§ Considered, in Committee.
§ [Sir E. CORNWALL in the Chair.]
§ Mr. KELLAWAY (Secretary, Department of Overseas Trade)
I beg to move,That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of any sums not exceeding £100,000 required for the fulfilment of any guarantee against loss resulting from the holding of a British Empire Exhibition given by the Board of Trade.150 9.0 P.M.
In regard to this Resolution, I can assure my hon. Friends opposite that there is no attack in it upon Soviet Russia. At a time when every penny must be safeguarded, the Committee is entitled to an explanation of what is involved in this Resolution, and the reasons for proposing it. The idea of the British Empire Exhibition originated in 1913 with that great Empire builder, Lord Strathcona. The War prevented the original scheme being carried out, but in the year 1919 a Conference was held at which representatives of all the Colonics were present, and it was decided that it was desirable to hold an exhibition in order to celebrate the part which the Empire had played in the War.
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
Perhaps I may repeat that there is nothing in this Resolution which can be construed into an attack upon Russia. I will quote an extract from a letter written to the Lord Mayor of London by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales:It is unnecessary for me to emphasise the importance of such an exhibition as a means of developing the resources and trade of the British Empire For four years the resources of the Empire and the inventive and manufacturing energy of its peoples have been utilised almost exclusively in the terrible work of destruction. The effort in which they united has saved civilisation from the deadliest menace with which it has ever been threatened, and you will, I am sure, agree that there can be no more fitting way of commemorating the triumph of our cause than by uniting again to develop for constructive, work the vast potential resources and the manufacturing power of the Empire.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Is it in order, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, for the right hon. Gentleman to read a letter from His Royal Highness in support of a Government measure?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I have not had the time to look up precedents, but I am sure it is not desirable for the right hon. Gentleman to use the letter as part of his speech. If he continues reading it, other hon. Members might disagree with the terms of the letter, and a discussion of that kind should be avoided.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
If we are told that His Royal Highness particularly wishes this course to be taken, it may put us in the position of having to go against him.
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
My hon. and gallant Friend cannot be aware of the fact that the letter I am quoting is one within common knowledge. It has already appeared in the public Press, and is in no sense a private communication. It must be obvious there can be no better way of celebrating the great part the Empire played in the War than by bringing together in its capital an exhibition of its natural resources and of the activities and energies of its people. That was the idea of Lord Strathcona and his colleagues, and it will, I hope, be assisted by the guarantee to be given by the Government of £100,000. The guarantee will only become operative if a guarantee of £500,000 be forthcoming from private sources. We have every reason to believe that that guarantee will be forthcoming. It cannot, in any case, become payable until 1923, but in order that the undertaking should be regularised, it is necessary that this Resolution should be passed through the House. We recently had in London a small working model of this exhibition in the Empire Timber Exhibition, which brought together in the Holland Park Skating Rink from all parts of the Empire, from India and the Colonies, examples of timber which the Empire produces, and which showed that we have in our own borders every form of timber necessary for a civilised State. The result of that exhibition, which threw no charge on public funds, was to do a great deal to bring home to the purchasers and users of timber in this country the immense possibilities we have in our own Empire. When the Empire was forced to action by one of those great impulses which move men and nations to the greatest heroism, we showed what the Empire was capable of doing in the hour of peril. I think it is just as necessary now, when we are looking forward to a time of prolonged peace, that we should know what the Empire is capable of doing during that time. There is every indication of a lull in trade activity at home, and it is necessary our manufacturers should find new markets if British trade is going to suffer from a falling off in 152 this country. It is a rather melancholy reflection that during the few years preceding the outbreak of war the share of Britain in Empire trade had relatively fallen off. There is a great sentiment in trade, just as powerful as the sentiment which brought the Colonies into the War. Men are not guided in trade entirely by material instincts, and idealism plays as large a part in trade as it did during the War. This proposal will give an opportunity for it to find practical expression. No Empire has ever been so bountifully blessed with the manifold gifts of Providence as is this Empire, and it is indeed necessary that the Empire itself should realise, and that the whole world should realise, that we have within our boundaries everything necessary for civilised mankind and that we, for our part, are less under the necessity of going outside our own flesh and blood for the things necessary to carry on the work of the State. I believe we have in this a form of Imperial preference to which no fiscal or political opposition can be offered, and under these circumstances I hope the House will see its way to agree to the Resolution and enable the Government to give the guarantee in order that the work of preparing the Exhibition may proceed.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
When I heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite I really thought I was at a Coalition political meeting. It was just the sort of speech one expects to hear on a political platform from a man waving a little Union Jack costing about 1s. 2d., and daring anyone to enter a protest against this highly patriotic Cabinet—good old Kiplingese. We happen on this side of the House to value the Empire—we prefer to call it the British Commonwealth—perhaps even more deeply than hon. Members opposite, but we come down to this: We are asked to vote, after listening to a number of highfalutin, flowery phrases, £100,000 for this purpose, and I think it is our duty to get a little more information on the subject. Where is this exhibition going to be held? Is it to be anything like the Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace? That Exhibition was to celebrate a period of peace, prosperity, and goodwill among men. If I remember rightly, it was open to all nations. Is this exhibition going to be on the same lines, or is it to be limited to the British Empire? Are our allies to 153 be allowed to send exhibits? Is our great French ally, which might take dudgeon if it were excluded, to be allowed to share in it? Personally, I should say that all our allies should be invited to take part in it. If we are told that the object is to improve British trade, I cannot understand why the Government should not be prepared to invite every nation to help us, so as to assist in opening markets for us in all parts of the world. Where is this exhibition going to be held? Is it to be at the Crystal Palace? [An HON. MEMBER: "Hull."] Well, if it is to be held there, I should very much like to know, as it might influence my vote. We have had an explanation that this is going to be a memorial for the War. The right hon. Gentleman is a little late in the fair. We have at present an exhibition of War relics and memorials of the Great War, and we have had proposed a pylon, which was to be a mighty monument of the War, but that idea has been suddenly dropped.
Had we better not wait until we know whether we are going to have peace? I seem to remember entirely similar circumstances to these with which we are now faced over a hundred years ago. [A laugh.] Perhaps I am older than I look. I am not claiming personal recollection of the beginning of the wars of the French Revolution, or of the conditions which prevailed at the opening of the 27 years of almost continuous war which arose out of the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon. If, however, the present Government does not mend its ways, it is, as far as I can gather, going to start on a similar path. Therefore, I think we should be very ill-advised to vote this sum at present, until we see that we are out of the War. It is no good holloaing until we know that we are out of the War. The hon. Baronet the Member for Edge Hill (Sir W. Rutherford) asked a question about this Exhibition on the 27th July, and I gathered from the answer that the idea of holding this Exhibition germinated in the brain of certain commercial gentlemen. They proposed to hold it as a commercial concern, and, no doubt, would have made a great success of it. The Board of Trade thought fit to step in, I am sure with very good motives—the Government does everything with good motives, good intentions; but the way to a certain place is paved with good intentions. They came in with very good motives, but we 154 are to pay. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Yes; we all pay our taxes. The Board of Trade, apparently, thought that this was a splendid idea for getting rid of some of the taxpayers' money, and they stopped in, and we are now asked to pay £100,000. Why should not this be left to private enterprise? We have not so much money to-day that we can afford to spend it on an Exhibition like this. The hon. Gentleman has quoted the Timber Exhibition as an example. He very kindly sent me, and, I have no doubt, other hon. Members an invitation to it, and I availed myself of that invitation. But what did it cost? Was it a paying concern?
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
If my hon. and gallant Friend had paid me the compliment of listening to what I said, he would have heard me say that it cost the country nothing at all—that it was self-supporting.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I was so overwhelmed by the eloquence of the hon. Gentleman that that passage escaped my memory. I suppose, therefore, that this Exhibition also is going to cost nothing. I hope it will, but we are asked to guarantee this sum of money. Did we guarantee any money for the Timber Exhibition? If not, why should we be asked to guarantee any in this case? I see that they were going to call it "The British Dominions Exhibition, Ltd.," and I presume that this £100,000 was the bribe or inducement which the Government offered them—I am not, of course, imputing any improper motive—to allow the Government to "jump their claim" and to take over this scheme. I think that the reason why the Government offered to do that was that they saw that they could make an excellent piece of propaganda out of it. They are welcome to all the propaganda they can get, and I think they will need it within the next few months. All the propaganda in Heaven and earth will not save them; but I think we ought to object to paying for it. I look upon this as an unmitigated piece of propaganda. I regard it as unnecessary. After what has happened during the last five years, we do not want any Exhibition of this sort, at the Government expense, to hold the Empire together. They can get all the trade they want in the East of Europe to-morrow. The British Empire is per- 155 fectly sound without their footling Exhibitions, and for that reason I shall vote against this Resolution.
§ Mr. CHARLES BARRIE
I hope that my few remarks will have the effect of a little soothing syrup to what has just preceded them. This is a proposal in connection with the trade and commerce of this country which should appeal to the House, and of which the passage ought to be easy. It goes without saying that the more facilities that can be provided for our manufacturers and merchants, our great importers and exporters, to show to the world what can be produced by the British Empire, the better it will be for our trade and commerce generally. Especially is that the case at the present time, when so many of the markets which have been held by others in the past are open to us, and can be secured. Now is the time to set about trying to get those markets before other people get hold of them. I think, therefore, that the Government, in the present circumstances, are acting wisely in stepping in to support this Exhibition. The proposal is that £100,000 should be guaranteed, but that by no means means that we shall have to pay it. It is only a guarantee that we are offering in case of loss. I should think it very unlikely indeed, in these times, that there will be any loss at all in the matter, and, surely, in any case, even though it did cause us a loss, it is well worth while to promote the trade and commerce of this country, which is so necessary at the present time in order to help to pay our taxes; and I should be surprised if there were many dissentients to helping to carry through this proposal. I should be one of the first in this House to tell the Government, if I thought they were spending money on anything useless, but anything that will help to forward our trade should be looked at with a very wide view, and promptly accepted. I do not think people realise what a very large proportion of raw products is found within our own Empire. I think the figure is something like 97 per cent. The sooner that can be brought home to the people of this country, and also to the people of every other country, the better it will be for our future trade and commerce.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I think that there is, at any rate, one point in the remarks of my 156 hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), and that is the point with regard to the Union Jack. I do not want to pursue that subject, but it is a fact that there is a section of our community which is inclined to claim a monopoly of patriotism and a special attachment to the interests of the Empire. Unlike my hon. and gallant Friend, however, I rise to support this Resolution. It is true that the State may lose nothing upon this venture, but, even if the State had to lose, I think it is a venture that they ought to undertake. The least that the State can offer to do is to encourage and stimulate these necessary Exhibitions. They are rooted, not in any Imperial spirit, but rather in what might be termed the soil of trade interest. We all, I hope, have a common interest in the encouragement and development of British trade. My hon. and gallant Friend may find some consolation in the fact that this Exhibition is being held under the auspices, not of the War Office, but of the Board of Trade. France is not included in that comprehensive term, "The British Empire," and, therefore, the question whether French exhibits are to be admitted to this Exhibition scarcely arises.
I agree with what the hon. Gentleman has said as to the desirability of exhibiting the enterprise and the activities of the various parts of the Empire in different branches of trade. All that is to the good; it is to the good of every section of the community in the country, and therefore I think an expenditure of this kind, even if it has to be incurred, though I believe it will not—it is only a matter of the House giving a guarantee in certain contingencies—would on the whole be money well spent. We may have to face during this winter a rather serious position with respect to trade prospects, unemployment, and so on. Those conditions will arise from different causes. One cause, I fear, is to be the recurrent conflicts between the different interests as to wages and working conditions. I think a little public money might occasionally be well spent in bringing together the representatives of these different interests, not for an hour or two, or for an occasional afternoon when there is just a moment of crisis, but bringing them together in order that there might be some exhaustive conference of persons representing these 157 great interests and keeping them together long enough to see whether it is possible to compose differences which, if they reach a point of serious conflict in the course of the approaching autumn or winter, will be disastrous to the interests of the country, and I therefore put to my right hon. Friend the view that he might well represent to the Board of Trade the fact that, just as it is well spent money in the matter of exhibiting the trade achievements of the different parts of the Empire, it might well be that we may spend money to advantage by bringing together the representatives of our own United Kingdom trade interests, and in that way try to prevent differences which I am afraid otherwise will occur. I hope the Committee will be disposed to look favourably upon this proposal, because no one of us should be ashamed of showing what really is the extent and what really are the triumphs of British trade in the different parts of the British Empire.
§ Mr. KILEY
I do not propose to follow the example of the Minister of Overseas Trade nor that of my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) in their historical essays as to the advantages of closer connection with His Majesty's Dominions overseas. If the Dominions need any substantial token of our appreciation of the part they played in the Great War, I am perfectly prepared to consider in any way the Government decide, whether by cash or otherwise, some practical token of our goodwill. Having said that, I think we should leave that part of the exhibition at that point. But I should like to ask what section of traders in this country have asked for this exhibition. If the demand has come from this country, very well, let us consider it, and let us ask why it is that the traders who want this exhibition are not in a position to find the money themselves. That has been the experience hitherto with regard to these exhibitions, that those who desire them put up a certain amount of money as evidence of their desire for them to take place. If, on the other hand, the desire has come from any of His Majesty's Dominions, I think we have a right to ask from those authorities what part, financial or otherwise, they are prepared to take. They have no right, and I do not think they would expect, the Government of Great Britain to put up a certain amount of money while they themselves 158 did not put up any at all, that is to say, if the demand is coming from any of our Dominions. If it is not coming from our Dominions or from the traders of this country, from whom is it coming? Is it some private body of individuals who have got together with a view of running an exhibition, and if it is successful financially they take the money, and if it is a loss the British taxpayer is to be called upon? Is that the procedure we are asked to take part in in guaranteeing this sum of money? If that is not the procedure, perhaps the Minister will enlighten us and give some reliable information on this point.
Again, why is it necessary to have a totally different body of people? We have at present the Board of Trade, with a great Exhibitions Department, fully equipped and fully organised for holding exhibitions. They hold them every year in London and at various other times in the provinces. Why is it necessary to have a brand new equipment and a Department, and why should the Board of Trade approve of the appointment of a gentleman at a salary of £5,000 a year for this special exhibition? I suppose, as part of the guarantee which they are providing they have stipulated for the right to approve of the appointment. I do not see why the Board of Trade should have taken that responsibility on their shoulders at all. If this is a private concern, run by private people, then the private people ought to accept the responsibility. I am afraid the Government is embarking upon a very dangerous course in accepting responsibility for a procedure of this kind. They have already in another direction appointed directors to various trading concerns in which the Government has invested money, and in one case, at all events, they produced a serious state of affairs in the money market. Therefore, one looks with a great deal of anxiety to further experiments in that direction which the Government are taking, as, for instance, under this Bill. Therefore, if this is done by the traders, or on their behalf, the Associated Chambers of Commerce have sufficient money to find all that is required for this exhibition. Again, I would ask, if the Government is guaranteeing this money, what powers it proposes to take as to how this exhibition shall be run? Are they going to decide what class of exhibitors shall be 159 allowed to exhibit in this exhibition? Do they take any responsibility that A may exhibit and B may not? because, after all, if these two traders desire to exhibit, they are both taxpayers, and if one is accepted and one is refused and the money of both can be called upon to meet the deficiency, if there is to be one, I think the Government is taking a responsibility which it is not called upon to take, and yet I cannot see how it can avoid it if it is guaranteeing the money and approving the managers and letting the private organisations conduct the proceedings as they intend to do. Again, I think it is only right, if the Government is prepared to foot the Bill, if there is a deficiency, that the Government should have a right to take part in the plunder, if there is to be any. Therefore, I cannot understand the action of the Government at all in this matter. If the Dominions want to have an exhibition, the Board of Trade has all the organisation and all the officials, and if they want any financial assistance the right hon. Gentleman can accept my assurance that traders will not be backward in coming forward and giving whatever financial support is needed, and I should infinitely prefer that to the proposal that is outlined in the Bill. I hope the Committee will seriously consider the granting of this money, and, if there is a Division upon it, I am prepared to vote against the proposal.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
I think my hon. Friend (Mr. Kiley) has misunderstood the proposal of the Minister. He says the Government is going to guarantee all the money required for the exhibition.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
I understand from what my right hon. Friend has said that the guarantee fund will amount to £500,000, and of that amount the Government is asked to guarantee £100,000. That indicates that there are some people in the country who are quite willing to run the risk, and the Government will not be called upon should there be any deficiency. But I quite agree that my hon. Friend is quite entitled to some fuller information in regard to who are the promoters of the exhibition. That is quite a proper question to put, and the Minister should satisfy the House and my 160 hon. Friend as to who is running it, and on what lines. I assume if it is run by capable business people they ought to make a great success of it, and while a guarantee has been given of £500,000, not one penny of loss should accrue from it. If run on proper business lines it should be a great success. I am sure that an exhibition of goods drawn from all parts of the British Empire will be of the highest educational value, and will contribute largely to the trade and industry of this country and of the Empire. There is something to be said for the idea in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, which speech so disturbed my hon. Friend the Member for Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), who has had quite a Jamboree this evening over it, namely, that after a great war, and now that we are entering upon the paths of peace, we should show what the Empire is capable of doing. I observe my hon. Friend the Member for Hull dragged King Charles' head into the argument, notwithstanding the warning of the right hon. Gentleman given from the front Bench not to introduce Russia into this matter. We are entering upon the paths of peace, and I am sure all in this House hope that the present cloud will vanish away, and that there will be for many years a period of peace and of abounding prosperity, both for this country and the British Empire.
In an essentially peace project such as this Exhibition is formed to show what the great British Empire is capable of, and which is confined to the produce of the British Empire, no question of France enters. The Exhibition will probably not be held in Hull but in London, and from all parts of the world people will come to see it. I should assume that, with regard to an Exhibition which is given a title such as this is given in this proposal, namely, "the British Empire Exhibition," it will not be necessary to bring in other parts of the world, but that the idea is for the British Empire to show to all the other nations of the world the greatness of the British Empire, what the British Empire is capable of, and what her resources are. That will tend, not only to the good of the British Empire, but will do no harm to the other nations. If the Government had proposed to organise the Exhibition, or if they had proposed to pay the whole cost of it, or if they 161 had undertaken to guarantee any loss that might be involved in the holding of it, we might have paused; but I assume, from what the right hon. Gentle man has told us, that this is a venture promoted by public-spirited men, that they are willing to guarantee £400,000 themselves or to obtain guarantees to that amount, that the Government is asked to share in it by guaranteeing £100,000, and that there is no likelihood of any loss if the Exhibition is run on strictly business lines. Under all the circumstances, the Committee should not hesitate to agree to the proposal, and that by granting what is required, and by becoming guarantors to the limited extent mentioned, we will not run any unnecessary risk and will be contributing towards the enlightenment of our own people as to the resources of the British Empire.
§ Mr. LORDEN
I should not have risen had it not been for the way in which the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Kiley) has dealt with the matter. I cannot conceive of anything on which we should be more justified in spending a sum of money at the present time than on an exhibition of goods produced within the British Empire. I feel this is a matter in which we can really back up the Government in every way, because this Exhibition will demonstrate what the Empire is capable of and how it is possible to develop within the Empire practically all the goods and all the raw material that we want. The Government are to be congratulated for bringing forward the matter. I am very glad to be able to be here to-night and vote, if it is necessary to vote, on this, although it does mean an expenditure of money, and although at the present time we are all alarmed at any expenditure. But all that is wanted in this case is the guarantee of the Government, which will show that they are in sympathy with it and that they are prepared to help those people who are putting up this large sum of money so that the Exhibition may become a huge success and so that our Colonies and all those overseas may know that it has the goodwill of the Government behind it. It will bring them in much more than if it were left entirely to the traders to do it without official recognition. In this case we are doing the right thing, and I am glad to be able to be here to vote for it.
§ Mr. SPENCER
If this matter goes to a Division I shall vote against it, for one or two reasons. It has been stated to-night that if this guarantee is given, and if this Exhibition is held, it is going to be an unqualified advantage to the whole of the British public and to the whole of the members of the British Empire. It is very questionable whether that is so or not. It does not follow that, if there is an expansion of trade, it means that the general community are necessarily going to derive any advantage from that expansion of trade. So far as this side of the Committee is concerned, we are only concerned in trade to the extent of providing the whole of the people in this country with a certain standard of living. Beyond that, unless it is to the advantage of some nation that is incapable of assisting herself owing to a calamity, we are not interested in it at all. We are not interested in the expansion of trade for trade's sake. We are not interested in work for work's sake. We do not make any secret about it. The only thing we are concerned about is to provide an excellent standard of living for every one of our citizens, without qualification, so long as he is willing to work if he is capable of working. Any trade beyond that extent, unless it is, as I say, for the purpose of exchanging goods with a nation for goods, or for, the purpose of assisting a nation that might be passing through some temporary calamity, we are not interested in at all. So far as I am concerned, this Exhibition is a piece of private advertising at public expense for the advantage of one section of the British public, and the other section of the British public is going to have to bear the burden of this amount, which is going to be guaranteed in the interests very largely, not of small traders, but of very large concerns and associations working primarily in their own interests and not in the interests of the general public of this country.
The second reason why I am opposing this Resolution is because it sets up very specifically that the objects of the exhibition are to foster inter-Imperial interests. So far as this side of the Committee is concerned, we have had quite sufficient of the fostering of Imperial interests. This means a piece of economic exclusiveness. A few great concerns in this country are seeking to 163 corner the raw materials, to capture the markets, and to derive personal advantages to the detriment of other people, and the natural sequence of events is going to be that we are going to create suspicion and jealousy amongst other countries which in the long run will lead to open hostility between countries again, because they have been shut out of the markets of the world. The object is definitely stated, and that is to foster a form of Imperialism which is not to the advantage of this country or any other country, and I shall vote against this money being granted. My third point is that this proposal is altogether contrary to what is known as the spirit of the League of Nations. The League of Nations was supposed to have been set up not for the purpose of national exclusiveness, not to give one nation an advantage over another, but with the object of coming to agreement on these economic questions, and so long as we have exhibitions which are for the purpose of developing merely the natural resources of our own Empire, which resources may be held exclusively by this Empire and for this Empire against the interests of the world, we are not going to get the best out of any League of Nations.
§ Mr. MYERS
One reason which was given by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Kellaway) why this exhibition was to be encouraged was that there was likely to be a lull in British trade, and the necessity for securing further markets was apparent. The right hon. Gentleman did not tell us, however, how this expenditure is going to achieve that particular object. We on this side have always believed that no question of a lull in our own trade ought to be considered while the home requirements of our people remain to be satisfied. When the requirements of our people are not satisfied and there is anything in the nature of a lull in trade, that is evidence that something has got out of joint which needs to be rectified, and no exhibition of the kind proposed is a method whereby that evil can be cured. I agree with an expression made by the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), that anything that moves in the direction of pointing out to the peoples of the world their mutual inter-dependence ought to be fostered, 164 but I fail to see how an exhibition of this character is going to achieve that end. This exhibition is nothing more or less than a huge business advertisement, from the view of private enterprise and private commercialism. The memorandum which has been issued says, "The exhibition will be privately organised, but it is receiving official recognition and support." If big business desires an exhibition for a large scale advertisement, big business ought to be prepared to pay for it. Having regard to the profit that world commercialism has made out of the War, if it desires anything for the purpose of extending its business, and in order to make large profits in the future, it ought to be prepared to pay for the advertisement. The big business of the world has imposed sufficient responsibility upon us already. Our responsibilities in Mesopotamia and Persia, which have involved this country in tremendous expense, are purely and solely in the business interests that happen to be in those countries, and the time has come when we are entitled to ask ourselves by what right have commercial adventures in this country or in any other to move in this direction and then come to this House and ask us to foot the Bill. If the House will find £100,000 for expenditure it could expend it in directions which would produce good results. I suggest that instead of offering our guarantee of £100,000 to prop up and support an advertisement for big business and commercial business in this country and the Empire, we ought to look round and see if there are any disabled soldiers or the widows and orphans of deceased men who require assistance.
§ Colonel GREIG
We have had a deplorable exhibition in the speeches which have just been delivered. Coming from that side, they seem to prove the allegation made against a considerable portion of the Labour party that they are "certainly not fit to govern"; but I am consoled by the fact that from the Front Bench opposite we had a speech from a member of the Labour party (Mr. Clynes) which displayed width of outlook and a sound appreciation of the great interests concerned in these matters, which shows that there is some sanity in that party. Take the final observation of the last speaker. £100,000 is to be guaranteed by the Government to assist 165 this exhibition, and the hon. Member suggests that we should apply that sum of money to a particular object. The object he named may be a very good one, but he would rather expend the money not in extending our trade but in giving one more dole to pauperise our population.
§ Colonel GREIG
I do not see that that has anything to do with the matter. It is said that this is an imperialistic design, because it is confined to the British Empire.
§ Colonel GREIG
Why should not the British Empire have its own exhibition? Why should our Colonies not combine with us in showing what the British Empire can do? The British Empire may not be able to sustain itself entirely without imports from outside, but we may learn in the first instance how we can develop what we have within the Empire. Hon. Members opposite say that all we are interested in is in getting a good standard of wages at home.
§ Mr. SPENCER
Will the hon. Member quote us correctly. We did not say anything about wages, but the standard of living.
§ Colonel GREIG
The hon. Member can see in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow whether I am quoting correctly or not. If any people stand to gain by such an exhibition as this, if it does what it is intended to do, and what I believe it will do, namely, to extend our trade, it is the people who call themselves the working classes. By far the greater portion of the return on trade and commerce goes in wages to the working classes, and the more we extend our trade within the Empire and outside the Empire the better will it be for all those objects of internationalism to which hon. Members opposite pay so much lip service, but which when it comes to a test question like this they do not understand.
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
I do not rise to reply to the point of view put by hon. Members opposite, but to answer certain questions which were put to me. As regards the tone of the discussion, I am certain that when hon. Members opposite read their 166 speeches to-morrow they would far rather that the Labour cause stood by the speech of the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) than by the unfortunate and sterile policy which they represent. In reply to the hon. Member for White-chapel (Mr. Kiley) I may say that there are no private interests in the exhibition in the sense that private manufacturers are going to profit by the exhibition. Any profit made on the exhibition will go to some public purpose or charity. The management of the exhibition will be in the hands of a committee which must be approved by the Government, and the members of that committee are the High Commissioners and Agents General of the different dominions and colonies, with representatives of the Government. It is only if the £500,000 is provided by these public-spirited men that the Government guarantee of £100,000 will come into operation.
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
I regret that that should influence my hon. Friend. After all, this exhibition is being held in London, and a good part of this £500,000, I am confident, will be provided by Colonial interests. Is it not rather ungrateful to be unwilling, in regard to a great project of this character, to provide a small guarantee like this? The prime benefit of this is not going to big capital; it is going to the producers of this country, and from it none will benefit more than the constituents of the hon. Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Spencer), who has opposed it.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I want to support what has been described as the unfortunate attitude of some members of the party with which I am proud to be associated. If this was an expenditure which was calculated to aid the interests of the Empire as we understood it until a few years ago, probably some of us would support the expenditure, but the unfortunate thing to-day is that we do not quite know what hon. Members mean by "Empire" when they speak of it. It has come to mean too often that interested persons shall exploit the labour of coloured people under conditions which are not at all to the liking of British workers. We have 167 that clearly exemplified in the attitude of certain hon. Gentlemen, who, when there is any expenditure proposed in this House, urge economy if the money is to be spent on social objects, but declare that the money would be well spent if the outlay proposed is for the expansion and development of the interests of what they call the Empire. If you talk of an Empire of people who are heartily cooperating as a series of commonwealths, as, for instance, during the various stages of the War, that is one thing, but the British Empire is coming to mean something altogether different, and I, for one, am not going to support expenditure for such ideals of Empire. One of the things I do not like about this is that the money is going into the hands of a certain number of private people. I know there are conditions attached to it. If you believe in private ownership and in the spirit of individualism, carry out your doctrine and do not come to the State for any aid. Have the Dominions asked for the exhibition? I think financial circles in the city of London are largely responsible for this request.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Where is the exhibition to be held—at the White City or at the Crystal Palace? Are the mandated territories to be invited to the exhibition? Is Mesopotamia, for example, to be asked to contribute to its sense of the greatness of the Empire? Are the Sheiks at Kut-el-Amara and else where going to send us specimens of the natural products of their districts?
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
On the last point the hon. and gallant Member has better sources of information than I. The exhibition will be held in London.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.