§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Colonel Leslie Wilson.]
Major-General Sir JOHN DAVIDSON
I rise with diffidence to address the House on a subject of great importance, namely, the Imperial Conference and the agenda for that Conference. Having been so closely associated with the Dominion forces during the War, I feel, and have felt for some time past, that their strength is so enormous and so increasing that the British Empire as a whole, if working as a whole, can act for the good of the world in a military sense. They put in the field over a million troops, and these were troops of the very highest quality, unsurpassed in the pages of military history. If the Dominions could put forward that effort at that time, with their rapidly increasing strength there is nothing which the British Empire cannot perform in the future, if it only works in close co-operation. I was one of those who moved to have this Debate, not with any idea of trying to force the hands of the Government or to extract any views from them. It would be very desirable that they should not give their views on a great many of the matters in question, but at the same time I do believe that since a Debate of this nature will be of very great value not only to this country but to the Empire generally, it is only right that the representatives of the people of this country should have an opportunity of discussing these matters. We know quite well that in the Dominion Parliaments there has been ample opportunity for Debate on this subject, and it is right and just that there should be a similar opportunity in this country. I do not agree at all with those who take the view that the subject matter of the Conference is no concern of the House of Commons. Such views have been expressed in different quarters, both verbally and in writing. I do not propose to pursue this matter further, but simply to refer these people to a remark made by Burke—Great empires and little minds go ill together.There is one thing which we should establish, before we start debating the matter at all. There is no intention or wish on the part of the people of this 784 country to disturb in any fundamental manner the constitutional relationship between one part of the Empire and another. That is an essential feature, and certainly there is no intention on the part of any section of the community in this country to do anything which would interfere with it. Indeed, I should go a step further and say it is preferable, from every point of view, that the initiative should be taken by the Government in all these matters. There are two great underlying principles which sound like platitudes, and perhaps are platitudes. The whole work of the Empire must be based in the future on the two principles of freedom and co-operation. There is very little to be said in regard to freedom. I think the dominions are all agreed—in fact, only a small section of the community throughout the whole Empire are not agreed—on the advantages of maintaining the ties with the Mother country, and particularly the tie of the Crown. As regards Co-operation, the other of these two principles, there is a great deal to be said and there, are a great many difficulties involved, both in regard to measure and agreement. As Mr. Hughes very rightly said a few days ago, empires and nations do not stand still. They are continually either going forward or going backward and that movement, as he also said very rightly, is accelerated in these days by modern means, modern methods and modern science. That movement is extraordinarily rapid to-day. Mr. Hughes also pointed out that we have got to decide whether we are going to move forward on a principle of whole-hearted and unselfish co-operation or whether we are going to decline to take advantage of the possibilities which are before us and take the other course of moving backward towards disintegration and decay.
Not only do nations and empires move as I have indicated, but there is another tendency of movement to be considered. Old countries which are over-populated and highly industrialised are apt to recede, just in exactly the same way as new and undeveloped dominions tend to go forward very rapidly. As the focus of power and wealth moves within any group of nations from one centre to another or from the centre to the extremities, so the incidence of responsibilities and burdens must equally and proportionately shift. I do not believe that in considering this incidence of 785 responsibilities and burdens there is any mechanical formula which we can follow. We have had an example in recent years of a formula being made out in this respect. It was the formula of comparing population combined with trade tonnage, as between the various portions of the Dominions. A formula of that sort is not worth the paper it is written upon. There is only one formula, and that is mutual and voluntary agreement between the parties concerned. It is very evident that quite recently there have been signs of this movement of responsibilities and burdens. There has been a very evident sign in the Peace Treaties that the Dominions are prepared to accept responsibilities and take a position and status in the world generally and interest themselves in the world's affairs. We have seen the part they have taken in connection with the Peace Treaties and they are signatories to the League of Nations. That is a great step forward in which Canada and South Africa are in the van, closely followed by Australia and New Zealand, with India behind, but following very rapidly also.
It is all very well to say that the Dominions should accept this responsibility, seeing that they have reached a state of autonomous power, and be satisfied with it. There are certain anomalies involved between that condition and the condition of co-operation which we want to achieve. For instance, there is the anomaly between complete autonomy and collective action. These two things do not normally go well together. There is also the difficulty of each of the Dominions, possibly, offering separate advice to the Crown. I do not believe, however, that these difficulties are very great or insuperable, but I think that possibly it may be desirable to effect some minor changes in our constitutional practice. I do not want to investigate these difficulties in the realm of foreign affairs. I will leave that to others. But I do want to investigate them in the realm of Imperial defence. There is very little distinction between the two. They go hand in hand, and what applies to the one in a very large measure applies to the other. My chief object is to investigate the question of Imperial defence, and, where there are autonomous powers working together, how that co-operation which is so necessary can best be achieved between them. Which is the best way of securing 786 concerted action without infringing the principles of freedom and autonomy? To my mind, if we can achieve some solution on those points, we shall have gone a long way towards setting up a model for the whole world, at any rate, for the League of Nations or any association of nations. Certain specific problems are in front of us to-day, and if one unfolds a map of the world and attempts to study those problems, one sees that if you put your finger on any country in any part of the globe, the British Empire is interested in one way or another up to the hilt.
Those problems do not affect the different parts of the Empire in the same degree, and that is where the difficulty of co-operation will come in. For example, Australia and New Zealand are interested in what is known as the Pacific question, in the idea of a white Australia, in the position of Japan, and in the encroachment of that country among the islands. On the other hand, South Africa has few external problems. She has troubles of her own of a different kind. Canada is not interested to anything like the same extent as Australia in the Pacific problem, although she is interested to some extent, in the same way that America is. Great Britain is very deeply involved and committed in Eastern Europe, in the Middle East and in Asia. If one considers these matters one sees that the British Empire in one way and another, is involved over the whole face of the globe. Is each portion of the Empire to deal with its own particular problem and to ignore the rest? Will South Africa stand aloof, saying that it is no concern of hers? Will the Dominions stand aloof, saying that Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia are no concern of theirs? Will Canada give its quota towards the defence of the Pacific? In what way are these burdens going to be distributed among the various parts of the British Empire. Will they recognise that the security of one part of the Empire is the security of the whole? Will they go in for the principle which was enunciated two days ago in the House of Commons, Each for all and all for each; or will they go on some other principle?
This is the true principle of co-operation, but it needs close study and definition. It is a matter of very great urgency, as I hope to point out in a moment. I do not wish to go into great detail, or, indeed, to probe at all into the 787 Pacific question and the question of a white Australia. I have not enough information, and I doubt, if any Member of this House has enough information, to go into it. There are other sides to the question, and it is extremely complicated. I know well the arguments of those who see in the Pacific problem extreme danger—the overcrowded East, the colour bar, Japan's position in China, the encroachment southward of Japan amongst the islands of the Caroline and Marshall groups, the possibility of Japan seizing the Philippine Islands, and the awakening of China. All these questions have been raised and pointed to as an extreme danger in the Far East. On the other hand, there are those who do not think so seriously of the situation. They point out that the distances are almost too great for war to take place, and the motives are really small. The colour question is an economic question, and if it is looked upon from the economic point of view it is easily solved. The national sentiments of those countries is generally opposed to war, and competition in armaments has only just begun. In considering these matters, however, there is one which stands out above all the rest as a matter of fundamental importance. Competition in armaments is beginning or has begun, and if it is allowed to reach a certain point, and to pass that point, there is no stopping it, and war is the inevitable result. It is essential that that competition should be stopped at the very earliest possible moment. I do not mean by that that it has to be done within a month or two, or in a great hurry. It must be done with deliberation, because it is a very difficult problem.
I do not mean that we should give up all idea of defending in an adequate manner the Pacific. That has to be undertaken, and possibly it will be necessary to provide naval bases and defences at places in the East. I do say, however, that it is essential that the whole situation in the Far East should be adequately reviewed by a Conference comprising not only America and ourselves but Japan as well. I believe, myself, that the sound principle is to extend the Japanese Treaty until the result of that Conference is known. I will go one step further, and point out to Australia the extreme desirability, both from the 788 point of view of defence and from the economic point of view, of encouraging emigration to her countries and the population of her Northern belt at the earliest possible moment, and of giving every facility that can be given to enable that to be done. That applies also to our own Government. In these days everyone will agree that economic development is of far greater importance in the world than anything else. To my mind, if the whole Empire collaborates and speaks together on these important questions, it will be able to achieve a very great deal, not only for itself but for the benefit of the world at large. To Great Britain, Eastern Europe and Asia are of very pressing importance. I do not know whether it is sufficiently realised that we have troops in Silesia, in Constantinople, in Palestine, in Mesopotamia, in India, and in China at Hong Kong. All along a perimeter of 8,000 miles there are disturbances of one sort or another and of varying degrees of importance. This country is not really fitted to undertake a function of those dimensions. If we are going to let this Pacific question wander on until it gets to a point where we have to compete in armaments, we cannot manage these responsibilities all over the world ourselves. I do not want to go into the colour question, but it is a subject which has to be covered. It must be borne in mind that this colour question is one that may split the Empire between the East and West. The Dominions are apt to take one point of view, and our Eastern populations are apt to take another point of view, and it is in the handling of this question by Indian statesmen that this matter will be very largely solved. But I would press the point that if the arguments are removed from the social basis and based more on the economic question—because it is more a question of the standard of life than a colour question—I am credibly informed by those who know, that it will be rightly understood in India at least, and, I believe, also in Japan.
I have run over some of these problems lightly, but it is quite evident from what I have said that we require some machinery for co-operation. We have none at the present moment. The resolution of the 1917 Conference laid down the principle of an association of autonomous nations for the Empire, of the equality of nationhood, and of continuous Cabinet 789 consultation. It is this question of continuous Cabinet consultation which is a little difficult to understand. This implies either periodical conferences, or periodical Cabinet meetings, or something of that sort. Personally, I think there is very little in a name, but I should sincerely like to go back to the old name of an Imperial Council. That does not imply the haphazardness of a conference, nor does it imply the rigidity of a Cabinet. But some standing machinery of that nature is- wanted, and I believe myself that the only satisfactory solution is to have resident Ministers from the Dominions in this country. Spasmodic consultations once a year for a few days are of no value, and I do not believe for one moment that the mere fact of having resident Ministers means that the Dominions should be committed to any line to which they do not want to be committed. The whole thing could be based on freedom and co-operation. Such a Council could deal with foreign affairs, trade and matters of defence.
Fortunately, we have some machinery for Imperial Defence in this country, though it is rusty, as it has not been working for some years past, and that is the Committee of Imperial Defence. I believe if that Committee is reconstructed on proper lines, it will give us what we want—a real Committee of Imperial Defence with the Dominions in it. The Prime Minister and one or two others are members of the Committee of Imperial Defence, but I think the Prime Ministers of the Dominions ipso facto should be all members of the Committee as well. But no Committee of that sort is of real value unless you have some technical advice, not the sort of technical advice that has happened in the past, individual officers occasionally coming up to register their opinions on problems, but that technical advice should be given by a sub-Committee, which is in continual session, and is studying these matters as they change from day to day, and is only there for an advisory purpose. In a period such as we are passing through of great financial stringency and transition, I think a great deal of money spent on armaments is a great waste, and that much more can be done by research and close study, and a Committee of this sort would give that study which is so requisite to the problems 790 which I have tried to set before the House to-day.
So far as this country is concerned, the late Prime Minister, the War Minister, the late First Lord and the late Air Minister have all agreed that it is desirable to set up a Committee of this sort, that is to say, from the point of view of Great Britain, because they were not speaking for the Dominions. But if it is desirable from the point of view of Great Britain, how much more desirable is it from the point of view of the Empire as a whole. I have been harping on this subject now for two years, and I apologise to the House for venturing to speak on it again, but I have felt all along in the last two years the essential necessity of having a sub-Committee of this sort, that I have ventured to bring it before the House again. I believe that co-operation can be obtained in this way, and that it is the only way it can be obtained. We must grip these problems at once. If we do not, they will get beyond our control altogether. The future, to my mind, lies in the hand of the statesmen who are assembling here to-day. They have a very difficult and a very important task, and we are fortunate indeed in having them with us to solve these knotty problems.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. HOARE
I cannot help thinking that the Leader of the House will feel it has not been in vain that he has allowed this day for this debate, if for no other reason than to enable my hon. and gallant Friend to make the very interesting and able speech to which we have listened. I shall try not to go over any of the ground that my hon. and gallant Friend has traversed, but to fill in, if that is possible, some of the gaps he may have left. It seems to me that, although this Conference of Premiers is in no way a standing assembly, it is faced with two difficult and constitutional questions—first, what are to be the relations between the six self-governing British Commonwealths, and, secondly, what are to be the relations of these Commonwealths to the world outside? I propose to direct my attention to the second of these questions—what are to be the relations of the six British Commonwealths to the world outside? In other words, what is to be the broad outline of our Imperial foreign policy, and what is to be the machinery by which it is to be con- 791 trolled? Obviously, if the unity of the Empire is to be maintained, we must have a common Imperial foreign policy, and we must have a means of expressing it. We must have both. We must have a policy and we must have machinery, but what I would venture to suggest to the House, at any rate at the present moment, is that it is the policy that chiefly matters, and that the machinery, important as it is, is at any rate at the present moment of secondary importance. If the Empire is once agreed upon the broad outlines of its Foreign Policy then, I believe, the details and machinery will become much more easy of solution. In a single sentence, policy first and machinery afterwards.
Let me suggest to the House in one or two very short sentences what I believe the broad outlines of this Imperial foreign policy should be. Let me begin with Europe. In beginning with Europe I do not suggest that Europe is necessarily still the chief centre of world-policy. I begin with Europe for historical reasons, and from the fact that we in the British House of Commons are most directly concerned with European questions. I believe when, as I hope, the Premiers of the Dominions come to consider the present position of Europe they will find that there are two dominant facts in the situation. First of all they will find that, much as we should like to cut ourselves adrift from European complications, we cannot, after signing the Peace Treaty, altogether go back to a policy of isolation from Europe. I do not think I need argue that fact. It is obvious to every Member of this House.
The second fact with which they will find themselves faced will be this: They will find Europe to a great extent in a state of flux and chaos. I believe when they consider the state of affairs they will come to the conclusion that the one solid fact amidst this changing sand is the Anglo-French friendship. If that is so, they will agree that the Anglo-French friendship, whether it be in its present form or whether further defined in some Treaty, must be the basis of Imperial policy in Europe. Having said that about Europe, let me pass to what possibly is the more important field of world-policy, the field of America. Just as Anglo-French friendship must be the basis of our European policy, so perhaps, 792 more important still, must Anglo-American policy be the basis of our world policy. I hope, therefore, during the Conference, although it be a British Conference, that our own representatives and the Imperial Premiers will be kept in the closest touch with public opinion in America and with its representatives here. I put such value upon Anglo-American friendship that there is scarcely any sacrifice I would not make to strengthen it. On that account I suggest that the Conference should consider amongst its most urgent duties the removal of any differences which may at present exist between the various branches of the Anglo-Saxon race.
§ Sir S. HOARE
Let me suggest one. My hon. and gallant Friend has already alluded to it. Let me suggest the question of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. It seems to me that no alliance should be entered into or renewed that is likely to embitter our relations with any one of the six British Commonwealths or the United States. I do not think it can be denied that the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in its present form—I emphasise that reservation—its present form, has embittered feeling in the United States, and is occasioning a good deal of anxiety in Australia and other British Dominions. I say then let the Anglo-Japanese Alliance be considered by the Imperial Premiers from that point of view. Let it be considered, if I may make this suggestion, as publicly as possible. I believe the Anglo-Japanese Alliance is mainly a question of public opinion. Public opinion must be kept informed as to its implications. If public opinion is misinformed there will be trouble, either with Japan, or with America and the British Dominions.
Obviously the Anglo-Japanese Alliance has been of great advantage to this country. We have been glad to be allied to an energetic and enterprising race like the Japanese. We were glad to have their assistance during the war. But it must be remembered that there is another side to it. In 1902, when the first Alliance was signed, the main object of the Treaty was the integrity of Korea. Where is Korea to-day? In 1905, when the Alliance was renewed, what was chiefly in our minds was the Russian 793 danger. To-day there is no Russian danger.
§ Sir S. HOARE
The Czarist power is destroyed, and no one suggests that a Communistic Republic is likely to enter into an alliance with the one capitalistic Power in the Far East. In 1911, when the Alliance was renewed for the third time, great stress was laid upon the integrity of China and the policy of the open door to the trade of all nations. Since then we have seen the Japanese ultimatum of 1914 and we have seen the Japanese occupation of Shantung recognised and ratified by the Great Powers in Paris. In view of these facts, I say if the Anglo-Japanese Alliance is to be renewed it must be modified. First of all it must be modified to meet the just demands of China. China is a great sovereign power. Very often we are apt to underrate Chinese potentialities and the great future of the 450,000,000 people of its Empire.
§ Sir S. HOARE
Secondly, I suggest that the Treaty should be modified to meet, as far as possible, the American objection. It will be remembered that in 1914 a Treaty was made between the United States and ourselves which, although it did not amount to an arbitration treaty in theory, actually did so in practice. It is not, however, quite clear whether this agreement is an equivalent to the arbitration treaty that is contemplated in the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. In other words, it is not clear, and it has never been officially stated either by ourselves or by the Americans or the Japanese that that Clause of the 1911 Treaty excludes altogether and in every way a war between the United States and ourselves.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I do not think it has been stated either by the United States or the Government of Japan.
An answer was given on this point by the Postmaster-General when he represented the Overseas Trade Department on 1st March, in which, after describing the position, he said:My hon. and gallant Friend will understand from my answer that our relations 794 with Japan are so arranged as not to involve us in the possibility of a conflict with the United States of America. As regards the second part of the question, no official communication has been made to the United States of America, as there is no reason to believe that the responsible authorities are in any doubt as to the true position."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1921; col. 1574, Vol. 138.]
§ Sir S. HOARE
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for reading that answer. I have got it here, but I do not think it quite meets my point. I can show that in the United States and Japan there is considerable doubt about this point, and if the alliance is to be renewed, I suggest that there should be no doubt upon this subject, and that Clause 4 should be clearly defined so that there can be no doubt at all. Be that as it may, the wisest course to take is that suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken, namely, that we should not contemplate a continuance of the Japanese Alliance in its present form at all, but that we should use the 12 months that must elapse before the alliance comes to an end for a conference of all the Powers who have interests in the Pacific. By that I mean not only ourselves and the representatives of the six British Commonwealths, but also the United States, Japan, and China. If during the next 12 months some such conference were brought together, it would be the best means of meeting the two or three grave problems which now face all of us.
§ Sir S. HOARE
Yes, I said six British Commonwealths and I include India. There is the racial question of Japanese emigration, and also the question of disarmament. Those questions could be far more effectively approached if a conference was held in which all the Pacific Powers who have interests in the Pacific were called upon to take part. The House will see that what I suggest as the broad outline of a common foreign policy for the Conference to discuss is Anglo-French friendship in Europe and Anglo-American friendship in Europe and the world, and a Conference for a consideration of all questions affecting the Pacific. It will be found, although the details of my suggestion may not meet with the approval of everyone, that at least there in a basis for a common Imperial policy, and if that basis is found, I believe, as I 795 said at the beginning of my speech, that the details and machinery will be much more easy of solution To-day, and possibly even next year, it is too early to define, once and for all, the details of our Imperial machinery. The immediate need is to reach a common policy and in the meanwhile to carry out their wishes. If Canada wishes separate diplomatic representation in Washington, or Australia separate representation at Tokio, Canada and Australia, being independent Commonwealths, are perfectly free to have it. This seems to be merely a question of convenience. I do not bother myself with the hypothetical question of what is to happen if the Canadian Ambassador at Washington and the British Ambassador disagree. I do not trouble myself with the hypothetical question of what is to happen if one of the British Commonwealths wishes to go to war and the other members of the British Empire do not. Those I suggest are hypothetical questions which are not in the least likely to arise. The Anglo-Saxon race are a practical race of friends, and I cannot imagine any state of affairs in which questions of this kind are likely to become practical questions. Future problems will be met much more easily when the big questions of policy are got out of the way and we need not bother ourselves with these hypothetical questions which are not likely to arise.
If the Empire Premiers want a particular form of Imperial organisation, we in the House of Commons will give those views our sympathetic consideration. If they desire to remove Dominion relations from the Colonial Office to some other Department I believe we are immediately ready and willingly ready to make the transference. We have no reservation in our mind when we say that we frankly and freely recognise them as Premiers of co-equal British Commonwealths. This equality we all of us are anxious to harmonise with the continuance of Imperial unity, and being friends and being Anglo-Saxon who have shown for generations past that we can solve in a practical way these constitutional questions, I have no anxiety whatever as to our ability to harmonise these two ideals in the future.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
As one who has been taking a little interest in the subject referred to by the hon. and gallant 796 Member who spoke last, it is only right that at least some statement should be made from these Benches as to the views which are held by the Labour party regarding the Anglo-Japanese Treaty. We welcome the idea that all the Premiers of our Colonies have been invited to a conference with the object of hammering out what one might describe as a common policy for the British Empire. That is an innovation, and if it had been carried into practice many years ago there would have been greater freedom, and there might also have been better relationships between this country and other parts of the world. I wish to emphasise a point regarding the treaties which have been entered into between this country and Japan, having as their object the allocation of certain rights and interests of Japan and of Britain in other parts of the world. The first treaty of 1902 laid down certain rights and interests of Britain and of Japan in China and Korea. The preamble guaranteed the independence and integrity of Korea and also of China.
The hon. and gallant Member put a very pertinent question to the Government of to-day, who I imagine are responsible for the continuation of the foreign policy of those who preceded them. He asked: Where is the independence of Korea to-day? Korea has become, not merely a province of Japan, but a feudal serf of Japan. Her schools are staffed by Japanese educationists, her population has been completely shorn of any of its old tradition or ideals, and her people are permitted by the Japanese to go only a certain length in education. They are not permitted to go into the higher realms of education or into the professional ranks. They are looked upon by the Japanese almost entirely as hewers of wood and drawers of water with the necessary technical knowledge to enable them to carry out those duties. A Korean who desires to leave Korea to go to America to extend his education is not permitted to do so, and any Koreans who of late years have managed to get to America to pursue their education there have had to escape almost like criminals from a prison.
Practically, the same preamble was put into the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of 1905, but in 1911 it had vanished, and the only country which had its independence and integrity guaranteed and which was affected by the Treaty was China. 797 What guarantee have the people of this country or the people of China, who are intimately connected with that treaty, that the same fate does not await them as has already fallen upon the inhabitants of Korea? It has been stated by a prominent Japanese diplomatist that they expected in Japan to take 44 years to annex Korea. They did it in something like twelve years. They took away its independence in 1910, the year immediately preceding the last Anglo-Japanese Alliance. As the Leader of the House informed me only last week, there was nothing in that treaty of 1911 which guaranteed the Korean people their independence and the integrity of their nation. By the weakness of the British Government, Japan has been allowed to flout and to break the treaty entered into between this country and Japan in 1905.
1.0 P. M.
We come down to the war period, when, although Japan was our ally, she did her best to prevent China entering into the war. One of her leading statesmen said that they could not contemplate China entering the war because they viewed with apprehension the moral weakening of a population of 400,000,000 people. They were afraid of them coming into contact with European ideals and education and European civilisation. Those soldiers who might have been brought from China when they had gone back would have carried with them new ideas which in the main would have been antagonistic to the well-known intentions of Japan with regard to the independence and integrity of China. Along with other Members, I have been pressing for a revision of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty. That treaty is an endeavour to safeguard what this country and Japan consider to be their rights in China. What of the rights of the Chinese in China? Are not the Chinese to be considered at all? Are not the Chinese people to be asked to take part in the revision of this treaty which affects the well-being of the Chinese people themselves? Seemingly, Japan and Britain are going to arrogate to themselves the right to say that parts of China are to belong to or to be ruled by either Britain or Japan. As a matter of fact, after the Russian-Japanese War Japan informed the world that she had gone into that war with the object of taking from Russia and restoring to China those parts of Manchuria which were occupied by Russian 798 forces. She succeeded in taking them from Russia, but she has kept them herself. She has not restored one inch of the territory which she won from Russia. On the other hand, she has added thousands of square miles to that territory and holds it in defiance of China or any other Power. The same thing happened in her endeavour to keep China out of the war. Japan and all the European Powers were looked upon as having equal rights in China, rights which were guaranteed by Japan in the last treaty with this country, and in her various understandings with America. Japan actually forced upon China, as the result of an ultimatum, a modified form of the obnoxious 21 demands to which she tried to get China to agree, and which would have made the whole of China practically a protectorate of Japan.
Our ally, with whom we are going to renew our treaty for another year, because we cannot abrogate it, unless we give a year's notice, broke her sacred word and endeavoured to make of China that which she has already made of Korea, a dependency of Japan. Even the treaty that was ultimately entered into after the withdrawal of the fifth group is one which gives to Japan all the advantages and takes away from China any benefits. We on this side of the House, who believe in freedom not only in this country, but also in other parts of the world, want to know what this Government intends doing. What are to be the terms of the new treaty? We have tried to get from the Government some sort of outline of the new treaty, if a new treaty is to be arranged, but we have failed. I trust that the Government are going to submit an outline of that treaty, if not to the House this afternoon—I do not expect that we can have that—at least to this conference of the Dominion Premiers, that it is going to be hammered out there, and that we are going to have a common policy with regard to all these questions. I go even further. I would endeavour to impress upon the Government the absolute necessity of recognising the moral obligations that still rest upon their shoulders as the result of the first Anglo-Japanese Treaty which guaranteed the independence and integrity of Korea. It has been by our slipshod methods, our slackness, our weakness, the vacillating policy which the Government pursues in order to win what is being looked upon as 799 the rising Power of the East to our side, that we have permitted this particular Power to take away from a small part of the world its nationality and all that nationality means to those people. I submit even with regard to America, with the strained relationships, with the difference in outlook, with the various questions that have already arisen in America between our own kith and kin there and the Japanese, while we have in the last Treaty a Clause which safeguards us from being brought into a war on the side of Japan, in such a horrible eventuality as a war between Japan and America, I think that, nevertheless, we should be left with our hands entirely free in the matter. I think we should be left to cement our friendship more firmly with our own kith and kin. It is not Dominion Conferences only. It is not merely trying to get our own Colonies to be bound more closely by ties of friendship as well as ties of relationship to the Mother Country, but we should endeavour to get all the English-speaking nations of the world to be bound together, because they possess common ties, and there ought to be common understanding between them. Again I say I hope, when this Colonial Conference is held, we are going to have no more of this pegging out of other countries, without asking their consent, in favour of other countries. The Anglo-Japanese Treaty about to be entered into is not a question merely for this country and Japan, or even for the Colonies, it is a question which even more vitally affects the Chinese people, and I trust that any Treaty that is going to be entered into will be a Treaty which will square, as the Leader of the House assured me it will square, not merely in letter, but in spirit with the terms of the Covenant of the League of Nations. If this is done, if it squares with the letter and the spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations, if we are not going to have Treaties that are likely to place people such as the Chinese people or the Korean people merely as serfs to another and outside Power, if we are going to recognise their nationality, if we are going to recognise that even though they are what is sometimes called a backward race, it is our duty as a higher race to reach down a hand and lift them up to our level—if the new Treaty is to be in those terms, I can assure the right hon. 800 Gentleman he will have no heartier support in this House than that which he will receive from this side.
Sir J. D. REES
My hon. Friend who has just addressed the House yesterday reduced the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Marriott) to a state of despair. To-day he has reduced me to a state of perplexity. He never touched on this all-important point, what has the British taxpayer to do with the Koreans? Why should not the Japanese annex Korea? Korea is as near to Japan as Ireland is to Britain. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has ever travelled there, but I have. The Koreans are the laziest people in the world. The Korean is the only man I know who is too lazy and too well dressed to sit down if he happens to be standing up. There is nobody like him on the whole face of the earth. The consequence is that the people of Korea, though possessing some artistic instincts, naturally fall under the domination of the vigorous and neighbouring islanders, and that is probably their natural and proper destination. At any rate, why does the hon. Gentleman object? What is it to him or his friends that Japan should annex Korea, and why should we gird at this great island Empire, so much like ourselves in all respects, whose sympathy and friendship is so valuable to us, and whose co-operation was of such immense value to us during the War?
Sir J. D. REES
Why do we talk about "self-determination" or some other copybook maxim with which the British taxpayer has no concern whatever? The hon. Gentleman says he fears the Japanese will come to annex China. He might as well say we will annex the Continent. Does he think the Japanese can annex 400,000,000 of Chinese whose moral regeneration has begun, he says, because they have been brought into contact with Western civilisation? I protest against this attitude of moral superiority to the rest of the world. The hon. Gentleman spoke in the name of freedom. I sincerely hope his love of freedom will go the length of leaving people in this country who do a day's work some freedom to retain some portion of what they themselves own or earn.
I find myself to-day in the very unusual position of claiming the indulgence of the 801 House for venturing to address it on a subject like India. I want to refer for a moment to the importance in this Conference of doing justice to what I believe to be the natural and proper aspirations on the part of our Indian fellow subjects to acquire an equal status throughout the British Empire with the European subjects thereof. I do not say white men, because the distinction of black and white is one which should always be avoided, more particularly because the people of India are no more black than we are, and in fact throughout a great part of the world a white skin is looked upon as a sort of leprous eccentricity and is by no means regarded as beautiful or superior. It is a great satisfaction to me that among those who will attend the Conference is a distinguished Indian Prince and an eminent Brahmin, and it is an additional source of satisfaction to me that the latter comes from the Presidency of Madras in which I spent so many years of my life, and which has produced so many statesmen, and can produce as many more as are wanted. I rejoice exceedingly that this Indian Prince and this eminent Brahmin gentleman will be there to deal with the problems which arise in which India is interested. I care nothing myself about the form which this Conference takes or the title given to it. I would say at once,For forms of Government let fools contest;What e'er is best administered is best,and I am satisfied, provided we have a meeting in which distinguished representatives, like these, of India will take part, because they are admirable representatives. One represents the old world of the Rajput aristocracy, the other an equally old world, the highest intellectual creature I think in the world, the product of centuries of self-restraint and refinement, an Indian Brahmin. I hope they will have an opportunity of urging the freedom and status of the Indian all over the Empire, something in which my hon. Friend the Member for Seven-oaks (Sir T. Bennett) and I are so deeply interested. I hope that on all occasions whenever the two races come together at least there shall be no possibility in future of reserving an area for what is called white occupation. It is impossible to carry on on these lines. I do not know that I should 802 have minded very much if it had been possible, but I know it is not, and therefore I earnestly hope that when the Conference meets this matter will be dealt with in the spirit which I have urged. I do not believe that self-determination will work, that anywhere except in Utopia small nations can be put on the same footing as large nations, and I do not think it is in the least desirable that they should be. It is no use making constitutions in which you fly in the face of Providence, but I believe, when you have many nations constituents of one Empire, that you must provide for an equal status for them in all parts of that Empire.
I want to express a hope that this Conference when it meets will not be led into the sort of mistakes which have been made by the Labour Conference of the League of Nations and will not endeavour to legislate in similar fashion for peoples under absolutely different circumstances, different climates, different methods of life, differing in all respects, only offering points of contrast, none of similarity. I hope they will have sufficient collective sense to abstain from trying to settle all those problems. They must be fought out, and can only be fought out, for each nation separately, according to the requirements and needs of each nation. An hon. Member said that the question of Indians in Africa could easily be settled upon an economic basis. I sincerely hope that the hon. Gentleman will communicate that method of settlement to the Joint Committee of the Lords and Commons which is engaged in dealing with this problem, because it will be news to every one of us that it is easy of settlement on any basis, and I am sure we shall only be too glad to receive from my hon. friend enlightenment upon this problem. It is true that the economic basis is the one that should govern the deliberations of the Conference, and I sincerely hope that they will take into account the urgent and pressing problem of improving trade in this time of commercial depression and economic stress. I hope they will arrange that one part of the Empire, nay, one department of this country, should help another to dispose of stocks, let us say, for instance, the produce of Nyasaland, the produce of East Africa. Let their tobacco be smoked by our sailors and soldiers; let all these departments work together for good, so that one may help another to keep the 803 British end up in these times of exceeding great depression and crisis; and let the economic factor by all means govern the Conference.
My hon. Friend opposite was very sanguine that the Conference should be governed by the rules and the conventions of the moribund League of Nations. I, on the contrary, hope that he and his friends will see, in the new movement by President Harding and in the failure of the old movement, some great future in which we shall have something like a real League of Nations, not based upon any canting and sentimental principles, but a practical League, which will bring to pass the objects which he, and which I, and which all of us have at heart. As to the reduction of armaments, of which he spoke, I do not know that the Conference will be able to accomplish anything in that respect. They might, of course, imitate the League of Nations and inform all those nations which have no armaments that they should be reduced, and leave all those nations which have armaments as they are. That is the inevitable result of attempting to deal in that manner with a subject of that class. There is only one way in which armaments can be reduced, and that is by favouring and fostering trade and hard work, in every nation, and let them all be too busy in making money to think about fighting. I hesitate very much to enlarge upon any of these things, because apparently the field we are covering is quite inexhaustible.
I come back to where I began, and I rejoice in the wisdom of the Government in associating the great Indian Empire with the conference which is about to sit. I feel that hardly any of us can now speak with much certainty of the feelings of India. I know affairs there are in a critical condition and that the old order changes. In the Presidency of Madras, for instance, they have just voted for female suffrage, but I wish to express in my last words the sincere hope that true equality of status for Indians will be arranged at this Conference, and that in all that is done and said the fact will never be forgotten that just as conditions are critical all over the round world, so are they critical now in our Indian Empire, and it becomes everyone at this Conference, in this House, and outside, to speak in the most guarded manner, and to work to their utmost to produce 804 peace in that country, which is by no means, either from an economic or from any other point of view, the least important factor in the British Empire.
§ Sir C. TOWNSHEND
The interesting speeches we have heard in this Debate have brought home to me that the one great principle that we ought to apply to all these questions—I refer mainly to Imperial defence, because I have devoted many years to the study of Imperial strategy—is that of economy of force. It seems to me that that great fundamental principle should be applied, not only strategically, but commercially and politically to these questions. Strategy on land and sea has the same great fundamental principle, and therefore I venture to give an opinion on sea power. I should like to see the Dominions no longer make a money contribution to our fleet. I do not know the opinion of our higher authorities, but it seems to me, on the principle of economy of force, that the Dominions should begin to be building their own fleets. If you carried out that principle, we should see in the near future an Australian fleet policing the Pacific and the China Sea, we should see a Canadian fleet in the North Atlantic, and going back to the days of the East India Company when they had an Indian navy, we should see an Indian fleet policing the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, and so forth, and you would have the British fleet in home waters ready to move to any theatre which was threatened in time of war. That is simple and sound strategy. I would apply the same principle to the land forces. On the same system I would have the land forces framed on universal training throughout our great Empire, and if I had trouble in Egypt I would not send troops from England, but would reinforce it by the Cape to Cairo railway from South Africa. If I had trouble in India I should not mind. Supposing we had a mutiny on the same scale or larger than in 1857, I would take that emergency by the collar by troops from Australia and India. That great principle of economy of force applied throughout is worthy the consideration of this Conference. It means utilising all your means in your hands. It is the only principle to apply to these questions. It came through my mind as I have listened to this interesting Debate. Last night I had the privilege of dining with the Chamber of Commerce 805 of London and Mr. Massey, the Premier of New Zealand was there, and it did one's heart good to hear the loyal-hearted sentiments of that fine old man. I have never enjoyed such an evening for years. He said our great Dominions were heart and soul with their English comrades. We are one and the same blood throughout. I would ask hon. Members to remember the principle of economy of force in politics, strategy, and above all, in commerce.
§ Sir T. BENNETT
I do not propose to follow the hon. Baronet (Sir J. D. Rees) into the by-paths which he trod, but I should like to suggest to him that it would be a little worthier of his high ability and experience if he would devote them to something better than queering the pitch for the League of Nations. We do not all share his views in regard to the League of Nations. We do not regard it as moribund. Long may it live and long may he live. This Debate has lasted a little more than an hour, but in that brief time we have had some most valuable suggestions and criticisms. The speeches of the hon. and gallant Member for Fareham (Sir J. Davidson), and the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare), were full of most valuable suggestions. We had, for instance, the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for Fareham that the Pacific question must not develop into a competition in armaments. Let us hope that the world will be inspired by the name of that vast ocean and that the spirit of peace may guide the deliberations of all who take part in the Conference. This morning's news from Washington is exceedingly hopeful, and it seems to give a very solid and encouraging backing to the suggestion for a peace conference—a conference for dealing with the question of the Pacific. As to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, I think the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea used wise and helpful words when he said, "If it is to be renewed, let it at all events not be renewed in its present form." We must not take the treaty as it stands as the last word of wisdom or of policy in regard to our relations with Japan. It seems to me that we have to take into our view much wider interests than those relating exclusively to ourselves and Japan, and we have to consider various changes in the position which have occurred since that treaty was first negotiated. We 806 shall have to ask ourselves whether the military and naval factor on the side of Japan is precisely what it was when that alliance was entered into. The Japanese behaved splendidly during the War. They were loyal Allies. At the same time we have to recognise facts and we have to make sure that Japan is as potent, in a military and naval sense, as she was before the war. I have heard from more than one quarter that there has been an important change in that regard. We read recently of incidents in the Japanese Parliament which seemed to prove that the Japanese have not altogether profited in the highest sense by the war, and that the military spirit of the nation is not what it was, that the old cry, "Banzai," which gave expression to the loyalty of the nation and its willingness to self-sacrifice, no longer represents the spirit of the Japanese people it did before.
Then again we have to consider what is the attitude of India in regard to this. I was glad to hear the suggestion that if a peace conference was held India surely should be represented. The people of India have ideas in regard to the Japanese about which I do not care to speak very fully, but they would not like a treaty to be renewed in which Japan is depended upon for coming to the defence of India. That is one of the points in the old treaty which needs careful revision—I do not say rescission, but it is one of the points which should be considered. Again, let China be consulted freely in the policy that we are about to adopt. We do not know enough of China We do not hear enough of China. The papers are full of Ascot frocks and that sort of thing, but as to China, they are a blank. By accident yesterday we read that the Chinese Government was strongly opposed to the renewal of the treaty. A fact like that should help us to agree with the suggestion of my hon. Friend that the treaty should not be renewed in its present form. It should be more comprehensive, and if by any means the treaty can be turned into a guarantee for the peace of the Pacific we shall have solved one of the great problems of to-day.
I should like to deal with the question that has been raised as to the place of India in the Conference. I was very glad to hear one speaker repeatedly refer to the States composing that Conference as six Commonwealths, including the Govern- 807 ment of India. That marks a change and an advance. It is less than five years ago that I was present at a great National Congress at Lucknow, and I heard there a strong manifestation of opinion and protest against a suggestion that had been made for giving India a very subordinate part in some arrangements for a Commonwealth of the Empire which was then under discussion. Those of us who know the history of this subject will remember that a very able writer, who commands a large following and represents a very potent school of thought in this country, submitted a scheme, by which all the self-governing Dominions should be united, but that India should be subordinate to them, and that no Colony or Dominion in the British Empire should take part in this Commonwealth of Nations unless it had enjoyed full self-government. A discussion of that subject evoked a protest on the part of a very eminent speaker in the Congress, to the effect that India would never bow the knee to the Dominions, and that declaration produced a manifestation of applause from the 6,000 people of all races represented in that assembly that I shall never forget.
I mention these matters because it helps us to realise what a long step in advance has been taken when to-day in this House we heard India spoken of as one of the six Commonwealths sitting in a position of equality in the great gathering of the governments of the Empire. It marks great progress. We can follow the stages in that progress. There was the Imperial War Cabinet of 1917, and the Imperial War Cabinet of 1918, in both of which India was represented. Lord Curzon stated that the men who sat in the War Cabinet were not men of the old style but that they were going there as members for the time being of the governing body of the Empire. Here again is an indication of the progress that has been made. Mr. Borden, then representing the Dominion of Canada, said,The Ministers from the six nations "—Hon. Members will note the six is mentioned again,sit round the council board on terms of equality.Here, again, we get the equal status of Indian representatives in the Conference frankly recognised. That is not all. My 808 hon. Friend (Sir J. D. Rees) and I were members of the Committee which reported on the constitutional reform scheme for India, and in that Report reference was made to the rights of India in regard to fiscal autonomy. The Select Committee recognised India's right to consider her interests equal with those of the Dominions. We have, further, in that Report a recognition of the principle that the Government of India must be able to make such tariff arrangements as seem best fitted to India's needs as an integral portion of the Empire. That is a fuller recognition than has ever been given before to the status of India. Only a few days ago we had the Secretary of State for the Colonies speaking of the great progress that India has made under Lord Morley and Lord Chelmsford towards the great Dominion status. I have given sufficient proof of the enormous advance that India has made in her status. I gather that her representatives in the Conference will receive a warm welcome, and that the claims of India will be regarded fairly, generously, and liberally by the representatives of the other portions of the Empire. India has made this great progress, and one hopes that practical results will follow.
I do not like to put the matter in a contentious way, but if it were necessary it might be put to those in the Conference who are indisposed to deal liberally with India—if there are any, and I doubt it—that India is not defenceless. She has control over her own taxation, and soon she will be tackling the question of Imperial preference. A Committee has been, or shortly will be, set up in India for considering the terms on which preference should be given to other parts of the Empire. If such a reason were needed, that is a reason for dealing generously and fairly with India. I believe that she may count with confidence on fair and liberal treatment. I hope that other hon. Members who take part in the Debate will insist, even more emphatically than I have been able to do, upon India's claims in the coming Conference. There is one question with which I hesitate to deal because, in a sense, it is sub judice, and that is, the claims of Indians to fair treatment in outlying parts of the Empire. I do not wish to raise any contentious claim in regard to the policy which some Dominions have applied in their dealings 809 with Indians; but there are parts of our territory in which His Majesty's Government have it entirely in their hands to say to what extent political liberty shall be given to the Indians who leave their own country. Their claims have been put forward with much strength, and they have been listened to with sympathy, but I recognise it is a practical question attended with much difficulty. We can only hope that for that and many other problems affecting India which may came before the Committee a just solution may be found.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I feel sure that the House listened with sympathy to the plea which the hon. Member has put forward on behalf of India. He also spoke on behalf of that great nation, China. The two of them combined comprise a population of about 800,000,000 people and I think that I am right in saying that we do not devote sufficient attention to the thoughts and feelings which are troubling those great nations. The hon. Member desired on behalf of India that the reference to the defence of India should be removed from the Anglo-Japanese Treaty. I think that he is right. It does affect the minds of people in India. I believe that it was Disraeli who remarked that we must govern the races of the East through their imaginations, and if their imaginations are affected by such a reflection as they feel this reference to the defence of India to be as comprised in this Treaty, it surely ought to go. But what strikes me most in regard to this Debate is the way in which the Treaty has been whittled away to in fact almost nothing. One Member after another has got up to say that America must be satisfied. If she is satisfied China must be satisfied, because America will not be satisfied unless the integrity and sovereignty of China is provided for adequately. Therefore we are face to face with the question whether the Treaty shall be renewed at all.
Mr. Hughes has been quoted as in favour of a renewal of that Treaty, but anyone who reads his speech will see that it is carefully hedged in with ifs and buts. He stipulates for a white Australia. He is careful to state that that is a policy entirely in line with the American policy for a white America, and the Canadian policy of a white Canada. He too 810 stipulates that American opinion must be satisfied, and if American opinion and the American Government are to be satisfied the whole question of the integrity and nationality of China is provided for.
The hon. and gallant Member who introduced this question in a very lucid and able speech proposed a conference of the United States, Japan, and the British Empire with regard to armaments. I ventured to make the same proposal when discussing the Navy Estimates last year, and it has been made by many other people. There seems to be a universal consensus of opinion here and in America in favour of such a Conference. But the more I see of it the more convinced I feel that China must participate in that conference. It is true that China is a pacific nation. She has not gone in for naval armaments, though she has a large Army of, I believe, about half a million, but China is vitally concerned in the question of future policy of armaments in the Pacific. If Japan objects to disarmament, as a vote of the Diet seems to indicate, we shall be face to face with the question of how to bring about disarmament by compulsion without resorting to force of arms. And the only way in which this question can be dealt with is to have a means of controlling the iron and oil supplies which are sent to Japan mainly from the British Empire and the United States. But China supplies iron in large quantities to Japan, and I think that it would be a legitimate declaration of the Powers that as they intend to disarm themselves they are perfectly entitled to refuse such iron supplies and oil supplies as are devoted to armaments by a militarist people.
The hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) talked of two outlooks, the European and the Pacific outlook. It was pointed out in the Debate that we are facing more and greater responsibilities than we can bear, and it appears that as time goes on we shall have to drop more and more the European outlook in favour of the Pacific outlook. After all, two-thirds of the population of the world is round the Pacific, two-thirds of the population of the British Empire borders on the Pacific, and the shipping of the Pacific is likely, in the near future, to overtake the shipping of the Atlantic. Another aspect is the view which is likely to be taken by the people of this country of an alliance with Japan 811 so long as Japan pursues militarist ambitions. My remarks are made with no feelings of hostility. No one can withhold a feeling of great admiration for a nation which only commenced to trade with the outside world in 1856, which introduced its first labour-saving machinery in 1868, which is already one of the five great Powers, whose first steamer, a paddle-wheel steamer, was received as a present from Queen Victoria, and who now has 2,500,000 tons, gross, of shipping. But the people of this country, after going through the shock of the Great War, are very much averse to an alliance with any nation pursuing militarist ambitions.
We cannot get away from the naval armaments programme of Japan, providing for 16 super-dreadnoughts in 1928 in addition to the existing dreadnoughts, with Navy Estimates of £62,000,000 this year, representing 33 per cent. of the Estimates of Japan, and with combined Army, Navy, and Air Force Estimates for the year amounting to over half the expenditure of Japan. We are profoundly anxious that the liberalising elements in Japan shall thrive, but I question whether our alliance has not really helped the militarist party in Japan rather than the liberalising tendencies. The hon. Member who spoke for the Labour party recited the 21 demands enforced by ultimatum in May, 1915, which would have placed China under the tutelage of Japan. Japanese would have been in charge, and the police and the Chinese army and navy would have been practically under Japanese direction. That sort of militarist policy is wholly alien to the ideals which the people of this country desire to pursue. The Japanese naval personnel for this year, which is now 76,000, is greater than the German naval personnel was in the year 1914, whereas we have reduced our naval personnel by 30,000 since then. In such circumstances the people of this country will not agree to an alliance with Japan, but they will agree to an alliance which comprises America, which satisfies American opinion, satisfies the whole British Empire, and leaves China with considerable confidence that she will be allowed to pursue her own peaceful development by her own railways, her own educational system, and her own police force in the near future—an alliance which would comprise the great Powers 812 of the Pacific, the British Empire, America, Japan, and China herself.
§ Mr. SPOOR
I have no intention of following the subject of the fine speech to which we have just listened. Although I realise the tremendous need for a limitation of armaments at the earliest possible moment, I have not the technical knowledge of the last speaker and I could not deal with that particular subject. I would like to touch upon what has already been referred to in more than one speech, that is, what I regard as the fundamental problem that will confront the Conference when it meets. At the back of all the conflict in the world, at the back of practically all international problems, and becoming increasingly obvious everywhere, is the question of the colour bar. The problems that racial antagonism are raising everywhere are problems so complex and so vast that it is almost impossible in a discussion like this even to attempt to deal adequately with them. Yet I am convinced that there is no subject of greater moment and no question before the Conference which will have a more far-reaching consequence. All of us welcome, of course, the setting up of this Imperial gathering. We look upon it as a possible step to the establishment in the world, for the first time in human history, of a real commonwealth of free people. No one can look with equanimity upon the disordered condition of affairs that we have in the world now, and anything that seems to indicate a possible way out of the morass into which we have got will be welcomed by all of us. Some of us believe that the association which we believe is beginning between the great self-governing Dominions and this country, combining as it may the experience, the tradition, and the political freedom that have been secured in the old country, with the vigour, the virility, and the strength of the new countries, will do a great deal.
I think it was General Smuts who said some time ago that the British Empire as we have known it for years completely broke up in August, 1914. The day of empire based on conquest has certainly gone. We believe that the day of commonwealth, of association on a basis of real equality, has come, and if we accept that view there are certain conditions necessarily involved. To one or two, reference has been made. I do not 813 often find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for East Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees). But there was one point in his speech with which I certainly did agree, and it was a point which was later emphasised by the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir T. Bennett). Although the hon. Member for East Nottingham seemed to do it with Conservative reluctance, he did agree that one fundamental condition, one ideal that must inspire whatever negotiations take place, is that of equality of status. I concur with the hon. Member for Sevenoaks in his regret that the Member for East Nottingham should not exercise his undoubted gifts along rather better lines than merely gibing, as he so frequently does, at the idea of a League of Nations. But in recognising, as the hon. Member did, the supreme necessity for this idea of the equality of status, he insisted on that to which I assent completely. When we talk equality of States and of the colour bar we realise that the problem is not quite as simple as it might appear at first sight.
One realises the very peculiar position in which some of our Dominions are placed. They have their own difficulties and out of those difficulties have arisen in certain of our Dominions a rather definite attitude about Asiatics. The point I wish to emphasise is that whatever line Australia, New Zealand, or any other British Colony may take up on this colour question, that attitude has far-reaching effects outside the limits of their own countries. It is a point of view that cannot be stressed over-much. We hear a great deal of talk to-day of independence. It is a word which is very much overworked. It would be a great deal better if we heard more of interdependence. I would quote the case of India. Some of us have had during the last two or three years an opportunity of getting a more or less intimate knowledge of what is taking place in that country. India is winning, if she has not already won, her complete political freedom. India is still agitating; she is still in a dangerous condition of unrest. It would be impossible for anyone to exaggerate the gravity of the situation there. Fortunately, one does feel that since Lord Reading went out to that country there appear to be evidences of a more composed state of affairs. It looks as though Lord Reading was going to win the 814 confidence of the Indian people, and I am sure all Indian well-wishers desire that. But at the same time the country is still seething with unrest and political agitation, and one of the contributory causes of that state of affairs undoubtedly is the position of Asiatics in other parts of the world.
Reference has been made to East Africa. I do not want to discuss a question which is sub judice. At the same time one is justified in referring to the experience some of us have had in the last three or four weeks whilst sitting on the Joint Committee which has been considering the question of Indians in East Africa and their political status. One must be struck by the very real conflict of opinion in the evidence submitted to that Committee. We have had witnesses who stand whole-heartedly for the abolition of every kind of racial distinction. We have had, on the other hand, witnesses, representing I fear a not inconsiderable element in that Colony, who appear to believe that anything like real racial unity is altogether impossible. We have had evidence which has indicated that rather peculiar mentality to which my Friend the hon. Member for East Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees) made reference—that peculiarly arrogant attitude, which more than anything else has done great harm in our relations with coloured people. We found people who had a fairly considerable stake in the country who appeared to believe that the success of East Africa was bound up with the exclusion of the Asiatics altogether. Using that as an illustration it seems to me, one can truthfully argue that the big question with which the Imperial Conference will have to deal, is this question of racial antagonism. I hope they will succeed in evolving some policy for the destruction of this antagonism and for securing something like real racial unity. The state of affairs in East Africa is undoubtedly having serious effects in India. Those who know anything of recent happenings in India can quite understand, and perhaps in a manner sympathise with, the extremity of the views held by some Indian politicians. The holding of those opinions is undoubtedly stimulated in a large measure by the fact that in places like East Africa Indians have not got that political freedom and recognition which they have now secured in their own country. At this Conference, India will 815 be represented by two distinguished gentlemen, and one can only hope that their presence, and the contribution they will undoubtedly be able to make to the Conference's deliberations, will have, as one result, a diminution of hostility towards the Asiatic, and a recognition of the fundamental equality of people of all colours and all countries. Those Indians—and they are comparatively few—who have been demanding severance from Britain have been strengthened in their agitation by this unwise and short-sighted attitude towards their own fellow-countrymen.
The chief need to-day is imagination. I have come to the conclusion that so far as the Government is concerned, they have not shown any imagination at all. The policies they have been pursuing both at home and abroad during the last two years have not suggested the existence of any great imaginative power on the part of the Executive which at present largely controls our destinies. Yet I was rather glad in the Debate of the other night to hear some of the things in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who at present is Secretary of State for the Colonies. One may not agree altogether with the policy of the Colonial Secretary, but at all events the speech to which we listened did indicate imagination. I may add it is somewhat surprising when we find the House engaged in a Debate almost entirely on Colonial and Imperial questions, that the right hon. Gentleman is not present. I imagined the right hon. Gentleman would have regarded this occasion as sufficiently important to have come to the House, and given us the benefit of his own views on the question with which we are dealing. At all events he is one Member of the Government who does seem to possess the quality I have referred to. The Labour movement which has come in for a great deal of criticism has, at any rate, an international outlook. Whatever else the present Labour movement may lack, it does not lack imagination. The Labour movement, and Labour parties in all countries are seeing, and are emphasising, the fact of the common interests that unite workers in all countries, regardless of national barriers. Viewing the economic and industrial problems that face the world to-day, Labour believes that it is in the international spirit and by the exercise of 816 the international mind that these problems can be dealt with. In passing, may I express the hope that this Government here will do a great deal more than it has already done to secure ratification by this country of the agreement arrived at by the Washington Convention, and that in this matter our country will give a lead to others.
Whilst we desire the Imperial Conference to have very practical and beneficial results, we do not for a single moment imagine that this great association of free self-governing peoples is going to be built up merely on a commercial basis. It is not Colonial Preference or anything like that which is going to hold the new Commonwealth together. If at this Conference consideration of principles and not of expediency dominates its deliberations, it may lead to that real Commonwealth of which I have been speaking. It may even lead part of the way to that state of world organisation in which narrow nationalism will be completely forgotten. More and more, thoughtful people in all countries are coming to see that the only guarantee of world peace, the only guarantee of world security and of that progress of which it is an essential condition, lies in the securing of some such organisation as that. I want to repeat that it is not upon a commercial basis, Colonial Preference or anything else, but on an altogether wider view of world economics, that we shall be able to secure these conditions, which all sincere people desire. If this Conference, above all, can recover the peace mind—and we have not yet recovered it in our country—if it can be guided by what we regard as the traditional British instinct, which throughout all our history has made for freedom and justice, then it may be that this newborn commonwealth of free and equal peoples may make an immense contribution to a new and what all of us here sincerely hope will be a peaceful world.
§ Mr. BETTERTON
I should like to join with my hon. and gallant Friend (Sir J. Davidson) in thanking the Leader of the House for giving us the day for which we asked. At the same time, I make no apology for our asking for it, because I believe that the speeches we have already heard have more than justified the allotting of a day to this discussion. We have had many conferences during the last two years, and, in the opinion of 817 some of us, the Conference which opens next week may be more momentous in its consequences than any of those which have taken place either at Spa, Lympne, or anywhere else. I am not sure that the profound importance of the Conference next week is not more fully realised in some of the Dominions than it is in this country. The whole question of the Imperial connection was discussed in a Debate of singular brilliancy in the Dominion Parliament of Canada, and it has been discussed also in Australia and New Zealand. So far, therefore, as the Dominions are concerned, they know and realise, at least as well as we do, how much, for good or ill, may depend on the deliberations of next week. This is not altogether unnatural, because such questions as our relationship to America, the whole question of Imperial defence, the connection between this country and the Dominions, are at least as important as, say, the question of the sentiment of Poland. The recovery of the prosperity of Canada is as urgent to this country as was the recovery of Czecho-Slovakia. Therefore, when comparing the Conference which is about to take place and those many conferences which we have had since the Armistice, I think we are justified in saying that the one about to begin may be the most important of all. One result of the War, which has been referred to in more speeches than one, is of the most profound importance. One result undoubtedly has been that we now, perhaps for the first time, completely recognise the claim of each of the Dominions to the status of a nation within that community of nations which we call the British Empire. I do not think that that claim has ever been disputed, but whether that be so or not, undoubtedly it has never been recognised as it is recognised now. It is no new claim. As long ago as 1907, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, speaking in the Canadian House, made this remark:There were many who believed that these relations should be based upon the principle that the young daughter communities should be simple satellites revolving round the parent State; but others there were who held, and in my estimation rightly held, that the proper basis of the British Empire was that it was to be composed of a galaxy of nations under the British Crown.That claim, which Sir Wilfred Laurier made in 1907, has not only been admitted 818 and recognised to-day, but, as I venture to think, has been most gladly conceded, and it is now beyond all doubt or question. May I remind the House of one or two points which may have the most far-reaching effects as the result of this recognition? Firstly, we now admit freely the right and the claim of the heads of the Dominion Governments to member ship of the Imperial Council. Secondly, and perhaps most important of all, we admitted the representation of the Dominions in signing the Peace Treaty, which each of them separately signed as a separate Dominion. In the third place, the Dominions have direct representation on the Assembly of the League of Nations; and, fourthly—and this may have the most far-reaching results—they have a direct contact with the Secretariat of the League. It is obvious that in such a situation, with a group of nations comprising the British Empire, all with equal rights, the maintenance of the unity of the British Empire will put to the test the highest qualities of statesmanship both in this country and in the Dominions. It is obvious, too, that with this separate identity, if a wise policy is not pursued, and unless, in fundamentals at any rate, there is a common purpose and a common unity which inspires both the statesmen in this country and the statesmen in the Dominions, disruption may ensue. I entirely agree with the hon. Baronet (Sir S. Hoare) that there is not the smallest reason to suppose that there is any danger. In reading, as I have read, the Debates in the Dominion Parliaments, one sees that there were two points upon which there was no difference of opinion in any quarter. The first was that the future of this Empire lies rather in cooperation than in federation; and, secondly, there will have to be loyalty to the connection with this country. Hon. Members have asked, if Canada were committed, say, by South Africa or Australia, which have racial problems, to a course of policy of which Canada could not approve, how far would Canada be bound? And, conversely, is this country to accept responsibility for Acts of the Dominions, whether in the Dominions or elsewhere? The possibility that these dangers may arise, seems to me to show beyond all doubt the truth of what my hon. and gallant Friend (Sir J. Davidson) said, namely, that there is need for the closest co-ordination, the closest co- 819 operation, and the most intimate exchange of views.
The hon. Baronet (Sir S. Hoare) put a point in much the same words as were used by Sir Robert Borden in Ottawa. Sir Robert Borden pointed out the position now is such that, if this Empire were involved in serious war, it would be quite impossible for any of the Dominions to stand out, because, the moment you accept the principle of individual nationality, it is obviously inconsistent with the dignity of an individual nation to accept the advantages of belonging to this Empire and at the same time to shirk the responsibilities. On the other hand, if those Dominions have no voice or influence, they may be committed either to withdrawal from those responsibilities, or they may be called upon to take part in a war in the cause of which they had no voice, and which might, in their opinion, have been avoided had they been consulted. That, again, shows the most complete justification for the scheme, and the necessity for the closest consultation and co-operation. We know, oddly enough from Ottawa, some of the questions to be discussed next week. The first is the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, the second Imperial Defence, the third Imperial policy in foreign affairs, and the fourth the preparation for a subsequent Constitutional conference. There is one question which does not appear on the Agenda. I rather hope that some time or other it may. During the last few months we have given a large measure of self-government to Ireland. We have given a measure of self-government in the North, and a measure of self-government in the South. It has been accepted in the North; it has been rejected in the South. Furthermore, we have been told that at the present time a meeting between this Government and those who have the will and the power to direct the policy of Sinn Fein in Ireland is impossible. Is it too much to ask whether it be not possible to invoke the services of one or other of the representatives of the Dominion Parliaments now in this country, to see whether a conference might not be called, a conference which T. for my part, am persuaded is desired both by Ireland and by England.
There is one aspect of this question of Imperial defence which has not yet been touched upon. The last War has shown, 820 more than any previous war has shown, the enormous efficiency of what may be called the economic weapon. The economic weapon, if used properly, and used wisely, is one of very great effect. If it is used unwisely, it reacts upon the power which uses it. I believe that in the future the very threat of a blockade will be sufficient to bring any recalcitrant nation to book, and that, obviously, is the view of those who are responsible for the Covenant of the League of Nations, because the very first weapon under that Covenant which is to be brought into operation is the economic weapon. I do suggest it would be a proper matter for the consideration of the Imperial Conference that we might, after consultation with the British Dominions, see how far the common resources of the Empire might be used in case of need as an economic weapon. I will give one example. For the first six months of the last War we assumed a policy laid down in the Declaration of London, but it was found that there was an artificial distinction between absolute contraband and conditional contraband which was absolutely unworkable, and, after seven or eight months, we abandoned it. But it is significant that in the Conference, I think, of 1911, Australia proposed a resolution of regret that she had not been consulted on the question of the policy of the Declaration of London. Canada, on the other hand, took the view that the policy of the Declaration of London was a policy for this country only, and that Canada was not concerned with it. In this matter, I think, with all deference, Australia was perfectly right, and that that and similar questions are questions which should be discussed, and discussed now, between this country and the representatives of the Dominions. Therefore, I do venture to suggest that all these questions of economic defence and economic offence are part of the policy of Imperial defence which should be freely and frankly discussed in the coming Conference, and that plans should then be matured, after the freest discussion, with those who are responsible for the government of the Dominions.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I am very glad that, as one of those who rose to address the House before the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Betterton) had concluded, I did not succeed in curtailing what was, if I may be allowed to say so, a very able 821 and important speech. I would like to say one word on a question which has been raised by several preceding speakers, and that is the question of the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty. It would be very absurd on my part, or on the part of any hon. Member, to use any language which might seem ungrateful to a country after the very great assistance it has given to us. I would only put in two or three caveats that in the renewal of that Treaty full consideration will be given to two countries. The first of those countries is China. Although I have never been in China, I have been a very close student of its conditions, so far as I can gather from the literature on the subject, and I have had for many years the profoundest admiration for the Chinese people. I remember, in one of the many books I read on the subject—I believe it was by an American missionary—a passage which specially struck me. He was describing the extraordinary energy and industry of the Chinese people, and he put it in this graphic way, that there is not an hour almost of the twenty-four hours every day that the roads of China do not echo to the footsteps of the Chinaman going to the fields to work.
In a very remarkable book written by that great surgeon, Sir Frederick Treves, attention is called to the remarkable fact that the Chinese people wherever they go are a very great and adaptable race. They are able to take up that which other races have abandoned and turn it to profit. In view of the bad conditions in which they begin, they manage ultimately to make good living under all sorts of adverse conditions. That race, as Sir Frederick Treves says, the Chinese are one of the most remarkable examples of a race that can overcome what are apparently insuperable difficulties. There great national resources are as yet not very developed. They have passed from the despotism of the old régime into something beyond and what may perhaps seem sometimes rather feeble efforts to establish democratic government, with a nation which has never known anything like it throughout its history. Recently I met that most remarkable Englishman, Sir Lennox Simpson, who, as we all know, has been the adviser to the republican government, succeeding the late Dr. Morison, and I am glad to be able to say he is strongly of opinion that the elements tending towards the settlement of the 822 country are steadily increasing in strength and that there is in view a very great future and in all likelihood greater liberty, unity, and prosperity ahead of the Chinese. I think this whole policy which has lasted so many generations among the European countries, and latterly Japan, of thinking they have a right to parts of China, make themselves entirely masters of some of it, and control the destinies of the people in that part is a policy which ought to be abandoned for ever. It is not just. It is not practical. It always ends in disaster.
What is happening in Manchuria? If I were to endeavour to form an opinion of the conditions in Manchuria I would be driven to the decision that Manchuria might become a Japanese province. As a matter of fact you find there very much of what has happened to my own country. You find the conquered are the conquerors; for there, although Japanese rule exists, the Chinese, by their industry and their extraordinary ability have re-conquered that control of the industries of Manchuria which apparently have been taken away from them by the Japanese. I hope that any Treaty that may be renewed with Japan—I do not pronounce any opinion upon the general question—will ask that full recognition shall be given not only to the rights, liberties, and independence, but also to the susceptibilities of the Chinese people. There is also the point of view of our own great Dominions. I happen to know something of the feeling in the British Colonies. We all know the feeling of Australia. It would be very unwise of us not to take the feelings of our Dominions into consideration.
Finally, there is America. We cannot perhaps pronounce upon the whole way the world has to be governed. At the same time one must not forget the very strong feeling there is in America with reference to certain aspects of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. I regard a good understanding and co-operation with the United States and this country as one of the fundamental conditions for the future of the world. It may be that I have been misunderstood in some of the questions I have put or the statements I have made on behalf of my own country in relation to the wider question, but I beg those concerned to consider that all these interventions of mine have had at the back of 823 them the ideal that I was trying to remove what I regard as the last and great obstacle to that good understanding between the people of America and this country. Therefore, whenever any question arises here in which intentions, interests, or susceptibilities of the United States is concerned, I hold it is the highest duty of the British Government to give full consideration to the opinions of the people of America.
I read the other day in an extremely interesting production brought out by the "Manchester Guardian" an article dealing with the relations of the Japanese Government to Korea. I have read many illuminating articles on the subject. This one was by a great Japanese official. The ideas in it were quite the ideas of every conquering, every strong country, that holds in subjection the smaller country. Every argument used to justify the proceedings of Japan in Korea seem to me to be an echo of what I heard against Home Rule for Ireland. The Japanese doubtless have made a great many material improvements in Korea, but what has one to say about their great disregard for the rights of the Koreans who have as great a right as any other nation to their national existence?
On the general question, I will say nothing except on one other point raised by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and that is as to the particular form which our relations with the Dominions should take in future. I claim to be one of the pioneers of a better and closer relationship and greater co-ordination between our Dominions and ourselves. I have regarded it as part of the general question of the necessary divisions between local self-government and Imperial unity. I am satisfied that the growth of co-ordination and co-operation between the Dominions and ourselves, which is daily growing, will be all to the good. So far as the general question is concerned the House will not be surprised to hear that all roads lead to Ireland. The point has already been raised, I am glad to say, though in the absence of the Leader of the House, temporarily of course—because the right hon. Gentleman has shown an assiduity in attendance which is in very favourable contrast to that of some of his colleagues—but he did not hear, I 824 think, the observations of the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division. The hon. Gentleman initiated the suggestion that one of the problems should be discussed by the Imperial Conference should be the relations between Ireland and England. I urge that on the Government, speaking from my place here, to the leaders in the Conference. I think this offers a great opportunity of bringing to an end the stupid and disastrous struggle between England and Ireland, and it is an opportunity which ought not to be missed. I do not know a single one of the Colonial Premiers who has not over and over again expressed a strong belief in the principle of Home Rule for Ireland, and I do not know a single Dominion which they represent which has not in some way or other expressed the same view. Resolutions in favour of Home Rule for Ireland have been passed no less than five times by the Legislatures of Canada, and a similar Resolution was passed by the first Commonwealth Parliament in Australia.
As to the representatives of the Colonies now in this country, I do not think there is a single one of them who has not publicly committed himself to the principle of Home Rule for Ireland, not merely for the sake of Ireland, but in the interests of the Empire. We all know the famous message which General Smuts delivered to this country, in which he laid down the principle that either Ireland would get Home Rule or Ireland would destroy the Empire. I do not think anybody could put it higher than that. As to my old friend Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister of Australia, he has over and over again expressed himself in favour of Home Rule for Ireland. Sir Wilfrid Laurier has spoken at meetings which I have addressed in America and he has contributed to our funds. I do not know the record of the new Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Meighen, but a friend of mine in Canada has sent me some evidence on the subject, and I am informed that on 17th March, 1914, at the banquet of the St. Patrick's Society in Montreal, at which Mr. William Redmond, who sacrificed his life for the cause of the Allies, was present, Mr. Meighen said he could not dissociate himself from the cause of Home Rule. That is the opinion of the present Prime Minister of Canada.
I do not think there is a single representative of our great Dominions who has not 825 over and over again expressed himself strongly in favour of Home Rule for Ireland. There is another reason why we have a right to suggest that the Conference should take up this question. Ireland is a thorn in the side of this Empire throughout the whole world. I have been talking within the last few days to a friend of mine from Chicago, a very powerful and distinguished man there, whose father was even more distinguished, and he told me that one day he saw a procession which took 4½ hours to pass a point in Chicago, and it was a demonstration in favour of self-government for Ireland. In to-day's "Times" I saw a letter by a well-known writer who puts down as one of the first obstacles to good relations the present position of England and Ireland towards each other. I will say nothing about the opinions expressed in Spanish, Italian, and German papers, but I dare say they publish some scathing comments about the state of things in Ireland.
What has been the effect of all this in our own Dominions? There is no doubt that a great deal of the unrest and extreme steps that have been taken have been partly inspired by the struggle in Ireland. There is a tragic proof of the extent of this unfortunate trouble in the fact that an Irishman had to be hung in India not long ago on account of some connection with mutiny. I do not pronounce an opinion one way or the other with regard to Australia, but I have a strong opinion that the reason conscription was rejected was that the speakers were able to use as an argument the treatment of the Irish people by this country. The Irish people form about one-third of the people of Australia. Many of them went out there and prospered. In fact they form the most prosperous part of the country. If you go through the names of the modern statesmen of Australia, you will be astonished to find how many of them are of Irish origin. It is the same with Canada. The opinion of South Africa has been furnished by General Smuts I cannot speak about New Zealand, but there is a large Irish population there. They have had an Irish Prime Minister recently and they had another one in Sir Joseph Ward and then they had Mr. Massey.
What the Dominions cannot understand is this: You have given them home rule. They are absolutely masters of their own destiny. They could have stood apart and not sent the men to you in your hour 826 of struggle so far as their constitutional rights were concerned. Yet in face of this freedom, they rushed to the defence of the Motherland as if they had had the decision of the question in their own Parliaments and as if their shores, and not yours, were menaced by the Germans. They therefore cannot understand why you should refuse to give to Ireland that which has proved such a magnificent success in their own case. For all these reasons, I do hope sincerely that the Imperial Cabinet will deal with this question of Ireland. I gather, from the answers given to my questions on this matter, that this home Government is not going to put any obstacle in the way of the Imperial Cabinet discussing the Irish question or any other question which that Cabinet in its wisdom may desire to discuss. I do not want to read too much into the answer given by the Colonial Office, but I rather gathered that the Government would not find such intervention altogether unwelcome. Here is a body of men who, at a time when the great difficulty is to find negotiators whom everybody will trust, might very well offer their services, and might very well be the best agency to bring about peace between the two countries.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I should like to ask the Leader of the House what is this Conference which is going to assemble on Monday? Is it called an Imperial Conference, and, if so, is it a conference which forms part of the series of Imperial Conferences, or is it a special Imperial Conference which can be called under the constitution of the Imperial Conference to discuss a specific subject? If neither, I venture to submit that it would be better to use the term given to the Conference by General Smuts and to call it a "Conference of Empire." The hon. find gallant Member who introduced the subject this afternoon (Sir J. Davidson) commented somewhat at length upon the constitutional question. I was under the impression that the constitutional question would not arise at the Conference on Monday. I remember the Conference of 1888 and I think we were then told that no question of political federation or anything of that kind must be debated. That is 33 years ago, so that 33 years afterwards we are still having a conference without discussing the constitutional question. The hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) in a very interesting and 827 instructive speech, went very minutely into the question of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty. He gave us a great number of cogent reasons why a certain policy should be adopted with regard to the Treaty by this country and by Europe. Since then, other speakers have had, what I may call the audacity to tell us, what policy ought to be adopted by Canada, by Australia, and by New Zealand. I venture to think that the representatives of those great Dominions will be able to speak for themselves without any of us in this House intervening on their behalf.
I do not myself propose to go into these particulars. I shall confine myself to the general questions as to the necessity, first, of a common foreign policy for the Empire; secondly, a common policy of Imperial defence; and, thirdly, a common policy of Imperial migration. With regard to the first, it will be within the recollection of the House that not very long ago the Prime Minister told us that the most striking lesson which the War had taught us was the reality of the power of the British Empire. The hon. and gallant Member who spoke first in the Debate, pointed out—these are not his words; they are my own, but this is the substance of them—that the War has unified the component parts of the King's Dominions in a manner and with a solidarity that nothing else could accomplish. I think that we shall be agreed upon that point. That being so, it is not surprising that our fellow subjects, merely because they happen to reside outside the confines of the United Kingdom, are no longer satisfied to be without a voice in the foreign policy of the Empire or in the waging of wars in which they may again be called upon to take their part. They desire, and I think rightly desire, to share in these responsibilities with the Motherland, and they are quite ready to assume the corresponding liabilities of Empire Government.
I do not think that it is sufficiently recognised that we have within the Empire two opposing political systems. As regards internal affairs, the Dominions have self-government in its most complete form, for, although an Act passed by the Dominions is subject to veto by the Crown, that veto only on very rare occasions has been exercised. On the 828 other hand, in foreign affairs and in the great issues of peace and war, the Dominions hitherto have been asked, and one may almost say have been expected, to accept the ruling of the Imperial Parliament, an assembly in which they have neither voice nor vote.Very gradually and very temperatelyto quote the words of Lord Milner,the leading statesmen of the Dominions have been directing attention to the anomalies of this position.I myself recall a despatch from Mr. Service, who at one time was Prime Minister of Victoria, which takes us back to 1885, and this is what he said:Australians may be deeply interested in the action, or, it may be, the inaction of the Imperial authorities, but they have no voice and no vote in those Councils of Empire to which His Majesty's Ministers are responsible; in all matters in which the exercise of that Imperial authority has interest for them, that authority to all intents and purposes is an unqualified autocracy. On the one hand, we in Australia are under constitutional government; on the other under an antiquated autocracy or bureaucracy.Speaking in the Canadian House of Commons two years before the War, Sir Robert Borden used these words:It has been declared in the past, and even in recent years, that the responsibility for foreign policy would not be shared by Great Britain with the Dominions. In my humble opinion, adherence to such a position would have but one, and that a most disastrous, result.Again, let me quote Mr. Andrew Fisher, late High Commissioner for Australia in this country. He expressed the same view in a somewhat different way. He observed:If I had stayed in Scotland I should have been able to heckle my Member on questions of Imperial policy and to vote for or against him on that grant. I went to Australia and I have been Prime Minister, but all the time I had no say whatever about Imperial policy. Now that cannot go on. There must be some change.Had the self-governing communities been given a voice in the affairs of foreign policy long ago, I venture to think that many mistakes and misunderstandings would have been avoided. I can recall the question of New Guinea. If then there had been a common foreign policy in the Empire, the question of New Guinea would never have arisen. I remember also the New Hebrides question. Neither of these questions could have arisen if we had had a common foreign policy with- 829 in the Empire. New Zealand certainly would not have been menaced by enemy annexations in the Pacific, Samoa would never have become a German naval station, there would have been no sacrificing of Canadian interests to meet the demands of the United States of America, and the fisheries of Newfoundland would not have remained for so long a period as they did handicapped by foreign interferences nor would the interests of the West Indies have been jeopardised by the unfair competition of European bounties. All those questions would never have reached such an acute stage as they did had a common foreign policy within the Empire been pursued, and I venture to hope that in the Conference which takes place next week the Conference itself will lay down the principle at any rate that the time has arrived when there must be a common foreign policy within the Empire.
There must also be a common policy of Imperial defence. I remember, when the Imperial Federation League was in existence, reading about Mr. Forster's idea on that subject. Even in those days, and that was 1884, he also thought there should be a common system of Imperial defence. I remember in 1887 we had the first Colonial Conference. That Conference was called for the express purpose of discussing questions of Imperial defence, and the greater part of the discussions took place upon Naval defence. I remember that Conference very well, because I had the opportunity of attending it. I think I am the only Member of the present House of Commons invited on that occasion, at any rate by the State, to be present at the Conference. Therefore I think I may claim to have some little knowledge of the proceedings that have taken place at the different Imperial Conferences since then. The question of Colonial contributions to the Navy was also one which was very much to the fore in the times of the Imperial Federation. Unfortunately, we have never yet been able to get any satisfactory decision in regard to what may be called the Dominion contributions to the Navy. Various contributions of money have been given and various contributions in ships have been given. Australia has its local Navy. Most Members of the House will remember the controversy which took place over the local Navy of Australia. Since then there have been contributions from 830 South Africa, and it will be within the recollection of the House that, when the War broke out, Canada had not provided herself with any Navy at all, although Canada and also the Colonies not possessing a responsible Government came to our assistance in the War with money and with ships. But there must be a unified system of Imperial defence, and there must be a unified system especially of naval defence. Much has been accomplished; must more remains to be done. I daresay the suggestion made by the First Lord in that very able Paper which he issued with the Navy Estimates, and which contained suggestions to the Overseas Governments and Dominions with regard to their contributions to the Navy, will come up for discussion at the Conference. That may be the way to do it or it may not, but I hope the principle will be laid down by the Conference that the time has come when we must have an Imperial Navy, or, if that phrase does not find favour with all the members of the Conference, there must be a Navy founded upon an Imperial system.
Lastly, I wish to say a few words on the question of migration. One of the Members who took part in the Debate had the temerity to give a list of the subjects to be discussed at the Conference. He said he had learned them through Ottawa. I also saw the Ottawa list, but I do not know on what authority he is able to say these are the questions to be discussed at the Conference. I believe the Conference is an open Conference, and any question may come up, we cannot tell what questions are really to be discussed until the agenda is placed before the Conference. I do not know whether the Leader of the House intends specifically to tell us the exact subjects which will be under discussion. I should be very much surprised if he did so, because after all, these questions have to be settled by the members of the Conference themselves and not by this House or by any one representative from the Dominions. It is quite impossible therefore, for a Member of this House to get up and give a list of the questions to be discussed. I venture to suggest for discussion the question of migration within the Empire, the question of population. I do not refer to population as it presents itself to the statistician, involving the study of difficult 831 and abstruse questions of economy. I refer to the question of population as it relates to the movements of immigration and emigration within the Empire. In other words, migration within the Empire. I venture to say that on the solution of this question rests the development of the defence of our common inheritance. We cannot afford to regard those movements as separate entities. They have always been regarded as separate entities hitherto. We have talked about emigration from this country and the Dominions have talked about immigration into the Dominions. This is altogether wrong. We must have the cardinal fact recognised that on immigration and emigration depend both the progress of the Empire and our national security. If we had fostered our reserves of men by encouraging settlement within the Empire years ago instead of allowing our surplus population to drift at will into the United States, how different would have been the situation to-day. The untilled lands of Canada and Australia would not have been crying aloud for the spade and the ploughshare. The question of preferential treatment would never have arisen. We should have had a Free Trade union for British goods, and the position of our Colonial trade and foreign trade would have been exactly reversed.
I have no doubt that some critics, I do not say in the House of Commons but certainly outside, will say, "Why discuss emigration now? Surely after a war we want every man we can get to work the land and to maintain our home industries?" Criticisms of that kind leave me very cold. I remember the same criticisms being raised before the War. I have been told over and over again when addressing audiences with regard to emigration, "You want to send out the best. We do not want to lose our best." I put it to hon. Members, can the Empire be built up by "the halt, the maimed, and the blind?" It is some years now since His Majesty the King, as Prince of Wales, made that celebrated speech in the Guildhall on the crying need of population for Australia, and told us we must send out "suitable" emigrants. "Suitable" emigrants can be found and would be found if we had only some common policy of migration. The situation which pre- 832 vailed in Australia then still prevails. The same invitation is extended and the same condition is attached, but apparently nobody goes, and the reason why nobody goes is because there is no system of Imperial migration. An hon. Member opposite smiles. I know he belongs to a party which has always opposed emigration from this country to the Dominions, but I understood the policy of the Labour party had changed in that respect and that now they are in favour of migration within the Empire. I hope I am right in that respect, but at any rate we must have a policy of Imperial migration. It is no good having one policy of emigration and another of immigration. If we are to think Imperially we must act Imperially; if we are to be Empire builders, we cannot at the same time be Little Englanders.
Hon. Members may think I am laying too much stress on this question of migration, but the hon. Member who spoke first in the Debate (Sir J. Davidson) told us that for two years he had been giving his attention to the question of Imperial defence. For twenty-five years I have given my attention to the question of migration. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members seem to be, pleased at that, and I am very glad if I have given them any great pleasure. I have discussed the question with the Premiers of the Overseas Dominions and the different states and provinces of Canada, and I think they are all agreed that if something could be done to place emigration and immigration upon an imperial footing we should then at any rate arrive at some conclusion which would be beneficial both to this country and to the Dominions beyond the seas. I am thinking, however, more especially of the individuals themselves, the men, the women, and the children. Every man, every woman, and every child should be given the best opportunity that can be given, and the best opportunity that can be given is to be able to become a settler in the overseas Dominions. I will give an instance. I myself founded the Central Emigration Board about fifteen years ago, and during that time, with the small means at my command but with a great deal of energy and hard work, I emigrated 2,500 selected persons within the Empire, and I placed the breadwinner of each family in work, and only one per cent. 833 of those 2,500 people have turned out to be wrong. If that can be done by individual effort and with very small means, it can be done by the State with the large means at their disposal, and when I say small means I mean small means. I do not suppose I have had a turnover of more than £1,000 a year during those 15 years, and if with a turnover of £1,000 you can emigrate 2,500 people, look what you can do with a few millions. You can place, and place well, in Canada or Australia, millions of people who want to go there if the State would only provide a certain sum of money, by way of loan, to assist them. Hon. Members will remember the Dominions Royal Commission. I gave evidence before that Commission on emigration, and the chief point I made was this question of an Imperial system. When the Commission reported, four years later, not only did they adopt many of the suggestions I made, but they adopted that very suggestion on which I laid particular stress. Mr. Long, when he was at the Colonial Office, appointed what was called the Empire Settlement Committee to discuss questions arising out of that very Report of the Dominions Commission, and this is the first observation made in that Report:In our opinion henceforward no part of the Empire must consider emigration strictly from the point of view of its own interests and needs. … It has seemed to us that a new departure in our emigration system is needed, if it is to be looked at, as it ought to be, from the standpoint of the Empire as a whole. Individual interests must be subordinated, and co-operative action is needed.That is the gist of the whole matter. The only question that remains is the question of joint finance. The Dominions are quite willing to co-operate with us, and we are quite willing to co-operate with them, on the question itself, but we do not seem willing, nor do they seem willing, to enter into any system of joint finance, and what we must have is a system of joint finance; if we are to have a truly Imperial system of migration within the Empire, it must be a system financed by the Overseas Dominions as well as by ourselves. I saw only the other day in a great daily paper in this country a suggestion that there should be an Imperial system of migration, and I was very pleased to see that great daily advance that proposition, but I could have informed that daily that 834 I myself, twenty-five years ago, in that very daily itself, suggested that scheme. Now I think we have advanced to the possibility of this question being considered, and I would ask the Leader of the House if he will venture to suggest to the Members who compose the Conference that they would be consulting the interests of their own communities, as well as we should be consulting the interests of our community, if we were to settle at any rate on the principle of some common system of Imperial migration.
§ Brigadier-General COCKERILL
Most of us, I imagine, in a debate of this kind, doubt our competence to add anything to what has been already said, and I only rise, as I see the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) in his place, to say something on one topic which he relegated a little to the background, namely, the question of machinery in these matters, and partly to comment on the extremely practical contribution which the hon. Member for Devonport (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) has made to the debate in so many directions. The hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea, observed in his opening remarks that he placed policy before machinery, and that so long as we could be agreed on matters of policy he rather thought machinery could take care of itself. The hon. Member for Devonport was telling the House that for twenty-five years he had been pressing upon his friends and this House the importance of these topics of Imperial Defence. We can congratulate him that at the end of twenty-five years the subject seems to be a lively one. At the same time it is a little depressing that at the end of so many years the decisions in these matters show so very little shape. The reason why I attach some importance to the question of machinery in respect of these Conferences is this. I think there is no question that there is room for very genuine interest in the chanceries both of Europe and America as to the exact effect on the external relations of the Empire of this change in the status of the various Dominions. But that is not all. Speeches to which I have listened within the precincts of this House have convinced me that an identical view is not entertained in the Dominions themselves as to the exact effect of this change. The conception formed in Australia and in New Zealand, 835 for example, is perhaps not identical with the conception formed on the same subject in South Africa and in Canada, and more than that, my own experience schools me to the belief that in many quarters, and in somewhat unexpected quarters, there are those who would not be at all displeased to see slight divergencies of view between the various component parts of the Empire widened into sharp differences of opinion and aim, and in that way eventually you may place even the unity of the Empire itself in some jeopardy. It seems to me that it should be the immediate, task of statesmanship to resolve these doubts, so far as they are entertained in foreign chanceries, and to compose these differences. Even in the very smallest observable masses of matter there are disruptive forces which are neutralised only by more obscure forces which hold them together, and it certainly cannot be doubted that within the immense ambit of the British Empire there must be elements of disruption which it should be our aim and endeavour to check and counteract.
The hon. Member for Devonport quoted passages which seem to show that it might be thought that the process by which the Dominions had attained larger and larger self-government had been grudgingly bestowed by this country. That, it seems to me, is not so, and never has been so. The status of Dominion was always within their grasp whenever they desired to extend their hand to take it, and it is not in this country either challenged or challengable, and I do not think there is any limit, set to it. The status of absolute equality within the Empire, even in that direction, is not challenged, but it carries with it equality of responsibility, and that too, as well as equality of opportunity, is within the power of any of the Dominions to take when they express any wish to receive it. I should like with all the force at my command to give every possible emphasis to these assertions. There always was a true partnership within the Empire on offer to all the Dominions. Entrance into that partnership creates no liability whatever to interference in regard to domestic affairs from any other partner. That is fundamental. It is accepted by every section of every party in this country, and entrance into this partnership of nations does not even give rise 836 to the liability to interference in regard to what I may call external affairs of a domestic character so long as the interests of the other partners are not directly or indirectly involved. Though one reads of discussions within the Dominions, in my judgment the most extreme autonomist within the Empire need never agitate himself over this principle. It is conceded here and it is amply safeguarded by the admission, which is general, that the executive authority is not centralised, but resides in the executive of each Dominion. I prefer to think that the United Kingdom, which has never claimed any priority in respect even of Imperial affairs, has rather accepted the predominant position which it has enjoyed over so many years within the Empire as a condition in the growth of the Empire, as a duty it owes to the Empire, as a responsibility which it has had to accept, but which to-day it is perfectly willing to share with the other Dominions within the Empire the moment they are anxious to take some part of this burden of responsibility off the shoulders of the mother country.
That is not the problem with which we are faced. There is no question of challenging the autonomy of the Dominions, no question of suggesting that this country has any desire to retain any predominant position. All we are anxious to see is that as we have exercised this duty in the past, and as the machinery for its exercise is here, so it seems to me if you are going to demit this machinery and share it with your Dominions, you must at the same time set up some adequate machinery for carrying your will into effect. What we want is some machinery to deal with problems of common concern as they arise on a business like basis and to determine the joint action to be taken by autonomous Governments. I think these principles, which I fancy are very generally accepted, are worth perhaps stating in the House even from a back Bench. But they carry with them this further implication. It seems to me that if the British Empire is to have any real meaning or validity, no absolute sovereignty can vest in any one of the component parts of the British Empire in regard at any rate to foreign relations or such foreign relations as affect the vital interests of the other partners in the Empire. It is essential that that should be recognised, for it is desirable, if the Empire is to mean anything, that we should speak in the councils of the 837 world, face to face with other nations, with one united voice. Our real task in the immediate future is to devise some simple machinery, and some very elastic machinery, not cut and dried, hard and fast, for these objects, (1) to permit the general will of the component parts of the Empire to be ascertained with greater ease and rapidity than it has been ascertainable to my knowledge in the past, (2) when the general will has been ascertained to give direction to the unanimous purpose of the Empire as so determined without friction between the component parts, and (3) to strengthen, develop, and harmonise the mutual interest, and, above all, the mutual ideals of this great Empire, and to do that whilst jealously safeguarding the autonomy of every nation in the British Commonwealth.
§ Lieut.-General Sir AYLMER HUNTER-WESTON
Of the many interesting subjects that are pertinent to this Debate I shall confine my remarks to one subject, namely, Imperial defence, and only to a small part of that subject. Imperial defence is Imperial self-preservation, the recognition of the fact that the motto, "Each for all and all for each," is necessary for the continued existence of each individual part, and much more so for the British Empire as a whole, that great commonwealth of nations. The strongest ties that bind the Empire together are, undoubtedly, ties of sentiment, the ties to most of us of a common origin and of a common tongue, the ties to all of us of a common adherence to the same high ideals of justice and liberty, the ties of a common tradition which has been cemented on the field of battle by the blood of the sons of the Empire, of every race and every colour and from every portion of the globe. Next after these ties of sentiment, which are the strongest, come, undoubtedly, the ties of self-preservation, the material ties which are necessary for our preservation. That is to say, that without an adequate system of Imperial defence it is impossible for us to exist either individually or collectively in the future.
All those who travel and all those who read intelligently what is going on in the world at large cannot but be struck with the great actual and prospective dangers that beset us on every side. Central Europe and the Near East are in some parts ablaze with war. Throughout the 838 Near East, and in many parts of the frontiers of the great empire in the northeast, there are smouldering fires which might at any moment break out into open flame. In fact, we may say that the whole position in the Near East is in a state of unstable equilibrium, an equilibrium which could be very easily upset by a small push. The difficulties that confront us and the world at large in the Near East are apparent to all of us, but there are other troubles and other difficulties not so apparent but even more dangerous, which are on the horizon both in the further East and in the Southern hemisphere. Look at that great island continent of Australia, populated by a virile, energetic and capable race, but, alas, too small in numbers, so that large tracts of country are sparsely populated, and these are within comparatively close reach of some of the most densely populated countries in the world. The situation now, when only one of those great countries has awakened and has made great industrial and military strides, is one that has to be faced. How much greater will it be in the future when the other great races awaken in a similar way and ask also for what they may be pleased to call their place in the sun.
I would say about Australia and New Zealand that the condition of affairs in that part of the world in which they find themselves necessitates their belonging to some great organisation, not only for their protection in case of what we all hope will be the very remote possibility of war, but for their security in. peace, that they should have behind them the weight of the great manufacturing power of this country, and the huge reserves of man power which are contained in the Empire, to give authority and weight to either of these constituents of the Empire in the southern seas when dealing with other people in the difficulties of peace. Newfoundland is the only dominion which need have no fear of aggression owing to its small size and to its situation, but it will be in the minds of all that even to that small dominion (our oldest colony, which fought so magnificently in the War, and gave so many of its best), it was not without advantage to have the weight of the Empire and the weight of the British Navy behind them in certain unfortunate fishery disputes that occurred in the not very distant past.
839 With respect to Canada, she has two problems, a southern problem and a western problem. We all believe that no real difficulty towards the south is likely, but we must remember that even between states of the same union war did unfortunately break out. Quite apart from war, and speaking merely of peace, the same line of thought that I put forward in speaking of Australia applies equally to Canada. It is very necessary that that great Dominion, so necessary to the Empire, should feel that she also has need of the Empire, and that she speaks with the authority of the Empire behind her in any questions with her great neighbour in the south. As regards the western problem in Canada it is very similar to the problem which confronts Australia and New Zealand. We have there a rich and beautiful province, full of wealth, both mineral and agricultural, yet sparsely populated, divided only by a sea, that yearly becomes smaller as communications improve and speed increases, from the teeming millions in overcrowded Eastern Asia.
In South Africa another set of problems confronts us. There, thank Heaven! there is no chance of any further fighting between whites. Briton and Boer, who fought in the past, are now for the most part joined together and are loyally carrying on one great policy; but there is one terrible danger, which must be a nightmare to responsible statesmen both in this country and in that country. I refer to the possibility, which has always been present there, of a combination of the black races against the whites. If such an eventuality occurred—which we all hope will never occur, and I see no reason why it ever should occur if proper precautions are taken—the fact of South Africa having behind her the resources of the British Empire would mean the great difference between a terrible catastrophe and success. South Africa owes her present material prosperity to the freedom of communication which has been assured to her over a long course of years by the British Navy. She produces much raw material. She requires much manufactured material for her needs. Without the security of sea communication that has been and will be assured to her by the Navy, which was the Navy of Great Britain in the past and will be, I 840 believe and trust, the Navy of the Empire in future, it will go hardly with the prosperity of those who dwell in South Africa.
In India you have another problem altogether. India has been brought up from a state of anarchy and misery, the prey of adventurers, the scene of constant invasions and warfare, and therefore of distress and destruction, to a position which if not all that we would desire, represents a great advance towards a position of happiness and material prosperity. But it is a country which has always attracted and still attracts the envious eyes of its warlike neighbours upon the North-West, both those who are close and those who are more remote.
From this cursory review of the situation in our great Dominions and in India, which we all hope will become a Dominion before long, we see that Imperial defence is essential to each part of the whole. All parts of the Empire need help of the others. In other words, the Imperial defence—that is, the defence of the whole—is a vital necessity to each part. But to translate Imperial defence from what may be said to be a pious aspiration into an accomplished fact requires a great deal more than passive adherence to a phrase.
We got true Imperial defence during the War, but at what a cost, and how slow it was in coming. If without conscripting a single man we had looked ahead and made preparations and definite plans so that, when the necessity arose, if ever it did arise, we should be able to make use in the shortest time and to the best advantage of our unrivalled resources, both of manufacture and manpower, the War would have been over sooner than it was, if, indeed, it had ever taken place at all, and the terrible economic and financial crisis through which we are passing at present would have been, if not entirely at least to a very great extent, avoided. But to prevent a recurrence of what we all now know to have been a terrible lack of prevision on our part before the War it is necessary that some permanent body should be formed of people competent to deal with the subject, composed of delegates or representatives from all the great self-governing Dominions, as well as from the mother country, and representing all the various Departments of State concerned in the defence of the country, as well as 841 the Army, Navy and Air Force. All these should be focussed in some organisation that will enable our resources to be properly and quickly utilised.
The problem of defence concerns not only one part of the Empire, but the whole, and, similarly, not only one element, but all three elements of land, sea, and air. In the old days it was logical and indeed possible to separate one service from the other, the Navy acting only on the seas, the Army acting only on the land; but owing to the intervention of the problems of the air, we find now that without aeroplanes we are blind and defenceless, and that we cannot carry out modern reconnaisance or regulate artillery fire. Owing to the advent of this third element the problems of defence have become so inextricably intermixed that it is absolutely necessary to have some form of organisation that will decide how our resources of defence shall be used to the best advantage. Members of the House who have studied the subject have put forward for the consideration of the Government a form of organisation which they believed would be suited for the purpose. I refer to a Joint Defence Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence, on which delegates from all the great Dominions would find their right place and on which also delegates from the three fighting Services and the great Departments of State concerned would have a seat. There would be certain essential conditions. First, the organisation should meet frequently and regularly; secondly, it should be a permanent organisation with a carefully selected secretariat; and, thirdly, it should have as a neutral chairman some gentleman of Ministerial, and, if possible, of Cabinet, rank, who would attend all its meetings.
§ Sir A. HUNTER-WESTON
Advisory only. All those who think with me have laid it down that the question of execution must lie exclusively with the Home Government and the Governments of the Dominions. This body should be a purely advisory body, able to give to the Governments at home and to those of the Dominions the best technical advice, put into the most easily assimilable form, so that Cabinet Ministers who have no time to go into detail would be able to get in tabloid form the advantages and disad- 842 vantages of any suggested proposal. The body would have to prepare a scheme for utilising rapidly all our available resources. That, I think, is possible without any form of conscription. What this organisation is called is of no importance. What is of importance is that it should take some definite form that will be satisfactory to each part of our great Empire. It should start working at once. It is appalling to consider that nearly three years have passed since the end of hostilities and yet nothing definite and practical has been done to get going on these lines. I have reason to know that the Government have this very much in mind, and that it is only the immense pressure of work that has prevented it being brought into being. In the Prime Ministers of the Great Dominions we have men who know from first-hand experience the necessity of continuous study and the formation of definite plans for the utilisation of our resources, but they have not time to go into the subject themselves. Conscription is not necessary. Let me reiterate that. But prevision and provision and organisation are needed, are needed badly, and are needed now. We rely on the great representatives of the Empire who are now assembled to give us this organisation and thus to ensure the continued and peaceful existence of this great Commonwealth of nations.
§ 4.0 P.M.
This Debate has reached a high level. The hon. Member for Fareham (Sir J. Davidson) and the hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) made speeches full of interest and of thought and suggestion, and anyone who has heard as much of the Debate as I have done will recognise that it has continued throughout in the same spirit of thoughtful consideration of many problems which our Empire presents, and he will feel that such discussions as we have had to-day do credit to any Parliament of the Empire and make a contribution towards a settlement of the problems with which we are faced. My difficulty is two-fold. It arises in the first place from the very wide range of the discussion. In the second place it arises from my superior good fortune in one respect over that of the other Gentlemen who have taken part in this Debate. They speak with a freedom and offer their suggestions here with a liberality that would be unbecoming in me who in 48 hours will be sitting in the 843 very Conference which we are considering. It is quite clear that a responsible Minister who will be a member of that Conference must not pre-judge in any way the decisions of the Conference, and must not proclaim beforehand all the arguments and all the considerations which it may be proper for him or for his colleagues to submit in the Conference itself. The House will understand therefore that I speak under considerable restriction. That is true for another reason also.
The problems we have been dealing with are, many of them, as complex as they are important. They all concern the Dominions and India as well as ourselves, and many of them concern foreign nations scarcely less than the British Empire. I am happy to think that hardly a word has been said in the whole of this Debate that would give umbrage to any of our friends, or would endanger our good relations with the rest of the world. I did a little regret the observations which the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean) thought it necesary to make. I confess that his idea of brow-beating tried and loyal Allies scarcely seemed a good foundation for that reduction of armaments and the peace of the world which I understood him to desire. If I may, I would in the first instance say a few words about the Imperial gathering which will meet on Monday. The British Empire is one of the most marvellous productions of human, political ingenuity, or, shall I rather say, of political sense among human beings. It is what it is, not in the main by the set purpose of statesmen or even of people, but because, given the quality of the races which make up the Empire, their historical, their geographical and other circumstances, common interests which have developed have led us to this point of common organisation and co-operation.
One of my hon. Friends spoke in relation to one of the subjects which may come before the Conference of the slowness of our political movement. I am astonished at the rapid advance which has been made within the last 20 or 25 years. We find some form of Imperial gathering a necessity of our present existence and no longer an accident occurring at rare intervals. We find the equality of all the members of the Empire within that gathering fully and absolutely recognised. We find India, the last to reach us, sitting on terms of equality with the other 844 Dominions of the British Crown. That is no small achievement in itself. It is all the greater achievement because this growth of unity has been not merely consistent with, but contemporaneous with a growth of nationality, of independence, and of autonomy, in every portion of the British Empire. The British Empire is an example such as the world has never seen before, of unity in diversity and close co-operation combined with the complete independence of the autonomous parts.
I do not wonder that the spectacle of an Empire so constituted; when it came before the world at large, as it did during the War—and perhaps from this point of view, still more strikingly during the Peace Conference, when the British Empire appended not one signature, but each part its separate signature, to the Treaties of Peace—I do not wonder that this unity in diversity surprised and was even somewhat incomprehensible to our Allies and friends among foreign nations. I think when the Dominions and ourselves appeared as separate national members at the meeting of the League of Nations, not a little astonishment was created to find that whilst able to act so closely and effectively together, in vital matters of common concern, we could permit so much diversity of view and of action on minor matters on which opinions differ. Something has been said to-day about future Imperial organisation. One of my hon. Friends observed that the British Empire forms a model for the League of Nations. I think it is a league of nations. It was the hon. and gallant Member for Fareham (Major-General Sir J. Davidson), and he dwelt on the fact that initiative in progress must come from the Dominions themselves. I think that is true. If they have suggestions to make, they will find them fall on no unfriendly ears. For myself, I will say only this, that I can conceive of no suggestion for closer cooperation, for giving them a more definite and more continuous share in directing the policy of the Empire, or for giving them greater power and authority in the defence of the Empire—I can conceive of no suggestion which would commend itself to them, which would not be gladly accepted by His Majesty's Government and this House of Commons. Discussions like this, of which there have been many 845 inside and outside the Parliaments of the Empire for some decades, have served the cause of union and increased co-operation, not so much because they have led to the adoption of particular suggestions which have been put forward in this quarter or in that, but because they have created an atmosphere favourable to common understanding and co-operation, and have concentrated attention on the kind of problems we have to meet, and the different methods of solution which appear open to any of the speakers at the time at which they speak. We enter this Conference with no cut-and-dry agenda. His Majesty's Government have suggested as the principal subjects which they wish to bring before the Conference,
The Naval, Military and Air Defences of the Empire,
Arrangements for securing common Imperial policy in foreign affairs,
The question of the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, and
The composition and Agenda and meeting place of the Constitutional Conference contemplated under Resolution 9 of the Imperial War Conference of 1917.
A good many other questions have also been suggested—the question of emigration or migration within the Empire rather than emigration outside the Empire—the question of Imperial communications in all shapes and forms and a host of other things. I do not know how many of these it will be possible for the Conference to consider. Some of them, perhaps, may be discussed outside the Conference, with the Colonial Office or in other ways. But, after all, the agenda is made for man, and not man for the agenda, and if the Dominions, or any of them, desire and can find time to discuss other questions, they will find us willing to enter into the discussion with them.
The hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. O'Connor) expressed the hope that the Dominion representatives might raise a discussion upon Ireland. My principal hesitation about making a suggestion of that kind myself would be lest the invitation to the Dominions to meddle in our domestic affairs should be taken by them as a first step on our part towards attempting to meddle with theirs. But if they desire it, and are no better informed about the present law which establishes the present Government 846 in Ireland than the hon. Member for the Scotland Division, I think that such a discussion would be very valuable. The hon. Member implored us to give Home Rule to Ireland. We have given to Ireland a measure of Home Rule more liberal than has ever been proposed before in any of the Bills presented to the House of Commons from the time of Mr. Gladstone onwards. If—which I cannot believe—the Dominion representatives think that the hon. Member for the Scotland Division gives a correct picture of the prospects of government in Ireland, and the powers of the Irish people to manage their affairs, then, indeed, I think a discussion would be found to be very interesting and illuminating. We all understand, however, that the hon. Member must sing his own sweet Irish melody on every occasion that he can; but it does not appear to have been indeed the subject principally in the minds of the House when they asked to have this day set apart for this discussion.
In preparation for the Conference, the different Departments of His Majesty's Government have prepared memoranda and suggestions on various matters of common concern which may or might come before it. These are submitted to and approved by the Cabinet, and will be circulated to the Conference. As regards the question of defence, which, of course, must always take a large place in any discussion among the different nations of the Empire on their own concerns, very careful preparations have been made for that discussion on the present occasion, with a view to making it as useful as we can. The proposals of the Government on this subject have been under careful consideration for some time past, and confidential memoranda have been prepared by the different fighting services. These have been carefully examined from the point of view of Imperial defence as a whole, and co-ordinated by a sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence which has sat under the chairmanship of my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council. I do not think that this is the occasion, nor am I the man, to review all the multifarious activities of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Of the valuable work it has achieved between its inception by the present Lord President of the Council, in his Administration in 1903, and the outbreak of the Great War, anyone who was in 847 the least behind the scenes in that great struggle will have some idea, and anyone who went out of office at the time I did, when the Committee had only been functioning in its new form under the impulsion of my right hon. Friend for a couple of years, and then came back to find into what it had developed, and what work it had done, must feel the country owes a deep debt of gratitude to the Lord President of the Council as the father of our first effective Council of State on Imperial Defence, our first effective co-ordinating organisation for that purpose.
The House knows that, owing to the overwhelming pressure of business, it has not been possible for the Committee of Imperial Defence to resume their full pre-War activities in this last year, but a provisional solution of that difficulty has been found in the establishment of a standing Defence Sub-Committee, the one of which I have spoken, over which the Lord President of the Council presides, and the meetings of which are regularly attended by the Secretaries of State for War, the Air, the Colonies and India, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the First Sea Lord, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and the Chief of the Air Staff, with representatives of the Treasury or any other office, as circumstances require, according to the need of the subject discussed. That Committee has been meeting regularly two or three times a week, I think now for two or three months, and has already achieved a great deal of work, although, no doubt, a great deal more lies before it.
It is, of course, the desire of His Majesty's Government to promote, so far as in them lies, such co-ordination of the Military, Naval, and Air Forces of the Empire as will enable them, when the assent of their respective authorities has been obtained, to co-operate most quickly, most effectively, and with the greatest prospect of success in time of war. But it is not for His Majesty's Government to talk with that air of command which is so natural to the hon. and gallant Member for Wrekin (Sir C. Townshend), and to explain how they will move the forces of Australia here, the forces of Canada there, and the forces of South Africa to another place. Those are decisions which can be taken only by the Governments of the respective Dominions themselves. The measure of co-ordination and the 848 measure of co-operation to which we can attain must be decided, and will be decided, by the free choice of the various Dominions concerned. All that is necessary for me to say, on behalf of His Majesty's Government here, is that we are fully seized with the importance of this co-operation, that we shall do everything we can to facilitate it and that any assistance we can render in that matter, and which the Dominions require of us, will be joyfully and gladly given. Similarly we shall welcome any closer association of the Dominions with us in all matters concerning the foreign policy of the Empire. I recall that it was at the meeting of the Committee of Imperial Defence to which the Prime Ministers of the Dominions then in this country, were summoned—as they may be and would be summoned at any moment at their own request—at that meeting that the present Viscount Grey of Falloden gave to the assembled Prime Ministers of the Empire the first exposition of the facts and principles upon which the foreign policy of the Empire was based that had ever, been received by the collective representatives of the Empire, and, I believe, had ever been given to a collection of Ministers of this country. I remember, at the time, hearing the Prime Minister of the day say to his Dominion colleagues that they had heard such a reasoned exposition given of our foreign policy by a British Minister as no Cabinet had ever listened to. Some of the Dominion Ministers present spoke about it to me as a landmark in the history of the Empire, and said it had given them an insight into the affairs of the Empire and our common concerns such as they have never had before.
No, Sir, of course not. Such a review has been a constant feature of every one of these Imperial gatherings. These gatherings were suggested by the War Cabinet. The suggestion that these discussions should be made public—
I do not know whether any record was taken, but let me say at once that if you are going to ask 849 for publication of everything that takes place at these confidential gatherings of the representatives of the Empire you will have shorn them of half their usefulness and of that freedom of intercourse out of which real understanding springs. You will transfer from your conference room, or whatever you like to call it, to individual meetings outside the real business which ought to be the common business of the Assembly. I do not mean to say that no information should be given about our meetings. That is a matter for the Conference itself. It always has decided, and I believe in perfect agreement, what course should be taken in respect to the proceedings, either during the meetings or after, whether or what part it was in the public interest to publish, and what it was desirable to retain confidential.
I believe that I have dealt with most of the affairs upon which the House will expect me to speak this afternoon. I have said nothing so far about the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese agreement. That is obviously a matter about which a statement would be peculiarly inopportune. It is a matter in which all parts of the Empire are interested. It nearly concerns other foreign countries. I cannot say until we have been in conference, what the deliberations of the Empire may be or what exact course of policy we shall adopt. The objections I have heard urged this afternoon to a renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance—not in its present form but in any form—have been that the conditions which gave rise to it have passed away. That is urged by the hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare). The conditions of to-day are not the conditions of yesterday, but what about the conditions of to-morrow? We have to look not only backwards but forward into the possible combinations of the future.
It has again been urged that the Alliance has given rise to misconception and apprehension in America. I do not believe that the intention or the results of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance do give rise to any real apprehension in America or to the Government of the United States, and I am certain that there is no reason for them to feel any such apprehension. I do not say that it may not excite a certain measure of apprehension amongst people who are ill-informed as to the obligations of the two parties, or who misconceive the reso- 850 lute determination of the British people to maintain friendly relations with their American kinsmen. It has always been a cardinal feature of British policy to remove any apprehension which stands in the path of good relations with the United States and to cultivate those good relations to the utmost of our power. I entirely agree with what was said by my hon. and gallant Friend that a new competition in armaments, and that competition between this country and America, would be not merely a tragedy for those two countries, but a tragedy for the civilised world.
Of course, I must be careful not in any way to prejudge the question as to the attitude of the Conference on this point, but I think it right to say at once that we should be no party to any alliance directed against America, or in which we could be called upon to act against America. I do not, therefore, say that no continuation of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in a modified form is not possible. I think it may be found to be possible to reconcile our desire for a perfect understanding and the closest co-operation with the United States of America with the continuation of our close and intimate friendship with an ally who acted loyally when the occasion of the alliance arose and who rendered invaluable support from which not only we in Great Britain but especially other parts of the British Empire reaped the greatest benefit during the War. What, after all, must be the object of any British Government—and let me say I speak not merely of the Government in this country, but of any Government in any of the Dominions? Surely, it must be to secure such confidence, such understanding, and such co-operation among the great Pacific Powers as may prevent that new competition in armaments of which mention has been made, and may secure the peace of that great ocean and of the lands abutting on it.
I have spoken of the British Empire as, in fact, a League of Nations, more closely knit than the other and more famous League which has lately come to birth. What the steps of future development will be, I do not know, but that a League of Nations such as ours, so necessary to each, preserving peace for so large a portion of the world, exercising so immense an influence for good upon civilisation, should not in course of time by whatever means—perhaps means we do not now 851 foresee—continue to develop its common constitutional organs and its opportunities of co-operation in policy and in action is to me inconceivable. We look back with pride on the birth of these British nations across the seas. We follow their fortunes with affection. In the great hour of need from one end of the Empire to the other came a common voice and a common resolution. If peace had not cemented, blood would have bound us for ever. The sacrifices which each of us made, the graves side by side in so many quarters of the world are a pledge to us for our continued unity and friendship.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I think that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong when he indulged in a rather cheap jeer at the idea of bringing the question of Home Rule before the Premier's Conference. When he suggests that it is a domestic question and that the Dominions themselves might resent its introduction through fear of us interfering with their domestic questions, he misses the whole seriousness of the Irish Question. It is not a domestic question. More than any other, it is an Imperial question, and, if there be one matter which should come more directly before any Conference of the Dominions than any other, surely it is the budding off of a new Dominion to take its place in the Conference. The right hon. Gentleman was also wrong when he indulged in his usual swan song about the wickedness of publicity. As a matter of fact, it was secret diplomacy that landed us in the mess. The more the public know what is going on behind these closed doors, and of the commitments that are being entered into, the better, not only for the people of this country, but for the people of the Dominions and for the future relations of those Dominions and this country. The right hon. Gentleman was quite right when he said this Debate was not and should not be so much an occasion for the great public statement from His Majesty's Government as to what they would do in the Conference, but that it was rather an opportunity for Members of this House to make clear, not only to the public, but to the Government itself, what they consider this Conference should discuss, and I can only regret that the one Minister who ought to be present here to-day who is directly concerned with the Colonies should have shown his 852 contempt of this House of Commons by copying the example, the bad example as I venture to think, of the Prime Minister, and absented himself from this Debate.
As this is the second time my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies has been alluded to, I think I ought to say now what I did not think it worth while to say before, that my right hon. Friend is absent because he is at this moment engaged in consultation in regard to matters which are preparatory to this conference.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I cannot help thinking he would have done better to have come here to hear the views of the Members of this House rather than those of his own permanent officials. Personally I always view these periodical meetings of the Premiers with some alarm, and that alarm has not been materially allayed to-day. The fact of the matter is the British Empire is united by the firmest political bond of all in that there is no bond whatever which does unite us. If there was any chance of one Dominion interfering with another, or of the Dominions interfering with the Mother Country, or the Mother Country interfering with the Dominions, the British Empire would collapse, would cease to be a league of nations, and become nationalities independent of one another. Every meeting of this kind that takes place has two dangers in front of it. The first is one we have seen already, at Ottawa, in Australia, and in South Africa where this Conference has been debated already, and that is the apprehension that one or other of the Dominions may be committed to some action, some expenditure, or some conditions, which the free electors of that free Dominion would not tolerate. There has been a constant resentment of any tie forged at Westminster by any conference of Premiers or others. Then we have at the same time the very natural desire on the part of statesmen in this country, expressed in speech after speech to-day, that this Conference should consider Imperial defence, and consider that question not merely from the advisory point of view, but also from the point of view of assisting the sorely tried Mother Country in the matter of Imperial defence. It is bad to be a beggar, but it is worse to insist on being paid as 853 though a debt were due. Hitherto the Colonies have treated us very well in the matter of Imperial defence. They have provided battleships, they have provided invaluable troops in the War, and I think it would be fatal to the whole future of the Empire if any conference, either this Conference of Premiers or the future Constitutional Conference, came to any conclusion that involved a cash levy upon the whole Empire in order to provide for Imperial defence. The time for that may come, but that any suggestion of that sort should come from the Mother Country would to my mind be fatal. We must begin with voluntary contributions, and if after a series of years those contributions become almost formal, then some careful allotment of burden may come, but at present let us keep clear of that and eschew any idea that we have any rightful claim upon them to contribute to that of which we have hitherto borne the burden. That is the danger I see ahead, in the first place, that every Conference before it is called rouses in the breasts of the Dominions the fear lest their Premiers may commit them, and the danger lest, when the Conference is called, the Premiers will be asked to commit their countries. I am certain that in this Conference that will be avoided altogether, but I observe that one of the subjects that is to be raised is the question of the Constitutional Conference to be held hereafter. That Constitutional Conference does involve presumably the discussion of federation, and I beg the Government to avoid any form of federation for the British Empire as they would the plague. We have grown up under this voluntary system, accidentally thrown together. It has worked in a way nobody could have hoped for seven years ago. Do not let us risk it all by any Hamiltonian scheme of grouping all the Colonies together in some firm bond, that love of centralisation which nearly wrecked the great Republic across the ocean, and which might quite well wreck our new League of Nations if it was imposed upon one of them against their wish.
I wish to say one or two words upon two of the other subjects that are to be brought before this Conference. I do not want to deal with the Anglo-Japanese Treaty at any length, but I wish the House and the Government to realise that from India also comes a very strong 854 objection to that Treaty in its present form. If we are going to have any modification in that Treaty, we must have cut out from the Treaty that Clause which suggests that Japan should assist us, in the case of rebellion in India, to hold down the Indian people. Let us look after our domestic affairs ourselves, and if we cannot do so without the assistance of extraneous arms, we had better give up considering them as domestic affairs at all. India, I am glad to see, is taking her place at the Conference table, and I hope her presence there will remove for all time this suggestion that we might call on foreign arms to assist our own authority in India. The other question I want to see raised at the Conference—and I am confident it will be raised by the representatives of India—is the question of equal status; and I want it to be met by our Government with complete agreement, whatever action the rest of the Conference may take. Nothing could do more good in India at the present moment, or for the whole future of the British Commonwealth, than the frank acceptance by the Conference of equal status for all Indian and European British citizens, equal status before the law, equal electoral status. Equal rights is the cement which binds the British Commonwealth together, and if any part of the British Commonwealth is deprived of its equal rights, whether it be here in England, or in East Africa, or in India, if any partner in that Commonwealth is made to feel an inferiority, it is going some time or other to leave that Commonwealth and go elsewhere on its own. We are at the parting of the ways. Either we go along the road of the right hon. Gentleman's idea of the British Empire growing into a great league of nations, embracing not only European but Indian Dominions, or we go along the road of the old Nationalist State of the eighteenth century kind. If India is to be a subject people, and if the Indian British citizens are to be treated as subjects, you can say good-bye to your Indian Empire. If only we lay down frankly the law that every British citizen, whether he be brown or whether he be white, has a right to an equal vote, to equal justice before the law, to equal treatment, then you will find that India will only be the first of a great number of other sister nations which come into our 855 British Commonwealth and convert it from a British Commonwealth into a real league of nations.
I feel that we, of course, have no right to interfere in the domestic concerns of Australia or South Africa or Canada. The acceptance by us of the principle of equal rights, of equal status, does not involve our going to Mr. Hughes and telling him he must let Indians into Australia or else the British Empire will break down. It does not depend upon our coercing South Africa even into that elementary justice of giving votes to our Indian fellow-subjects in South Africa. Let India apply to South Africa, if she chooses, the same regulations that South Africa applies to India. Let us all not interfere with each other's domestic concerns. Indians have a right to expect, and will expect, that if our Government agrees to equal rights they should see that in those Crown Colonies where we rule equal rights are indeed granted to Indian as well as to European British subjects. We can prove our good faith, and until we have proved our good faith we have no right to go to any of our independent Dominions and say, "Play the man. Treat British citizens alike, whatever their colour. Remember the colour bar ought to be no bar in any free nation or liberty-loving people." I hope this question of equal rights will be brought forward at this Conference. We cannot coerce the Colonies; we do not want to coerce them; but we want to show that membership of that Conference is an advantage to India and that it means a real step upwards and not a mere courtesy bow to this new power in the East. I want to see it discussed, not only because it will show that membership of the British Empire is worth something, but because it will also explain to a liberally minded people in the Colonies that it is not enough to be a Briton, not enough for a white man only to be a good British citizen. But there is something higher than being a good British citizen, and that is a real and firm belief, such as we have on these Benches, in the brotherhood of man.
§ Mr. WISE
I rise to make two points only. Nearly two years ago the Treaty of Versailles was signed, and the outcome of that was the League of Nations. 856 I approve of the League of Nations as long as it is run by business statesmanship. My first point is I hope that Finance will be put on the agenda which we have heard of. European finance is in a chaotic condition, and I think it should be carefully considered, not only by ourselves, but by our Dominions at the Conference that is going to take place. My second point is that international exports should be considered at the Conference. I mean not only the exports from this country, but the exports from the United States of America. I cannot see where the United States exports are going, but she must export. We live on our exports. Germany also, with £6,600,000,000 of indemnity tied round her throat, must export. The question is, Who is to buy these exports? I put these points before the House on the chance that the Conference may consider them.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
We have had two great Debates this week: the Middle East on Tuesday and the Imperial Conference to-day. No Member of the Liberal party, Coalition Liberal or otherwise, has taken part in to-day's Debate. That is a very melancholy fact, seeing that on two occasions the great historical Liberal party saved the British Empire by the granting of Dominion Home Rule to Canada and Dominion Home Rule to South Africa. The latter fact in the late War ensured the loyalty of South Africa, and the War was turned into victory. It is a melancholy fact that that great party is hardly represented here to-day. I should like to reinforce what was said by my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wedgwood) as to the extraordinary absence of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. We have had a most important Debate, although it has been for the most part conducted by Members of the Unionist party. It has been such a family affair between the Leader of the Unionist party and his faithful followers, that I suppose the Coalition-Liberal Colonial Secretary was otherwise engaged in playing with a smaller sphere than the sphere of the wide world. I heard with profound regret the Leader of the House pleading for a policy of secrecy in foreign affairs. We have heard a great deal to-day about the co-operation of the Empire. Surely the right hon. 857 Gentleman has learned by this time that without the co-operation of the people of each part of the Empire no foreign policy or treaty is worth the paper on which it is written? Unless you lay these things before the people concerned, the people who suffered in the War, it is useless to expect them to support a policy of which they do not approve.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
The right hon. Gentleman says he does not suggest secret treaties, but he did say that it was intended to put before the Conference the foreign policy of the Empire, and when the hon. Member for Devonport (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke) asked whether the scheme would be published the right hon. Gentleman indignantly denied that it was possible to do anything of the sort.
The hon. Member misrepresents my answer. The hon. Member for Devonport was referring to a statement made by Lord Grey, some time ago. My point is this, I am in favour of the largest measure of publicity that is compatible with the interests of the different countries in the Empire; but you can no more hold a conference of this kind with reporters present, and discuss matters with the full information that you ought to have, than you could hold a Cabinet Council under similar circumstances.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
If that means that a summary of the policy arrived at in regard to foreign affairs is going to be laid before Parliament—and I hope we shall have an opportunity of discussing it—it is extremely satisfactory; but that was not the impression that was made upon my mind or upon the minds of hon. Members around me, by the right hon. Gentleman. This Debate on a most important subject is taken on Friday when, unfortunately, many hon. Members have to be away, and it is cut short by Standing Orders at 5 o'clock. Many hon. Members have to visit their constituencies on Fridays and make arrangements many weeks which cannot be put off. Friday is not considered a day on which business of first-class importance is taken. I am very much disappointed that we have not been given 858 a full day, and even this day was given with reluctance.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I have noticed the admirable persistence with which it was asked for by my hon. and gallant Friend opposite, and the pathetic gratefulness with which even a half day was received. It is difficult in the few moments that are left to make the few observations which I desire to make, but the days in which the making of treaties, etc., were the sole prerogative of the Crown and it depended on the will of the Executive to say whether they should be laid before Parliament, are over. Furthermore, the days when foreign policy was supposed to be a non-party matter, and when, whatever party was in power, the permanent staff of the Foreign Office carried on a murky secret diplomacy, have gone. This Government destroyed them. There was a great advantage in having the foreign policy apart from party, but owing to the crimes and blunders during the last few years of the present Government—and their predecessors have some blame also in the matter—these days have gone, and any party that hopes to come into power during this generation will be ill-advised to bind itself to carry on blindly the policy of the right hon. Gentleman. I hope that that will be made clear to the Dominion Premiers.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I am sure that the Dominions will be extremely glad that this Debate has taken place to-day if only to remove certain misconceptions which still exist in the minds of many people in the Dominions that there are people in this country who are anxious to bring the Empire into some form of federation. No word of that has been heard in the Debate to-day. The representatives of the Dominions meet as the representatives of free equal nations. That is the line which we are now developing in the Empire and no longer are people in this country desirous of imposing the super State. We do not want a super State in the League of Nations or the British Empire. I am glad that the Colonial Secretary was not here this afternoon if only to emphasise the urgent necessity of removing the Dominion Department from the Colonial Office. I hope that the Colonial Secretary will never be at these Debates and that they will invariably be 859 dealt with by the Leader of the House. I believe that small questions of machinery of that kind are important because they are a symbol, a symbol to the Dominions of a free State, to get the Dominions out of touch with the Colonial Office altogether.
§ It being Five of the Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.860
§ The Orders of the Day were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3, till Monday next (20th June).
§ Adjourned at One Minute after Five o'clock.