§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY OF SHIPPING (Colonel Leslie Wilson)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I do not think it is necessary for me to deal at any length with the objects of the Bill. They are shown in the Bill itself. The object is to confirm an agreement made between His Majesty's Government in London and His Majesty's Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and His Majesty's Dominion of New Zealand in relation to the Island of Nauru. The agreement is shown in the Schedule to the Bill, and it consists of 15 Articles, and the 15th says:The agreement shall come into force on its ratification by the Parliaments of the three countries.This agreement was signed on 2nd July, 1919, by the Prime Ministers of the three Governments concerned. I quite understand that it is necessary for me to amplify to a certain extent the Bill as presented to the House. Perhaps in the first place I had better say one or two words with regard to the island itself. I presume there are very few hon. Members who do not know where the Island of Nauru is, but as some may have got a little rusty in regard to their geography of the Pacific Islands, I may say it is an island, known also as Pleasant Island, situated to the west of the Ellice and Gilbert Islands, south of the Marshall Islands, and to the north-east of the Solomon Islands. It is within one degree South of the Equator. It is about eight miles square. It is an uplifted coral atoll, the highest point of which is about 110 feet above sea-level. For innumerable ages past it has been inhabited by numberless sea birds, whose dejecta have permeated the coral rock to a considerable depth, something over 40 feet. I need not go into the history of the island beyond saying that it was discovered by Captain Hunter in 1798, and was annexed by Germany in 1888. At the outbreak of the War 1300 it was administered as part of the Marshall Islands. On 9th September, 1914, the island was unconditionally surrendered to His Majesty's Australian ship "Melbourne," and was included in the capitulation of Rabaul on 17th September. At the request of the Government of Australia, the administration was then undertaken by the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific. There are some 1,700 indigenous natives of the island, and they are extremely handsome, intelligent and Christianised race, and are fairly well educated. They have expressed, since the date of the capitulation their keen desire to remain under British rule, being aware of the advantages which accrue under British rule from their neighbours in the Ellice Islands, and during the War they petitioned the King to be allowed to remain under his rule.
During the discussions of Paris preliminary to the Treaty of Peace, it became clear that the mandate for Nauru would come to the British Empire, and the question of the future administration of these islands became a subject of conversation between the Dominion representatives who were interested. Those Dominion representatives obviously were the Commonwealth of Australia and the Dominion of New Zealand. This is practically a rock of solid phosphate, and I would remind the House of the Dominions Royal Commission Report of 1917, in which it was pointed out how dependent the Empire was on foreign sources for supplies of phosphate. There is a demand for phosphate, which is likely to be largely increased in the future, and the question of the supply of rock phosphate which can be converted into super-phosphate for fertilisers, is one of the most urgent importance. The rock phosphate found in Nauru is not generally applied in its crude state. It is converted into super-phosphate by means of sulphuric acid. I will give one or two figures in regard to the urgent demand for rock phosphate and super-phosphate. The average net imports into the United Kingdom from 1909 to 1913 were 487,000 tons. The exports of super-phosphates during the same period were 121,000 tons, and the chief consumers were the wheat-growing districts of Australia and New Zealand.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Colonel WILSON
Mostly from Florida or North Africa. They were lower-grade phosphate ores. In 1919 it Ns as apparent there was going to be a general shortage of wheat throughout the world and the tendency to exhaustion of the new soils of the world meant a largely increased demand for phosphates. Germany had maintained her agricultural production with the aid of large quantities of phosphate manures. In fact, in 1913 she used no less than 3,500,000 tons, including basic slag. In 1913 the United Kingdom used some 743,000 tons of phosphate, and if a policy of increased arable land is to be pursued that amount will have to be nearly doubled. Canada and South Africa are also increasing their demands. The production of superphosphates has now been greatly facilitated by means of numerous acid plants erected in the United Kingdom and the Dominions for munitions purposes. As a result of these discussions in Paris the solution of the problem of the island of Nauru which commended itself was that the administration in Nauru should be conducted under the general control of the three Governments of the Empire who are most directly interested, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom;that the Pacific Phosphate Company mentioned in Article 7 of the Schedule should be bought out and the minerals should be worked on a non-profit-making basis, which is to say that the whole of the requirements of these three Governments were to be met at cost price, the cost price to include interest and sinking fund for the repayment of the capital debt, the surplus phosphate being sold elsewhere at commercial rates. An agreement was arrived at between the three Governments on this basis. The agreement has already been confirmed by the Australian Government by Act 8 of 1919, and by the New Zealand Parliament by Resolution of both Houses. Both the New Zealand and the Australian Governments are most seriously impressed by the urgent need for more phosphate. I have seen numerous reports dealing with this question, and it is almost of vital importance to these countries, as I believe it is to us, that they should be secured in the amount of these fertilisers. Under this Bill, which, as the House will see, consists of two Clauses, one confirming the agreement to which I have alluded, being the Money Clause of the Bill, and 1302 the other giving a short title to the Bill, there are certain sums which are payable by virtue of the agreement entered into with the Pacific Phosphate Company, and I realise, therefore, that it is necessary to prove to the House the value of the property which it is proposed to purchase. In the first place, the existence of phosphates in Nauru was not discovered by Mr. A. F. Ellis, of the Pacific Islands Company, till 1900, only twenty years ago, and the first estimate of the quantity visible was put at some 42,000,000 tons. In 1913 a German mining engineer, Karl Elschner, made a report in which he said that the phosphate area was over 1,800 hectares, and the average content at least 12 tons per square metre. If that estimate be accepted, it means that there is a minimum of 216,000,000 tons of phosphate. I have seen even more optimistic figures. I am informed that the Australian Inter-State Commission's report of 1918 referred to a German estimate of 300,000,000 tons. I would not put the amount too high, but I think I am fully justified in saying that the amount visible at the present time is at least from 80,000,000 to 100,000,000 tons. I am supported in that opinion by a report which was rendered to the New Zealand Parliament, in which it was stated that information obtained from very valuable sources indicated that it might be estimated that anything from 80,000,000 to 100,000,000 tons were available, and possibly more. The phosphate in Nauru is of very high grade, and, if I might quote again and refer to the information which I have myself received, I am well within what I ought to say on this subject when I say that Nauru is believed to have the largest reserve of high-grade phosphates in the world.
Parliament is asked to supply money for taking over this undertaking. It was necessary, therefore, that the title of the Pacific Phosphate Company to the mining rights in Nauru should be very carefully examined. A concession was granted by the German Government in 1905—I do not wish to go into details—and it was continued for 94 years from 1st April, 1906. It was given to the German company then mining this phosphate, known as Jaluit Gesellschaft, and it gave the exclusive right of exploiting the guano phosphate deposits existing in Marshall Islands Protectorate. This concession, with the consent of the German Govern- 1303 ment, was transferred to the Pacific Phosphate Company, the successors of the Pacific Islands Company, by agreement, dated 22nd January, 1906. The company also owns the mining rights in Ocean Island, which is under the British Crown. It has an area of only about two square miles, but it rises to a height higher than Nauru, namely, to about 265 feet, and it is inhabited by about 600 natives, who are about the same type as in Nauru. The phosphates in this island extend to an even greater depth than in Nauru, 57 feet being known. The same German mining engineer, Karl Elschner, estimated the amount of phosphates visible in Ocean Island at about 15,000,000 tons. An agreement was concluded with the Pacific Islands Company for the mining rights of Ocean Island for 999 years from 3rd May, 1900. After the formation of the Pacific Phosphate Company this agreement was altered to a licence, which was issued to the new company in 1902, to run for 99 years from 1st January, 1901, so as to coincide with the period of the Nauru concession. As I have said, it was decided to buy the company out, and, if hon. members will turn to Article 7 of the agreement, they will see that under that article "any right, title, or interest which the Pacific Phosphate Company or any person may have in the said deposits, land, buildings, plant, and equipment … shall be converted into a claim for compensation at a fair valuation.
§ Colonel WILSON
It is an English company. Under that article, it would have been possible for the Government to have gone to arbitration, but, as a matter of fact, it has adopted the course of voluntary sale, and I am of opinion, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies is strongly of opinion, that this is the best course in every possible way, because in the transfer we shall have the voluntary assistance of all the officials of the company. Although this agreement only refers to Nauru, the enterprises of Nauru and Ocean Island are so closely connected that the agreement to buy out the Pacific Phosphate Company economically involved extension to the other. It is, of course, desirable, if the House approves of this Bill, to buy the whole of the assets of the 1304 Company in both islands. After a considerable amount of negotiation between the company and the Governments concerned, the purchase price has been fixed at £3,500,000. It will be paid as seen in Articles 8 and 14 of the agreement. The United Kingdom will pay 42 per cent., Australia 42 per cent., and New Zealand 16 per cent. For this sum the three Governments acquire full benefit of both concessions and of all the leases and other rights, and also the offices in Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide, buildings and piers in the islands, and extensive system of tramways, machinery power, electric light installation, boats, gear, etc. The production of phosphate rock in these two islands, in spite of the increased demand, of course has been limited during the past few years by shipping facilities, but, from figures which have been given to me, I am quite convinced that there should be no difficulty whatever in maintaining an annual output of from 400,000 to 500,000 tons. Before the War the world production was about 7,000,000 tons, mostly of a much inferior quality to that produced in the Pacific Islands. It is estimated that all the expenses of administration under the agreement, including the cost of the Sinking Fund and the interest on the capital, will not amount at the most to more than threepence per unit—each one per cent. of phosphate of lime in a ton is a unit—and, as Nauru rock averages 84 per cent. of phosphate of lime and Ocean Island averages 86 per cent. of phosphate of lime, it will be seen that under the agreement, at cost price—that is, covering all the expenses which I have mentioned—it will be possible for Australia and New Zealand to obtain their phosphate at about £1 per ton cheaper than they do at the present time, and at the same time provide for all the necessary repayment of capital and interest. It will give this country also great opportunities as regards a cheaper provision of phosphate. Naturally the distance is far greater from Nauru to the United Kingdom than to Australia, and therefore we shall not get it exactly at the same price, but it will be far cheaper than we are paying at present. The present price is 6d. per unit, and out of that will be payable the percentages under the agreement. With regard to the price of £3,500,000, I am informed, and I am at liberty to say, that Mr. Watt, while still Treasurer of the Commonwealth, when over here went into 1305 the question very carefully indeed and satisfied himself that it was a reasonable price.
§ Colonel WILSON
The authorised capital of the company was £1,200,000, all fully paid shares except 375,000 £1 ordinary shares of which 10s. was paid. While there have been only nominal dealings in the shares, last December the Market value of them averaged, roughly, something like £5 each.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
What was the value before the discussion in New Zealand and Australia and the publication of the terms?
§ Colonel WILSON
I understand that the shares have not moved for some considerable period, and the figure I have given is the actual market value on returns which have been received. I can give my hon. and gallant Friend the actual figures of output showing the capital value of the shares. For instance, in 1913, the last year the full amount of shipping was available, the shares stood at this figure, and the output was 375,000 tons.
§ Mr. HAILWO0D
Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman give us the price that phosphate is fetching in this country?
§ Colonel WILSON
I am afraid that I cannot give my hon. Friend the actual price. I would like to say that, after the most careful investigation and consultation, I am convinced that the price, while not unfair to the company, is undoubtedly a good bargain for the Governments concerned. If hon. Members will study the figures which I have given as regards the amount of phosphates in these islands and the amount of phosphate lime, they will realise that it is undoubtedly a good investment. There are various articles in the Schedule to the agreement. I will call attention to Article 1, in which it is set out that the administration of the island shall be vested in an administrator. The first administrator is to be appointed for a term of five years by the Australian Government, and thereafter the administrator will be appointed in such manner as the three Governments decide. A further part of this Article gives the Administrator power to make ordinances 1306 for the peace, order, and good government of the island, and particularly to provide for the education of children on the island, to establish and maintain the necessary police force, and to establish and appoint courts and magistrates with civil and criminal jurisdiction. Article 2 deals with the expenses of the administration which, so far as they are not met by other revenue, are to be defrayed out of th proceeds of the sale of the phosphates. Articles 3, 4 and 5 deal with the appointment of a Board of Commissioners which is to consist of three members, one to be appointed by each of the Governments concerned. The 6th Article deals with the title to deposits which is to be vested in the Commissioners. I have dealt with the 7th Article and also with the 8th and 14th Articles. The 9th Article deals with the working and sale of the deposits. The 10th Articles provides thatThe Commissioners shall not, except with the unanimous consent of the three Commissioners, sell or supply any phosphates to, or for shipment to, any country or place other than the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand.They are to have the first claim on the deposits. Article 11 says:Phosphates shall be supplied to the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand at the same f.o.b. price, to be fixed by the Commissioners on a basis which will cover working expenses, cost of management, contribution to administrative expenses, interest on capital, a sinking fund for the redemption of capital, and for other purposes unanimously agreed on by the Commissioners and other charges. Any phosphates not required by the three Governments may be sold by the Commissioners at the best price obtainable.Under this Article it may be said that the capital which is going to be advanced by the three Governments concerned will be safeguarded and will be refunded by means of a sinking fund.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
Before he leaves Article 11, will the hon. and gallant Member explain the last paragraph?
§ Colonel WILSON
It means that the phosphates will be supplied at cost price to the three Governments concerned. Any other country which may be supplied will be supplied at the market price, that is, at the best price obtainable for the raw material.
§ Colonel WILSON
Article 13 provides that there shall be no interference by any of the three Governments with the direction, management or control of the business of working, shipping or selling the phosphates. There is considerable urgency for the Second Reading of this Bill, because if ratification is given by this House, as by the Parliaments of Australia and New Zealand, the agreement with the Pacific Phosphate Company will come into force on the 1st July. I regret very much the absence of the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, who is away on official duties in Canada. I know the deep interest he has taken in this project ever since it was started. Both he and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies feel very strongly that this Bill is of first importance to the Empire and to this country for the supply of necessary raw material.
§ Mr. JESSON
Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us why the administration of this island is to be confined to Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, with the rest of the colonies outside.
§ Colonel WILSON
The colonies which are primarily interested by their geographical position are New Zealand and Australia, and it is obvious that they should have the administration.
§ Colonel WILSON
These Pacific islands are not under the control of South Africa. Obviously, from their geographical position, they must come under the administration of Australia and New Zealand. Since I received this Bill, I have examined it very carefully, not in any way as one who has fathered it from its inception, but rather with a very critical eye, having regard to the amount of public money which is involved. After studying all the papers and reading all the engineers' reports and looking through all the details connected with the matter, I am fully convinced that there was never a more sound investment for this country and the Empire, not only from the financial point of view, but also from the point of view of securing for all time—I do not think I exaggerate in saying for all time, after giving the figures of the amount of phosphates available—an all-important raw material for the rejuvenation of our land, the demand for 1308 which is made now to a very large extent and a demand which must inevitably increase as the years go by.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I beg to move to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words "this House declines to proceed further with a Bill which is in direct conflict with the articles of the Covenant of the League of Nations, as agreed by the Allies in the Treaty of Versailles, regarding the open door and the principle of trusteeship to be imposed upon Powers undertaking a mandate on behalf of the League."
I move the rejection of this Bill in order that we may have it made quite clear to us what is the policy of our Government in regard to mandates. We have been putting questions recently in the House as to why it is that we can get no announcement made of the provisions to come into force in regard to the administration of the Cameroons, Togoland, what was formerly German East Africa, Palestine, Mesopotamia, and other countries, and invariably the answer has been "We can tell you nothing. The present military administration must go on, and we can tell you nothing regarding our policy and nothing as to what is going to be the policy of administration in any one of these territories until the mandate has been delivered by the Council of the League of Nations, after it has been agreed upon by the Allies." Here in this Bill we have an exception. We are asked to pass a Bill establishing what seems to me a quite irresponsible administration in an island, admittedly with a small population, where we are establishing a gigantic State monopoly, competing with the other phosphate countries of the world as mandatories of the League of Nations. The hon. and gallant Member, in moving the Second Reading, did not touch upon any of these vital questions of principle. He gave a very admirable company prospectus in regard to this island. It is good business, we all agree. It has been said that as a result of the War we have collected many mandates, and evidently this is going to be one of the most satisfactory and the most lucrative.
Let us see how far the speech of the hon. and gallant Member is going to carry us. Are we going to apply to the Mesopotamia oilfields the kind of administration and the kind of Government monopoly 1309 which we are proposing for this island with its phosphate deposits? It is most important in view of the things that have been said in France and in the French Chamber regarding our position in the Near and Middle East, and more particularly in regard to Mesopotamia, that we should have it made perfectly clear from a responsible member of the British Government what are our rights as mandatories over the natural resources of territories for which we are to assume trusteeship on behalf of the League of Nations. There was not a word in the hon. and gallant Member's speech about trusteeship. There was hardly a word about what is meant by mandate. The first question I have to ask is regarding the preamble of this very important agreement. It says:Whereas a mandate for the administration of the Island of Naura has been conferred by the Allied and Associated Powers upon the British Empire, and such mandate will come into operation on the coming into force of the Treaty of Peace with Germany.I gather that that preamble means that this is a mandate which comes not from the League of Nations but from Allied and Associated Powers. That is to say, it is the Allied and Associated Powers who have conferred the mandate and not the Council of the League of Nations. That is an important question of principle which we ought to have cleared up once and for all. It says that the mandate has been conferred upon the British Empire. Mandates have been conferred upon the Union of South Africa with respect to German West Africa, upon Great Britain with respect to German East Africa, upon New Zealand with respect to Samoa, upon Australia with respect to the North-West Pacific Islands, and German New Guinea. Apparently this mandate has not been conferred upon Australia and New Zealand but upon the whole British Empire. That at once raises a vital principle, and my hon. Friend (Mr. Jesson) who interjected a remark was quite right. If the mandate is conferred upon the whole British Empire you cannot without gross violation of our whole Imperial arrangement confine the mandate to two self-governing Dominions and the Mother Country, and shut out the others.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Except by agreement with the Canadian Government, the Government of the Union of South Africa 1310 and the Newfoundland Government. If the mandate has been conferred upon the British Empire as a whole it is essentially a matter for the whole Empire, and it is a point upon which I should like further explanation, because it does raise a very interesting question of Imperial constitution. This question of the British Empire acting as a whole as a mandatory raises certain difficulties. I gather that in Article 22 of the Covenants inserted in the Treaty of Versailles the mandatory power has in all cases to render accounts periodically to the Council of the League of Nations regarding its trusteeship That is, it has got to make reports upon the condition of natives and things of that sort. Who is to make that report? Is it to be Australia, New Zealand or Great Britain? If such a report is to be made we gather that the Covenant is not to apply, and if so, why does it not apply? From Articles 1 and 2 it appears that the administrator who is responsible for the government of this island and its population of 1,700 inhabitants is an entirely irresponsible person. That is, he has complete powers to do exactly as he likes and is a bigger autocrat than ever the Tsar of Russia was.
The Articles are very remarkable. It may be said that this administrator will be appointed by the Australian Government, and therefore, the Australian Government being responsible to the Australian Parliament, any laws or ordinances made by this administrator can be called in question by the Australian Parliament. I very much doubt if they can. He is not paid by the Australian Parliament. He is only appointed by the Australian Government, and once they have appointed him their responsibility, so far as I can see, ceases altogether. Personally, I believe that this administrator should be responsible to this Parliament, that if the mandate has been conferred upon the British Empire the administrator on behalf of the British Empire must be appointed by, and responsible to, the Imperial Parliament, and that no other administrator should be appointed. If there had been a mandate given to Australia then an Australian administrator is the right thing. Then they will have those territories for which they are responsible. But as the British Empire is responsible, this administrator ought to be responsible to this Parlia- 1311 ment. Then there is the question of his remuneration. Apparently he is to have the power of raising other revenue. That is to say, he can put on what Customs duties he likes and levy what taxes he likes on the natives of the island. All expenses of administration, including the expenses of the administrator, so far as they are not met by other revenues, shall be defrayed by the proceeds of the sale of phosphate. What is the other revenue? Presumably it is the revenue raised in the island from the natives or British residents who go there, Customs and Excise duties, and other taxes in the island. What is not clear is whether the administrator has absolute power to control that revenue and to say what that revenue ought to be.
I come now to a really startling proposal, the proposal contained in Articles 10, 11, 12 and 13. Article 10 lays down the principle that these three Commissioners shall not, except with the unanimous consent of the three Commissioners, sell or supply any phosphate to or for shipment to any country or place other than the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand. The hon. Member, I hope, will satisfy the House, if he can, that that provision does not conflict with Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. It would mean that this produce only escapes by fifty miles from going automatically to Japan, and we have got to remember that Canada will want phosphate, and that there is hardly a country in the world which will not be requiring phosphate in the near future. The wheat consumption of the world is going up, and the wheat producing soil is increasing, and there are hardly any of the great corn growing countries in the world in which the demand for phosphate will not steadily increase. The point arises as to whether a Government which is acting as a mandatory has a right to establish a Government monopoly of the raw material of the territory of which it is trustee. That is a root principle. Because, if that is once established, I do not see why the French in the Cameroons should not establish a Government monopoly of all the native produce of that country, and why all the produce of other places should not be similarly regulated.
§ Major Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Is it not a fact that what the Government is dealing with is not assets which they get under their mandate, but something which they bought from a company, which is already in possession at the present time, and that their title is derived from the company to deal with them as they like, and not from the mandate?
§ Colonel WILSON
My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. The fact is that if we took no action whatever in this matter the Pacific Phosphate Company would continue to exist, and the League of Nations would have nothing to say to it. All we are asking the House to agree to do is to negotiate a voluntary sale with this company, and the three Governments would step into the shoes of the company.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I do not think that I am under any misapprehension. The Pacific Phosphate Co. has absolutely no power as a company to restrict the places to which it is to sell its produce. There is nothing in the constitution of the company to say that it shall sell nothing to Canada, America or Japan. What you are doing is to establish an entirely new situation. You are nationalising the company. You are pursuing a primitive socialistic policy. You are going to limit—what the company could not do—the sales of the produce which are possible, and you are going to confine them not merely to private persons, but to three Governments, let alone any other members of the League of Nations, let alone the Allies and Associated Powers who, you say, have conferred this mandate upon you. The whole situation changed completely when you abolish the private company. The remark of my hon. and gallant Friend bears no relation to the new situation produced by this Bill which is an absolute innovation in the whole British Empire. Will this scheme be laid before the Council of the League before it comes into operation? [Laughter.]
The hon. Member (Mr. Palmer) laughs. I know he thinks that the League of Nations is no good, and that a great many people in this country agree with him, but a great many people want to see the League of Nations a reality and to see the Treaty of Versailles carried 1313 out, and they do not want this country to be the country which is going to fly in the face of the conference with results which are bound to be extremely far-reaching, bcause it is really a test question. If these mandates are a sham, are only camouflage, it is much better to be out of the Covenant, much better to withdraw our signature from the Covenant. Then we should know where we are. Either you are going to act up to Article 22 or you are not, because that is going to be the question asked in Mesopotamia, Palestine, and all these countries of the world. There is no use in saying that we are working this in the Belgian part of East Africa, that we will see that the French are not allowed to conscript people in Togoland under Article 22, but when it comes to applying that article to our own possessions, then we are going to tear up the mandatory principles and create these government monopolies. I hope that we shall have some very clear statement as to where we stand in the matter of Nauru Island in relation to the League of Nations, and in relation to the mandate conferred in the Allied and Associated Powers, as I am not satisfied that the administration that you propose to set up in Nauru Island is the responsible administration or is in any way conceived on modern democratic principles of responsibility to the Imperial Parliament.
§ Mr. MOSLEY
I beg to second the Amendment on the ground that it constitutes a direct negation both in substance and in spirit of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. We are told by my hon. and gallant Friend that these phosphate deposits are to be supplied to the Governments of the countries that exercise the mandate at cost price, and to other countries at the market price. How can he justify this arrangement under Article 22? We are setting up in this island a national monopoly on the lines of the worst days of the predatory imperialism of the past. This christianised and handsome people to which my hon. and gallant Friend referred in such felicitous terms are merely being brought under our wing with a view to the exploitation of their natural resources and the theft—I can use only that word—of the natural riches of their island. Is this in keeping with the mandatory 1314 system as laid down in Article 22 of the Covenant? We are now at the very beginning of things with regard to the League of Nations. Some of us in this House desire, and mean if we can, to make it a reality. We are subject daily to attacks of the most bitter nature in the Press of nearly every country of the world. We are suspected throughout the world of a desire to utilise the League merely as a pretext to enrich ourselves, to seize vast tracts of land and to acquire riches which otherwise we would have no excuse for possessing. In view of the development of American opinion with regard to the League, in view of what is taking place in France, I hardly think it worth while, for the sake of the good bargain which my hon. and gallant Friend held out like a carrot before the nose of the House, to antagonise public opinion to the extent that would be involved by this proposal. I hope very much that the Government will not shelve this matter by some quibble to the effect that it is merely a private deal with a private company. We have been given the mandate for this country. We are setting up a vast Government monopoly which will enrich us to an enormous extent. Those are the facts which will be observed in foreign countries, and we shall labour under the judgment of having utilised the League as a pretext merely for promoting our personal interests. I do not know how many Members of this House feel as strongly as some of us do on the subject of the League of Nations. Some of us feel that it is the one dominant question in politics, the one thing that really matters. Other Members, of course, may take the view that it is desirable that the League should be shipwrecked at the earliest possible moment, and they may welcome Bills of this nature as a means to that end. We do not take that view. Therefore, I hope that the Government will reconsider their position in regard to this Bill, or I at any rate shall feel compelled to vote against them.
Sir J. D. REES
It was not the League of Nations that got us the Mandate for administering this island, but our own right hand which got us the victory. I would be so bold as to say of the League of Nations that up till now non res sed spes est.
Sir J. D. REES
I gave my Noble Friend that chance. I would venture to defend this little Bill for the very reason which I think induced my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) to tear it to pieces, namely, that it is good business. Time and again in this House there seems to be the uttermost pains taken, the most meticulous care, lest any arrangement whatsoever should endure to the benefit of British subjects, British trade, the British Government, and the British Empire. Why, in the name of wonder, are such pains taken to ensure that the expenditure of British blood and treasure, whatever else they may do, shall not benefit British trade and the British nation? For the life of me I cannot see. When my hon. Friend drags in, by the heels as I think, Mesopotamia, Togoland, and other countries, surely it is sufficient for this little Bill to deal with this little Island, and there is no particular need, nor is it particularly incumbent, that within the narrow ambit of the circumstances here treated, any general declaration of policy covering everything from the great desert of Mesopotamia to a little island of phosphates in the Pacific, should be set out. In moving the rejection of the Bill my hon. Friend spoke of waiting for the Mandate of the League of Nations. Surely the League is not able to operate at present. If it does pronounce its decision, how is it to enforce that decision, and in what way will that really influence the situation? This Mandate does not derive from the League at all. How can it possibly be argued that a subject like this should wait until the League is in a position not only to give a decision but to enforce it? My hon. Friend was very severe upon this Bill because he said it read like a company prospectus. There are prospectuses and prospectuses, and when a prospectus proceeds from a good origin and states the facts, it is no discredit to it that it is a company prospectus. I think the Government is a pretty respectable source of origin for what is stated in this prospectus.
If the affairs of this little island are a matter for the decision of the whole Empire, what is to become of the whole of the earth if every little bit of it, even a paltry and insignificant fraction like this, which is only valuable because it happens to have this commodity, is to 1316 wait to be dealt with by the whole Empire? I think it would be quite impossible to deal with the matter at all or to bring it to any satisfactory conclusion. I was surprised to hear it suggested that the administration of this island, with its few hundred inhabitants, was likely to suffer from there being introduced into it the constitution which is suggested by this Bill. Was the constitution it enjoyed previously of so valuable a character? My hon. Friend said that the new constitution would bear comparison with that of Czarist Russia. Those of us who have any sense of comparison have learned to regret the rule of the Czar in Russia, but now when we contrast it with the bloody tyranny of the Bolshevists we would be very glad to see it back. My hon. Friend is not serious in what he says. He knows perfectly well that the administration proposed will be an honest and honourable administration, and that the Administrator and the Commissioners are not likely to bleed its few inhabitants, but will probably provide them with far higher wages than they ever drew before. Does my hon. Friend want an Upper and Lower House in this little Island? What kind of administration is it that he thinks would be sufficiently democratic?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
My hon. Friend is entirely misrepresenting what I said. I said that the Administrator should be responsible to one Parliament or the other, either to the Australian Parliament or to the Imperial Parliament. I never suggested a democratic franchise or a democratic constitution, or anything like it.
Sir J. D. REES
My hon. Friend, I think, said that this constitution was totally at variance with modern democratic ideas. I hope I have not placed an unjustifiable gloss upon what he said. In point of fact, I think he made a great deal too much of what is really a small matter and that the real objection to the Bill is that it is good business. This objection is made whenever anything comes forward which may savour of the slightest preference for any British interest. Immediately the poor native and all these considerations come into play, and here the League of Nations is brought in as the final arbiter. The League of Nations is no new thing. It is as old as the hills as a means of 1317 providing universal peace. I sincerely hope that this new organisation will prove more successful than its predecessors. None the less, I trust that the disposal of a small matter like this in a manner which is not likely to do anyone any harm, but is calculated to do the Empire good, will not be asked to wait for the final decision of the League.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I confess that it appears to me that the House, in being asked to pass the Second Reading of this small Bill, is being asked to take a decision which may have very far-reaching results. More than once I have expressed to this House my great anxiety as to the policy which the Government are pursuing with reference to the League of Nations. I confess also that, if the Government intend to proceed with this Bill in its present form, my doubts will be very largely resolved, and not in a sense favourable to the conclusion which I hope to be able to draw. The policy of mandates is one of the most important thing which was designed to be done by the Covenant of the League of Nations. It was not the invention of President Wilson. Personally I have a high respect for President Wilson, and I am not in the least ashamed to say so. As a matter of fact, this particular proposal, from its very inception to the last line of Article 22, was entirely a British conception. I had nothing to do with it personally, or very little, except that I supported it. It was, as everyone knows, the original suggestion of the Cabinet of the day, presumably at the instigation of General Smuts. It was in his brilliantly written book on the League that the idea was first publicly advocated. What is this policy? It is quite plain what it is. It was designed for two main purposes. The first purpose was to secure that countries populated by a backward people should be administered with due regard to the welfare and safety and prosperity of those people. The second great object was to put an end to the doctrine of conquest by force of arms. It is perfectly plain, if you read Article 22, that, in respect of all countries inhabited by backward people, and it is plain in the Treaty, in which we have pledged our signature and honour, 1318 that that conception of conquest by force of arms should be for ever ended. Let me just establish that by reading the provisions of the Covenant which apply to this matter. They are all contained in Article 22, and I do not think I am committing any indiscretion in saying that Article 22 was drafted, not by myself in any respect, but by the British Delegation, and presented by the British Delegation. The preamble to that Article says:To those Colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late War have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation, and that securities for the performance of this trust would be embodied in this Covenant. The best methods of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their resources, their experience, or their geographical position can best undertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it and, that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League.That is to say that they were not to become the property of the country to whom they are allotted, but are merely entrusted to them to be administered to them for the benefit of the inhabitants, and for the benefit of the rest of the world. There follow a number of provisions pointing out various conditions, and as to these matters, I would ask the Attorney-General to give his close attention to the matter, as I think these various conditions are absolutely inconsistent with the terms and provisions of this Bill. This is one of the provisions:The degree of authority, control, or administration to be exercised by the Mandatory shall, if not previously agreed upon by the members of the League, be explicitly defined in each case by the Council.As I read it, that is by the assembly of the League or the Council, that is to say, that the degree of authority to be exercised in each of the mandated territories is to be defined not by an Act of Parliament, as the Government propose to do it here passed in a national Parliament, but by an international authority on the general principles laid down in the Covenant. It does appear to me to be absolutely inconsistent—and I speak in 1319 the presence of much greater authorities on international law than I can pretend to be—with the provisions of the Covenant to proceed with this Bill. If you look at the provisions of the Bill, in the first place, as my hon. Friend (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) has pointed out, we are, as the Preamble sets out, to have a mandate granted not by the League, but by the Treaty. It may be so, but the terms have to be settled by the Council of the League. To come to Article 1, you find that by the agreement full power over the administration is taken, quite irrespective of anything that the Council of the League might say, or quite irrespective of any reference to the Council or the League by the administrator to be appointed by the parties to the agreement. I cannot myself square that with the solemn agreement which we entered into in Paris in the Covenant of the League of Nations. The administrator is to have power to make Ordinances, to provide for the education of children, to establish and maintain the necessary police force, and to establish and appoint courts and magistrates. The whole thing is handed over to him by this agreement, and we are asked to ratify that when, as plainly as words can possible describe it, we have agreed that the amount of authority to be given to the Mandatory was to be settled by the International Authority either of the members of the League itself or by the Council of the League. It seems to me if we go on with this proposal it is perfectly fatuous for us to talk any more about scraps of paper. Then we come to the substance of this precious agreement to secure for the three Governments the whole produce of this island. I will not say if the League were to sanction that arrangement that that would be inconsistent with the terms of the Covenant, but I do say it is altogether inconsistent with the spirit of Article 22. Undoubtedly, there was no idea that the Mandatory was to use this power in order to secure a monopoly of the riches of the mandated country. That is absolutely inconsistent with the whole framing of Article 22.
Hon. Members have referred, and quite rightly, to the present international position. I do not want to say anything which will add to the difficulty, and I know that in dealing with these matters one has to exercise the greatest caution 1320 and the greatest discretion. I liked to believe, and I did believe for a certain time, that there was nothing in it but a little effervescence in the various countries, and that it did not represent any real body of people. I made it my business to make some inquiries, and I am afraid that that view is not one which it is reasonable to hold. I do not think there is any doubt whatever that there is considerable feeling in more than one country, in allied and associated countries, that we have done very well for ourselves, a very inaccurate statement, as we know. I am not saying I share it. I do not think that any country has done at all well out of the War. On the contrary, I agree with what a foreigner said to me to-day, that though some countries had been beaten, no country had won. Whether that is so or not, I am merely describing a state of feeling which it is right this House should have clearly in mind before proceeding with this Bill. There is no doubt whatever that that is the impression which exists. It is a very unjust impression in many respects, but I must say that though this in itself is perhaps a small matter it will give a great deal of handle to our enemies in various countries all over the world. They will say, "You talk about the League, you have fine professions, and you say you want universal peace, and you are sacrificing nothing, and you ask us to make a great many sacrifices for universal peace; you ask us to forego our just rights and our just claims and our just precautions in the interests of a final definite permanent settlement. Yet when you have to apply it to yourself there is not a trace of it; but it is the old policy of grab, and there is no difference whatever from the old system, and you merely take by force of arms in a way that Napoleon might have taken or any great world conqueror. They could not have proceeded differently from the way in which you are proceeding in this Bill."
You are going in the first case that has to be dealt with under the new system to set a fatal and disastrous example. When we come to discuss the mandate of Africa or any other place to various countries, and if we say you are not to do this because it is not consistent with the spirit of the mandate and that you are to limit yourselves in this way or that, how can we insist on the open door, how can we insist on equal trading 1321 rights, how can we do any of these things if We give our sanction to a measure of this kind? Some hon. Gentleman suggested that this is nothing but sanctioning a purely commercial agreement handing over the powers of the phosphate company to the British Government. It is nothing of the kind. The phosphate company in fact was working under the German Government—let us remember that—and while working under the German Government it traded freely with those who became subsequently the enemies of Germany. It traded freely with Australia and New Zealand, and I daresay with this country. Here we are going to preclude the possibility of a single ton of phosphate ever being sold to anybody except the three Governments concerned and for our own personal use. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]
§ Mr. J. F. GREEN
Is it not the fact that the majority of the phosphates when it was run by this German company went to Germany.
§ Lord R. CECIL
The majority may have, but it was perfectly free trading—and here you are going to prevent it. But it is the principle of the thing I care more about than the actual dealing with these phosphates. I do feel myself that if we go on with this Bill we are in effect tearing up provisions of the Treaty of Versailles which happen to be inconvenient to us. I do not really see how we can look anybody in the world in the face when we ask them to obey those provisions which are inconvenient to them. That is a plain, straightforward principle, and I very much hope we shall have an announcement from the Government that they will reconsider this proposal, or, at any rate, not proceed with it until the League of Nations has had an opportunity to settle under the terms of Article 22 what are to be the rights of the Mandatories.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
It is quite true that this Bill deals with a small island, thinly populated, remote from the world, and which probably many of us hardly heard of before, but I entirely agree with my Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil) that, small as are the dimensions of the case measured by pecuniary or material considerations, it involves a most important question of principle. The object of this Bill is to confirm an agreement entered 1322 into, I think, nearly a year ago between three Governments—the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. The Preamble recites that the mandate for the administration of this island was conferred by the Allied and Associated Powers on the British Empire. What power had the Allied and Associated Powers to confer a mandate on the British Empire, or upon anybody else? Remember that at the time this agreement was entered into, the Allied and Associated Powers, all of them, were parties to the solemn Covenant of the League of Nations. I entirely agree with my Noble Friend that Article 22 of that Covenant, if not in terms, certainly by necessary implication, prevents any mandate of this kind being conferred by any other authority than the League of Nations. It is not suggested, certainly not by the hon. Gentleman who spoke on behalf of the Government, that the League of Nations are parties to it. It has not been conferred by them, and, in my judgment, the use of the word "mandate" in the Preamble of this Bill is a misnomer wholly inappropriate and inapplicable to the case; and, if it mean what it professes to mean, it certainly implies an express violation of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. This is not merely a verbal question. It is a great deal more, for, if a mandate be given, as all the Allied and Associated Powers agreed in a case in which it should be given, then from first to last the League should have complete control and authority over all its provisions. My Noble Friend has recited, and I will read again, the penultimate paragraph of Article 22:The degree of authority, control, or administration to be exercised by the Mandatory shall, if not previously agreed upon by the members of the League, be explicitly defined in each case by the Council.Ex concesso, it has not been so defined in this case. This is an agreement, therefore, which has no legal or international validity of any sort or kind, and which indeed, in the terms in which it is made, is in flagrant contravention of both the letter and the spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations. It is a small case in itself, but it would be a precedent. If this be done in the case of the Island of Nauru, there is no reason why similar agreements should not be secretly and behind the back of the League of Nations concluded all over the world, for the so- 1323 called mandating of other territories. This so-called mandate, which is not a mandate at all, is given to the British Empire. What is the British Empire? The British Empire does not consist of Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, and yet here is a mandate given to the British Empire which is confined, as far as its execution and actual operation are concerned, to three specified members of that Empire. The administrator is to be, for the time being at any rate, appointed by one, namely, the Australian Government. Then we come to the tenth Article, and we find that the Commissioners who are to carry it out, and who are to represent these three constituent but not exhaustive members of our Empire,shall not … sell or supply any phosphates to, or for shipment to, any country or place other than the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand.This is the latest form of preference! Here is a mandate given to the British Empire, confined as far as its practical operation is concerned to three of its constituent members, and, what is much more important, when you come to hand over the phosphates, they are to go to three selected parts of the Empire, and not to the rest.
I think South Africa and Canada are as much entitled as any other part of the Empire to have a voice in the matter, but what is far more important is that here, in the execution of this supposed mandate—which, as I have said, can only legitimately proceed from the League of Nations representing the world at large—you are going to give preferential treatment to particular parts of your own Empire as against the rest of the world. A worse example to set, and one in more open contradiction to the provisions of the fifth paragraph of Article 22—which provides that in the execution of the mandate equal opportunities shall be secured for the trade and commerce of all the other members of the League—I think it is impossible to conceive. It is illegal in its origin, unequal in its operation; it is opposed in all respects to the letter and the spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and I earnestly trust His Majesty's Government will reconsider it, and not press it.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)
I confess I do not look upon this 1324 agreement as such a departure from principle as would justify the kind of speeches we have heard from my Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil) and from the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Asquith). I think there is some misunderstanding as to the importance of this from the point of view of principle. Had I understood that I should have to speak on this, I would have been better informed than I am now, but I think it is important that I should say something as representing the Government. What are the facts? Speeches in condemnation of this agreement have assumed that we are doing something to the detriment of other nations by this Bill which would not happen under any other arrangement, but what hon. Members who take that view forget is the fact, that this island of Nauru is in effect a phosphate island, as there are only some 1,000 or 1,500 inhabitants of any kind. It has been throughout a commercial undertaking; it was in the possession of a company, originally German, which was bought up by a British company, and if we do not pass this Bill, that company would have every one of the rights which we are now claiming for the British Empire. It could treat the product of the island in any way it liked, and therefore it is obvious that, so far as the general good of the world is concerned, nothing is lost by transferring this power to a body represented by the British Empire as compared with a private trading company.
There is another point which I think the House has omitted to notice. The sole reason why we are introducing this Bill now—otherwise it would have waited like the others until the mandates had all been treated together—is that the three countries have bought out this company by an agreement, and that agreement cannot be carried into effect without an Act of Parliament. It was necessary to have this Act in order to complete the agreement, and already an Act for that purpose has been passed by the Australian Parliament. It is all very well for hon. Members to speak in these very strong terms about morality, as if there was any departure from it here, but we have got to remember the susceptibilities of those parts of our Empire, the two Dominions concerned in this matter, and I think the greatest caution at least should be used before implying that there is anything in this of which any one of us has any reason to be ashamed. Let me deal first with 1325 what my right hon. Friend put as a matter of subsidiary importance, but which I think is of immense importance. The mandate is to be given to the British Empire, which does not consist of the three parts of it concerned in this agreement; and my right hon. Friend assumed that all this had been done without any knowledge on the part of the other portions of the British Empire. He is entirely mistaken. I was myself in Paris when the British Empire Delegation considered this subject, and it was a very difficult subject to deal with. The use of these phosphates, which had always gone to New Zealand and Australia, was vital to this country. These Dominions were vitally interested in them, and it was difficult to get any agreement which would satisfy everybody. It was, therefore, discussed in the British Empire Delegation, at which all the Dominions were present, and an agreement of this kind was come to as the best method in all the circumstances of the case. So that you may put on one side any question of unfairness to other parts of the British Empire. If the mandate can be given to parts of the British Empire, is there anything, from a moral or any other point of view, which forbids you to give it to the British Empire as a whole? That is all that has been done. Because of the variety of interest between the different Dominions, it was decided by the Supreme Council that the right way was to give it to the Empire as a whole, and to leave it to the Empire to decide as to the best method of dealing with it. That is what has been done.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Yes, by the Supreme Council. Now we come to the real gravamen of the charge, which is that in doing this we are doing something which upsets the whole League of Nations, and shows complete selfishness on our part. As regards the selfishness, I do not see how any sane man could say that that comes in at all. These three portions of the British Empire have bought out an existing company on terms which that company think fair. They have taken the risks involved, and what unfairness is there in saying that if they think it wise—it may be wise or unwise—to risk making this investment, where is the immorality in taking a course of that kind? As re- 1326 gards the mandate, it is stated that this throws over the whole of the League of Nations, but let me point out that it is necessary to get this Bill to obtain the sanction of Parliament for the agreement. Our passing this Bill does not in any sense preclude the League of Nations, if they think the arrangement is an unfair one, from refusing to confirm it. All that we are asking the House of Commons to do to-day is two things-first, to ratify the agreement which is necessary to buy out the company, and second to ask the House of Commons to agree that the use we propose to make of it is a fair use. The powers of the League of Nations are not taken away. My Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil) does not agree with me, and I am not surprised at that, but I am entitled to express my views. The very Clause which my Noble Friend read anticipated that the mandates should all be submitted to the League of Nations—In every case of mandate, the Mandatory shall render to the Council an annual Report in reference to the territory committed to its charge.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Very well—The degree of authority, control, or administration to be exercised by the Mandatory shall, if not previously agreed upon by the members of the League, be explicitly defined—But what is to prevent the members of the League, when the mandate comes to them for confirmation, from objecting to it? Our position is that they are no more prejudiced because the House of Commons agrees to do what the Government have decided upon than if the Government had done it over their heads.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
As far as we are concerned, we are asked to settle it by Act of Parliament, but that does not preclude the right of the League of Nations to refuse to confirm the agreement if it choose. All these mandates—everyone of them—will be submitted to the League of Nations for confirmation. This is one among the others, and in my view this is an arrangement which is the best that could be carried out. I have myself no doubt that the League of Nations will agree to it, and surely the last thing the House of Commons ought 1327 to do is to show that it has any sympathy with the kind of charge that we are influenced by purely selfish motives in refusing to confirm an agreement which has been made by the Government, and an agreement which has been come to with great difficulty, not because of any selfish interest of Great Britain, but because of the difficulty of reconciling the different interests of different parts of the British Empire. I venture to say that all this outcry about this small matter is due, I am afraid, to the belief that my Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil) entertains that the Government is not sufficiently serious in its devotion to the League of Nations. I thing he is wrong. I think—indeed, I know—the League of Nations has suffered enormously by what has happened in America. I know that the only chance of it ever being useful—I suppose it is due to national prejudice—is that the British Empire should earnestly support the League as soon as it can.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I have tried to convince the House of Commons that there is nothing selfish or contrary to the principles of the League of Nations in this, and I say to the House now, that you could not make a greater mistake, either from the point of view of the effect on our Dominions, or from the point of view of creating the very impression that we want to avoid, than by refusing to carry out the Agreement into which the Government have entered.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
My right hon. Friend has made, as he usually does, a very ingenious speech, and I am sure we are all anxious to agree with him that the Government are desirous of supporting the principles of the League of Nations, and that they do not in this Bill, or on any other occasion, intend to set those principles aside. But I do not think he has done sufficient justice to the plain fact that this is a Bill performing, over the head of the League of Nations, precisely the functions which the League of Nations ought to perform for itself. The League of Nations, by solemn agreement, ought to decide on this very kind of question on which this Bill decides. My right hon. Friend seemed to imply that it was urgent this Motion should be 1328 passed at once. I do not know why a commercial agreement could not wait for a few months, but I suppose he has reasons not known to me. But, assuming that it is urgent, why could not the Council of the League of Nations be asked for their consent before the Bill was brought forward? Why was not the approbation obtained of the League of Nations, in whose name alone we are entitled to exercise any authority in the island of Nauru at all? My right hon. Friend complains that my Noble Friend has misgivings about the sincerity of the Government. It is the Government's own habitual conduct that induces such misgivings. Let the Government only act straightforwardly. They have earned, rightly or wrongly, the most lamentable reputation for want of sincerity. I have known a great many Governments, but never one with so bad a reputation for speaking the truth, and acting sincerely as the present Government.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I am using strong language, as my right hon. Friend does. The only difference between us is that my right hon. Friend has often gone, in subsequent years, in direct opposition to the strong language he has used, but I do not think I have ever done so. However, that may be, what I want to put to my right hon. Friend is this. The speech which he addressed to this House ought to have been addressed to the League of Nations. The Government ought to have shown that it was their duty to obey the League of Nations, and to convince the League of Nations of the propriety of such an arrangement before carrying it out. However, to show whether they are sincere or insincere, will the Government insert a Clause in this Bill that it will terminate within such and such a time—a number of months—if, in the interval, the arrangements proposed under the Bill do not obtain the mandate of the League of Nations sufficiently to cover the provisions of the Bill? Will they make the ultimate operation of the Bill conditional in any form upon the approbation of the League of Nations? If words of that kind were inserted, it would remove a suspicion, which, rightly or wrongly, deservedly or undeservedly, has certainly arisen, and, though this is an extremely small matter, the suspicion is a very serious one, be- 1329 cause, as my Noble Friend said, there is no doubt at all the British Government is suspect. It is supposed to be openly talking of their duty to the world, of their anxiety to act in the interests of the world, and yet all the time acting on the old annexationist policy, under which you take what you can, and use it to the advantage of your own people. It is difficult to disabuse the foreign public of that opinion. Here is an opportunity. If the Government will in Committee insert some words in this Bill making it conditional on the approbation of the League of Nations, that will, at any rate, show that the criticism levelled against this. Bill was an undeserved one. It really is a matter of importance that we should know that our hands are perfectly clean. My right hon. Friend says it makes no difference whether the phosphates are divided according to the terms of this agreement, or whether they are in the hands of a trading company; but, if you divide them by Act of Parliament among three parts of the British Empire, it certainly makes a great difference; and, therefore, it is exposed to precisely the sort of suspicion we are anxious to avoid. My right hon. Friend has made great profession of righteousness. Let him act up to this profession. What we want is words—not professions of faith. We do not want the perpetual recital of the creed of the League of Nations. We want an active obedience to its moral principles, and if the Government will make it clear that they are not merely persons of profession, not merely preachers of righteousness, but that they are going to carry out their faith in works, then they will accept such an Amendment in Committee, and the matter will be made clear.
§ Sir W. PEARCE
The Leader of the House was quite right when he said Nauru Island has always been a phosphate island, and nothing more. There are not many phosphates in the world, and this island is one of great national consequences even to us; but I can quite imagine that the Governments of Australia and New Zealand consider it is of vital consequence to them, and therefore they ask His Majesty's Government to enter into this agreement. I think His Majesty's Government have done a very wise thing, and made an exceedingly good bargain. The British Empire contains very little phosphates, and I would like to remind 1330 the House that the agricultural industry of this country is dependent upon a regular supply of phosphates reaching this country. Most of the nations of Europe have control of phosphate deposits of their own. The United States are very wealthy in phosphates, but the British Empire is very badly off in this respect. I think the Government have rendered great service in getting an agreement by which this country, and particularly Australia and New Zealand, will benefit. When I heard that this Bill was coming up, all I concerned myself about was whether this Government had made a good or a bad bargain, I understand they have made a good bargain for the country, and to the direct benefit of agriculturists in this country, Australia and New Zealand. It never occurred to me that by any possibility the League of Nations could be dragged into such a question as this, and I do submit it is doing a very bad service to a great ideal that the first real difference of opinion in regard to the League of Nations in this House should be over this Bill. I submit the question should never have been raised. The island has only a small population, and no one would have heard of it except for these deposits. I do think the friends of the League of Nations have done a bad service in making it the object of this discussion.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
My hon. Friend who has just sat down has approached the subject purely from the point of view of the business man. He says, "Here is a good thing. Here is a chance of getting hold of a good thing. Why, in the name of commonsense, should we not have it?" Anything more directly athwart the whole idea of the resettlement of the world, in accordance with the principles of the League of Nations, I have never heard, and if we are going to run the future of this Empire and our duty to the rest of the world on principles of that kind, then there is nothing else for it but to return to the same old miserable business which brought about the War, from which we have scarcely yet emerged. Unless we can rise above that sort of thing, there is no hope for the world at all, and it is because of our sincere belief that this matter, small as it is, goes to the root of that principle, that I for one shall most certainly vote against the Second Reading of this Bill. Let me address myself very briefly to one or two points made by the 1331 Leader of the House. He spoke of the urgency of the matter, and said that, unless this commercial bargain is concluded, the whole thing will fall to the ground, but he himself in terms stated that this was to be subject to the subsequent decision of the League of Nations, and there you have the whole element of uncertainty in it.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I do not think any supporter of the League of Nations could say that they have the right to upset a purchase of this kind. They have the right to interfere with the administration.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
But the whole point of this purchase being concluded is that it follows from a mandate properly given in the League of Nations.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
No. I think this is so vital, that I would like to make it clear to my right hon. Friend. The two questions are quite distinct. One is the administration of territory, which the League of Nations has a perfect right to see is properly done. The other is the purchase of a trading company. I do not think that is a subject which would properly come under the League of Nations at all.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Personally, I do not admit the position taken up by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House; but, supposing he is right, this Bill, with its Agreement, takes over, in terms, as the Noble Lord pointed out, under Article 1, those very duties. It says:The administrator shall have power to make Ordinances for the peace, order, and good government of the Island, subject to the terms of this Agreement, and particularly (but so as not to limit the generality of the foregoing provisions of this Article) to provide for the education of children on the Island, to establish and maintain the necessary police force, and to establish and appoint courts and magistrates with civil and criminal jurisdiction.Is there any likelihood of the League, faced with this thing done, interfering at all with the accomplished fact? There is no likelihood in the least degree. After all, it is not words that count. It is things done that count, and in the court of justice of the world, we, the leading trustee under the League of Nations, in our first act will be faced with the fact that we have, for commercial reasons, taken a position which, I think, is in flagrant violation of the Articles of the Treaty solemnly concluded at Versailles.
1332 With all the earnestness of which I am capable I would urge upon the Government, even now, to retrace this false step. Wherever you go the enemies of this country are manifold. There are large and powerful bodies throughout the world eager for any opportunity to misrepresent this country. We have not done well out of the war. This country has suffered in life and treasure in equal proportion to anyone else. [HON. MEMBERS: "More! "] When I say we are equal to France I am putting it very high. Let us, however, not be afraid of owning up that we have made a mistake in regard to this matter. It is small, but its proportions will loom in the future in a degree which we have no idea at present. See how it is going to be seized upon in the United States in the election, in France, and Italy, and Belgium, and all round. With the greatest possible earnestness I urge on the Government to keep in mind the wider issue, not the mere commercial issue of pounds, shillings and pence; to pause and give an opportunity for this thing to be considered with care, so that the precedent which we set up shall be for the wider issues of the world, which are deeply involved.
§ Mr. STEWART
I agree with the hon. Member for Limehouse. I regret, as one who is a well-wisher of the League of Nations, that this matter had been chosen on which to bring them in. I do not myself see why the League of Nations should come into this matter at all. We hear complaints about people not carrying out the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. According to this Bill, we have received a mandate from the Allies, and I hope it will not be levelled at us that we are raising difficulties in putting through the ordinary business of the Treaty. The cession of this island is laid down as one of the stipulations of the Treaty, and I think the House will be well-advised to pass this Bill without delay. It appears there is some value attached to this island; but it must be remembered that the Ocean Company in 1902 acquired all the guiana interests of the island. We have had our hands on the supplies before, and we are only confirming by Act of Parliament what we owned before. The thing the House ought to consider is whether or not it is right to take this island, or to retain it, and whether we are paying too much for 1333 what we are getting. The League of Nations would be well-advised to bear in mind that it is not yet a properly constituted strong body. We understood that the League was the creation of President Wilson. The Noble Lord says it was not. At any rate, it seems plain that America thinks so little of the League of Nations that they have given it very cold support, and we shall not know what their attitude is until the Presidential election is over; and we cannot wait for these phosphates till then. It is also a pity that a small domestic matter of this sort, approved by the Council of the British Empire, should have been brought into the purview of the League of Nations. If it is going to claim jurisdiction of this sort, it would appear that we will be unable to move hand or foot until this international body has settled these domestic points. If that is its attitude, it will gain more opponents than friends.
As to this particular island, it may or may not fulfil all the aspirations and great anticipations that are entertained about it. However, we have got it, and if we develop it successfully under the mandate there will be the satisfaction that at least we have got something from Germany which will help us to pay the millions of debt now upon us. The Germans took this island in the 'eighties. It was re taken by a British ship in September, 1914. It has been handed over to us by the Peace Treaty, and I cannot see any reason why we should not proceed with its development. As the hon. Member for Limehouse truly said, the Agricultural Bill discussed yesterday shows the extreme necessity for doing everything we possibly can to increase our food supplies. The provisions of the Bill allow the sale of any surplus which may be over from the wants of this country, Australia and New Zealand, and I think that removes the accusation of extreme protection and greed which have been rather loosely hurled at us. The price of the company is one upon which it is difficult to give an expression of opinion. I only hope the bargain has been well-considered, and that we are not paying too much for what we are getting. The Germans have had something to do with that part of the world. I hope that if there are any German shareholders in the Phosphate Company that the money paid for their shares will be handed over to the Public Trustee 1334 to be disposed of for the benefit of creditors here, and to see that Germany carries out her post-war engagements. I thought this Bill would go through without any opposition until I heard the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby Gore). He put his case very well. He rather led the way to certain points which may be arranged in Committee. Again I say that I think it would be well if the League of Nations had not been made such a point in this matter. The natives of the country number about 1780. They wish to remain under us. Their condition of life will probably be happier and better under the British Government than it was under their former masters. There are also the Dominions to consider, and their susceptibilities should be very carefully considered. I earnestly hope the House will not in this matter run any risk of quarrelling with the Dominions of Australia and New Zealand, and will have no hesitation in passing this Bill.
§ Mr. SAMUEL SAMUEL
There are one or two questions I should very much like to ask. In these Pacific Islands phosphates have been worked for many years. I understand this phosphate company was a British company. To my knowledge hundreds of thousands of tons have been shipped, and the company has been a very successful one. I believe they are capable of carrying on the trade which they inaugurated, and developing it for a great many years to come. One of the greatest difficulties, so far as the shipment to this country is concerned, has been, and always will be, the geographical position of the island. It makes the transport so enormously high that the company has not been able to compete in this country with the Florida phosphates which are something of the same quality, and certainly not with the phosphates which we get from North Africa. Why is the company going to be superseded and the conduct of this important industry placed in the hands of Government officials, who know absolutely nothing about it, and who have not been very successful in their commercial undertakings. Why have the Government decided to buy this company up—to develop the islands, to carry on the business of this company, or what?
§ Mr. ACLAND
I think the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken with some knowledge has indicated further reasons 1335 against the acceptance of this Bill. It is perfectly clear why the Governments of Australia and New Zealand are interested in our passing this Bill, because it is suggested—it is laid down in the Bill—we are to pay 1½ millions of money to help them to buy out the company. It is also perfectly clear, from what the hon. Member has just said, that we in this country are in the position of getting no phosphates, for the freights will kill the trade. We are asked to put down this money, which it appears to me is more than equal to the whole of the paid-up capital of the company, alongside the sum to be put down by Australia and New Zealand. Of course, these countries, being fairly near, will get their phosphates cheaper, and we shall get no phosphates at all. The hon. Gentleman also paid a tribute to the business-like ability and enterprise of the company. Why not leave the company to carry out their business, at any rate, for the present. It is a going concern, and there are big offices at Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and at the various ports of New Zealand, with directors and managers there. Surely, it would be better at the present time, and until this matter can be fully laid before the League of Nations, discussed, and determined by them, not to supersede the company which is carrying on the trade in phosphate perfectly satisfactorily. The British company, no doubt, will be very glad to sell to Australia and New Zealand under quite reasonable terms, which the people of these countries will be perfectly willing to pay. There will be an additional reason at a time like this: that we shall not have to pay out the million and a half, that we shall keep that here—and goodness knows we want all the money we have got—not pay it into an enterprise which clearly, on the report of those who really know the details, is not going to give us any fertilisers other than what we could get from nearer home.
§ 6.0 P.M.
The Debate we have had this afternoon, I feel, puts before us this truth: that either the League of Nations is a farce or it is a fact. I think that the attitude which the Government has pursued shows that they are rather inclined to the view that it is not yet a fact. Whether it is a farce I do not 1336 say; but I entirely disagree with the strong line taken up by certain hon. Members on this side of the House in suggesting that the object of the Government is greed and a purely commercial purpose. Anyone who understood how before the War Germany had secured a lien on some of the great products necessary for the British Empire, and how at the time we found ourselves in tremendous difficulties because of the German lien on those products, will realise, I feel, that whatever mistake the Government is making, they are making it from the best intentions. This is not a purely commercial transaction. It is a great Imperial transaction. Having listened to the Debate very carefully, I have to agree with the Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) on the question of the League of Nations. I do honestly feel that his contention to-day is absolutely unanswerable. Either the country has to believe in the League of Nations and accept the position which, in spite of his statement to-day, I believe was forced upon us by America, which has now left us in the lurch—either we are to stand by the word of the British Government at the Versailles Conference, and accept the League of Nations as a fact, or be honest and say it is utterly impossible to allow any League to interfere with the course of progress of the British Empire and we will have no part or lot in it. I regard this Debate from two points of view. Firstly, there is the question of our sincerity in the matter of the League of Nations, and I should like us to declare that it is inimical to the true progress and strength of the British Empire that we should be interfered with in any transactions we undertake in any part of the world. My second point is as to the character of this agreement. I think we ought to examine this agreement very carefully to see if we are getting our money's worth, and to ascertain whether it would not be better for private enterprise to carry on this industry and leave the Government to look after matters which really do concern us. I can see the genesis of this Bill and I think it does great credit to Mr. Hughes and the Prime Minister. I think Mr. Hughes was the finest man in the War in standing up against Germany, and turning out every German interest in his own country, where they placed on the Statute Book enactments which render it 1337 utterly impossible that Germany will ever again get her claws into those great industries and productive mines which are so necessary for the vitality of this country; and he has made certain that never again shall a great property like this, which is so vital to our agriculture, be exploited in the interests of Germany. I believe that it still would be possible to leave this company to work its commercial side and to make certain that the Imperial Government shall have a lien on the products of this company. If we are going on with this Bill, I confess that I am rather divided in my mind. On the matter of the League of Nations, I think it is a violation of the Covenant, but on the ground of Imperial needs and the necessity for procuring this tremendous and vital product, I shall be inclined to support the Government.
§ Mr. BENNETT
I think it is possible that this Bill may be made more acceptable, but if no assurance is given that any such Amendment as that which has been suggested will be accepted, I shall very reluctantly vote against the Government. I do not join with the Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) who spoke so severely of the character of this Government for truthfulness, because I regard it as a very respectable Government, and as much given to truthfulness as those who criticise it. I do not wish to enter into a criticism of the agreement. I had a suspicion the first moment I read the agreement that in giving the mandate as it does to the British Empire, it was giving a mandate for something that does not exist as an administrative entity. The British Empire in a document of this kind seems to me a geographical rather than a legal or administrative phrase. My chief objection to the Bill is that it undertakes to do what should only have been done by the League of Nations. I am not going to join with those who have accused the Government of coldness, indifference, or even hostility to the League of Nations. The Prime Minister and other Members of the Government have put on record declarations in regard to the League of Nations which forbid all that for one moment. In taking away from the League of Nations an opportunity of functioning, if I may use that barbarous word, they have acted inimically to the League of Nations. This 1338 was the most appropriate task they could have conferred upon the League of Nations, but it is kept out of their hands and has been undertaken by the Supreme Council. We want to know whether the Supreme Council is to go on doing work which could fitly be done by the League of Nations, and it is because this Bill legalises and justifies that error that I shall vote against the Government on this occasion if the Bill is divided upon as it stands.
Mr. T. THOMSON
I suggest that to-morrow, when we read the speech of the hon. and gallant Member who introduced this measure, we shall find in it a conclusive answer to the contention of the Leader of the House that we should get no unfair or selfish advantage as an Empire from this Bill. The hon. and gallant Member who introduced this measure said how exceedingly profitable this bargain was to the British Empire, and he told us that Australia and New Zealand would get their phosphates £1 per ton cheaper than hitherto. We were told that in 1913 the production amounted to 337,000,000 tons, and he went on to say that this could be greatly increased in the future, and that the total deposits of phosphates in the islands varied from 100,000,000 to 300,000,000 tons. I think, at £1 per ton profit, £300,000,000 is not an unsubstantial gain to the British Empire through this excellent bargain.
Mr. T. THOMSON
That is the crux of the whole thing. It is admitted that it is a good bargain, and it is because of that we say, upon this side of the House, that it is contrary to the principles underlying the League of Nations. The Leader of the House was at some pains to suggest that if we did not do this the company would be in the same position, and that we were merely taking all the powers and rights of the company. Surely that is a very specious argument. What may be perfectly right for the company to do as a commercial trading concern is an altogether different thing for a nation to do as a mandatory. I submit that the company would not do what we, as an Empire, are proposing to do under this Bill, because it would be contrary to the commercial interests of the company.
1339 As a commercial concern the Company would sell in the best markets they could find, and at the highest price. They would not sell at cost price to Australia and New Zealand and the United Kingdom, but they would go into the open markets of the world unfettered, and get the highest prices from other nations whether they were in the League or not. It would be quite right for them to do so. It is altogether one thing for a Company to be out making the greatest profits and another thing altogether for a mandatory Power trading as a trustee to seek to advantage itself at the expense of the rest of the world. I suggest that although the purchase contract might not be reviewable by the League of Nations, yet the conditions of the sale stipulating that New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom should have the sole output, if necessary, and the rest of the world should be excluded are entirely at variance and in conflict with the mandatory principle of the League of Nations.
Except with the unanimous consent of the three Commissioners, they cannot sell or supply any phosphates to any country or place other than the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand. If Australia objects to any of the phosphates being sold to any other country beyond these three it does not matter what the British Government desires, it cannot be done, and we are at the mercy of the veto of any one of these three Powers. The hon. Member for Wrekin (Mr. Palmer) will admit, I think, that that is contrary to the League of Nations under which equal opportunities for trade and commerce must be open to all members of the League. In the eyes of some hon. Members this may be good business, but is it good morality? Surely in the past the bulk of the wars have been the outcome of commercial bargains in these outlying posts of the Empire, and if we are not careful in this matter the lesson we have learned during the last War will be entirely forgotten, if we are going to begin now attempting to grab here and grab there certain reserves of natural deposits which should be shared equally by the world at large.
The Leader of the House suggested that this matter might go to the League of Nations, but is there anyone who believes in the League of Nations who 1340 think that it would be a fair start to submit to it a Bill such as this, of which we had approved, and suggesting that they should reverse the findings of these three countries? If you want to condemn the League from the very first you could not take a more effective step than he suggests, that they should reverse the findings of the British Empire. I submit that there is a vital principle behind this. Many of us who took part in recruiting during the War and who fought overseas believed that we were in for this War with clean hands, and that we were not anxious to secure any material benefit, and yet we have had hon. Members supporting this agreement because it is good business.
The hon. Baronet opposite said that surely the blood and treasure we have spent overseas entitled us to some gain. I repudiate that contention with all the feeling I have. Surely we did not go into the War for any commercial gain whatsoever, and we had better make a huge sacrifice rather than the rest of the world should be able to point to us the finger of scorn, and say that England was not disinterested and did not go into the War to save Belgium, but that she went into it for what she could get for ourselves. Whether the Government intended it or not, outside this House the feeling of the country will be that we are seeking to acquire something that we will not allow other nations to have, and that we are conserving for the British Empire what should be shared by the whole world. I ask, is it worth while running all this risk? The urgency of the question is not so great. It has been suggested that this agreement should be passed because we cannot wait for the phosphates, but surely the company can carry on the same way for the next 12 months. Let us wait until the League of Nations is a reality and until they have had an opportunity of considering this agreement. Let us wait not only for 12 months, but two years, if necessary. Let the company carry on. We shall get the phosphates, and so will Australia and New Zealand, but do not run the risk of jeopardising the whole welfare of the League of Nations, which some of us think is the only thing worth living for and worth fighting for.
§ Colonel GREIG
It seems to me that the friends of the League of Nations have done their cause a great disservice 1341 by the action they have taken, because it leaves the impression that they are willing to make the League a weapon of Party warfare. What was the argument of the hon. Member who has just sat down? It was that a British company, vested with the administration of commercial rights, should not carry on without the intervention of the League of Nations. It is pretty clear that this is a good bargain for the British Empire, and without this Bill you would have every speculator throughout the world intent on getting the British company to sell its concessions at a higher price. The argument we have heard to-day leads to this, that on a British concession of this kind the dividends are to be distributed all over the world and the rights of the company are to be put up to auction and handed over to the highest bidder. The whole position is ridiculous. This company, a British company, has a full right to sell its produce where it likes. The United Kingdom and the two Colonies most interested in the produce of the island come forward and say to the company, "you have two sets of rights, commercial and administrative. We will buy your commercial rights and pay a certain amount for them, while as to your administrative duties, we are quite willing to take them over or to submit them to the League of Nations. But the commercial rights we will arrange to buy from you amongst ourselves." There is no harm, surely, in such an arrangement. What wrong can there be in it? Who is to be the administrator under this agreement? It is the Commonwealth of Australia, the most democratic of all our Colonies, run in part by the Labour party. What better administrator could be found? The whole thing comes back to this, if the suggestion now made is given effect to, the impression will get abroad that the League of Nations, instead of being an instrument for good, will be reduced to a mere weapon of Party warfare between contending factions. It is in order to cover the retreat of the Front Opposition Bench that we have had all this demonstration about the League of Nations.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I have not been able to follow the Debate all through, but I rise to associate my hon. Friends on this side of the House with those who oppose the action of the Government in relation 1342 to this Bill. So far as this Bill permits the Governments concerned to acquire property for national use, we support it. So far as it prevents the free sale of property, we oppose it. So far as it establishes a monopoly which ultimately is not likely to be for the good of the countries acquiring it, we oppose this Bill, and we oppose it most of all because of the spirit in which it has been conceived. Clearly, it is a spirt of sharing in a very limited circle certain spoils of the War. That is the aspect in which the Bill will be viewed by the outside public. It is a real pity that the subject of the League of Nations has to be discussed in relation to a Bill of this kind. When we are told we are doing a real disservice to the League and its prospects by bringing forward the professions of the League, the answer is that, as far as this Covenant has been made, and so far as we have the terms of the Treaty of the League of Nations before us, it is the business of the Government to conform to those terms and not to ignore them. In this instance they are ignoring them. The powers the Government take in this Bill are not acquired through the League of Nations as they ought to be, but they are acquired through Allied Powers. There has been no answer, so far, to that unanswerable point which has been presented in the course of this Debate. Our objection to the Bill is not that it hands over enormous powers to them administratively, for that is inevitable in the nature of things in such a business as this, but we are entitled to complain that there is no provision in this Bill by which the conduct of the administrator can ever be called in question either in this House or in any one of the other Parliaments concerned in this matter. The Government have not given, so far as I have heard, the slightest reply to the central objection levelled against their action. That central objection is that they have completely set aside the provisions of the Treaty of the League of Nations, and have acquired their powers from other sources. I ask them to reflect on the harmful international effect of an attitude such as that. It will be said that this is an instance of British commercial selfishness; that we are acquiring these properties for purely business reasons and that that is not the spirit in which we should act. I hope some response will be made to that central objection, and that we shall be permitted to discuss the 1343 greater question of the League of Nations in the future free from the taint of business interests.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I want to make two or three suggestions in regard to the somewhat unprofitable position in which we find ourselves. This Bill proposes a commercial transaction. It suggests that, in conjunction with New Zealand and Australia, we should buy up the undertaking of a certain company. To that particular proposal, except that it may be unprofitable, I have heard no objection raised in this country. But there is a strong element in this House obsessed with the idea of the League of Nations, and they think that the provision in the Bill for the administration for this island is an affront to that at present nebulous and non-existent body. I venture to suggest to the Minister in charge that with a view to removing the difficulty expressed in some quarters he should confine the measure to the acquisition of the undertaking of the phosphates company, and leave the question of the administration of the island to be determined either by Parliament or by the League of Nations within a given period. That would make it a purely commercial transaction, and I am delighted to think that to that idea the apostles of the League see no objection. So far as the commercial part of the transaction is concerned, I am amazed to find how little some hon. Members have learned as a result of this War.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I was not referring particularly to the hon. and gallant Member. If we do not buy the undertaking of this company, if we stand by for two or three years, as suggested by one hon. Member behind me, what is to prevent Germany buying it over our heads? I am one of those who do not believe in the broken back of Germany. I should not be surprised to find her representatives out there outbidding us for this undertaking. She had it, I believe, in days gone by.
It will be a poor consolation to people who may be clamouring for bread in two years' time, because we have not had the fertilisers necessary to produce the corn; it will, I say, be poor consolation 1344 to those people to be told "we have the League of Nations; put that into your mouths and swallow it." It is incredible that hon. Members have not yet learned the importance of securing an undertaking of this kind while we have the opportunity, whether or not we also secure the administration of the island. We are I understand, under the financial arrangements of the Bill, to find a million and a half sterling, and Australia and New Zealand are to find the other million and a half. Am I wrong in thinking that these two branches of the British Empire are at present indebted to us in considerable sums? I am sure they are, and I therefore say let it be a matter of bookkeeping; let us credit them with a million and a half. I do not think the leaders of the Labour party can see anything immoderate in a proposal of that kind. Subject to these observations I shall certainly vote for the Bill if only as a necessary reminder to America and other countries that we intend to act promptly where the interests of the Empire demand. It is not a question of the spoils of war, because we do not pay for spoils, we do not buy them, and in this case we are going to give a fair market price for this undertaking, because it is good business and because it is a sound Empire policy to secure it—I shall vote for this Bill as a reminder to the world at large that when the interests of the British Empire demand immediate action will be taken, and we intend to take it without waiting for the appearance on the scene of this nebulous, non-existent League of Nations.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I greatly prefer the attitude of the hon. Member who last spoke to that of the Government. It is more honest and straightforward, and I believe the people of the country will also prefer it. This island was conquered by Australia at the very beginning of the War. It was conquered for strategical reasons. We wish to prevent it being used as a base for German shipping. I believe Australia claims it for economic reasons. They want to get the phosphate for the development of their agriculture. It is a small island; there are very few inhabitants on it, and surely we can come to some arrangement to make it over to Australia with proper safeguards for ourselves and without any talk of mandates or of the-League of Nations, or of anything else.
1345 I want to use plain language. This hypocrisy, this harmonium thumping, this waving of the Bible in connection with commercial matters is absolutely nauseous to me. We have seized the island for strategical reasons; we propose to keep it because its deposits of phosphates are valuable. I admired the speech of the hon. and gallant Member in charge of the Bill. He told us the number of millions of tons of phosphates it was hoped would be got from the island. I think he said that the highest estimate was 300,000,000 of tons of phosphates a year. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]
§ Colonel WILSON
I mentioned that as a German estimate, but I said I did not put it any higher than the report given to the New Zealand Government by the Board of Agriculture of New Zealand. That was from 80,000,000 to 100,000,000 tons.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I said that 300,000,000 tons was the highest estimate the hon. and gallant Gentleman mentioned. We are told that before the War most of this went in any case to Germany. Where do the natural needs of Australia and New Zealand come in? That rather puzzles me. It is agreed that we want this and mean to keep it. If that is so, what becomes of this one-half paragraph of Article 22 of the Covenant. The Lord Privy Seal has not dealt with that, and if the learned Attorney-General is going to reply, I should be glad to hear what his extremely acute legal mind can make of it. Article 22 has been read several times by hon. and right hon. Gentleman who have taken part in the Debate, and I only want to read the last three lines. [HON. MEMBERS: "Take it as read."] No, this has not been stressed. It says that the Mandatories of territorieswill also secure equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of other Members of the League.How do we get over that in this case? We are not treating this as a spoil of war, which would be much more honest. We are talking about its not being contrary to the Covenant of the League of Nations, but how does the Government get over that? When my hon. Friend, the Member for South Hackney says that the League of Nations is a non-existent body, I do not think he is well-informed. The Council of the League of Nations was sitting this morning, and has been sitting 1346 for three days. It has arrived at some very important decisions, and I am surprised the hon. Member has not made himself aware of them. Perhaps the reason is that the League of Nations is smothered in every way. The Government take no steps to give publicity to its findings, and, therefore, I am not surprised that hon. Members talk about it as a non-existent body. In law, however, and according to the Treaty which we have signed and guaranteed, it does exist very much; it is fully established. Of course, if we like to go right in the face of it in this matter, well and good; but how can we then turn to other nations and complain if, in the future, they in any way encroach on our interests through their mandate? We were able, in the past, for example, to make some protest to the Japanese Government when they created a monopoly in camphor in Formosa after the Chino-Japanese War. We were not successful then, but we cannot even make a protest now, if they can turn to this Bill and say—it is a small question, but it is a precedent, the first step which counts—"Here you have this island, conquered, as other territories have been, and you are going to confine its products to these three nations alone." Even the private company had no powers of that sort. Under this Bill the phosphates go to Great Britain, to Australia, and to New Zealand, but these countries are not allowed to re-export, and that is the point. Those are powers which no private company ever had. I hope the House is going to defeat this Bill, if the Government does not give the guarantees for which we ask. This is not a question merely of pounds, shillings and pence. The hon. Member who last spoke said that some of us have learned little from the War. I cheered that. Some of us have learned precious little from the War. I myself may have learned but little, but I have learned, and many millions of people who have suffered from the War have learned also, that war is a thing at all costs to be avoided. One of the most fruitful causes of war in the past has been the attempt to get monopolies, and, because this is perpetuating that very thing, I think the House should reject it.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 217; Noes, 77.1349
|Division No. 138.]||AYES.||[6.35 P.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Pearce, Sir William|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry||Peel, Lieut.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Percy, Charles|
|Atkey, A. R.||Gregory, Holman||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Greig, Colonel James William||Pickering, Lieut.-Colonel Emil W.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Guest, Major O. (Leic., Loughboro')||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Hailwood, Augustine||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W.D'by)||Preston, W. R.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Hanna, George Boyle||Purchase, H. G.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Barrand, A. R.||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry, N.)||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Bellairs, Commander Canyon W.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Reid, D. D.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Hills, Major John Waller||Renwick, George|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hinds, John||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bottomley, Horatio W.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Seager, Sir William|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Jephcott, A. R.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Jesson, C.||Simm, M. T.|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Stanton, Charles B.|
|Casey, T. W.||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert||Kidd, James||Stevens, Marshall|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stewart, Gershom|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Clough, Robert||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lindsay, William Arthur||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Terrell, George (Wilts., Chippenham)|
|Coote, William (Tyrone, South)||Lynn, R. J.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||M'Guffin, Samuel||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid.)||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Macmaster, Donald||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Turton, E. R.|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)||Maddocks, Henry||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Dawes, Commander||Middlebrook, Sir William||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.|
|Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Mitchell, William Lane||Whitla, Sir William|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Moles, Thomas||Wigan, Brig.-General John Tyson|
|Donald, Thompson||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Morison, Thomas Brash||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Mount, William Arthur||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Edge, Captain William||Murchison, C. K.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Nall, Major Joseph||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Neal, Arthur||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Fildes, Henry||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Nield, Sir Herbert||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Forrest, Walter||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Oman, Charles William C.||Younger, Sir George|
|Gange, E. Stanley||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Parker, James||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Gould, James C.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Briant, Frank||Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Bromfield, William||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Cape, Thomas||Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Lawson, John J.||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Lunn, William||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Finney, Samuel||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Swan, J. E.|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Hancock, John George||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Hayward, Major Evan||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Hirst, G. H. (York, Wentworth)||Rae, H. Norman||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Robertson, John|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Ormsby-Gore and Mr. Mosley.|
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of1350
§ the Whole House."—[Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy.]
§ The House divided: Ayes, 57; Noes, 218.1351
|Division No. 139.]||AYES.||[6.45 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Robertson, John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hancock, John George||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry, N.)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hayday, Arthur||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hayward, Major Evan||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Briant, Frank||Hirst, G. H.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hogge, James Myles||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Cape, Thomas||Holmes, J. Stanley||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Swan, J. E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Lawson, John J.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Lunn, William||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Finney, Samuel||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy and Dr. Murray.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Campbell, J. D. G.||Farquharson, Major A. C.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Casey, T. W.||Fildes, Henry|
|Atkey, A. R.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Chadwick, Sir Robert||Forrest, Walter|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J A. (Birm. W.)||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Gange, E. Stanley|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Clough, Robert||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Glyn, Major Ralph|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Coote, William (Tyrone, South)||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Cope, Major Wm.||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry|
|Barrand, A. R.||Courthope, Major George L.||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Bell, Lieut. Co. W C. H. (Devizes)||Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Bellairs, Commander Cariyon W.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Guest, Major O. (Leic., Loughboro')|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hallwood, Augustine|
|Bigland, Alfred||Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W (Liv'p'l, W.D'by)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hanna, George Boyle|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin|
|Berwick, Major G. O.||Dawes, Commander||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Bottomley, Horatio W.||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Britton, G. B.||Duncannon, Viscount||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Edge, Captain William||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Hinds, John||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Stanton, Charles B.|
|Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Nield, Sir Herbert||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Oman, Charles William C.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Parker, James||Taylor, J.|
|Jesson, C.||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Pearce, Sir William||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Maryhill)|
|Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Peel, Lieut.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Percy, Charles||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Perkins, Walter Frank||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Turton, E. R.|
|Lindsay, William Arthur||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Waddington, R.|
|Lister, Sir J. Ashton||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lynn, R. J.||Prescott, Major W. H.||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Purchase, H. G.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Rae, H. Norman||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.|
|M'Guffin, Samuel||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.||Whitla, Sir William|
|McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wigan, Brig.-General John Tyson|
|M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Macmaster, Donald||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Reld, D. D.||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Renwick, George||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Maddocks, Henry||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Middlebrook, Sir William||Rodger, A. K.||Wood, Major S. Hill-(High Peak)|
|Mitchell, William Lane||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Moles, Thomas||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Morison, Thomas Brash||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Younger, Sir George|
|Mount, William Arthur||Seager, Sir William|
|Murchison, C. K.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Simm, M. T.||Mr. Dudley Ward and Lord E Talbot.|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Neal, Arthur||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
Bill committed to a Standing Committee.