontiers. It has a good frontier with Russia, an impassable mountain range between itself and Persia, an admirable frontier with Egypt, a littoral in the Mediterranean, which threatens no Power, and provides an excellent guard to the Bosphorus, and the Dardanelles, besides offering an open market to Europe. If the Ottoman Empire goes to the wall, all those possible factors are removed from the world and another set of factors have to be taken into consideration. The result upon Europe must obviously be one of great danger. The break up of the Ottoman Empire in Asia must eventually mean a bad situation leading up to the probability of a European war, which everyone hopes may be finally staved off. The right Gentleman, I am sure, will admit that if a general European war can be staved off for fifty years it will be staved off for ever; but if we have a bad situation existing during the next fifty years it will be bad for the whole of Europe and the break up of the Ottoman Empire must affect us as a country.
The Ottoman Empire in Asia must affect us as a nation very directly. If the Meditterranean littoral, the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles, and Smyrna passed into the hands of other nations with fleets our position there, which some people consider precarious at present, would be impossible. The whole position of Egypt with an efficient European Power armed on a European scale in Syria would be different. Egypt would have to have an army which Egypt finance cannot support; and there ends all our dreams of the prosperity of Egypt. Our commerce is excluded from Asia Minor and Mesopotamia, and our capital is probably hampered from sharing and participating in one of the last great pockets of material which are open for development in the twentieth century. Moreover, I think that the break up of the Ottoman Empire in Asia must add to our difficulties and our diplomatic relations with Russia and Germany. Russia would naturally have to have her share of the Ottoman Empire, and our diplomatic relations with her would 2316 consequently be more difficult than in the past. Germany would have to have her share, and any shadow of ill-feeling which may exist at present would certainly be accentuated. Supposing both those Powers had territory in what is now the Ottoman Empire, which they undoubtedly will have if the Ottoman Empire breaks up, we should be obliged to deny them access to the Persian Gulf, and that denial would naturally bring about friction and trouble and through the years another Eastern question.
Lastly, there is the matter touched upon by my hon. Friend who has just sat down, the question of Indian moslems. He has gone into that very fully. I do not wish in the least to labour the matter, but I should like to repeat what he said as to how the trouble arose at Cawnpore. It was remarkable that the banners that was borne in that procession was the black flag, which is the black flag of the Abbassid Khalifs, and there is no doubt that what has been going on in the past year in Tripoli and in the Balkans has inflamed the passions of those people. One wants particularly to put that in its due proportion and to have nothing said in this House to give any encouragement to any agitator to go along on that line, or to think that we are the least afraid, but still I submit that if the Ottoman Empire in Asia came to an end the people who have used the trifles of the last year would have real cause. The Caliphate would undoubtedly come to an end, and the question of the advance of some great Power and protectorate over the Holy Places would arise. The last independent state of Islam would cease to be, and Christendom would for the first time be confronted with a united though subjugated Islam. I am certain that would result for us and all nations with Mussulman subjects in a long period of secret intrigue, agitation and disorder. I do not believe in Pan-Slavism, but I think the way to make it a reality is to put some justice on the Panislamic side. All this, I think, will come, if the present position of the Ottoman Empire is violated. You cannot violate part of the Ottoman Empire. If one Power goes in at one point, all must go in up to their final frontier position. One has always to bear in mind the saying of the Duke of Wellington that the danger of an Asiatic victory was that you never knew how far it would carry you. It is very difficult, once you go into an Asiatic country, to say where you can possibly 2317 stop. You are driven on by circumstances. We have found ourselves from a small trading station in India going right up to the Himalayas.
I do not like to advance any permanent view, but I feel that the crux of the whole situation lies in Adrianople. The instinct of the Turk naturally was to go back, and it is not surprising that a primitive instinct is stronger than an unratified and an almost unobserved Treaty. That is not surprising, and when we remember that Adrianople was a Turkish town before Constantinople, before Damascus, and hundreds of years before Baghdad, one cannot be surprised at the Turks going back to a place associated with all the greatest of their very great past. People may say that I am a pro-Turk, but I do venture to say most definitely that any friend of Turkey would be doing Turkey a great disservice if he did not say plainly that to hold on permanently to Adrianople would be the height of consummate folly on the part of the Ottoman Government. I do not know the interior workings of Russian diplomacy, but of this I am convinced, that real Russia, that is Russian public opinion, which, when it makes itself felt is irresistible, has been fretted for long by the present war in the Balkans. It will require some outlet, and, when it sees that what a Slavonic Power has conquered has been lost by a Slavonic Power, there will be immense pressure on the Russian Government to invade Armenia, and with that the crash comes. Turkey will be out of sympathy with the Powers, and the Russian Government may not be able to restrain its own people. For what end? The sentimental 'feeling of the Turk for Adrianople and an absolutely untenable strategic position. Strategically I think for the Ottomans to hold Adrianople is to put themselves in the same position as the Serbs occupy in regard to Austria. If the Ottoman Empire is to survive, it is necessary it should stand fairly with the Powers, and on good terms with the Concert of Europe. Hitherto, it is the fact, if we go back to the Crimean days, every time there has been a crisis or a revolution or reform in Turkey the Turks of their own act have done something, not very bad perhaps, but something to irritate one of the members of the Concert, and so have lost the support of the Concert for their own Empire. 2318 On this occasion it is necessary Turkey should get the sympathy of the whole of Europe, and for that I think this country has a right to demand and insist that she shall make a sacrifice of sentiment, it may be but a sacrifice which will conciliate the whole of Europe—that she should evacuate the town which I know holds a very dear place in the Ottoman heart. I hope the right hon. Gentleman may, when he speaks again in this Debate, accentuate one point, and that is what Europe would be prepared to consider. If the Turks would make that concession—not perhaps a concession—they would get security and a sound frontier. Adrianople might even remain an unfortified town. But what is most important is that some Turkish family should be appointed to hold places which are held to be very holy by the Turks, places to which pilgrimages are made. These places should be a Vakuf—should be absolutely in their own posession under such an arrangement as was very wisely granted when France annexed Tunis and gave the Moslems their right over their own buildings, preventing Christians having the right to go into the Holy Places against the desire of or without an invitation from those Moslems, who were made responsible for their integrity. Naturally, religious liberty for the inhabitants, and possibly freedom from indemnity, would be great considerations for the Turks themselves, who lay great store by them. If Europe is conciliated it might allow the Ottoman Government a certain amount of liberty in the choice of the nationality of such European officers as they employ or desire to employ for the working out of reforms in their Asiatic territory. I hope I have not detained the House too long, but there were certain points I wanted to bring forward, and I think that after all that has happened, after all the sacrifices that have been made, and all the horrors that have taken place, it, will perhaps be found that they have not been in vain, and if Turkey and the Concert of Europe can come to a final understanding, it may possibly be that this year and the past year, which at the present moment seem to us so dreadful, may come to be looked upon by future generations as a year of reconciliation of two great branches of mankind who believe in one God, and the beginning of an equipoise which allowed the peaceful and progressive development of these countries for long unbroken ages.
§ Mr. AUBREY HERBERT
I shall endeavour not to detain the House by repeating any of the arguments that have fallen from other hon. Members. Very reluctantly I admit I am in agreement in large measure with what has fallen from the hon. Member who last spoke. I should like to say I am also in agreement with the non-political part of the speech made by the hon. Member for Norfolk, who referred to the appeal he and I made to the Government some time ago to assist those who were starving in Macedonia. We were told by the Foreign Secretary that if the war cloud passed away and a new situation was created, that relief might be forthcoming. I hope the Government will now reconsider the situation, and, if they find it to be such that it is competent for them to do something, they will do so. With the rest of the speech of the hon. Member for Norfolk I am in absolute disagreement. He and I do not seem to have interpreted what the Foreign Secretary said in the same way. When I heard the Foreign Secretary make his speech, I am bound to say that as a friend of the Turks—as a Turcophil of long standing, I heaved a sigh of relief. The Foreign Secretary, in his speeches, uses very few arguments. He states facts and draws conclusions. There is something inevitable and final in his speeches. I am not going to ask questions but I take his speech to-day to mean that in no event will England assist in the coercion of Turkey. I understood him to say that coercion might be employed, not only with regard to Turkey, but with regard to the Balkan States; but as far as we were concerned we did not contemplate it as a matter of policy.
I am making no imputation against the policy of the right hon. Gentleman, because it is a policy I admire, when I say I agree with him in the sentence that fell from him, to the effect that the present settlement is very far from being a satisfactory one. It is said, I believe, that all taxation in the end must fall on the shoulders of the poor, and in the same way, when the Great Powers decide not to fight, somebody has to pay the bill, and when they do agree, it is the small people who suffer. That will certainly happen in 'this case. I am not going into the Albanian question at any length, but I want to make one or two points. It is a question which at the present moment is one of the people rather than of the country. There is starvation from two sources—one 2320 natural, and there perhaps we can do nothing. The other source is artificial. I hear from reliable sources that the people are surrounded by Servians, and, unless they submit to be converted to the orthodox faith, they are not allowed to go and get food, and food is not allowed to be brought into them. When this Commission goes out there, I very much hope it will do all it can, within the bounds of possibility, to give Albania a satisfactory economic life. If you do not do that; if you, so to speak, start a young man on his career with his legs amputated and his arms truncated, and at the same time you pick his pockets, what is he to do? He can only become a beggar, and, speaking for the Albanians, I say that that is the very last desire they have. I read the other day a letter from Mr. Nevinson, in which he described Albania as a lamb between wolves. If you take away her national life from Albania she will have to throw herself into the arms, of one of the Great Powers or into the arms of one of those neighbours who have recently been ill-treating her. The alternative you have given her is the alternative of the lamb, who has to choose whether she shall go to the wool merchant or straight to the wolf. That is an unhappy alternative. She will have to rely either on intrigue or on the sword. I am an optimist about the future. The provisional Government of Ismail Kemal Bey is doing very well, and I heartily congratulate the Foreign Secretary on the part he played in the creation of Albania. If Lord Byron and Garibaldi could have looked down upon this struggle I think they would have wished 'to stand by the side of the right hon. Gentleman and help him in the work he has been doing. I hope Albania will remember the occasion when Admiral Burney entered Scutari, and a well-known inhabitant said this was the best of days for the mountains since Christ was born.
I come next to the question of Adrianople. One war has been finished. The war with the sword has been finished; but in the future we are going to have the war of the dagger in the Balkans, and it seems to me incumbent upon Europe to do-all she possibly can, not only to free herself from the anxiety to which these wars must in future give rise, but also to do-what she can to protect the unfortunate inhabitants who have already suffered so, much. This House, in the politics of the world, has the conscience of the consti- 2321 tuencies of England, and it is a conscience which is very sensitive. Whether you take the case of Putumayo or of the Congo or any case you like, this House responds to appeal, and the appeal I would make to it is this: Those who have read the history of the past war are sufficiently acquainted with the facts. They have read the history of mutilation and misgovernment in the North. They have heard the truth of crucifixions in the South. They could read the "Daily News" and what the "Daily News" correspondent had to say about the treatment of the starving Turks in Adrianople. Looking at all these things, remembering that these people, with the honourable exception of the Greeks, have polluted the present century and have defiled Christianity, is it fair to put the Greek and Moslem inhabitants of Adrianople under the one Government that they detest and loathe? I have said I was in reluctant agreement with my hon. Friend near me when he declared it would be wise for the Turks not to cling absolutely and definitely to Adrianople. But I must add this rider: I think it would be shameful on the part of the Turks to give up Adrianople or Thrace unless they got a guarantee for the lives and property of the people living there. If any Englishman puts himself into the position of the Turk, he will realise how very difficult it would be. Suppose this country had been attacked by a great Power and had been beaten, and Wales had been taken from her; suppose, too, that the Power which had beaten us was in his turn beaten by other Powers, and then we invaded Wales and took Carnarvon. Do you think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be ready then to resign that town? Of course not. Neither could any Turk be eager for the surrender of Thrace. This is what has happened within the last few months.
You have seen the Bulgarians break faith with their own most intimate Allies. You have seen the conspiracy of the Bulgarians who went up and murdered Servians when they were sleeping. You have had a Crusade preached by King Ferdinand, in which our Lord has been made more implacable than was the car of Juggernaut and more vindictive than the God of Vengeance himself. If the Turks surrender these provinces to this egoist mammoth Bulgaria, do you not think they will run the risk of having an army walk into them at any moment? Will they not run more than the risk, and is it not 2322 practically certain that the remainder of the inhabitants are bound to suffer? I am going to try not to be irrelevant or to suggest things that are impossible. It always has seemed to me from the point of view of Europe itself, from the point of view of European inhabitants, and from the point of view of the belligerents, that really the best solution would have been to have had a buffer State in Thrace and Macedonia. You would then have taken away the bait for which the people are striving with all their energy; you would have relieved the Balkans of this tremendous complication, and you would have done something to soothe the unrest in Western Asia. On the question of Adrianople I would say that the ordinary Moslem cannot understand why, in all circumstances, the Turks must lose and the Balkans win. He cannot see why when the Turk wins he must lose, and why, when Bulgaria loses, she must also win.
§ Mr. NOEL BUXTON
May I interrupt the hon. Member to ask him one question with regard to his charges, which are very exaggeratedly expressed in my opinion. Can he give a case where in any one of the liberated States there has been a massacre in a time of peace?
§ Mr. HERBERT
I think the liberated States have generally turned out those who have disagreed with them. I am speaking from memory, but I think all the Albanians were turned out of Servia. I have certainly been told on reliable authority of numerous cases in Montenegro.
§ Mr. NOEL BUXTON
Have there not been half a million Turks living in Bulgaria up to the present time?
§ Mr. HERBERT
Yes, but they are Pomahs of the same race as the Bulgars. I was about to say that there has been a very violent anti-Jewish campaign in this country and the Young Turks have also been made the object of that campaign. There are, of course, Jews amongst the Young Turks, but it is not true to say that all the Young Turks are Jews. Envers Bey or Mahmond Shevket are no more Jewish than I am. All these past events have led to consequences in India of which both my hon. Friends have spoken. I do not agree with my Mahomedan friends in saying that this country should interfere. England cannot be the knight-errant of the world. That is not possible; but their resentment will be very logical if we adopt an attitude of 2323 neutrality when Turkey is beaten, and depart from it when Turkey wins. What the average Moslem in Turkey says to himself is that Christianity is supposed to be the religion of mercy and of kindness, and yet that King Ferdinand preached the Crusade of the Cross against the Crescent, which his soldiers carried out with infinite brutality, and the Moslem sees above the Cross the shadow of the vulture's wings. The ordinary Mahomedan says, "I belong to the great British Empire, but I am not received in South Africa; I have trouble in Australia, and yet the other portions of the Empire owe a very great deal to me." Christianity owes two debts to Islam; first of all, the debt of the good things we have got from Islam; and, secondly, the debt of reparation. We have already had mentioned some of the good things we have got. If we want to prevent massacres in Pekin, if we want troops for Somaliland, and labour for many parts of Africa, where do we go? We go to India. It seems to me that the destinies of England and of India are inextricably bound up, and that you might just as well try to separate twins in the womb as to separate the two. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs has achieved peace, and, having achieved that peace, perhaps it would be ungracious to make any comment or criticism on some of the details. All I will say is that we here know that there have been more than battles in this recent Balkan business. We know that there have been changes in Europe. A great many of us look forward to a new chapter in which it should be possible to have a real understanding between this country and Turkey. If we are to have that new chapter I cannot see as its title "Peace upon earth and goodwill to men," but I can see comparative peace in the British Empire and relative goodwill among Mahomedans and Christians, who are the constituents of that Empire.
§ Colonel YATE
I will not follow my hon. Friend with regard to the European situation, but I should like to direct the attention of the Foreign Secretary to Asiatic subjects connected with Tibet and also to raise the question of Somaliland. As to Tibet, a country which, bordering upon India as it does for over 1,000 miles, is of such vital importance to India. I asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, not long ago, to adhere to his stated determination that he would not recog- 2324 nise the Republic of China till, a satisfactory agreement regarding Tibet had been arrived at, but he stated that international negotiations were being carried on for the joint recognition of the Chinese Republic, and it would not do for England to stand out. Is there any reason why it would not do for England to stand out? Will England possibly lose by standing out? On the contrary, England, it seems to me, has everything to lose by giving way. We all know the shifty and dilatory methods of China, and how hopeless it is to get any satisfactory arrangement out of her. We have only lately seen Russia, tired of the continual procrastination about the agreement regarding Mongolia, closing the negotiations and taking her own steps to settle the matter. If we are to get a satisfactory settlement about Tibet we shall have to do the same. The withholding of our recognition of the Chinese Republic is the only diplomatic weapon we have. If we fail to use that there is nothing left but to follow Russia's example and use force to a certain extent. I do beg, therefore, in the interests of India, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs to hold out and stand firm in this matter. What we require is the maintenance of the status quo in Tibet as we found it when the Younghusband Mission went to Lhasa in 1904. China has broken her Treaty Convention of 1906 by attempting to convert her suzerainty over Tibet into sovereignty. She has interfered in the internal affairs of the country. She has deposed the Dalai Lama and attempted to deprive him of all temporal power. The Chinese troops have been driven out by the Tibetans, and we have to see to it that in future no Chinese interference with the internal administration of the country is permitted, and that no Chinese troops are to be stationed in Tibet with the exception of the Amban's escort of say 100 men, or at any rate a force which would be too small to overawe the Tibetan Government.
We also require to have an undertaking by China that no troops will be sent from Sechuan to attack the Tibetan border tribes. We cannot tolerate the States on our frontier—Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan—and the Assam arid Burmah frontier tribes being disturbed by the proximity of Chinese soldiers along our boundary. Our frontier marches with that of Tibet for over 1,000 miles, and if this long tract is disturbed by the action of China it will create enormous difficulties for us in the future. We have now come to know the Dalai Lama. He has thrown himself upon 2325 our protection and looks to us for assistance. We have become friendly with the Tibetans, both rulers and people, and, surely, we must not allow these friendly relations to drop. Our future policy, therefore, should be one of active sympathy and not cold neglect! The first problem is that of the Chumbi Valley. This tongue of land, projecting south between our two protected States of Sikkim and Bhutan, lies, we must not forget, on the Southern slopes of the Himalayas and falls naturally from its geographical position within the sphere of our political influence. It is essential to the peace of our Indian border that Chinese officials and influence should be entirely eliminated from this valley. Leaving the Chumbi Valley and going over the Himalayas watershed into Tibet itself, the question of the territorial integrity of Tibet naturally faces us. No one knows the boundaries of Tibet. I doubt if the right hon. Gentleman knows the proper boundaries. If grave disputes are to be avoided in future we must outline roughly the eastern boundary, beyond which the Chinese shall not be permitted to advance. This line, I take it, should run through Batang and should include Rima on the Tibetan side. We have the opportunity now of defining this boundary and we must not allow it to pass. We must not forget that in case of revolution in China it might be to the advantage of the Viceroy of Sechuan to despatch troops into Tibet, or should civil war break out, unruly troops might be sent there to keep them out of the way, and in either of these eventualities the Tibetans would look to us for assistance.
Again it is conceivable, if civil war breaks out, that China may break up altogether, and that we may have no responsible Government with whom to deal. In that case it is possible we shall be compelled to take over the administration of the Chumbi valley and to proclaim ourselves as the Suzerain Power in place of China, so as to save Tibet from the disturbances that would certainly arise on the break up of China. In that case Russia is the only interested Power with whom we might have to deal, and the tranquillity of Tibet is just as important to us as the tranquillity of Mongolia is to her. Lord Morley in the other House, stated last week that a conference on Tibet was to meet at Simla, and that, though China has accepted the principle that she is to have no right of active intervention in the internal administration 2326 of Tibet, many points, however, are still open. We have not been told what those points are, but I do trust that the Republic of China will not be recognised till full satisfaction has been given for the manner in which she endeavoured to break through her Treaty engagements, and full guarantees have been given for her proper behaviour in future. At the present moment an upheaval in China seems imminent and a definite line of policy should be laid down at the conference at Simla. Turning to the question of Somaliland—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It would be very inconvenient to interpose that question. At present we are discussing foreign affairs. Somaliland would come under the Colonial Office. I thought the hon. and gallant Gentleman was going to address the House on matters connected with the Foreign Office.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am afraid I cannot give that permission, as the lion and gallant Gentleman will have exhausted his right to speak.
§ Mr. CHARLES ROBERTS
I would direct the attention of the House to the question of Putumayo, in regard to which there was an inquiry early in this Session. I wish to get, if I can, a statement from the Foreign Secretary on a certain aspect of that question. I cannot hope to raise the whole question, but in view of possible action next year, I hope that a statement may be forthcoming from the Foreign Office On our Committee was imposed the obligation of discovering, if we could, expedients and means by which a recurrence of such atrocities as we found to exist in the Putumayo might be prevented in future. So far as my information goes we can be satisfied that a very considerable improvement has taken place, and for that the Foreign Office is greatly responsible. I should like to know if the Foreign Office confirms that information. It comes, so far as I am concerned, from the Catholic Missions engaged upon the scene, and their presence is a guarantee, of course, that some of the deplorable abuses in the past will not be repeated. But at the same time a very serious situation was revealed before our Committee. We thought we had evidence that the abuses which have been established could be traced also in other parts of the Amazon River basin. We could not regard the Putu- 2327 mayo as an exceptional case. It was not a merely isolated phenomenon. It need not be thought that the worst barbarities which prevailed under the exceptional conditions in Putumayo can be found elsewhere; but at all events I think there is evidence that a system practically akin to slavery can be found widespread and rampant over a large part of South America. If a searchlight had been turned upon other rivers we might have found a state of things, if not quite as bad, at all events approximating to that which we found upon the particular river which we investigated. If that is the case, as the House imposed upon us the obligation of suggesting certain remedies, I think it becomes obligatory upon us and upon this House to see that this deplorable experience is not wasted and that proper methods are taken to prevent any danger of a recurrence in future. Everyone knows the extent to which British capital is already engaged on the Amazon River in rubber, and other raw products; and at the same time there is this tendency, which is probably an increasing tendency, for the raw products of tropical origin to be developed by international and absentee capital, concentrated perhaps in London and acting through boards whose acquaintance with the conditions of the industry is sometimes very superficial and in some cases nonexistent.
Under these circumstances we thought the remedies were partly to be found by legislation and partly by administrative changes. The administrative side involves the action of the Foreign Office. We thought we could, by restating and extending the existing law for the suppression of slavery and slave-dealing by British subjects in foreign countries, effect an improvement. We were often told in conversation, and sometimes it was put in evidence, that this was mere busybodying and asking England to become a knight-errant to the world, and that it was the concern of the foreign countries in which these abuses were found. That is true primarily, but it was also put to us that at present it is the law that British subjects who are guilty of slave dealing or slave trading in foreign countries, and of some other exceptional crimes, are violating British law and are triable in British Courts. I doubt if that fact was known to the directors of the company concerned in this particular case, and I do not know that it is suffi- 2328 ciently realised by people other than lawyers and people who have given special attention to it. But on that account alone it might be said that this is a matter of concern to British subjects and to the Foreign Office. Besides that, here we have a case of directors who have been very indifferent to the great record of England in the past, and the great service which she performed in the suppression of slavery throughout the world. After all, one of the earliest exploits of the Concert of Europe was, wider the guidance of England, to devise means for the suppression of the slave trade, and to some extent slavery, throughout the civilised and uncivilised world. These traditions were ignored in this particular case, and I think we must see to it that the good name of England is not tarnished again by any similar occurrence.
Therefore, we thought, apart from the legislative changes which I trust the House will consider next year, the other safeguard which could be properly devised could only be found in the administrative action of the Foreign Office. I am not quite certain whether the Foreign Office is willing and anxious to undertake the work of supervision. The representatives who came before us laid stress on the difficulties. They said, very properly, that the commercial department of the Foreign Office is not an administrative body, that British Consuls cannot be put in the position of spies, and they are not inspectors over the economical or industrial conditions of foreign countries. All that is perfectly true, but if improvement has been made either in the Congo or in Putumayo it is literally due to the action of the Foreign Office. It is the Consular Reports in the case of the Congo which, backed up by British opinion, have effected reform. In the case of Putumayo it was the pressure of the Foreign Office which secured, without any legal or statutory powers, an inquiry by the company with led up to the discovery of the truth, and it was their sending out of Sir Roger Casement with a special Consular Mission that fully brought to light the real abuses which existed and secured the improvement which has been made. If that is the case, I cannot but ask the Foreign Office to generalise the procedure. We have got evidence that through many districts in South America, perhaps in some districts in Africa too, there are uncivilised and undeveloped regions where abuses of native or colour labour are to be found.
2329 I think the Foreign. Office can help in two ways. So far as Putumayo itself is concerned, I would ask them at least to give their friendly offices to clear up the international difficulty which lies at the bottom of some of the crimes which prevailed there. Undoubtedly the abuses which were found there were partly due to the fact that sovereignty was nonexistent, and crime was facilitated because there was no machinery for punishment. It was believed that the two Governments concerned over that disputed territory would not be unwilling to adjust their differences by arbitration, and if the friendly offices of the Foreign Office could lead to such a result, I believe it would be very desirable and would conduce to making what we believe to be the present improvement lasting and durable. Further, in the undeveloped and uncivilised regions we do not believe that there will ever be any really satisfactory guarantees against abuses without the strengthen-of the Consular system and without the appointment of travelling Consuls, who would maintain more supervision than prevails at present. No doubt, if Consuls are paid small honorariums—£20 a year, or something of that kind—you cannot expect much. The Consular service is probably fully occupied at present, but it is already part of the duty of Consuls to report fully to the Secretary of State on the conditions existing in foreign countries so far as slavery is concerned. That is the legacy of the old nineteenth-century campaign against slavery.
I do not think we can ask the Foreign Office to undertake the immense task of sweeping out of certain regions slavery, or practices akin to slavery, but I do think that, in view of the increasing number of instances where these regions are developed by British capital, there should be more supervision as to the conditions under which these companies and firms work. That is the recommendation which we would urge upon the Foreign Office, and I am very anxious to get to-night a statement as to their views on the subject. They have no doubt considered the point fully. They may be able to say that the practical difficulties, and that the possible friction with other Governments which might be entailed, make the carrying out of that recommendation a task of insuperable difficulty. They may say that it may be done within limits in their view when specific cases of abuse are alleged, but I should like to have a statement as to how far any 2330 action of that kind is possible. If it is not possible, if their view is unfavourable, then all I can say is that that increases the necessity for legislative changes. I think, judging from the comments made in the Press, it was thought that our suggestions for preventing the recurrence of abuses in future were somewhat timid and weak, and not sufficiently far-reaching to effect the object at which we aimed. We relied much upon the administrative action of the Foreign Office. If the Foreign Office, after full consideration, says it can give us guarantees and can secure safeguards, perhaps it will not be necessary to go so far in legislative changes, but I do trust that the Government will be prepared to make legislative changes next Session. The character of these changes must to some extent depend on the action which the Foreign Office can take.
Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND
I desire to take the opportunity of calling the attention of the Foreign Secretary to a matter which has excited a great deal of attention in this country, as well as across the Atlantic, and that is the attitude adopted by His Majesty's Government in refusing to participate in any way in the exhibition proposed to be held at San Francisco in 1915. Of course, primarily this may be a matter for the Board of Trade, but, as a matter of fact, I believe the Board of Trade have given their reasons for recommending the non-participation of this country in the exhibition. I think it is a matter which goes beyond the domain of the Board of Trade Department. It is a matter which, I think, really comes within the province of the Foreign Secretary. It is quite easy to under-estimate the strength of the feeling that has been caused owing to the action of the Government in this matter. There may be, of course, some questions of dispute outstanding between the British Government and the Government of the United States in reference to the Panama Canal. That is a matter upon which I do not desire to enter, but I think it would be a very unfortunate thing if the impression got abroad that the attitude of His Majesty's Government in regard to this exhibition was governed in any way by any matter in dispute between the two Governments with reference to the canal. It should be borne in mind that these exhibitions afford opportunities of showing goodwill between different countries, and that they are a very great means of promoting friendly relations. Therefore, I think it was some- 2331 what of a, surprise to the whole English-speaking world when it was suddenly announced that the British Government intended to take no part whatever in the great industrial exhibition in the city of San Francisco. The matter is rendered all the more unfortunate, because it cannot be forgotten that the relations between the Canadian people and the Australian people and the people of the United States are extremely close, commercially and otherwise. In to-day's papers we find that without the slightest hesitation the Government of the Dominion of Canada decided to take their proper place in this exhibition and voted the not inconsiderable sum of 500,000 dollars towards being represented at San Francisco. In Australia, some of the States have already taken steps to be properly represented, and I might point out that the connection between the Australian people and the people of America, especially of California, is a close connection. There is a great deal of trade done, and apart from that, for various reasons into which I need not go, there is a great deal of common sentiment between the people of California and the people of Australia. Two of the Australian States—New South Wales and Victoria—resolved to take part in this exhibition, but so far as I can gather, other portions of the Colonies have been thrown into a state of doubt and uncertainty in regard to this exhibition, because of the attitude of the Government of this country in relation to it. The attitude of the British Government places the Dominion of Canada and the Commonwealth of Australia in an awkward and unfortunate position when they find that a great exhibition in which their interests are involved, and at which they are anxious to be represented, is, to put it perfectly plainly, boycotted by His Majesty's Government in this country. I should have thought that, if it were only in the interests of the Government of Australia, it would be the clear duty of the Government here to take part in this exhibition. I have seen it stated that the money necessary might perhaps not be returned, and that there might be a loss. I have heard the estimated cost of this country being represented at San Francisco placed at £250,000. That is a considerable sum; but when you bear in mind that, according to the latest information, the Canadian Government have put up £100,000 to be represented, and when you 2332 bear in mind also the financial burdens undertaken by the Australian States in order to be represented, I do not think it can be suggested that it is an extravagant proposal that this country should expend £250,000 in having our arts and industries properly represented in the San Francisco Exhibition.
What makes this matter more painful to a great many people who are well wishers both of this country and the United States is that there is a feeling that the decision with regard to the exhibition has not been come to altogether upon commercial lines, and on the real merits of the case. I think it would be admitted on all hands that it would be an unfortunate thing if the decision with regard to this exhibition were in any way influenced by any outstanding dispute between this country and the United States. Everybody is anxious that these disputes should be removed, and that good feeling should prevail, but it would be idle to pretend that the settlement of any dispute would be rendered more easy in any way if this policy of standing aloof with respect to the exhibition is persisted in. If it is not too late, I would strongly and very respectfully urge upon the Foreign Secretary the view that this is a matter which arouses far more attention, than perhaps he is aware of. I have myself reason to know that there has been a good deal of feeling aroused in Australia and Canada by the action of the Home Government. They want to participate in the exhibition, for commercially they stand to gain by it. They desire to take the opportunity of promoting friendly relations between the United States and the Mother Country. I have no doubt that the reasons that presented themselves to our Government for standing out may have appeared to them perfectly good reasons, but they are not easily understood abroad. It is not easy to convince Australian merchants and gentleman connected with the industrial development of Australia and Canada that the reasons are sufficient. If you say that £250,000 is a large sum, and that possibly the returns might not justify the immediate expenditure of that money, that will not appeal to the average Australian or Canadian. They will say that the worth of the exhibition on an occasion like this is worth that expenditure even if there was no financial return at all.
This is not a matter in which I am speaking personally for myself. I believe that 2333 in this matter my views, be they right or wrong, represent the great volume of opinion, not only in Ireland, but in Australia and Canada. Moreover, the columns of the Press every day bear testimony to the fact that, there is very widespread dissatisfaction in England itself at the action of the Government. In the "Times" to-day there are two very strong and weighty letters protesting against the decision of the Government. I also saw a letter from a leading merchant who represents a business firm which has been immensely successful in which he voices the discontent felt in business circles with respect to this matter. He says that no matter what may be the decision come to by the Government, lie will be no party to placing a slight upon the promoters of the exhibition, and that he will be represented there. There can be no doubt as to the feeling on the matter, and I would ask the right lion. Gentleman to consider whether it is not too late to revise the decision that has been come to and remove the unhappy feeling which exists. The reasons so far given have not been sufficient to justify this country in standing out from this exhibition. I know America very well and I know that the result of this country not participating is to create a most unfortunate impression. We hear a great deal of the desirability of promoting good relations with the United States. Surely if ever an opportunity was offered, it is offered upon this occasion! I trust that the right hon. Gentleman, on consultation with the Board of Trade, will be able to arrive at some other decision and remove the feeling of dissatisfaction which is felt in the United States of America and in our self-governing Dominions as well.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Acland)
As other subjects are coming on for discussion it may be for the convenience of the House that I should reply to the remarks of the last two hon. Members who have spoken (Mr. C. Roberts and Mr. W. Redmond). First, with regard to the Putumayo atrocities. There is no doubt whatever that the very careful Report which we had from the Committee, of which my hon. Friend was Chairman, deserves fullest consideration with the object of seeing if action can be taken on the recommendations that have been made. It cannot be denied that the subject is a difficult one. The fact that we 2334 were able to hold the investigation which we did was largely due to two facts, first, that British subjects were involved, and, secondly, that the matter was under the control, or ought to have been under the control, of a British company. It is clearly much more difficult that our Consuls should act as a sort of roving commission with regard to conditions existing in extremely out-of-the-way places, but I should be glad if my hon. Friend could come to the Foreign Office and talk over with us, in the light of the recommendations of the Committee, what it is he thinks that we have omitted to do and what he thinks might be done, and when he has seen the difficulties and perhaps more fully grasped from his point of view the possibilities of the case, we might be able to reach some agreement as to what it is possible to do, and any announcement of policy or new departure might be delayed until further consideration was given to the matter in that way. In reply to the hon. Member who has last spoken (Mr. W. Redmond), as was said in answer to a question the other day in this House, this matter was not decided on the merits of questions which might be again the subject of debate as between the two countries. It was decided and considered merely on its own merits, namely, whether we were justified in asking the British taxpayer to vote as large a sum as a quarter of a million in order to participate in this exhibition, having regard to the advantages which were likely to ensue to our trade or traders. That matter was extremely carefully and fully gone into by the representative of the Board of Trade, and in view, first, of the large cost, and, second, of the fact that the exhibits to be shown as a result of this large cost would have had to be scattered in a series of international pavilions, and that we could not have made a combined central: show which would have impressed those who attended the exhibition as being really representative of what we could do—
§ Mr. ACLAND
Because the rule made by the authorities of the exhibition was that the exhibits must be shown in a series of different pavilions, and could not be all grouped in one general national pavilion. That rule would apply to all exhibits of all countries, and it was one of the reasons why it seemed to us not justifiable to ask the taxpayer for this very large Grant.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
If the decision to show the exhibits in separate pavilions were altered in the case of British exhibits, would the Government reconsider their decision?
§ Mr. ACLAND
I do not think so, because that is only one of the reasons. The representative of the Board of Trade made full inquiries and reported that there did not seem to be very much probability of the expansion of our trade on that side of the United States, and after very careful and extensive inquiries in our own industrial centres in England we could not find any spontaneous desire on behalf of our manufacturers to take part in the exhibition from the point of view of any results which might accrue from it to their industries. Then as to the cost, we should have had to ask the taxpayer to give a Grant greater than the total cost of the last six International exhibitions all put together. There can really in this matter be no possible question of our desiring to show ill-will, because in all the relations between this country and the United States we have been in every matter that has come up most anxious to be on the very best terms with them, and in every possible way to act in accordance with their desire. I would like to put this point: If we were holding an International Exhibition of our own, would Congress in America be anxious to vote a million dollars in order that the United States might participate in that exhibition? I believe it is true that they have only granted £100,000 as a grant for this exhibition, and we are asked to grant two-and-a-half times that sum for it.
§ Mr. ACLAND
That is the amount arrived at after a very careful estimate of what we should have to grant in order to participate in the benefits of the exhibition. It would be a most costly matter. There would be the great cost of transport to San Francisco, and then particularly the cost of labour in transferring the exhibits to the grounds and having proper buildings put up to house them. At any rate, I do not think that we can go behind the estimate formed after very careful inquiry, and if it is a fact that Congress have only voted £100,000 themselves for their own participation, and if, therefore, it is unlikely that they would be inclined to vote this sort of sum to participate in any exhibition which we might be having, 2336 I think that they hardly have any real justification for being aggrieved at the decision that we have reluctantly come to. It would have been very difficult in face of the very definite report of the Board of Trade that this was not going to be in any way a paying thing from any sort of commercial point of view to have asked the taxpayers of this country for a Grant of the kind, but I hope that my hon. Friend will agree that in no possible way do we wish by that decision to show any sort of or disinclination to do everything we can to encourage those who may wish to participate in the exhibition that is going to be held.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I desire to direct the attention of the House from foreign and far-distant affairs to matters nearer home which come under the Home Office. I first desire to ask the Home Secretary for some further explanation concerning the apparent favouritism shown to certain Women Suffrage prisoners and the action of the Home Office in connection therewith. Recently four prisoners were arrested for disturbance within the precincts of this House in St. Stephen's Hall and, on being tried, were sentenced to fourteen days' imprisonment. Subsequently the magistrate reopened the case and reduced the sentence from fourteen days to four days. One of the prisoners was Lady Sybil Smith, daughter of the Earl of Antrim. This day in reply to a question of mine as to whether the magistrate had taken this action after consultation with the Home Secretary, I received this reply:—No direct communication passed between the Home Office and the magistrate. As was explained to the hon. Member last Thursday the solicitor who appeared for the police represented to the magistrate, with my right hon. Friend's (the Home Secretary's) cognisance and approval. Mrs. Pethwick Lawrence. Lady Sybil Smith, and Miss Evelyn Sharp were not militants habitually engaged in the use of criminal methods. The magistrate assigned this fact as his reason for reducing the sentence from fourteen days to four.I ask the Home Secretary whether he has any precedent for the Home Office intervening to invite a magistrate to reduce a sentence which had been passed and was in process of being carried out. I do not know who supplied the Home Secretary with the information about her ladyship, Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, and Miss Evelyn Sharp, but all three of them have been, and Lady Sybil Smith still is, actively identified with the most militant section of the Women Suffrage movement. They had proclaimed the hunger-strike after they were arrested. Four days is about 2337 the limit of endurance which they are called upon to bear in the hunger-strike before being liberated, and I ask the Home Secretary whether the real reason for approaching the magistrate and securing a reduction of the sentence to four days was that he was not prepared to submit the daughter of an earl either to being forcibly fed or released upon licence. Those who are acquainted with the facts of a former case, that of Lady Constance Lytton, will remember that Lady Constance was arrested and the doctors found that her heart was weak and that she was unable to undergo forcible feeding. She was arrested as Jane Wharton and was actually forcibly fed under that name; and, therefore, there is reason for suspicion that in the treatment of these prisoners favouritism is shown to those who are able to bring great pressure to bear upon the Home Office.
One further point in that connection. I ask the Home Secretary whether he is considering the cases of Mrs. Lake, M. Saunders, and others who were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment in connection with the Women's Social and Political Union. They were paid servants of that organisation, and they were not actively engaged in participating in the militant side of the movement; they were not themselves guilty of committing o the offences described; they were probably in complete ignorance of what was being done; and I ask whether the case of these women who were paid servants of the organisation, and employed inside the office, does not call for special treatment and for special consideration. I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) intends to raise the special case of Mr. George Lansbury, and the position he now occupies under the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act. I will not, therefore, go into that further than to say that every argument that applies to the case of Mr. George Lansbury equally applies to the case of Mrs. Pankhurst, Miss Annie Kenny, and others of those prisoners out on licence. The period of the licence having expired, and those prisoners not having been rearrested, it means an indeterminate prolongation of sentence. They are neither bound nor free as the matter stands at present, and either a free pardon should be granted or they should be made to serve the terms of the sentence without the cruelty and indignity of what is called very effectively, 2338 the "Cat-and-Mouse" methods—torturing them while in prison, and perpetuating the torture when they are permitted to be out on licence. The case of Sylvia Pankhurst, especially, is identical with that of Mr. Lansbury. They are not convicted of having committed crimes, but of having made speeches, the tendency of which was to incite to crime, and therefore I submit that until they are tried and convicted of actual criminal acts they should not be treated in the manner in which they are being treated at the present time, and against which I believe the best feeling of the country is in revolt.
I turn to what is known as "The Piccadilly Flat Case." This case came before Mr. Mead at the Marlborough Street Police Court on 20th June. In the early stage of the proceedings, Mr. Beyfus, who appeared as counsel for the accused woman, asked that the real name of the woman known as Queenie Gerald, which had been just disclosed in evidence, should not be published. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Here is the report of the proceedings as it appeared in the "Times." I shall read a portion dealing with that particular point to which I have referred:—A hairdresser, who stood bail, asked by Mr. Muskett how long lie had known the defendant, replied ten or twelve years lie knew her in the name of Gerald. Her proper name was Mrs. — and she was a married woman. Mr. Beyfus asked That the correct name of the defendant, should not be published and the magistrate remarked that it was a secret inquiry. The Press were present as a concession and to the representatives of the Press Mr. Mead remarked, 'you fully understand you are here as a privilege.'There is the "Times" report showing that the name of the accused woman was mentioned in Court, and that the counsel asked that it should not be made public, the magistrate assenting to that request. That was a bad beginning. On that same occasion Mr. Beyfus, speaking for the accused, said, she would plead "Not guilty." He reserved her defence, and he called her witnesses at the trial. That also has an important bearing upon what followed. The accused pleaded "Not guilty," but the counsel did say, on her behalf, that she reserved her defence until the trial. Then came the trial itself. Chief Inspector John Curry, who made the raid and the arrest of the woman, testified to having found large sums of money in the house, and in the woman's possession. That point has also to be raised subsequently, and I will not go into it now. I desire to call attention to one fact, and ask a question upon it. Amongst the objects found in the house, accord- 2339 ing to Chief Inspector Curry's testimony, were sixteen dozen arum lilies and a penny copy of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, and a revolver. Evidently they had been studying the Act to find how far they were free to go. But it was also stated other things were found, and I put the question to the Home Secretary now, Whether, amongst other things found, there were whips or lashes? The statement, I understand, was made on the authority of one of the girls, that flagellation was, amongst other practices, carried on in this revolting den. I ask the Home Secretary to say Whether, amongst the other things found, and not disclosed by the police authorities, were whips and other lashes of a similar kind? I now come to the trial itself. At the London Sessions, on 10th July, before Mr. Allan James Lawrie, who presided, the case came on for trial. Once more the question was raised about the publication of the names. Mr. Lawrie ordered the Court to be cleared, with the exception of a few privileged persons and some members of the Press. He made this request to the reporters who were present, and again I ask for special attention. He asked the Press not to publish names where it would be contrary to the interests of justice to do so. Note that he did not ask that the details of the case should not be published, but the public were ostensibly cleared out of the Court because the details were too revolting to be disclosed to the public. The magistrate did not ask for the details to be suppressed, but only the names and not the facts. Very full reports of the details have been published in more than one paper, but in no single case, except one name that was' given by Mr. Humphreys, has any name been allowed to appear. To show the way the case has been conducted, I shall read to the House an extract from a statement supplied to me by a gentleman who had been empanelled as one of the jury. The jury was not sworn, but had been empanelled. He says in his statement:—In the course of the morning we had several cases dealing with various crimes, and we were sworn in every case. I have been foreman of the jury and was expecting to be foreman in this case also. We were already seated in the Court waiting to be sworn. We noticed that whereas in the other cases there had not been more than three or four counsel present in Court, when this case of Qucenie Gerald came on, fourteen counsel were sitting opposite to me. We at once saw that something exceptional was taking place, and on inquiry found that it was the Piccadilly Flat case. To our amazement we were not sworn, and through these and other facts concluded that the authorities wished as little as possible to leak out. Counsel for the prose- 2340 cution and for the defence co-operated with the judge in the suppression of all names and addresses"—
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
Do you say counsel for the prosecution?
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman did not hear. I will repeat:—Counsel for the prosecution and for the defence cooperated with the judge in the suppression of all names and addresses, although Mr. Travers Humphreys had a number of letters in his hand which he told us were those of persons involved in the matter, evidently persons of standing. He gave one address only and that quite useless, the name of a man at the Ritz Hotel.That is a statement from a person who was present. Now I come to the further question to the Home Secretary, whether it is intended to institute proceedings against this woman for acting as a pro-caress? In the opening of the case Mr. Travers Humphreys made this statement, and I am now quoting from the "Times" report, and I hope hon. Members present will give this serious attention, because it appears to some of us to be a very serious Matter:—Letters found on the premises made it clear that the, accused was carrying on the trade of a procuress. One-man, whose name he would mention in public. …and so on. The point. I want to call attention to here is that the prosecuting counsel in his opening statement declared that letters found on the premises made it clear that the accused was carrying on the trade of a procuress. The "Daily Telegraph" report gives a slight variation on the "Times" report, and reads as. follows:—There There were a large number of letters continued Counsel, which made it quite clear that apart front that the prisoner's earnings herself and apart from what she-received through the girls, she was carrying on the trade of a procurers.There we have it stated in the most emphatic manner that evidence was in the hands of the authorities to show that this woman was carrying on the trade of a procuress in addition to the offence for which she was being charged. The Chairman of the Sessions, in giving his decision, made this statement:—If I thought I was justified in punishing you for carrying on the trade of a procures,: of which there is some evidence, I should have had to deal more severely with you, but that is not charged in the indictment.I want to ask the Home Secretary why it is that this charge of being a procuress was not included in the indictment? I have quoted from the prosecuting counsel acting for the authorities in his opening statement that there was clear evidence that she was so acting. The Sessions 2341 Chairman made a similar statement, that there was some evidence, but that she was not being charged with that offence. The explanation which I put upon this might be deemed uncharitable, but I want to get to the bottom of it. The explanation I put upon it is this, that if the woman had been charged with being a procuress, the names of the men which were being concealed would require to have been revealed. She would have put forward as her defence that she was only acting as an agent, but behind her were the men who were paying large sums to her for carrying out their desire. Therefore, the whole plot to conceal and shield the men who were the principal guilty parties in this affair made it impossible for the authorities to proceed with the charge of the woman being a procuress. I now ask the Home Secretary whether it is too late to raise that charge against her. She has not been tried upon it. According to the Sessions' Chairman's own statement, no judgment has been pronounced upon it. Public opinion outside will go on believing as it does to-day, that the reason why that charge is not being proceeded with is because if it were the names of the real guilty parties could not be any longer concealed. I raise this question with no desire to perpetuate or to spread further the unsavoury details of what appears to be a most revolting case; but when we remember that the very Act under which this woman was charged was passed by this House to give the authorities more power to grapple with this terrible evil, surely we are entitled to ask that the law if need be shall be strained not to shield, but to reveal the really responsible parties. It is said, on good authority, that there are 80,000 prostitutes on the streets of London, and who can tell the misery a fact like that implies to the girls themselves, the mothers who bore them, the fathers who loved them. Are we to stand by and see a system being shielded in which rich men are allowed to debauch these girls, and then turn them adrift to swell the ranks of those who go upon the streets?
I stand here to give it as my opinion that a hugh conspiracy is afoot to defeat the ends of justice. There are two courses open to the Home Office now. The first is to publish papers on this question, and make a full reservation of all the facts. If that be not possible then the second course is still open to them, namely, to institute proceedings against the woman known as Queenie Gerald, for having 2342 acted as a procuress in addition to the offence for which she has been charged. In the course of my public life I have been the recipient of many, many communications, most of them denouncing me for action taken. On this occasion, from the vicarages of England and Ireland, from the manses of Scotland, from various parts, most parts of the country, letters come day after day praying that this thing may be pursued and praying that the veil may be torn aside, so that those who may be inclined to follow in the footsteps of the men who are the chief offenders in this case may be deterred from doing so through the danger of exposure.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member, who has so admirably stated the case for further investigation into this extraordinary Piccadilly fiat case, further than to say that all decent men know perfectly well that the best cure for the practices which seem to have gone on in that flat is publicity. If the names were known it is quite unnecessary to punish them by law, because they would be cut by every decent man and woman in the country, and that would be sufficient punishment. I do not trust so much to the law as my hon. Friend does. I believe public opinion is strong enough as soon as those names are known. I pass from that to a subject which it is extremely difficult for me to deal with. I am here to plead for my friend, George Lansbury, and I believe, in doing so, I am pleading for a man who is the friend of everyone who knew him in this House. He is, as we all know, an impulsive man, some people would say he was a rash man, but we all know that he is an absolutely upright, honest man, and a man who, if carried away sometimes by his feelings, is only carried away by the most generous of feelings. This man some months ago, now over six months ago, made a rash speech in the Albert Hall, in which he used words, and who amongst us has not used words which he has not regretted, and which could not be brought up against him if everything said was written down. He used these words, and they are some of the words for which he is being punished, and they are words in which, I believe, every one of us will join him. He said that human life was more sacred than property. Everybody knows it is. That was one of the sentences which was reported by the police and solemnly brought before the magis- 2343 trates to show what a dangerous remark it was for anybody to make. I do not know what the other remarks were, but if they were all as innocent as that, no charge could properly be made. Granted that that man did say things which were technically an incitement to riot, granted that he said things which no man in this House would ever say or ever had said, I still think that he has met with an extremely hard measure of justice, that he has paid the penalty and that he ought now to have that petition, that humble petition, which I presented for him to the House to-day, receive careful consideration by this House, and a remedy for the injustice under which he is suffering at the present time.
The case of George Lansbury differs from that of Sylvia Pankhurst, although the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) said they were the same. I think the summons in this case of George Lansbury was under the Act of 34, Edward III., which gives the magistrate power to bind to the peace. I will not go into the question of the recent extension of these powers of binding to the peace for political offences, nor will I deal with the question whether the Act 34, Edward III., gives these powers, or whether magistrates are not now after the recent decision, when they bind to the peace, acting under judge-made law instead of Statute law. The extension of these powers to political cases, although old so far as Ireland is concerned, is new in this country. The binding to the peace of people who use somewhat violent arguments in political work is an extension which ought to be very carefully watched in the interests of democracy. It is so easy to extend it from dangerous political arguments to dangerous sociological arguments, to the man who advocates a strike, to the man who advocates the solidarity of labour, to the man who advocates sabotage, or to the advocacy of any doctrine whatever which those in power consider dangerous. But I do not rest my case on that. It is evidently within the law that magistrates should have the power of binding to the peace a man who has not only not been convicted of any crime, but who has not been charged with the committing of any crime whatsoever. All that is charged is the using of certain words without any consequences being attached to them. These words are reported and read out to the magis- 2344 trate, and the magistrate without hearing any evidence whatever from the man charged, except on the particular words used, can say to him, "I do not find you guilty of having committed a crime, but I bind you to the peace, and in default of your finding sureties you will have to go to prison."
We all know George Lansbury. We know that he is not the type of which criminals are made. Anybody less like a criminal it would be difficult to find. But he is a man with a very high standard of honour, and he considers that, when he is fighting for what he believes to be freedom, he would be betraying his cause if he did not refuse to bind himself never to use arguments which any magistrate might consider to be dangerous. Many Members on either side of the House believe sufficiently in the cause for which they are fighting, and are sufficiently convinced of the justice of that cause, to go to any length, even to prison, rather than cease to advocate the principles for which they stand. To put the position in a homely phrase, George Lansbury refuses to put his tongue in such a position that any magistrate can hold it for him. He prefers to go to prison. Having gone to prison, he goes on hunger strike—very inadvisedly, I think, but still, he wanted to get out of prison as soon as possible and to carry on his work. He is a business man, and has a large family. He went on hunger strike, and the Home Secretary let him out. He was clue back in prison yesterday; he has not yet been rearrested; he is waiting in Bow to be arrested. I do not know whether or not the Home Secretary intends to rearrest him. I hope he does not. What is the position of this man if he is not rearrested? For all the rest of his life he has hanging round his neck the risk of being rearrested if he says anything distasteful to the police. That is not a position in which any citizen ought to be put. It is extremely undesirable that the law should be brought into contempt, as it is being brought at the present time. This man is due to be arrested; he ought to be in prison at the present moment; he is out of prison because the Home Secretary as a man is different from the Home Secretary as a machine. Therefore George Lansbury is at large, and I hope likely to remain at large. But let the House take the opportunity of the humble petition of George Lansbury to put him right with the law, and to put the Home Secretary right with 2345 the law also. All we ask is that mercy should be shown to a man who, in that petition, indicates that he did not know that he was breaking any law, that he has not been convicted of any crime, and even—I forget the exact words—that he has no intention of committing any crime or of breaking the law—a man who, far from riding the high horse and refusing to have anything to do with Parliament or with the law, deliberately asks the House of Commons to afford him relief, so that he may again come within the pale of the law. I submit that, however much we may disagree with him, when we are dealing with a man of extremely high character, of high aims, who comes to us and asks to be put right with the law, a man whom we know to be a man of high honour, the Home Secretary ought to take advantage of the opportunity to make that man once more a worthy citizen.
§ Mr. MORRELL
I want to join in the appeal made by my hon. Friend to support the petition presented by Mr. Lansbury. I do not want to go at any length into the personal question. Everyone who sat in this House with Mr. Lansbury must recognise, not merely his sincerity and courage, but also the true love of humanity which guided his actions throughout. Whether you agree with him or not—and I did not always agree with his opinions, still less with his expression of them—you must respect Mr. Lansbury for the convictions he held. But I am certain that my hon. Friend would not wish to put his appeal to the Home Secretary upon any merely personal grounds. We are not entitled to do so. We are not entitled to ask for a man whom we happen to know as a colleague, different treatment from that which we would ask for any other person in the same position. I wish to press the appeal on the ground that in my judgment, and in the judgment of many other people who inquire into these cases, the procedure under which Mr. Lansbury has been proceeded against is a bad and dangerous procedure, and contrary to the best traditions of English liberty. I submit that the only safeguard to individual liberty in this country is that no man or woman shall be brought before a Court of Law, still less committed to prison, unless there is a definite charge of breaking the law. I do not believe that with regard to this binding to the peace you can say that that is so. Mr. Lansbury is not charged with any definite breach of the law. All 2346 that has happened is that the police say, "We believe he is going to break the law; there may be a danger of his breaking the law; we therefore bring him before the magistrates." The magistrate inquires into the allegations of the police; the defendant cannot bring evidence rebutting the charge; he is told that unless he finds sureties he will be committed to prison.
It may be asked, "What is the objection to Mr. Lansbury's finding sureties?" I think that that was the effect of the Under-Secretary's reply the other day. Why should a man give sureties when he has committed no crime? In the first place, he may not be able to. Cases have arisen already in which men have been asked to give sureties which they could not afford—for instance, there is the case of Mr. Boulter—and of being committed to prison in consequence. Mr. Lansbury may be able to do so as he has many friends. But he is also entitled to ask, "Why should I incriminate my friends in regard to my own good behaviour?" No man can be certain that he will not break the law or be guilty of a breach of the peace—not oven the Home Secretary himself. Why should a man put his friends in the position of standing surety for his good behaviour if he has himself committed no breach of the law? This procedure leads in effect to the prosecution of opinions. We have had too much prosecution of political opinion lately. I was one of those who protested very strongly against the action taken by the Attorney-General in the Aldershot case, and also in the case of Mr. Tom Mann. I said then, and I still think, that the action taken was very much against public policy. It had the effect of converting Mr. Tom Mann, of whom I know nothing myself, into a martyr. I think the action with regard to Mr. Lansbury is equally ill-advised. On these grounds, and in Mr. Lansbury's case on the further ground that the procedure is bad, I support most earnestly my hon. Friend's appeal, and I hope the Home Secretary will indicate that he is prepared to do something in the matter.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I do not agree with many of the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) or the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Morrell), and I feel that it is very objectionable indeed to ask the Home Secretary to treat Mr. Lansbury in a different way from that in which he would treat anyone else. I also feel it 2347 very difficult to ask him to extend clemency to the only man who is being imprisoned in this way while there are many women being imprisoned also. I do not wish to say anything to indicate in the slightest degree that I think it improper, speaking generally—I do not pretend to be familiar with every case—that most of these women should be in gaol. I think they ought to be, as far as I am capable of forming a judgment. All I want to say about Mr. Lansbury's case is that if the Home Secretary, after considering all the circumstances, should think it a case in which the prerogative of mercy might be fairly exercised, I, personally, should be glad, merely because of my acquaintance with Mr. Lansbury in this House, just as I should be glad in the case of any other friend or acquaintance in a similar position. I cannot put it higher than that. If the Home Secretary thinks that under the circumstances he cannot exercise the prerogative of mercy, I shall not have one single word of criticism or complaint to make of his decision. I must say that I feel, as I have often felt as the time went on, that the operation of the "Cat-and-Mouse" Act does not seem to me to be working as it was intended. The Home Secretary may be in possession of facts unknown to me, but the Act appears to be working almost as badly as a criminal statute could work. It seems to me that there has been organised under it a series of dramatic and theatrical incidents of the exact kind that ought to be avoided. I do not like, and I say so quite frankly, the fact of a prisoner who has been sentenced to three years' penal servitude being out and about, making speeches, and so on. It may be inevitable. I do not know. There may be some explanation of it that I am not aware of, but it appears to be a condition of affairs that is as likely as anything to bring the law into disrespect. I do not wish to say more about it. The Home Secretary passed the Act, and he must take the consequences.
I desire to say only one word about the matter raised by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, the matter that is known as "The Piccadilly Flat Case." I do not wish to say that letters which have been produced in a criminal case should be published merely because they show that the writers were guilty of immoral acts. I do say this: that if there is any evidence upon which the woman concerned 2348 could have been tried for procuration, and she was not tried for procuration, that is a very grave scandal indeed. What the evidence was I do not know. The case was very imperfectly reported at the time, and I did not even read the newspapers when it was reported. I should very much like to be assured that the Home Secretary has submitted to his legal advisers—the question as to whether or not this woman could have been charged with procuration. I am sure that the Home Secretary will agree, as everybody will agree, that it would be very unfortunate to allow the impression to get abroad that this woman was not charged with everything of which she might have been found guilty. I quite acknowledge that in a case of this sort there are great difficulties about the evidence. The letters of themselves would not have been evidence against the woman legally. It might, obviously, be very difficult to procure the evidence of those who wrote the letters. It may be that there is not any evidence, and that nothing more could have been done. I can quite understand how that may be so. I personally, however, appeal to the Home Secretary to make as full, clear, and explicit a statement as he can upon a case which has caused a great deal of feeling in the country. It is really very deplorable that at the present it does at any rate have the appearance that a woman who has been guilty of a crime which we all reprobate profoundly, and about which Parliament has quite recently legislated, should in fact have been punished much less severely than women who, however plentiful and guilty, are certainly not, to put it colloquially, in the same street as this woman.
§ Mr. J. WARD
I am delighted to hear what the Noble Lord has said. I would appeal to the Home Secretary to go a little further in reference to the case brought forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil. We have had statements alleged which seem really to support the contention that was made at the time this Act was before the House. The Noble Lord will remember that there was criticism passed upon the suggestions contained in this Criminal Law Amendment Act from this quarter of the House, because we were of a decided opinion—I do not know whether it is a constitutional weakness of ours, or what may be the reason—we did have a certain impression. The reason that we opposed some of the 2349 more severe penalties connected with the Act was not because we were not averse to crimes of the sort that the Act sought to deal with, but because we felt certain—and we said it—that these pains and penalties were intended only for poor people. We felt certain that at the moment a case was obtained where wealthy people were involved, people of influence—and my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham particularly made a speech on this one point—there would be no attempt whatever to secure a proper punishment, and the case would be held up. We said that really all you were passing was an Act of Parliament to punish those who committed these crimes—if they happened to be sufficiently poor and inconsiderable! Here is the first illustration. We suggested much the same in reference to the Mental Deficiency Bill and other measures of that sort. We suggested that really the House was legislating for poor people, and that by some means or other there is always sufficient influence behind the authority when people are "collared," to use a colloquialism, who have sufficient wealth and influence behind them. The law is never stretched in the way it has been in the case of poor people.
I was delighted with what the Noble Lord and other Members said in reference to the appeal for the release of our old friend and late colleague, Mr. George Lansbury. I must confess that the Noble Lord stands much higher in my estimation than he did, because, at least, he showed that he does not wish it to be held, to be practically understood by the public, that there is one law for the rich in regard to these cases and another law for the poor. Does any hon. Member mean to tell me for one moment that if this had been Tom, Dick, or Harry attached to the navvies or the dockers, or people living in a mean street, that the names would not have been given, or that the letters would have been suppressed? Nobody would ever have dreamt of such a thing! Instead of protesting that there was no evidence to support the case, even when counsel for the prosecution, acting on behalf of the Government, in opening the case, declared that there was practically sufficient evidence to make the more serious charge—
§ Mr. J. WARD
All I mean to say is that that was the statement made by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil. But what has the Home Secretary to say as to the statements published in the "Globe" newspaper, the report of the trial, and the statements that were made by counsel at the trial? If these statements were true, then unquestionably there was a suggestion—
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
May I say, in view of the reply of the Home Secretary, that I was not making any statements on my own authority? I was quoting from the "Times" and the "Telegraph" reports of what the prosecuting counsel said.
§ Mr. J. WARD
What I was venturing to suggest was that here is the first case where the Home Secretary had the chance of showing whether there is the same process of law against the wealthy and the influential who break the law as there is in the case of the poor man or woman who happens to break it. Does anyone for a moment imagine that even the chief criminal in the case of a poor man or woman would have appeared in Court without giving their proper name? Nobody would ever believe it, even if the Home Secretary were to stand there and state it until he was black in the face. 'If it had been Mrs. Brown, a charwoman or washerwoman, or a person connected with that class of society, the whole thing would have been laid bare. There would have been no question of not interfering with their social relationship—which by the way are quite as important in those classes of society as in the higher—this aspect would never have been considered of the slightest importance in deciding this case. Therefore, I do most certainly second the appeal of the Noble Lord that a clean breast should be made in this case. I do not suggest that where men who had had perfectly innocent relationships with this woman, as was suggested by the Home Secretary the other day as to the investment of her money in various business transactions, that their letters shall be published; but I suggest that the names of those who can be shown to have had the slightest connection with her traffic as a procuress should most certainly be stated, because if the law cannot touch them, at least public opinion can. That will be sufficient deterrent to others to prevent them from committing similar crimes.
§ Sir ARTHUR MARKHAM
I wish to say a few words on the case of Mr. Lansbury, a man whom everyone in this House who had the privilege of knowing recognises to be a man of absolute honesty and integrity. I do not think that view will be dissented from by a single Member of the House. The last speaker said something about one law being made for the rich and another for the poor. I think that no more improper proceedings have ever taken place during the time I have been in this House than for Member after Member to get up in his place and ask that special privileges should be accorded to a gentleman merely because he had been a Member of this House. Why should we accord special privilege to Mr. Lansbury who is really setting the law at defiance? [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Really the question has resolved itself into this: Is Mr. Lansbury to he above the law or is the law to be above Mr. Lansbury? When the "Cat and Mouse Bill" was passing, I did my utmost to prevent its becoming law. At the same time, if Mr. Lansbury is to be released from the provisions of this Act it simply shows that it has become an absolute failure.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
If Mr. Lansbury is to be released then I think my right hon. Friend will admit that the "Cat and Mouse Bill" has failed as far as the Home Office view is concerned. If this had been the case of a poor man it would not have been brought up in this House. It is only because Mr. Lansbury is an influential and honest man, a man whom we all admired, that this appeal has been made. It will put Mr. Lansbury above the law. My complaint against this law is that if Mr. Lansbury had known when he refused to enter into his recognisances to keep the peace, and went to prison, he would have to die if he did not take the food given to him, he would very soon have entered into those recognisances, and the law would have been maintained. It was because he knew how the matter would turn out that he set the law at defiance. I should say this, in justice to the Home Secretary, that one of his colleagues recently told me that the whole Cabinet are responsible for this Act. The matter was considered by the Cabinet, and it is not fair to place the whole burden on the shoulders of the Home Secretary. The Cabinet., as a Cabinet, ought to bear the full burden for this failure which undoubtedly it is. I did not 2352 know the responsibility was that of the whole Cabinet when I have attacked the right hon. Gentleman. I was not aware at that time that the Bill was one which was decided by the Cabinet. Mr. George Lansbury—
§ Sir W. BYLES
Was not the case of Mr. Lansbury under an Act of Edward III.—that is the mischief of it?
It being a Quarter past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed, without Question put.