§ Captain WEDGWOOD BENN
I wish to raise another topic, namely, the ques 1381 tion of the conditions under which British traders in the Rhineland are labouring. I do not make any apology for raising this question again, for, I am sorry to say, all the efforts made in the past have been, so far as I can judge, completely unavailing to do anything to relieve the difficulties of the traders. In fact, it appears that the Government is indifferent to the sufferings of these people, and, so interested are they in the development of trade in other directions, that they regard our trade with the Continent as of comparatively small importance. That is the conclusion to which one is driven from consideration of their inactivity and also from the speeches made by some members of the Government. There was a very remarkable speech by the First Lord of the Admiralty a short time ago. From a export in the "Times," he said:We are not, properly speaking, a European Power. What happens on the Continent is of relatively small importance economically.Judging from the complete ineffectiveness of the Government's action, or their refusal to do anything, that appears to be the view of the Government. At any rate, we can say that they are indifferent. The position is that the traders in the occupied territory, and in unoccupied Germany so far as the traders in the occupied territory as a channel, are now subject to two controls. As previously, they pay duties to the German Government and receive licences from the German Government. Now they find themselves under the control, not only of the German Government, hut of the Franco-Belgian administration also.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Ronald McNeill)
The hon. and gallant Member speaks of the inactivity of the Government. Would he make some suggestion as to the line of action that he thinks the Government ought to take?
§ Captain BENN
The hon. Gentleman has been a Member of an Opposition himself. He knows that it is the business of the Government to decide lines of action, and not for a Member of the Opposition to offer precise prescriptions. It is the business of those who have control to find a remedy for the difficulties. When I speak of inactivity, I may he wrong. The Government may have been 1382 very active. All I can say is, that there has been no fruitful result of their action, and that the state of affairs now is as bad as it was on the first day when we raised the subject in this House. The difficulty is, that there are three authorities interfering with the trader. First of all there is the German Government, which asks for duties and licences as before. Then there is the Franco-Belgian administration, which also asks for duties and licences. Arid by no means the least important, there are the German transport workers in this territory. Although the traders may be willing to comply with the Franco-Belgian demand, yet by so doing they make it impossible for their goods to be moved by the workmen of the occupied territory, because the German Ministry of Transport, on the 26th of last month, issued an order forbidding any railwaymen to obey the instructions of the Franco-Belgian administration. Therefore, even compliance with the demands for payment of double duty does not assist the trader, because his goods cannot be removed.
When we first raised the point we had speeches from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and from the President of the Board of Trade—speeches which really suggested that this grievance was nonexistent, because the volume of trade was unaffected. That was certainly the impression created in the minds of most Members of this House by those speeches. What the spokesmen of the Government did not say, until they were most straightly cross-examined, was that as far as the trade in the occupied territory was concerned it was absolutely non-existent. It was only under the strongest pressure that the President of the Board of Trade said yesterday or the day before that the exportation was very small: and he added:It is correct to say that the German Government is making trade impossible.We were led to believe that the whole grievance was a storm in a tea-cup The fact is that there is no trade going on, though hitherto it was a very valuable trade, which ran into millions of pounds a year, over this particular territory. Apart from export and import duties there is another point, and that is the reparation levy. As everyone knows, goods coming from Germany into this country are subject to a levy of 26 per cent. of their value; 26 per cent. is paid 1383 to the Customs and on the document going forward to Berlin the money is reimbursed by the Berlin Government.. The exporter, therefore, gets his 100 per cent., and the British Government has intercepted 26 per cent. for reparation. I will not enter into the question of who pays the 26 per cent. What has happened is that in respect of any goods which, in the German mind, bear the taint of French consent, the German Government has given notice that it will not reimburse the 26 per cent. If the 26 per cent. is not reimbursed it becomes an ordinary import duty. Is it not a fact that traders sending goods find those goods subject now to 26 per cent. reparation duty and 10 per cent. export duty, making in all a duty of 36 per cent., whereas if these goods were sent to any neighbouring countries where the Reparation Recovery Act does not operate, they are subject to only 10 per cent.? That is to say, it is a 26 per cent. prejudice against our own interests, because the money is not reimbursed from Berlin, and is in fact the same as an import duty. A few clays ago I introduced a Motion which proposed that we should suspend the operation of the Act. To my great surprise the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade denied all knowledge of the German Govern-merit's refusal to reimburse. That was a very surprising statement. I relied on information from traders and on announcements in the Press. To make the matter quite clear I have received from the British Chamber of Commerce in Cologne a sworn Declaration which says:We hereby testify that the 26 per cent. Reparation Tax on deliveries to England is not refunded by the German Government when the Cousignments in question have been made on foreign permits.In these discussions the President of the Board of Trade has introduced rather a new note. We always understood that the attitude of the Government was that the Government did not take one side or the other in the Ruhr dispute, The Prime Minister has always said so. Not so the President of the Board of Trade. He is more Royalist than the King. He says it is the German Government's fault that these things are happening The answer he gave the other day was that the German Government had made trade impossible.
§ Captain BENN
The right bon. Gentleman will no doubt give the same answer again, because "it is true." Is it not a fact that the German Government weeks ago offered to waive their duties? Is it not a fact that they proposed that they and everyone else concerned should waive the duties and the demand for licences, and permit the traders in this district to rejoice in the exceptional advantage of having no duties to pay and no licences to seek, so long as the occupation continued I would like precise information on that subject. The "Kölnische Zeitung," on 6th April, said that that was so if it. be true that the German Government made that offer, what substance can there be in the statement that it is the German Government which is making trade impossible? I am not concerned to take a pro-German or a pro-French line. I am concerned solely with the interests of people who are trying to do trade there. We can get no satisfaction from the Government in the matter. From the day when we first raised this question not a tittle of help has been given to these people. I have seen at least a dozen merchants, men of substance who were doing a very large business with this territory, and they have said, "Nothing is being done; no help is being given." I have been asked by the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs what I would suggest. I reply that on the benches opposite is the Government. I am not well informed as to the negotiations that go on between our Government and the French Government-. I know that the French came to us and asked for permission for trains to run through to Cologne, and the British General in command had longnegotiations on the subject. I know that the French owe us £500,000,000—a not immaterial point. Debtors to that extent should not treat our traders so badly. It is not my business to make suggestions, but to emphasise the very severe hardships of these traders, and to ask the Government what they intend to do.
§ Mr. FRANK GRAY
In the few observations which I propose to address to the House on this subject, if do not propose to confine my remarks to acts of omission by the Government, but, as the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 1385 evidently desires it, I shall extend them to acts of commission by the Government which I consider have materially affected the situation. This country has at the present time in Germany at least three interests. The first, is, so far as possible, to secure our share of reparation. The second is to secure" in respect of trade under the German Reparation (Recovery) Act of 1921, our 26 per cent., and the third is to watch, to protect, and to advance the interests of traders of this country in Germany, both at present and in the future. I desire to show that not only are our trade interests materially adversely affected at the present time, but that, as a result of the transactions which are going on, they are likely to he affected even more in the future. I think it will be conceded that as a result of the acts of the French our chance of securing reparation is at least postponed. It will also be conceded, I think—contrary to the view expressed by the President of the Board of Trade—that the whole of our trade, excepting four accidental barge loads of stuff which got through, has ended in so far as the occupied area is concerned. Therefore, whatever revenue we may be getting now under the Act of 1921, it is quite clear we are losing a very large revenue in respect of potential trade with the occupied area. These losses to the country are undeniably due to the action taken by the French Government. The President of the Board of Trade, I understand, denies it, but the French officials quite frankly admit it. The acts of commission of which I complain are these— that, notwithstanding our duty to probed our trade interests, we have facilitated the action of the French by making concessions to them, first, in respect of area, by a rearrangement of the areas of influence, and, secondly, by giving them transport facilities to enable them to carry out the peculiar transactions in which they are now engaged in the Ruhr district.
Let me give one example of what is taking place—of what actually took place only yesterday. The French officials, that is to say, a number of officers and men armed to the teeth with machine guns and sometimes with tanks, go to a mine. Incidentally, may I say, that I believe, they took nine tanks to capture a post office occupied by one man. They come with this force to the mine and say, "We are here to take possession of, and to run 1386 this mine." Whether such an act is in pursuance of any Treaty or international arrangement or international law, or whether it is merely an act of war and nothing better I do not know, but I suggest to His Majesty's Government that whatever it may be, by the concessions of which I have spoken, we are parties to the transaction, although we are, as a result, sustaining a very substantial loss instead of gaining a benefit. The Germans when they are approached in this way say, "We are very pleased to see you; we expected you yesterday, and what exactly do you propose to do? Do you propose to go down and work the mine or do you propose to be the surface men on the job? "The French say," We only propose to do the surface work." Then the Germans, aside and in a stage whisper, say, "Yes, they dare not go down, because; they are afraid we are going to gas them." The French proceed, I believe with no better machinery than their hands, to try to load coal and coke from the surface, and in large quantities they are quite unable to remove it from that area to their own country when they have done so. The; Germans proceed to work underground, not of course to bring up further coal to be taken away by the French, but, as they quite frankly admit, to do necessary work for future development which they have been unable to do during the pressure of work preceding the occupation by the French.
In respect of such a transaction as that or in respect of the taking possession of a factory, where either unproductive work is being done or where there is an accumulation of finished articles, the Berlin Government are making a credit arrangement to enable this passive resistance to be put up. Again, in the ease of the railway and the surface workers who naturally refused to work side by side with the French, the Berlin Government provide wages or doles in lieu of wages, to enable this passive war to be continued. Trade in Germany having in the past been good and there having been practically no unemployment, the Berlin Government are able to make that provision. That state of affairs is likely to go on for some time. The Germans are quite confident of their ability to resist passively, and the French at the present time are depressed and doubtful as to their chance of success. To those 1387 acquainted with the situation in the Ruhr it was not surprising that advances should be made for conferences and for an arrangement with His Majesty's Government, and we on this side of the House regret that, so far, nothing has been done which is likely to end the present situation in the Ruhr. But if nothing is done and if the French are likely to fail, what is the position? I had an opportunity of speaking with French Deputies on the subject, and they say quite frankly that they desire to injure the trade that might be going on between the Ruhr area and this country. The President of the Board of Trade repeatedly says—which very much amazes me—that the Germans are the cause of the cessation of trade between that area and this country. It should be quite obvious to him—it would be obvious to every business man—that if the Germans are putting up a war of passive resistance and are endeavouring to manufacture and produce, whether permitted to do so by the French or not, and if in respect of stocks thus created they have got to be backed up by the credit system of the Berlin Government, then it is in their interest to get out of their country the stocks thus created to countries other than France, if they can do so without interfering with the passive war they are carrying on. As I have said, the Germans are confident and the difficulty at the present moment rests with the French. They have put themselves into a position —and, however injurious it may he to us, for that they care nothing, except that they hope it will become so injurious as to bring us in on their side—they have put themselves into a position which is perilously near to ridiculous, and they cannot remain in that position. They are unlikely to withdraw, however, unless ways and means are provided by others to enable them to do so. Meantime they must go on. They are going on, and their next progressive step—and there are indications to-day that they are taking that step—is fraught with great danger to the world at large and is certainly fraught with great and increasing injury to the trade of this country which we are under an obligation to protect.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down covered a very wide field in the general discussion of reparation. I do not propose to follow him in view of the previous statement of 1388 policy made by the Prime Minister. I will say this, that unlike the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Kenn), who preceded him he suggested a certain course of action which might be taken. That was that we should attempt to make things as difficult as we could for the French in the Ruhr. I do not think that is a policy which is likely to appeal to the people of this country. I do not think it is a policy which is likely to bring the question of reparation to a satisfactory conclusion. It is not likely to lead to better relations between this country and France, which is a vital consideration in this matter, and certainly it is not a course which His Majesty's Government have the least intention of pursuing. I would deprecate roost sincerely the suggestion—indeed it was more than a suggestion, it was a statement—that the French have shown themselves utterly careless of how much damage is done to British trade by their action.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Yes, the hon. Gentleman did put it, stronger than that, because he said not only were they careless of the damage they did, but that they were anxious to damage British trade as much as they could in order to bring us in.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
From that area. That is, I believe, a gross insult to the French. I am convinced they have no such intention, and the action which they have taken and the arrangements which they have made, at our request, certainly negative any such suggestion as that. I will deal now with the more detailed and localised question raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith. He said, in the first place, that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I had advanced the theory that trade with the occupied territory had not really suffered. I am sure that is not so. I did not hear the speech delivered by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I am conscious of the speech which I myself delivered, and the point of my argument was, not that trade with the occupied area had not suffered—quite obviously it is suffering most seriously—but the whole point of the speech was to show the steps which His Majesty's 1389 Government were taking in order to restore trade with the occupied area. What I did say was that if the suggestion were made that the action of the French in going into the Ruhr had paralysed trade between Britain and Germany, that was untrue, and it was an unfair picture to paint, because you had got to see what were the total figures of trade passing between the whole of Germany and this country and between this country and the whole of Germany. If you are going to speak of the general damage which is done to trade between two countries, the fair position to take is to see what is the aggregate trade which is passing between those countries, and it is a remarkable fact that there is still a very considerable volume of trade going on. The figures which I quoted the last time I spoke on this subject show that the aggregate volume of trade between the whole of Germany and this country and between this country and the whole of Germany has not seriously fallen.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
It is not the least irrelevant to the question of what is the total volume of trade being done between Germany and this country, and when hon. Members are trying to make out a case against the French, they ought to put their case fairly.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I am prepared to defend myself, but the French are not here to defend themselves, and the whole suggestion made by the speech of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. F. Gray) was that it was the intention of the French to damage our trade—
Sir P. LLOYD-GIREAME—
to damage our trade in the Ruhr. But I repudiate 1390 that absolutely. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith said that the Government had not only apparently been unconscious of the difficulties of trading with the occupied territory, of which we have been only too conscious, but that we had been indifferent and had done nothing. Nothing could be further from the truth. Throughout the whole of the period, the British Government have been in close consultation with the French Government. They have made constant representations—
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would allow me to reply for the Government, and to say what has happened. I am aware that trade is still held up, but that is not the fault of His Majesty's Government or the fault of the French. We represented to the, French that they should give every facility the was possible for trade with the occupied territories, and, both on general principles and on the question of detailed contracts, the British representative on the Rhineland Commission has been working continuously in order to facilitate trade. So much for the charge that, we have done nothing. What have the French agreed to? The French have agreed that exactly the same regulations should he in force in the occupied territory as were in force before the occupation, that where a licence hail to be applied for before, a licence should still be applied for, that where an export or an import duty was payable before, it would still be payable, and at the same rate, and, further, that the German seller or buyer need not himself apply for that licence, but that that could be applied for by the British seller or purchaser, who would make his own arrangements with his German customer to deduct the amount of duty from the purchase price.
Therefore, the French proposal was in effect that exactly the same duties should be enforced as previously. In addition to that, they arranged that goods passing from unoccupied Germany through unoccupied Germany to this country or other countries, if they had paid a licence and an export duty in Germany, should not be chargeable to any duty or susceptible of any licence in passing through the 1391 occupied territory. I venture to say that that action was not action which showed that the French wished to hinder British trade in every way possible. I think it was the action of a country which was desirous of giving such reasonable facilities as lay in its power in order to facilitate trade with that territory. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith challenged me because I said that, that being so, the onus of holding up the trade rested on the German Government. He said, "Not at all. The German Government have made you an offer and have said that, if the French are prepared to make no charge of customs duty and to exact no licences," if, in fact, the French are prepared to forego everything for which they went into the Ruhr—
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Let us see whether this is a real situation. The German Government said: "If the French are prepared to forego all these duties, we, the Germans, will agree not to collect duty in a country of which we are not in occupation, and in which we could not possibly collect the duty."
§ Captain BENN
Was such an offer made? I am going by the newspapers, and it was stated in the Cologne Chamber of Commerce. If such an offer was made, what did His Majesty's Government say to it? Did they encourage it or press it forward in any way?
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Whether or not it was an absolutely firm offer, it was certainly a suggestion made by the German Government. That suggestion was tantamount to saying to the French, "If you acknowledge in effect that you have no rights in the Ruhr, that you will exercise none of your functions in the Ruhr, we propose not to make a charge." The answer of the British Government was that that was an impossible proposal, and I justify the action of His Majesty's Government in saying that that was an impossible proposal to make, for what did it mean. I can quite understand the hon. and gallant Member for Leith wishing us to accept, and pressing us to accept, an offer of that kind, because he is anxious that. His Majesty's Government should go to the French Government and say, "We wish to put every obstacle 1392 in your way," but surely, for those of us who take the view of wishing as far as possible to act with France and sincerely hope that we shall come to a position and an agreement in which it will he possible for us to act with France, to have taken action of that kind would be utterly impossible, and, I would add, not only utterly impossible, but absolutely ineffective.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Because the French Government would not have consented. Let us face the realities of this position. If such a course of action was not only impolitic, because it would have been treated by the French as a hostile action towards them by us, but was absolutely useless because the French Government could not have accepted it, it seems to me that it would have been a wrong and a singularly futile course to have taken. The only object that could have been served by accepting a proposal of that kind would have been to have absolutely taken sides on the side of the Germans in this matter, and that is not a course which His Majesty's Government care to adopt.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The hon. and gallant. Member has no business to say that. The view which His Majesty's Government have taken is the view that British interests lay in our acting, as far as it is possible to act, with our Allies. The best opportunity for Britain and for British trade in all quarters of the world is that we should as far as possible act with our Allies the French in the matter of reparations. On those facts I still assert that the onus of holding up British trade in the occupied territory to-day rests on the German Government and not on the French Government. The hon. and gallant Member raised one other point to which I wish to refer, and that was the question of the collection of reparation duty. He said the Germans were unwilling, and in fact had refused, to refund to their nationals the amount of reparation levy collected in this country in respect of goods which had been exported from the Rhineland under 1393 a French licence. I think that is accurate.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
What I have said myself was that, while I understood that such a policy had been announced, I knew of no case in which it had taken place. The hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot have it both ways. He was saying that the fact that reparation duty is collected in this country was stopping trade, but it is not that which is stopping trade. The thing which is stopping trade is that the German Government are refusing to allow their nationals to export even under contracts which still exist, but the reparation duty is being collected upon other goods which come in, and will continue to he collected. Let the House observe what the hon. and gallant Gentle-man is proposing to us. He is, in the first place, proposing that in our action we should side completely with Germany, because we should be taking an attitude hostile to France and which made the French position impossible, an action which the German Government want us to take because they know that it would make the French position impossible.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
That is what I am doing. The hon. and gallant. Member suggests, further, not only that we should do that, but that we should, as regards our own interests—and the collection of reparation is a British interest—forego the method of the 26 per cent. duty and the reparations which we are at present ourselves collecting. Both of those would be at once, not only contrary to French interests, but certainly contrary to British interests, and His Majesty's Government certainly decline to adopt any such suggestion.
§ Mr. DARBISHIRE
I wish to intervene for one or two minutes because of the -unsatisfactory nature of the replies given to me by the Government on certain questions which I have put in this House recently. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down told us just now that the first consideration of this Government was to further French interests, and that any other course was not one which His 1394 Majesty's Government would pursue. I wish to suggest to the House that the first interest—
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I am sure the hon. Gentleman would not wish to misrepresent me. I do not wish him to misunderstand me. I said that the first consideration of the British Government was to safeguard and promote British interests, and that British interests were best served by working as far as possible in agreement with the French.
§ Mr. DARBISHIRE
I am within the recollection of the House in maintaining that what I have just said was what the right hon. Gentleman said in the beginning of his speech. He said the first consideration was to further French interests. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!" and "Hear, hear!"] At any rate I am glad to hear that he has some sympathy with British interests. There are several questions I have put to the right hon. Gentleman in connection with the three licensing offices in the occupied area. A suggestion was made to the effect that instead of those three licensing offices which as a matter of fact are all working against each other, some central licensing office should be established in Cologne which would devote itself especially to British interests. I have a letter from a firm which has had some experience of transactions with this office. The right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) the other day referred to the benevolent impotence of the Government, and this letter gives one an impression that those licence offices in the occupied area are adopting an attitude of malevolent insolence to the British traders in that district.
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the offer which the German Government recently made at a meeting of traders in Berlin. It. was actually made, and I have spoken to gentlemen who were at that meeting in Berlin. They say that if the French would allow goods to come out of the Ruhr without any licence or duty, the Germans are quite prepared to do the same. I put a question, to-day, to the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, on that point, and he referred me to a statement made by the President of the Board of Trade on 28th March. I find that on that date, the President of the 1395 Board of Trade did refer to the question, in these words:The German Government replied that they could not agree to any such arrangement unless the French were prepared to forego the whole of the licence duty, and the whole of the export duty to which these goods would have been subject in any case.The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:I have put it to both Governments that whoever is in occupation, the same duty should be chargeable as before."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1923; col. 629, Vol. 162.]That is the right hon. Gentleman's own suggestion to the French Government.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
No, pardon me. The hon. Gentleman is quoting me, and I am sure he does not wish to misquote me. The proposal was that there should be one duty; that the duty chargeable should be the same as the duty previously levied on German nationals; that where the French were in occupation that duty should be charged and collected by the French; and the duty in unoccupied territory would be charged and collected by the Germans.
§ Mr. DARBISHIRE
I am quoting the right hon. Gentleman, and I think he will see that the sense of his speech is that the same duty should be charged as before, and that is the proposition which the French Government should be compelled to accept. If the right hon. Gentleman were so solicitous of British trade he would be in favour of the German contention that the goods should come out free from that country, and should not he subject to those taxes. He said that if we agreed to the German suggestions that those goods should come out duty free, and that the French should not impose any duty, it would sacrifice everything for which the French went into the Ruhr. What is the trade which is coming out of the Ruhr? About £20,000,000 a year, and a tax of 5 per cent. or 10 per cent. comes to about £1,000,000 or £2,000,000. Am I to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that he seriously suggests that that is what the French went into the Ruhr for? He knows, as well as anyone in this House, that they did not go into the Ruhr to collect the export duties on trade coming out of that country. They went into the Ruhr to annex it. The right hon. Gentleman talks 1396 about the aggregate of foreign trade; as compared with totals now, it is the same as it was last year. Does not he know anything about potential trade? If this absurd and mad adventure had not been undertaken by the French, does not he know that the trade might he £4,000,000 instead of £2,000,000? I have never heard such ridiculous nonsense.
Then there is the matter of the 26 per cent. import duty under the German Reparation (Recovery) Act, which, I understand, was a brain wave of the late Prime Minister. It was opposed by everyone in the City. There was no man of any financial interest or experience in the City who had a good word to say for it. We were told the other evening by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the 26 per cent. was bringing in £7,000,000 a year, and that if we did not go on collecting it we should lose that £7,000,000. Assume, for a moment, that the German exporter does get paid; that he does get reimbursed for the 26 per cent. How is it done? It is done by printing marks, by inflating the currency, thus making it more easy for the Germans to export goods in competition with us. That is the result of that operation. We may have got £7,000,000 here, but we are setting up a competitor who can compete on better exchange conditions than we can in the markets of the world. So far as my information goes, it confirms what has been said by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn), that they were not reimbursing exporters in the occupied areas at the rate of export, and that the German Government has refused to reimburse those shippers.
The whole trouble is this. It is a mistaken policy on the part of the Government. They do not realise and appreciate the value and importance to this country of the trade of Germany and of Central Europe. We were told by the Prime Minister at the end of last Session that if an earthquake came and swallowed up Germany it would make no difference to the trade of the world. If that be the opinion of the Government, it shows that the sooner they are out of office the better for this country. The Prime Minister gave us figures. He told us that the trade with the Colonies amounted to £15 per head, while that with Germany amounted to £1 per head or some such per capita figures. What on earth has that to do with it? 1397 Does the trader in this country, when he books an order for £10,000 with America, divide that £10,000 by the total population of America in order to find out what that amounts to per head? Of course he does not. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the total trade with the Colonies was £400,000,000— divided up amongst 17,000,000 people—and that the trade with Europe was so much less per head. But what was the total value of the exchange of commodities between the nations of Europe before the War? Not £400,000,000, but £4,000,000,000 yearly. That is the trade we wish to get going again, the surplus of goods exchanged between nation and nation. It is all a question of policy, and I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. F. Gray) that the Government are to blame because their policy is wrong. They have got to tell the French that we are not going to stand this sort of treatment.
§ Mr. CHARLES BUXTON
I should not have intervened in this Debate but for the remarks which have fallen from the President of the Board of Trade. They have fallen from him also on several occasions, in reply to questions that have been asked in this House. In those remarks, the right hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to impress upon us that if there be any trouble for British traders, if there be any difficulties or complications arising in the Ruhr district, it is entirely the fault of the Germans. Tie has taken the trouble, by frequent repetition, to suggest this view to us. To hear the President of the Board of Trade talk, one would think that the Ruhr was French territory. One would think that the French and the Belgian authorities there, in the pursuit of their ordinary avocations, as governing authorities, were conducting an ordinary legal government in a country which belonged to them, where they had an old-established and long-continued position. One would think that somebody or other, some unauthorised person, coming from some unauthorised quarter, had put spokes in their wheel, and had caused all the trouble; and that the whole blame had to rest upon this unauthorised person, coming into their territory and interfering with their jurisdiction. I want to know, What is their jurisdiction? What is their legal position? What is their right 1398 to claim that troubles caused by certain action on the part of the Germans are to be attributed to the Germans alone, and that the difficulties of the position have nothing whatever to do with them or their action in going there? As a matter of fact, it seems to me very like the position which might occur in a street fight, where some unfortunate person is knocked down on the footpath and then the police come along and arrest the person who has been knocked down for obstructing the public highway.
The question is, who began the aggression who started the trouble? To cast the blame upon the action of the Germans in this matter is very much like the condemnation visited upon a certain animal by the naturalist, who said, "It. is a very wicked animal, because when it is attacked, it defends itself."
I do not, in the very least, share the sentiments of hostility to the French people or to France—I do not know whether they are held or experienced by others—which the President of the Board of Trade, at any rate, attributed to some Members of this House. I so far agree with the right hon. Gentleman: I think there is a danger in so putting the position as to appear to be hostile to France. We simply are describing a position which exists. The President or the Board of Trade himself said, "You must look at the situation as it exists, and at the facts as they are." I think we can do that. I think we can describe the position as it exists at present, with all its injustices, all its illegalities, and all the suffering it is inflicting on innocent people in Germany, without assuming an attitude of hostility to France.
Whenever we are endeavouring to outline a policy as regards the situation, and to meet the situation, we ought not merely to make it the negative policy of protesting against what has been done by France. We ought to combine with it a policy of explaining what this country would do to assist France out of the undoubted difficulties which she experiences to-day. The two sides of our policy oughtto go together. We should protest against the present action in the Ruhr, which is only the outcome of a policy for which we ourselves were responsible, so far as our Government is concerned, and which is only the culmination of a policy 1399 we helped to initiate and carry out. We ought, however, while protesting and objecting to what has been done now, to explain that we, on our part, would be prepared, in any final and satisfactory settlement of this question, to come to the aid of France. We also have our part to bear; we also have our contribution to make to this settlement. I consider that our Government ought to make it clear that, so far as we are concerned, we should renounce our share in the reparation claims upon Germany. There are many reasons why we should, not only on grounds of common justice, but on grounds of particular interest to this country, because we have not yet been shown in what form great reparations can be made to this country without injuring the trade of this country, and, until that is shown, I think there is a very strong case for renouncing those reparation payments. That renunciation would, ipso facto, help the French so far as they want to get reparations themselves, because it would enable them to reap the benefit of whatever reparations were paid.
I certainly do not think this country has behaved well towards France. Immediately after the War we should have said to France "We will see you through your troubles, and before any claims of our own country with regard to damaged property are met, we will make quite sure that you will get your devastated legions restored "We ought to have made that our first duly. We did not do it, and I think the French people have a quite legitimate complaint against us. I mention those points to enforce the contention that I am not in the least in the position of those who take a purely negative or hostile attitude towards France. I think the policy should be regarded as a whole. While protesting against what they are doing now, we should say at the same time what in the final settlement, we should be prepared to do for them.
The question of the interference with British trade which has been raised this evening is merely one little corner of a vast question, and a question pregnant with danger for this country, as well as for France herself and Germany. The speech of the President of the Board of Trade only illustrates what has been illustrated again and again, that you cannot I deal with, and you cannot explain and dis- 1400 pose of, some particular side or aspect of this question, such as that of British trade, without being forced back upon the question of the whole policy being pursued towards Germany and the German people at the present time.
The question is not merely a trade question, though I should be the last to minimise that side of it. It is of vital importance to my own constituents, as Lancashire people, because of the injury done, particularly in the cotton industry, to the trade of this country through the disturbance which has taken place in the Ruhr. But, after all, that is only one side, as I say, of a great question, and we shall not be able to solve this trade difficulty, and these complications, about which so much has been said here to night, unless we are prepared boldly to tackle the whole political problem involved. It is a problem of vast political significance, and of vast human significance. To hear the President of the Board of Trade talk, one might imagine there were no human interests involved in this question at all, and that everything was perfectly calm and clear, except so far as this particular trade question was concerned; but, as a matter of fact, you have in the Ruhr at the present time what can only be described as a powder magazine, which may quite possibly, within a very short time, lead to a great explosion in which it will be impossible for this country not to be in some way or other involved. You have a most dangerous situation, and I have seen it only recently with my own eyes.
It is not merely that great suffering and great loss are being inflicted upon a very considerable industrial population. It is also that, by the methods which are being applied, by the continual arrests, by the atrocious condition in the prisons of those persons who are arrested, by the expulsion of many thousands of railway men with their families from their homes at a moment's notice across the frontier of the occupied districts, by the closing—as I saw with my own eyes in certain towns—of the whole of the shops in the centre of the town, and the barring off, by a cordon, of the centre, and the insistance upon passes being shown by every person wishing to pass a certain street-corner—by these and many other things, into which I will not go, because I do not want to detain the House, you are creating a state of feeling which may, at 1401 any moment, lead to a most dangerous explosion. You had an example the other day in what happened at Krupp's works at Essen. It so happened that in that particular tragedy only—I will use the word "only "—12 persons were killed, apart from a large number wounded. But that particular incident might very easily have developed into one of a far more tragical character. It might very well have been that you would have had 100, or more than 100, killed instead of 12, and it might easily have created a popular explosion, which would have led, in an extremely short time, to a state of civil or guerilla warfare, and nobody can tell how far a situation of that kind might lead.
Therefore, I want to emphasise that the troubles which are arising in connection with our trade in the Ruhr and the Rhine Valley are not to be treated by themselves, and are not to be attributed to the action of the German people or the German Government, which is merely an incident, which is merely one link in the chain of causes, and does not go back to she original trouble out of which these complications have arisen. You have got to deal with the question as a whole. You have got to treat it not merely as an economic question, but as a vast political problem, and as I understand that our right as Members of this House is to demand the redress of grievances before getting Mr. Speaker out of the Chair to go into Committee of Supply, I demand, in the name of my constituents, and in the name of common humanity and common justice, that we shall have some effort on the part of the Government to tackle this great political question as a whole, in a spirit of impartiality, and with a determination to secure peace.
§ Sir GODFREY COLLINS
I will not follow the hon. Member into the larger issues into which he has gone. I am anxious to direct the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to a subject affecting unemployment directly in this country. It will be within the recollection of the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that during the first week of the present Session, I placed a question on the Order Paper relating to a large shipment of steel plates for shipbuilding purposes on the Clyde, and he will recollect that he gave me an assurance that he would inquire, 1402 into the matter. I removed my question from the Order Paper. I have waited, I think, with patience, and my constituents are still waiting with patience, but the large quantity of steel plates, the order for which this firm placed with makers in the Ruhr district before the 10th January, is not forthcoming, and my correspondents advise me that the French are to blame. These importers purchased these steel plates at a very low price, with the result that shipbuilding firms on the Clyde have been enabled to secure orders for ships, and there are to-day ships being constructed on the Clyde because of the low price of steel plates from the Ruhr district, The French entered the Ruhr district on the 10th January. The supplies which were forthcoming from those firms before that date are not forthcoming to-day, with the result—and I am sure the President of the Board of Trade will correct me if I am wrong—that in shipyards on the Clyde, unemployment is being directly created because these firms are unable to import the steel plates they require.
This particular order —avery large one—was placed before the 10th January. The French authorities demand from the Scottish importers an extra duty of 10 per cent. This firm is willing to pay the 26 per cent. import duty into this country, but they do not think it, reasonable, having undertaken contracts with firms in the Ruhr Valley, and to construct ships on the Clyde based on that original price, that they should be asked by the French Government to pay an extra high duty. Not only are they being hindered by the operation of that duty, but they find great difficulty in getting licences from the Freneh authorities. I have spoken to reliable people, upon whose word I can rely, and they assure me that the French officials in the Ruhr Valley, acting under the authority of the French Government, are taking up in this matter a distinctly anti-British attitude. They are refusing I do not doubt that the Under-Secretary has received information to the same effect—licences to British firms which they readily grant to other nationals. I put this question down in the first week of the Session, and to-day there are orders for 2,000 tons of steel plates awaiting delivery from the firms in the Ruhr Valley for ship construction on the Clyde, where there is extremely heavy unemployment, and un- 1403 employment is being created to-day because the British Government are unable to take steps to free this large quantity of steel plates from firms in the Rohr Valley, although the French Government profess to be friends of the British Government.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
I understood the hon. Member to say just now that I probably had information from other sources confirming his allegation that the French were discriminating to our disadvantage. If I understood him aright, not only have I no information to that effect, but I have information which entirely contradicts it.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I have information on the subject of discriminating between British firms anxious to import manufactured goods from the Ruhr Valley. I pass on that information to the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. I would not do so if it did not come to me from a reliable source—not from any party source, but from some very large traders —some of the largest—in the West of Scotland. The hon. Member will bear me out when I repeat that I put down my question in the first week of the Session, and removed it from the Order Paper, trusting that the British interest would be the first consideration of the President of the Board of Trade. My constituents to-day are suffering unemployment, and, in the shipbuilding yards on the Clyde, ships are being delayed because the British Government are unable to protect the interests of British traders in the Ruhr Valley. Let me bring one other case before the attention of the President of the Board of Trade. I wrote to the Foreign Office from Glasgow last week about a very large order for a certain type of machinery for new works within 30 miles of Glasgow. I have to-day seen a letter from the President of the Board of Trade which is dated 11th April, in which he informs me that his Department have transmitted my request to the British High Commissioner with a request that he should take such steps as he possibly can to secure the release of the goods in question. This is a very large order which was placed before 10th January. The firm in question have paid 50 per cent. of the price. The works are ready in Scotland to-day, but until they receive this particular type of machinery the workers cannot be employed although orders are 1404 waiting. Perhaps the President of the Board of Trade recollects the particular case to which I refer. I sent it ten days ago to the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and he courteously informed me that he was forwarding it to the President of the Board of Trade. The type of machinery to which I refer cannot be produced in any other quarter of the globe. It is specialised machinery made by a firm in the Ruhr valley. Many months ago the orders were placed and yet under proposals to which the Government have willingly agreed, these firms in Scotland not only have had to pay the 26 per cent. import duty, but in addition the extra 10 per cent. duty, and they have also found very great difficulty in getting licences. These are facts beyond dispute.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
The hon. Gentleman has said that the British Government have willingly acceded to the conditions. That is not the case. The British Government are to-day pressing the German Government to agree to the conditions we have proposed.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
My complaint is that the French Government have no right.— I say it quite definitely—to levy an extra tax on orders placed in Germany.
§ Mr. A. M. SAMUEL
I do not disagree with what the hon. Member says; in fact I agree with, most of it. But among the difficulties is not there the difficulty that the German workmen refuse to handle these goods in the Ruhr because they think this is the best way of making a protest against the French? Is not the point put forward by the hon. Gentleman somewhat outside the British Board of Trade jurisdiction?
§ Sir G. COLLINS
But does any hon. Member in this House think that it is possible for the British Government to bring pressure to bear upon the German worker? That is not the point. These goods are ready to be delivered in some cases.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
Therefore, it rests not with the German Government but with the French authorities in the Ruhr Valley. The President of the Board of Trade has all the information about these two big cases at his disposal and T say, speaking from my place in the House of 1405 Commons, the policy of the French Government in the Ruhr Valley is being reflected in growing unemployment. The figures of the banks of the Clyde and other districts show it. The President of the Board of Trade replied to a point made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leith, and stated that the aggregate trade was the same to-day as in the past. Are we satisfied with the present conditions of trade? Are hon. Members satisfied with the comparison with last year, with hungry people outside unable to get employment? Is it any satisfaction to the traders who are unable to get their goods, for us, or any other Member of this House to come forward and tell them: "Oh, well, you must not complain too bitterly; the total trade permitted by the French authorities to leave the Ruhr is as great to-day as last year "? That is no answer to the points raised by hon. Members I have spoken to-night of definite cases, and I suggest to the President of the Board of Trade that, although he is anxious to satisfy France and the French Government, yet his duty as President of the Board of Trade is to satisfy the demand of our own traders. By every legitimate step he has to point out to the French Government that their action is unfair in levying a tax on orders placed before 10th January, and that there is to-day a very general feeling, substantiated by facts, that the French authorities in the Ruhr are acting against British interests. The right hon. Gentleman will find agreement on that point, I think, among Members in all quarters of the House. With these facts before him, I trust he will be able to snake representations to the French Government, and take such steps as he may with the full support of the Government, and then employment will be created, works will be started and re-starred, and our people will receive that due weight to which they are entitled.
§ Sir NEWTON MOORE
My few remarks will be made from a different point of view to that already put forward: that is from a desire to see the exportation of products from the overseas Dominions into the Ruhr Valley. Up till now we have had a considerable amount of trade, but I am quite satisfied that there is a ground of complaint. As a matter of fact, it has been represented to me that the usual procedure has been, when complaints have been made, to refer 1406 people to the High Commissioner. The High Commissioner, however, is absolutely incompetent to deal with the question in so far as the Ruhr Valley is concerned, for he has no authority. He is concerned with the original occupied territory, and consequently helpless to effect any relief.
I am more particularly concerned with certain raw products being sent into the Ruhr Valley at the present time. As a result of certain regulations, which have been promulgated by the French and Belgian authorities, it is not possible for vessels carrying ore to proceed up the Rhine Valley or up the canals from the North Sea to the Ruhr Valley. What is the result? You see thousands of lighters and tugs lying in the largest inland harbour in the world, Duisburg, doing nothing. If the French are there to get reparations, why do they not give the opportunity for industry to get working? They will never get reparations if they keep the whole country idle. I speak with all due deference, and with the greatest possible respect, for the French, but I say that the French industrialists are behind the whole business. In connection with the Saar Valley we know that 60 per cent. of these great primary steel works are now in possession of the French authorities. I am speaking of the French industrial group. In my opinion they are attempting to obtain control of the finishing mills in the Ruhr Valley. Before the War we know that pig-iron, plates, and billets were sent from the Saar Valley to the finishing mills in the Ruhr where the different classes of steel were completed. One can quite understand that it is considered justifiable from the point of view of the French industrialists to follow the same procedure in this case. Fortunately, at the present time the French have not that control. The position, however, is that many of the big industrial works have closed down. In respect to the particular instance to which I have referred, if force maieure is declared, it will simply mean that no additional lighters will be allowed up the Rhine, with the result that the miners in Newfoundland and elsewhere will be thrown out of employment.
This is a most important question. It is imperative that the Government should realise their duty, not only to protect the trade of this country, but also to protect the traders in the Dominions. We have 1407 to realise that we are the representatives of British interests generally, and we do not want the Dominions making application to deal direct with these other countries rather than having their case presented, as at the present time, through the President of the Board of Trade. One can quite sympathise with the traders at the present time. There are some hundreds of thousands of tons of steel awaiting despatch, and they are very anxious that this should be exported. The German naturally argues: "If I cannot send my finished material out, I cannot become possessed of the necessary cash to purchase the raw products." I think it will be argued that that is a logical argument to use. I beg the President of the Board of Trade to make representations both to Paris and to Berlin that these irritating restrictions should be removed. I think both parties are to blame. This is a question of permitting the admission of ore, not a question of collecting a tax. It is simply the question of exhibiting a manifest at the French cordon. This does not give any advantage to the Frenchman who can easily ascertain if necessary the amount of ore shipped from Rotterdam. Then as to the position of the Germans. Their Government have issued a counter regulation to the effect that if any German receives a cargo which bears the stamp of the French or the Belgian authorities he renders himself liable to a penalty of a term of imprisonment from three months up to five years. The result is that the whole industry will soon be, if it is not now, practically at a standstill. On the other hand, we know that certain attempts are being made by the Germans to make it impossible for the French to get their coal. Only the day before yesterday I heard of vessels being sunk and thus blocking one of the great canals over which is carried the coal which in an ordinary way would go to France. So far as we are concerned we did not consider it wise apparently to go in with the French. Personally, after due consideration, I have come to the conclusion, in view of the position that now exists, it would have been wise to have gone in with the French. At least then we should have been in the position of being able to say that as partners we insist that in any action taken British interests must, be protected.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
With the latter part of the remarks of the hon. Gentleman I am entirely in agreement; in fact, perhaps, the whole of his speech. The French in this matter arc either right or wrong. If the French are right we ought to be on their side, as in the War. If wrong, we ought to take some more energetic steps to get at the details, and look into this great injury to British trade, and what is of more importance, British interests. This is, I think, the eighth or ninth Debate on the Ruhr that has taken place in this Chamber, and from either being away from the House, or from being unable to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, or some other cause, this is the first time I have been able to intervene for a little while, though I have listened to or read every word that has been uttered in this House on the matter. Every speaker—and I trust my hon. Friend who spoke a while ago (Mr. Charles Buxton) will forgive me when I say this—has missed the real point. It is the story of the company being out of step and the individual recruit right. On this occasion hon. Members may not wholly agree with me, but I think I am right. I think our case is so crisp and clear that there cannot be any two views of it held by any fair-minded Englishman or Welshman.
The President of the Board of Trace asked us if we wanted the Government to side with the Germans in this matter. Supposing the Germans were in the right and the French in the wrong, are we still to say that the French should continue to hold our allegiance? I have heard people say, "My country first, right or wrong." In this ease it is not "My country first," but the country across the Channel. We have had a very important ease put by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in regard to British trade and the way it has been injured, and this is a matter of great importance. The French action in the Bahr is certainly laying up the certainty of a great upheaval in Europe, and if it goes on it means another war. But there is something more important than that. Under the Treaty of Versailles we insisted and partially carried out the disarmament of Germany, and we rendered her helpless. If Germany were armed now does any hon. Member think that there would have been this advance into the Ruhr? The fact that we assisted to disarm Germany 1409 places upon us a responsibility to see that she is treated justly.
The Government admit that the French action in the Ruhr is wrong, in fact, that has been admitted by the Prime Minister and everybody who has spoken. By the policy we are adopting we are assisting the French in a crime, and we are ignoring our responsibility. It is no good talking about the present temper of the German people, because that is absolutely beside the point. We assisted in rendering Germany helpless, and we are responsible in consequence of that action. A prisoner taken in war is sacred, and it is considered cowardly to ill-use him after he has been taken prisoner on the field of battle. I am not suggesting that you were not right in disarming Germany, but we should recognise our responsibility for her because she has been disarmed.
I want to see armaments reduced all round and abolished, and the proposals made recently at Paris for general disarmament and the establishment of an international police force was an admirable one. This country cannot divert herself of her part and lot in regard to French action in the Ruhr. The only effect of the shilly-shallying policy adopted by our Government is that we are not gaining the friendship of France, and at the same time we are earning the contempt of the neutrals and we are not gaining the friendship of Germany. I think we should try to get on good terms with Germany because she is a country which in the past was one of our best customers. We are doing none of these things. We find ourselves to-day getting gradually into a more helpless and impossible position, and, what is worst of all, I believe that all honest men who examine the situation impartially and the citizens of the future will write us down as acting dishonourably in this miserable transaction.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
The Debate is following a very interesting course. Like the hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House, I have listened to many Debates on the Ruhr, and I have noticed that there has been a gradual conversion amongst hon. Members opposite with regard to the effects of the various policies which have been adopted Almost on my first, entry into this Chamber I put a question to the Prime Minister, and I asked him what would 1410 be the British policy in the event of the French occupying the Ruhr Valley and the Rhine Head. I was then told that that was a hypothetical question. I held then and I hold now, and events have proved my contention to be correct, that it ought to be the business of British statesmanship and Government to provide for hypothetical eventualities, particularly when such hypotheses are likely to become realities at a very early date.
Yesterday, during the course of the disturbances that occurred, and on account of the eruptions on these benches, we were told that the Labour party were not fit to govern. Eruptions of that description do not determine the capacity of a party to govern. The capacity for governing does not consist of interjection or of noise, but it consists of the capacity for understanding where policies will take one. We were told by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) that in former.Debates on this question we had missed the essential point, and I was hoping that the hon. and gallant Member would have told us something about the point which he said we had missed. I think we are still missing the point, in spite of the hon. and gallant Member's attempt to enlighten us. The point we are missing is that the whole of our policy with regard to Germany is based upon a fundamental lie.
The policy of this Government and its predecessor was based upon the assumption that Germany alone was wholly responsible for the War, and that whatever was meted out to her in the way of punishment, for that dastardly attack upon Belgium was justified, and she deserved whatever she had received. I do not believe history will bear that out, and I do not think the documents which have been published since the War give colour to that assumption. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has stated that the Versailles Treaty was based upon the assumption of the guilt of Germany, and he further stated that if that assumption is given up, then the whole of the Versailles Treaty falls to pieces, and becomes of such a character that it could not be considered by just thinking men. The sooner the Government begins to change its attitude in its relations with our late enemy, and bases its policy on 1411 some of the facts which are emerging, which cannot be denied and which, indeed, are admitted by many of those who took part in the deliberations at Versailles, and which are admitted by the leading responsible men of all parties, the sooner we are likely to get back to the real point, which is that we shall have to revise our position with regard to the whole of the Versailles Treaty.
I do not agree that Germany is altogether helpless in this matter because she is disarmed. I have just come back from Austria. I spent last week there and I was accompanied there by some leading German politicians and members of the French Chamber of Deputies, and, believe me, Germany is not helpless. It is true that the German policy of passive resistance is defeating the policy of France, and the French Government is now finding that the policy of passive resistance is far more effective than any policy Germany could have pursued based upon weapons of war. Supposing Germany succeeds by passive resistance, her success means the ruin of the whole of Europe. Germany may succeed from her own point of view, but it will mean the impoverishment of our people and Central Europe will rush more rapidly towards chaos both industrially and economically.
I think I am correct in saying that the Board of Trade figures relating to unemployment show that there are about 45,000 more out of employment now than there were in the previous week and that number is increasing. Under present conditions that is only natural. The policy of the French in the Ruhr is beginning to show itself here. It did not tell so much in the first week or the first month, but it is beginning to tell now. If this insane policy in the Ruhr is pursued our unemployment problem here will become of a far more acute character than it is at the present moment. I think it is quite time that the Government abandoned its policy of benevolent neutrality. You cannot pursue benevolent neutrality towards the policy of a country which is driving your people to destitution, and causing you to pile up burdens that have already become too ponderous to bear. It is time the Government abandoned this policy and began to speak in no uncertain terms to our Allies, and we ought to let France understand that she cannot continue to adopt that policy 1412 towards our late enemy. Why do we not bring some pressure to bear on France and tell her that we shall not stand this humbug any longer.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
No, I would not. There are many other forces one can use without going to war. We could demand the payment of our just debts from France, and we could bring pressure to bear in various ways of an economic character in order to show French politicians that they cannot treat our Government in the way they are doing.I agree with what has been said, that the policy of the French in the Ruhr is an industrial policy. I fail to understand why our commercial magnates here have not realised this fact before. Germany had become a great commercial competitor with France, and that fact was at the back of the minds of those who support the Ruhr policy. By this policy you are only building up some of the animosity and antagonisms which will he aroused when France becomes the principal economic factor so far as Central Europe is concerned. It is a had policy. I come back to this. You ask, is the Labour party fitted to govern? Are you on the other benches fitted to govern? Did any of you show in the years before this Parliament where your policies were likely to lead you? Did you stand up in your places on this side or the other side of the House and tell the masses of the people that the result of your policy was hound to be sorrow and misery and degradation for them? When you backed the policy of squeezing our late enemies until the very pips squeaked, when you declared that you would rifle their pockets, when you were told by a leading shipowner that we would get them down and trample on their faces and never let them get up again, when you persuaded the people to follow that polio, had you the prescience and the foresight to see that the result would be destitution and misery and poverty for them, and even bankruptcy for some of your own class? The only indication of what was likely to he the outcome of your policy came from men who sat on the benches here What I have said was not only confined to Members of the present Government. It 1413 also included gentlemen who sit on this side of the House below the Gangway.
The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs talked of the sunrise on the Cambrian Hills. That sunrise has turned to gloomy shade, and the people now instead of contemplating sunrises are watching the gloom deepen as the days go by. That was your fatal policy. The tree is judged by its fruit, and your capacity and ability are judged by your policies and the results of your policies. It does not become you to twit us on these benches with incapacity to govern, when during the last six months you have never been able to do anything of a definite character. You are doing nothing, only moving—well, that is a bad bull, but let me say moving only When you are pushed in the way you
§ were pushed yesterday. I submit that the time has come when the Government of this country ought to develop a definite policy with regard to this question of international policy, which must, unless it is dealt with in a statesmanlike and practical manner, bring more misery and ruin and heap greater burdens on our people and make our recovery more difficult than has been the case up to the present.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 242; Noes, 155.1415
|Division No. 79.]||AYES.||[8.6 p.m.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Hiley, Sir Ernest|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent, Dover)||Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hood, Sir Joseph|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Barks, Mitchell||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Haufton, John Plowright|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Becker, Harry||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hudson, Capt. A.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hume, G. H.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hurd, Percy A,|
|Berry, Sir George||Ednam, Viscount||Hurst, Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Ellis, R. G.||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)|
|Blundell, F. N.||England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul|
|Brass, Captain W.||Erskine-Boist, Captain C.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel|
|Briggs, Harold||Falcon, Captain Michael||King, Capt. Henry Douglas|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Fawkes, Major F. H.||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Fermor-Hesketh, Major T.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Bruford, R.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Locker Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Furness, G. J.||Lorden, John William|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Lorimer, H. D.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lort-Williams, J.|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Garland, C. S.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Gilbert, James Daniel||Lumley, L. R.|
|Butler. H. M. (Leeds, North)||Goff, Sir R. Park||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Button, H. S.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Maddocks, Henry|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Cairne, Gordon Hall||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Margesson, H. D. R.|
|Camplon, Lieut.-Colonel W. R,||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l,W.D'by)||Mercer, Colonel H.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Halstead, Major D.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Molloy, Major L. G. S.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Harrison, F. C.||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Harvey, Major S. E.||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Hawke, John Anthony||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Clayton, G. C.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Murchison, C. K.|
|Cohen, Major J Brunei||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Nail, Major Joseph|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hewett, Sir J. P.||Nesbitt, Robert C.|
|Cope, Major William||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Rentoul, G. S.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Reynolds, W. G. W.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Nield, Sir Herbert||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Ruggies-Brise, Major E.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Paget, T. G.||Russell, William (Bolton)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Pease, William Edwin||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Watts. Dr. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Pennefather, De Fonbianque||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wells, S. R.|
|Penny, Frederick George||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Sandon, Lord||White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Perring, William George||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Willey, Arthur|
|Philipson, Hilton||Shepperson, E. W.||Winterton, Earl|
|Pielou, D. P.||Shipwright, Captain D.||Wise, Frederick|
|Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Simpson-Hincheliffe, W. A.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Preston, Sir W. R.||Skelton, A. N.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Privett, F. J.||Smith, Sir Harold (Wavertree)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Rae, Sir Henry N,||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Raeburn, Sir William H.||Sparkes, H. W.||Yerburgh, H. D. T.|
|Raine, W.||Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel||Stanley, Lord||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Rawson, Lieut.-Corn. A. C.||Steel, Major S. Strang||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colonel Gibbs.|
|Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Adams, D.||Harris, Percy A.||Ritey, Ben|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Mayday, Arthur||Ritson, J.|
|Alexander, A. V (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill)||Roberts, C. H. (Derby)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Eromwich)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)|
|Barnes, A.||Herriotts, J.||Saklatvala, S.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, G. H.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Irving, Dan||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Bonwick, A.||Jarrett, G. W. S.||Sexton, James|
|Bowdler, W. A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Briant, Frank||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Broad, F. A.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Brothferton, J.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Buckle, J.||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Snell, Harry|
|Burgess, S.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cairns, John||Kenyon, Barnet||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Cape, Thomas||Lansbury, George||Sullivan, J.|
|Clarke, Sir E. C.||Lawson, John James||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Leach, W.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West )|
|Collins, Pat (Walsall)||Lee, F.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Linfield, F. C.||Thornton, M.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Lowth, T.||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lunn, William||Tout. W. J.|
|Davies, J. C. (Denbigh, Denbigh)||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||M'Entee, V. L.||Turner, Ben|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||McLaren, Andrew||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Warne, G. H.|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine. E.)||Watts-Morean, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Duncan, C.||Maxton, James||Webb, Sidney|
|Ede, James Chuter||Middleton, G.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Millar, J. D.||Weir, L. M.|
|Evans, Ernest (Cardigan)||Morel, E. D.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Fairbairn, R. R.||Morris, Harold||Westwood, J.|
|Foot, Isaac||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Muir, John W.||White. H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Murnin. H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Greenall, T.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)||Williams, Dr. j. H. (Llanelly)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Newbold, J. T. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Nichol, Robert||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Groves, T.||O'Grady, Captain James||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Oliver, George Harold||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Paling, W.||Wright, W.|
|Hall, F. (York. W.R., Normanton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Potts, John S.|
|Hancock, John George||Pringle, W. M. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Harbord, Arthur||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Mr. Phillips and Sir A. Marshall.|
|Hardie, George D.||Richardson, R, (Houghton-le-Spring)|
Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.]