Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £3,606,504, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1924, for sundry Colonial Services, including a Grant-in-Aid of Railway Expenditure in Kenya and Uganda and certain other Grants-in-Aid.
§ Mr. HOPE SIMPSON
When we were discussing this question the other night, I rose at two minutes to 11 with the intention of preventing this Vote being taken then, because I had asked sundry questions of the Secretary of State for the Colonies and had not got replies which seemed to me adequate. We are asked to vote a sum of £3,500,000 sterling for railways in Kenya and Uganda, and, in voting this money, it is only right that we should take into account the history of money previously spent in Kenya on railways. Reference was made by the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) the other day to the Wasin-Gishu railway, and he described how instead of starting from the junction at Mau, the railway had been constructed from the floor of the valley up to the plateau, within 10 miles of the Uganda railway, through land which belongs to European settlers, and it is with regard to that point that I desire some information from the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It appears that on its passage from the floor of the valley to the highlands, this railway for over 50 miles goes through territory which has been granted to European concessionnaires, and granted on very favourable terms. There is one estate which, I believe, was granted on a quit rent of ½d. an acre in perpetuity, and that grant was of 100,000 acres of land. Through that land this railway 1069 passes, with the result that the land is being offered to other settlers at from £2 to £6 an acre. Further on, the railway passes through forest land which is also granted to European concessionnaires, and the net result of this traverse from the floor of the valley to the top of the plateau is to put into the pockets of European concessionnaires large amounts of money owing to the expenditure on railways. That seems to me to be, as it was described by an hon. Member the other night, a scandal. It has never been inquired into. We have demanded an inquiry, and Europeans in Kenya have demanded an inquiry, but we have not got it, and some explanation of those facts is due to this House from the right hon. Gentleman before we are called upon to vote another enormous sum for these railways in Kenya.
There are one or two facts with regard to these grants of land which should be brought to the notice of the House. The figures I am going to quote are up to 30th June last, and they are official. 11,375 square miles of territory in Kenya have been granted to Europeans, and of those 428 are cultivated, 5,799 are for sale, and 5,148 are derelict. The motto nowadays is, "Africa for the Africans," and I think those figures show very clearly that it is about time that that motto was applied. The result of the construction of the Wasin-Gishu railway has been that instead of the railhead being in the Kavirondo, where they might cultivate cotton, sugar, and so on, it is actually at a place called Eldoret, on the top of the plateau. In the country round Eldoret the cattle population is 35 to the 1,000 acres. It can be imagined from that what chance there is of any large traffic on the railway from Eldoret to Nakuru. The extension that is proposed, known as the Turbo-Toro Extension, does undoubtedly go through country belonging to the natives, which will benefit by the railway, and to that extent this House will doubtless support the grant, but something has to be said about the branches. One branch is the Solai branch, which goes entirely through European territory, starts from the same junction Nakuru, passes through the same estates, and will have the same result in increasing the wealth of the European concessionnaires at the expense of the public.
Another of the branches is described as the Nyeri branch. That branch goes 1070 partly through native territory, and then into white territory. If it had taken the other side of the mountain, east instead of west of Kenya, it would have passed into native territory. The third branch mentioned has been the one from Eldoret to Kitale. Though that goes through white territory, I have no doubt the opinion of the House will be that it ought to be constructed, because Kitale is in the centre of the territory which has been settled by ex-service men. They have settled away out there, 60 miles from the railhead, and it is only fair, in view of the fact that they have settled there, that the branch railway should go in their direction.
I trust that before this railway is constructed, the right hon. Gentleman will take steps to ensure that this money is not spent in the development of European concessions. After all, the main taxation of that country is paid by the natives. The Europeans do not pay the majority of the taxation. The natives do, and the natives should have the first claim on the railways and on the prosperity which we all hope these railways will bring.
There are only two more points to which I wish to refer. One is the way in which the last railway was constructed. No tenders were called for, and the contract was given to a large firm on condition that they should receive 5 per cent. on all expenditure and 1½ per cent. overhead charges. However necessary that may have been in that case, it is not a good system on which to lease contracts for railways, and if the railway is not going to be constructed by the Government itself, I consider that tenders should be called for, and that contracts should be given after consideration of those tenders.
The other point I wish to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman is this. When a railway goes through new territory, the value of the land on either side of it increases by an unearned increment. Would it not be possible, in this case of a brand new railway through fresh territory, to devise some system by which some of that unearned increment should go to the benefit of the Colony instead of into the pockets of those who own the land?
§ Mr. JOHN HARRIS
The Vote before the Committee is not merely, as we have it in the Estimate, a very substantial sum, 1071 but, as I understand it, it is part of a much larger commitment totalling ultimately a sum of something like £8,000,000. That £8,000,000 will be carried, presumably, in the major part, by Kenya, which, added to the £5,000,000 of loan, will give Kenya a very heavy dead weight of debt for some years to come, a dead weight of debt in proportion to her capacity much heavier than any other Dependency under the Crown. Our principal concern on these benches is, will that money be well spent, and will it deliver the goods? We have to remember that the history of Kenya in this matter is a very chequered one. The economic condition of Kenya has caused a good deal of anxiety. For example, in a speech made by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), who, after all, is one of the principal authorities in this House upon Colonial questions, he said in 1922:The white settlements are very nearly ruined now, and in five years' time they are likely to be absolutely ruined by this policy. The problem of getting good work out of the natives is such that, however much you develop your harbours and railways, I believe Kenya Colony is economically doomed by its past history and by the way the development of that Colony is proceeding.The main problem with which we are confronted in Kenya is to persuade, if we can, the settlers to reverse that policy. What is the policy which is adopted in Kenya Colony, and how does that differ from surrounding territories? And the success or failure of these railways which it is proposed to build will depend upon whether or not the right hon. Gentleman can get, within the next few years, the reverse to that policy. North in Uganda, south in Tanganyika, and further south in Nyasaland, they are pursuing the policy of the indigenous producer. In Kenya they are, as a settled policy, pursuing the policy of a wage production. If there is one thing which has been established more clearly than another in all these territories, it is that the indigenous worker of these territories, like the indigenous worker in this country, does not live by wages alone. We have therefore to try to get an entire change in the policy which has been pursued for these many years.
I do not think anyone in this House would grudge for one moment this Vote 1072 of £3,500,000, or of a great many more millions, if only we could be assured that the goods, in the shape of raw cotton, would be delivered to this country. No one can watch the movement in the cotton world without realising that this country is rapidly approaching such a crisis as to make adequate cotton production within the Empire one of the most vital problems with which we are faced. Our total need is something like 4,000,000 bales, and British production to-day does not exceed 800,000 bales. It thus means that Lancashire is almost entirely dependent on external supplies, Lancashire with an output of manufactured cotton goods always exceeding £175,000,000, and very often approaching an output of £200,000,000. Thus this question, which has been brought before us to-night on the proposal for the construction of these railways, brings before this House an issue which, I submit, transcends all party considerations and is of such importance that I do trust the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies will be able to give presently some details of how he hopes to obtain raw cotton from this part of a great producing area of the Empire.
We cannot consider this question, which, after all, is, in a sense, an Empire investment, without reflecting upon the very precarious situation in which we find ourselves as consumers of raw cotton. America produces her output of raw cotton on 40,000,000 acres of land with a population of 10,000,000, but the three factors which we have to bear in mind are these. Firstly, American consumption is rapidly increasing and rapidly overtaking American production; secondly, America is confronted with a constantly decreasing labour supply; and thirdly, America is faced with ever-increasing ravages by the boll-weevil. Therefore I do not think I exaggerate when I say that the issue before us to-night on the question of railways for the purpose of cotton production is one of the most important which has been submitted to this House for a long time.
The question arises whether we as an Empire can produce sufficient cotton to supply our industries. I do not think anyone who has studied this question, and who has travelled in these territories, and who has realised the enormous 1073 potentialities of them, can doubt for one moment that, if we have adequate organisation, we need purchase very much cotton outside our Dominions. According to some of the figures of our possibilities which these proposed railways will touch, either directly or indirectly, we are, so far as I can see, in an extremely advantageous position as compared with America. If we eliminate entirely India and the Dominions, we have at least 500,000,000 acres of potential cotton-producing areas as against only 40,000,000 of American cotton-producing areas. In those areas we have a total population, eliminating altogether populations engaged in such directions as oil production and so forth, of something like 20,000,000. Therefore we have a potential population of twice the American population, and we have an area of at least 500,000,000 acres as compared with the 40,000,000 acres in America.
The real problem is not whether we have the area or the people, because we have got them and we know it. The real problem is whether we can get the willing producer, and we have been slow to realise that main factor within recent years. We have had Committees on Empire development, on railways, on harbours and on private enterprise in connection with these territories, but we have never had a Committee, so far as I am aware, since 1835, to consider how best we might be able to develop the capacities of the people inhabiting those territories. Yet the African is a great producer. We have only to look at some of our territories to realise his capabilities. I often stand at the bottom of Walker Street in Liverpool and see these great lorries rolling by loaded with timbers, vegetable oils and bales of cotton, and I realise then the capacity of the peoples from whom that steady flow of raw material comes. If we could get the right vision, if we could get the right machinery, the right hon. Gentleman would easily be able to justify, not merely the proposal we have before us to-night, but a very much larger one.
It is essential, however, that we should no longer be confronted with these repeated requests from Kenya Colony—I am afraid we must recognise we do get these unpleasant requests—for forced labour ordinances, for registration ordinances, for master and servant 1074 ordinances. All those things must be changed. I do not want to bring in issues which we can raise later on, but I was reading the other day a report which gave me a picture of labour conditions in Kenya Colony, which I think this House will agree must be changed. This Report is issued from Nairobi and is called the Native Punishment Commission's Report. This is not an incident; this is an admission in the Report:It is a matter of common knowledge and every day practice in the Colony that the native, given the choice of going before a magistrate or accepting a thrashing from his master, will choose the latter.That sort of thing, and a matter of £6 a year wages, is not going to produce cotton in Kenya to justify this railway. The native will not work for £6 a year or the alternative presented to him of either a thrashing or going before a magistrate. I was very glad to hear the hon. Member for Stafford say the other day that he noted indication of a change in the mentality of the people in Kenya. I also have noticed some of those, and I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to foster that change so that some of those things which we have deplored in past years may not confront us again. In conclusion, I want to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that this question of producing cotton within the Empire is of such vast and vital importance to us as an Empire, and from the standpoint of Lancashire alone, that something adequate should be done to meet the menace, which, happily, is some years ahead but is still growing. I do not know whether he would be willing to consider setting up some form of Commission which would face this problem of getting for us such a volume of native production in these territories and that such a Committee should be able to do some real staff work upon this question which would ultimately place our industries in Lancashire in such a position as to be independent of external supplies.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HARRIS
This article, which I will be glad to hand to the hon. Member opposite, is an attack upon Uganda for following the native producer policy, and in it they point out the great advantages 1075 which would accrue to the native if, instead of being a native producer, he became a native wage-earner under a white plantation owner. They go on to say that he would be very much better off and that the average worker on a European plantation earns £6 to £10 per annum and a percentage in addition.
§ Mr. AMERY
We have listened to an interesting speech from the hon. Member for North Hackney (Mr. J. Harris) and one that goes straight to the heart of an issue of immense importance to this country. The future of that great industry upon which Lancashire lives is one which none of us can regard without serious misgiving. The hon. Member referred to a menace which is bound to become more serious with every succeeding year, and against which we ought to take every measure in our power, so that when a really serious situation comes we shall be more capable of standing upon our own resources. The great industry of Lancashire is in some ways one of the most artificial in the world. Even in the early days there was great difficulty, for in that industry we were dependent upon sources of raw material not within our own control, and the great cotton field of the United States was one which we first created at a time when politically, and for a long time economically, the United States was a part of our economic system. We are bound once again to recur to the policy of a century and a half ago and create our own supply within our own territory. The hon. Member very rightly pointed out, as far as the character of the territories is concerned, and as far as the population is concerned, we have all the necessary resources. What we have to do is to open up that territory in two senses; first, the material sense of establishing communications, of which this railway project is a part; the other, the psychological sense to which the hon. Member referred, the necessity of building up a population of willing producers.
There are many parts of the Empire where both conditions are present or can be created, but there are few parts where the conditions exist in so remarkable a degree as in East Africa, and more particularly in that region of Eastern Uganda which is served by the so-called Uganda Railway, and by this extension 1076 which we are discussing. For one thing, we have already, as a result of a good many years of work, built up the nucleus of that population of willing producers in Uganda. It is not something new. I remember when I was in Uganda, 16 years ago, efforts were being made to interest the natives in cotton production, to educate them in cotton production, and to give them every sort of encouragement to pursue the policy of becoming peasant producers, and contributing something to the welfare of Uganda and raising their own standard of civilisation. It is not altogether a new policy that is being advocated. It was the policy of the Uganda Government for many years past. I know when I was at the Colonial Office it was the policy we were trying to push all the time in connection with sugar growing in the West Indies, the policy of the cane farmer growing his own sugar. It is the policy which has been pursued with remarkable success in West Africa in connection with cocoa growing. It is a very hopeful and important policy, and I think we must look to it as the mainspring of the future economic development of Africa, both from the point of view of our interest and from the point of view of the economic education of the native. I think at the same time we should not take the view that because this is our main policy, that we adopt a hostile attitude towards the effort to develope industry in Africa by the help of the white settler. There are many forms of cultivation which the native is not able to carry out, at any rate at present, without direct supervision, and where the plantation offers the best opportunity for his education. Even in the other cases to which I have referred the white settler is needed for the graining or sugar factory, as a centre for the whole organisation and as an educating factor. Again, I would say this, that while there may be lapses on the part of the white settler, I do not think we ought to ignore the fact that in practice, taking the average white settler, he not only gets on well with the natives but is considerate towards them, and looks upon the whole problem not so much from the point of view of exploitation as from the point of view of development, of what he thinks the country ought to do, and be able to do, in the future. Cer-certainly, I have read of cases of brutality 1077 such as an hon. Member referred to the other day, which make one's blood boil, and make one think no punishment can be too hard for the men who have done such things. But, of course, we also read of cases no less painful in this country; but my own personal experience has been, taking the average, that the white settler does take an interest in the natives who work for him. He and his wife are not only on good terms but are really interested in the development of their character and of their level of civilisation. You cannot altogether leave outside the influence of the white settler in the midst of the native population. Civilisation has to come to the African in one way or another from the white man. Wherever you meet a higher civilisation in the African races, it has been due to forces of contact with races which have brought civilisation from elsewhere. We fully agree with what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Stats has declared, namely, that our main and first trust is towards the native population. The basis of that policy is not merely that the native has a vested interest. That, of course, ought to be regarded, but it is not the only reason. The main reason is that the native is not only the main body of the population to-day, but if you take into account climate and other considerations, always will be the main body; and, therefore, you cannot build a true civilisation except on the basis of raising the mass of the population. Therefore, when you are considering the position of the white settler, in whatever degree he contributes towards the raising of the general civilisation, he deserves encouraging, and should not be regarded, as it were, as an intruder and a despoiler. Only where he exercises his activities in his own interests in order to break down and lower the economic standard would you have to guide or check his activities.
It is not only that East Africa is a most promising field, but it is promising for certain financial reasons as well for others. One of the difficulties we have to face to-day is the high cost of raw cotton, due both to the world shortage and also to the state of the exchange relative to the United States. Nobody can say how far in the course of paying off our obligations, on particular dates, the exchange may remain stable. Therefore anything that can transfer 1078 our purchases in cotton or any other necessary article from the American Exchange—which is already overloaded by our tremendous purchases of sugar, tobacco, wheat and so on—to the sterling exchange will help the whole financial situation. East Africa is on the sterling exchange, and our purchases from there, however large, have no more effect on the exchange than purchases from Scotland.
As to the actual alignment of the railway, certain criticisms have been passed. I think the Secretary of State for the Colonies has very fairly put the case. If you look at the matter not only as a local railway problem but from the point of view of the future main line from Uganda and the resulting development of the country the answer is an effective one. Undoubtedly the road selected is the best. I know that bit of the uplands. The part of the country along which it was suggested at one time that the line, should go is not a flat plateau; it is a mountain ridge, and is in every respect unsuited for the laying down of a main line, though a light railway might well have gone along the course suggested. Anyhow, I think the Members of the Committee will agree that those who have served the Colonial Office have again and again looked at these matters only with one consideration, and that was in the interests of the Colony. There is just one other word of criticism, which I rather resented, in respect of the branch lines being able to serve what has been called by one hon. Member the white area. There is no white area except—
§ Mr. H. SIMPSON
The expression "white area" has been used over and over again, and is meant mainly to cover that territory owned by Europeans.
§ Mr. AMERY
I know that, but the expression might give the impression that it was land mainly inhabited by white settlers. It is a fact that it is inhabited equally by the native population. At any rate, I would remind the Committee of this, that these branch lines are to be built, as I understand it, with the discarded rails from the relaying of the main line, and if the native area, that is, the cotton area, get the new rails, I do not think we need begrudge the white areas the using up of these rails. The scheme which the Government have 1079 taken over from us and are carrying is, as has been pointed out, one capable of development, and I only hope, if the Government remains in power, it will still further develop the whole scheme, and develop it on a comprehensive scale and with a broad perspective.
I would remind the Committee that in South Africa we created new prosperity and a new strength in the national life by a broad policy of development to which this country contributed. We did not, as I am afraid we have been doing so far in the case of Uganda and Kenya, go on pressing them to pay a war indemnity. I wish to support very strongly the plea put forward by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) and the hon. Member for Blackburn (Sir S. Henn), that it really is unjust to saddle a little community, with a small white population and a large native population, with helping to pay a war debt which in no sense was due to anything that they did or allowed to be done. It was entirely part of the Great War which we waged against Germany, and in which they were only accidentally and incidentally involved because of the adjoining German colony, which happened to have a powerful armed force and a very able military commander. That is why it seems to me very unfair that this struggling and very important territory should be crippled, paralysed, and starved by this arbitrary imposition, which we should never have dreamt of imposing upon it if there had been a small strip of foreign territory between it and the scene of the operations.
I mentioned just now the parallel with South Africa. There is in one respect a close parallel in the case of this railway scheme under discussion, and the situation that we were faced with in South Africa after the Boer War. You have here a railway which runs from one Colony in order to develop the resources of another Colony. We were faced with exactly the same problem in South Africa. The coastal Colonies had the railways, but the traffic was in the interior. The attempt was made there to solve it by a Railway Commission, but that broke down, because in the last resort they could not find out who was responsible for the policy. The railway situation, as well as the Customs position, 1080 forced the South Africans to reconsider the matter, and adopt the policy of union. In the same way you will not get a satisfactory development in East Africa till you face the problem as a whole, and until you, in some way or other, federate the various parts of it. It is essential from the railway point of view. It is essential from the point of view of the broad development of the cotton resources about which the hon. Gentleman spoke. It is equally essential from the point of view of general policy. The true perspective, the true balance, for the different portions of the country lies in a comprehensive scheme, and it would be much easier, under such a scheme, to make special provision and some measure of self-government for the highland area. I am sure the House will support the right hon. Gentleman in a serious investigation of the problem from the point of view of the unification of East Africa. That great territory, 1,000 miles long from Rhodesia to the Sudan, and 600 to 700 miles wide, has a definite character of its own. It differs from South Africa. It differs from West Africa also, which is an entirely native area. It has essentially a character of its own, and should be treated as a unit, and as a place which promises to become one of the most important and most valuable, units in the whole structure of the British Commonwealth.
I would support what was said by the hon. Member for Hackney, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider what was called by that hon. Member the staff aspect of any development. It is no good spending the money of this House upon railways, no good having a general policy of development, unless you have thought out and considered what are the needs at this end, and how you can get the materials grown there most effectively put upon the market so that the crops are not wasted. A few years ago a good deal of the Uganda cotton was wasted because a certain prejudice was taken against it by the Manchester buyers, and, because of the lack of a better organisation at this end, the very important work at the other end was thrown back for two or three years. The crop was thrown on the hands of the natives: so much so that they were reluctant to begin again. I hope in this connection 1081 the right hon. Gentleman will consider the usefulness of the Economic Committee, to which reference was made the other day. That Committee not only can deal with Dominion affairs, but is capable of dealing with all sorts of questions of Empire development. The very question that has been raised here could be dealt with by that Committee, and sent to a sub-committee of experts to study as to what would be the best both from the point of view of development and cotton. I hope nothing I have said will be taken as a criticism of what the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do. I am only glad to think that at any rate he is going to continue a policy initiated by the previous Government—that he is aiming at seeing it effectually carried out. I move, however, a reduction of £50 in Item A. 6 for form's sake in order to keep the Debate on Kenya, as the reduction previously moved has, I understand, lapsed.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. J. H. Thomas)
I am astounded, and I desire to be perfectly frank about it, for I fail to understand the Motion that the right hon. Gentleman has just made. He knows perfectly well that a general statement of policy was made by me three nights ago, and there has not been a hostile word of criticism. The Debate clearly demonstrated that the policy was one with which the House agreed. Why, then, even for form's sake, is it necessary to move a reduction of the Vote? The Debate could continue even without it, and when it is remembered that there is another Vote following in which hon. Members are interested, and when it is specially remembered—and I take this opportunity of saying this, because the Government are disturbed as to the state of the business of the House and the country—it is a pity. We are not in a position to move the Closure. I do not disguise from the House what are our difficulties. We are compelled to carry through Supplementary Estimates, not one of which we were responsible for, and we find ourselves handicapped and hampered, with no opportunity of commencing any business for which we are responsible. That is a very serious state of affairs. I desire to make it perfectly clear. I do not want to disguise my own strong feeling that we are entitled, seeing our difficulties are known, and that we are in a difficult position so far as the 1082 House is concerned, to a somewhat different treatment. Especially so, when there is no difference of opinion or no conflict of policy, we are, I say, at least entitled to facilities for our Estimates.
The whole trend of the Debate really demonstrates that this question is a non-party question I have no hesitation in saying that the main work at the Colonial Office could be treated in the same spirit. We have differences of opinion and there are cleavages on certain matters, but the general sense of all parties is that Dominion questions and Empire problems should be kept out of the arena of party politics. I cannot guarantee that this cotton will go to Lancashire, and it would be unfair to the native to compel him, but the most I can say is that the more cotton that is grown the more opportunity there is for Lancashire to have its share. That is the only answer I can give to my hon. Friend. With regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Hope Simpson), those who listened to it, must be convinced not only of the difficulties of this particular question but of the whole subject. I will answer him by saying that the branch lines are not covered by this Vote.
With regard to the general question of the railways, I do not want to commit myself either to one or the other policy, and I do not want to commit myself to saying that it will be done in one way or another. There is much to be said for the suggestion of trying both methods, but that any contract will be offered to tender I make it quite clear now, and I promise I will try to avoid the mistakes of the past. I do not think legitimate criticism can be levelled against the general scheme of the railways, because, undoubtedly, they are best suited to the places where the cotton is being grown. That, however, does not dispose of the question of the native himself, and here, I think, all sections of the House are apprehensive. I would like to be able to announce a policy, but I cannot do so because I do not know sufficient about the subject.
However, I am absolutely certain of one thing, and it is that more attention ought to be paid to it, and when you talk about doing justice to the native, it does not mean, in my view and my conception of justice, merely dealing with his relation ship to the employers. I do not mean 1083 that at all. We have to see that justice is done to the native. There is also the educational side of the question, the training of the native, and general protection, all of which require consideration. I do not know whether it would be wise to appoint a small Committee to look into the whole question, but at the moment I am favourably disposed towards that course. I do not want to commit myself as to the form of the Committee, but that side of the question will not be lost sight of. Having regard to the fact that there is no disagreement with regard to the Vote, and that the House appreciates the object of the Vote, I hope the Committee will allow us to get this Vote at the earliest possible moment.
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
While the right hon. Gentleman is keeping an open mind as to the form this Committee will take, can he give a promise that he will have some inquiry made into the application of the principle of trusteeship on behalf of the natives, which was announced by the late Government, and for which he himself stands?
§ Mr. THOMAS
The hon. Member means, I suppose, how we shall give effect to the underlying principles laid down in the White Paper. My answer is "Yes." That is the exact problem I mean when I say I want to see what kind of Committee will be best to deal with the matter.
§ Mr. HOPE SIMPSON
The right hon. Gentleman has just stated that this grant will not cover the branch lines. I have here a statement from the Secretary of State in which, although it does not specify how the £3,500,000 is to be spent, the first item states that these branch railways are going to cost £1,000,000.
§ Colonel Sir CHARLES YATE
With regard to some of the criticisms which have been made, personally I congratulate the Colony upon getting as many railways as it can. When these railways are built, whatever agency is employed, I trust the labour will be native African labour, and that there will be no necessity to bring in Indian labour. In this connection I agree with all that has been said, especially by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, as to the necessity of educating and training the natives. I see no necessity whatever for the appointment 1084 of any committee for this purpose. No such committee is required that I know of, and we want the local men to go into these matters because they know the capacity of the natives. In my view nothing will help better than the training the natives will get in the construction of these new railways. The hon. Member for Taunton told us that the natives paid a larger proportion of taxation than the Europeans, but can the hon. Member give us the proportion paid by the natives as well as the proportion paid by Europeans?
§ Mr. HOPE SIMPSON
I have not the whole of the information here, but I believe the Europeans pay about one-third.
§ Sir C. YATE
I am delighted to hear what has been said in regard to these proposals, and I hope that this £3,500,000 is only the beginning of the development that is going to take place in this particular territory. I hope before long we shall see a Governor-General appointed and that Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and Nyasaland will be joined up and that there will be a Federation of the whole of East Africa. When we once get that accomplished I am sure it will lead to a great development in cotton growing, and that is a most important thing. Cotton cannot be grown, I am told, on the highlands occupied by the European settlers who develop the country in a different way, and grow other things. It is grown, I believe, by the natives at a lower elevation. I look forward to seeing a great development in this cotton growing. I hope this Vote will be passed without any further criticism, and that we shall go on developing this territory in every way we possibly can.
§ Mr. GORMAN
I think all sides of the House are agreed as to the necessity for increasing the basis of our supply of raw cotton. I do not intend to deal with the importance of the cotton industry to the rest of the country, but I can safely say-that every other industry in the country shares in the prosperity or the adversity of the cotton trade. Its success or failure finds its reflection in the success or failure of industries as a whole throughout the country. There have been in Lancashire and in other parts of the country very serious discussions as to the reason of the slump in the Lancashire cotton trade. It 1085 is not my intention to go into those matters, but the experts are generally agreed that there are two causes for the present cotton position, firstly, insecurity in supplies, and secondly, instabilty in price.
I think in is agreed that insecurity of supplies and instability in price are largely the cause of the slump. The whole of the Committee must feel that Lancashire is peculiarly situated in that its supply of raw cotton is limited to about 80 per cent. from the United States of America. During the last three or four years in America two things have happened. Firstly, there has been a shortage in American crops; and, secondly, America has taken an increasingly larger amount of the raw material which she has produced. In the year 1921–22 the total production of American cotton was about 8⅓ million bales. The next year it was about 10,000,000 bales, and the estimated production for this year is also about 10,000,000 bales. When it is considered that the world requires annually at least 14,000,000 bales of American cotton, that the American crop is only 10,000,000 bales, and that, of those 10,000,000 bales, America herself requires from 6,500,000 to 7,000,000, it means that there is available for the rest of the world a surplus of American cotton amounting to some 3,000,000 or 3,500,000 bales. The British Empire Cotton Growing Association, a body which deserves the support of all parties—for this is not a party question but an industrial question which must rise above all petty party considerations—have endeavoured to broaden the basis of supply of raw cotton, and, as has been said by hon. Members in this Chamber, if we can secure a broadening of the basis of the supply of raw cotton in Kenya, and also in other places, it will make for the removal of the two causes which are so largely instrumental in causing distress in Lancashire to-day. It will not merely tend to make the supply of cotton more regular, but it will have the concomitant result of making the price at which it can be produced more regular, and more easily met by the cotton mills of this country.
§ Mr. SCURR
One is delighted to know that there is a feeling of regard for our obligations as trustees of the natives, but during the course of this Debate the 1086 only two parties that seem to have been referred to have been the white settlers and the natives. I agree with all that has been said in regard to securing everything possible for the natives, but there is another interest in Kenya which has not been referred to, and the question of how this interest is dealt with is going to be fraught with very considerable difficulties for the British Empire. We are discussing this district as a cotton-growing district, and we all recognise the importance of having a supply of cotton within the British Empire; but it will be useless for us to talk of gaining economic stability for the Empire if at the same time we do not concern ourselves with many of the political considerations. There have been in Kenya for a number of years—long before any white settlers went there—Indian immigrants, Indian settlers. Their numbers, as was shown in the Debates in this Chamber last July by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton), were increased by the recent action in building the Uganda Railway. We did not go to the natives then for labour, and now we find that, by a threat of civil war, the white settlers are trying to impose, not only upon Kenya, but upon the Home Government here, a policy that is going to be fraught with disaster to the British Empire. While we have our obligations to the natives, surely we have our obligations also to the 300 millions of our fellow-citizens in India, and, as has been remarked in another place, one cause of the troubles that have arisen in India is the way in which this question of the franchise in Kenya has been dealt with by the late Government. I only rise for the purpose of putting to the Secretary of State certain categorical questions, to which I would ask him to reply. First of all, the Indians want to know what His Majesty's Government is going to do to implement the pledge given in this Chamber on the 25th July of last year.
§ Mr. THOMAS
On a point of Order. I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, but no one should know better than he that this Vote has nothing whatever to do with India. An opportunity will be furnished later, and I certainly do not want to anticipate it, but it is obvious that the question that my hon. Friend puts to me has nothing whatever to do with this Vote.
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Rawlinson)
The hon. Member will find the limits strictly laid down on page 14 of the Estimate, and I am sure he will see at once that he is now going very far outside those limits.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
On a point of Order. Would it not be possible for us to give, as a reason why we should vote against any further advances to the Colony of Kenya, the policy laid down by the Government there and the Government here?
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member, with all his years of experience, surely must know that such questions have been asked many times, and are always answered in the negative. Does the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) wish to proceed?
§ Captain TERRELL
I was a little amused just now by the appeal made by the Secretary of State for the Colonics. He appealed to the Committee to pass this Vote without any further discussion, and referred to the awkward position in which the Government were placed. He stated that, as a Government, they were unable to move the Closure, as they had not a working majority. To me that is a great surprise, because I always understood that the Socialist Government which is in power has a definite working arrangement with the Liberal Socialists—[Interruption.] I am very glad indeed to find that they are all in agreement with that statement, and, if that be so, I should have thought that the Secretary of State would have moved the Closure whenever he desired, and that he would have had the full support of the Liberal Socialists on every occasion. I understand that the main objects of this Vote are three—firstly, to develop the resources of the British Empire; secondly, to produce more, cotton within the Empire for our home industries; and, thirdly, to provide work for some of our unemployed people in producing the goods required for the construction of those railways in Kenya and Uganda. I was a little surprised just now when the right hon. Gentleman, in reply to a question asked, I think, by the hon. Member for North Hackney (Mr. J. Harris), as to whether 1088 there was any guarantee as to whether or not we were to get this cotton if it was produced—
§ Mr. J. HARRIS
I did not ask that question. The hon. and gallant Gentleman must be thinking of someone else.
§ Captain TERRELL
Anyhow, it was one of the hon. Member's friends—[Interruption]—I am sorry if he has not any friends. I am rather surprised that there is no guarantee at all as to whether or not we are to get our fair share of the cotton produced in that country. We are pouring out a great deal of the taxpayers' money for the development of that country, and we should have some definite guarantee that we are to get some return for it. Take the question of India, which is a great cotton-producing country. In India a very large amount of British capital has been sunk in order to develop cotton growing for our cotton industry in Lancashire, but what is the position there to-day? A reply was given only to-day by the Under-Secretary of State for India—
§ Captain BERKELEY
On a point of Order. Is it in order to discuss the question of cotton growing in India on this Vote?
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
It is not in order to discuss it, but it is in order to give an illustration, as regards the position in this particular Colony, of the position in other Dominions.
§ Captain TERRELL
I do not wish to offend, but as you, Sir, have said, I am only giving these figures in connection with India as an illustration. To-day at Question Time the Under-Secretary of State for India, replying to a question submitted to him by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Sir W. de Frece), stated that in India there is an annual yield of 925,000 tons of cotton, and it is rather interesting to see how much of that cotton comes to this country. This country has poured tons of millions of pounds into India to develop that industry.
§ Mr. THOMAS
As I rose to a point of Order in regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for Mile End, I must in fairness point out also that this has nothing whatever to do with the Vote, and I would ask that we keep within the limits of the Vote.
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Member is perfectly entitled to give his illustration, but he must not go into details. He is entitled to say that it is not a paying speculation to finance cotton growing in Kenya because we have lost large sums in other Dependencies. He is entitled to use that as an illustration, but he must not debate it.
§ Captain TERRELL
I am just giving a statement that was made to-day, and, surely, the right hon. Gentleman should not mind that. We want to get as much cotton as we can from the Empire. India to-day produces 925,000 tons per annum, and of that quantity this country is getting only 34,220 tons. It is going to other countries and not to our own. Even Germany is getting more cotton from India than we are. Therefore, I submit that we are entitled to ask for some guarantee that, if the money of British taxpayers is spent in Kenya, for the development of cotton growing there, this country should at least get its fair share of the cotton produced. Again, I should like to know what the Labour party's policy is in that connection, because I understand that one of the main points in the programme of the Independent Labour party is the rationing of the world's commodities. Am I to take it that, if that is part and parcel of the Labour party's policy, they intend that the cotton which is to be produced in that country—
§ Mr. CLIMIE
Is the hon. and gallant Member in order in discussing the policy of the Labour party on this Vote?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
On a point of Order. Is the hon and gallant Member right in calling us the Labour party and those on the benches to my right the Liberal Socialist party?
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Member can tell me what the proper designation of his party is, I shall know whether to rule the expression "Labour party" in or out of order.
§ Captain TERRELL
I am sorry if I have offended hon. Members opposite. If I am out of order in discussing that policy, I will turn to the question of the construction of these railways. I want 1090 to ask the right hon. Gentleman two or three questions in connection with that. First of all, I want to know if it is the intention that these railways should be constructed by the State or by private enterprise. Secondly, if the railways are to be constructed by the State, will tenders be called for from private enterprise, in order to compare them with the State's estimates of the cost? Thirdly, I want to know, if the British taxpayers' money is to be used in building these railways, whether there is any guarantee at all that the material required for the construction will be entirely and exclusively ordered from British manufacturers and trading firms. Passing from the question of the construction of railways, I want to make reference to one other aspect of this case, the cost of production of cotton in Kenya. I am given to understand that, however much we develop the land out there, unless there is some change made in the rate of exchange—that is the rate of exchange on the basis on which wages are paid—we cannot hope to produce cotton on competitive lines. I want to know if the right hon. Gentleman intends in the near future to revert to the rate of exchange based on the Indian rate and not on the home rate of exchange.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MOREL
The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down will permit me to point out that he is apparently unaware of the Free Trade Agreement in regard to the Conventional Basin of the Congo, which excludes any Power whose territory is within that area from acting in any way contrary to Free Trade. We are not, therefore, in a position internationally to claim that all cotton produced in Kenya should come to this country. That Convention was affirmed by the late Government 18 months ago. This discussion has shown that we cannot deal with the question of the railways without dealing with the question of British native policy in Kenya itself. One is inextricably bound up with the other. I would like to express the satisfaction with which I heard my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary say that he hopes to foe able to institute a Committee of Investigation into the whole question. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), in a very interesting speech, referred to the great importance of our 1091 getting all the supplies of cotton we can. That has been touched upon by nearly every speaker in the Debate. But railways alone are not going to get us cotton. What is going to get us cotton is our treatment of the natives. If you have a policy which deals with the native decently, which increases his prosperity and increases his opportunities, you will get your cotton, but if you have a policy which is the reverse of that, you will not get your cotton. The policy which, unfortunately, has been pursued in Kenya for the last 20 years, which is entirely different from that pursued both in Uganda and Nigeria, has been a policy leading to the destruction of the native population. If the present policy continues, you will be faced with a continually dwindling native population in Kenya, with the result that you will have to whistle for your cotton. That is why I hope the right hon. Gentleman will institute an inquiry into the whole policy which has been pursued in Kenya in the last 20 years, and that this inquiry will be also turned towards the effect of legislation at the present day. There is no doubt that what between the taxation imposed, the whittling away of the native "reserves," the Masters' and Servants' Ordinance and the Labourers' Ordinance, you have a condition of affairs in Kenya which approximates to forced labour of a very bad kind. I am quite sure that if my right hon. Friend will make inquiries of experienced British officials who have spent many years in Kenya, and whose evidence is accessible to-day, and if he will go into all the records at the Colonial Office dealing with the withdrawal of native lauds, and the systematic impoverishment which the natives have experienced by that policy, he will be horrified by the result.
Fate has so willed it that this territory of Kenya where, 20 years ago, the native tribes roamed practically unmolested, is the focus upon which has converged forces and influences representing two diametrically opposed Imperial policies. By accident, as it were, Kenya has become the centre where two entirely different schools of thought are contending in regard to the development of our Imperial policy in Africa. My right hon. Friend may well find himself 1092 compelled before very long to take decisions, and to advise the Government to take decisions, which affect far bigger issues than Kenya. That is why I venture to think that his idea of having a Committee, which well represent all shades of opinion in this House and the best experience that can be brought to bear on it, is an excellent suggestion. You must fundamentally change the processes and policies which have been followed for the last 12 or 18 years. My right hon. Friend has spoken of maintaining the policy laid down in the White Book. But he cannot do that unless he changes the process and policy fundamentally. We must build upon new foundations. We have to insure that the natives shall have real security of tenure in Kenya. At the present moment the native communities do not know, from one day to another, whether they will be shifted from their reserves to another part of the country. Everything depends upon security of tenure, whether you look at it from the political, the economic or the humane point of view. You will not get your supplies unless you have a happy contented native population of landowners producing in their own right and for their own profit. After all, in connection with these matters, we have had since the days of Edmund Burke a tradition to keep up. And we have also a high Parliamentary tradition to support, upheld in this House for many years by Sir Charles Dilke, with supporters of Members from all parts of the House. If my right hon. Friend maintains this high tradition, he will have the enthusiastic support of every Member on these benches, and he will have the support of every Member of this House who believes in the maintenance of these traditions, which are not the monopoly of any political party, and who is determined that these traditions, which have been violated in a monstrous degree in Kenya, shall be upheld, and that the policy there shall be the policy we have so successfully followed up and maintained in Uganda and Nigeria.
§ Mr. THOMAS
May I make an appeal in regard to this Vote? This is the second day on which we have discussed it. There is another Vote to follow, in which I know there are Members interested, and I think we are entitled to ask the Committee to give us this Vote.
§ Sir FREDRIC WISE
I apologise for keeping the Committee, but there is one particular point I want to put before the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the financial side. I am sure we all agree that we want cotton wherever it can be grown, not only for Lancashire's sake, but so that it may save us in regard to the buying from the United States and in that way ease the United States debt payment. It states in A. 6, in regard to the Kenya grant, that the grant will be made to the Government of Kenya as an advance by way of loan, free of interest for five years. I never think it is satisfactory to get a grant of money free of interest for any space of time. It is not finance. One must agree that the finance of Kenya has not been very successful in the past, and I feel that in dealing with this interest in this way it is not the correct mode, and it is not the mode I have ever known to be carried on in any other country. We are quite agreed that there must be a railway built into the country, which is undeveloped, and the usual way, if the railway will not carry this interest, is to add the interest to the total capital sum. We are giving Kenya £175,000 a year, which, in five years, is £875,000, and in the ordinary course, where railways are built into undeveloped land, that amount has been added to the capital issue, and the interest has been paid out of capital. I have had experience of railways in Canada and various other parts, and I always feel that if the financial side is wrong, something will happen which will not carry the fruits of that railway in the future after it has developed. Would it not be possible to alter that amount, and put the amount of interest on to the capital? To give Kenya £875,000 for five years is adding to the very great monetary strain on this country. We are carrying a great dead-weight of debt, and every amount makes it heavier, and I would ask the Colonial Secretary if it would be possible to do this in the usual business way.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The hon. Gentleman will not expect me to give him an answer now. I can only say that I will give the point raised by my hon. Friend consideration.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I beg to move,That Item K [Nauru and Ocean Islands] be reduced by £80,000.I move this because I am convinced, and I think it is not improbable that the Committee may later be convinced, that some further information is required with regard to this Item, before we can be expected to assent to it. I put down my Motion to reduce the Item by £100, but later reflection and my native caution have impelled me to consider the contingency, I hope remote, that possibly the right hon. Gentleman's answer may not be as full and satisfactory as I should like, and if that unhappy event should occur I feel that a reduction of £100 would probably be inadequate. A reduction of £80,000 will leave the right hon. Gentleman with a sum of about £26,000, which I believe will be adequate to enable him to finance it for the present, and I hope to show good reason why the remainder of the Vote should be postponed till a later date. I do not propose to go into the question of the policy involved in the agreements which are referred to in the explanation on page 14 of the Vote. That is an agreement which is scheduled under the Act of 1920. I do not propose to go back on the policy of that agreement, indeed I am rather doubtful whether it would be in order, but, at all events, for my purpose it is not relevant and it is not necessary. But I think perhaps it is necessary to say one word before I come to the actual questions I want to address to the right hon. Gentleman as to the history of the matter, because it is possible that it may not be immediately present to the mind of the Committee. Therefore, I would try to state the relevant, factors with regard to this agreement, and if I make any omissions or errors, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will correct me, because I am only dealing at the moment with matters of fact.
May I begin at the beginning by reminding hon. Members exactly where these islands are, The simplest way to put it is that they are almost as far from Westminster as anything could well be. More 1095 accurately and scientifically they are in Western Polynesia. They lie a little to the north-east of the Solomon Islands, to the west of Ellis Islands, and to the south of the Marshall Islands, and they are distant about 150 to 200 miles from each other. Nauru used to be German. Ocean Island has always been British. Nauru was originally annexed in the year 1888 and it was surrendered in September, 1914, I think, to His Majesty's Australian ship "Melbourne," sister ship of the "Sydney," which afterwards sank the "Emden." Both islands are of no importance politically or strategically. Their only importance is from the commercial point, and the reasons they are commercially important is that both of them contain large beds of phosphate rock, which is utilised commercially as a fertilising agent. In Nauru the phosphates were originally mined by a German company, which held them under a concession from the German Government given in 1905 for 94 years. That concession was in 1906 transferred to a British company, the Pacific Phosphate Company, which also held under licence from the British Government the right to mine the phosphate rock in Ocean Island under a lease of 99 years which ran from 1902.
That was the position previous to the War with regard to the exploitation of the mineral resources of these islands. After the Peace Treaty it fell to the League of Nations to entrust the mandate for Nauru Island to someone, and it was entrusted to the British Government and an agreement was made between Great Britain, Australia and India. That is the agreement which was signed, I think, originally in 1919 and which forms the Schedule to the Act of 1920 referred to in page 14 of the Vote. Under that agreement the three Governments, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, decided that they would buy up the Pacific Phosphate Co., which was the concessionnaire, and accordingly arrangements were made to that end. The three Governments were to be joint adventurers in this undertaking which was to be managed by a Commission called the British Phosphate Commission. They were to be joint adventurers, but not in equal shares. The share of Great Britain was to be 42 per cent., the share of Australia 42 per cent., and the share 1096 of New Zealand was to be the remaining 16 per cent., and the necessary capital was provided in the respective countries. The total capital put in was as I make it out, £3,503,900, of which our 42 per cent., with a small addition for extra legal expenses, amounted to £1,488,000, and that money was voted and passed in the Financial Resolution which preceded the introduction of the 1920 Act. So much with regard to the capital provided.
But there was also an arrangement made as to the disposal of the phosphates after they had been mined and it was agreed that they should be distributed between the three joint adventures at cost price, provided that any phosphates so supplied were to be used only for home consumption, and were not to be re-exported by the countries which took them. But it was contemplated that it was quite possible that one of the three partners might not desire to take the whole of its share, that is to say, Great Britain or Australia might not desire to take as much as 42 per cent., and New Zealand might not desire to take as much as 16 per cent. Therefore there was a provision put in that if any country did not desire to take up the whole of its share such additional share was to be marketed elsewhere, in some foreign country, at a commercial price, and the country that did not take up its proportion was to be credited with the cost price of the quantity of phosphates sold abroad, and the difference between the price actually realised in the world market and the cost price, whatever the cost price was, was to be put into a pool which was periodically to be shared out between the three joint adventurers in the proportions of 42, 42 and 16. It is the existence of that pool and the fact of its now being shared out which accounts, I assume, for the £253,580 which appears on page 14 of the Estimate. The only thing I am not quite clear about is as to the period of time in which this surplus has accrued. I am not quite certain whether it is one year or two years or whether, as is quite possible, it is 21 months. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell me over what period of time this surplus of £252,580 has accrued.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The financial year ends in June. Obviously, it must be the difference between now and June, making two years, so that it would be 21 months.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I suspected that it was 21 months. The point is not very material, but it is as well to have the matter put exactly. There is one more definition which requires to be examined, because it is material, and that is an examination of the provision with regard to the distribution of the phosphates at cost price to the three joint adventurers. Cost price is defined in Article 11 of the Agreement, and Article 11 fixes cost price in the first place on an f.o.b. basis. If the Committee will reflect, they will see that that is a reasonable provision, because the freight from Nauru to New Zealand, and still more the freight from Nauru to Australia, is obviously very much less than the freight from Nauru to the United Kingdom. Therefore, it is obvious that in working out cost price you have to take the f.o.b. and not the c.i.f. basis. Article 11 says:Phosphates shall be supplied to the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand at the same f.o.b. price, to be fixed by the Commissioners on a basis which will cover working expenses, cost of management, contribution to administrative expenses, interest on capital, a sinking fund for the redemption of capital, and for other purposes, unanimously agreed on by the Commissioners and other charges.The Committee will see, therefore, that, in arriving at the price at which these phosphates were to be released to the three joint adventurers for their own home consumption the Commissioners had to take into account working expenses, cost of management, expenses of administration, interest on capital and a sinking fund for the redemption of capital.
I think I have gone through the points which are relevant to the consideration of this matter, and I now ask the Committee to see exactly what this Estimate invites us to do. What it asks us to do, in short, is to take £106,504, which have accrued to us or are due to us as our share in the surplus profits out of the pool, and to put this money back into the business for certain specific objects and on certain specific conditions. I ask the Committee to put themselves in the position of a private trustee. What would a private trustee say if he received a notice from a company in which he was interested, paying him a dividend and at the same time informing him that it was proposed to issue new capital and 1098 inviting him to subscribe for his proportion of the new capital? The first thing the private trustee would think it right and necessary to do, would be to make inquiry as to how the business of the company was going on. No person in such a capacity could do otherwise. Conceive what would happen in a subsequent action if a private trustee were asked, "Did you pay money into the company?" "Yes." "Did you make inquiry as to the position of the company?" "No." "Did you see the accounts?" "No." "Did you see the balance-sheet?" "No." No private trustee could take up that position for a moment.
The first point I put to the Committee in considering this matter is that the Committee of the House of Commons should have no less a standard if not a higher standard in such matters than would be required from a trustee in private life. Therefore, the first thing to look to in this Estimate is to ask, where are the accounts and where is the balance sheet of the British Phosphate Commission? When I saw the Estimate a fortnight ago, that was the first thing that occurred to me, and I addressed a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject. I asked him whether the accounts of the British Phosphate Commission had been presented to Parliament and, if not, when did he think they would be presented? I was told by the right hon. Gentleman that he hoped the accounts would be presented and printed along with the other trading accounts of the Government at a later date. I then took occasion to point out to him, in a Supplementary Question, that this particular Vote was coming on, and that we were going to be asked to put £100,000 of the taxpayers' money back into the business and that it was only reasonable that we should have some information about the accounts before that was done. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would give that matter consideration. Subsequently, he was good enough to communicate with me and to inform me that he regretted to find on inquiry that it would be two or three months before the accounts could be presented. I told him that I did not regard that as very satisfactory, and that if I happened to be in my place when the Vote came on I should put certain questions 1099 to the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the accounts, with a view to getting the irreducible minimum of information that was necessary. I propose to put one or two questions.
The first information one requires about the operations of the Commission is in regard to output. What is the present output? We have had, as far as I can gather, no figures given. The only figures I have been able to gather relate to 1913, when the output was 337,000 tons. I do not know what is the present output. The figures for 1913, however, will give the Committee some idea of the size of the operations. The next thing about which the Committee will consider it is reasonable to require information is regarding the figures of gross revenue and net revenue. On the expenses side we want, not detailed charges, but certain broad details of expenses. We want the ordinary working expenses, the cost of management, and so on, and provisions for interest and sinking fund which are quite distinct and separate. Then there is a third set of expenses which fall to be charged against the phosphates before their cost price is fixed. This third set of expenses are rather extraordinary, because they are the expenses of administering the Government of the island. That is an extraordinary thing, and I believe the provisions in regard to these expenses are almost unique in connection with any British Dominion or Dependency.
The provisions are contained in the Agreement, and the Agreement, shortly, provides that the Administrator and the Commissioners, so far as they do not have their expenses found from any other source, are to have them found and charged against the cost price of the phosphates. I do not desire to say anything in the way of attack upon the Administrator. I do not desire to criticise the administration in any way. I do not even know who is the Administrator. I have no doubt he is a very estimable servant and that he discharges his duties with zeal and efficiency, but I would point out that he possesses very wide powers under the Agreement. Article I of the Agreement, which defines the powers of the Administrator, is in the following terms:The Administrator shall have power to make Ordinances for the peace, order, and 1100 good government of the Island, subject to the terms of this Agreement, and particularly (but so as not to limit the generality of the foregoing provisions of this Article) to provide for the education of children on the Island, to establish and maintain the necessary police force, and to establish and appoint courts and magistrates with civil and criminal jurisdiction.
§ Captain BERKELEY
Are the ordinances of the Commissioner subject to approval by the High Commissioner?
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
That is precisely one of the questions that I was going to address to the right hon. Gentleman. This agreement was made and was confirmed by Parliament and it was enacted. But I think that at the time there was a certain amount of doubt in the minds of everybody with regard to the position of the Commissioner. How are these arrangements working out in practice? If the Commissioner by any chance does anything wrong in his administraton, if there is any cause for complaint with regard to the administration, on whom does the responsibility for that fall? Obviously the administration must be responsible to somebody. Who is the person or Government to whom he is responsible? I find it difficult to believe that it can be this House because, except on the discussion of a Vote like the present, there is no method under the procedure of this House whereby the conduct of this administrator can be challenged in this House.
I find it hard to see how it can be challenged in the Australian Parliament either. I do not think that there is any vote of money in that Parliament, and I doubt if there is any vote of money in the New Zealand Parliament either. Who gives the Commissioner orders? Does the right hon. Gentleman? To whom does he report? Is it to the right hon. Gentleman or the League of Nations, or to whom? This opens up an endless vista of possibilities. I leave it to go back to my figures. The first figure one wants is the figure as to the output; the second is gross and net revenue. Then I want the charges against revenue, working expenses, interest and sinking fund, and the administrative charges. The sales figures are also essential. I want in the 1101 first place the sales to the three joint adventures. How much has each taken, and what is the price at which it has been given? I want also the figures of foreign sales. How much has been sold to other countries, and at what price? Those figures represent the minimum in the way of data which are necessary before one can be expected to pass this Vote.
The Committee will notice that certain objects are set out in the Estimate as the objects for which the money is wanted. The further capital is required for the purchase and acquisition of machinery equipment and quarters. Is this new money which is asked for to be something in the way of replacement, or is it something for new equipment? If it is replacement of existing equipment, I cannot see how that figure can come into this Estimate, because the natural and proper method of dealing with it would be to charge it to repairs and renewals. I never heard of a company paying dividends to its shareholders, and at the same time making a call for repairs and renewals. If, on the other hand, this is for new plant, and not for replacement, then the question arises, what is there to justify the laying down of new plant either in an increase of the output or a reduction in the cost of output. Does this mean an increase in the output? If it does, what is the increase—and? do not know what the present output is. If it means a reduction in the cost of the output, what is the net reduction in the cost of output—and I do not know what is the present cost of output. The next object is for the purchase of the royalty rights in respect of the phosphate deposits of the island. Here, again, I am in some difficulty, because I turn to the Act and I find that Article 7 provides:Any right, title or interest which the Pacific Phosphate Company or any person may have in the said deposits, land, buildings, plant and equipment, so far as such right, title and interest is not dealt with by the Treaty of Peace shall be converted into a claim for compensation at a fair valuation,and these were subsequent arrangements, and the claim was converted and the compensation I understand was paid. What are these fresh royalty rights which had not been discovered then? I hope that we shall also have some information. 1102 I have to call attention to the last sentence of the explanation:Interest will not be payable on the further capital provided.Why is interest not going to be payable on the further capital provided when interest was certainly payable in regard to the original subscription of £1,488,000, because it is provided in paragraph 9 of the Memorandum, which is referred to in this explanation, that this sum, £1,488,000, will be repayable with interest out of the proceeds of this sale of phosphates by the Commission to be set up under Article 3 of the Agreement mentioned in paragraph 2. Why is this particular amount of money which is asked for now not to be repayable with interest? Is this to be repayable at all, and, if not, why not? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will also say what is the commercial rate of interest with which the adventurers are being credited in regard to the original subscription. We were never told what that rate of interest was to be, but were told that it was to be a commercial rate. What has happened, meantime, with regard to the interest? Where is this interest? It cannot be said that the commission has not been able to pay, because it is one of the prior charges before the cost price is arrived at, and, therefore, it must be brought to account somewhere Perhaps those are as many questions as I ought to ask. I hope that the Committee will think that none of the questions is unfair or unreasonable, and that, whatever the right hon. Gentleman's reply may be, he will not tell me that this is an inheritance from a previous administration. I have heard that said by many Governments during my time in this House, and I have been here as long as the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I never thought it was a very good defence, nor have I ever noticed that any Government, when it had a subject on which it could congratulate itself, was in a hurry to make use of such a defence. The defence is made only when there are things about which the Government is in difficulties. They then get up and say that the thing is an inheritance from their predecessors.
However good or bad the defence may be in general, it is no defence at all in the present instance, and for this reason: My questions have been directed to the point that we are asked now to embark 1103 on an entirely fresh venture, to put back into the business money which would otherwise go into the Exchequer towards the surplus of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That is an entirely new departure, and in regard to it the excuse of inheritance cannot be used. It is all very well to say that this Estimate was prepared by the previous Government. But when these Estimates are prepared they are prepared about the end of November or the beginning of December The Government that was in office at the time never had the slightest idea that the accounts were not to be presented to Parliament when the Estimates were to be discussed. That is the point on which I want information. This may be a good expenditure or a bad one, but I cannot determine that without the accounts, or without the information for which I have asked.
§ Mr. THOMAS
We have been treated to an interesting spectacle to-night. The hon. Gentleman, a former member of a Government, knows all the circumstances of Government, but treats the Committee to-night to an exhibition which at least implies that the Vote I am asking for is a Vote for which I am in a way responsible. The late Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies is present in the House, I notice, and he will tell the hon. Member that he would have listened with interest and delight to the speech we have just heard if he had been on the Treasury Bench instead of myself at this moment. The only difference is that I am presenting these Estimates. I intend to answer some of the criticisms, because, with the greatest respect, I do not understand some of the phrases that have been used. If they had been used by hon. Members on this side they would have caused an outburst. There was the phrase "the three adventurers." Two of them are Dominions.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I was using the phrase, "the joint adventurers," only in the ordinary commercial sense. Anyone who engages in an undertaking is called an adventurer. I had no thought of causing offence.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Of course, I accept that explanation. The three Governments concerned are New Zealand, Australia and ourselves. I can state the reason which, I understand, guided those who made this 1104 adventure. In the first place, Australia was the key Dominion involved. We are supposed to be the people who are always turning down the claims of the Dominions. In effect, Australia said this: "Phosphate is a fertiliser which is vital to the world. Only one per cent. of the world's store exists in the British Empire, but this field constitutes 40 per cent. of that." Imagine the situation. We talk about development of the Empire, about making the Empire independent of the foreigner. We talk about making the Empire self-supporting. One of the Dominions comes along and says, "Phosphate is vital to agriculture, and we are at least entitled to ask you to help us in this experiment." That is what Australia did, and New Zealand supported Australia in the demand. Then the British Government said, "This is something that interests us." Why? Because we were not only depending upon the foreigner, but phosphate was vital to our own agricultural interests.
After all, this has not been a bad deal, though it may have been a bad Government that made it. We joined in, in the proportions of 42, 42 and 16 per cent. It was done not only to buy out the German company but to buy out the English company also, in addition to which it gave us the control of the phosphates and ensured some competition for English agricultural interests. What followed? Immediately after the War fertilisers had been bought at high prices, but English agriculturists did not purchase this particular phosphate. The depreciated exchange meant that the foreigner was unable to buy, as he had done previously, and America was dumping her surplus down here at a price lower than that at which we could produce the article, with the result that not only were we unable to take our quota, but New Zealand and Australia benefited, inasmuch as they took all the rest that we might have taken, and were entitled to take This is the wicked transaction described by my hon. Friend. As to the first point, this is an essential article; as to the second point, the whole Empire is involved: and as to the third, the two countries to benefit at our expense—if any at all—are New Zealand and Australia. Regarding the administration, my right hon. Friend knows perfectly well it is all a figure of speech about these imaginary difficulties 1105 as to the Commissioners who are said to be independent and responsible to no one and doing just what they like. He knows perfectly well that this matter is administered under a mandate which is exercised by Australia and for which Australia is responsible, and we have no reason to assume that she abuses her trust. Certainly, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I am not going to assume that she will abuse her trust, and if she does my right hon. Friend also knows there is an appeal to the League of Nations. That is the story of this autocratic body with powers to abuse everybody. That is the history of the whole case. So much for that side of the matter, and I hope my statement answers the hon. Gentleman's criticism. I am not answering for the Commissioners and will not attempt to do so, but if any Labour Member finds abuses in Australia, the Australian people will answer there for anything that arises. Let me come to the question of the accounts. My right hon. Friend knows about them because he made a good guess at the 21 months, and he knew what that period meant. He knew that the 21 months meant from June to March. The balance sheet is published up to 1921. The expenses for 1920–21, including interest and sinking fund, amounted to £628,103.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. THOMAS
Six per cent. The sale of phosphates represented £1,222,802; less freights and insurance £620,758. There is a balance of £687,209. The figures up to the 30th June, 1921, are: Expenses including interest and sinking fund, £628,571, sale of phosphates £1,117,515; less freights and insurance £395,309, and there is—and this is the important point—a net profit for 1920–21 of £59,106, and for 1921–22 of £194,474. I make two further observations. The first object of this undertaking was not a bad one, and seems to have been justified. In the result it seems to have been a fairly good business transaction. My hon. Friend said that more details of the balance sheet were wanted, and he asked for the working costs of this, that and the other. If I had it, I would have no hesitation in giving the information to my hon. Friend, but when 1106 he puts forward the request on business grounds, I am not so sure that his proposition is sound. Business people do not usually show their competitors all their secrets, and we have competitors in this matter, and as long as the Treasury can be trusted at least to scrutinise the accounts—[Interruption]—I think my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer) will agree with what I am going to say. The Treasury can be trusted, at least, to see that the accounts are accurate. You may disagree with the Treasury, but no one would suggest that the Treasury is not competent to judge of the accuracy of accounts, and that is the only point I am making. I hope I have given my right hon. Friend all the information he desires upon the question. I sum up by saying it is not true that this is something for which we are responsible. The Estimate was prepared for me by the Department, in all its details, just as the Treasury were responsible for the finance with which I have dealt, but that would not excuse me for defending anything that is wrong. What I had to do was, not to say whether the policy was good or bad, but to ask the Department to give me sufficient information to warrant me in saying: This is something I can defend on its merits, no matter who is responsible for originating it. On that point, I was satisfied for the reasons I have given To the House, and I can only say to my hon. Friend that were it not for the accident—shall I call it so?—of my being here, instead of where he sits, it would have been delightful for me to have heard him asking these questions from those responsible for the transaction.
Major G. F. DAVIES
I think it is a matter for self-congratulation for every Member of the Committee, that we have, in the course of this Debate, moved from the continent of darkest Africa with its tongue-twisting and almost comic opera names, to a part of the globe where the geographical nomenclature offers less serious obstacles to the tongue of an ordinary Briton. I could not help thinking during this Debate, especially when the geographical position of these places was alluded to, what a great advantage it would be to Members of the Committee if we had a large white screen hung opposite you, Sir, and a cinematograph operator projecting not a picture but a map of the 1107 places in question. To change suddenly from the vast area of the continent of Africa to a dot in the South Seas places a considerable strain on the imagination of hon. Members. The importance of this island of Nauru, as we have probably gathered, is, as Euclid would have said, in inverse ratio to its plane superficies. It has been my lot to have spent a good many years in the islands of the Pacific down in Honolulu, where perhaps hon. Members know, the ukuleles, hula dancers, and Hawaiian singers come from. Unfortunately, I could not devote all my time to the pursuit of these arts and crafts, and I had some connection with the question of phosphates from the Pacific Islands, not, unfortunately, as a vendor and producer so much as a purchaser and consumer, and I know full well the great value of these phosphates to the agricultural industry, which is an additional reason why I am interested in this Vote.
The opener of this Debate ran through some of the history leading up to this situation, but, as I understand it, there are one or two things which, I will not say, are at variance with what he was saying, but which, perhaps, make it a little bit fuller. The Pacific Phosphate Company originally had concessions to work phosphates on Ocean Island. That island was south of an imaginary and arbitrary line which had been drawn across the Pacific, which divided the German sphere of influence on the north from the British sphere of influence on the south. The Island of Nauru was situated north of that line, and within the German sphere of influence, and it was administered by, though not actually part of, the Marshall Group. The Pacific Phosphate Company, exploring the possibilities of phosphates in the islands of the Pacific, discovered the deposits on Ocean Island, and were working them. In the course of their further exploration, they discovered that there were very extensive and exceedingly valuable deposits on the Island of Nauru, which were, apparently, then unknown to other people. A German company had a concession from the Imperial German Government for exploring and developing many islands in that part of the Pacific Ocean, including Nauru, but they had not discovered the enormous potential resources and the value of the phosphate 1108 deposits there. The Pacific Phosphate Company, having discovered this, acquired from the German company their concession rights in Nauru, and as soon as development began to take place, the Germans realised that they had allowed to go by them something that was very valuable, and of which they were ignorant. In passing, it is a comfort to know that sometimes a British company is clever enough to get ahead of a German company.
As soon as the German company realised that the Pacific Phosphate Company had acquired this concession, and was working it, they proceeded to try to purchase all the Pacific Phosphate Company shares they could on the market, so that, at the outbreak of the War in 1914, there was a considerable German holding in the Pacific Phosphate Company—not 50 per cent. of the shares, but a very considerable proportion. When the War broke out, these German interests were taken over and disposed of by the Public Trustee for whomsoever they might concern, and the purchasers were all British subjects, so that again the Pacific Phosphate Company became a 100 per cent. British concern. So it went on during the War, and after the Armistice came the history of where the three adventuring Governments took part. The Government of Australia was the first to move, realising, as has been pointed out, the extreme value of these phosphate deposits and their comparative proximity to Australia, and, if I am rightly informed, they made a claim—whether based on a misplaced admiration of Government participation in industry, or whether, perhaps, they realised the value and importance of the deposits to themselves, I do not know—to the Island of Nauru and its potentialities, as somewhat in the nature, perhaps, of spoils of war. As soon as the Government of New Zealand heard this, they made a similar claim, and it was those two claims which brought the British Government into it, and, as hon. Members have already heard, it was decided that the enterprise should be shared—42, 42 and 16 per cent. respectively.
A good many questions were asked by the opener of this Debate, and dealt with by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and there are, in this connection, one or two very vital questions on which I, personally, 1109 and, I think, a good many other hon. Members of the Committee, would like some further information. The figures have been available, and have been quoted to us, as to the cost of the original investment, and there is a provision in the agreement that in case there is need of any further capital necessary for working expenses, it is to be contributed by the three Governments in the same proportions, and it is, of course, under that Clause that this Vote comes before the Committee, but what is not clear to my mind is what are the liabilities of the Governments concerned, and particularly of the British Government, with regard to any further possible capital expenditure in connection with the development of these islands of Ocean and Nauru, and particularly Nauru. To be sure, our share is 42 per cent., but there is nothing to indicate so far—and I feel it would be interesting to the Committee to know—if there is a limit, probable or actual, of our capital liability in connection with this enterprise, whether or not it is a profitable one.
Another, and very important question, it seems to me, is this: Are we here, in this country, getting any actual benefit out of this undertaking? I am not now thinking of interest on the capital involved, because I fancy we could use that capital in other directions which would be of more immediate benefit to us here, in England, but the question is this: If this undertaking were gone into by the three Governments concerned—and I think it was—because of the exceeding value of these phosphate deposits, and the great value to agriculture of phosphates as a fertilising and manuring agency, are we now getting anything out of it? Unless I am misinformed, during the past two years not one single pound of phosphates from Nauru has been brought to this country, and, therefore, we are in this position of, to the extent of 42 per cent. of the capital—and now under this Vote indeed, of 42 per cent. of our profits on that capital—assisting the Governments of Australia and New Zealand to get their stores of phosphates, while we are here in the position of Empire benefactors. I should be the last person to discourage such a position, but it is true that charity begins at home, and, as one interested very much in our agricultural difficulties here and in the importance of our being 1110 able to get good and the best fertilisers at reasonable prices for our agricultural community, I think it is a matter of some importance to know whether we are getting any direct benefit in the way of fertilising material out of this enterprise, and, if not, why we have not been getting any. There may be reasons, such as high freight rates or others, but I do not know what they are.
Then there is a matter in connection with the administration. It is provided in the Agreement that there is an Administrator and three Commissioners, one appointed by each of the three Governments concerned. Among the duties of these three Commissioners is that of disposing of the phosphates for the purpose of the agricultural requirements of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand so far as those requirements extend. The deposits are to be worked and sold under the direction, management and control of the Commissioners. I cannot conceive that in a little island the size of Nauru the three Government Commissioners are resident there very much in the year. It is possible that those from New Zealand and Australia could pay periodical visits without taking up too much of their time, but it seems beyond all common sense that the Commissioner from here could spend very much time there carrying out in person his responsibilities under the Agreement, to wit, the control, management and working of these deposits. Therefore, I think it would be interesting to know exactly how the Commissioners' responsibilities devolve upon some lower placed official, and who he is, and whether the Commissioners have met anywhere so as to arrange for this management and control, which is a joint liability and responsibility on their part.
Finally, there comes the question of labour on these islands. I have had some experience of Pacific Island natives. Their principal industry, unless there is some special reason or peculiar case, is making wreaths of flowers and waiting until it is to-morrow. From what I know of phosphate deposits, they cannot be worked with that kind of labour, and it follows of necessity that there must be some imported labour of some sort to work these phosphate deposits. Whether that is South Sea Island labour, or whether it is Hindu labour, or whether it is Japanese or 1111 Chinese, I do not know, but it has to be one of the four undoubtedly. The duty of the Commissioners, I take it, is the control, not only of the native population, who at a guess are not taking any very active part in the operations of the Phosphate Commission, but of those who are actually doing the work. It would be enlightening to the members of the Committee if they had a little information on that particular point.
These questions are not being, asked by me in any carping or cavilling spirit, but merely for information.
§ Mr. BLACK
I am sure hon. Members listened with very great interest to the explanation which was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but there are one or two things he said which struck me as rather peculiar. The first was when he sought to throw the onus on the Australian people for the management of the Island of Nauru. I understood that it was the League of Nations which had issued a mandate, and that this country had accepted the mandate. As we have a Commissioner appointed to represent this country, it appears to me that we are not able to shelve any responsibility, but must take the full responsibility for what happens on the Island of Nauru. We share the profits, and if there were losses we should share them. Therefore, it is up to us to see that the conditions which obtain with regard to the working of the phosphates, and all the details with regard to the organisation, are satisfactory to a nation such as we are.
The next thing I noticed was that the Secretary of State for the Colonies produced accounts which have not been circulated to this House. I consider that we should have been in a better position to have discussed with accuracy the granting of this money for these accounts, which we were not able properly to appreciate as they were read from the Table, if those accounts had been circulated to the House. We should then have been able to investigate them and we should have known better where we are. It appears to me that in a matter of this kind it is up to the Government to give the House all the information it possesses. Therefore, I would ask that on another occasion we might be supplied 1112 I with the figures which are available to the Government. I want to ask a question on the accounts with regard to this £253,000 profit which has been made. Is that all profit, or does it include the interest and the sinking fund as well? According to the accounts which are given here, our share of £106,504 is our share of surplus profit. I suppose business men do not include interest on capital in profit. If the interest has been earned in addition to the profits, I should like to ask where the interest is shown and how it has been accounted for.
I desire to ask a few questions with regard to the conditions under which the Chinese are labouring. I asked the right hon. Gentleman to lay on the Table details of the agreement that these Chinese labourers sign, and I have had the opportunity of going through these particulars. While I desire to congratulate the Commission upon the profit which has been made out of this enterprise, I do feel that in a country which is largely responsible for setting an example to the world in regard to the manner in which it treats its employés, we ought to be assured—I do not make any allegations, but only ask questions—that the conditions under which these Chinese are labouring are such as would commend themselves to the sentiments of the British nation. I think we have a special interest in this matter. Therefore, I desire to ask a few questions. First of all, in the agreement it is stated that the wages that are paid to these Chinese are as specified later on in the agreement, but when I come carefully to search the agreement I find no record of what they are. I desire to ask what wages are paid to these Chinese workers in the Island of Nauru. Why have these wages been omitted from the copy of the agreement with which I have been supplied? Are they stated in the original agreement? If they are stated in the original agreement, have they been suppressed in the copy that has been sent to me? I notice that overtime is paid at the rate of 5d. an hour, and, therefore, if overtime is paid for at double ordinary time it would lead one to suppose that the wage paid is 2½d. an hour. I do not think Members on the Labour benches will be satisfied with the payment of 2½d per hour, even to Chinese labourers. I 1113 want to appeal to Labour Members with regard to the several matters I am bringing forward.
The second question I have to ask is this. In the agreement it is stated that any piece-work arrangement that is to be made is to be made by mutual agreement. I want to ask the Committee how the Chinese labourers are in a position to stand up for their rights with, regard to piece-work arrangements when they have been brought 3,000 miles from Hong Kong or China to work in Nauru. There should be some arrangement whereby some arbitration board is appointed or some outside body to whom these Chinese labourers could appeal with regard to wages. The third question is this: Is not the contract a very one-sided contract, when three months' notice to terminate the agreement can be given to any Chinese labourer, whereas he has no right to terminate the work before the three years expire. What right have we to say to the Chinese labourer: "We discharge you with three months' notice," while he has no right to terminate the agreement? I hope representatives of the Labour party are taking notice of these things, because in my opinion these clauses in this agreement are a scandal and a disgrace. It is most peculiar that there are two agreements; one the Chinese labourer is asked to sign before he leaves China, and another he is asked to sign when he arrives at Nauru. Under the first agreement five days of 9½ hours are to be worked, and one day, Saturday, 4½, making 52 in all. When he has to sign the second agreement for three years he has to work six days of 9½ hours, or 57 hours. Before he leaves China the arrangement is 52 hours, and when he gets to Nauru he is faced with an agreement by which he has to work 57 hours. Is that straightforward British integrity? By this agreement a man has only six days' holiday in the year. He has his Sundays and six days' holiday. Is that agreeable to hon. Members on this side? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] If there is any emergency, any breakdown in machinery, this man is to be asked to break into his six days' holiday without any compensating day being given to him for the time he works in the emergency. [An HON. MEMBER: "Has he any dole?"] He deserves something. I do not know that he gets it. The last question I have to ask is the most serious of all. It is 1114 this. Are any proper reasonable provisions made whereby these Chinese labourers may take with them their wives to Nauru?
§ Mr. BLACK
Let hon. Members interrupt. I do not mind. The more they interrupt the more I am pleased. In this agreement there is nothing mentioned about the wives of these Chinese workers, and I am credibly informed that at a certain location either in Samoa or in Nauru there is one place where there are 500 men and only two women. I ask hon. Members whether it is treating the natives of the island in a satisfactory manner when the arrangement has been made by the late Government, or the one before, during the last two years, that conditions like this should obtain, and that these Chinese should be over there in their hundreds and thousands, the conditions being such that their wives are not invited to go with them, no provision being made in the agreement for taking them with them. I do not desire to ask any further questions. I do not charge the Secretary of State for the Colonies with the slightest responsibility for this state of affairs, but what I do ask, in the name of the British nation who esteem honour and integrity in bargains and desire to treat the natives as they would be treated themselves under similar circumstances—I ask the Labour Government whether they are prepared as early as possible to look into this matter, and that we, when we touch the profits which are earned out of the phosphate industry, can stand up in face of the world and take clean money and not be ashamed of the money.
§ Captain BOWYER
I feel sure that the whole Committee will congratulate the hon. Member who has just spoken not only upon the merits of a very serious speech but the way in which he has refused to be put off by very good humoured comments, and the admirable information which he gave on this important matter. The only 1115 comment I will make upon the matter with which his very eloquent address dealt is to comment upon the interruption that came from the benches opposite. I suppose the hon. Member who challenged the party on these benches to cheer, did so for the same reason which we have heard for many years now, in that I suppose his claim was that it is his own party alone which can speak and has the right to speak for the working man.
§ Captain BOWYER
Let me comment upon the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, because, of course, he was quite entitled to make what use he liked, and he made admirable use, of the retort, "Well after all your party was in power and you made the agreement; or the Government at any rate with which you are connected." That is perfectly true. I am perfectly certain that the admirable speech of my hon. Friend below me was made in the first place for this purpose alone, to discover what has been the result of the agreement and what are the conditions out there to-day. It was a matter of knowledge which could not have been ascertained either when the Conservative Government was in power or when the agreement was made.
§ Captain BOWYER
Not in the least. I have tried to study the information which is at the disposal of the Committee. I have read it very carefully and read the Agreement Act of 1920, and I find that this country is very much concerned.
§ Captain BOWYER
For it appoints one of the Commissioners, and it was, indeed, in the first place entrusted with a mandate with the rest of the British Empire. While the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly entitled to make the retort he pleases to make on the lines I have indicated, he surely must not rest content there. He must satisfy himself, being at the head of one of the Departments of the State, that any information which is brought to his attention during the course of this Debate is properly 1116 sifted out if not now, then afterwards. What is the information given to the House? He never told us at all on the Colonial Vote why he put back this money into the business; why the original arrangement made in 1920 has not been sufficient to carry on the administration by those concerned. May I remind the Committee that when this agreement was made Sir Leslie Wilson was then the spokesman on behalf of the Government, and he used these words:It is estimated that all the expenses of administration under the Agreement, including the cost of the sinking fund and the interest on the capital, will not amount at the most to more than threepence per unit—each one per cent. of phosphate of lime—and as Nauru Rock averages 84 per cent. of phosphate of lime and Ocean Island averages 86 per cent. of phosphate of lime, it will be seen that under the Agreement, at cost price, that is covering all the expenses that I have mentioned, it should be possible for Australia and New Zealand to obtain their phosphate at about £1 per ton cheaper than at the present time, and at the same time provide for all the necessary repayment of capital and interest.Articles II and XI of the Agreement specifically cater for—if I may use that word—the working expenses for running and capital, and for purchases in the first place necessary to run this as a going concern. What I should have expected from the Colonial Secretary was in the first place an explanation as to how much was this sum, and why it has not proved to be sufficient, and secondly, some details as to exactly on what schemes the £100,000 odd which we are now asked to put back into the business will be spent. I need not weary the Committee by reading out Article XI. It has been referred to already. Article II, however, which is very concise, says:All the expenses of administration, including the remuneration of the Administrator and the Commissioners, so far as they are not met by other revenues, are to be paid out of the proceeds out of the sale of phosphates.I understand that the arrangement, first of all, was that Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia were to get their phosphates at cost price. I will not split hairs as to exactly what cost price means. But, having looked up the details, I find that in Nauru there are 216,000,000 tons of phosphate there for the taking, and that before the War it was estimated that the annual output could be made at least 1117 400,000 to 500,000 tons per annum. The right hon. Gentleman never replied to my hon. Friend who invited him to say whether, in fact, we have received any phosphates. That is a vital matter, if only judged from the agricultural stand-point—
§ Mr. THOMAS
I told the House distinctly that the difficulty of agriculture in this country was due, firstly, to want of phosphates; secondly, to the difficulty of exchange; thirdly, to America dumping and Great Britain not taking its share; and finally, because New Zealand and Australia had taken more than their share.
§ Captain BOWYER
My difficulty was this: I listened with all the attention of which I am capable to my right hon. Friend, and I understood him to give his figures in pounds sterling. That immediately led me to the conclusion which, I put to the House, was not unreasonable that I should draw, that under Article 14 we had been credited with these sums of money out of the common fund; that, in fact, we had not received any of the tons of phosphates about which I am now asking.
There is a second point I want to make. It is so simple a point that I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will give me an answer on the spot. The procedure was so simple. We were to have as much phosphates as we could use at cost price, together with New Zealand and Australia. This is a point I want to make. What was not sent there at cost price of what was produced from year to year was to be sold, not only at market price, but at the best possible price, and out of what was sold outside, the three great Dominions were to find the costs of administration. I therefore get back to this: When the right hon. Gentleman now to-day is asking us to put more money, to provide more for administration and for working capital, surely he must give us some details as to how the costs of administration have failed to be found out of the surplus phosphates which could be sold all over the 1118 world, and, indeed, in other parts of the British Empire.
I should like to ask a question about administration. Here, again, I do not think the Committee ought to be put off by the fact that the Administrator is not responsible to this House. Who is responsible? Surely, we have some responsibility in the matter? Let me put it in this way. If my right hon. Friend is going to make inquiries as the result of this Debate into, for instance, the matter raised by the last speaker as to the conditions under which Chinese labour is to be utilised, how is he going to make his inquiries? There must be a link, a channel, through which he will inquire, and I submit that our Commissioner will be the man who will be interrogated, and who will be invited to make a report as to how, in fact, the Administrator is carrying on his duties, and how the Chinese are being treated.
§ Mr. SEXTON
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware that among these Chinese labourers quite a number of suicides happen every week?
§ Captain BOWYER
If that is so, then there is all the greater need for inquiry. What I am surprised at in this matter is the attitude of the Colonial Secretary, because if the Administrator is responsible to the Government of Australia, how comes is that we are discussing this Vote for everything we are saying must be out of order? The right hon. Gentleman must see that there is a great demand for an inquiry into the status of the Administrator and how he is carrying out his duties. The Administrator has not only to provide education for the children and make ordinances for peace good order and good government, but he has to maintain the police force, appoint Courts and magistrates with civil and criminal jurisdiction.
The administrator is allowed to raise a revenue on his own account inside Nauru. He can impose taxes and levy duties, and what are they for? If, on the one hand, any of those duties and taxes raised by the administrator can be earmarked for administration and carrying on the business of getting phosphates, how comes it that that is not mentioned, and that, over and above the amount raised by those taxes and duties, money is being asked for to-day? I want to lay stress on the fact that we on this side of 1119 the House are really keen about any matter which may develop the Empire. I only mention that because the Colonial Secretary rather twitted my hon. and gallant Friend with desiring to oppose something which was really going to develop the Empire. But we are doing nothing of the sort. We are simply acting as guarantors or trustees for the taxpayers' money.
The right hon. Gentleman said that business people do not show competitors their business secrets, and for that reason he said he did not propose to give an answer to any questions relating to details. But even if business people do not give away secrets to their competitors, the shareholders have a right to see the balance sheet, and that is the main thing we are asking for to-day. We are asking why this money is necessary at all after the adequate sum which was provided in 1920. I want to know how it comes about that in 1924, three years after the agreement was made, money is being voted now for the purpose of the royalty rights in respect of the Pacific deposits of the Island of Nauru. In Article 7 it is clearly stated that:Any right, title or interest which the Pacific Phosphate Company may have in the deposits, land, buildings, and equipments shall be converted into a claim for compensation at a fair valuation.If I do nothing else but succeed in getting the Colonial Secretary once more on his feet to give us a little more information on these points, I shall be very pleased.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Would it be in Order, when an hon. Member is flinging about on this subject weights and measures in this way, for the Colonial Secretary to have a slide rule to calculate them?
§ Mr. ROYCE
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member who has just sat down in regard to the facts which he has placed before the Committee, but I would like to say a few words with regard to the remarks made by the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Black) with regard to the conditions of Chinese labour in Nauru. It has always been a subject of wonderment to me that hon. Members can have so much interest about Chinese labourers abroad and be so very insensible with regard to conditions of labour at home. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I have nothing to withdraw, in 1120 fact I should like to repeat my statement. With regard to what has been said about Chinese labourers, it reminds me very much of the lines written by James Russell Lowell:I du believe in Freedom's CauseEz far away ez Paris is,I love to see her stick her clawsIn those infernal Pharisees.It's well enough agin a KingTo draw resolves and triggers,But liberty's a kind of thingThat don't agree with niggers.It seems to me that the nigger or the Chinaman is looked upon as somebody who ought to be preserved, while we intend to take no care of our own people. We import Chinese into this country, they enter into competition with our own people, and they are a source of trouble to our social order. We are quite unconscious of what is going on under our own noses.
§ Mr. ROYCE
I am quite aware of that. What I wish to say about these conditions is that the Chinese labourers are quite able to look after themselves. In a case where the whole of the labour is drawn from one source, one stoppage of work would bring about the end of any grievance. I am aware that hon. Members below the Gangway, on a former occasion, were very solicitous about Chinese labour. Personally, I have seen those same Chinese slaves come into Johannesburg and engage every cab at the railway station, whilst my wife and I have had to carry our luggage up to the hotel. I do not think we were suffering, but it was not a condition of slavery. The hon. Member for Harborough is very much concerned that these people have only six days' holiday a year. I wonder how many days' holiday an agricultural labourer has in a year; and, as I have remarked quite recently in this Chamber, during the recent winter many of our agricultural labourers in the villages have been earning no more than 15s. a week. I wonder whether hon. Members could spare some of their sympathy for these people? [Interruption.]
§ Mr. ROYCE
I agree that they have as much sympathy as I have, but it is not vocal, and it is vocal in the present case. [An HON. MEMBER: "And that is all!"] And that is all. Well, my Friends—[Laughter.] I do not mind calling them my Friends. They help us upon occasion, when it suits them. But I have a few words also to say to my Friends opposite. I noticed that they were awfully shocked when the hon. Member for Harborough said that these men work 52 hours a week; but I think that is what they proposed for the British agricultural labourer, under the conditions of the Agreement when they proposed to give the farmer £1 an acre. If it is good enough here for the agricultural labourer, it cannot be too bad for the Chinaman in Nauru. Then the hon. Member for Harborough complained that they have to re-enter into an agreement when they get to Nauru. I presume the reason for that is that an agreement entered into in China would not be legal unless it were confirmed in Nauru. I do not suppose there is very much in that. My sole object in saying these few words is to suggest that hon. Members might save some of their sympathy for the people we have at home, and give a little less to some of those abroad who are quite able to look after themselves. If hon. Members knew the Chinaman as I know him, they would know that he is not a man who cannot look after his own interests. He knows exactly what he is entering into. The complaint is made that he is not permitted to take his wife with him. Well, I have a distinct recollection of entering into a three years' agreement, and no one asked me to take a wife with me. This, Mr. Young, is sickly sentimentality. If hon. Members would only come down from Heaven and view the things that they see here in their own country, or if they would only look for them, they would find much more to enlist their sympathy at home than they can find in Nauru. [Interruption.] There seems to be an impression that I said that a Chinaman is not a man. I did not say that. What I said was that a Chinaman is not a man who cannot look after himself.
Lieut.-Colonel LAMBERT WARD
I have no intention of following the last speaker on the important question as to 1122 whether Chinamen are capable of looking after themselves, or as to the necessity of taking their wives wherever they go, but there are one or two things that I should like to say before we pass this Vote, and I am afraid that some of my remarks must be rather in the nature of questions. I am sorry that that is so, because I fear the Colonial Secretary has been rather snowed under with questions hitherto. I do, however, desire to elicit a certain amount of further information. It seems to me that we we are spending a great deal of money upon this island of Nauru, and that it is rather questionable—indeed, very doubtful—whether we shall ever see any adequate return for the money we are spending. I think I am right in quoting the Colonial Secretary as saying that he could not give us the actual commercial value of the phosphate, because so very little of it has hitherto come to this country. It is possible that the reason for that is that the farmers here do not consider it to be of any particular value for agricultural purposes. I am told that this ground phosphatic rock from Nauru is inferior in many ways to basic slag and some other forms of chemical manure. We must not forget that science is making great strides at the present time. I am told that at any moment some commercial process may be evolved by which it will be possible to fix nitrogen from the air, and in that case we shall have a fertilising agent of far greater value than this phosphatic rock from Nauru can possibly show.
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that there really is this quantity of phosphate at Nauru? I believe I am right in saying that this is organic limestone strongly impregnated with phosphoric acid. Although, undoubtedly, the entire foundations of the island are organic limestone, it is at present very uncertain to what depth this impregnation has penetrated, and, consequently, we do not know with any degree of certainty what actual quantity of phosphatic rock is obtainable from Nauru. That being so, are we wise in spending all this money on the development of this island? With regard to the treatment of the aborigines, the indigenous inhabitants of these islands, I think I am right in saying that a question on that subject was asked at the League of Nations meeting at Geneva last year, and that the 1123 reply given was not altogether satisfactory. I see that reference is made in the Estimate to the purchase of royalties, and I should like to know how the native owners of the island are paid for the rock which is taken away. Is the ground being bought from them outright, and, in that case what sum of money is being paid for it? Are they being paid in royalties at so much per ton taken, or in what exact way are they being compensated? We must not forget that, after all, this rock is the bedrock of the island, and it is only a question of time, if this deposit is as large as people make out, when the whole island will be dug away from under their feet. We all know the views of the Colonial Secretary with regard to royalty owners and landlords. I have heard him voice his opinion on that subject in this Chamber, and we have only to refer to that admirable work of his, "When Labour Rules," to obtain a definite statement as to how he hopes to deal with landlords and royalty owners when the day comes for the Labour Government to be in power as well as in office. I should like to have from him an assurance that he will not treat these royalty owners and landlords in Nauru in the same way as he hopes to treat landlords and royalty owners in this country when he is in power as well as in office.
Another point which occurs to me is that, however likely it is to prove a fertilising agency, is there any chance of our getting this phosphate rock to this country? Our co-adventurers—and I use that expression with all due respect, because the word adventurer is a classic word: it is Shakespearean: and our forefathers who colonised Mew England were always referred to in the works of the period as adventurers—are in Australia. Nauru is 10,000 miles from these shores, whereas it is only 1,000 miles from the shores of Australia. Although we can claim 42 per cent. of the produce, I think there is very small prospect of this produce ever reaching this country. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, is he convinced that the supply of this phosphate rock is equal to the estimate made, and is he convinced that the aboriginal inhabitants, who are the rightful owners of the island, are being treated with that fairness, and justice which would meet with the approval of the League of Nations at its next meeting? It was my 1124 intention to speak on the subject of the labour which is employed to work this rock, but that has been so fully dealt with by the last two hon. Gentlemen who spoke, that I feel there is no need for me to say anything further on that subject. I should, however, like to ask are they free men or are they working under a system of slavery? Is their condition one which to describe it as slavery would make one guilty of using a terminological inexactitude?
§ Captain BERKELEY
I hope very much that the policy which has been enunciated by the hon. Member for Holland (Mr. Royce) is not one which is to receive the support of the party of which he is a member. He speaks on questions of the recruitment of native labour, I understand, with some authority, because he has had some experience in the business. I have had some experience from observation of the kind of ills and misusages to which indentured labour is subject. To hear a member of the Labour party put forward the astonishing doctrine that a Chinaman is not a man—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!" and "Withdraw!"] The hon. Member for Holland stated that a Chinaman was not a man, and subsequently qualified it by saying that a Chinaman was perfectly capable of looking after himself in anything that was needful.
§ Captain BERKELEY
I accept that. The hon. Member is making a statement which anyone who is familiar with what is called the Chinese coolie, or for that matter the Indian coolie, knows is not strictly in accordance with the fact. It is not correct to represent the Chinese coolie as being a person who understands the details of a contract. So far as coolie labour is concerned, there is a very clear duty on the Government, not only because of the duty which any British Government must assume towards subject population, but because of the fact that the British Empire is interested in this question, as a mandatory of the League of Nations. There is a very clear duty on the British Government to investigate all the allegations which my hon. Friend has made, and to see that the abuses to which he 1125 has drawn attention are removed. Whilst they are conducting that investigation, I would suggest that they should look into the nature of the quarters provided for these labourers. I see the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) in his place. My hon. Friend, before he was Under-Secretary for the Colonies, occupied a distinguished position on the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations. He personally drew the attention of the Mandates Commission to the fact that these Chinese were living in compounds. There is accommodation and accommodation. There is a kind of accommodation which is familiarly termed "coolie lies," in which it was customary to house coloured indentured labour. It consisted simply of a galvanised iron shed with no flooring, which in effect reproduced the conditions of a particularly bad kind of stable. I see that some of this sum that we are to vote to-night, and I hope it will be voted, is to be devoted to quarters. I would like to know what kind of quarters are to be provided?
Before proceeding to the speech of the Colonial Secretary himself, I would like to ask if he would indicate how much of this sum we are voting is to be set aside for health, education and welfare work among the native population, as distinct from the coolie population. That brings me to the right hon. Gentleman's own remarks. Surely he is under some misapprehension. He referred to the mandate which Australia was exercising. The mandate is surely conferred on the British Empire by the principal Allied and Associated Powers and not, as one speaker remarked, by the League of Rations at all. It is a mandate which is exercised with the general supervision of the League of Nations. To say that mandate has been passed on to Australia permanently is incorrect, and indeed to say the mandate itself has been delegated is, as I submit, incorrect. May I make it plain by quoting from a League of Nations publication dealing with the subject dated August, 1922:Representatives of the Governments of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand accordingly met and drew up arrangements for an administration which was incorporated in the Nauru Agreement of 2nd July, 1919, by which the Australian Government was nominated as agent for the three parties to administer the Island for 1126 the first five years, but in all matters relating to the native policy reference was to be made to all three Governments concerned, whose concurrence was essential. The impression that the administration of the Island was exercised de facto by the Australian Government, which now assumes responsibility for it, is not justified by the actual facts, which show that in the administration the Australian Government is merely acting as agent for the mandatory authority, i.e., the British Empire.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Owing to that report a fresh agreement was entered into last year when I was at the Colonial Office and presented to the League of Nations. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will read the report of the League of Nations for 1923, he will see that the position, which was obscure in 1922, has been put on a regular basis and that Australia is recognised by the League, and the Australian representative is recognised by the Mandates Commission as responsible for presenting the annual report on Nauru.
§ Captain BERKELEY
That is the presentation of the annual report to the permanent Mandates Commission. The question we are discussing to-night is to whom in the Empire is the Administration of Nauru responsible. How can we exercise a check on the Administration? How could this House of Commons exercise any control over the ordinances which are passed by the Administration?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
You cannot possibly do it. It would be out of order to do it. The Administration is appointed by the Government of Australia, and is responsible to the Australian House of Commons, and it ought to be ruled out of order from the Chair to criticise an Administration which is not responsible in any way to this Parliament.
§ Captain BERKELEY
This interchange of observations between my hon. Friend and myself illustrates the difficulties with which the whole of this subject is hedged around. I perfectly understand and share, although I have had not the experience of the hon. Gentleman but a certain limited experience of this question, the difficulties of the mover of the Motion. It is very difficult to know where the real controlling authority lies. Ocean Island is not administered under a Mandate. It is administered by the Western Pacific High Commissioner. You have this astonishing situation, that the House 1127 of Commons is confronted with a Vote lumped together for two islands, one of which is responsible partly to the League of Nations and partly to the Australian Government in some indeterminate manner, and one of which is part of a group of islands administered under the Western Pacific High Commissioner, and you have a single vote covering these two items. I only make this observation in order to show that there is a substantial difficulty, and that the Colonial Secretary was not justified in brushing this case aside and saying that Australia is responsible. Quite clearly, Australia is not responsible for Ocean Island and I am not in the least clear how far Australia is responsible for the administration of the Island of Nauru. The Colonial Secretary contends that when you delegate responsibility in this matter you have no control over the agent to whom you are delegating it. That is a proposition from which I respectfully differ. You have this mandate conferred upon the British Empire and exercised by three members of the British Empire. By agreement with the League of Nations, you delegate from the main mandatory Empire to one of the individual nations composing it, certain responsibilites. Does the Colonial Secretary seriously contend that the Empire as a whole has no control over the manner in which Australia carries out the responsibility which has been delegated? If he advances any such contention, I am sure hon. Members will not agree with him.
§ Captain BERKELEY
The point is that there is a ludicrous administrative tangle, owing to the fact that you have these two islands, in close proximity, one administered under one system, over which, apparently, we have no control whatever, and one administered under a system over which wc have complete control, and the profits accruing to this country from the mines of both islands are lumped together in one Vote—a very difficult situation. Reference has been made to the powers of the Administrator over criminal questions. I hope the Colonial Secretary will consider the question of making provision for these criminal questions to be dealt with in the same 1128 manner as other criminal matters are dealt with. You have the High Commissioner's Court, which deals with the questions of crime that arise and which are sent up by Commissions of First Instance. It seems to me, and I am sure it will be the opinion of the Committee, that you have no right to delegate these almost monarchical powers to one administrator, who is selected by a country which is in itself not the controlling authority, but which is merely an agent for the controlling authority, the controlling authority itself being responsible back to a supreme international body, in the Council of the League of Nations. I suggest to the Colonial Secretary that he should seriously consider whether he cannot manage to bring both the administrations of these two islands into line together.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
I happen to have been one of the three representatives of the British Government at the League of Nations which met at Geneva in 1922, when the whole subject which we have discussed to-night was brought up, and when the Australian Government, with the rest of the Governments represented at the League of Nations, took this matter into consideration. I think that the discussion was largely introduced by a society represented by the hon. Member for North Hackney (Mr. J. Harris). Accusations such as have been made by the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Black) were made at that meeting, and naturally for a time my sympathy was entirely with those who were making the accusations, because if there are atrocities inflicted upon the workmen employed it is the duty of every man to take them into consideration. The Australian Government were represented by Sir Joseph Cook, and another gentleman, whose name I do not for the moment remember, and at the moment they happened to represent a Labour Government. They resented with all the force at their command the accusations which they thrust back upon the accusers, and they made such statements as to convince the whole Council that the administration of Nauru by the Government of Australia had been traduced by people who did not understand the situation. Now, after two years, when improvements have admittedly been 1129 secured by the agitation that has been carried on, we hear the same old stale suggestions and accusations made against Australia—because it is Australia. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] The way in which they were resented by the Australian representatives at the League of Nations two years ago showed clearly that they looked upon it as something entirely personal to themselves.
§ Captain BERKELEY
May we make it quite plain that there is in no sense any accusation intended to be made by anyone in this party against the Australian Government, but that we merely draw attention to the manner in which these contracts have been entered into in China which has nothing to do with the Australian Government.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
It is the Australian Government at this Council of Geneva which took over the entire responsibility of contracts. The complete sovereignty of this island practically for five years was transferred to the single Dominion of Australia, solely because it was discovered—
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
I am using the wrong phrase, but the hon. Member understands what I mean. This arrangement to which reference has been made was come to because at first we were three equal authorities, but it was found impossible to conduct administration of the island with three sets of people, and so the agreement was arrived at by which the sole authority should be vested in one Dominion for five years, and in the next five years it is to go to New Zealand, and, I believe, that in the following five years it comes to this Parliament. It was because of the chaos that existed before that this new arrangements was arrived at. So that you are really attacking what has been decided as the result of some years' experience in the administration of the island. We may assume that Australia and the Australian Government are perfectly correct in considering every attack made on the administration of Nauru as an attack upon themselves. It is useless to burk the subject. When the Report of this Debate is published to-morrow, and the High Commissioner for Australia gets a copy of it, I warrant that the Colonial Office will be making all sorts of explanations of the speeches 1130 made by hon. Members opposite to-night [HON. MEMBERS: "And on the other side of the House!"] I do not care whether similar speeches have been made on this side of the House. It is perhaps only because hon. Members here do not understand it.
I can assure the Committee that the Australian Government will look upon an attack on the administration of Nauru as an attack upon themselves. And they are entitled to do so. Some six or seven years hence, the British Government will be responsible entirely for the administration of this island. Hon. Members would resent, I am sure, a positive and definite attack upon our administration by the Dominion Parliament of Australia. In these circumstances, it is essential for the smooth working of the interests between the Dominions and ourselves, that speakers who make these violent attacks upon the administration, because of an alleged want of humanity on the part of the administrators towards the people in the employ of, or under the control of, the Australian Government, should be careful to distinguish and to direct their remarks to the proper quarters. For some reasons I sympathise with the speech of the hon. Member for the Holland Division (Mr. Royce). It may be all right on an ordinary party platform to refer to the wages of the Chinamen, and to compare them with the wages of Englishmen in England Everybody knows, as a matter of fact, that the two things do not admit of comparison. It was well known, before any agitation began, that the Chinamen at Nauru were receiving four and five times as much in wages as they received in China. That is admitted. But the figure is nothing compared with the wages of our workmen here. At least, let us be fair to the Australian administration. It is grossly unfair to charge the Australian Government with being careless of the interest of the men in their employ.
It has been said that the men live in compounds. There was not a sufficient number of the natives of the island to work the mines or to do anything beyond the tilling of the land. With reference to the compounds, the Australian Government admitted that these men were under a certain amount of restraint, and they were, rightly so, because it is impossible to allow the ordinary coolie Chinaman 1131 to roam aimless and uncontrolled among the aborigine population. If you are bound to have Chinamen there to develop the mines or the phosphate deposits—which you can dispute if you like—it is a moral certainty you must have them controlled under such conditions that they are not a danger to the people around them. Therefore, there is nothing in the contentions which have been made, and I merely rose to say that, having heard the whole of this discussion at the League of Nations two years ago, I resent the aspersions that are being cast upon the Administrator, who is responsible to the Australian Government.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I am quite sure the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson) is pleased at the amount of interest which has been evidenced in this Debate, and I wish to ask hon. Members whether they are considering this matter from the business point of view or the moral point of view? If it is from the business point of view I shall give them some facts. The original capital has paid, and is paying to-day 6 per cent. after full provision for sinking fund. That is the first point. The second point is that the money with which we are dealing is surplus profit over and above the 6 per cent. My hon. Friend opposite is in error and I am correcting him by the definite statement that this money is not new money; it is not additional capital but is the surplus after 6 per cent. has been paid to the Government. What we are asking is that, instead of this surplus being handed to the Treasury, it should be put back into this fund, a course to which New Zealand and Australia have already agreed. I shall state briefly the purposes for which the money is being used. I have already explained that we have received our full interest, that all provision is made for sinking fund, and I now wish to explain the use to which the additional surplus is to be put. It is to be used, first, for the purchase of a steamer for conveying labourers and supplies, which will amount to about £60,000; second, for buildings and plant, including a store, light railways, locomotives and other machinery; third, for the purchase of the royalty rights of the German company which held the Nauru concession 1132 before it was made over to the Pacific Phosphate Co., amounting to 1s. per ton, the total for which is £148,000 and which has already been paid to the Public Trustee and is set off against reparations. Therefore, I want the Committee to observe the business side of it—6 per cent. on your money, full provision for sinking fund, this going to a capital appreciation to which New Zealand and Australia have already agreed.
§ Mr. THOMAS
For this reason: because New Zealand and Australia and we felt, as a sound business proposition, that if you are putting your surpluses back into a business, you have confidence in the business, and you reap the reward by the development of your business.
§ Mr. THOMAS
When the hon. Member says that, what more interest does he want than 6 per cent.? Secondly, is any hon. Member of this House going to get up and say that it is not a good thing that at least 1 per cent. of the phosphates of the world should be in the British Empire? Is that a bad thing? That is what is secured by the Vote we are now taking. The third point I want to come to is that of the Chinese labour. I know the political virtue that has been extracted out of this subject too well to make any mistake, so far as our party is concerned. Therefore, I first want to observe that I guard myself against accepting the strictures against Australia. I would be making a profound mistake if I attempted to do it, and I am not going to accept it. All I am going to do is to say that everything that has been said in this Debate shall be communicated to the Australian Government, but it must not be taken that I accept it as accurate in any degree. That would be unfair. While it is true that I need not take that course, while it is true that an appeal under the Mandate could be made to the League of Nations, and I could quite legitimately ignore the whole situation, the relationship between the Dominions and ourselves is such that we need not treat each other as enemies, and I certainly do not propose to do so. 1133 If there is a complaint, they will be as ready to consider it as we would be if they made it to us, and it is only in that sense that the communication will be made.
I must, however, correct the statement with regard to the wives. It is not true, as has been alleged, that no provision is made for the wives; but the Chinamen, for reasons of their own, have no desire to bring them. With regard to their agreement, it is not made in China: it is made in Nauru. With regard to the remarks that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Nottingham (Captain Berkeley) made as to the difference between the two islands, I can hardly take him seriously. Either he did know that one was a mandate and the other a Colony—
§ Mr. THOMAS
Then if he knew that, he must have known that that is the exact difference in the Government, and therefore, when my hon. and gallant Friend asks. "Why lump it into one Vote?" he knows very well why it is lumped into one Vote. It is not because we are asking the House of Commons for money for the Government of this place. We are not asking the House of Commons for a copper. We are merely asking the House of Commons to sanction the surplus profits that I have already mentioned going back into the business that has already proved satisfactory.
§ Captain BERKELEY
That is the whole point of my objection. The House is voting surplus profits, which would otherwise have gone to the Exchequer, back into the business again. In the case of the one business, we can exercise a supervisory control, but in the case of the other, according to the right hon. Gentleman, we cannot exercise any supervisory control whatever.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I have made it perfectly clear that, so far as my evidence goes, Australia is as anxious to do the right thing as we are. I again repeat that I will communicate the statements made to Australia in the spirit I have already 1134 indicated. I ask the House to grant this Vote on the following grounds. Firstly, that it is a good sound commercial business proposition, and a very successful one: secondly, that it will be a mistake to lose this important fertiliser: thirdly, that Australia and New Zealand are getting their share in what we are entitled to; and fourthly, because the business will prosper as a result of this money being retained.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I do not want to go too technically into it. I could do so. The British farmer has experienced difficulty in this matter, and we are hoping that he may be helped. That is why we do not want, to lose control of this matter
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
The purposes for which this money is being asked may be, and I think probably are, sound and excellent, and I have no sympathy with the criticisms that have been made upon the Australian Government. But as a Supplementary Estimate presented to Parliament, I can hardly conceive anything more faulty. It is really such as to make the ghosts of Gladstone and Sir W. Harcourt rise out of their graves. I am rather sorry for the Colonial Secretary, because I have my doubts as to whether he ought to be presenting this Estimate at all. If the Government thinks it well to make an advance without interest and without any prospect of repayment, or any security for repayment, that should be put forward by the Secretary to the Treasury. At any rate, for part of this money the Colonial Secretary cannot be responsible. In so far as it goes to Ocean Island, he might be, and if there were strictures on the Government of Ocean Island he would have to answer for the administrator of the Western Pacific; but in so far as this grant goes to Nauru, the Australian Government is for the time being in absolute responsibility, and it would be most improper for the Colonial Secretary to accept any responsibility for the actions of the Australian Government. Unfortunately, however, the whole sum is lumped into one, and 1135 we cannot tell how much of it goes to Ocean Island and how much to Nauru, and I think the stricture of the hon. Member for Central Nottingham (Captain Berkeley) is a perfectly fair one. We vote this £106,000 on the basis of accounts that were closed some 21 months ago, but although the accounts were closed then, we have not got them. We have not got any balance at all. I do not quite understand about the 21 months. From when and to when do they run? He said this sum represented the profits for a period made up of two years or parts of years making 21 months in all. I cannot understand what the 21 months are. Are they 21 months beginning September, 1920, and ending June, 1922? That has not been brought out, and I think it should be brought out.
§ Mr. HOPE
Are they for one year? The right hon. Gentleman gave two distinct figures, making up the £106,000 in all. I come to another point. He says that these are made up of surpluses of two distinct years. It may be one thing to have a surplus, but are they true profits? I understand the surplus is arrived at by the difference between what is receipts and what is called the course as defined in the agreement of 1920. That is purely an arbitrary figure, and includes the administration cost of the island. Of that we have no particulars. No commercial auditor would pass an account like this on the figures given by the right hon. Gentleman. Before we sanction this we should have more information on the point. In the development of this island, interest should be debited and recorded so that we may get it if the business proves to be a success. The 6 per cent. only applies to the original capital, and there is no mention of 6 per cent. due in this case and no mention of the repayment of capital. If this business is so sure of success and is based upon so firm a foundation why cannot the Administrator go into the money market and get a loan in the ordinary way. Why should 1136 we have the necessity of putting back this money without any security for the return on capital?
§ Mr. THOMAS
My hon. Friend must be in error. The figures, I have just ascertained, are to July, two years to July. When you say why not go on the amounts. I have explained that Australia has agreed to put their amounts in. If we refuse this Vote, the only difference would be to remove the 42, 42, and 16, and transfer whatever is the relative value of our 42 to Australia and New Zealand. Would you desire that?
§ Mr. HOPE
The only answer I would give is that it is bad business from our point of view and that of Australia and New Zealand We should ask about this £106,000 as a Supplementary Estimate. The right hon. Gentleman says that we shall have the amount in three or four months. He cannot want all this money in the course of the present month. This Amendment proposes to give him £26,000. That is surely enough to show the good will of this House, and it is surely more than he can want in the course of the present financial year. I suggest he should accept this Amendment, be content with his £26,000, and bring his balance at a time when he can have the whole figures, and the House can judge whether the expenditure is justified or wasted. I trust he will accede to that. If he does not, I am afraid we shall have to go to a Division.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I do hope my hon. Friend will not press this reduction to a Division. After all, it was the late Government, on the representation of the Australian Commissioner and the New Zealand Commissioner, who urged that we should put this money back into the business. I do think it would be extraordinarily misinterpreted in the Dominions if any such vote was given by the Unionist party. I am the person who knows probably more about the whole story than anyone else, and I have been rising the whole of the evening to take part in the Debate, and have been unable to catch the Chairman's eye. If I had had time to go into the whole story of this Estimate and into the whole of the circumstances of Nauru and Ocean Island, I think a great many rather unfortunate speeches which have been delivered in this Debate, and which will be heard out-side 1137 side these walls, need never have been delivered, and some explanation could have been given.
I profoundly regret that my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary did not make a fuller explanation at the very outset of the Vote. In the position I was in this House, from the very beginning when this agreement was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and signed by him in July, 1919, in Paris, I knew of it, and when it came to the House I moved the rejection of the agreement. I say I profoundly regret that the British taxpayers' money—and I still regret it—ever went into this business. Having been in, it was my duty last year under the late Secretary of State for the Colonies to enter into negotiations with the Australian and New Zealand Governments both in regard to the business side of it, and in regard to regularising questions that have been raised at the permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, and I represented the British Empire on that Commission. I had a great deal of personal reason to go into the whole matter. It was regularised and straightened out the following year. I submit that on this occasion it is the desire that if Parliament, contrary to my advice, did ratify and did approve of the Nauru Agreement, signed by the right hon. Gentleman I have mentioned, Mr. Hughes—as Parliament decided that, and embodied the Agreement in a Statute—we have no option, unless we legislate first, but to abide by that Agreement. What is that Agreement? It says that
§ the Commissioners shall decide by a majority. In the course of last year the majority of shareholders, that is to say, the Australian and New Zealand Commission, who are much closer to Nauru than our Commissioner who is in London, decided that, for the purpose of carrying on the business more efficiently, ay! and more economically, and with a view to reducing the cost, it was desirable that more capital should be put into the business. The only way to raise that capital is for the various shareholders, namely, the British Government and New Zealand Government, to put more capital in—
§ Mr. THOMAS
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but the Chairman withheld his assent and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
If the right hon. Gentleman wants his Vote now, and I have a good deal to say—[HON. MEMBERS: "Go on!"]—I think it is extremely unfair that the right hon. Gentleman, who knows that I am more concerned in this than any man, should be deprived of the chance of saying some-thing. I understand it is the wish of the House—
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 211; Noes, 97.1139
|Division No. 12.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Falconer, J.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Finney, V. H.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Cape, Thomas||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)|
|Alexander, Brg.-Gen. Sir W. (Glas. C.)||Chapple, Dr. William A.||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)|
|Alstead, R.||Church, Major A. G.||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Clarke, A.||Gillett, George M.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Climie, R.||Gorman, William|
|Ayles, W. H.||Cluse, W. S.||Gosling, Harry|
|Baker, W. J.||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)|
|Banton, G.||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Barnes, A.||Compton, Joseph||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Comyns-Carr, A. S.||Gray, Frank (Oxford)|
|Batey, Joseph||Costello, L. W. J.||Greenall, T.|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Cove, W. G.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Black, J. W.||Crittall, V. G.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, pontypool)|
|Bonwick, A.||Dickson, T.||Grundy, T. W.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Dodds, S. R.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)|
|Broad, F. A.||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Dukes, C.||Hardle, George D.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Duncan, C.||Harney, E. A.|
|Brunner, Sir J.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Harris, John (Hackney, North)|
|Buchanan, G.||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Harris, Percy A.|
|Buckle, J.||Egan, W. H.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon|
|Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Hastings, Sir Patrick||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Haycock, A. W.||Maxton, James||Stranger, Innes Harold|
|Hayday, Arthur||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Sullivan, J.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Middleton, G.||Sunlight, J.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A.||Mond, H.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Montague, Frederick||Tattersall, J. L.|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middlesex, Enfld.)||Morel, E. D.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)|
|Hobhouse, A. L.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Thomson, Walter T. (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Morse, W. E.||Thornton, Maxwell R.|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Moulton, Major Fletcher||Thurtle, E.|
|Howard, Hon. G. (Bedford, Luton)||Murray, Robert||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hudson, J. H.||Naylor, T. E.||Tout, W. J.|
|Isaacs, G. A.||O'Grady, Captain James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)||Turner, Ben|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Owen, Major G.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Jewson, Dorothea||Paling, W.||Varley, Frank B.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Palmer, E. T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Vivian, H.|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Phillipps, Vivian||Ward, G. (Leicester, Bosworth)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Potts, John S.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Raffan, P. W.||Warne, G. H.|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Raffety, F. W.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Kedward, R. M.||Rea, W. Russell||Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Keens, T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Lansbury, George||Ritson, J.||Weir, L. M.|
|Laverack, F. J.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Westwood, J.|
|Leach, W.||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Lee, F.||Royce, William Stapleton||Williams, A. (York, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Lessing, E.||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Linfield, F. C.||Scurr, John||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Livingstone, A. M.||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)||Williams, Lt -Col. T. S. B. (Kennington)|
|Loverseed, J. F.||Sexton, James||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Lowth, T.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Windsor, Walter|
|Lunn, William||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|McCrae, Sir George||Simon, E. D. (Manchester, Withingtn.)||Woodwark, Lieut.-Colonel G. G.|
|M'Entee, V. L.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Wright, W.|
|Mackinder, W.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Madan, H.||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Mansel, Sir Courtenay||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|March, S.||Snell, Harry||Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Frederick|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.||Hall.|
|Marley, James||Spence, R.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Elveden, Viscount||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||FitzRoy, Captain Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Remer, J. R.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gretton, Colonel John||Ropner, Major L.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Becker, Harry||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Savery, S. S.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Herbert, Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Stanley, Lord|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Burman, J. B.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Sutcliffe, T.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hope, Rt. Hon. J. F. (Sheffield, C.)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Huntingfield, Lord||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hiffe, Sir Edward M.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Jephcott, A. R.||Weston, John Wakefield|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Wheler, Lieut. Col. Granville C. H.|
|Cope, Major William||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Lamb, J. Q.||Wise, Sir Frederic|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry Page||McLean, Major A.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph Nall and|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mr. Ormsby-Gore.|
|Ednam, Viscount||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
Resolution agreed to.
§ Question, "That Item K be reduced by £80,000," put accordingly, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ It being after Eleven of the clock and objection being taken to Further Proceeding, the Chairman proceeded to interrupt the business.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Do I understand that the Minister in charge means to prevent further discussion? [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"]
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.