§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I beg to moveThat this House approves the Resolutions passed by the Supreme Council at Cannes as the basis of the Genoa Conference, and will support His Majesty's Government in endeavouring to give effect to them.4.0 P.M.
Perhaps the House will permit me to thank it for the very kind indulgence which it has extended to me during the short period of enforced rest that I have been endeavouring to enjoy. I am afraid that I was pelted with crises during that period, but the House seems to have taken no part in that new form of popular entertainment.
The Motion which I have the honour to move is very much in the same character as the Resolution which was moved for the Washington Conference. It gives the House an opportunity of approving of the objects, the purposes, and the delegates of the Genoa Conference. It also affords the House an opportunity of disapproving of either one, two, or three. I have been informed in quarters where I get all the information about these things—I mean the Press—that this Motion is not the original Motion which I submitted to the judgment of my colleagues, but that it has been completely transformed, or, as it is called, revised. As a matter of fact, it is exactly the Motion which I suggested a fortnight ago, and my colleagues were good enough to accept it in the very form in which I submitted it on that occasion. There are conflicting criticisms of this proposal, and, judging by the variety, I may say the infinite variety, of the Amendments which have been tabled, some critics suggest that it goes too far, and there are other and more numerous critics who suggest that it does not go far enough. Probably they both agree that the particular delegation to go to Genoa is not one which will meet acceptance. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] That shows that I am very fairly interpreting the criticisms of my opponents. If the Motion be defeated for 1886 any reason, whether it is because the purpose of the Conference is not accepted, or because the policy or the principles laid down do not meet with the approval of the House, or because, perhaps, the House of Commons would prefer that there should be another delegation to represent this country at Genoa, then it will be equivalent to a vote of no confidence in the Government.
Why has the Conference been summoned? The issues involved—the principles or purposes—are set forth in great detail in the Cannes Papers which have been circulated to the House and which Members have had a full opportunity of perusing; in fact, there is nothing that I can say which will add to the information contained in those documents, and I am not sure that I can do anything to elucidate them. The Conference has been called to consider the problem of the reconstruction of economic Europe, devastated and broken into fragments by the devastating agency of war. Europe, the richest of all continents, the continent which possesses the largest amount of accumulated wealth and certainly the greatest machinery for the production of wealth, the largest aggregate of human beings with highly civilised needs and with highly civilised means of supplying those needs, and therefore Europe, the best customer in the world and of the world, has been impoverished by the greatest destruction of capital that the world has ever witnessed. If European countries had gathered together their mobile wealth accumulated by centuries of industry and thrift on to one pyramid and then set fire to it, the result could hardly have been more complete. International trade has been disorganised through and through. The recognised medium of commerce, exchange based upon currency, has become almost worthless and unworkable; vast areas, upon which Europe has hitherto depended for a large proportion of its food supplies and its raw material, completely destroyed for all purposes of commerce. Nations, instead of cooperating to restore, are broken up by suspicions and creating difficulties and new artificial restrictions. Great armies are ready to march, and nations already over-burdened with taxation have to bear the additional taxation which the maintenance of these huge armaments to avoid suspected dangers render necessary. 1887 Genoa has been summoned to examine the best method of restoring order out of this welter and recovering prosperity out of this desolation. The purposes are very fully set forth in the document, and, if hon. Members have got their copies with them, I would specially call their attention to the Press notice on page 7, which was issued officially by the Conference, and which was very carefully prepared by Ministers and experts, every word of it being very thoroughly considered. There they will find the purposes of this Conference fully and carefully set forth categorically and in detail—The first condition, which is of prime importance in the reconstruction of Europe, is to establish the relations of all the countries on the basis of a stable and enduring peace.Then it proceeds to point out the financial measures that are necessary to meet the abnormal financial conditions in Europe, due to debased and inflated currency and due to the breakdown of exchanges. The question of the position and status of central banks and banks of issue, the question of public and private credit, the question of transport, the question of restrictions, the provision of technical and expert assistance which is to be given to countries—they are all set forth in very great detail in that particular document.
Before I come to dwell, I will not say upon all these points, because that would be utterly impossible, but upon the principal objects of the Conference, I should like to preface my statement by a reference to the limitations imposed upon the scope of the Conference. I say so, because, as far as I can see, the official Amendment challenges more particularly, not the object of the Conference, but the scope of the Conference. The objection to the Cannes Resolutions is not due to what we are seeking to achieve, not to the fact that we have invited all the nations of Europe there, but to the fact that there are certain limitations upon the scope of the discussions, and the hon. Gentlemen who are associated with the Mover of that Amendment object to those limitations. As those limitations are very important, I think that I had better dispose of them first.
Let me say at once—and I will say this because I observe that last week there 1888 were certain questions pressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), whose absence I regret, with regard to what passed between the French Prime Minister and myself at Boulogne, and I understand that it is inferred that new limitations were introduced at the Boulogne Conversations. That is not the case. There were no fresh limitations introduced at all. The limitations hon. Members will find embodied in this document—Without injury to existing Treaties.It is all summarised in that phrase. Those were not Boulogne limitations. They were introduced at Cannes; in fact, it would have been quite impossible to get from the Allied Powers a unanimous invitation to a conference unless those limitations had been introduced, and I think they are just. I do not believe that such a body as is summoned to meet at Genoa could properly consider the revision of existing Treaties, even assuming that it is desirable. Take the two great questions which affect the economic position of Europe, the two great questions embodied in the Treaty, questions around which controversy and criticism always reign. One is the question of boundaries, the fact that Europe has been re-arranged and re-organised and that its economic units have been broken up. And the second is the question of reparations. That is a very common criticism of the Treaties. Let me just point out in one or two sentences what the rearrangement of the boundaries of Europe involved. In the main they were—Alsace-Lorraine restored to France, which played a very considerable part from the economic point of view; Poland resurrected. Instead of being divided between three great empires it became an independent national unit; and in the third place there was the recognition of the independence of the Slavonic population of Austro-Hungary.
Those were the three great changes made by the Treaties. Latvia, Lithuania and Esthonia were arrangements made between Russia and her own subject States. Is there one of those provisions that any section of the House could wish to go back upon? Would they wish to restore Alsace-Lorraine to Germany? Would they wish again to tear up Poland? Would they wish to take away the independence of Czecho Slovakia and of Jugo 1889 Slavia? If not, it is no use criticising the Treaty of Versailles or the Treaty of St Germain, because they readjusted the boundaries of Europe, unless you are prepared at the same time to say it was an unjust distribution of Europe. But there is no doubt that these changes added a new economic complication. The moment you create a new national unit it is the desire of that unit that it should be a fiscal unit, that it should become an economic unit, and that undoubtedly has added one of the most serious complications to the economic situation of Europe. But obviously the Genoa Conference is not the place to enter into a revision of boundaries which have been set up by treaties of that kind.
I come to another limitation which has been urged with greater force than the one about boundaries. That is the question of reparations. The trouble in Europe has been attributed largely to the reparations exacted by the Treaties of 1919. May I just say that those Treaties did not create the reparations. The trouble is due to the fact not that you are exacting reparations, but that there is something to repair. If you alter the Treaty of Versailles you do not wipe out reparations. You simply transfer the burden of them from Germany to France, and to this country, as well as to Belgium, but, in the main, to France. You would transfer the burden from the 60,000,000 of people responsible for the devastation to the 40,000,000 who were the victims of the devastation. So it is no use criticising reparations and saying that this gigantic debt of reparations is what is responsible for the economic disorganisation of Europe. The point is—is the damage there? Has it to be made up? Who is to pay it? If Germany does not pay, France and England and Belgium must pay.
I admit that there is a difference, and a very considerable difference, between the payment of external debt and the payment of internal obligations, and there are two considerations, undoubtedly, which ought to be borne in mind when you come to deal with the problem of reparations. The first is, that if we insist now upon payments beyond the power of a war-exhausted country, it would precipitate a crisis which would be by no means confined to Germany. The second consideration is this, that 1890 Germany's ultimate capacity to pay must not be judged by her capacity at this moment when, in common with the rest of Europe, she is struggling to recover from the exhaustion of war. Those are two considerations which must be taken into account whenever you judge the problem of reparations, but neither of these questions can properly be dealt with at Genoa. They ought to be judged by the machinery of the Treaty, which is very elastic. France could not possibly forgo the right that she has won at so much cost to have an adjudication in accordance with the Treaty, and I do not believe that it would be fair to ask her to forgo it. She certainly could not be expected to submit to the judgment of a Conference where, not merely Germany, Austria, Hungary and Russia, but also neutrals, some of whom during the War did not indicate that they had very much sympathy with France, and, at any rate, it would be unfair to ask France to submit to their judgment upon something that so vitally affects her existence as her Treaty rights in respect to, reparations.
I have dealt with these two problems because I had thought it very important to get them quite clear at the outset and also because it seemed to me to be the main subject of the indictment against the proposals which I am submitting on behalf of the Government. I come to the main theme of the Conference—the establishment of peace, confidence, and credit, currency, exchange, transport, the machinery of international trade. Many conferences have been held to discuss these questions—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
—under the auspices of the League of Nations—Brussels, Barcelona, Porto Rosa, Geneva, all under the auspices of the League of Nations. They accomplished a good deal, each of them. They advanced matters by each conference, but they did not accomplish all they sought to achieve. I am not criticising them for that; I am not criticising these conferences because they did not achieve all that their promoters had hoped. Some progress was registered by-each, and it is a mistake to imagine that, because a conference does not achieve everything which it has been summoned 1891 to consider, therefore that conference has failed. If we proceed on that assumption Europe will never be restored. We must not be too easily cast down. We must not be too easily disappointed. There must be patience, persistence, continuity, and, if any progress is made towards a solution by any conference, that conference has justified its existence.
I do not understand this condemnation of conferences coming from the Labour party. They have been brought up on conferences.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Very real ones. In fact, they are the method of letting off the over-pressure of steam. Their view always has been that in the multitude of conferences there is safety, if not wisdom, and they naturally think that a good eruption now and again is better than a bad earthquake. Therefore, they have now and again largely concentrated on one movable crater. I cannot understand therefore their protest against conferences, and I would earnestly appeal to all those who are rather disposed to criticise conferences to hesitate before they tie their hands in advance. This Government will not last for ever. I have been assured that we are a dying Coalition. Therefore, perhaps I may have the privilege of a dying Minister and give my last words of advice. I do not know who will succeed us. I cannot even predict their character. I should say that their complexion will be piebald. Judging by the criticism of this Conference which appears on the paper, I should say that the new Government would have its principles enunciated and expounded by the "Morning Post," the "Daily Herald," the "Westminster Gazette," the "Daily Mail," and "Comic Cuts." I do not mention the "Times," because that is only a tasteless rehash of the "Daily Mail." But I should like to utter one word of kindly warning to this grotesque conglomeration not to tie their hands in advance about conferences. They will find it impossible in the state of Europe to get on without them. The world is so battered, so bruised, so crushed, there are so many injuries to its vital organs, that the cure will be a slow one, and it will need many consultations of its leading physicians, and therefore I entreat those who look forward to partaking of the 1892 responsibility—and there are a good many of them—not to condemn themselves in advance to impotence, when they come to deal with the state of Europe and the world, by condemning the only rational process, short of force, of bringing the world gradually back to something like normal conditions, and from normal conditions to something which is better.
At Genoa there will be gathered together representatives of nearly 30 nations. They say, "What is the meaning of so momentous a gathering?" Because Europe, as a result of the War, from the Atlantic to the Urals, is a devastated area. Some countries suffered more, some countries have suffered less, but there is no country, at the present moment, which is not suffering from the consequence of that great War. What its the first problem—I will not say the problem of first importance—but one of the first problems and one of the most essential problems with which we have to deal? It is to restore the machinery of international trade. What is happening? All those who have been engaged in international trade know what a complicated machine, how delicate, how fragile it was, and how it took centuries of constant effort to build it up and to improve it. It was working well before the War, but it is exactly as if a bomb had been thrown into that machine and shattered it. There are improvisations.
They had to fall back, in some countries, upon primitive methods—the methods of barter. Commerce between certain countries is where it was thousands of years ago, because you have not got the machinery. The complicated, fine, delicate machinery which we had before the War is no longer working between the nations. What is the effect? Anyone who will take the trouble to look at the figures of international trade can see that for themselves. Last year the quantity of our export trade was only about 50 per cent. of what it was before the War. The export trade of Germany was, I think, about 25 per cent. The percentage of French trade was higher—I think it was 60 or 70 per cent.—but that is due to the fact that AlsaceLorraine and the Saar Valley have been added practically, for economic purposes, to France, and the exports from these regions have been added to French ex- 1893 ports. But apart from that, the export trade of France is down by something like one-half. That necessarily affects the home market. We are a country depending more, probably, on international trade than any other country in the world. Thirty per cent. of the output of this country is exported—at least, was exported, before the War. Last year 24 per cent. of the output was exported. In addition to that, we had invisible exports reduced very considerably last year. That depresses the home market, because the population have not the same means of purchasing goods if they are deprived of that great trade on which they are depending by buying, selling and carrying abroad. Therefore, this is a problem of the most vital importance to the population of this country.
There is another aspect of it which I should like to bring to the notice of the House, because it has a very great bearing upon what we are proposing at Genoa. We are often asked a question: "If you lost your trade in Europe, could you not make it up by trading with the Dominions, trading with the Colonies and with other parts of the world?" The world is one trade unit. Our customers depend on their sales in European countries to pay for goods that we sell them. Take India. The purchases of India in this country have gone down very considerably. I attach great importance to this consideration from the point of view of Genoa. India is not buying from this country what she bought before the War. No doubt, the organised opposition to British trade there has something to do with it, but that is not the main reason. The main reason is that India has always paid us for the goods we sell her by the proceeds of her sales to other European countries. She pays us what she gets from selling to Germany, to France, to Austria and to Russia. She sold, in 1913, 60,000,000 lbs. of tea to Russia alone, and there are other commodities as well. Therefore, the trade of Europe is of the greatest importance to us, not merely directly, but indirectly, and unless you restore the trade of Europe as a whole, our purchasers will not be in a position to pay for the commodities which they get from us. What applies to India applies to Australia, to the Argentine, and to other parts of the world.
1894 Therefore, the fact that international trade has broken down is one which is affecting this country very specially, and it is not merely because Europe is impoverished; it is because the machinery of exchange has also been shattered. The cables have been cut. Trade is dependent on currency, the exchange, and credit, and they are all broken down. I wonder whether some of my hon. friends who are not actually engaged in business with Europe have realised the enormous difficulty of doing business with a country whose exchange fluctuates not merely from month to month, or week to week, but from day to day, and from hour to hour. I am told that in Vienna a housewife has always to consider in the morning whether she will pay her bill before noon or in the afternoon. It is a kind of gamble which every housewife has. And that applies to other capitals now. Between the date that an order is given and delivery is effected the exchange may change by 20, 100 or 200 per cent. It is almost impossible for anyone to do business under those conditions. [An HON. MEMBER: "How does that affect the housewife of Vienna?"] I am only giving that as an illustration. I do not know what my hon. Friend has to say. It is just a little illustration in passing, and I do not think the observation is in the least justified. I was pointing out that when you are ordering goods, by the time you come to pay for them your exchange may be altered by 200 per cent. What is the reason? Currency has gone adrift. It has broken from its moorings and is drifting helplessly, and one of the first things to be attended to at the Genoa Conference is the question of restoring the exchanges. You must have a sound basis to proceed upon. In this country wonders have been achieved in this respect, and I think great credit is due to my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer for pursuing, under great difficulties, a very sound financial policy, though not a very popular one.
But before trade can be fully restored you must be able to establish everywhere the convertibility of currency into gold or its equivalent—gold directly or indirectly by convertibility into liquid assets, and lodged in the banks of a country maintaining a free gold market. That may involve, and will involve, a devaluation of currency, but the world cannot afford to wait until currency is restored to par. 1895 What matters is to establish the rate at a figure which can be maintained and which will, therefore, continue a reliable basis for international commerce. That is one of the problems to be considered at Genoa, and it is one of the most important problems. In order to achieve that, one of the first considerations is to induce the nations to balance their budgets. Until they do that, new issues of currency will debase the currency, and the exchange will become wilder and wilder. That is a matter where pressure can be exercised at a great international conference of the leading Ministers of the various nations. But, above all, it is essential that there should be a real peace between the nations. Until that is established the trader, the financier and the merchant are unnerved by the present conditions of things—gathering armies on the frontiers, red armies, and white armies, and armies of many other colours.
This leads me to perhaps the most controversial part of the issue which will come before the Genoa Conference, and that is the question of peace in Russia and peace with Russia. Here I am approaching a subject where perhaps legitimate prejudices cloud reason. The doctrine, the demeanour, and the actions of the Bolshevists have undoubtedly been of a character which has excited wrath and just anger, and made it exceedingly difficult for us to exercise judgment when we come to deal with the problem of our relations with that country. Pitt was confronted with exactly the same problem over a hundred years ago with regard to France. A revolution provoked by intolerable wrong and leading to the wildest excesses, created bitter and fierce resentment in this country, and he had to consider the problem of whether it was possible to make peace with men who had been responsible for such things. I cannot tell it better than by giving to the House of Commons the views which he then expressed. He first of all endeavoured to make peace with the French revolutionaries in 1796 and failed. He sent plenipotentiaries over for the purpose. In 1797 he made the same attempt and again failed, and the failure was attributed by Mr. Pitt to the fact that the French delegates produced an impossible claim to Belgium, at the instigation of Napoleon. This is the doctrine 1896 which he laid down, and I very respectfully invite the attention of the House to the words which he used:I have no hesitation in avowing, for it would be idleness and hypocrisy to conceal it, that for the sake of mankind in general and to gratify those sentiments which can never be eradicated from the human heart, I should see with pleasure and satisfaction the termination of a Government whose conduct and whose origin is such as we have seen that of the Government of France. But that is not the object, that ought not to be the principle of the war, whatever wish I may entertain in my own heart; and whatever opinion I may think is fair or manly to avow, I have no difficulty in stating that violent and odious as is the character of that Government I verily believe, in the present state of Europe, that if we are not wanting to ourselves, if, by the blessing of Providence, our perseverance and our resources should enable us to make peace with France upon terms on which we taint not our character, in which we do not abandon the sources of our wealth, the means of our strength, the defence of what we already possess; if we maintain our equal pretensions, and assert that rank which we are entitled to hold among the nations—the moment peace can be obtained on such terms, be the form of government in Prance what it may, peace is desirable, peace is then anxiously to be sought.The House will bear one other quotation from Mr. Pitt, because it is very much to the point. In the same year he said".I wish for the benefit of Europe—I wish for the benefit of the world at large and for the honour of mankind, as well as for the happiness of the people of France, although now your enemies, but who are objects of compassion—I wish, I say, that the present spirit of those rulers and the principles they cherish may be extinguished, and that other principles may prevail there. But whether that is to be so or not is more immediately their concern than ours. It is not to any alteration in that country, but to the means of security in this that I look with anxiety and care. I wish for peace, whether their principles be good or bad; but I do not wish to trust to their forbearance. Our defence should be in our own hands.Those are the principles upon which we can proceed in approaching this difficult and dangerous project of endeavouring to make peace with a Government whose principles are just as odious and whose actions are just as loathsome as were those of the terrorists in 1792, 1793, 1794, and afterwards, in France. Mr. Pitt failed, entirely through the fault of the French revolutionaries. He had an embarrassment from which I am not suffering. He had a good many Die-hards in his Cabinet. In fact, I believe the most brilliant Member of his Cabinet took very extreme views on that 1897 subject. But in spite of that difficulty with which he had to deal, and from which I am absolutely free, Mr. Pitt put forward those proposals, and it was only the folly of the French revolutionaries themselves that was responsible for the failure. Mr. Pitt realised that unless peace were made with the French revolutionaries there would be no peace for many a long devastating year, and there was not for 18 years after that period. [HON. MEMBERS: "We are at peace!"] We are not at peace; I am not sure that present conditions are very much better than war, except for the actual fact that war is no longer in progress. But we have the effects of war in many ways, and one is the closing down of Russia. There is no intercourse with that country, and, let me point out, that there will not be until peace is established. I am going to speak quite frankly.
I do not believe you are going to restore trade, business, and employment until you appease the whole of Europe. Until you establish peace over the whole of Europe there will be a standing element of disturbance, and trade will not go on. The nerves of commerce will be shaken while there are constant rumours of great armies being built up, of hordes of savage revolutionaries to be let loose upon Europe to reduce the countries of Europe to the same condition of desolation—[Laughter]—I hope hon. Members will consider this matter seriously. I am sorry to say these rumours are not without some foundation. There are, as I say, rumours of such an intention by the revolutionaries to reduce the countries of Europe to the terrible condition of famine, pestilence, and desolation in which Russia is. Naturally there is great apprehension. One cannot tell what is happening there. It is an inpenetrable jungle. One of the evils of a revolution is this, that all opinions about the revolutionary country partake of the violence of the revolution itself, whether they are for the revolution or against it. There are no moderate opinions about a revolution—never. Whether these rumours be true or whether they be invented, whether they be accurate or whether they be exaggerated, one cannot tell. This, however, we do know, that in trade and business rumours are facts. Whether the rumours are actually facts 1898 themselves or not, does not, I am sorry to say, make all the difference it should. The mere existence of a rumour which is credited makes trade impossible.
What difference would this make? First of all, once the trader is admitted there, we should get to know the facts. In the second place, if trade wore introduced there, it would be to the interests of the country itself to retain it, and it will not retain it while these rumours are afloat. There is another point. The effect of those great revolutionary armies is to provide an excuse, if not a real justification, for huge armies in other countries. As everyone knows, France refused to discuss the question of land armaments in the Washington Conference, and everyone agrees that with this enormous Red Army in Russia as a menace, no country in Europe could reduce its land army. The countries cannot afford to do so. These armaments are absorbing the strength of the nations, but they will never be reduced until there is peace in Europe. Another reason is that Europe needs what Russia can supply. Before the War a quarter of the exportable wheat supply of the world came from Russia—millions of tons of barley and rye; great quantities of other necessary food supplies; millions of tons of manganese; two-thirds of the flax required for Europe; half the world's output of hemp; half the timber imported into the United Kingdom—all these came from Russia. Russia, in fact, was the greatest undeveloped country in the world. It has labour, it needs capital, and it will not get capital without security, confidence and peace, internal as well as external. Take another case. Germany cannot pay the full demand of reparation until Russia is restored.
5.0 P M.
Now what are the conditions of peace laid down at Cannes? I am not going over them—the House of Commons has got the document in its possession—but in substance they mean that Russia must recognise all the conditions imposed and accepted by civilised communities as the test of fitness for entering into the comity of nations. She must recognise her national obligations. A county that repudiates her obligations because she changes her Government is a country you cannot deal with—certainly not in these days, when Governments change so often. They could not pay immediately. Nobody 1899 expects that. Who can? M. Poincaré said the other day that he acknowledged France's debt to America, but if he were called upon to pay it immediately he could not do so. That is equally true of Russia, but she must shoulder the responsibility, as France does and as Britain does, and acknowledge it. The moment she does that it has its value. In fact, the mere prospect of payment has increased the value already. In France there are millions of frugal people who have put the whole of their savings into Russian securities at one time and another, and it is impossible for France and for Britain to deal on equal terms with a country whose rulers decline to acknowledge her obligations.
Where the property of our nationals has been confiscated, it must, if not destroyed, be restored, and I am told there is a good deal of it still there. I was told by a gentleman the other day who has some property there that the factories were still there; that there had not been much destruction. The property must be restored or compensation paid. Impartial tribunals must be established, with free access to them by the nationals of all countries, and those tribunals must not be the creatures of the Executive. There must be a complete cessation of attacks upon the institutions of other countries. There must be an undertaking that there will be no aggressive action against the frontiers of their neighbours. In fact, the Pact which is embodied in the League of Nations will have to be extended in principle to Russia, so that Russia should undertake not to attack her neighbours, and her neighbours, on the other hand, must undertake a corresponding obligation not to attack her frontiers. The only difference would be this—and I think it is important that I should say so—that I do not think we could under take the responsibility as a country which we have incurred under Article 10 of the League, of Nations to defend any frontiers which are attacked in that quarter of the globe.
Is Russia prepared to accept these conditions? There are indications of a complete change of attitude. The famine has been a great eye-opener to Russia as to her dependability upon her neighbours and as to the futility of the scheme of things which the Soviet Government has propounded as a method of solving the 1900 problems of life. The new Decrees recognise private property, set up courts, and acknowledge responsibilities, and I would call the attention of the House to the very remarkable speech in which this new policy was propounded. It was propounded on 1st November, 1921—November last—in a speech by Lenin. It was an admission of the complete failure of the Communist system, and in that respect it is a singularly courageous speech. He admits they have been wrong, he admits they have been beaten. He points out that the result of Communism has been completely to destroy the very proletariat upon whom they were depending. These are some of his words, and I think I quote them fairly. Anyone who cares to take the whole of the speech and quote other passages can do so. He said:There can be no doubt among Communists that we have suffered an economic defeat on the economic front, an extremely heavy defeat, and we put forward our new economic policy with a thorough knowledge of that fact.He goes on afterwards to say:The new economic policy means the transition to the re-establishment of capitalism to a certain extent. To what extent we do not know. … If capitalism is going to win and grow, so will industrial production.Was there ever such a condemnation of the doctrines of Socialism—the doctrines of Karl Marx?If capitalism is going to win and grow, so will industrial production, and with it the proletariat. … Inasmuch as the large capitalistic industry has been ruined, and works and factories have stopped, so has the proletariat disappeared.With the disappearance of capitalists, the disappearance of workmen. That is the doctrine of Mr. Lenin, the new doctrine which he puts before the world. It is a very remarkable admission to make. It is worth anyone's while to read this very remarkable condemnation and exposure of the doctrines of Karl Marx by its greatest—not merely its greatest living exponent, but its greatest exponent, the only man who has ever tried honestly to put these doctrines into operation, the one man. He had a whole country at his disposal, he had a country of infinite resources, he had a population of from 120 to 150 millions, he had great armies, which had defeated all enemies and all counter-revolutionaries. He had complete control. There never has been 1901 a man who was so complete a dictator over the fortunes and fate of 100 or 150 millions of people. He tries the experiment; he says it is a failure; and the only result has been to destroy the very people who were supposed to be the permanent beneficiaries—the workmen of the country. It is worth circulating, and I hope it will be.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. That is the first time I have ever read that speech. I had the privilege of seeing it for the first time only on Saturday—the full verbatim report. There have been extracts from it before. If this represents the real determination of Russia in its dealings with the world, in its dealings with the West—respect for private property, respect for the rights of individuals, fair play to those who make investments there, acknowledgment of honourable debts incurred by people who put the savings, very often of their lifetime, into Russian investments—then there is a real basis upon which we can treat. Russia needs equipment, transport, agricultural implements, the repair of old machinery and the provision of new machinery, for its mines, for its works. It needs clothing. If such a peace as I have indicated upon these conditions can be achieved—and there is substantial agreement amongst the experts of all nations as to the working out of these conditions—of course it would have to be submitted to the House of Commons for its approval and ratification.
I now come to the question in the minds of a good many of my friends—what recognition of Russia would this involve? It would involve no further recognition until the House of Commons approved—none. After approval, the stages of recognition would be those which ensue after most of the peace treaties—not all, but I will explain. It would involve access by other countries and their nationals to the courts of Russia; it would involve access by Russia and her nationals to our courts. Without this full legal status, business would be impossible, quite impossible. It would involve the establishment of the usual agencies by which the trader in foreign lands is protected. The nomination of these agents must be entirely subject to 1902 the approval of the Governments in both cases. What would be involved in the way of diplomatic representation? A feeling has been very generally expressed that before full and ceremonial diplomatic representation is accorded, a probationary period should be interposed. Some diplomatic representation on both sides is essential, otherwise business cannot be effectively transacted or business men protected. It is, however, felt that the character and extent of the diplomatic representation accorded depends not merely on the conditions which Russia is prepared to accept, but upon the actual proof which she gives of her bona fides. Let me say quite frankly that the way in which some of the more important of the Clauses of the Trade Agreement have been violated has not been encouraging. Propaganda, interference in our country, and in other countries in which we are interested, has not ceased as completely as we had a right to expect when that document was signed. It is not for us to dictate to the Genoa Conference, but it is necessary that we should indicate beforehand what our views are upon this most important subject, and the policy with which the British delegates will enter that Conference. Until the House of Commons ratifies, there can be no change in the representation or in the extent of the diplomatic recognition of Russia.
If the agreement is ratified, then the course pursued could be that pursued in the case of Germany after the Treaty of Peace. We could proceed by steps. The Powers wished in the case of Germany, before exchanging ambassadors, that a reasonable interval should intervene to test her bona fides. There would be no full ceremonial diplomatic representation in the case of Russia, as there was not in the case of Germany, until the Powers are satisfied that Russia is really endeavouring to carry out the terms of her undertaking. That interval is one which is usually established in case of peace between nations. Russia would be represented here by a chargé d'affaires, and we should be represented in Russia by a corresponding official, until such time as we felt that it was desirable to establish full ceremonial diplomatic relations. In the case of Germany, that was accorded 12 months after the signature of peace, and six months after ratification by all the Powers. That would present a period 1903 of probation, which it would be wise to establish in the matter of ceremonial diplomatic representation, in order to receive the necessary guarantees, not merely on paper, but in practice; that the Russian Government intend not only themselves to honour the obligations of the Treaty, but that they have established sufficient control over the extremists and powerful organisations in their midst which are now engaged in challenging the new policy of the Soviet Government. Those will be the conditions which we propose that the British delegates shall submit to the Genoa Conference.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It means until the Powers are satisfied that Russia is carrying out, in a bonâ fide spirit, the obligations which she has incurred. It might mean more, or it might mean less. It will be left to the Powers to decide whether Russia is carrying out her obligations. That was the case with Germany before full ceremonial diplomatic representation was accorded. I do not suppose that for some time the full benefit of such an arrangement would be reaped, but it would open out, undoubtedly, a new outlook for trade, and the effect from the psychological point of view-would be great. What is the alternative? The alternative is that you should do nothing until one day it is reported that the Soviet Government has disappeared, and that a Government of a totally different character has been set Up in Russia. When is that going to happen? I have heard predictions every year that that Government is coming to an end—1919, 1920, 1921, and this is 1922. Is anyone here prepared to stake his political reputation that 1922 will see the last of it, or that 1923 will? Are my hon. Friends quite sure that if this Government disappears you will not have exactly the same experience as you had in France, and even a worse Government—perhaps a militarist Government, which will embroil Europe? It is our duty to see it is the establishment of a complete peace throughout the whole of Europe, with a view to dealing with the serious problems of trade and unemployment which are confronting us at home at this moment. Do my hon. Friends imagine that the 1904 workmen of this country are prepared to wait, with all this unemployment, while half Europe is practically closed down, if there is a real prospect of making peace? I am convinced they are not.
There have been a few elections recently. I am in the habit of facing unpleasant facts, and this is one. There are men in France and in this country who are certainly not supporters of the Labour party who rejoice at these elections, and seem to see the end of something they dislike. Are they sure they are not going to see the beginning of something they will dislike more?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I have seen articles in French papers saying, "The Government of England is losing its support, and we shall see something different. "Yes; we suffered a reverse in three constituencies. There were three men there before the elections who would have voted for the enforcement of the Treaty of Versailles in all its terms. There are three men there now who would vote against it. There were three men there who would have voted for a very cautious approach to the Russian Government. There are three men in those seats now who would vote for unqualified, immediate recognition. Let us face these facts. I have a great respect for my hon. Friends, although I do not agree with them, but the movement of opinion is not in their direction. We are proposing, I consider, a moderate course—a cautious course. It may be over-cautious. We are doing our best to work in partnership with France, with whom we worked for four or five of the most terrible years through which any nation could pass, and we have, so far, done our best to keep step with France. In approaching Russia we have taken into account all reasonable prejudices against those people who have outraged every sentiment that is dear to the vast majority of the people of this country. Believe me, unless peace is made—if we fail because there are men who will not go as far, either here or elsewhere—the movement will not be in their direction; it will be away from them. Let them be wise in time. We propound these measures, in all consciousness feeling that the people of England demand them; Europe needs them; the world is crying out for them.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I beg to move, to leave out from the word 'That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordswhilst approving of an international economic and financial conference, this House regrets that the scope of discussion at Genoa has been so circumscribed that the conference must fall short of a settlement of the political and economic evils which afflict Europe, and is of opinion that His Majesty's Government, which has clearly not the confidence of the country and which is responsible for the policy the unfortunate effects of which are to be considered at Genoa, is not competent to represent this country.The Prime Minister, in the earlier part of his remarks, fell into an error by assuming that there was precedent for the procedure followed by the Government this afternoon. On the occasion when this House decided to pass, as it did unanimously, a Resolution relating to the Conference at Washington, that Resolution was moved from this side of the House, and was put upon the Order Paper in my own name and in the names of several members of the Labour party. The present Motion, so far as I know Parliamentary history, and viewed in the general light of the present-day political situation and in the light of the immediate purpose of the Motion, is not in accordance with practice, if it be in accordance with any precedent. I have a good deal of sympathy with the Prime Minister, in view of his ordeal this afternoon. For an hour and a half—I do not complain of the time—he has addressed the House, not in an effort to persuade Members of the Opposition as to the advisability of international conference in relation to the distracted and almost ruined state of Europe; the greater part, certainly some three-quarters, of the time of the Prime Minister has been occupied in addressing the serried ranks behind him, and unfortunately for his purpose he felt, I am certain, that the address evoked more yawns than cheers.
The Prime Minister made some little play of the fact that Labour is accustomed to conferences. That is really not a point against labour. Had there been more conferences probably there would have been fewer conflicts. I remember the Prime Minister, when he came back to this House after having met for the first time the representatives of Germany following the War, saying that if such conferences as that which he had attended 1906 had been held, even in the years before 1914, the world might have been saved the terrible losses which the War had brought. I agree with the conclusion of the Prime Minister that in economic affairs, in general industrial and even fiscal interests, the world is a unit, and the countries which form it cannot separate themselves and detach themselves from what is the common interest without either suffering singly or sharing in the common loss which is certain to follow. Yet it has been the policy of this Government, even since the end of the War, to erect economic barriers and to do little to produce any condition of industrial co-operation among the nations that were created as a result of the War itself. With respect to the establishment of these several new States and nations, first formed in some instances and restored in others, I wonder whether the men who framed the Versailles Treaty sought to procure in the case of these provision for industrial co-operation or such relations between us industrially as would prevent that economic disaster which has resulted. If that was not thought of at the time those who framed the Versailles Treaty were surely not thinking of England, for, as the Prime Minister said, we must export more than 30 per cent. of our trade, and we, therefore, have to risk greater loss and suffering than any of the other countries from any degree of economic or industrial dislocation in Central Europe.
As the Prime Minister has indicated, one of the leading tasks of this Conference at Genoa is to stabilise the exchanges. I remember pressing the Prime Minister here some two years ago by question on the subject. I asked for some information of what had been effected., and how far this question had been taken in hand by those attending these several Conferences of which we have had so many—I refer to the Conferences or meetings of the Supreme Council. The only information we could get two years ago under this head was that consultations with great financiers and experts and men of experience in these matters had not been very helpful. How far, then, has the Government been able to discover whether it is possible, as a matter of practice, to stabilise the exchanges, except by a process of freely increasing the weight and value of the commodities 1907 exchanged between country and country? I think it will be found again by experience that the only process by which you can restore well-balanced exchanges is by restoring a better balance of commodities exchanged between country and country. Other artificial devices, or other processes, may be brought within the sphere of national or international finance. If these processes are within the capacity of the Government, they might well have been practised years ago. In short, these Conferences, some 9 or 10 of which have already been held, are essential not so much because of the War; they are essential because of the terms of the peace. Unless the Genoa Conference proceeds to revise and to deal with many outstanding features of the Peace Treaty, it will as completely fail in its purpose as so many Conferences have failed.
We on this side of the House are, I think, entitled to complain of the failure to answer the direct and simple questions which have been put—mostly, I think, in the absence of the Prime Minister—in the past week or two with respect to matters that have a direct bearing upon this afternoon's Debate. These questions are, in the judgment of many Members, essential and necessary to a complete examination of the great purpose hinging upon the Genoa Conference. That Conference must not be looked at in the light of a party position, not so much even as a Coalition party position. If it is to serve its purpose, the representatives who attend it must be there in the character of national supporters of the policy and purpose of the whole nation. We have put questions in a simple and direct manner, and we have, in effect, been told to wait and see, and that the Government had nothing to add to whatever might be disclosed in the White Paper. It is not too late to say that in some degree our secret diplomacy is still being continued. I ask: Was it always the practice to keep the Parliamentary Opposition in the dark on the foremost aspects of our foreign policy? If so, I say it is not a good plan to follow. The Government cannot get the real confidence of the country unless in these larger aspects of foreign relations the Opposition i6 taken more into the confidence of the Government, and the 1908 Minister, and particularly the Prime Minister, is able to speak for the House of Commons as a whole.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
On the general proposition stated by the right hon. Gentleman I am in agreement. I am quite willing to give him any information in my power in reference to the Genoa Conference. There is nothing to conceal. I think the report of the experts is the only document I am not entitled to publish. It has not been submitted to the Allied Ministers, and, therefore, we are not in a position to publish it. Apart from that, I do not know that anything has been kept back.
§ Mr. CLYNES
More than one question was put from this side of the House during the absence of the Prime Minister, and it might be because of his absence the information to which we were entitled was not given. I have not by me either the terms of questions or replies, but this is a matter on which I am glad to have the reassuring comment of the Prime Minister. I am not at all personally complaining of his attitude in relation to this matter. In the definite Motion which the House is asked to consider, is it not clear to us that it has been put upon the Order Paper less because of the work to be done at Genoa than because of the party and personal divisions which have aroused in the country the strong resentment shown in recent bye-elections? In face, therefore, of the economic conditions which are imposing real privations upon millions of the people of this country, I think it is proved that the Government clearly is crumbling. The Prime Minister's speed this afternoon reveals fully his own consciousness of that crumbling state, and there has been a change of position. The Conference which was a promising high road to trade revival has been changed to the gateway for a General Election campaign.
Economic reconstruction is not the immediate cause of the Motion on the Order Paper. I have no doubt the Prime Minister will secures a sufficient following in the Lobby to enable him to conclude that he has got the confidence of the House. I have no doubt at all about that. But the spirit of the genuine following of that support for the purpose that the Prime Minister should have will be lacking The majority 1909 must not be taken as any measure of confidence in the Government, confidence, I mean, on the part of all Members or confidence on the part of all sections of the House of Commons. Whether this is helpful or no, I think the moment has come to be frank with those who, by the line of foreign policy they have so far pursued, have brought our country to the brink of ruin, and who now, judged by the speech of the Prime Minister, expect it to give them their confidence and a mandate for half-hearted procedure, which, when it is all completed at Genoa, will, I fear, leave the world pretty much as it was. I hope before I have finished to sustain one or two of these conclusions.
The spirit of genuine international conference is inconsistent with all that we have heard recently about the proposed French Pact. It is inconsistent with the operation of allied power through the Supreme Council. The spirit of genuine international conference is inconsistent with the treatment by the Government of the League of Nations. Until we reconcile these lines of policy, the Prime Minister of Great Britain cannot expect, on such a high occasion as this, to get a real and unanimous body of support from the British House of Commons. Labour, of course, stands for the principle of conferences of this kind. It stands for real conferences, not for conferences hingeing upon a succession of party manœuvres. We do not want a conference which beforehand has been so limited, so emasculated by ruinous decisions as to render it almost futile for the purpose for which it is being held. International conferences as a method for concluding conflicts and for restoring trade is an old method of organised labour. We called for this method immediately after the War was over, and we pointed out the defects in regard to the limitations of the Genoa Conference. In the first place, it is being held three years too late, and it is surrounded by harmful entanglements and commitments due to other phases of our foreign policy. It is faced with the lost confidence of the Government both on the part of the country and the House of Commons. I assert that our advice should have been followed three years ago, when we made appeals from hundreds of platforms for which we were denounced in this House as enemies of 1910 our country and friends of every country but our own, and for which we were called pro-Germans and Bolshevists—these were epithets hurled at us because at the right time we suggested the right thing. How the Prime Minister can expect that any great yield can come from this Conference, with an agenda so pared down, I fail to understand, for at the bottom of all these difficulties the Prime Minister knows very well there is the Peace Treaty of Versailles, and until the outstanding features of that Treaty, more particularly in reference to reparations, are substantially revised, no one can expect to put Europe economically upon its feet again.
I recall another phrase. I have not got the exact words, but I remember the Prime Minister on a recent occasion in this House declaring, much to the dismay of many of his followers, that a contented and a prosperous Germany was essential to the peace of the world—I think we must add to that the prosperity of the world as well. If, then, the Conference at Genoa is not to deal with questions of reparations or with existing Treaties or with questions of land armaments; if it cannot deal with such problems, how can the Prime Minister expect that any substantial improvement will come from such a Conference? The Prime Minister spoke this afternoon of a real peace. I would like to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the language of the Speech from the Throne. This is what it says:For these reasons I welcome the arrangements which are now being made for the meeting of an international conference at Genoa at which, I trust, it will be possible to establish peace on a fair basis in Europe, and to reach a settlement of the many important questions arising out of the pressing need for financial and economic reconstruction.I conclude that the language of the Speech from the Throne is very carefully considered and that in every word there is a meaning. What was meant when at the beginning of this Session the Government spoke of a fair peace? If we are to be told that at Genoa consideration must be given to the establishment in Europe of a fair peace, does not that clearly mean that for the first time in the Speech from the Throne we have an implied admission that a fair peace has not yet been established? You must not only have a real peace, but one founded on equity, and it must be fair as between country and 1911 country. You can have no fair peace without a Treaty revision, and you can have no economic revival or trade restoration until you have a peace grounded in equity, and until a peace of mind is established in the mind and consciences of the population of the various European countries.
Reparation are in a large degree being paid for now, not by Germany, but by the British working classes. I wish we could call upon and compel Germany to pay every farthing which the cost of the War involved. That would be a nice, easy, cosy sort of arrangement for us. I am not thinking in any terms of tenderness for the Germans, but I am thinking of what German reparations mean for the working classes of this country. I ask the Prime Minister's attention to the fact that during his absence, and within the last few days, the Minister of Labour has given us an estimate of how long we may expect this kind of thing to continue. Further millions are to be provided, and further borrowing powers are to be secured, in order to keep alive those of our workmen who have been driven to a state of almost perpetual idleness because of reparations of this kind. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] I shall be happy to find that that conclusion is not well grounded, but I am not going to trust to my own judgment. If the facts of these economic truths have not yet found their way into the Cabinet room, I have no doubt that ultimately they will get there, just as many other facts in relation to Russia have got there. In regard to re parations, take the case which has been put by the chairman of Barclay's Bank He says:The problem of reparation payments turns not only upon the ability of Germany to pay, but also upon the world's ability to receive payment according to the plan as it now stands.Mr. Edgar Crammond, the head of the National Union of Manufacturers, has expressed the same conclusion, and Mr. McKenna, formerly a distinguished Member of this House, says:Before Germany can develop her foreign trade so as to have an exportable surplus wherewith to pay the reparations demanded, the foreign trade of this country (her chief competitor) must dwindle into significance.I think the Prime Minister might profit a little by some consultation with high authorities in finance and industry in relation to reparations. More than one 1912 supporter of the Government has admitted the harmful effects on business and industry of the present degree and form of the reparations imposed upon Germany. The degree and form of those reparation payments are directly responsible for our unemployment. The forced activity of German workpeople has had the most mischievous result on our opportunity for work. If the pace at which Germany is compelled to produce is maintained the result will be that during the development of the reparation period a serious displacement of British labour will take place. If these things are not known to my right hon. Friend opposite I hope that some attention will be paid to them in the future. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad to find some approval from hon. Gentlemen sitting behind the Prime Minister. All I am saying is that if Germany is compelled to produce at her present pace of production for the purpose of meeting the reparations, it will mean that during the period of the reparation payments there will be a most serious displacement of British labour, and ultimately German production will have secured such an establishment in industry as to place Germany in a triumphant position in relation to the labour and industrial conditions and almost give her a monopoly in the world's markets.
The high speed of work in Germany is in a high degree making for the mastership on the part of Germany in the markets of the world. We are paying by our underwork for the overwork which reparations mean to Germany. Take the figures which have been given. I have heard the figure put at £300,000,000 yearly. Of course Germany cannot pay anything only so far as she gets it in exchange for goods, and those goods must be produced. Germany has no unemployment problem comparable with our own. Her people are working hard, working long hours and double shifts at low wages. It is clear as day that this powerful industrial country, having a great place already in the world's markets, must directly mean diminishing our opportunities for production and driving us out of the markets which we formerly had.
Let us consider the effect of the various reparation payments on our position in regard to employment and finance. Our 1913 share of reparations when we get it is something like £60,000,000 a year. At present we are paying annually in benefits, grants, maintenance sums, doles as they are termed—in all forms we pay annually to our unemployed not less than double the sum of £60,000,000. Supposing gradually we are able to reduce our unemployed to one-half the present figure. It will cost us then to keep the other half the whole of the sum that we are likely under any circumstances to obtain from Germany under the present terms of reparations. I think there will be some inclination on the part of hon. Members to tell the country and the world, or to tell the electors of Britain, that here again is the Labour party not only not wishing that Germany should pay, but objecting to our methods of exacting payment from her. The country knows more of these facts than Members of the Government are aware of. Little as the average man may know of the general principles of economy in our country, the bitterness of his experience in the last 18 months—an experience which the Government tells him he must face for another 18 months—has driven him to investigate this question. Unemployment will continue, the indebtedness of capital will increase, plant and machinery will remain idle, and Germany will more and more secure for herself what may be ultimately a permanent and dominant place in the industry of the world. Take as a witness in support of my view a very interesting piece of testimony from Germany. At a meeting held in Germany in September last the German Minister of Reconstruction used these words:We must go to the limit of our capacity in regard to Reparations, for a complete fulfilment of the terms of the ultimatum will hit the world economically more severely than it will hit us.Everything then points to the fact that Germany is being made to pay in excess of her power, and that that excess payment is reflected in the driving out of British goods from markets which they formerly supplied, and consequently in the enforced idleness of one and three-quarter millions of our own workpeople. Russia occupied a considerable part of the Prime Minister's speech, and yet I cannot help concluding that the Prime Minister proposes to apply to Russia a most halfhearted and wholly ineffective way of 1914 dealing with the Russian problem. We are not to have recognition of Russia. No! Only to some extent. There are to be limitations and restrictions. We are not to shake hands with Russia, we will go only the length of shaking three fingers with her. That is about the conclusion that must be drawn from the restricted relationship to be set up between Russia and ourselves. Russia is a great country treated by Europe as an outcast since the collapse of the Czarist Government during the period of the War. I have no sympathy at all, as I hope is well known, with the brute force methods of the Bolshevists, but those brute force methods are merely a continuation of the brute force methods of a tyrannical Czardom that existed long before the War, and we were not then so nice and particular in arranging our relationships. The dictatorship of a working class is a natural, if highly undesirable, imitation of the dictatorship which it displaced in Russia. Whatever the form of Russian Government may be, we cannot afford to wait until the Russian people may insist upon a change and develop institutions similar to our own. That is the conclusion of the Prime Minister himself, and what is the good of talking like this and doing so little? After all, what the Prime Minister said here to-day is only a repetition of what he said in this House exactly two years ago. Let me read his words:First of all, there is the fundamental principle of all foreign policy in this country, a very sound principle, that you should never interfere in the internal affairs of another country, however badly governed, and whether Russia is Menshevist or Bolshevist, whether it is reactionary or revolutionary, whether it follows one set of men or another, that is a matter for the Russian people themselves. We cannot interfere, according to any canon of good government, to impose any form of Government on another people, however bad we may consider their present form of Government to be. The people of this country thoroughly disapproved of Czardom, its principles, its corruption, and its oppression, but it was not our business to put it down. This is a question for the Russian people themselves.I ask, what is the good of repeating this statement at intervals of two years and in the meantime finding that the following of the Prime Minister is still unconverted? Indeed the only warmth evoked in his favour this afternoon, or in support of his side, was when he made a few almost feeble references to the failure of Communism. The paragraph 1915 read by the Prime Minister this afternoon was no news to us. We read that confession of failure in our Labour journals five months ago, and if my right hon. Friend has not got the whole of the speech I shall be glad to hand him a Labour journal containing it. Why, of course, Communism was bound to fail. Communism never can succeed, except in a community of Communists and then only when a Communist mentality has been produced. Without it it is doomed to failure. I marvel that so fantastic an experiment was tried by men of high ability and repute as undoubtedly numbers of the Russian leaders are. You cannot secure success for it by simply commanding it to come into existence. It may come as the growth of generations of development in thought. It is neither a surprise nor a wonder to us that this effort at imposing Communism from the top on masses of people understanding nothing whatever about it has completely failed, as has been admitted.
After we have done our worst in the condemnation of Communism, let us turn for a moment to see what Capitalism in this country has done, because we must not use the House of Commons merely as a sounding board for capitalist praises. We must see what Capitalism has brought in its train in this country. Those of us who are seeking modifications of that system and to replace very many features of it with a more sane and equitable order of things must press on the Prime Minister facts of which he evidently is ignorant. You have a million and three-quarter people living on doles. You have seven million workers in a state either of under-employment or suffering recently such heavy wage reductions as have brought them down to lower than the subsistence level. I said before, and I repeat it now in the Prime Minister's presence, that his appeal for national economy will fail, because nine-tenths of the people in this country have nothing to save and therefore can spare nothing, and the other tenth are not inclined to pay any reasonable attention to his demand. While Capitalism produces and tolerates slums, while Capitalism produced what the Prime Minister himself graphically described before the War as a C3 nation, while it condemns so many of our people to such heavy privations as they now 1916 have to endure, our praises of Capitalism must be somewhat restricted. I think the Prime Minister might reconsider the conditions of approaches to the Russian Government which evidently are part of the bargain he has had to make with his supporters. If I reject the view seriously that any Prime Minister can speak like this in the House of Commons about the rights of a Government which they care to tolerate, I doubt whether such a Prime Minister could voluntarily consent to the half-hearted and limited relationship which it is proposed to set up between the Russian nation and ourselves. Our policy towards Russia must be completely changed even if our Ministers have to go back on their furious condemnation of the present Russian rulers. If they do that, they can go forward with a new method which will bring Russia into the company of European nations.
We have an example here at home of what this double dealing leads to. At one time leaders of the Irish nation were no better in the view of Members of the Government than the present Bolshevist leaders. There is not a word in all the language of our Ministers as applied to Russia which has not even in recent years been applied in this House to the present leaders of Irish opinion, and I have no doubt that when the Prime Minister gets into the company of the Russian leaders, as he got into the company of Irish leaders, he will find them quite human, though perhaps not quite so adroit or skilled in the art of negotiation as he himself, but still competent to effectively represent their particular point of view. I think he will find for instance that the representatives of Russia, while listening to what he may have to say as to their debts and obligations to us, will have something to say as to our debt to them, for we shared in a policy which by enormous expenditure, by military advice, and by many acts which it would have been well for this nation to have avoided, helped further to cripple and to ruin a large part of the Russian nation. The destruction of her property and her desolation was caused by successive military invasions which we encouraged and supported, and there is a state of indebtedness and poverty in Russia for which the Russian representatives may call upon us to pay something. Therefore it will not be a one-sided subject when it is discussed at the Genoa Conference.
1917 Before the War, Russia was a chief source of our supplies of cereals. Part of our prosperity is linked with the prosperity of Russian agriculture. Russian agriculture offers great opportunities for the manufacture in this country of agricultural machinery. Such trade with Russia, either in that or in other articles of export, is impossible without frank and full recognition of that country, and without even consultation with the Russian Government. How can we have confidence, how can we completely remove suspicion, by denying a condition of equality, as between nation and nation, in the discussion of these problems, or until we place Russia upon the footing of being equal with us, at least in matters of courtesy and debate? Until we do that, we cannot expect any return to the confidence upon which alone credit can be restored or trade done successfully as between two countries.
The Prime Minister this afternoon did not touch upon one subject which for just a moment I should like to bring to his mind. I have before asked in this House how far our Ministers and our Cabinet are wholly responsible for policy as it has been determined in relation to Russia, to reparations, and to many other features of these successive conferences dating back to the Versailles Treaty. We have been told that always there was the most complete agreement with France, that there was absolute harmony and the most cordial understanding, that the two countries were at one. Accepting those statements as true, as I do, they surely mean that the Prime Minister has accepted an enormous responsibility, and that no particular direction of French policy can be cited either as an excuse for or as a defence of the line of action pursued by him. As a country able to exert enormous influence in these Conferences, as a Government backed by an enormous majority, and having secured, as it did, national confidence for the definite purpose of making a real and a fair peace, the responsibility of the Ministers of to-day is heavy indeed.
I observe that a very large delegation is to accompany the Prime Minister to Genoa. I do not at all complain of the number. It may be, for reasons of efficiency and consultation and advice, necessary to spend even considerable sums of money, and, if the result is to bring 1918 us nearer to anything like peace and trade prosperity, the money will be well spent indeed. But now, again, while the Prime Minister was absent, we endeavoured in this House to secure some place, for advisory and consultative and technical purposes, for the representatives of the great co-operative movement in this country. That movement represents an enormous consuming public of more than 12,000,000 persons. It is a social and economic movement to secure the highest welfare of the greatest body of consumers in this and all other countries. It is not confined, by constitution or practice, to any class or any interest. It is open to all who care to join it, and who care to share in an effort designed to procure a higher degree of national well-being. The Prime Minister and other Ministers, in the country and in this House, have publicly acknowledged the services of this great co-operative movement. I think, therefore, that such a body might have been given an opportunity, as representatives of great manufacturing and financial interests were given an opportunity, in connection with the recent meeting at Cannes. This great co-operative body does not pursue its interests as does any other private trading concern, but is practically an organisation seeking first and seeking always the public well-being. As a body, it appeals to the Prime Minister to use its great experience and its services, because it does an immense international trade and is enormously interested in the restoration of international peace, of world peace. For these reasons, such a body might have been invited to this Conference.
I move the Amendment which stands in my name as an act of opposition to the Prime Minister's Motion. The speech of the Prime Minister this afternoon clearly reveals that he has ceased to be a Prime Minister in fact, and has become a mere party prisoner. He is no longer the leader he was. He has stood up this afternoon to make a speech as a desperate and defeated agent of futile compromises within his own Cabinet, and Labour can neither give nor imply any Vote of Confidence in a Government which, both at me and in foreign affairs, has neglected to use for the national benefit the efformous majority that was given to it at the last Election. Not a single promise in relation to 1919 domestic and industrial questions has been redeemed, and the labour and economic conditions of the country have for two years imperilled the safety of this nation. These conditions are due to acts of international policy which have destroyed our trade and dislocated pre-War conditions of credit and finance. We are brought nearer to ruin, and I fear, from the experience of the Prime Minister's speech this afternoon, that the Genoa Conference will not remove us any further from it. I beg to move;
§ Colonel GRETTON
We have listened to a violent attack upon the policy of the Government delivered from the Front Bench above the Gangway, and I am sure the House will not expect me to agree with a great deal that has been said by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. The terms of the Amendment which he has just moved give reasons for disagreeing with the Government, but the only part of the Amendment with which I agree is the concluding part, which expresses want of confidence in the policy of the Government. My cause for disagreement is on quite other grounds. This Conference at Genoa is the outcome of the Conference which was held at Cannes, and which was so unfortunate in its results, for it led to the downfall of two Governments, while as regards any positive decision or conclusion it proved to be a failure. Matters or importance were referred to a future occasion, namely, the Conference which is to be held at Genoa. It is remarkable that the Prime Minister in his speech this afternoon repeatedly informed the House that the Conference at Genoa is a Conference to make peace. The world was informed three years ago that peace had been made at Paris. We thought there was peace, except in the Near East, where Turkey and Greece have recently been at war. There has, however, been no war in the case of Russia. There is no attack upon Russia. We ought to have had greater enlightenment on this matter. If anyone has been making war on Russia, and this economic and financial Conference at Genoa is going to make peace with Russia, we ought to be informed of the whole facts of the situation which have led to the conclusion of peace. Practically there is no one making war on Russia.
1920 We have heard a great deal about a Vote of Confidence in this Government. It is difficult to know how much reliance can be placed on the statements in the Press which supports this Government, but we were told that the Government were going to propose a Vote of Confidence and really test the opinion of the House of Commons. To-day we have a Motion of quite a different character. We were even informed that there was a Ministerial crisis. The Prime Minister, in some sentences in his speech, appeared to deny that fact, but what we are asked to do is to agree with the Government in the resolutions of the Cannes Conference, and to accord to them our confidence in carrying out the policy based on those resolutions. To that, therefore, I propose to confine myself. The speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) was a direct attack upon our Ally, France. It was directly antagonistic to all French aspirations and all the principles upon which the French are going to the Conference at Genoa. The French Government desire and intend—they have said so in plain language—that the Conference shall be strictly confined to economic and financial subjects. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting desires to extend it broadly over the whole field, including Treaty revisions, and the re-opening of the whole question of reparations, which the French Government are entirely opposed to doing. Therefore, the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting would lead straight to a complete overturn of the whole system of foreign policy in Europe.
I hold, and I believe the majority of my countrymen hold, that the key to a safe, sound and stable foreign policy is that we should have a firm working agreement with France, and that ought to be the key to our actions. One of the greatest errors which has occurred in the policy of His Majesty's Government is that they have sown the seeds of distrust with France between the cordial friendship of the two peoples and between the intimate understandings of the two Governments by their constant changes and constant opposition and want of cordial understanding with France. This is deplorable, and I hold, and I am sure the majority of the House will hold, that the sooner relations of complete confidence and trust between 1921 ourselves and the French people are reestablished the better it will be for the peace of the whole world and the prosperity of ourselves and our Allies. According to the Prime Minister the only matter in his mind in going to Genoa is to establish trade relations with Russia. The Resolutions at Cannes covered a very much wider field. They would lead you to consider that many other subjects are to be considered dealing with other countries than Russia. The Prime Minister said nothing about any other of the war devastated areas, but simply about Germany and Russia, and the chief part of his speech was confined to Russia.
The two questions which ought to be considered by the House are, what does Russian trade mean to this country and to our Dominions, and to the British Empire at large, and what are the conditions which have been laid down for the admission of Russia to the comity of nations? I propose to deal with the question of trade first. As usual, it is a question of money—loans and advances. We do not know how much. The foreign Press has suggested a loan of £20,000,000. Obviously that is absolutely absurd. It is not approaching the fringe of dealing with the subject of the restoration of trade and industry in Central Europe—not even entering upon the fringe of dealing with the conditions in Russia. We should be much better advised, if we are going to spend public money, or encourage the spending of the savings of the people in this country, or the accumulation of capital on enterprises for the development of trade and the employment of our people in foreign trade, to look to those countries where previous experience has shown that we have been able to do a large business, and not to turn to that part of our foreign business which was the least remunerative and the least in volume of any which existed in the period immediately preceding the War. What has this Government done to develop trade within the British Empire—trade worth in 1913 £208,000,000 out of the total of £634,000,000 of our export trade? They are under engagement with our Colonies to take measures immediately to promote inter-Imperial trade. Practically nothing has been done. We are under engagement to promote trade with our Allies—with France, Portugal and others. No commercial treaty has been negotiated. Not 1922 one of those engagements has been redeemed. What has been done to negotiate commercial treaties with the Argentine and the other countries in South America, formerly large customers, of ours with which we did large business? Nothing has been done.
That field has been utterly neglected, and we find the whole energies of the British Government now turned to the restoration of Europe, to set up foreign trade which out of a total of £634,000,000 in 1913 only accounted for some £97,000,000, or one-seventh part. These figures are very significant. The Russian portion of that trade is inconsiderable. The trade with Germany was the greatest. The whole of our trade with Russia before the War consisted of £27,000,000 per annum, and of that export trade a very large quantity was coal, various raw materials, and something less than £10,000,000 of manufactured or partially manufactured goods. I asked a question the other day about the trade which has been done with Russia under the Trade Agreement. The reply was that the total trade for 11 months was a little over £2,300,000. The Trade Agreement is a failure, and those whom I have consulted, who are well acquainted with the condition of Russian trade, assure me they do-not believe that figure is a true figure. They believe it is exaggerated. The Prime Minister said Russian trade was of great value to our Dominions. I think he said India sold £60,000,000 worth to Russia before the War. That is quite untrue. A friend of mine examined the Board of Trade returns, and found that the sale of goods in 1913 by India to Russia was only £1,750,000. I cannot imagine where the Prime Minister has got his figures.
§ Colonel GRETT0N
These figures are really very remarkable. It is worth examining the reason. The truth of the matter is that Russia, owing to her present Government and the utter, disorganisation which they have produced during the past four years, is in a state of bankruptcy, collapse, and ruin. The greatest industry in Russia was agriculture, which accounted for 63 per cent. of her total exports before the War. Agriculture has utterly collapsed. All the spare stores of grain which the peasants 1923 kept have gone. It should be remembered by those who consider these agricultural questions in Russia that before there was intensive cultivation, organised on a large scale by the large landowners, Russia produced only enough corn for the consumption of her own peasants and the feeding of her own towns. The export trade of Russia before the War, which was the result of the organisation of the large landowners and the intensive methods, has all gone. The large land owners are driven out of the country or killed. The peasants have been robbed again and again by the emissaries of the Bolshevist Government and by the Red Armies. They have been plundered to supply the towns. All their small reserves have gone, and they sow only just enough to keep themselves alive. The crops in Russia were ruined in 1919 and 1920. In spite of that there is famine in great areas in Russia and nothing can be done to relieve it. The railways are out of repair. Sixty per cent, of the rolling stock is useless, the whole railway system is disorganised, and there, are no roads. Hon. Members speak from time to time about the great need of agricultural machinery. There is abundant agricultural machinery now in Russia. and it cannot be used. There is no transport. The roads are very poor, and they are not suitable for motors and motor tractors. The problem is one which requires not one or two seasons, but a generation to solve, once the system has broken down. There never was a greater delusion presented to the people of this country than the idle legend of the bursting corn bins of Russia. It is lamentable. We all deplore the position. But to think that Russia will for many years to come be in a position to export grain in any quantity is a complete delusion. The gap that has been created in the world supply by the want of Russian export has been filled by increased production in Canada and the Argentine.
Then we turn to the whole matter of manufactures. Russia's manufactures and industries were managed and organised chiefly by foreigners—largely by Germans. I am told there were some £200,000,000 of investments in industrial enterprises of one kind and another. That has all been seized by the present Government. Some of it has been destroyed 1924 beyond repair. Only the other day it was said that the export trade of Russia must be organised by the Government. It is still their policy, or was a few days ago, to continue their Communist system and prevent all private enterprise. I can give two cases. I hope the House will not expect me to use any names or to be too particular in the instances I give. There was the case of the Odessa tramways, owned by a public company. Those tram ways fell into ruin owing to disuse and lack of upkeep. The owners were encouraged by the Bolshevists to repair them. They did so, and at the same time they were required to make a considerable deposit of money as a pledge of their good faith. When the tramways were repaired and in working order they were taken over immediately by the local Soviet, and their owners were driven away. When they went for redress to the Moscow Government they were told that the Odessa Soviet was quite right, and could do what it liked, and that no redress could be given. When they asked for their deposit, with very great difficulty they got half of it handed back. That is the encouragement for foreign loans and enterprises in Russia.
Take another case. The owner of a factory, not a British subject, applied to the Soviet Government to be allowed to re-open his factory and to start work. He collected all the savings he had and got the factory going. Directly it started he was interfered with, as usual, by the local people. He was driven away and got no redress. That man is utterly ruined. The same sort of thing happened in regard to some oil works. The enterprise was stopped. The workmen employed were better fed and better paid than other local workmen employed by the Bolshevists. The result was that the Bolshevist workmen were jealous. They went to this prosperous oil well, drove away the workmen, burned the works, and shut down the engine. What is to be done with foreign enterprise in Russia under such conditions? Nothing. The whole idea is a delusion as long as the Bolshevist Government exists in Russia. The United States Government is thoroughly aware of this. The United States Government was invited to take part in the Conference at Genoa. The Americans declined, and stated that in their opinion the Conference was in fact to be a political Conference and not purely an economic or financial 1925 Conference. They also said in their reply:It is only in the productivity of Russia that there is any hope for the Russian people. It is idle to expect the resumption of trade until the economic basis of production is securely established. Production is conditional upon the safety of life, the recognition of firm guarantees of private property, the sanctity of contract, and the rights of free labour. If fundamental changes are contemplated involving due regard for the protection of persons and property and the establishment of conditions essential to the maintenance of commerce, this Government will be glad to have convincing evidence of the consummation of such changes; and until this evidence is supplied this Government is unable to perceive that there is any proper basis for considering trade relations.The Bolshevists have refused to come to any agreement whatsoever before going to Genoa. Judging from the speech of the Prime Minister, if they refuse to accept the conditions, unsatisfactory as they are, agreed upon at Cannes, the whole reason for the Conference will disappear. Why, then, drag the representatives of 30 nations to Genoa? Why take the 100 Ministers, exports, secretaries, typists, and others who represent great Britain to Genoa? The whole matter might have been settled by the usual interchange of diplomatic notes without any expense comparable to what will be incurred at Genoa. No one wants this Conference except the Prime Minister. Even the Labour party do not want it, because it is not being held under conditions of which they approve The Conference has become a political Conference, affording a platform for the Prime Minister once more to display himself before the eyes of an admiring world, and to come back with new pæons of triumph in order to appeal to the country to support him at the approaching General Election. I and those who think with me feel deeply the degradation to which Great Britain is being brought by these constant activities, abortive in results, lamentable in methods, and futile from beginning to end. We have had too many conferences. Has not the time come to go back to the older methods of diplomacy, when trained representatives of the various nations met and consulted together and referred their proposals to their Governments. It is a method far surer in its result than constant invasion by amateurs, only partially instructed in their subject, far less dangerous to the amity of nations, and far less liable to bring about friction 1926 between Governments and peoples. I have here a quotation from a document addressed by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Marquis Curzon, relative to breaches of the Russian Trade Agreement, so lately as September of last year. I suppose the Government still adheres to the protest it then made. Lord Curzon then stated:It is with profound disappointment that His Majesty's Government are obliged to register the fact that, although five months have elapsed since Mr. Tchitcherin's assurance was given, the hostile activities, upon the cessation of which the successful working of the Agreement depends, still continue unabated. His Majesty's Government, are, moreover, in possession of indisputable evidence that the objectionable activities are due to the direct instigation of the Soviet Government. It still appears quite incapable of realising that a constant flow of inflammatory invective delivered by its leading representatives against the existing institutions of this country is an absolute barrier to the renewal of correct relations, and that actual hostile activities by its agents must necessarily prompt the belief that its desire for such relations is insincere.We may wonder. Mr. Krassin has established sumptuous offices in the City of London, and we are informed that the Russian Government has bought for him a very commodious and comfortable house, and that they have made him their envoy and accredited representative here. They made agreements that they would not interfere with the internal affairs of foreign Governments, and yet our foreign Minister has had to make a protest surely without parallel in the history of civilised Governments. The truth of the matter is that the Bolshevist Government depends entirely on propaganda, which must go forward or it will fall. Russia is reduced absolutely to a state of bankruptcy and ruin, and if they care little for Russia, they care as little for the rest of the world. These men who rule Russia are said to be only 120,000 to 200,000 in number. They have under their command an armed force of upwards of one million men. Their War Minister the other day claimed that the numbers of the Red Army were 1½ millions under arms. It is safe, therefore, to say that the numbers exceed one million. Yet we hear hon. Members in this House and in the country complain of other nations being militarist, while this Red Terror in Russia has in hand the greatest military force in the whole of the world. The 1927 Bolshevist Government has destroyed at least one million and a quarter Russians of all ranks in the community. Their activity of murder is directed against those who are well educated and instructed—Government officials, priests, intelligentia, and all sorts, hundreds of thousands of people who have ventured to express any view in disagreement with Bolshevist propaganda.
There is no hope for trade with Russia. It is a delusion to represent to the people of this country that they can obtain any employment for years to come by means of any trade agreement with Russia. A trade agreement with Russia might be of value to Germany. We know that Germans have been over to this country endeavouring to obtain for their trade with Russia capital which they are not able at present to raise in Germany. Why should we assist to bolster up German trade with Russia? Surely that is not a British interest in any shape or form. This Conference at Genoa is built on unsound foundations. It has not the full support or approval of our allies the French, or of our friends the Italians, and it is utterly repudiated by the United States. Under such conditions it cannot by any possibility bring about those great results which have been held out to us. Many Members here, whether they say so or not, profoundly distrust the methods of this Government. There is too wide a latitude in the terms of the Resolution. We have not sufficient information given us to enable us to judge what is really intended, except that it may set up close relations with the present Russian Government. We want more information if we are to give it our full confidence. We want to know what else it is intended to do at Genoa except to enter into these relations with Russia. We are told that it will be all right, and that the Government will come back to the House of Commons for ratification of the proposals made. The House of Commons has had experience of things of that kind. We were told that the Irish Free State Agreement was to be submitted to the approval of the House, and yet the House was dragooned at every possible point. The Government said, "If you alter one line or comma or syllable, you will ruin the Treaty." They said, "Take it as it stands, or you will overthrow the Govern- 1928 ment." Is that fair treatment of the House? In the United States that is what is called bull dozing.
I suggest that if there is to be any value whatsoever in the undertakings of the Government and any agreements at Genoa are to be submitted to the House for ratification, we must have a definite pledge from the Government that the House is to have full opportunity of considering every point on its merits. Having had experience of the ways of this Government, anything short of that is valueless to the House of Commons. We shall have some instrument or agreement shown to us, and we shall be told that we are already pledged to it in principle, that we have affirmed our confidence in the representatives who are going to Genoa, and that we must take what they have done, whether it be good or bad, or we shall overthrow the Government of the day. To these conditions I submit we cannot agree, and we ought not to agree to the main Motion of the Government; we ought to vote against that Motion unless we have much more detailed information given to us. I think, and many others do also, that it is a very great misfortune at the present time that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be dragged off to Genoa when he is preparing his Budget. He is taken away from the consideration of the grievances and difficulties of various sections of the community who at this period of the year would come to lay before him the position in which they stand with regard to taxation. There is no subject more vital to this country than the subject of taxation, and it is a great evil that the Chancellor of the Exchequer at this time should be taken from his duties and should have to apply his attention elsewhere. I thank the House for their forbearance with me in my few remarks, and I hope that we shall be able to extract from the Government in the course of the Debate to-day some further explanation of their policy.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
I do not hope to be able to take the place of my right hon. Friend and leader (Mr. Asquith) in any respect except one, and that is in the brevity of the remarks for which I ask the House to give me its indulgence. We are faced with a very remarkable position to-day. We have the Prime Minister of one of the most powerful 1929 Governments of modern times, now in the third year of its existence, coming down and moving a Vote of Confidence in himself and his Government I should have thought that the tone and the general run of his remarks would have expressed confidence in himself and his Government, and that he would have used the formula which is obtaining so much in these times that "we are getting better and better and better every day," but, instead of that, we have the announcement of an, early demise. He practically told the House that the Government were getting worse and worse and worse every day. He said his was the speech of a dying Minister. Judging by the physical energy he showed to the House in his speech of considerable length, I think he was referring only to his political demise, which certainly I will welcome with all my heart. As I listened to that speech, I was asking myself this question the whole time: "Why are we face to face with a Vote of Confidence for Genoa?" Is this the first conference that has been held? Not at all. It is the eleventh, and in regard to the other conferences, certainly not any less in interest or width of scope or the gravity of their issues, no Vote of Confidence was sought from this House. Even in regard to Spa, where one of the main questions was reparations, which is expressly ruled out from this particular Conference, there was no suggestion that the House should give its confidence and its welcome and its cheer to the Government on their way.
This Conference was foreshadowed at Cannes on the 9th of January, and the date actually fixed for it was 8th March Why did it not come off on the 8th March? We remember that there was a great deal of talk about an election in February, and that certainly, I think, was not unconnected with the postponing of this Conference. I have not the slightest doubt that if my Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir George Younger) had not left his lower deck position and gone on to the bridge and directed the course of the ship, by this time the Government would have been dead and buried and all the wits would have been polishing its epitaphs. The real reason for all this has just entered the House (Sir George Younger). Several efforts have been made, as we know, to adjust these differences, but to-day has been held on the Floor of the House of Commons the 1930 Parliamentary meeting which should have been held at the Carlton Club or some other place of the kind. But, being face to face with this Motion, we must discuss it as seriously as we can. Why should all the preliminaries have been shrouded in such mystery? I attempted to get some information from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House the other day and failed completely. My right hon. Friend the Member, for Paisley, my leader, made a similar attempt and even he failed, and I thought, as we all thought, that there must have been some wonderful secret locked in the breast of the Prime Minister; but, obviously, he has not given any indication of it to this House. We find simply this, that the Genoa Conference is reduced to a Brussels Conference over again. Reparations are not to be discussed at all. I see M. Poincarè has spoken very frankly on this matter. He said in Paris, the day before yesterday, I suppose:We shall be a party at Genoa to no direct or indirect revision of the Treaty of Versailles We shall set up as regards the Treaty of Versailles a notice-board with the word 'Verboten.' If any attempt he made to pass beyond it we shall reserve our liberty of action.We were directed to-day to look to a very remarkable situation which was to develop if the Genoa Conference were held under successful conditions. Reparations have been ruled out, and reparations having been left out, you are really moving along a plane of minor details compared to what the issue would have been if you had reparations under discussion. Two years ago, after the Conference of Lympne, which was held between the Prime Minister and M. Millerand, the official communiqué stated:In order to mark the definite beginning of the era of peace it is important to arrive at a settlement which would embrace the whole body of international liabilities which have been left as the legacy of the War and which will at the same time ensure the parallel liquidation of the Inter-Allied debts and the separate debts of the Central Empires.Two year's ago—that was the very beginning of anything that should be done to settle the question of reparations. The very foundation of the peace of Europe, regarding which the Prime Minister expressed an aspiration in which we all join, depends on the settlement of this question of reparations, of getting the liquidation 1931 of Inter-Allied debts, and the separate debts of the Central Empires. Without these three questions settled you can do nothing. Your Brussels Conference settled these things 18 months ago. Eighteen months ago you sent your experts to Brussels, and I venture to say that they were much better qualified to deal with these limited financial details than the plenipotentiaries and all the rest of them who are going to Genoa. At Brussels there were business men representing the United States, Germany—I think Russia was excluded, but all the other nations were in it—and they came to a set of conclusions and gave advice which should have been followed, but we are to have another Conference with men not so fitted to deal with the questions as those who were at Brussels. The whole position shows that the motion before the House to-day has no real relation to these matters at all. It is a domestic matter which the Prime Minister is endeavouring to settle.
For a minute or two, I wish to examine one or two other points. The outline of this Conference is a summary of the past failures of the Government. After "three years what are they going to try to do? They are trying to restore the economic life of Europe, to re-establish confidence between the nations, to establish the relations between all the countries on the basis of a stable and enduring peace, and they are trying to find out how the existing impediments to the free exchange of the products of the different countries are to be removed. Meantime, they have passed the Safeguarding of Industries Act, and they kept on developing control until the last possible moment, when they were driven from their positions by the protests of the country. Then the Prime Minister comes down here and with remarkable assurance asks us to start off with him all over again, after three years. Is it any wonder that on the Notice Paper to-day we have these Motions declaring that, however excellent the objects of the Conference may be, we have no confidence in His Majesty's Government in going there? They have failed lamentably already. What assurance have we that they are going to be successful now? There is none. Here we come to a question which excited a great deal of interest—the question of Russia. The Prime Minister appealed to his followers with regard to that. The 1932 real reason why the Government have failed so signally to secure some of those objects, or part of those objects, to which I have just referred, is that they have not had any consistent policy about anything. In 1919 we had an army in Northern Russia. When we had given up that project of the Secretary of State for the Colonies we bent our energies to subsidising and assisting Koltchak, Denikin and Yudenitch.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Churchill)
You said that we were under an honourable obligation.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I was the first in the House to denounce the policy of the right hon. Gentleman in Russia. I have been consistent.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I should have no difficulty in furnishing the right hon. Gentleman with quotations of his remarks, saying that it was an obligation of honour.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
We had to withdraw our troops that were over there. That was the obligation of honour. But there it is, a policy of insincerity in making peace and inefficiency in making war. The Government were no good at one or the other. Test them where you like: that is where they fail. My point with regard to these matters is this, that the Prime Minister, and those mainly associated with him, had a very good idea of what was the right thing to do, but they failed to do it. We have had published a Memorandum, to which reference has been made several times. It expressed what was the Prime Minister's idea of the foundations upon which peace ought to be made, and we remember what an upset it was, and that there were hundreds of Members protesting against this being the policy of the Government. I remember very well the Prime Minister in this House leading us to believe that he had no responsibility at all for the policy set out in the Memorandum.
§ The PRIME MINISTER indicated dissent.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
The Prime Minister knows the right as well as anybody, but he yielded to other forces, which in other days he fought against with us, and allowed himself to be led along the wrong path, and we are paying very dearly for 1933 that to-day. I am not speaking with any sort of personal bias or animus against the Prime Minister, but sometimes he seems to me like Dr. Jekyll and at other times like Mr. Hyde. I do not know whether he is Dr. Lloyd or Mr. George when he addresses us to-day. That is the trouble about the whole thing. There is no consistent policy. There is no going on a certain line consistently, whether it is to win or lose. The few sentences with which the Prime Minister closed his speech were an appeal to the Die-hards. They amounted to this: "Watch the elections." I did not learn my policy from that school. Neither did he learn his, and I should have thought that, if ho had anything of the Die-hard in him at all, it has got nothing to do with elections. I have nothing myself to do with them. The results of elections do not deflect me, and in the end, whether I see it or not, those principles are going to win. That is what I understand by politics. The very phrase, Die-hard, if it means anything at all, mean3 that you have a principle by which you are going to stand, no matter what the consequence. I say, "Hold on to what you think is right. If there is any soundness in your position time will justify it." The country wants to get back to straight politics, and it is because this Resolution, moved by the Prime Minister, is only another chapter in the degradation of politics, that is manœuvring to get past a difficult position in order to secure another jumping place tomorrow, that I shall vote for the Amendment of the Labour party.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I am very glad to be able to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) in the words which he himself used in beginning his speech this afternoon. From the point of view of interesting the House I am glad to say that he is becoming better and better. A principle on which I always used to act when I was in his present position was that the duty of an Opposition is to oppose, and I rather like to see it. But even from that point of view there were two criticisms in the speech of my right hon. Friend which I think he might have left out. He said that this Government could not conduce war. Coming from his party, that is a criticism which I would have thought it wiser to omit.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The right hon. Gentleman said that the last portion of the Prime Minister's speech was an appeal to the Die-Hards, showing that he was thinking of personal motives, but the end of the speech, as I understood it, had for its object, not to tell the Die-Hards or anybody else to take what they thought was the easy course, but to point out to them, and to the world if necessary, that they must consider the consequences of their action. That, to my mind, is a very different thing from advising people to go the way the cat jumps. I notice that in one respect my right hon. Friend and the Leader of the Labour party-have one view in common. They are satisfied that this is a dying Government. My right hon. Friend put this point more strongly than I have seen it put hitherto, and said that but for something which prevented an election, the Government would have been dead and buried long before this. That may be true, but, though I had not an opportunity of discussing the matter with him or his colleagues, I do read the newspapers which support them, and I have not been struck by any extreme eagerness to have the matter put to that particular test.
The only other remark made by the leader of the Labour party was one which, I hope, will be confined within these walls, where people understand it, and I hope that he will not make the same sort of speech on the platform. He actually told us that the unemployment to-day was duo to the payment by Germany of reparations. If that means anything, it means that, owing to the payment of reparations, German goods are flooding our markets to a far greater extent than before the War. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That is the only possible meaning. What is going to happen in the future cannot affect the men who are unemployed to-day, and, instead of German goods flooding our market in a way in which they never did before, the proportion brought to this country-last year was only one-fourth of what it was before the War. Looking, also, to the argument as regards the future, I think that it needs reconsideration. One of the theories which he gave ns was, that if we compel the Germans to 1935 work so hard, they will capture all the trade of the world. Does my right hon. Friend realise what that means? It amounts to this, that the more you tax a country, the better its trade will be. My recollection also of the speeches of my right hon. Friend and his colleagues is that the more cheap goods are coming into a country, the better for that country, wherever they come from, and whatever the cause of the cheapness. The argument will therefore require reconsideration from that point of view also.
There is very little I want to say about the Motion. I am compelled to say it is rather difficult to understand, on the one hand, why the Government should have put down this Resolution, and, on the other hand, why anyone should have objected to it. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is harmless!"] I see no reason for putting it down. The views of the Government as to this Conference were published at Cannes. The House knew exactly what they were, and if anyone had taken exception to them, it was open to him to raise the matter in the House. The Government would be entitled to say that, since it has not been raised, it may be assumed that there is no objection.
On the other hand, what is the meaning of the Amendment to the Motion? Why should these Amendments be put down, and, least of all, why should the Amendments be put down by people who believe in the Conference, but only think it does not go far enough. It is difficult to understand the reason, but we have the explanation. It is that they have put down the Amendments because my right hon. Friend is thinking of electioneering. I think we hear sometimes a little too much about electioneering. We over deify the Prime Minister from the point of view of his electioneering capacity. He probably understands that problem as well as anyone else in the House, and because he does understand it, I would say that anyone who says he is going to Genoa for the sake of political capital is a very foolish person. Whatever else may come out of it, it is certain that no political capital can be made out of it in time for any election, no matter how long it may be delayed. My right hon. Friend is setting out, in the phrase of the 1936 right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), on adark and doubtful adventure.Think of the enormous value of any result you can get. My hon. Friend the Member for Burton spoke as if Russia would be of no value in any circumstances; but she has resources which, if properly utilised, would enable her to pay off all her debts. How can any results come from this Conference in time to do any good at an election? How is it possible? I think the Conference is undertaken under the most difficult and trying auspices. To begin with, America is out, and from the point of view of any attempt to set the exchanges right—to restore the machinery which the Prime Minister spoke of—that is a terrible handicap. It is obvious to anyone that had there been any possibility of putting it off, or altering it, so as to get America to come in, it would have been worth any delay. I am perfectly certain that the Prime Minister realised this as well as anyone else.
Look at another aspect. It is true that, in attempting to restore the economic life of Germany, any scheme which does not take into account reparations is terribly handicapped The whole question of the possibility of the economic revival of Germany does depend on the relation of the economic system to the reparations they have to pay. Do not let me be supposed to be in sympathy with those who seem to imagine the whole source of trouble in Europe is because we are trying to make Germany pay. I agree with the Prime Minister that reparation has to be made. It has to be made by somebody, and the sole question is to what extent can Germany make it good, without shattering the whole foundation of her trade. Do not assume that it is impossible that Germany can pay a very large sum. When people complain about the Versailles Treaty that it did not settle once and for all the amount Germany had to pay, they do not know what they are talking about. There was not a man at the Peace Conference who would not have wished to fix the amount had it been possible to do so.
There is another handicap. I understand that armaments are not to be considered. This adds enormously to the difficulty of making the Conference a success, even from the economic point of 1937 view. The essence of an improvement is the balancing of the Budget. That cannot be done without reference to armaments. I am certain that the Prime Minister will agree that though you might get all these nations to pass resolutions that they would not be aggressive against one another, those resolutions would be useless if these great armies are maintained. That kind of criticism means that either you have got to break with one of our Allies, or you have got to wait an indefinite time, till many of us are older, perhaps dead, before any attempt is made to deal with this great economic problem.
There is another handicap. Russia, as I have said, is the storehouse of the raw material of the world, but does anyone imagine that by any possible concatenation of circumstances Russia can have her trade renewed for years? She is now in a state of famine. The best that can be hoped, and I think it is too much to hope, is that there will be sufficient corn sown to prevent the people from starving next year. You must look therefore two years ahead before there is any possibility of exporting the great raw material of Russia.
These are tremendous handicaps, and it is my opinion, and I think the House will agree, that the Prime Minister, in face of these difficulties, in undertaking this task cannot be influenced by electioneering. It must be because he believes that it is possible to do something; and the fact that he is willing to try is one of the best proofs of his courage. What about electioneering from the other point of view? What about the electioneering of these Amendments? It is an unusual thing to use foreign politics as a means of attacking the Government of the day. Still more is it unusual when those who use them agree with the policy, and must feel that the Prime Minister is going as far as it is possible to carry our Allies with him in this matter. Is not this talk about electioneering nonsense to a great extent I have been a long time now a Member of this House. I have heard this sort of thing said often, and I know the chief actors in it. From the point of view of the interest taken in the elections, I doubt if there is much difference between politicians. The party leaders must, 1938 of necessity, think of these things, and if anyone deny it, it is affectation, or worse. The Prime Minister and his critics take equal interest in electioneering. The only difference is, that when the Prime Minister devotes himself to it, he is better at it.
I have not touched on what is my chief interest, and has been my chief interest since I heard this Conference suggested. I have been afraid of two tilings—two very serious things. I was afraid that, in some way or other, recognition might be given to the Soviet Government when, in my judgment, it ought not to be given, and I was afraid, on the other hand, that a quixotic scheme, in the state of our own finance, in lending money to other countries, might be a danger, and one of the things to be guarded against. My fears on these points have been removed by a definite assurance given to us by the Government that there will not be any recognition until we have had an opportunity of hearing the whole circumstances; and as regards the financial obligations, it goes without saying that the House must be consulted. Of course, that means that we may find ourselves in the position that our delegates at this Conference have said that they will recommend to the House of Commons something with which we do not agree. That is the drawback, but what is the alternative? The alternative is either to say now, before we know what the plans are, that we do not approve, and will not sanction them, or to say that after we know exactly what it is proposed to do. It does not worry me for another reason.
I do not see why we should assume that the Government or the Prime Minister will come here with proposals which, on their merits, the House of Commons would not be ready to accept. I saw in the newspapers that Lenin had described the Prime Minister as a "great realist." When you come down to practical proposals he is a realist, and I have no reason to suppose that every consideration which would weigh with me would not weigh with the Government before they make these proposals. I am prepared to let them try. I am prepared to say that if they do make a plan which seems to me ought not to be accepted by the House of Commons, I shall have no hesitation, as far as I am concerned, in saying that I shall not accept it.
1939 I said that those were the two things of which I was afraid. Let me consider them more closely. First, as to the recognition of the Soviet Government. As long as I was a member of the Prime Minister's Government, I think I agreed with him on his Russian policy. I certainly felt as strongly as he did that it was folly to try to impose your will on Russia from without as to the kind of Government it should have. We have been told that we had tried and continued such an attempt. The only justification for it was that men were engaged in it who had been our allies in the War against the Germans, and we were not at liberty to leave them alone. It may be that we went further than was necessary. I do not argue that. But I never shall for a moment doubt that, just as the invasion of France by the European Powers strengthened the French Revolution, so any attempt to press your will from without on Russia will not destroy, but will strengthen, the Government of Russia.
I was also in favour of the Trade Agreement with Russia, not because I thought that any great volume of trade would result. I said so at the time, and I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was responsible for the Agreement, said so himself. We never expected it, but we did think that if there were any trade, there was nothing immoral or improper in our getting our share of it. There was another consideration which I think it was right for the Government to take into account. We knew perfectly well, long before it came to anything like its present form, that there was going to be acute unemployment in this country. We knew that people all over the country were saying: "Make terms with Russia, trade with Russia, and there will be no unemployment." I say, therefore, it was our duty, if it could be done, to make trade with Russia possible, and to let people see that it was not our fault if trade was not being done.
But to make a trade agreement is a very different thing from de jure recognition. We had the same difficulty at the time of the French Revolution. When Louis XVI was imprisoned, the French ambassador was sent away, and we no longer recognised the new Government. But up to the outbreak of the War, there was free trade between the two countries 1940 as far as conditions made it possible. I think that is right, but there is something else we have got to consider, and it is vital in a matter of this kind. I would do nothing to try to overthrow the Russian Government from outside; but just as little, or even less, would I take any step such as recognition might mean which would strengthen that Government against a possible change from within. That I would not do.
Let us consider what are the conditions. The Prime Minister in his speech this afternoon read quotations from a speech of Lenin's which I noticed were very interesting to my hon. Friend's opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "They were very old."] I think they agreed with him in their hearts that Communist Government has broken down. We have been told, until we are getting tired of it, that the Bolshevist Government was going to come to an end next week. We have been told that constantly, but it has not done so yet, and as far as I can judge there is as little prospect of it ending now as at any previous time. That does not alter the fact in my belief that a Communist Government is impossible, and cannot last. It will be said that this Russian Government has lasted for 4½ years. Let it be remembered that the Revolutionary Government in France lasted for 10 years, at least, before Napoleon made a military dictatorship. It is bound to break down, and there are two ways in which it can break down. It can break down by a change of view on the part of the people who constitute the Government. The Prime Minister, as I gather from his speech, and from his extracts from the speeches of Lenin, thinks that is going to happen, or has happened. I am not so sure of that. That speech was made in November, and spoke of the restoration of the right of private property, but if that were the policy adopted, it would have been done by now. I read another speech. I read everything in reference to this Russian bog, where it is so difficult to know what is true, and what is untrue. I read a speech the other day made by Lenin, in which in effect, he says, "We have made the experiment; it has gone far enough and we are going to stop it."
I believe myself that that kind of Government is impossible, and that you will gain nothing by trading with it. Indeed, there cannot be any trade. The 1941 French Revolution, bad as it was, never made a law so extreme as that there should be no private ownership of property, and, whatever the Russian Government may do or may promise, if the system in its own country is that there is no private property, then trading with Russians is a contradiction in terms. It cannot be done, and I have no belief in any other kind of trading that may be proposed. All this does not mean that I would be one of those to say in no circumstances will we give de jure recognition to the Russian Government. On the contrary, if the conditions, as I understand them, are carried out, I would recognise it to-morrow, but, I am bound to say, that I believe these conditions are impossible under this kind of Government. In this I am certain I am saying nothing which the Prime Minister does not say, and with which he will not agree. I am not prepared to give de jure recognition while depending on any promises or on something the Russian Government are going to do. I am quite ready to meet them when they have restored civilised relationships of other countries, but not on promises, and nobody ought to know that better than the Prime Minister. He said so in his speech to-day, and, what is more, at the very time we were making the Trade Agreement with Russia, we had to turn out one of the delegates, because he was breaking one of the promises which his Government had made. I have no reason to believe that the heart of that Government has changed. If it has, I should be the first to be delighted, but I do not believe it has. The whole soul of this movement up to now—and in this it resembles the French Revolution—has been: "We will fight the capitalistic Governments in their own countries by our methods of propaganda.' That has got to stop, and we must be sure it is going to stop.
There is only one thing more I should like to say. Anyone would be foolish in the extreme who belittled the possibilities of a revival in Europe, or who, because we could not get everything at the Conference, was not willing to try to get something. That would be folly. But perhaps it is as easy to exaggerate its importance as to minimise it, and it is not any wiser. Of course, the recovery of Europe would be of immense advantage to the world, and above all to us, because 1942 of our trading with foreign countries. I think, however, the Prime Minister indicated that that can only be done by time. The wounds of nations, like the wounds of men, must be healed from the bottom, and if there be any empirical attempt to heal the surface while it is festering below you will do far more harm than good. Therefore, if you have to wait for the recovery of our trade until Central Europe has been set right, the prospect is black indeed.
But I do not think we have any need to be so pessimistic. The trade is important, but after all let us measure it. In the last year before the War, our total exports of everything produced in this country to the European countries where the exchange has gone to pieces—Germany, Russia, Austro-Hungary, and the Balkan States—were only 14 per cent. of the total. We have become so accustomed to the commonplace that this country depends on its foreign trade that we do not realise what is the actual trade position. Of our total production of all kinds before the War, 70 per cent. was consumed in the United Kingdom, and only 30 per cent. exported. The 14 per cent. of the 30 per cent. means something like 7½ per cent. of our total production. Should my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer find it possible to reduce taxation in his next Budget, it is not at all improbable that, we should have a revival of the home market quite equal to all we were doing with these countries. That does not deal with the whole problem. We must export this 30 per cent., or we cannot buy the food and the raw materials on which we depend for our existence. But if you leave trade alone, it has a great knack of adjusting itself to conditions, however bad.
There are possibilities of increasing export. Before the War our exports to our own self-governing Dominions were two or three times as great as the exports to the whole of these European countries. As the Prime Minister pointed out, that does not tell the whole story. The power of these Dominions to buy is regulated by what they sell. If they sell more to other countries, it is possible for them to buy more from us. Making every fair allowance for that, however, when we realise that the great bulk of our manufactures have always gone to the undeveloped countries like the Dominions, South America, and, to a certain extent, like China, and that these countries, because they pro- 1943 duced raw materials at excessive prices during the War, are really wealthier than they were before the War, I think it is not too much to hope for better trade. I myself believe that if we get rid of labour troubles at home—I do not mean that as in any way suggesting that we should be cutting down wages—but if we can get rid of labour troubles, and get the cost of production reduced to the lowest level—. that does not mean only wages—in a very short time, and I think there are already signs of it, we shall have reason to hope that trade will become almost normal. I have indicated that I shall vote for the Resolution. I have indicated also that I have not the same faith in the results of the Conference as my right hon. Friend (the Prime Minister). But I am not suprised at that, and I am not arrogant enough to think that he is likely to be wrong, and that I am likely to be right. I saw him over and over again during the War undertake enterprises which seemed almost hopeless, and he carried them through to success. Though I have not the same faith as he has, I hope he will have the same success in this effort, and; if he has, it will be a lasting triumph far more important than any electioneering consideration.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Like all the speeches which my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) delivers, the one to which we have just listened has delighted the House. I could not help feeling that it was an exceedingly characteristic speech. My right hon. Friend, as far as I understood him, accepted all the arguments against the Genoa Conference which have been urged, both by what are called the Diehard section and by the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who sit behind me, and, accepting all those arguments, he stated that he should support the Resolution. [An HON. MEMBER: "And run away."] No, I do not say that. He a little reminded me of a very old legal story, which I have no doubt is familiar to many Members of this House, of a learned Judge who was sitting between two of his brethren who differed, and he had a very poor opinion of each of them. When he came to give judgment, he said, "I agree with my brother on the right for the reasons given by my brother on the left," and that very much is the conclusion to 1944 which my right hon. Friend arrives. He agrees with the Government on the question of the Genoa Conference for the reasons given on that subject by all sections of the Opposition. It was also rather characteristic of my right hon. Friend that his whole argument in favour of voting for the Resolution was: "I can see no possible good that can come out of the Genoa Conference; every aspect of it is depressing, and therefore the Government must have had some reason for going into it. I cannot see any reason whatever, and I shall in consequence support the Government."
My right hon. Friend discussed with his usual extraordinary lucidity some of the difficulties under which we labour, and he pointed out, what no doubt is quite true, that it is very easy to exaggerate the figures of foreign trade as part of the whole trade of this country. That is quite true, but where my right hon. Friend really a little understated the case was this, that if you take out of the machine of world trade a section of it—it does not really matter very much whether it is a big section or a small section—you arrest the whole machine. That is really what has happened. It must not pass through our minds on the mere figures of the foreign trade. It is an essential part of European trade before the War, an essential part of the economic unity of the world, and if you once paralyse that section, then the whole of the rest of the machine must necessarily suffer. There is another thing for which I do not think my right hon. Friend made sufficient allowance. He did not allow for the enormous importance of confidence in trade, and the fact that there are many millions of the most industrious and progressive of human beings in conditions of the greatest possible difficulty throughout Europe throws a profound gloom on the rest of the world and makes it very difficult for any part of it to recover that confidence without which no trading operations can be carried on. In spite of all my right hon. Friend said, I do not myself doubt—and I do not think he would on further consideration—that the recovery of Europe is of vital interest to this country and, indeed, to the whole world. The commercial world cannot recover, our industries cannot recover, until we have set Europe on its legs again, and not only the other countries but Germany and Russia as well, and 1945 perhaps particularly. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, I have never objected to an economic Conference.
I notice that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister suggested that there were large numbers of people who objected to conferences as a whole, but until my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) spoke, I did not know there was anybody who objected to conferences. I should have thought it was perfectly evident that you must have conferences. You have had conferences at every stage of diplomatic history. There is nothing new about them. After the Napoleonic ware there were constant international conferences, attended by Ministers of the Crown, and since that time there have been conferences from time to time. I was amazed to find that anyone could object to conferences, but you may well object to the way in which certain conferences have been held and certain conferences have been summoned. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, I think, very much underrates the profound feeling of distrust which is created, not only by other events that have taken place in the last three years, but by the Cannes Conference itself. Apparently, for all that anyone outside could see, that Conference was summoned in a desperate hurry. It was got together as a kind of improvisation. It was supposed to be going to deal with the most important questions affecting the whole future of Europe. There did not appear to be any preparation made for it, there did not appear to be any sufficient thought given to it. That was the impression, not only in this country, but in France. It was thought to be a mere manœuvre and not a really serious contribution to solving the difficulties of Europe. That is what filled people with distrust, and when, as the outcome of the Cannes Conference, held under the conditions which we all remember, you had a sudden proposal for a new and very elaborate Conference, a world or European Conference, I am not surprised myself that a very great deal of distrust was created, so that the Government have only themselves to blame if, searching about for motives for this extraordinary way of dealing with international subjects, suggestions of electioneering and the like were made, and not altogether unnaturally made.
The Prime Minister has explained to us, even now in the course of this Debate, 1946 the extreme difficulty of approaching this subject in the kind of way in which the Government ask us to approach it. Just look at what has happened about this, very Debate. Our efforts to know what it was that was going to be discussed were very meagrely complied with; in reply to our questions about the Boulogne Agreement, and the modifications of the Genoa Conference, we were referred to this Debate and told that nothing could be said about that. All this produced an air of mystery and as if there were some great secret which was going to be burst on the House which was to be a justification of this very sudden and very elaborate Conference, yet when we come to listen to the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) is surely right when he says that, as far as the mass of what the Prime Minister outlined was concerned, it was merely a repetition of what had already been discussed and dealt with at the Brussels Conference 18 months ago. I hope we are going to have at Genoa something more than the Brussels Conference, for the history of the Brussels Conference is not encouraging. The report was admirable, and the recommendations, I believe, hold the field. I do not think they could be improved upon in their own line by anything that will take place at Genoa, but what has been done? This Government has done something, but foreign Governments have done very little, and in regard to this Government, to take one instance, what was the immediate result of the Brussels Conference? The Brussels Conference laid stress on this, that all barriers between nations should be thrown down, that no artificial difficulties should be allowed to exist. This Government replied by passing the Reparation Act, the Dyestuffs Act, and the Safeguarding of Industries Act. I venture to say that if their real purpose is to make the policy of Brussels effective, they would do much more by repealing those Acts than by attending the Genoa Conference.
What else is to be done at Genoa? My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had some "very cryptic observations about the necessity of getting back to a gold standard in some form or another. I do not know—I do not pretend to be an expert—but I should have thought some of his views on that point would require- 1947 very careful consideration, but what is the Genoa Conference going to do on that point? What is it going to do about the gold standard? What is the step that the Genoa Conference can take to restore the currency of Europe? To be quite plain, the collapse of the currency and the collapse of the exchanges is not a cause but a symptom, and no body of men has ever said anything more decisive on that point than the Brussels Conference itself. If you are going to approach it by any attempt at direct action on the exchanges, you will unquestionably make things worse and not better than they are at the present time. Beyond that, the Prime Minister told us that the great thing was Russia. I was surprised to hear my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow, who has just spoken, saying he agreed with all the Government's Russian policy. I should have thought it passed the wit of man to do that, for if there is one thing you cannot do it is to agree with a thing which is constantly self-contradictory. But he did say that, and he went on to explain what grave misgivings he had about this newest development of Russian policy, how he was against it, as far as I could make out, if it were to have any political result at all, and that he had the gravest doubts that it would have any commercial or economic results.
What is the policy? I really do not know. I do not know what it is the Prime Minister is going to do about Russia when he gets to Genoa, I agree most fully that the restoration of Russia is vital to this country. It is very important that we should get the great Russian people, with the great Russian resources, diverted from a position of hostility to the rest of Europe, and that the Russian people should march along in the efforts to restore the shattered conditions under which we live. But what the Government propose in the matter I really do not know. They have some plan of making what they call peace with Russia. I did not know we were at war with Russia. They are going to make some kind of treaty with Russia. The Prime Minister did not tell us what, but, apparently, when that treaty has been made, it is to be followed by a renewal of relations with Russia. If he can succeed in making a treaty on reasonable terms with Russia, if he can really 1948 get some security that that treaty may be carried out, no one will rejoice more than I shall at the renewal of relations with Russia, but do let us deal with the thing straightforwardly and honestly. If we want relations with Russia, we want them. What was all this talk about a probationary period, and that there were to be Chargés d'Affaires? That was in order to soothe my hon. Friends below the Gangway. What does it mean? What is the difference whether you have a Chargé d'Affaires or a Minister? What is the real practical difference? I see my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary on the Bench. Let him tell me what is the practical difference whether you are represented by a Chargé d'Affaires or a Minister Plenipotentiary. He knows there is no practical difference. But I agree that you have got to get Russia back to the economic comity of Europe, and, until you have done it, you will not solve the question of economic reconstruction. Here, again, I cannot help feeling that a little action by the Government would be worth all their protestations. I think a little courageous policy to assist the Russian famine would have done far more, both morally and materially, to restore the position with regard to Russia than any of the policy that has been announced.
I am bound to explain why it is I cannot support the Motion put forward. The Motion asks us to accept the Cannes Resolutions as a basis for this Conference. We now know that the Cannes Resolutions have several very serious limitations. To begin with, they cut this Conference off altogether from the League of Nations. I listened very carefully to the Prime Minister to see whether he would indicate that in any respect whatever the Genoa Conference was to be associated with the League. That is a very important matter. I do not believe in having these conferences and general talk—general agreements, if you like—unless you provide the machinery for making those agreements effective. You have created a great international machinery at Geneva. Why on earth should you not employ that machinery, if your Genoa Conference is to be a real thing? I think it would have done a great deal to increase the confidence of this House and country in the Genoa Conference if we had been told that though, unhappily, as I think, the League was 1949 not asked to take part in summoning it, yet its machinery would be at the service of the Conference, and its spirit would inform it. I think that would have done a great deal to gratify public opinion not only in this country, but, unless I very much misread what is taking place in France, French public opinion also.
With regard to the subjects at the Conference, disarmament is not to be one. My right hon. Friend who has just spoken pointed out with irresistible force that you will never really get peace in Europe until you get disarmament. I entirely agree. I agree most fully with him that you must, at any rate, pari passu, agree on the question of disarmament as well as on all other questions of removing suspicion and enmities. I think it is deplorable that you should have a great conference which is not to deal with disarmament at all. But the other specific limitations are almost worse. There is the question of reparations, which has been repeatedly referred to. The Prime Minister has assured us that the Boulogne Conference had made no difference at all, had not in any way added to the limitations of the Genoa Conference; but that is not the account which comes from semiofficial French sources. Let me read to the House what was said by the Havas Agency immediately after the Boulogne meeting:Article VI of the Cannes Resolutions is to be so construed as to leave intact the rights of the Allies to inflict penalties on Germany for non-fulfilment of her obligations under the Versailles Treaty.That is to say, the provision against aggression is not to apply as between France and Germany. The limitation of armaments in Europe is to be excluded from discussion. This was all settled at Boulogne. The Governments at the Conference are to retain absolute freedom as to the recognition of the Bolshevist Government; and with regard to reparations, neither the means of payment nor the sum total shall be the subject of discussion at Genoa. If those interpretations of the Cannes Resolutions were really arrived at at Boulogne, I cannot think that the Government have dealt very candidly with the House. I do press very strongly on the House that to have an economic conference that is really to deal with Europe, and exclude from its jurisdiction all discussion of reparations, is really a fatuous policy. It is 1950 absurd to suppose that you will ever get Europe re-established until you get the reparations question really settled, and yet I may say this very frankly. You have got to abandon the theory of imposing your terms on Germany in this respect. It cannot be done. You have got to get back to the theory, which has always prevailed at the end of every other war, that you have got to get genuine agreement between victors and vanquished before you can hope that the terms will be effectually carried out. You have got to get the terms of the reparation difficulty settled before you can hope for a revival in Europe. It is really a vital point, and I am amazed that any Government should think it worth while to go into an elaborate economic conference so long as that question is outstanding.
It is not necessary for me to elaborate to the House the economic importance of the Reparations scheme. I cannot in the least agree with my right hon. Friend who has just spoken that the Versailles Conference could have done no other than they did in reference to the indemnity. I do not at all agree with him that it was impossible to arrive at a figure which should represent reasonably what Germany could pay. That is the question, I agree—what Germany can pay. Not what she ought to pay. Anything else is an impossible solution. We cannot estimate in money the evil of the injury that has been done by the late War. The question is what Germany can pay. I do not believe it was impossible to arrive at a reasonable solution when the question was before the Versailles Conference. On the contrary, everyone knows that there were men of the highest financial skill there. There was nothing in the least to prevent these financial experts getting together and making an estimate of what Germany could pay. I believe it could have been done then, and if it had been done it would have saved us from a large part of the disorganisation which you have now.
We are starting again at an economic conference on the economic reconstruction of Europe and to settle these outstanding questions. It is madness until you agree upon the major question. You will never get any further: you must settle it. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentlemen or the Prime Minister, for I do not think it is impossible to arrive at a I settlement which would be accepted by 1951 our French Allies, would be a satisfactory settlement of what is possible, and would be accepted by Germany. The error, in my view, is that we have never said plainly what we mean. If we had said plainly and exactly what we meant and pressed that view on France—I am satisfied if we had put our view reasonably forward that our view would sooner or later have been accepted by the French. But it is no use trying to control them one day, to bluff them the next, and to tell them you are going to give them everything to which they are entitled under the Treaty of Versailles, and then to try to whittle away their hopes. That will never get you any further. If you want to settle anything under this Resolution you will have to deal with the subject with the utmost candour and frankness, and I believe if you made a reasonable proposal it would be possible to arrive at a settlement. I am quite sure without a settlement of the reparations question it is perfectly useless to talk about other methods of the re-construction of Europe.
My feeling, therefore, about this, when I am asked to approve of the Genoa Conference on the basis of the Cannes Conference and when I learn that the question of disarmament, of the revision of treaties, reparations, and Allied debts, and so on, are all to be excluded from that Conference—to say that it should be accepted as a basis for economic reconstruction is fatuous. The Prime Minister in his peroration quoted the by-elections and used them not only against the section of his own supporters, but against the French Government. He suggested that if this Government went out a worse Government might come into power. I do not think it. I do not believe—this may sound an exaggerated statement—I do not believe there has ever been a Government which has so mismanaged foreign affairs. I believe it is the very worst Government that has ever dealt with foreign affairs in this country. No Government that succeeded it could do worse than the present. Our position is not an enviable one. There is scarcely a country in Europe, there is scarcely a Government that has not its doubts about our own Government. What did I read the other day about the French Delegation? That this gentleman going to Genoa is supposed to be the right man to go there because 1952 he will be able effectively to watch the Prime Minister! What a reputation for us to have. What a position we might have had if we had acted differently in Paris in 1919.
We had the greatest opportunity that was ever given a country in the world to set Europe on its feet, to do a great act of healing. All we had to do was merely to deal frankly with this matter and not to attempt clever and ingenious and dramatic things—to state with perfect candour what it was we wanted to do, and to insist, not upon scratching here and there for what we supposed was to the advantage of the Empire, but to say boldly that what we really were after was the re-establishment of Europe on a peace basis. The American and this Government could have imposed any settlement they liked upon Europe, and in this matter we were at Versailles responsible, perhaps chiefly responsible, for these miserable, fantastic terms set out in the paper. Instead of standing before the world, as we might have done now, as the great pacificators of the world, we may look back to this Treaty as the worst international document that ever disgraced the diplomatic history of the world.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I take part in this Debate, not to reply to the speech to which we have just listened, but in view of the fact that I ventured to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) in the course of his speech as to a statement which he had made about our not having an honourable obligation to support those Russians with whom we had acted during the War, and later to carry on their operations in Russia. My right hon. Friend challenged me to repudiate my interruption, and I have, therefore, armed myself with the quotation which, with your permission, Sir, I will read to the House. It is the quotation which I had in my mind. I did not interrupt without some grounds, for I heard my right hon. Friend make the speech. This is what he said on 17th November, 1919:Whatever it may be, there were two or three lines of policy open to this country. There was the policy of complete neutrality at the beginning. I do not think that was possible. I frankly admit that, because we were involved in Russia; we had commitments North and South of Russia, and I quite agree you could not suddenly pull up. 1953 You had to discharge the first duty of withdrawing your men and what you could of your stores, and I say, there was an honourable duty on this country to do what we could, within reasonable bounds at any rate, to give an opportunity to those Russians who had been fighting alongside us to get to some zone of comparative safety. I only put it that way. I quite agree that a policy of neutrality at the start was not a possible policy. There is also another duty which, I think, we have very carefully to bear in mind. Certain new border States were in process of formation. It was not possible for us, I think, totally to disregard that. So at the beginning there were certain obligations of honour we had to discharge."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 17th November, 1919; col. 683, Vol. 121.]That is the "quotation which I had in mind. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about it?"] Well, those are the obligations. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] What is the use of hon. Members saying "No," because those are the obligations to which the right hon. Gentleman was referring. My right hon. Friend made a very impressive and fair and candid admission, and I am sorry that he should be ambarrassed when it is quoted to him in after years. It is very easy when all the troubles are over and when these difficulties have ceased to come and make a general condemnation of the policy of the Government. I take my stand on the fact that at the outset we had honourable obligations to discharge.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
You may say that we waited too long, or that we went too far, but on the essential point that we had honourable obligations to discharge, I claim the right hon. Gentleman as a witness.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. HOARE
My right hon. Friend opposite said he could not understand why this Reeolution had been put down or what useful purpose it would serve. It seems to me that it has at least served one useful purpose, for it has brought back the right hon. Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) and we have had the pleasure of hearing from him one of these excellent speeches that we hear so seldom nowadays. I wish my right hon. Friend would come back more regularly to our Debates, and more frequently give us the opportunity of the practical advise that he gave, us this afternoon. It seems to me that there has been a good deal of unreality about some 1954 of the speeches this afternoon. We have had speeches from two representatives of the two Oppositions and they are two parties you would have thought would have been in favour of a general Conference and they are going to be the only two parties to vote against the Government Resolution this evening. Even the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) seemed to me to fall into that very illogical field of argument. I listened to my Noble Friend and I understood that he was opposed to the Government Resolution but that he was not opposed to the idea of the Genoa Conference.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I am opposed to the Resolution, which asks us to take the Cannes Resolution as the basis for the Conference.
§ Sir S. HOARE
That is the only basis' on which the Genoa Conference can be held. What is the use of saying reparations ought to have been included, because everybody knows that if they had been included the French would not have-gone to Genoa at all. What is the use of saying that the immediate recognition of the Bolshevists ought to have been included? If that had been so, scarcely a single Government would have gone to the Genoa Conference, and it could not have been held at all. I can understand the attitude of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Burton (Colonel' Gretton), because he says that he is; opposed to all conference and all dealings; with the Bolshevists. That is a perfectly clear and logical attitude, but to come here and say that we want the Genoa Conference and at the same time oppose the only conditions on which it can be. held seems to me to make no useful contribution whatever to the Debates we are-having this afternoon. So much for the speeches we have heard from the leaders, of the two parties opposite.
Let me say a word about the Government attitude. If the Opposition parties, have under-estimated the effects that are to come from the Genoa Conference it: seems to me that the Government, and a particular section of the Government, Press, have greatly over-rated those effects. We have heard in the last three weeks a repetition of what we have had' too often during the last three years—inspired paragraphs in all the organs of the Government Press saying that a great Conference is going to be held 1955 and that the work of the delegates is going to change the whole history of the world. We have heard too much of that sort of thing during the last two or three years. We have heard too often that, after some dramatic action of this kind, we were going to live happily afterwards like princesses and princes in palaces. Does the representative of the Government on the Treasury Bench agree that such results are going to follow? I think these exaggerations are bound to excite all kinds of suspicions in the minds of many Conservatives.
We have heard during the last three weeks that this Debate was going to be the turning point in the career of the Government, that it was going to be the opportunity of dividing the sheep from the goats, and that it was to be the beginning of a new Government programme. What wonder, when we read articles that appear to be inspired in organs that are in very close touch with Downing Street, that the rank and file of the Conservative party became very suspicious, not only as to what is going to happen in politics at home, but suspicious as to what is going to happen in our foreign policy abroad. I have noticed many veiled attacks during the last two or three weeks in those same organs upon French policy. I am as fully aware as any hon. Member of this House of the great difficulties that do exist in reconciling British and French policy, but it does seem to me to be altogether regrettable to see these veiled attacks on the very eve of a great Allied Conference in which united Allied action is the first essential, more particularly so at the very moment when we have established the unity of the Anglo-French front in dealing with Turkey. Surely it is ground for very genuine suspicion among those of us who believe that the Anglo-French Alliance is the basis of our continental policy to see these veiled attacks on the French Government and the French policy on the very eve of the Genoa Conference. This kind of Press argument, I assure my right hon. Friend, is responsible for most of the suspicions which have been felt by the Conservative party during the last three weeks. It is doing the Conference a very real disservice to write of it in this strain. It is doing the Conference a very real disservice to exaggerate what it is doing to do. It is doing it a very real dis- 1956 service to use it as an opportunity to drive in a wedge between various sections of the Government supporters in this country.
Genoa may be very useful. It is in practice a very important international Conference, more important than the Conferences at Spa and Boulogne, because both Germany and Russia will be present. It is less important than the Conference at Washington, because the United States of America will be absent. My own view is that the Conference can do very valuable work—work of a strictly limited character—and it is on that account that I am prepared to support the Government Resolution. Let me suggest to the House, in a very sentences, the kind of use that, in my view, the Genoa Conference can be. Hitherto we have been declaiming against each other in our dealings with Russia. We have been throwing anathemas at each other's heads. We have been dealing in generalities. Let us pass from those generalities to the hard concrete facts of the case. It is no small progress to have the practical questions proposed and stated first of all by experts, and secondly by the delegates at Genoa. Here are some of the concrete conditions with which the experts have been struggling, and for which I hope they will try to find a solution at Genoa.
First, how can we trade successfully with a Communist Government? It is difficult enough to trade with any Government, let alone a Communist Government. The Prime Minister to-day, in the long quotation he gave from a speech by Lenin, implied that the Bolshevist Government had already abandoned their Communistic theories. I do not think that is so. One does not see much evidence of it in actual practice. Moreover, there is a great difficulty in dealing with Russia and it is this. You are dealing not with one single organisation but you are really dealing with three separate Governments. You are dealing with the Soviet; you are dealing with the Chaika Extraordinary Commission, and you are also dealing with the organisers of the Third Internationale. It may be that some individual Bolshevist leader has abandoned his Communistic theories, but none the less the two Governments in which he may not be as powerful as he is in the third may hold no such views and you may have the more powerful elements in Bolshevism still holding to the theories which Lenin himself has abandoned.
1957 Moreover, if all these three organisations are ready to trade with you, how can you ensure proper safeguards for our own nationals when the Bolshevists refuse to recognise private property and international law? British traders will inevitably demand special safeguards, be they special rights, or special capitulations, or special courts. If the Bolshevists refuse them trade will be impossible on a large scale. If, on the other hand, they, admit them, they will be making one law for the foreigner and another for Russians, and Russia will be in the position of Turkey, or China, or Egypt. If you get over these difficulties, how can Russia foster foreign trade if their workmen are not working and their population are dying of famine? Russia wants bread, and machines and skilled workmen to run the machines. How is she going to pay for them? The Bolshevist Government has destroyed every industry excepting the printing of rouble notes. It has taken away every incentive to the peasant and the workman to work. No foreign credit is going to put this state of affairs right as long as Bolshevist principles are still practised.
Lastly, if Russia admits her international obligations, how are her debts to be paid? She owes Great Britain and France £1,000,000,000. Even if she recognises this debt, in what form and by what method is payment to be made 1 We have been talking for three years about the methods of getting payment made by Germany. Are we likely to be more successful in providing methods for the payment of this great Russian debt—methods which will not do more harm than good? These I suggest are the kind of practical problems which the experts have been considering and which our representatives will discuss at Genoa. I wish them to be discussed, for it is only by hard facts that the rival issues between Capitalism and Communism can be settled. It is because I want them discussed that I am ready to support the Government to-day. Let our representatives go to Genoa and face the facts and problems. Let them meet the Bolshevist representatives, and see what they have to say in reply to the concrete difficulties which I have just been urging. One of two results will, in my view, follow. On the one hand, the Communist theories may collapse in contact with the Western world. Brought out of the darkness 1958 and isolation of Moscow, they may well dissolve. If that be the result of Genoa, so much the better for the world. If, on the other hand, the Communist doctrinaires stick to their theories, it will be made clear to everyone that it is impossible to resume normal relations with a Government which regards you as an enemy to be destroyed, and that it is impossible to recognise a Government which refuses to recognise the principles upon which our society is based. If Genoa does no more than this it will not have been in vain, for it will have proved to the world what we have been saying for the last three years—that Bolshevism is Asiatic barbarism that destroys everything that it touches.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I cannot help thinking that to hold a Conference at Genoa, with 100 expert representatives from this country, and an equal number from every other European country, is rather an expensive way of inaugurating a debate on Communism versus Capitalism, which appears to be all that the hon. Baronet expects to result from this Genoa Conference. From his opening remarks, however, the hon. Baronet, who misrepresents me politically, does not, I think, completely understand the position of the Prime Minister. He complained of the inspired Ministerial Press, and the inspired Ministerial Press has done its duty nobly during the last fortnight. Day after day it has told us that Genoa is to work the miracle; and it had to do so. Let the hon. Baronet put himself for one moment in the position of the Prime Minister. What would he do in his shoes? Would not he have to work the Press for Genoa? Just consider the Prime Minister's position. He has tried every dodge, every turn, in order to improve trade and reduce unemployment. He has tried export credits, he has tried doles, he has tried one thing and another, He has turned from conference to conference, in order to benefit British trade. Everything has failed, and turned to dust and ashes in his hands. At last, Genoa, appears over the horizon, and Genoa is to do the trick. And we have to be told all about it. That really is the meaning of the Debate at which we have been attending to-day. It is the last effort of the Prime Minister, and to me, and I think to a great many of us on these benches, the last effort of the Prime Minister has been almost like a funeral 1959 ovation. Never since I have sat in this House has the Prime Minister aroused in my breast pity before. I cannot attack him. He is on the rocks. It is almost unkind to say what one thinks, either about his speech or about his policy.
I turn from the Prime Minister, with relief, to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law), who has come back to us. It always used to be said of the Bourbons, when they returned in 1815, that they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow has come back like a Prince of the Bourbons. He has come back after a year's absence, and he thinks that in this world of ours nothing is changed, that all is as it was a year ago. He forgets that trade has finally collapsed under the foreign policy of his old Government. He forgets that now prices and wages are down, under the guidance of his admirable Government. He forgets, finally, that there are 2,000,000 out of work in this country. And he turns upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Platting and says, in his best schoolmaster voice, that he does hope that my right hon. Friend the Member for Platting will not use outside this House that very unpleasant argument that unemployment in this country is due to reparations. Why, every day, on every platform in every Labour meeting, we are saying it all about the country, and the result is seen at East Leicester? We are not only saying it, we are not only believing it ourselves, but the people are believing it, too. And that is why the Prime Minister is on the rocks to-day; Genoa is his last hope; because surely it is German reparations which are breaking British trade and creating British unemployment.
What else is it? Speaker after speaker has pointed out that the real reason why the Genoa Conference cannot possibly save Europe or reduce unemployment in this country is that, under the Cannes Resolutions, the Genoa Conference may not discuss reparations; it may not discuss any variation in the Peace Treaty. Consequently it cannot do anything to restore trade or to reduce unemployment in this country. I wonder, in the absence of the Prime Minister, whether we could learn, possibly, from the right hon. Gentleman 1960 the President of the Board of Trade, whether he or his Government are or are not in favour of the revision of the Versailles Treaty so far as the Financial Clauses are concerned? Could we have an answer to that, Yes or No? Do you want to revise the Versailles Treaty or not? There is no answer, and for a very sufficient reason. It is just on that point that the Coalition Government cannot give a united answer. Apparently the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow, the returned Bourbon, is still of the good old opinion, held universally in those quarters eighteen months ago, that the Versailles Treaty was perfection, that any revision of the Financial Clauses of that Treaty meant pro-Germanism. But many things have happened in the. last eighteen months, since the right hon. Gentleman vanished to the Riviera. The Prime Minister has been converted. The Prime Minister has discovered that his own reparations are hanging like the albatross round his neck, and that there is no possibility of getting what he wants, either at Genoa or Cannes or anywhere else, without a revision of that Treaty. This same Government Press, which has been so admirably booming Genoa during the last month or so, has been carrying on also a more or less—rather less than more—veiled attack upon the policy of the French Government on this very matter. They know quite well that the Prime Minister's object in going to Genoa is not merely to have a debate with Lenin as to the rival virtues of Communism or Capitalism, but by a roundabout method, in roundabout ways, persuading here one little country and there another to bring sufficient pressure to bear upon the French Government to convince them that they have got to agree to a revision of the Versaillee Treaty. The Prime Minister knows it, and I think most of the Ministers on the Government Bench who are concerned with finance or with trade know it; but, of course, the other elements in the Government are naturally still clinging to the old clicés of the 1918 election. For them, searching the pockets of Germany is still good sport.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Making the pips squeak is an excellent week-end amusement, because they have no interest whatever in finance or industry in this I country. They are the amateurs of 1961 politics, and the business men in politics know what this means. They know that the trade of this country is being smashed at present by the utter incapacity of our old customers to buy our goods. The Prime Minister to-day was perfectly clear and emphatic. He made it clear to the House that the first step towards a recovery of trade would have to be, not the restoration of the exchanges—that he agreed was impossible—but the stabilisation of the exchanges at their present position. He said Genoa was going to do it. How can Genoa do it? Genoa cannot stabilise the exchanges except, as the Prime Minister again indicated, by the different countries composing Europe balancing their Budgets and making their revenue meet their expenditure. What is the use of going to Germany or Austria or Hungary and telling them to balance their Budgets when at the same time you are holding over their heads an indefinite liability for reparations? It cannot be done. Let us agree with the Prime Minister that, if trade is to recover in Europe, the first necessity is to stabilise the exchanges. Let us agree with hint further that the only way of stabilising the exchanges; is to balance the Budgets.
Then we come to the very reasonable question of how are these countries to balance their Budgets. It is not only reparations but also that other necessary consideration which again has been left completely out of the Cannes resolution, the question of disarmament. Unless you have land disarmament on a scale similar to the naval disarmament which was carried at Washington, and unless you can put a stop to these indefinite claims for reparation, there is no earthly chance of any of these countries balancing their Budgets. As a matter of fact the Prime Minister made one trifling error. What has broken down at the present moment is not primarily international trade, though that has broken down, but the whole policy of His Majesty's Government for the last three years. They have tried everything, but all the time they have been going about with their hands bound behind them by their foolish speeches in the 1918 Election. That damns this Government and it is that primordial curse, one might almost say, of the 1918 Election which has kept war going in Europe for the last three years. It is not the old war of the bomb and the rifle, but the 1962 new economic war, the war that prevents the exchanges balancing, that sets up the curse of frontier disputes, that involves raids on Vilna and raids on Fiume. That policy is the result of the Prime Minister, who was in a perfectly strong position, giving way to his passion for being popular at all costs, and we are now, after three years, witnessing the spectacle of the people of this country gradually coming to see what the Prime Minister really is and what he has involved us all in. We are in our Amendment asking the House to say that we have no confidence in a Prime Minister such as that getting anything from a Conference at Genoa or anywhere else which will foe of real satisfaction to the trade of the country and which will really help to solve the unemployment problem. Reparations and disarmament are ruled out from Genoa, and therefore alone Genoa must fail, primarily and for all time, and not only Genoa, but every other conference will fail when it is tied up with the Prime Minister's election pledges and emasculated in advance owing to the position he is in relative not only to the electors of this country, but relative also to the French Government and to our Allies.
§ Mr. SAMUEL SAMUEL
I do not want to say much about Russia, but I should like to point out that the present Government of Russia is not a Government of the people, and I am very surprised indeed to hear hon. Members opposite supporting a system of government which is so diametrically opposed to democratic principles. It is a Government of the most autocratic, despotic character. As far as the Genoa Conference is concerned, the Prime Minister has told us that he does not intend to do anything to commit this country to anything without the consent of the House of Commons, and under these circumstances it is useless to criticise the conditions which may be laid down for an arrangement. Last week I asked two questions in reference to the position in Russia. I asked the Prime Minister whether at the Genoa Conference he would stipulate that the moneys which had been taken by the present Russian Government from the banks, the railways and the commercial community should be returned to the private sources from which they had I been taken so as to enable those debtors 1963 to liquidate their liabilities with their creditors in various parts of Europe, and, further, whether he would stipulate that all properties belonging to foreigners in Russia should be returned to the foreign companies and individuals. He said in his reply that he would refer to this question to-day. He has stated that he would endeavour to stipulate for the return of the property to its rightful owners, but he has not mentioned the other question, which is equally important, as there were very large sums of money owing to the commercial community for goods supplied and for money which has been advanced and for various reasons. It is essential that those interests, which are quite as great as the interests of property, should be respected.
I asked the Secretary for Foreign Affairs if he would inquire whether there are any judges in Russia, and by whom appointed, and whether there is any tribunal in existence in commercial cases, and whether, in the event of a British subject doing business with Russia, he could recover by process of law any debts owing to him. The answer I received was that, generally speaking, the Russian Constitution as at present framed offered no judicial protection, in the sense usually understood, of the rights of property of British subjects. If under the laws of Russia private individuals cannot trade and recover debts owing to them or debts due for services rendered, is it proper that the Government should enter into trade relations with a country where there is no security of any kind? The Prime Minister has assured us that he will not do so at the Genoa Conference.
On the subject of the Conference, I notice in the Resolutions the question of finance. Everyone is convinced that until a proper peace is obtained throughout the world business is almost impossible, but, on the question of finance, we have seen suggestions that an international bank is to be established for the purpose of financing the business of the world, with a capital of £20,000,000. I recollect the attempt of the Government three years ago. I then took a very prominent part in opposing the charter which was to be given to a great institution to be established by the Government in order to bring salvation to the whole commercial community. It was a com- 1964 pany which was to receive a special charter and special terms from the British Government for the purpose of establishing a bank that was to aid the development and reconstruction of British commerce. The present President of the Board of Trade was then Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He will recollect that some of us worked very hard indeed, and after a great fight succeeded in getting some restriction put upon the ambitions of that institution. I pointed out that the trade of the world had been created by private enterprise, and that it was private enterprise which had created the trade of this country, a trade which before the War amounted in exports and imports to something like £1,000,000,000 a year. I contended that those people who had succeeded in creating the trade of Great Britain and of the world were capable of doing the business that there was to be done, and that there were all the facilities necessary for carrying on trade on a safe and proper basis. Notwithstanding that, this company was created, and it has had a very merry time. It has been established for three years. It raised a capital of £2,000,000 sterling, and I believe that, in doing the business which old-established firms did not care to do, it has lost £1,500,000. That showed what the business of the world can be brought to with Government control.
I agree with the hon. Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) that there are all the facilities and every possible opportunity for doing business when business can be done on a safe and proper basis. People talk about reconstruction of the business of the world. I think the word "reconstruction" was invented in this instance to hide the ignorance of the politicians. They did not know what to say, and so they adopted the word "reconstruction," because they thought it would deceive someone that there was a great deal to be done. As a matter of fact the attempt to finance the world is one of the greatest mistakes that the Government can possibly make. Already this country is in a very serious condition, financially, from over-taxation. I do not know, of course, what may be the intention of the Prime Minister in reference to financial matters at Genoa, but I beg him not to commit this country to the finding of the means for any other 1965 country, as we have as much as we can possibly do to finance our own country and our own business. I do not think we would be justified in any way in undertaking any of the obligations which I know other countries would like to put upon our shoulders. Of all the countries that are to be represented at the Genoa Conference, Great Britain alone is in a position to do anything financially to relieve the burden of any other country, but we have as much as we can do to finance and relieve our own liabilities.
I think it was the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) who mentioned the experts who went to the Brussels Financial Conference. We know that we were represented there, as were other countries, but as far as I know the only thing done there after a great deal of time was to recommend the Ter Meulen system of finance, which resolves itself into advancing money against the security of the smaller states of Europe. The British Government would be asked to finance shipments of goods from this country, and to pay or guarantee the merchants in this country for the repayment, and the buyers would put up the security in Ter Meulen bonds which were provided by the Governments. Some of these Governments, as everyone knows, are absolutely insolvent, and unable to pay their liabilities. So that we shall have to run the whole of the risk of these bonds, and we shall find in many cases that our money will be utilised probably to buy goods in Germany or America, and will not be available to us because we are holding these five years' bonds. I hope that the Government will not commit this country to any scheme which involves our taxpayers in guaranteeing, in any shape or form, the commitments of other countries. We are in a position, and I speak from experience, without, Government assistance to do any legitimate trade that may come along, and to finance it for ourselves, and we do not want to exhaust our resources in other countries. One thing I would like to point out to the House is that the chief cause of the great trade depression is the impoverishment of the world. We in this country have spent all over the world vast sums of money, and the various communities are not in a position to purchase at the high prices which obtain for all classes of goods. If we want to resume trade we shall have to 1966 wait for a time and accumulate wealth, and we shall have to produce goods at lower prices to meet the requirements of people who wish to purchase them.
Sir W. BARTON
With a great deal of what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. S. Samuel) I find myself in very complete agreement. I think he has expressed a good deal of very sound doctrine. But the real reason why I wish to intervene is that, having listened to it throughout nearly the whole of to-day, I have felt this to be the most unreal Debate at which I have been present in all the years I have been a Member of this House. The Prime Minister is not only a very able politician, he is, I believe, a man of noble impulses, of generous instincts, but he is also a well-known political strategist, and it struck me this afternoon that he made a speech commensurate with the occasion. Right through his speech I seemed to be able to trace a trend of unreality. We were brought face to face with a Resolution for this Genoa Conference, and throughout the House as a whole it seems to me that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who rather adhere to the old way of diplomacy and who do not believe in conferences, are the men who to-night are going to support this Motion for a conference, and we here, who rather believe in more modern methods, who believe in conferences, who believe that in a time of difficulty the best thing you can do is to face across the table the men who are opposed to you and to argue the thing out—we are going to vote against this proposal. How does that, arise? I am convinced that this Motion has no real relation to the situation which has called it forth. According to the Prime Minister, everything was all right in the Cabinet and everything was all right in the Government. This, he said, was the Resolution which he had suggested a fortnight ago and everything was pursuing its usual course. But, I ask the House, is it? Alongside of him sat the Colonial Secretary, whose face was a picture of misery. I regard the Colonial Secretary as probably in many respects the cleverest party politician to-day, but there is one thing in which he is singularly unfortunate. He has a face which always tends to indicate what is passing in his mind. He has not that inscrutable countenance which is so useful to a politician. There he sat to-day the picture of grim misery and 1967 despair, and I could not help thinking it had an effect on the Prime Minister in his speech.
If this Conference be necessary to-day, it was equally necessary in February, and at that time there is not a shadow of doubt that it was intended by the Prime Minister and those associated with him to have a General Election. Why now this call for a Conference? I feel sure that when the Prime Minister demanded from his allies and associates in the Government a Vote of Confidence, and when they found themselves unwilling or unable to provide him with that vote, it was then decided to ask for this extremely limited vote on a limited Genoa Conference. That being so, I think the position is one full of unreality. But, looking at the purposes of the Conference, it is limited in this sense, that it must not touch existing Treaties. I cannot but think that any conference which is precluded from touching existing Treaties is a conference foredoomed to failure, because at the root of the economic difficulties of Europe to-day lies the Versailles Treaty. I wish to safeguard myself by saying that I am one of those who believed at the last General Election, and who believes now, that the Allies had a right to obtain both an indemnity and reparations from Germany, but I believe our terrible failure was that we made claims which it was impossibly to fulfil, and by making' those claims we lost that which it might have been possible to obtain.
I have been recently reading a book by M. Tardieu, who was the right-hand man to M. Clemenceau at the Conference. That book is called "The Truth about the Treaty," and it has a foreword by Senator House and also by M. Clemenceau guaranteeing the value of the book. The writer tells us that the Prime Minister repeatedly went from this country with a determination to modify the insensate and impossible demands of M. Clemenceau. I believe he went sincerely with that intention, but there came a period when he was confronted with his great and fierce French opponent and with his determination that at all costs he would have those immoderate demands placed in the Treaty. It is repeatedly stated that Clemenceau met our Prime Minister with the statement, "At your 1968 elections you promised the people that you would obtain the most extreme demands from Germany." So that this Treaty, which should have been the outcome of the closest calculation by men capable of calculating and men actually present at the Conference, became a political demand reinforced by political promises which should never have been made. The effect of these impossible demands lies at the root of the depreciation of Continental exchanges. A country which has hanging over its head an uncertain, unascertained demand can have no stability in its exchange. The Prime Minister to-day referred to the stabilisation of exchanges as one of the objects of the Genoa Conference. That is a phrase of which I have heard a great deal during the last few years, and I say unreservedly that you might as well make a promise to stabilise the weather. Exchange is not a cause, it is an effect, and until you remove the underlying causes you will not influence the effect, and if the intention in going to Genoa is that we shall stabilise the exchanges of Europe, while at the same time ruling out the underlying causes affecting the exchanges, then the whole idea is doomed to failure.
There is another point. While agreeing about conferences, I do deplore this most extravagant form of conference. We are to have at this Conference something like 80 or 100 persons. Altogether, some 2,000 people are to be present. The most elaborate arrangements are being made for motor cars, special trains, the finest hotels, and the finest villas. All this is totally out of keeping with the economic condition of Europe to-day. If this thing is having any effect at all it is the creating of exaggerated hopes by producing the opinion that, by 2,000 people meeting together, it is possible to settle the economic affairs of Europe. I am convinced that it is not possible. I believe that in the main we in this matter are seeking to escape from something from which we cannot escape. The whole thing has arisen from the fact, as has been said by my hon. Friend opposite, that we have wasted our substance in war, and that the real cure for that is economy, sound government, and sound finance, and the only conference which would be of any real use is a conference which would bring to the people of Europe a sense of the realities of our economic life.
§ Sir A. SHIRLEY BENN
I desire to say a few words from a business, not from a political, point of view on the Motion before the House. The life of our nation, as we all know, is dependent upon industry and overseas trade. My right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) suggested that the bulk of our trade is home trade, and that it might be increased even if the foreign trade is decreased. Unless we can have our foreign trade, and manufacture goods and send them abroad to markets in which we can sell them, it would be a very bad day for England. We need the proceeds of those exports to pay for the raw material and the food which we must import, but at the present time the markets are not dependent so much on the stabilisation of exchanges or on political action as on the lack of confidence which exists throughout Europe. Once we can get that confidence restored we can get trade restored. Until it is restored I can see very little hope. The Prime Minister, speaking of the condition of the world, said that the only way in which it could be settled was either by conference or by force, and as force is, I hope, entirely out of the question, it must be by conference. Our Prime Minister is not the first Prime Minister who has believed in conference. He referred this afternoon to Pitt and he told us some of the things which Pitt said. I would like to read two or three lines of what Pitt said four years after the French Revolution, when Europe was unsettled, and when he stated in the House of Commons the Resolution which he thought would meet the object in view, namely, peace:Resolved that it is the opinion of this House that whenever a proper opportunity occurs the most eligible way of establishing the tranquillity of Europe on a secure foundation would be by assembling a general congress such as took place in the last century previous to the peace of Münster. That the object of the Congress ought to be to specify and declare to all mankind the principles of right and wrong which ought to govern the relations between independent States; to specify and declare to all mankind the principles of security, property and public credit which it is necessary to recognise and render effective before any settlement can be negotiated with stability and honour.That was said by Mr. Pitt in the House of Commons, and at that time the people with whom he was trying to negotiate consisted, among others, of the French Directory. The French Directory was, 1970 as we know, prior to the days when Napoleon Bonaparte took a hand in ruling France, and it was described in this Parliament when he said:The power now established in France is notoriously the very same in character, maxims, and conduct, as well as for the most part exercised or supported by the same men with the Government, which existed at or soon after the Revolution.That was the position that was held in olden days. We did not go into conference and get the peace we ought to have. The result was that awful war which lasted years. To-day our Prime Minister has got the sense to see that the only way to get peace established in Europe is to get the nations to come and sit round a table and see what can be done, see where the difficulties are, and how peace can be agreed upon, and get down to business which will be the salvation of civilisation. I am delighted that there is going to be this Conference at Genoa. I should very much like to see it more unfettered. I very much agree with the first part of the Amendment, though I disagree absolutely with the second. What business men would ever send members to represent them at a conference unless they gave them their whole-hearted support? We know that this Conference is going to be held, and we are jeopardising the interests of our country in not telling those who are going to represent us at that Conference that they have behind them at that Conference the good wishes of the men in Parliament, who were sent to Parliament by the biggest number of electors who ever sent men to any Parliament in this country. I hope that when this matter goes to a vote the House of Commons as a whole will say: "We believe in the Conference. Whether we believe in the Government as an everyday Government or not, those who are going to represent us go as our representatives, and they have behind them the British Parliament as a whole."
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
I agree with my hon. Friend that if you are sending representatives to a Conference it is no good tying their hands in advance. It is no good trying to express want of confidence in them, but if some friends of mine and myself have put down an Amendment on the Paper, it is with this object—that it is essential that those who feel that they hold an opinion on certain 1971 problems of foreign policy should express clearly their views, because it happens as often as not, that your representatives at a Conference are not sorry to have their hands strengthened by the expression of certain views—views even with which they are unable to identify themselves at the moment. That is the object of the Amendment put down on the Paper, and I do not think I need say very much in support of the second part of that Amendment, which refers to the limitation imposed on the scope of the Genoa Conference. That ground has been covered by many hon. Members in the course of this Debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) treated us to a speech with which we are so often accustomed. He spoke over and over again of treaty revision—the revision of the Versailles Treaty, the revision of treaties of peace. What did he mean? He also mentioned reparations. We have heard this talk about revision and revision and revision, and not one hon. Member, or the right hon. Gentlemen who have used the word know what they mean. [An HON. MEMBER: "Do you know what you mean?"] I know perfectly well there are certain points other than reparations which I think require some slight revision, but I think they are all of very secondary importance, and I should be glad to believe that any hon. Gentleman opposite knew which they were.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
If this were a Debate on the revision of the Treaties, we could deal perfectly well with all those points.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I think that when a leader of a party talks over and over again of revision generally, he should have some slight idea of what he means on the subject. I wish, if I may, to say a word on reparations, for this reason—I do not wish the Prime Minister or any of our representatives at the Genoa Conference to be able to say or to feel that they were restrained from agreeing or pressing for a certain policy on reparations by the attitude of any Conservative in this House. I feel sure that I am speaking for every Conservative in the House when I say that we regard reparations from a purely business point of view. Whatever may have been the true interpretation of President Wilson's Fourteen Points—which were the basis of the Armistice on 1972 this subject—this is clear, that reparations was not to be a punitive fine, but a decree of restitution. As such it is a purely business proposition how much it will pay the Allies to exact. The true test of that is not, of course, how much evil Germany has committed, nor is the true test the opinion of the Prime Minister or of M. Poincaré. The test is surely this, and only this—the test of how large a loan could be floated in the markets of the world for Germany to fund her reparations obligations. That is an ascertainable quantity, and that is the total amount of reparations, which it will pay any of the Allies to exact.
I wish to say something which has not been touched upon in the Debate to-night, and that is to call the attention of the House to the diplomatic record of the Government in relation to the Genoa Conference. First of all, in regard to Germany, we must remember that there has been no communication between His Majesty's Government and Germany with regard to the programme of the Genoa Conference in any respect. This country has no diplomatic relations with Germany on any subject of importance. The whole of the vital relations between this country and Germany are in the hands of the Reparations Commission, which, again, conducts no continuous negotiations with Germany, but issues ultimata and lectures to Germany occasionally.
And now, as regards Russia. I wish—if so young a member as myself may say so without presumption—that the Debate on the subject of Russia had been less unreal. I cannot understand the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Platting or the hon. and gallant Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton). The question of whether you are going to recognise the Russian Government formally and diplomatically has nothing whatever to do with the question of whether you can trade with Russia. It has nothing to do with the making of peace with Russia. Hon. Members must surely realise that the last time we had a war with Russia, the Crimean War, we made peace with Russia at the Congress of Paris in 1856, but the commercial treaty on which alone the rights of British traders or British Consuls in Russia rested before the revolution was only concluded in 1859.
1973 The question of making peace with Russia has no relation with the terms on which you can trade. It is not a question whether you are going to give some particular diplomatic recognition which will strengthen the hand of the Government in Russia, but whether you are going to establish any continuous diplomatic relations with Russia by Chargé d' Affaires or in any other way. It is perfectly obvious if you are going to continue on the basis of the commercial treaty on which all your rights rest since 1859, if you are going to do that by a process of continuous negotiation, you will have to have your representative there, and you have them already there. You have the trade delegation in Russia and you have M. Krassin in London. Has a word passed between His Majesty's Government and the Soviet Government at Moscow with regard to the Genoa Conference? Not a word. We have it publicly confessed on the Floor of the House that the only information His Majesty's Government has as to the disposition of the Russian Government in regard to the Genoa Conference has been gleaned from the Press, and that there has been no occasion for any communication between His Majesty's Government and the Russian Government. The Prime Minister, to my astonished ears, said you must have continuity. You must, indeed! If this be continuity, if this method of conducting the foreign relations of the country be continuity, then I am afraid the English language no longer has any meaning, for me at any rate.
But the last item in the Government's diplomatic record is easily the best. When the Washington Conference was at a critical stage, when the relations between President Harding and the Senate were at almost their most difficult point, when the fate of the whole Conference and the Pacific Treaty was trembling in the balance, and the United States Administration was exposed to the full blast of all that criticism in America which comes from a section of opinion afraid of entangling commitments—suddenly out of a clear sky the Supreme Council at Cannes, without warning, passes a Resolution inviting the United States to the Genoa Conference. The Resolution was published the next morning before the American representative on the Supreme Council had time to telegraph to the Government. Not I 1974 one single word was said in advance to the British Ambassador at Washington or to the Lord President of the Council, who was representing this country at the Conference. No attempt was made to sound the United States as to the attitude they would take. Just the one moment was chosen for this invitation which anybody with the slightest acquaintance with American policy could have told the Government was the moment most certain to elicit a complete and emphatic refusal from the United States Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Come over here!"] No, I am afraid I cannot until some of my hon. Friends on the opposite benches can speak with some slight sincerity on these questions of foreign policy. We have heard a good deal about diplomacy by conference, but diplomacy by conference, valuable as it is, as summing up a long course of previous negotiation, is futile if it is simply, to use the words in the play, "As You Like It"—an invocation to call fools into a circle.If it bears no relation to previous negotiation, if it sums up no previous negotiation, then such diplomacy must inevitably fail. The criticism against the Government is that they have scrapped the whole of the machinery of their foreign relations, they have killed our Foreign Office, stifled negotiation, scorned the ordinary courtesies of international intercourse. What is the good of their preparing a retinue for a pompous expedition to the unknown and coming to put to the accommodating prophets of their majority in this House the question,Shall we go to Ramoth-Gilead to battle, or shall we forbear?Far be it from me to repeat the answer given of old to that question, although I could say that of the forces on which Governments normally rely for the conduct of their foreign policy arescattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd.but I do not want to use ribald language. At least I can make an appeal to the Government. We believe in their intentions in this matter. We are prepared to support them in any effort they may make for the reconstruction of Europe. But how often must they I present to us the spectacle of policies 1975 defaced by blunders in execution? So long as they do so they cannot blame some of their supporters if in listening to a Debate such as this, they draw only one moral from it, the moral "Wanted, an administrator."
§ Mr. S. WALSH
One listens to the Noble Lord who has just sat down with increasing interest on each occasion he addresses the House. He made a reference to "As you like it," and I think we might say, from this bench, in compliment to him, although he is rather fond of diatribes against our party—O wise and upright judge!How much more elder art thou than thy looks!After this interchange of Shakespearean courtesies, we may proceed to business. I think I am right in saying that never in the history of this House, at least during the last 16 or 17 years, has a Motion such as that of the Government been tabled. We are asked to express our confidence in the Government in its action in attending the Genoa Conference, and in taking with them certain well known Ministers, and the Prime Minister appeals to the Labour party not to lessen the value of the Conference because the Labour party itself exists upon conferences. The Labour party does not exist upon con ferences of the character of those of the last three years. If the Labour party had existed upon conferences so utterly futile as have been the half-score or more that have taken place since 1919, the Labour party would not at present be the second party numerically in this House. What is the House invited to do? It is invited to record its confidence in a method of conferences by a particular Government that has during the last three years taken part in at least half a score of conferences, every one of which at its termination was said to be the most successful that had been held, every one of which had reached complete agreement, every one of which had broken up under the most happy auspices, and every one of which had in effect rehabilitated Europe. Our representatives came away in perfect cordiality with the representatives of other nations, every outstanding point had been made clear, and there was now real hope, on each occasion. No matter how dire had been the prospect before, now, indeed, all those 1976 things were removed, and Europe was on the high road to recovery. I think that cannot be said in any sense to be an exaggeration of the reports brought back continually to this House by the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who had attended the conferences, and yet, after all these conferences have been held, after all these fine promises have been given to us, after all these happy hopes have been held out, we are told to-day that the prospect is blacker and more depressing than ever before.
Indeed, we know this. If we were not so informed by the Prime Minister himself, we do know that the German mark stands to-day at somewhere about 1,200 to the £. [An HON. MEMBER: "1,400!"] Well, I do not wish to exaggerate. We will say 1,200 or 1,300 to the £; about six a penny, I think they are. At the time when the conferences started, I think 240 marks ruled to the £, but today they are nearer 1,440 to the £. The Prime Minister is not in the habit of making pessimistic statements—his temperament is rather more hopeful than otherwise—but he speaks of huge armies massing on the frontiers, of a devastated Europe, of exchanges being destroyed, and of credit having disappeared, and under these circumstances we are asked to add one more to the already lengthened chain of conferences. For myself—and I think I speak for the party behind me—I say that we agree with the Prime Minister in saying that the state of Europe is worse now than it was before the conferences began. The essential facts of the situation were known in 1919. The Prime Minister to-day devoted at least two-thirds of his speech to that which, in the words of Macaulay, every schoolboy might have known. Indeed, every schoolboy does know. The essential facts, as he stated them to this House, are known to every Member of this House and to millions outside, and he need not have wasted such a long time in giving us such a description of the condition of Europe.
It was surely known how large and integral a part of the economic life of Central Europe Germany occupied, and how dependent the neighbouring countries were upon the industrial and economic life of Germany, and if conditions were imposed upon Germany which deprived her of the reasonable possibility of 1977 economic recovery, that all Europe must suffer in consequence. Everybody knows the geographical situation of Germany in Europe. Everybody knows the great economic power she exerted. Everybody knows the state of relative dependence upon Germany's economy of all the other nations surrounding Germany. That has been a commonplace of European politics for the last 200 years, and surely everybody must have known that if, by the terms of the Versailles Treaty, you placed upon her conditions that were impossible of execution you placed the recovery of Europe beyond all reasonable hope. That must have been known, and we say now that because we did know that, and because the Government never had the courage to face that central and dominating fact, we find ourselves in the position that we occupy to-day. If you destroy the real chance of recovery of a great nation in Central Europe, upon which all the others depend for their economic life, you are really destroying in effect the whole of the economic recovery of Europe itself. That surely was known, and I say now—and there is not a man in this House who can deny it—that the conditions imposed by the Versailles Treaty were such that no nation within any reasonable time could hope, if it carried out the conditions of that Treaty, for economic recovery; and if it be impossible for Germany to recover economically, it is impossible also for the neighbouring States of Germany, that constitute a great part of the whole European comity of peoples, to regain their economic life. That is the real reason for the widespread depression in which Europe and in which Great Britain find themselves to-day. Terms were imposed at Versailles not only depriving Germany of the hope of recovery, and thereby condemning Central Europe to a long period of wretchedness, but terms impossible to carry out in any reasonable space of time. After all, time is, I suppose, the essence of treaties. Even the people of Great Britain cannot go on through an indefinitely long era of wretchedness and suffering such as they are passing through to-day and we thought the Government itself would recognise central facts such as these, that if you were placing terms upon a nation like Germany impossible of execution, you were condemning the whole people 1978 of Europe, and ourselves, to an interminable period of wretchedness and depression.
The whole question of reparations, which is really the essential point in the Treaty of Versailles, is not to be discussed at the Genoa Conference. If the whole thing is ruled out, and is not in any sense to be discussed, then, of course, there is no special point in discussing it here; but we say that the Conference is emasculated in advance, if you cannot discuss the question of reparations, if you cannot discuss the question of treaties already entered into. If those treaties, which are really very imperfectly understood, even by Members in this House, but which do hold within their grasp the fate of millions of people, are to be ruled out as being impossible of discussion, I say the conditions of tour Conference are being rendered null and void in advance.
Take the question of land armaments. No Member of this House has been so consistently insistent upon the virtues of peace as has the Prime Minister. We all agree. We welcome his utterances. He has always been a great lover of peace, but can anybody say that there is to be any real hope of peace from a Conference such as this? All the previous Conferences have failed, and now we are told by the Prime Minister himself that huge armies are massing on the frontiers, prepared, I take it, to do desperate deeds. He was most depressing; he really made my flesh creep with his very vivid description of the condition of Europe. Huge armies are massing on the frontiers, and yet he talks of peace being established, and of nations balancing their Budgets. How can you balance your Budget; how can you have peace ensue if at such a Conference, in which nearly all the world is being gathered together, you are to rule out entirely these questions?
You are, as a matter of fact, condemning your Conference to futility in advance, and because we say it is an imposture, because no conference can have any useful end under such conditions, is the reason we have put down our Motion. Because of these successive Conferences having been failures, the Government come forward with their claim with very seriously diminished authority. They have already indulged in a number of Conferences, to which there seem to be no limit. Not one single 1979 useful point has emerged. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Washington?"] That was not their conference. It was summoned on the invitation of the United States of America. It cannot be put to the credit of England at all. In this case we are asked to grant to a Government, already discredited by a perfectly dismal list of failures, carte blanche to undertake another equally dismal failure, because the conditions condemn it to futility in advance. If this House itself could give the Vote of Confidence which the Government are asking; if it really did possess any genuine representative authority, it would be all very well to give a Vote of Confidence. A Vote of Confidence in the Government! But you cannot have a real Vote of Confidence unless it is based upon a truly representative House. Apart from the feeling outside, everybody knows that the House itself is violently torn with internal convulsions. You have "Die-bards" here and "Die-hards" there, and—[An HON. MEMBER: "Cave men!"]—yes, and cave men, et hoc genus omne. It is per fectly well known that on both foreign and domestic policy—upon every fundamental point of it—that the Government's presumed supporters are hopelessly split—their divisions and dissentions are known all over the world. Does anyone believe that on the Continent of Europe they will be deluded by the vote in the Division Lobbies to-night, or will fail to understand that, because we are outnumbered by three to one, that this Vote is not a representative one? They know perfectly well that the House itself is deprived of representative authority, and that the nation has deprived it of representative authority?
During the last six months there have been a series of by-elections, north, south, east, and west; in Scotland, England and Wales. [An HON. MEMBER: "Wolverhampton!"] On every single occasion the Government itself sent their very best henchmen down to engage in the conflict. They have put their strongest case forward. In Heywood, at West Houghton. [An HON. MEMBER: "Cambridge!"] Chertsey, Camberwell—by thousands and thousands in every place their majority has been reduced, and in every place condemnation has been expressed. Lastly, there is the case upon which they thought 1980 they had the biggest reason to pride themselves. There was the constituency of the right hon. Gentleman who was the most distinguished legal Member of this House, one who played a distinguished part in our Debates, a man whom everybody held in the highest regard; he has gone from our midst and now adorns a higher sphere, and we all wish him well. The Government embarked upon the fight at Leicester, yet there, by thousands and thousands, the constituency has declared it no longer has confidence in the Government. At Cambridge, too, a supporter of the Government was returned, but thousands of votes were cast against the Government—greater than before. Chertsey, a Conservative place from time immemorial, registers thousands and thousands of votes against the Government. It is under these circumstances, when by their own internal divisions they have condemned themselves and stand condemned, that we are asked to give a Vote of Confidence to the Government, and we decline to take any part in this confidence trick.
This is not a Vote of Confidence, but a vote for the continuance of a long firm swindle. We are told by the Prime Minister how desirable it is to have peace in and with Russia. On these benches we say you ought never to have engaged in those wicked and reckless adventures in Russia, spending our money by millions on desperate enterprises for which there was not one atom of justification. The Prime Minister knew from the beginning how wicked arid utterly unjustifiable those enterprises were. The list of them is almost as long as the list of conferences they have held. We supported Yudenitch, Koltchak, Wrangel, Denikin and others, and north, south, east and west, on land and sea, we helped those particular enterprises against a people with whom we had no war, or cause of quarrel. We are now asked to make peace with Russia, but we have never declared war upon them. The Prime Minister may say that, after all, peace is really a recognition of the Soviet Government. We spent £100,000,000 without authority, because the money was never voted in this House, and a good many lives have been lost on those mad and disgraceful enterprises, and after all that we wonder why Soviet Russia distrusts the good faith of the British people. The long list of conferences 1981 during the last three years has thrown the gravest possible discredit upon British good faith. Every Conference has been a miserable failure, and the Genoa Conference will fail. For these reasons we shall go into the Lobby against the Government.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN (Leader of the House)
I was under the impression that if anyone's authority was to be challenged to-night, it was the authority of His Majesty's Ministers, but I find from the speech of the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh) that I have been labouring under a delusion. It is not His Majesty's Ministers who have ceased to possess the confidence of the country; it is the House of Commons. The Motion before the House, as interpreted by the hon. Gentleman on behalf of the party for which he speaks, is a Vote of Censure not upon Ministers, but upon the House. I do not propose in the short time at my disposal—[An HON. MEMBER: "You have half an hour!"] I do not propose, in the half hour I have, to devote myself either to the correction of the hon. Gentleman's history, or to inquire into the extent to which this House represents the country. There is a school of thought which denies the authority of this House, and which would substitute for it some form of external and direct action. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman and his Friends propose to send their own representatives to Genoa to explain that those who go with the authority of this House do not represent the people of this country. But those Members of the House who take a graver and more serious interest in foreign affairs may think, perhaps, that the task of the British Government and the influence of our country in the Councils of Europe is not greatly assisted by such a display of pure party politics as is to be found in such speeches as that to which we have just listened.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law)—who contributed to our Debate a speech which leaves us torn between regret that he ever left us and a sense of the added authority and acceptance with which he speaks since he has ceased to be responsible—said that he did not know why this Motion had ever been moved. I confess that anybody 1982 listening to this Debate might indeed wonder. Until we announced that we would take the opinion of the House on the Genoa Conference, that Conference was an unwanted Conference, against which every man's hand was raised. But when we challenged a decision upon it, everybody—well, nearly everybody, but not everybody—holds that the Conference is right, and that the summoning of the Conference is right. A considerable section hold that the people who represent this country are wrong, and say that the fact that they are going there—seeing that they are the sources of all evil in an afflicted world—condemns the Conference to failure. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] See how fairly I represent their views!
For my part, I take the middle view—the middle view expressed with characteristic moderation and ability by my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare). I neither expect everything from this Conferences nor do I think it a useless proposal to make. It has, as he said, a perfectly defined and specific sphere of usefulness. We are not going to create a new world, if it succeeds. The utmost desire of those of us who care most about it is that it will have opportunities for usefulness, and that it may enable the world to take one more step forward. The condition of the world, and of our own country among others, is sufficiently serious, I should have thought, to enable us to ask with confidence for the support and good will of all patriotic men in the effort which we have undertaken. We have not received it.
Whatever else may be said about this Motion, it has, at any rate, led to an interesting Debate. It was, I think, one of the Scottish Judges of the old school who observed about that useful animal the pig that it provided a great deal of confused fine eating; and I think I may claim the same for our Motion. It has enabled the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) to explain to an interested and gratified House of Commons that he had always foreseen that the Russian experiment in self-government was doomed to failure; that Communism could never succeed in a country—and, he might have added, in a world—where everyone was not a Communist. [An HON. MEMBER: "You 1983 ought to have known that years ago!"] I did know it, but it is the first time that I have heard it from the right hon. Gentleman.
It is as old as the saying that Communism could not succeed until all men were angels, and when all men were angels it would not be necessary. Then this Motion enabled the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean)—who has all my sympathy, called upon as he was to take part in a Debate which requires some thought, at a moment's notice, owing to the indisposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith)—it enabled him to pose as the friend and admirer of the Die-hards, or those who are called the Die-hards, of the party to which I belong, and to make to them an impassioned appeal not to sacrifice their consciences to any base or mean consideration, not to think of votes or elections, but to stand firm by the faith which is in them. I am reminded of the story of the Spanish auto-da-fé, at which a Jew was condemned to be burned to death for heresy, and, when all Madrid was assembled in its great square to witness the burning, the horrible rumour spread that the victim was going to recant, and that the fire would never be lit; and a great cry arose from the crowd, "Stand firm, Moses!" And Moses stood firm, and there was such a burning as Madrid had never seen. I hope my hon. Friends will consider the character of that advice, and the quarter from which it comes, before they consent to sacrifice themselves on the altar which the right hon. Gentleman has built for them.
After all, we are considering something more than party differences at home, or an electoral situation. No truer word was spoken than by my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow, in a speech which was full of wisdom, when he said that no man not a born fool would have taken upon himself the task which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has assumed, in going to Genoa on behalf of the Government, with a view to electoral results. Cannot we in the British House of Commons put aside those considerations for a moment? Think of the condition of Europe. Think of the condition of the world. Think of the con- 1984 dition of our own people. Give him the authority and the strength which is attached to a man who speaks in the name of the country, without whose help the War would never have been won, and who, since the conclusion of the War, has been the one stable point in a rocking and quivering world.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have not been wholly unconcerned with their own electoral hopes and fears have spoken as if the whole fortunes of this Continent depended upon Russia, as if the Conference had nothing but Russia to consider. Leave Russia out of the question. Suppose it be found impossible to come to any sort of terms. Is there not enough in the state of Europe to occupy, and usefully occupy, a Conference of this kind? There is Austria, admirably equipped to be the financial centre of a great part of Eastern and South-eastern Europe, yet paralysed at this moment. There is Poland, a people with large industries, busily at work, but still paralysed by the uncertainties that surround them. There are the Baltic States. The Baltic trade is no new part of British trades and has played no small part in building up British commerce and finance as we know it to-day. Even if, from the point of view of Russia, the Conference were a failure, leaving things exactly where they are, is there nothing to be done among those other countries?
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles—I am not quoting his words—said this was a mere repetition of the Brussels Conference. He said truly that at Brussels most of these States were represented by men eminently qualified to give good advice to Europe, and that they gave admirable and sound advice. That is quite true, and if their advice had been acted upon by the Governments concerned, we should have made great strides on the road to recovery—much greater strides than any we have made at present. Why did the Brussels Conference fail to produce more results? Not for want of good advice, not for want of the presence of the most skilled experts, but for want of authority in the representatives of the different countries who were there to give their word, to agree to a common policy, and, once convinced of the wisdom of the advice, to carry to their own countries the knowledge and the influence which would secure action by their Governments in 1985 that sense It is because Brussels has not produced the desired results that we now ask for a Conference in which Governments themselves will be represented, so that if conclusions be reached, there may be some hope that they will be carried out.
The hon. Member for Ince, the right hon. Member for Platting and others, complained of the limitations placed upon the scope of the Genoa Conference. In particular they complained that the Treaty of Versailles and the other treaties of peace cannot be discussed, and that reparations cannot be reviewed and adjusted on a new basis at that Conference. Would anyone not a madman, who desired the readjustment of the Treaty of Versailles, or a modification of the reparation agreement, choose a Conference like that at Genoa in order to open that question and discuss it? Had you proposed to put that upon the agenda, there would have been no Conference. [HON. MEMBEES: "Hear, hoar!"] Hon. Members opposite are agreed. Yet their Amendment desires a conference. So there is need for a little clear thinking. You cannot discuss those questions in a conference where all Europe, and States outside Europe, are present, where those are in the majority who have no interest in the question on the one side or on the other, and you cannot take your Allies to a conference, or continue to act with them, if you insist that no conference shall be held to consider the situation in Europe at which the whole Treaty of Versailles, and the whole of the Reparation Clauses are not open to discussion.
Reparations are introduced here, not because of their bearing on Genoa, as the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) and the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh) said, but because—what is it they are saying up and down the country? It is very interesting to examine the matter for a moment. What they are putting to the electors of the country is, shortly stated, this: "There are now 1¾ millions of people unemployed. This unemployment is due to the Government, and the reason why the Government are responsible for it is that they exact reparations from Germany." According to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Clynes), British goods are driven out of our home market and out of neutral markets by German produc- 1986 tion, and the pace and extent of German production are governed by the demand for reparations. So you arrive at the direct conclusion that because the British Government is a party to the demand for reparation, it is directly, and I think he added solely, responsible for the unemployment of 1¾ millions of people in this country. Has he ever inquired whether there was any unemployment in the United States? It would be worth while to inquire before going up and down the country, making statements which are at once mischievous and malicious. What is his argument? Does he suggest that if there were no reparations, there would be no unemployment? That was his argument. Germany, under the pressure of reparations, is exporting something between one-third and one-fourth in bulk of what were her exports before the War. Was there anything comparable to this unemployment before the War which would lead us to suppose that the unemployment after the War is all due to her now exporting one-third or one-fourth of what she exported before the War? I have attempted to state the limits of German competition. It is one-third to one-fourth, as compared to the period before the War, whether in our markets or in neutral markets. But he is suggesting that if there were no reparations, there would be no German export trade. The right hon. Gentleman and his party are going up and down the country telling tales which will not stand a moment's examination. They are trading upon ignorance, which they make it their business to foment and increase. It is just as well that we should have an opportunity of debating on the Floor of this House the favourite theme upon which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite dilate.
I spoke a little time ago about the usefulness of the Conference, even if nothing comes of the negotiations with Russia. If a satisfactory result be achieved by the negotiations with Russia, much more may be achieved, though I am the last to wish to put the possible results of the Genoa Conference too high. But some of my hon. Friends were alarmed at any kind of negotiations with Russia, or any sort of recognition in any circumstances of the present Russian Government. My right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow, I think, put the case very fairly. There can be no substantial trade with Russia 1987 until confidence in Russia is restored among the trading community. Neither individuals nor a country will inspire confidence in the trading community while they repudiate their obligations, deny their debts, and treat other people's property as if it were their own. But if anybody will look at the conditions laid down at Cannes, if they will consider what are the implications of those conditions—the recognition of all public debts and obligations, the establishment of a legal and judicial system which will sanction and enforce commercial and other contracts, and so on—if they will look at these conditions and consider what are the implications as worked out by the experts of the Allied Powers, I think they will agree with my right hon. Friend that if Genoa can achieve these conditions, if it can get from Russia the acceptance of these fundamental conditions of civilised government and comity of nations—then indeed the world will have made a step forward, and we may proceed upon the course which my right hon. Friend indicated to-day. I do not know whether it is possible. One of the objects of the Conference is to meet representatives of the Russian Government, and find out what is possible. I do not know what will be possible. I may read for the House a brief passage from an official communication, dated 16th March, from the Soviet Government to the British and other Governments, translating it as I go along. I believe that it has been already published:In view of the false information propagated by the hostile Press of different coun-
tries as to the situation of the Russian Republic and the internal politics of its Government, the Government thinks it necessary to declare that the essential factor of its policy is the desire to create in Russia conditions favourable to the development of private initiative in the domain of industry, agriculture, transport, and commerce.
§ Is it not worth while to meet at Genoa in conference with the other nations of Europe the Government who profess that that is their object, and to see how far they are prepared to translate those professions into effective action? If that be the result of Genoa, we are entering on a new phase, and if, after Genoa, this new phase persists, and Russia not merely accepts the conditions which are the basis of the Genoa Conference, but loyally fulfils them and carries them out, then, indeed, I say will be the time for considering fully the complete recognition which we are unable to give at once, and our inability to give which will not prevent us at this moment from seeing, at any rate, whether we cannot take one step forward on the hard and difficult path which Europe and the world have to tread.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
I wish to draw the attention of the House—[Interruption] We are here to criticise the policy of the Government during the last three years. [Interruption,] This is discrediting the country. [Interruption.]
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 379; Noes, 84.1991
|Division No. 72.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Brown, Major D. C.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Bruton, Sir James|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Bonn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.|
|Armitage, Robert||Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Bethell, Sir John Henry||Burdon, Colonel Rowland|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Betterton, Henry B.||Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bigland, Alfred||Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Birchall, J. Dearman||Butcher, Sir John George|
|Austin, Sir Herbert||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Campbell, J. D. G.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Blane, T. A.||Carew, Charles Robert S.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Borwick, Major G. O.||Carr, W. Theodore|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith.||Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Casey, T. W.|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Brassey, H. L C.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Breese, Major Charles E.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Barrand, A. R.||Briggs, Harold||Cheyne, Sir William Watson|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Brittain, Sir Harry||Chilcot, Lieut.-Com. Harry W.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Britton, G. B.||Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill|
|Beck, Sir Arthur Cecil||Broad, Thomas Tucker||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Mount, Sir William Arthur|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Higham, Charles Frederick||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hills, Major John Waller||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hinds, John||Neal, Arthur|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Newton, Major Sir Harry K.|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n, W.)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon, Sir Henry|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col, Sir John|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Howard, Major S. G.||Parker, James|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Hudson, R. M.||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Pearce, Sir William|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Hurd, Percy A.||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Dean, Commander P. T.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Denison-Pender, John C.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Dewhurst, Lieut-Commander Harry||Jameson, John Gordon||Perring, William George|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Jesson, C.||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Johnstone, Joseph||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Ednam, Viscount||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Pratt, John William|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Prescott, Major Sir W. H.|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Rae, H. Norman|
|Elveden, Viscount||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Evans, Ernest||Kenyon, Barnet||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Kidd, James||Randies, Sir John Scurrah|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Fildes, Henry||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Remer, J. R.|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Lindsay, William Arthur||Remnant, Sir James|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Renwick, Sir George|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Lloyd, George Butler||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Forrest, Walter||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Lorden, John William||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Lort-Williams, J.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Gange, E. Stanley||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Rodger, A. K.|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Gardiner, James||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Gardner, Ernest||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Golf, Sir R. Park||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Gould, James C.||Macleod, J. Mackintosh||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Grant, James Augustus||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Seager, Sir William|
|Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry||Macquisten, F. A.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Green, Albert (Derby)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hackn'y, N.)||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Manville, Edward||Simm, M. T.|
|Greer, Sir Harry||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Gregory, Holman||Martin, A. E.||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Mason, Robert||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Matthews, David||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Middlebrook, Sir William||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Hallwood, Augustine||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Stevens, Marshall|
|Hancock, John George||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Morris, Richard||Sugden, W. H.|
|Haslam, Lewis||Morrison, Hugh||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Taylor, J.||Waring, Major Walter||Winterton, Earl|
|Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.||Wise, Frederick|
|Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)||Warren, Sir Alfred H.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Thomas, Brig-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Thomas-Stanford, Charles||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Thorpe, Captain John Henry||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Tickier, Thomas George||Willey, Lieut-Colonel F. V.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Townley, Maximilian G.||Williams, C. (Tavistock)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Tryon, Major George Clement||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Turton, Edmund Russborough||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Vickers, Douglas||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Wallace, J.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.||Younger, Sir George|
|Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)||Wilson, Joseph H. (South Shields)|
|Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.|
|Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)||Windsor, Viscount|
|Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Amman, Charles George||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Banton, George||Halls, Walter||Robertson, John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Rose, Frank H.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hayday, Arthur||Sexton, James|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hay ward, Evan||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Spencer, George A.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Sutton, John Edward|
|Bromfield, William||Hogge, James Myles||Swan, J. E.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Irving, Dan||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cairns, John||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Ft. (Hitchin)||Kennedy, Thomas||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lawson, John James||Watts-Morgan, Lieut-Col. D.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lunn, William||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Mills, John Edmund||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Mosley, Oswald||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Foot, Isaac||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Gillie, William||Myers, Thomas|
|Glanville, Harold James||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. W. Smith.|
That this House, approves the Resolutions passed by the Supreme Council at Cannes as the basis of the Genoa Conference, and will support His Majesty's Govern-
§ ment in endeavouring to give effect to them."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 372; Noes, 94.1995
|Division No. 73.]||AYES.||[11.15 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Bruton, Sir James|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Bonn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James|
|Armitage, Robert||Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Burdon, Colonel Rowland|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Bethell, Sir John Henry||Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Betterton, Henry B.||Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bigland, Alfred||Butcher, Sir John George|
|Atkey, A. R.||Birchall, J. Dearman||Campbell, J. D. G.|
|Austin, Sir Herbert||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Carew, Charles Robert S.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Blane, T. A.||Carr, W. Theodore|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Borwick, Major G. O.||Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Casey, T. W.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Bewyer, Captain G. W. E.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Brassey, H. L. C.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Breese, Major Charles E.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Barrand, A. R.||Briggs, Harold||Cheyne, Sir William Watson|
|Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Brittain, Sir Harry||Chilcot, Lieut.-Com. Harry W.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Britton, G. B.||Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill|
|Beck, Sir Arthur Cecil||Broad, Thomas Tucker.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hills, Major John Waller||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Hinds, John||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Neal, Arthur|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Holmes, J. Stanley||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hood, Sir Joseph||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)||Newton, Major Sir Harry K.|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut-Col. Sir John|
|Daiziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Howard, Major S. G.||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hudson, R. M.||Parker, James|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Pearce, Sir William|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Hurd, Percy A.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Dean, Commander P. T.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Denison-Pender, John C.||Jameson, John Gordon||Perring, William George|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Jesson, C.||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Johnstone, Joseph||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Ednam, Viscount||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Pratt, John William|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Prescott, Major Sir W. H.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Elveden, Viscount||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Rae, H. Norman|
|Entwistie, Major C. F.||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Evans, Ernest||Kenyon, Barnet||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Kidd, James.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Klley, James Daniel||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Fildes, Henry||Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Remer, J. R.|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lindsay, William Arthur||Renwick, Sir George|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Forrest, Walter||Lloyd, George Butler||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Lorden, John William||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lort-Williams, J.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Gange, E. Stanley||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Rodger, A. K.|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Gardiner, James||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Gardner, Ernest||Lowther, Maj.-Gen Sir C. (Penrith)||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||M'Donald, Dr. Souverie F. P.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Gould, James C.||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Grant, James Augustus||Macleod, J. Mackintosh||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Seager, Sir William|
|Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Green, Albert (Derby)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Macquisten, F. A.||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Simm, M. T.|
|Greer, Sir Harry||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Gregory, Holman||Manville, Edward||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Mason, Robert||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Matthews, David||Stanley, Major Hon. G (Preston)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Middlebrook, Sir William||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Hallwood, Augustine||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Hancock, John George||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Stevens, Marshall|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedtord, Luton)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Haslam, Lewis||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Morris, Richard||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Morrison, Hugh||Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Taylor, J.|
|Higham, Charles Frederick||Mount, Sir William Arthur||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)||Waring, Major Walter||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand||Winterton, Earl|
|Thomas-Stanford, Charles||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield||Wise, Frederick|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Thorpe, Captain John Henry||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Tickler, Thomas George||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Townley, Maximilian G.||Willey, Lieut-Colonel F. V.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Tryon, Major George Clement||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Turton, Edmund Russborough||Williams, C. (Tavistock)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Vickere, Douglas||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Wallace, J.||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud||Younger, Sir George|
|Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)||Wilson, Joseph H. (South Shields)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. Mc Curdy.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Gretton, Colonel John||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Grundy, T. W.||Polson, Sir Thomas A.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Banton, George||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Robertson, John|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Halls, Walter||Sexton, James|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hayday, Arthur||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Spencer, George A.|
|Bowerman, Ht. Hon. Charles W.||Hogge, James Myles||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Bromfield, William||Irving, Dan||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sutton, John Edward|
|Cairns, John||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Swan, J. E.|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Lawson, John James||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Lunn, William||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Mills, John Edmund||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Ciltheroe)||Mosley, Oswald||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holdernass)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Myers, Thomas||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Nail, Major Joseph||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Naylor, Thomas Ellis|
|Gillis, William||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Glanville, Harold James||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Mr. Kennedy and Mr. J. Griffiths.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Adjourned at Half after Eleven o'Clock.