Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £307,637, be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1923, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, including a Grant-in-Aid and other Expenses connected with Oversea Settlement."—[NOTE: £367,000 has been voted on account.]
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I wish to seize this opportunity to try and get from the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies some reply to the Debate which took place last Tuesday. On that occasion we had a long Debate lasting over four hours upon Colonial Office matters. It was opened by a very able survey of the whole field by the Colonial Secretary, but the subsequent Debate was interrupted by other business. We want to reply to certain definite complaints. We want the explanation of the Colonial Office on four 1138 different situations. The first is the Ceylon difficulty where the Constitution is in the melting pot, and has been for over two years. Eighteen months ago it was solving itself perfectly, but now non-cooperation is again rearing its ugly head, and we have the same difficulties presenting themselves which we have failed before to surmount under similar circumstances, and I want to know what the Colonial Office intend to do with regard to this question.
The next point upon which I want an answer is, why is the whole question of the indebtedness of this country to Rhodesia being held up, and why has it been held up for over two years? Why is the South African Government now negotiating with the Chartered Company with a view to discovering some compensation to which both parties can agree when Lord Buxton's Committee recommended that the Colonial Office itself should discover by inquiry the balance of money owing to the Chartered Company, for Southern Rhodesia, and when as regards Northern Rhodesia Lord Bux- 1139 ton's Committee recommended that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council should definitely determine the amount of money which was owing to the Chartered Company for their administration of Northern Rhodesia. Those questions are important because the feeling, particularly of the party I represent, is that the Chartered Company are being given terms far higher by the South African Government than they are judicially entitled to, and in order to get these bigger terms for the Chartered Company the people of Southern Rhodesia and the natives in both Northern and Southern Rhodesia are having their interests sacrificed so that the Chartered Company's interests may be secured.
The next question is whether, and if so what, steps are being taken to protect the people in the Gold Coast and Sierra Leone against the heavy export duties, and on what grounds the Colonial Office justify on the West Coast the enormous expenditure involved in the capital outlay for harbours and railway works being instituted there when trade is very slack. Also what is the position in Kenya? What position does the Colonial Office now take up with the India Office as regards the status and rights of the Indians in the Kenya Colony? I heard that there was no prospect of the Colonial Office preventing fresh Indians coming in by putting prohibitory fees on Indians coming into the place. I hope to have that statement confirmed, and I also want to know whether the Colonial Office have agreed with the India Office on the fundamental question that there should be only one list of voters and no communal representation in Kenya.
I want to know whether the India Office has managed to persuade the Colonial Office to accept the fundamental demand of the Indians for an equal franchise with the Whites, and I want to be certain that there will be only one list of voters and no communal representation. I also want to know whether the Colonial Office have definitely given their approval to this monstrous tax of 50 per cent. on imported timber, a tax which will redound to the enormous benefit of those people who own so many timber forests in East Africa, and which will be paid for by all the people in Kenya Colony when they want to build 1140 houses or make fences. A protective tariff of 50 per cent. appears to me to be a most lamentable precedent to setting up protective tariffs generally which must effectively ruin the future prospects of the Colony. I am sorry that i had to repeat these questions, but I should like to have from the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, particularly in the presence of the Under-Secretary for India, a statement on these points, more particularly as they affect the India Office and the Colonial Office.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
I wish to say a few words with regard to the Island of Cyprus. I want to ask the Under-Secretary whether the Government have any fixed policy with regard to that island? A good many people look upon the retention of Cyprus as a crime after all that has happened since 1914. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because the small Moslem minority there have declared for incorporation with the people of Greece. We have been fighting a war for the protection of small nationalities and self-determination, and surely that principle cannot be denied in this case. Many men left their work and were killed in the War on the strength of pledges-given by hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to this principle. If we had had any regard for honour or consistency we should have long ago handed Cyprus back to Greece. I am not myself pro-Hellene, and I wish the Government had been more active in opposition to the Greek policy which has done so much harm, but I think in regard to Cyprus they have right on their side.
It has been stated in the Press recently that it is proposed to give Cyprus back to Greece, or rather to allow the Cyprians to choose to which country they wish to owe allegiance, as compensation for the Greeks clearing out of Smyrna. Those are the lines on which conciliation can be effected in the Middle. Last, and at the same time it would do something to satisfy Greece and would gain for us the friendship of the world at large. If that is the case, then it is necessary that the most stringent rules, under proper supervision, should be drawn up to protect the Moslem minority. What has happened to the Moslems in Crete and Thrace and other parts of the country taken over by so-called Christian peoples is only too well known, and while we are 1141 talking a great deal about the rights of Christian minorities in Anatonia and other places let us see that this island is once more restored to the rule of the Hellenes. I should be very glad if the Under-Secretary can give us any information on these points.
At regards Wei-Hai-Wei there is no injustice here except the original loot of that place. It is now being run on economical lines and some of the districts there are quite a model for the Colonial Office, which might well he followed in other parts of the country. The younger generation of China are now showing great patriotism and an awakening spirit, and I understand the position is that we have promised to clear out of Wei-Hai-Wei when the Japanese have completed certain concessions. I want to know why we are asked to spend £1,250 at this place. It would be quite feasible to withdraw at once from Wei-Hai-Wei with one resident official left there, whose salary could be paid out of the revenues of the very rich men. The island is practically self-supporting, and it is not necessary to spend any more money upon it, and we should at once remove every possible sign of our occupation of Wei-Hai-Wei, and leave one political officer there as the representative of our Government. If we did that there would be less excuse for any delay on the part of other nations in carrying out the obligations they entered into at Washington. I believe were we to do that it would go far to encourage the Chinese, and to improve our relations with them. They are a great people; they are big customers of ours, and it is best to be on good terms with them. We have not too many friends in the world, thanks to the policy of the Coalition Government, and I believe the Chinese Government and the Chinese would prove welcome friends and allies. We ought to do all we can to please the Chinese people, and to show them that our protestations are not in vain, but that we mean to carry out our pledges to the letter. I am sorry to see this comparatively small sum is to be voted for Wei-Hai-Wei. I am sorry that any money at all is required for that place.
Mr. GIDEON MURRAY
I do not propose to deal with the question of Wei-Hai-Wei, but with regard to Cyprus I should like to say that when the hon. and gallant 1142 Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) talks about injustice being done to Cyprus he evidently is not aware of the history of Cyprus or of what has occurred there during the past 25 years since the British Government took over control of it. I have not got the figures in my head, but I think the income of Cyprus has risen something like five or six times as much since the British Government took over the island, which is enjoying such prosperity as it never knew before. When, therefore, the hon. and gallant Member refers to injustice to Cyprus, I think he is speaking from ignorance of the subject. Certainly he is misrepresenting the case. That is not the topic on which I rose to address the Committee. I wish to ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for the Colonies what steps the Government propose to take in order to give effect to their undertaking that the preference to British sugars shall be based on a 10 years' agreement. I do not wish to raise the whole issue of preference at the present moment, but it is very important if the sugar producers in the British Empire are to get the fullest advantage from the preference which has been granted, that they should be given it upon a 10 years' basis. I therefore ask the Under-Secretary what steps the Government propose to take to make that effective.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Having already spoken in this Debate I desire now only to say a word or two in reply to the hon. Member for Central Hull, who declared that the Greeks have no right to go to Smyrna and that it was altogether wrong they should be there.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
The hon. Member says "Hear, hear" and thus repeats his statement. May I point out that the Greeks are in a majority in Smyrna, and if it is right we should give back Cyprus to the Greeks because of the Greek majority there, it is absolutely right also that they should be in Smyrna. The hon. and gallant Member's argument is that the majority of the population of the island is Greek speaking, and that they belong to the Greek Orthodox Church and that therefore they should be handed over to the Hellenic Government. But as a 1143 matter of fact the island has not been Greek for over 2,000 years. During the last 300 years before Cyprus came under England they were under the Turks. Prior to that they were under other races and 2,000 years ago were under the Roman Empire. It is always the same cry with the hon. and gallant Member, England is always in the wrong in his opinion, and I venture to assert he has on this occasion knocked the bottom out of his own argument. I hope we shall have a definite statement from the Colonial Office tonight that they do not propose to hand over either the Moslems or the local Cypriots to the Hellenic Government.
§ Sir THOMAS BENNETT
I do not propose to discuss at any length the question of Kenya, but there are two points connected with it which I shall be very glad if the hon. Gentleman, who represents the Colonial Office, will give me some information upon. My first question is, has the Colonial Office associated itself in any way with the demand that the emigration of Indians should be stopped? That demand was very strongly expressed at a gathering recently at which the Secretary for the Colonies was present, and it will be a great satisfaction to many, and especially to the people of India, to know that a Measure, so utterly opposed to equity and to the rights of the people of India, as to stop the emigration of Indians to that Colony, has not been sanctioned by the Colonial Office. The other point is this: Can we have an assurance that the policy, so definitely and so emphatically laid down by the Government of India with regard to the principle that Indian subjects of the Crown shall be put on a status of equality with other subjects of the Crown is to be acted upon?
I also want to refer to the question of Aden. I know that does not come under the Colonial Office Vote, but a proposal has been under discussion for transferring that barren and interesting rock to the Colonial Office. I think, therefore, I shall be in order if I put a question to the Under-Secretary on the subject. Will he tell me how far the consideration of that proposal and the negotiations that have taken place on it have gone? There is great anxiety in regard to this subject in India, and especially in Bombay, because when Aden 1144 was occupied by the British in 1839 it was commercially colonised very largely, if not almost entirely, by Indian merchants from Bombay. They have prospered there. They have developed the trade and well-being of the port and settlement, and the Indian community have been some of the most loyal and enterprising subjects of the Crown in that place. Now they are alarmed at the thought that they will be detached from their connection with India and handed over to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Indians constitute about one-fourth of the population of Aden. They are an enterprising and advanced element in that population, and I was very glad to see that the representative of one of the oldest families which has lived in Aden from the time of the annexation to the British Crown has been recently the recipient of a well-deserved honour about which no inquiry is needed seeing that it has the fullest approval in all quarters, for the recipient has been a loyal enterprising and useful citizen, and has done much to develop the prosperity of Aden.
Why is it there is so much objection to this proposed transfer? The reasons alleged for it, I believe, are strategic, and those I do not propose to go into. I do not know what other reasons can be advanced for transferring Aden from the Government of India to the care of the Colonial Office. I do know this, that amongst the people of Aden there is a feeling which is common to the mercantile community in Bombay of deep distrust of the Colonial Office. I hope the hon. Gentleman who represents the Colonial Office will not mind my saying that the Colonial Office stinks in the nostrils of the people of India at this moment. I hope it will not do so for ever. That, however, is one of the reasons why the people of Aden object to being transferred to the jurisdiction of the Secretary for the Colonies. It is partly because he made a certain speech the other day, but it is mainly because of their distrust and their intense dissatisfaction at the attitude of the Colonial Office in regard to the Indian community at Aden. Whatever the ultimate determination of the fate of Aden may be, may I suggest—
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
I have allowed the hon. Member too much latitude. Aden does not come under the 1145 Colonial Office Vote. It is under the India Office. So far as the hon. Member was making a suggestion that the Colonial Office should not take it over, I allowed him to proceed, but he is going beyond that. I must now ask him to leave that subject.
§ Sir T. BENNETT
I am much obliged for the latitude which has been granted to me. I have been trying to look at the question solely from the point of view of the Colonial Office, and to explain why it is that the suggestion to entrust the Colonial Office with the care of Aden is so much resented. For that reason I would suggest that the Colonial Office should defer, at all events, taking over Aden until the feeling in regard to it in Aden and in India has disappeared.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Edward Wood)
I have no reason to complain of the reception these Votes have received cither to-night or on Tuesday last when they were before the Committee. As I think the Committee is aware, it was not due to any lack of courtesy on our part that neither my right hon. Friend nor I was able to reply to many important points that were raised when we last considered the Vote. I am anxious not to miss another opportunity of dealing with some of the matters to which attention has been drawn, and, therefore, I will now endeavour shortly to answer some of the points which have been referred to. Perhaps I might in one sentence clear the ground in regard to Cyprus, and in relation to the remarks made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). I am not sure that the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) has not already sufficiently dealt with the historical side of the subject. Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend opposite will in future appreciate the importance of securing chapter and verse before he commits himself to making statements like that which he did make.
§ Mr. WOOD
I wish to remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman of a more sociological consideration, and that is this: One would have thought from his speech that the population of Cyprus was 1146 entirely unanimous, and that the course of action, as he suggested, would be likely to command almost universal assent among the population of the island. He must know as well as I do that that is very far from being the case. I can only assure him, and others who are interested, that, so far as I am aware—and I think I must have heard of it otherwise—there is no intention on the part of His Majesty's Government to take Cyprus from its present position as part of the British Empire. I hope, so far as I am concerned, that that matter is final.
I come to the point raised by the hon. Gentleman who opened our discussion this afternoon, and to his observations referring to points raised on a previous occasion. The first point that he addressed himself to was that of the Ceylon Constitution. I really must profess myself bewildered by the mental state or intellectual conclusions at which my hon. and gallant Friend managed to arrived I can only suppose that his information and mine are widely divergent. I think that investigation will show that if there is divergence, that it is my information which is correct, and his that is wide of the mark. What has happened? The main facts are not in dispute. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman led us on the last occasion over the earlier history of the Ceylon Constitution. With that history I have no complaint to make. As I had occasion to remark, in the course of the last Debate, what had happened was, that on the initiative of the Legislative Council itself, a Committee was appointed—after being passed unanimously by the Legislative Council—to consider and review the problem of territorial and other allocations of seats of the Council. The real difficidty, as he knows as well as I, or better, is not reaction, indifference and slowness on the part of the Colonial Office: it is the fundamental difficulty and clash of interest between the Cingalese in Ceylon. I have before me telegrams of protest from some of the communities in Ceylon, telegrams immediately evoked by the references of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to this matter the other day in Debate. He suggests that I should take an opportunity of consulting, or inviting my right hon. Friend to consult, Sir Graeme Thomson, the Colonial Secretary for Ceylon, a Gentleman for whom the hon. and gallant Gentleman has great 1147 respect. I can only assure him that I discussed this matter at great length with Sir Graeme Thomson a few days before this Vote was taken in Committee last week. From all I said and for the course of action I outlined I had, so far as I am aware, the full concurrence and assent of Sir Graeme Thomson. There is no difference of opinion at the present stage of affairs between Sir Graeme Thomson and those who advise my right hon. Friend.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Can the hon. Gentleman tell me whether this Committee is still appointed by the elective members of the Legislative Council? Can he also tell me what are the terms of reference of the Committee?
§ Mr. WOOD
I will let the hon. and gallant Gentleman have them, certainly. I will send him a copy of them, if I have them, of which I am not quite certain, but in any case no doubt I can obtain a copy. With regard to the appointment of the Committee, I am not quite certain about the numbers, but it is certainly true that five or seven of the elected members who originally decided to sit upon the Committee have found a reason for now declining to do so. The rest of the Committee, I presume, is going on, and no doubt will eventually frame a report. If it does not from a report, I quite agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the duty will return to the shoulders of the Colonial Office of dealing with the constitution in the absence of such a report. But in the first instance I do submit to my hon. and gallant Friend that it is not reasonable to blame the Colonial Office, because they have been willing to accede to the unanimously expressed wish of the Legislative Council to allow a Committee of the Council to deal with that matter. So much for Ceylon.
I come to Rhodesia. As I understand it, the hon. and gallant Gentleman's complaint was that more rapid progress had not been made with the valuation of land in Southern Rhodesia, that the British South Africa Company had either themselves appropriated land for commercial purposes or had alienated it. I have been puzzled by the figures of the hon. and gallant Gentleman in the last Debate. As I followed his argument, he seemed to suggest that these deductions, which, of course, when valued and agreed, ought to 1148 be deducted from the sum due under the Cave Award—he had the impression that those deductions would completely cancel and wipe out the Cave Award. On all the figures I have seen that is the most startling suggestion to make. The company's valuation of the two sets of lands amounts altogether to somewhat less than £400,000. The highest estimate suggested by anyone else than I have seen is £1,000,000. The Cave Award was £4,500,000. There is a very wide bridge between these figures.
§ Mr. WOOD
Yes, but land varies in different parts of the world, and I understand it is not so high in Southern Rhodesia as in other parts. But the further fact is that when the deputation of elected members was over here last autumn consulting with my right hon. Friend on the question of the future government of Southern Rhodesia, so far as I know, they never once raised the question that their evolution was being checked or hampered by any delay—if they had thought it was avoidable, which it was not—in arriving at a decision on these matters. I would point this out to my hon. and gallant Friend, who has been rather severe on the alternative opportunity offered to Rhodesia of going into the Union—perhaps I need not now discuss the broad policy—but if Rhodesia does at this referendum decide for union, all the necessity for going over these difficult and complicated questions of land valuation, so far as we are concerned, automatically lapses; therefore, inasmuch as the process of valuation would be one involving considerable expense, I am not at all satisfied that it is unwise, or even unfortunate, that we have not embarked upon it until we know for certain they may not be going into the Union of South Africa. I do not sec the Noble Lord the Member for Fast Nottingham (Lord H. Cavendish-Ben[...]inck) here, but perhaps I might make one observation in reply to the points he raised in relation to Northern Rhodesia. He referred to the reported eviction of natives on a large scale in Northern Rhodesia, near Msoro. There would seem to be some misunderstanding about this case, to which my attention has previously been directed from other quarters. The upshot of the 1149 inquiries I have been able to make is that three to six months ago the native people were assured that no removal would take place until the whole question of native reserves had been considered by a duly-appointed Commission. I only want to make this clear, because there has been considerable misunderstanding in other quarters, and it is as well to remove it.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Will my hon. Friend please say something as to the company's claim in Northern Rhodesia?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The Colonial Office were going to present a case to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, to determine what were the claims of the chartered company in respect to Northern Rhodesia?
§ Mr. WOOD
Yes, that is so. And the terms of reference and the case to be referred to the Judicial Committee have been and are under consideration with the Law Officers, and although to laymen like ourselves the process of the law may appear at times to move slowly, I understand that we expect it now to move more quickly.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. WOOD
In regard to East and West African taxation, I do not know that I have really very much to add to what I said the other day. I have read and re-read the observations of my hon. and gallant Friend opposite, and I have one or two remarks to make upon them. If he will allow me to say so, in regard to one or two points, he falls into inaccuracy. Those present will remember he drew a sad picture of the native men and women being reduced by high taxation and hard economic conditions to a state of inability to afford proper covering. He gave as an example that into Kenya and Uganda there had been imported in 1913 one and a half million blankets, while in 1921 the importation was only 600,000. The obvious inference was that this immense diminution from one and a half million in 1913 to 600,000 in 1921 was primarily and directly due to the iniquitous taxation that the Colonial Office had imposed in the post-War 1150 period. It is the fact that the number had already fallen to 600,000 in 1914–15, before this high taxation became operative, and, therefore, some other explanation is necessary. The hon. and gallant Gentleman was very glad to have the opportunity of attacking some of those who, he may think, may derive benefit from the tax on imported timber, but, in fact, previously there was a duty of no less than 20 per cent. on timber, and, therefore, when he talks about a new duty of 50 per cent., he leaves many of his hearers to suppose that a new duty of 50 per cent. has been imposed, whereas it is an increase of 30 per cent. I dislike all increases of import duty, but I am not sure a case may not be made out that advantage is derived from the increase of the timber duty from the point of view of conserving and developing the natural resources of the colony of Kenya. I think the only other matter to which my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow drew attention was the matter of the 10 years' guarantee of continuance of preference. As has been repeatedly stated in this House, that guarantee of preference that I was authorised to give in the West Indies was a guarantee that was applicable to all Imperial products from whatever part of the Empire on objects that enjoy a preference, and that guarantee was to remain at the same rate of proportionate preference for a period of 10 years.
Did it involve any undertaking on the part of the Government that the whole duty should not be in any case removed?
§ Mr. WOOD
I wish it did, but it did not. All it did was to guarantee that, whatever was the duty, they should have proportionate preference for that period, and my hon. and gallant Friend recognises very well that if the duties were reduced to a very low figure, the value of the proportionate preference would be proportionately diminished. I only wish to take the opportunity of saying that there has been, I think, some misunderstanding in the West Indies and elsewhere, and I wish to make it absolutely plain that, so far as His Majesty's Government have the power, they wish to do everything in their power to secure the continuance of this policy, and they are confident that that policy will do some- 1151 thing to encourage and restore confidence that has been impaired in the sugar industry by these very difficult times. With regard to Wei-hai-wei, about which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) asked a question, the general position of Wei-hai-wei is, of course, as he stated, namely, that it is part of the general restitution in which Japan takes part with us, and therefore the provision of money that falls to be met by us in the period covered by the Estimates is only a proportionate sum represented by the necessity of providing what is a transitory need, and that, of course, has been brought to an end. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Seven-oaks (Sir T. Bennett) referred to the position of Indians in Kenya, and on that I had some observations to make on the last occasion. I do not know that I should do much good by adding at this stage anything to what I then said. My hon. Friend may rest assured that I do not under-estimate the difficulty of the problem. I have seen on more than one occasion considerable harm done by a chance word that is telegraphed out to India, and this is mis-interpreted and mis-quoted, and the thing is torn from its context and represented as the settled policy of His Majesty's Government. Therefore, if the Committee will allow me, I prefer not to add to what was, on the whole, a carefully considered statement which I made the other day, and will allow me not to say more than that I and my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for India, on behalf of the India Office, have been in consultation on the matter, in the hope of arriving at an agreement which would be generally acceptable to each of our constituent parties.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, I think, knows sufficient of the question to appreciate that the points to which he attaches importance are also points to which the constituents of my Noble Friend attach importance, and that, therefore, if we are to reach an agreement, as I hope we may, it is not likely that that agreement will be reached without due regard being had to those points to which he has directed attention. Beyond that, I do ask the Committee not to press me, but to allow me to assure them that if, as I hope, it may 1152 be possible to arrive at some agreement on this very difficult question, then I hope it will be the duty of my hon. Friend to make a full statement to the House. With regard to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks as to Aden, I quite appreciate the difficulties he mentioned, and I regret if the Colonial Office be not so popular in those parts as the India Office. But I can assure my hon. Friend that I do not think that there is any immediate likelihood, or even any near likelihood, of the transfer taking place, and becoming effective. It is not altogether an easy problem. Apart from the political con siderations to which he alluded, there are financial and other considerations involved.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Are we to understand that any sort of pledge has been given to the West Indies with regard to preference in the future, and if any attempt has been made to bind future Governments? If a pledge has been given by the hon. Gentleman, it puts us in a very curious position should we come into power. We do not want to be taunted with wishing to break pledges. I think the House ought to have been asked if that be the case I admit I am not fully seized of the situation, but if I am, I think the hon. Gentleman has rather exceeded his power. To put it bluntly, he has no business to do anything of the sort, and I hope we shall have some explanation from him.
§ Mr. WOOD
I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend will not expect me to go into the whole policy. The facts have been repeatedly stated in this House. I can assure him I did not exceed my powers, and the Government, through me, gave an undertaking to the West Indies for a period of ten years, but in giving that undertaking they were conscious that they could not bind their successors, as, obviously, no Government can bind its successors. But in giving it, they were not unconscious that it is one of the honourable traditions of public life in this country, from which my hon. and gallant Friend, if he forms a Government, will be most reluctant to depart, that pledges which have been given responsibly, and after due reflection by predecessors of whatever party, shall be fulfilled.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
We have not been asked to vote on this 1153 question, as far as I know, and I believe I am voicing the opinion of many Liberals in the country and Members of the Labour party when I say we cannot hold ourselves bound by this. I am the last to say we cannot carry out pledges entered into legitimately, but I say that, owing, no doubt, to the accumulation of Government business in the nature of things— I make no charge against my hon. Friend —this has been smuggled through as a minor piece of policy, and has been lost sight of in the rush of great events.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
In Questions, when it could not be argued. Do not let it be supposed that we are binding ourselves to anything of the sort. This matter ought to have been brought in in proper form, after a full-dress Debate.
§ Mr. MILLS
I very much regret the necessity of having to intervene in this Debate, but, whatever may happen to be the opinions of hon. Members who are now present, the scene raised this afternoon would, if it went unchallenged, convey to the country a wrong impression of the sense of humanity of the people as a whole. Whatever may be the merits or demerits of the case of this lonely old man of 74 who is now in the Seychelles Islands, this Estimate for the Commissioner for the Western Pacific is the only opportunity chat is afforded to us of calling attention to the real lack of humanity, and to the still greater lack of statesmanship, on the part of those who are handling this problem. If this man dies——
§ It being a Quarter past Eight of the Clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS, under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed, without Question put.