HC Deb 01 November 1920 vol 134 cc114-33

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. KELLAWAY (Secretary, Department of Overseas Trade)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

Perhaps I may be allowed to quote from the White Paper, which most Members have received, as giving what are the objects with which the Bill is introduced— It is proposed to hold in London in 1923 an Exhibition representative of the industries and resources of the British Empire. The objects of the Exhibition are to foster Inter-Imperial interests, from both a commercial and a political standpoint, and to demonstrate the natural resources of the territories of the Empire, and the inventive and manufacturing energy of its peoples. The Exhibition will be privately organised, but is receiving official recognition and support. His Majesty the King has given it is patronage, and H.R.H. the Prince of Wales has consented to act as President of the General Committee. Under the Bill, if the House gives its approval, the Government propose to guarantee a sum up to £100,000, subject to private guarantees, amounting to £500,000, being forthcoming. As a further condition of the guarantee, the Board of Trade are to approve the manager of the Exhibition, the executive committee and the general conditions under which the Exhibition shall be run, so that the Government will be in a position of securing that the Exhibition, which is intended to represent all parts of the Empire, is conducted with a proper regard for economy, and on lines which shall ensure success worthy of the great object which it has in view. The idea of the Exhibition originated, I think, with Lord Strathcona. The idea was also supported by the Dominions Royal Commission appointed in 1912, and that Commission stated in its report that they found a general feeling not only in the United Kingdom, but also in the Dominions, that Inter-Imperial Exhibitions were likely to have an increasing tendency to promote Imperial trade, and that such exhibitions should afford a valuable opportunity to British manufacturers for developing their trade in the growing markets of the Dominions. The advent of the great War prevented that great idea from being carried through, and for five years it was in abeyance.

At a Conference, held in 1919, at which were present representatives of this country and of all our great Dominions, it was decided that it was desirable that the proposal should be pushed ahead, not only with the objects which were originally behind the idea, but in order to provide a memorial of the great part played by the Empire during the War. The Empire in the War proved both its unity and its resources, and it is desirable, now that we are faced with the almost equally difficult and complex problems of peace, that the Empire should once more demonstrate its unity and its resources in dealing with these problems. Looking at it more particularly from the point of the interest of the United Kingdom, it has to be remembered—I think it is too often forgotten—that the United Kingdom itself is not a self-supporting unit; that it can only live by a great overseas trade; and I do think it is a defect in the equipment of some of our more advanced political thinkers that they proceed on the assumption that we can solve our problems at home entirely without regard to the effect that the solution of those problems may have on our overseas trade, and anything that strikes at the prosperity of our overseas trade is bound to strike at the life of the United Kingdom. Indeed, it was the effect of the great overseas trade which led Germany to embark on her submarine campaign, and if that campaign had succeeded in interfering seriously with our overseas trade, all the victories won by our sailors and soldiers would have been in vain.

Here is a great opportunity behind this idea, which strikes me as being a great one, of demonstrating, not only to the world, but to every part of the Empire, the almost unlimited resources which Providence has placed within the ambit of the Empire. We had recently in London an Imperial Timber Exhibition, and I am sure those Members of the House who visited that Exhibition must have been startled at the fact that the British Empire in timber alone was practically self-supporting; but one part of the Empire was not aware of what another part of the Empire could provide, and there were many great purchasers of timber at home who were not aware that they could obtain within the British Empire all the timber required for the purposes of peace. This Exhibition, under private management, but with Government approval, is intended to convey both to the different parts of the Empire and to the people at home how great are our resources and how great are our possibilities. It is a form of Imperial preference which, I think, raises no controversy. I was glad that when the financial Resolution was going through the House it was supported in a characteristically forcible speech by the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes). The possibilities of Imperial trade within the Empire have not only not been sufficiently carried through, but they have not been sufficiently realised. It was a regrettable feature in the tendency of British trade during the years before the War that the percentage of the trade done with the Overseas Empire showed diminution. I will not now give the figures, but I am sure the House will take that statement from me that there was a steady diminution in the percentage of the total amount of our trade which was being done with other parts of the Empire. I am glad to say that, since the signing of the Armistice, there has been a steady improvement in this important respect, and that the percentage of trade being done with the Empire since the Armistice has rapidly increased. In 1913 our exports to the Empire Overseas amounted to £208,900,000, or 32.9 per cent. of the total bulk of our exports. In 1919 our exports were £215,300,000, and there is no comparison possible between those two figures, because of the change in the value of money, but the percentage, which is the important point, had fallen from 329 in 1913 to 22.4 in 1919. The figures for the first six months of this year are much more satisfactory. During those six months the export to the Empire Overseas totalled £236,700,000, or 30.6 per cent. of the total bulk of our exports.


Including India?


Yes, all oversea parts of the Empire. I think the House will agree that that is a gratifying improvement. There is no question that there are great possibilities of doing much more in increasing the percentage of the trade which this country does with our Empire overseas. We are dealing with a population of the Empire, roughly, of 450,000,000—I think 441,000,000 is the closest figure yet given. The possibilities of trade there are enormous. I believe an exhibition of this kind will enable much more to be done in increasing the trade between the Dominions and ourselves, and I believe it does that without raising any acute fiscal controversy or any political question likely to arouse controversy. The Committee of Management is a very representative and a strong one. The Guarantee Committee, which I hope will succeed in securing the guarantee of £500,000 from private sources, contain some of the best known men in the City. I hope those Members of the House who are interested in the project will be willing to give such assistance as they can in enabling this Exhibition to be the success it ought to be. I hope I have succeeded in stating the case without raising controversy, for I certainly desire to raise none. I earnestly believe in taking the earliest opportunity of setting up in the capital of the Empire a worthy demonstration to the world and to all parts of the Empire of the unity and the resources of the Empire.


I have not any doubt that the right hon. Gentleman believes this is a good Bill. I do not wish to express any opinion as to whether it is a good Bill or a bad Bill, but, for the sake of argument, I will assume it is a very good Bill. But however good it is, I do not think this is an opportune time or the proper time to spend £100,000 on any object, however good it may be. There is never a Bill introduced which is going to save money, but every statement of the Government and every Bill introduced is to spend money. During question time to-day an hon. Member had down on the Paper a question saying that £20,000,000 had been spent, and 9,000 ex-soldiers had been put upon the land. That was corrected by the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, who said £15,000,000 had been spent, and 7,000 soldiers had been put on the land. He went on to say that the Cabinet had come to the conclusion that more money ought to be spent, and that a circular to that effect would shortly be issued to the various county councils. Therefore, the moment we met at Question time we came to more money! Now we come to a Bill for more money! It is true that the right hon. Gentleman says that the Government will see that due economy is observed, but are the Government the right people to see that economy is observed? I should have thought they were the very last people in this respect, and that what is required is somebody to see that the Government have due regard to economy, and not the Government to say that to other people. However that may be, ever since the Budget was introduced this year we have gone on piling on the expenditure of the country.

The Government never seem to learn that you have to cut your coat according to your cloth, and that, however good the object may be, that at the present time we cannot afford it. Instead of coming down here and saying, "Here is a very good object, we had better spend more money on it," the Government should say, "Here are several good objects on which we might spend money if we had it to spend, but we have not got it to spend; and we are not only going to spend fresh money, but we are going to spend less money on objects which we have already agreed to spend money upon." One hundred thousand pounds in these days when we speak of £100,000,000 in an easy fashion and as if was nothing, may be small, but, after all, it is the spirit to which I object—the spirit which animates the Government. Nearly every Chamber of Commerce, if not every one, nearly all the newspapers, and many of our political associations, Liberal and Conservative, have urged economy upon the Government. All this has no effect whatever. An hon. Member said that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Miles Platting was in favour of it. Of course he is. He is always in favour of every kind of expenditure except, perhaps, on the War or on the Navy. I do not call that an argument at all. What the Government really must do, unless they wish to see financial chaos in this country, is to begin to cut down expenditure at once. The best thing we can do is to show the Government what we feel in this matter. I have no objection whatever to expenditure by the British Empire. Association. I dare say it will be a good thing, but we cannot afford to spend this money, and I sincerely hope the House will not agree to it

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I usually find myself in agreement with the right hon. Baronet, and I must say the present is no exception to that rule. We cannot afford this £100,000, and the Government ought really to have in mind the effect of all these things—financial chaos! However admirable this project is, the £100,000 to be spent is £100,000 too much. If the right hon. Baronet or any other Member chooses to divide the House against it, I, for one, shall support him. Might I, however, point out to the House that this British Empire Exhibition, which is being arranged by a number of energetic, public-spirited, and patriotic gentlemen is a private venture, and that the Government are "butting" in. Perhaps they do not like that expression, but it is a fact. They are putting their oar in. If there is anything about the British Empire—of course this Government created the British Empire: the British Empire did not exist before they came on the scene, and all that goes to the credit of the British Empire redounds to the credit of this Government, and this Government only—therefore it must be used as Government propaganda. I do not mean to say that the right hon. Gentleman who introduced this Bill is altogether conscious of this. It is more a subconscious feeling. Anything where there are Jingoistic people and the beating of the drums this Government must be in at!

We are told by the right hon. Gentleman that it was the intention to spend £100,000, and he also said that His Majesty the King and the Prince of Wales had undertaken to be, I think, President and Vice-President, or, at all events patrons of the exhibition. I put it to the House that it was an improper thing in a Second Reading speech to say that. It was quite improper. I hope that hon. Members present are not going to allow themselves to be swayed by that statement of the Minister in charge of the Bill. All our feelings in this House are the same about patronage in high quarters, and it is quite gratuitous to bring in the name of His Majesty and the Prince of Wales. Now I have one or two questions to ask in connection with this matter. We all want to see trade increased between the various parts of the British Empire. We all want to see the Empire prosperous and the members thereof commercially connected with each other. But we had allies in the War. It is just as important that we should trade with them. The French Government will probably hear of this as the result of the admirable speech of the Minister who introduced the Bill. Supposing they make representations that they would like a corner of the exhibition reserved for French products? Or if the Italians, or the Portuguese, or any other of our faithful Allies put forward a similar request, are they to be refused? If not, why have they not been invited? Why not have this a real international exhibition? Our Colonies, Dominions, Protectorates are not the only places with which we trade. I might say in passing that the volume of trade between two parts of the world is not by any means alone sufficient to ensure friendly relations between them.

There is a second question as to the mandated territories. I raised this question on the Finance Resolution, but possibly at short notice for the right hon. Gentleman. I am giving him longer time now. The mandated territories: Are they to be invited to send products? I am not altogether certain what was said on this point. If they are to be invited, which class of mandated territories are to be invited to send exhibits and representatives to have stalls, and so on, in this exhibition? As hon. Members know, there are several kinds of mandates. There is, for instance, that in Mesopotamia under which we are supposed to be guiding the destinies of that country till the people can form a Government of their own. At all events, that is the story we have pitched to us almost daily from the Government Benches. There is the other type of mandate, which is really a thin veil for annexation, as in the case of the late German East Africa, now called the Kenya Colony. Personally, I should like to see these mandated territories in this exhibition fully represented, and for the same reason our Allies fully represented. If any other rich productive part of the world, through its Government, express a desire to take part in this exhibition, I shall be very glad to have their goods advertised.

Is Ireland to be represented? Is the Irish co-operative agricultural movement to have a stall or corner in this Exhibition? Are the results of British rule on the products and the agricultural riches of Ireland, as exemplified particularly in the destruction of the creameries, going to have a place? Will there be photographs of these creameries? Is the Exhibition really to be comprehensive and show all sides of Imperialism—good, bad and indifferent, or are these things to be glossed over? Are the products of forced labour in these new East African Protectorates going to be shown? Are we to have photographs showing the bridges, roads, and so on, which have been made by African forced labour under the beneficent rule of the Government of those countries—following the example of the Soviet Government of Moscow? We talk so much about the British Empire. Let us, therefore, look at it from all sides. I said a word just now about trade as a means of cementing international friendships, and bringing the Empire closer together. But do not let us be led away by the fiction that trade alone is going to preserve the British Empire. I said that I wished to see trade increased to the uttermost in this country and in the Empire, and I hoped to see our Colonies and our Dependencies drawn closer and closer together to our Mother country—but by real ties of affection and respect. Trade alone will not do this. We govern our Empire by the word of the British Government. The Government, by a gesture, can do more to hold together our far flung British Empire than spending, not merely £100,000, but £100,000,000, on exhibitions of this sort.

Sir J. D. REES

If this exhibition is held, notwithstanding the arguments advanced by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury) I want to ask the Minister in charge of the Bill whether or not India will receive space equivalent to the predominant part she plays in the foreign trade of the Empire? If that question is answered in the affirmative—as I suppose it wilt be—will the Government of India pay for stalling her goods and for sending her exhibits here? For the £100,000 referred to will not cover this. Take again the case of Nyassaland. One of the most important features of the trade of our day is the increasing difficulty of getting sufficient supplies of cotton. Every year the United States increases the number of her spindles and every year she uses a larger and larger portion of her own growth, so that whereas she used to send us the lion's share of her cotton there is now a comparatively small portion coming, and year by year that small portion gets smaller. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that the cotton of India and of Nyassaland—Empire-grown—should be provided for. The exhibits from Nyassaland, her cotton and tobacco—her cotton in particular—will be a not unimportant feature of the Exhibition, because the cotton grown in Nyassaland is excellent long staple cotton, comparing with that of Egypt. I therefore want to know whether the Nyassaland Government has to pay these expenses? I happen to know the income of that Government is so small and her requirements so large that they really cannot carry out properly the primary functions of Government. Yet in face of this it is of the utmost importance that she should send her exhibits. We hear a great deal about small nationalities, as though there is any merit, in being small, which I for one cannot see. Nyassaland is a small colony, a small protectorate, a small nationality.

My concern is as to the vast value of these cotton products. This small country cannot afford to pay for the making of roads and various improvements, and they have to impose export duties which press very heavily on those in the trade. I want to know if my right hon. Friend is going to make a grant to that small, impoverished British Colony. I would also like to be told who will represent the great possession of India upon the executive committee of this exhibition. Will there be somebody beside the trade representative of the British Government and the High Commissioner? Will there be representatives of the cotton trade from Bombay? I would like to know if there will be an Indian gentleman connected with the cotton trade of India representing the interests of the Indian community. If my right hon. Friend will let me know what will happen in these respects if this exhibition takes place, I should be greatly obliged to him.


My hon. and gallant Friend behind me (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) has addressed to the House a number of points with which I have the fullest sympathy, but I suggest that they have very little bearing, if any, upon the objects of this Bill. He has, in fact, argued for a world-wide exhibition if we have one at all, and that all countries should be brought in, not only the outposts of Empire, but the most remote countries, whether they have been enemy countries or not, for he has argued that they should all be represented in an exhibition dealing with questions of trade. The only answer that is necessary is that at this moment, and I fear that for some time to come, any such ambitious scheme could not possibly succeed.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman wishes to misrepresent me. I inquired, for example, if any of our allies, such as France or Portugal, asked for permission to take part would they be refused? That was my point.


I have the argument used by my hon. and gallant Friend in mind, and I think even something very much less than the ambitious world-wide exhibition he has suggested is still quite impossible. This Bill deals only with the British Empire Exhibition, and we ought to consider it on its merits and not say we shall refuse to have anything at all unless we cannot have everything. In these matters we must take what we can get for the time being. Looking at the matter from the standpoint of our internal Empire trade, I think everything can be said to commend a Bill of this kind. I take the view that there is a certain form of expenditure which can be shown to be the truest economy, and at times you can make, assist, and expand trade by a certain degree of expenditure upon trade or upon those contingencies which tend to make trade.

If that is not a conclusive argument to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), I would like to put to him the fact that this Bill does not propose to spend £100,000 of public money for certain, but it proposes to guarantee up to £100,000 if there should happen to be a loss upon this expedition. It may well be that the State may not be called upon to pay a single penny. The right hon. Baronet suggested that I would support expenditure of this kind because I always support any expenditure, but he is quite wrong. I have frequently found myself in the Lobby voting against enormous items of expenditure, running up to millions, while, on the other hand, the right hon. Baronet has been found in the Lobby supporting the expenditure of those very large sums.


The only large expenditure I have supported has been on the Army and the Navy.


Perhaps it wil be rather risky to venture too far upon these points, and I will content myself by the denial which I have entered, and the further statement that I think that the right hon. Baronet did me some little injustice with reference to the votes I have given in regard to expenditure on the Navy in the years preceding the War. All I wish to add is, that this is a proposal which offers to Parliament a little opportunity of doing great good to Empire trade. So far as my experience goes, I think it is safe to say that they enable those engaged in trade to gather together a great amount of useful information. They bring together the apparatus and activities of trade into one great centre and in that way they help to make work. I know the right hon. Baronet is as anxious as we are to relieve unemployment and find profitable employment for those people, and I expected him to join us in this slight State outlay if it will tend towards reducing the distress amongst the unemployed. This House some months ago went a considerable distance towards meeting the views of the right hon. Gentleman when it provided some millions of money for trade purposes—encouraging and expanding trade in some neutral countries abroad. This Bill is only a continuation of a similar thing at a far less cost for the stimulation of trade within the Empire. While I cannot claim to speak for every hon. Member of the Labour party, I think I am safe in saying that this step is one which will assist in diminishing unemployment and in improving trade, and, therefore, it should have the support of every Labour Member in this House.


Before we agree to the Second Reading of a Bill which pledges us some months hence to a possible expenditure of £100,000, I think we ought to consider what we are doing, and what we are doing it for. I wonder who proposed this particular exhibition. I wonder who the author of it was. If I mistake not, there were quite a number of business men who were very anxious to have all kinds of exhibitions after the War was over. I know I was approached to use my influence to get Royal patronage for a Victory exhibition, a subject which has been referred to in another speech this afternoon, in order to bring together in this country all the products of industry and trade from the Allied countries which have taken part in the War. One would really like to know what influenced the Government in deciding upon this particular exhibition and what induced them to give this grant of money.

I am not impressed with the arguments used about the utility of these exhibitions. The only utility I have seen in most of them is in making a large deficiency, and securing some honours of various kinds for the busybodies on the committees of those exhibitions. That has been the history of exhibitions so far as I have known them in this country. The truth of the matter is that we do not want an exhibition in this country to encourage trade in the Empire. What we want is a new Government that would cease to interfere with trade and would allow traders and business men to get on with their own business and develop our resources inside the Empire without any of the grandmotherly assistance given by the members of the present Government. I am sure the only exhibition which the up-to-date trader would deem desirable would be one in which the members of the present Government would be set apart, so that the people might see the people who are interfering with trade.

6.0 P.M.

I am certainly opposed to the grant of £100,000, although it is only a guarantee. It is quite true that this grant of £100,000 is contingent upon other people raising £500,000 amongst those, interested in the exhibition, but it is perfectly obvious that without a guarantee from the Government of £100,000, and the Royal patronage they have secured already, the exhibition authorities or the executive committee would find it extremely difficult to raise the £500,000. Would it not be very much better if those who wished to have this exhibition would get on with it, and if there is a loss which cannot be made up by those who have promoted the exhibition, then they should approach the Government to make a contribution towards the deficiency. I would like to know if there is any precedent for this expenditure. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will tell us whether there is any precedent for a Government intervening in a matter of this kind to guarantee a private body of traders, in this country from loss. After all, there are a great many exhibitions of one kind and another, not only trade exhibitions but Empire conferences and meetings of one kind and another held in this country, and those interested might very easily come to the Government with a view to lending financial support. It is not only an extremely dangerous precedent to set up, but it is entirely unnecessary. If the Board of Trade is to control this Exhibition, as appears to be provided in Clause 2 on account of the money promised in the event of a deficiency, it may control it quite as badly as it has controlled trade ever since the signing of the Armistice, to the detriment of the trade relations of this country not only inside but outside the Empire. If the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London goes to a Division, I shall vote for him and am prepared to tell with him.


I am reluctant to oppose this, having regard to the fact that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Clynes) has spoken in support of it. When the matter was before the House on the Financial Resolution several hon. Members on these Benches spoke against it, and it may seem somewhat extraordinary that some of us on this side should support the attitude of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) and oppose the point of view put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting. We agree with both right hon. Gentlemen as to the necessity for the consolidation of our Empire, but we believe that that is not likely to brought about on a purely cash basis. Other facts quite separate to the operations of trade have to be taken into consideration. We opposed this proposal on the last occasion because we believed it to be a huge business advertisement. If private enterprise in this country desires to extend its trade through the medium of an exhibition let it pay for its own advertisement. After all, the trade of the Empire has not done at all badly out of the War. The £100,000 which it is proposed to set apart for the purposes of this exhibition in case it may be required is an insignificant item compared with the tremendous War profits made during the past few years, and I would suggest that the business of this country from that point of view should pay for its own exhibition and be ready to meet the responsibilities for its own trade advertisements. Further, the proposed exhibition seems to me altogether too limited in its scope. The inter-dependence of the world's trade at the present time is one of those things which have to be recognised. We cannot keep our trade operations within the four corners of our own Empire. This very proposal cuts across the arrangement made with our Allies in the War with regard to future mutual trading, and the very holding of this exhibition is calculated to create some measure of suspicion in the minds of our Allies. Of course, £100,000 is a small matter compared with our national expenditure. But still it represents a sum which could be usefully employed in many other directions. Look at the method we have been compelled to adopt for raising money for housing. We are holding the hat at street corners in order to ge subscriptions for Housing Bonds. This £100,000 would provide a hundred houses at the present cost, and there are many other avenues in which the same amount could be spent usefully. I object to the money being expended on advertising the businesses of large vested interests in this country.

Colonel Sir A. HOLBROOK

I rise to support the Bill. It is a very desirable thing that we should encourage the trade of the Empire. I have just returned from a conference in Canada, and I know that Canadian traders will welcome an exhibition of this sort because it will enable them to bring their products before the British public. During my tour in Canada I found a great desire on the part of the chief manufacturers there to do trade with England. I heard many complaints that they had little opportunity of letting England know what their productions are and how they can help to supply the needs of this great country. One of the speakers expressed himself anxious to know who promoted this exhibition. That does not concern me at all. The proposal simply carries out a very good idea which first found root in this country in 1850, the date of the Great Exhibition. We have always been pioneers in this direction, and I certainly think that the component parts of the British Empire should have an opportunity among themselves of seeing what can be done in the matter of trade. The hon. Member who last spoke referred to the housing question. I think he must have forgotten that this exhibition is not to take place until 1923, and by that time it is to be hoped the housing difficulty will have become a thing of the past. It seems to me that a very modest sum is being asked for in this Bill, and I hope, therefore, the House will give the proposal practically unanimous support. One hon. Member spoke about having an exhibition of the members of the Government. I would not support expenditure of money for anything of the kind, because I do not believe the British public would take interest in any such exhibition. We want to encourage trade, and I shall therefore give this Bill my hearty support.


I rise to offer one or two objections to this Bill. I do not see why commercial exhibitions within the Empire, whatever their extent or character, should be financed by this country when other and more important movements are not financed in the same way. We have had a very important Medical Conference discussing questions of world-wide interest, but I cannot ascertain that the Government have taken any interest in it or contributed anything towards the expense of it. We have had learned societies holding conferences which help our higher national and social interests quite as much as this proposed exhibition would help our commercial interests. But again I do not find that the Government contribute anything towards the expense. I do not see why, if this principle of contribution is to be applied to commercial exhibitions, it should not be applied equally to conferences concerned with the higher interests of this world. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) is always found opposing expenditure upon good objects while he supports the outlay of vast sums on bad objects. He is quite willing to squander millions of money in Mesopotamia in order, I suppose, to provide Mallaby-Deely suits for tribesmen there. He would swallow all the camels of Mesopotamian expenditure while he strained at a gnat of this sort because, I suppose, it would produce in him a sort of spasmodic dyspepsia.


By leave of the House, I will answer some of the questions which have been put in the course of this Debate. I cannot congratulate the right hon. Baronet on his allies in this matter. I do not think that when he goes down into the City on business he would care to take them with him. But underlying his criticism there appears to be the assumption that all expenditure is necessarily bad. I believe he is a farmer in a little way, and I would ask him, would he proceed to cut down expenditure on his farm by cutting off the supply of seed and manures? Any business man who acts on the assumption that all expenditure is bad is heading straight for the Bankruptcy Court, and no one knows that better than the right hon. Baronet himself. The Government have been asked to give this guarantee. It is only a guarantee. I do not think we shall ever be called upon to pay, because I believe the exhibition, in the hands in which it will be, will prove self-supporting. The object is to increase the amount of British trade in the Empire. How can anyone oppose a proposition of that kind? The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) suggested that the holding of this Empire Exhibition might affront our Allies. I believe that both France and Italy have too keen a sense of humour to object to the British Empire holding an exhibition for parts of its own Empire. Then I have been asked as to the position of India. The Indian Government are taking great interest in this exhibition. The Secretary of State was one of the original members of the Committee. The India Office is represented upon the Committee by two members, and there are also on the Committee two other men in a position to speak with authority on Indian trade.


But who was it suggested the exhibition?


I dealt with that point in my opening statement. The exhibition was suggested at a meeting in the City of London at which were present representatives of all our great Dominions overseas, of India and of every part of the Empire, and there a unanimous opinion was expressed that it was desirable to hold such an exhibition, and that its success would be greatly assisted if it were known it had the approval of the Government. I hope the House will see that we are not necessarily incurring any expenditure. The exhibition should be successful, but, in the event of there being a deficit, the Government is pledged to guarantee a sum up to £100,000, conditionally on those who have the immediate management of the exhibition being able to secure a guarantee of £500,000. With regard to the point that was raised about Nyasaland, I am not acquainted with the peculiar conditions of that country, but I feel sure that the British Cotton Growing Association will see that the cotton of Nyasaland is represented. I am certain that the common sense of the House, with out any appeal to Imperial sentiment—though I do not know why a Minister should hesitate to make such an appeal, after the great part that the Empire played during the War—I am certain that the House will see that a proposal of this kind is in the best interests of the British trade, and is one of the practical means by which we can broaden the foundations of the employment available for the great body of our people.


I hope the House will go to a Division on this matter. It will be very interesting to trace these proposals back to their origin. There were two bodies of private people who wanted to run exhibitions. Not being able to raise sufficient funds, they managed to obtain the support of some of the representatives of our Dominions. A meeting was called of these two private sets of people with the representatives of some of our Dominions here, and they managed to bring pressure upon the Government to undertake to guarantee a very large sum of money. Why should our Government, and our Government alone, undertake this guarantee? If any of the Dominions themselves had put up some of their money, and had then come and invited our Government to join with them, the Minister in charge would have had some good ground for coming before us. Are the Dominions putting up any money whatsoever? As I understand, they are not putting up a single penny, and yet we on their behalf are prepared to put up our money in order to push the trade of the Dominions. If they want to push their trade, let them by all means do so, but we have our own worries and troubles, and have to push our own business, for which we are prepared to pay.

Unless we get some assurance from the Minister in charge that the Dominions concerned are joining in this guarantee, I hope the House will reject the proposal.


The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Kellaway) spoke of the party or parties opposing this measure. I do not know whether any deep party issue is involved in it, but if so I hope I shall not be ostracised when I say that I am going to vote in favour of it. I am going to do so because I believe that in the past far too little has been done to encourage inter-Imperial trade. One method of encouraging Imperial trade was brought forward and passed by the Government last year, namely, Imperial preference. That was opposed by hon. Members on these Benches, including myself, and we were told that we had learned nothing from the War and had forgotten nothing. Whether that be so or not, I believe, as I have said, that far too little has been done in the past, and, personally, I am very glad to find that the Government and my right hon. Friend, who is in charge of this particular Department, are doing a great deal. Like the hon. Member (Sir A. Holbrook) who spoke just now, I have recently returned from Canada. I found there that a great deal is being done at present to encourage Imperial trade of all kinds, and I shall vote for this Bill because I believe it to be one step in the right direction.

Question put, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 205; Noes, 30.

Division No. 345]. AYES. [6 22 p.m.
Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S. Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's) Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Cairns, John Dixon, Captain Herbert
Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James Carr, W. Theodore Dockrell, Sir Maurice
Astor, Viscountess Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.) Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)
Bagley, Captain E. Ashton Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood) Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)
Baird, Sir John Lawrence Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City of Lon.) Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Farquharson, Major A. C.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals) Coates, Major Sir Edward F. Fell, Sir Arthur
Barnett, Major R. W. Coats, Sir Stuart Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.
Barnston, Major Harry Cobb, Sir Cyril Foreman, Henry
Barrie, Charles Coupar Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Forrest, Walter
Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry,N.) Collins, Sir G. P. (Greenock) Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Conway, Sir W. Martin Gardiner, James
Bennett, Thomas Jewell Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely) George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd
Borwick, Major G. O. Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham
Bottomley, Horatio W. Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South) Gilbert, James Daniel
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid) Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Goff, Sir R. Park
Breese, Major Charles E. Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)
Brittain, Sir Harry Curzon, Commander Viscount Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A. Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan) Gregory, Holman
Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay) Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Greig, Colonel James William
Hacking, Captain Douglas H. M'Micking, Major Gilbert Shaw, William T. (Forfar)
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Martin, Captain A. E. Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)
Hallas, Eldred Mitchell, William Lane Simm, M. T.
Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar Moles, Thomas Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)
Harris, Sir Henry Percy Molson, Major John Elsdale Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander
Hayward, Major Evan Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M. Steel, Major S. Strang
Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston) Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S. Strauss, Edward Anthony
Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.) Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Sugden, W. H.
Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon Morden, Colonel H. Grant Sutherland, Sir William
Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank Moreing, Captain Algernon H. Taylor, J.
Hills, Major John Waller Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Hinds, John Morris, Richard Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)
Hirst, G. H. Morrison, Hugh Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G. Mosley, Oswald Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell (Maryhill)
Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Nail, Major Joseph Thorpe, Captain John Henry
Hood, Joseph Neal, Arthur Tickler, Thomas George
Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Tootill, Robert
Hopkins, John W. W. Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster) Tryon, Major George Clement
Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Nield, Sir Herbert Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead) Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G. Warren, Lieut.-Col. sir Alfred H.
Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H. Whitla, Sir William
Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster) Parker, James Wignall, James
Hurd, Percy A. Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)
Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B. Pennefather, De Fonblanque Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald
Inskip, Thomas Walker H. Percy, Charles Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert
Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S. Perring, William George Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)
James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City) Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)
Jesson, C. Pollock, Sir Ernest M. Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)
Jodrell, Neville Paul Prescott, Major W. H. Wilson-Fox, Henry
Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Purchase, H. G. Wise, Frederick
Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly) Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N. Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East) Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde]
King, Captain Henry Douglas Reid, D. D. Woolcock, William James U.
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich) Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.) Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford) Yate, Colonel Charles Edward
Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales) Royce, William Stapleton Yeo, Sir Alfred William
Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H.
Lloyd, George Butler Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)
Lorden, John William Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A. Younger, Sir George
Loseby, Captain C. E. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Lynn, R. J. Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P. Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone) Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley
Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock) Ward.
M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W. Shaw, Thomas (Preston)
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G. Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil) Richardson. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish Hogge, James Myles Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Bramsdon, Sir Thomas Irving, Dan Swan, J. E.
Briant, Frank Kenwortby, Lieut.-Commander J. M. Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)
Cautley, Henry S. Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Devlin, Joseph Lunn, William Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Entwistle, Major C. F. Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Williams, Aneurin(Durham, Consett)
Glanville, Harold James Marks, Sir George Croydon Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central) Morgan, Major D. Watts
Grant, James A. Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Henderson. Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes) Myers, Thomas Major Barnes and Mr. Kiley.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill, accordingly, read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.