§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Ronald McNeill)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
In moving the Second Reading of this Bill, I hope that it will not be necessary for me to make any great demand upon the patience of the House. It is a Bill which has been the unfortunate victim of delay after delay, due to no want of merits of its own, but to political vicissitudes in this country in which it has played no part itself. The decision, under circumstances which I will tell the House in a moment or two, to use the balance of the Boxer Indemnity in China for purposes other than those for which it was originally intended was arrived at in the latter part of 1922. It was not at first quite certain whether legislation would be required in order to carry out the purpose in view, but, on investigation, it appeared that it was necessary to bring in a Bill in this House, and that was done during the Session of 1923. But it had not gone very far—in fact, I believe, it had only been introduced into this House—when the General Election of that year occurred, and, of course, the Bill thereupon died a natural death. Then, when hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite came into power, they re-introduced the Bill, I think without alteration, and it was read a Second time in this House on 26th May last year. It then went to a Standing Committee upstairs and passed through the Committee stage. Therefore, it was within a very moderate distance of becoming law, especially as there was no strong opposition in any quarter, when again its fortunes were destroyed, this time by the General Election of last Autumn.
The Bill which I am now asking the House to read a Second time is word for word identical with the Bill as it emerged from Committee in the last Parliament. I want to say why it is necessary to carry this Bill at all and why these proposals have been made. I think I can tell the House that in a very few words. I need not go back to the Boxer 282 Rebellion and the imposition of an indemnity shared among all the great European Power and Japan and America at that time. When the Great War occurred the whole situation was very much altered, because China, instead of 'being an enemy to be punished or chastised, became an ally in the War. Therefore, it was quite natural that she should have been regarded in a very different light from that in which she had been regarded before. The War had further effects than changing the view which some of us held about China. To begin with, Germany and Austria were naturally eliminated, because their right to a share in the indemnity was forfeited in so far as they were defeated by the Allies, of which China, was one. Then the payments which had been made to Russia ceased. France, Japan, and the United States of America all intimated their readiness to deal with this new state of affairs by changing the objects for which this money was exacted. Naturally, we wanted not merely not to be behindhand, but really to take the lead in a move of this sort. Therefore, there was something like a consensus of (opinion among the Powers who had been exacting this indemnity either to remit it altogether, or, as we preferred, thinking it the wiser course, to apply it to objects which might be for the benefit of China as well as of this country.
When the Bill was under discussion in the House in the last Parliament and it was in charge of my hon. Friend and predecessor in my present office (Mr. Ponsonby), there was only one point, so far as I recollect, upon which there could be said to have been anything like real contention. The principle of the Bill, I think, has been accepted by all parties. The fact that it was originally introduced by a Conservative Government, was re-introduced in identical terms by a Labour Government, has now been re-introduced by another Conservative Government, and, so far as I recollect, has never met with any opposition, at any rate in principle, from any Member of the Liberal party, would seem to indicate that it is, in principle at all events, an agreed Measure. The one point upon which there was some contention was in regard to the statement of the objects to which the money is to be devoted, and I observe that an Amendment has been put down in the names of 283 three hon. Gentlemen opposite, who express their wish to throw out the Bill on Second Reading for the reason that there are not sufficient guarantees that the money will be devoted primarily to educational purposes. They therefore are apparently moving the rejection of this Bill on Second Reading. I do not think, however, that hon. Members who are prepared to take that course quite appreciate what the effect would be if they were successful in preventing this Bill being read a Second time. Certainly the object would not be as they allege for their opposition—to secure that this money should be devoted to educational objects. The only effect would be that there could be no alteration made at all in the existing destination of the money which would, under the Finance Act of 1906 or thereabouts, be retained, and it would be a denial on the part of this country of what, I think, we may call a generous or at all events a liberal movement to devote this money, instead of using it for our own purpose, for educational, cultural, or any other benevolent purposes for the benefit of China as well as of this country. That is what the effect would be if they are successful in securing the rejection of the Second Reading.
I venture, therefore, to appeal to those hon. Members to reserve their criticism on that point until the Bill comes into Committee, when—I quite admit—it would be very reasonable and legitimate subject for discussion. It appears to me to be somewhat—I will not say inconsistent—but at all events significant that this particular proposal to reject the Bill for the reason given should come from the benches opposite when I remember what happened on a former occasion. As the Bill was introduced by my hon. Friend opposite there was very much less provision than now for securing that the, money should be devoted to educational purposes: As the Bill was introduced by my hon. Friend, or the Government to which he belonged, it was simply for such purposes as the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs might determine. There was nothing said about education one way or another. If there is any credit for having amended the Bill and made it a little more precise in that direction, I can claim that credit myself, because when the Bill was in Committee I moved an 284 Amendment, the object of which was to specify a little more clearly that the purposes for which the money was intended were "educational or similar purposes," and, although my hon. Friend did not accept the terms of the Amendment which I proposed, he did accept the principle of it and put in the words which now appear in the Bill and which I suggest to the House are amply sufficient for the purpose that hon. Members opposite have in view,shall, subject to the provisions of this Section be applied to such educational or other purposes which are in the opinion of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs beneficial to the mutual interests of His Majesty and of the Republic of China.I was also successful when the Bill was in Committee in getting a Statutory Advisory Committee to advise the Secretary of State as to the objects to which this money should be devoted. As a further safeguard—because some of us feel that to give absolute and complete discretion to a single official, even though he be so exalted an official as the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, is placing too large a responsibility upon one pair of shoulders—and in order to get a wise schedule of objects for which this money might be used, it was better that there should be an Advisory Committee. My hon. Friend consequently accepted that proposal, and the Bill as it now stands was amended in these particulars: firstly having a Statutory Advisory Committee in the Bill and, secondly, that the object there should be described as "educational or other purposes."
The whole of the discussion, I imagine, so far as this point is concerned, will centre around those few words "or other purposes." I know there are some hon. Members who prefer that the project should be tied down rigidly to educational purposes in China. I myself was rather inclined to take that opinion at one time but I am not sure at all that I was right. After all, in a matter of this concern it seems to me to be very desirable to have a certain amount of latitude. There may be medical purposes which would be extremely beneficial to China, either started or endowed—as the case may be—and other things of that sort, which might not strictly come within the terms of the word "educational," if the word appeared in the Statute without any elasticity. The interpretation of "educa- 285 tional or other purposes" really, to my mind, means that the object must be something in the nature of educational, or, at all events, it must be something which is not absolutely divergent from the main idea. Therefore I do earnestly hope that the words which are in the Bill as it now stands may be retained. Whether that be so or not, I suggest that the point is one which ought obviously to be discussed in Committee, and that it is no justification, whatever the opinion may be that is taken on that point, for refusing to give a Second Reading to the Bill and thereby throwing back the whole question, in view of the years in which it has been held out to those interested in China, that the Government was about to take this step. For the reasons I have described it has been unfortunately delayed all this time until, I think, some suspicion has been raised in the East as to the bona fides and sincerity of the Government. The fact that the Bill was thrown out because of one General Election and that the same thing happened the next year, is rather difficult perhaps to get people in the East quite to appreciate, or why the Bill has not been put forward for a long time. I do not think that the hon. Members, because they differ from the terms of the Bill in one particular point of the sort mentioned, have any justification for refusing leave to carry out this policy. Therefore, in the hope that it will not be thought necessary to prolong discussion at the present stage and that hon. Members will allow the Bill to be read a Second time, I have great pleasure in moving.
§ Mr. PONSONBY
My right hon. Friend has explained to the House the very peculiar circumstances in which this Bill, which really is an agreed Bill, has so far been prevented from reaching the Statute Book. In 1923 it was drafted by the Conservative Government of that day, introduced, and we took it over in embryonic form, and it was passed through Second Reading, and Committee stage. It was, as the right hon. Gentleman has just explained, only the General Election which prevented it going to Third Reading. It is again introduced by the Government substantially—I quite agree with my right hon. Friend—the same Bill. The present Government certainly had the opportunity of carrying this Bill through in a very few days without a 286 murmur and placing it on the Statute Book in the first few weeks of the Session, It was unfortunate they did not take that opportunity, because nobody can say that there was the smallest disagreement as to the principle on which this Bill is founded.
Let me draw the attention of the House to what has occurred, to a matter to which my right hon. Friend has not referred, and which, as a matter of fact, has altered very much our view as to the motive underlying this Measure. In bringing this Bill before the House last year the Committee formed became a Statutory Committee, and we approached certain gentlemen and asked them to serve on that Committee. I acknowledge that I said on more than one occasion that the words "educational or other purposes" might well be left in the Bill, in view of the fact that our choice was of such a character that we could rely upon those who served on the Committee seeing that the educational purposes were carried out and the objects of the Bill furthered as we wished them to be.
In making our choice we wanted men of academic distinction. We wanted men who could be relied upon to see that the educational purposes would be carried out. We also wanted men who knew China, and were sympathetic to the Chinese. Our choice, therefore, fell on Mr. Bertrand Russell and Mr. Lowes Dickinson. My right hon. Friend who was at that. time Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs approached these two gentlemen and invited them to sit on the Committee and they accepted the invitation. These two men were thought to fill all qualifications necessary. I do not want to ask the House to accept my opinion in regard to their qualifications on this point. But I would ask the House to accept the opinion of Dr. T'sai, who is Chancellor of the National University at Pekin, and ex-Minister of Education in China. Writing from the Chinese Legation in Brussels in January, he says:Men like Mr. Russell and Mr. Dickinson would be especially welcomed on the Committee, and, as I remember, when the suggestion of inviting Mr. Russell and Mr. Dickinson to the prospective Committee by the late British Government reached China, there was an enthusiastic approval all over the country. Mr. Russell spent one year, 1921, in China, mostly lecturing as a pro- 287 fessor in Peking University. He enjoyed a rare experience, and his addresses and lectures were astonishingly and highly appreciated. His publications and Mr. Dickinson's book on Eastern civilisation are, in China, universally esteemed and partly translated into the Chinese language. That Mr. Russell and Mr. Dickinson would be cordially welcomed by the Chinese people, especially in the capacity of advisers about their education is obvious.That shows without any doubt that the choice made by my right hon. Friend was a good one. Surely it is a very unusual thing for a Government to take the trouble to reverse a decision with regard to appointments to a Committee as one of their first acts on coming into office, knowing that it would draw a good deal of attention to the question. By the reversal of the decision of their predecessors and by dismissing these two gentlemen from the Committee, they have acted in a way which was personally offensive to the individuals in question and a public disparagement of the choice of the Labour party, and I daresay it was intended to be that. It was a form of discourtesy which was unusual and unnecessary, and it has left the impression that the educational purposes to which we attach so much importance are to be subordinated to commercial interests, on behalf of which there is no lack of pressure, as I know from conducting the business last year. Again, however, I do not want the House to accept my opinion on this point. I will again refer to that prominent Chinese gentleman who was Chancellor of the University of Pekin. He says:Personally I regard it, and undoubtedly all of our educationalists would regard it. as the initiative and indicative of changing the proposal to devote the indemnity to real educational purposes, beneficial to the mutual interest of the two countries, and thereby of lessening the original generous motive of the British nation in rendering a valuable service to the Chinese.When my right hon. Friend talks of a growing scepticism as to the country's bon[...]fides, I agree, but it is not the question of delay, it is the reversal of the decision that we came to that has created suspicion, and, to my mind, has spoiled the purely disinterested motive which existed in the Bill as it was introduced and with the Committee that we had appointed behind it. There can be no question that we desired this money to be spent for 288 educational purposes, and there can be no doubt now, after the quotation I have given to the House, and the opinions that many Members may have seen elsewhere, that there is a suspicion as to whether this is the main object which the present Government have in view. Why should they have dismissed these two gentlemen in this peremptory way from the Committee? It is because of that that my hon. Friends behind me desire to make a protest by moving a reasoned rejection of this Bill. Their action will not be misinterpreted in any way in China, because we showed last year what our intentions were. We have shown clearly our bon[...]fides in the matter. If they move this Amendment and if there is a Division on it, there will be no misunderstanding with regard to the motives of the Labour Government and the attitude of the Labour opposition. It will be noted merely as a protest against this unprecedented action on the part of His Majesty's Government and as a demand that this money is to be spent primarily on educational purposes.
§ Mr. STUART
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down I should like to ask him if he intends the House to take it for granted that the Chinese gentleman to whom he has referred represents the whole of public opinion in China.
§ Mr. PONSONBY
I can hardly think the opinion of the Chancellor of the Pekin University and ex-Minister of Education can be disregarded lightly, and I should say that it was very representative of a very large body of opinion in China.
§ Captain BRASS
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has complained because the Government have altered, or are proposing to alter, the Committee which is to be set up under this Bill. He has already admitted that that Committee was a packed Committee, and that it was going to use this money, which the Bill says is to be used for educational and other purposes, entirely for educational purposes and not for any other purposes at all. I see no reason why this money, which is money which has been actually expended by the taxpayers of this country, should be spent entirely for educational purposes. The Bill intends this money to be spent upon something which is to be mutually beneficial to this 289 country and to China. We are trying to follow the example of the United States of America in our generosity and magnanimity, but every now and then we seem to forget that the people of this country are over taxed at the present time, and that this £400,000 a year which is coming in might be used for other purposes than educating 'Chinese in China. I would like to ask my right hon. Friend how many of the 436,000,000 Chinese he is thinking of educating with £400,000 a year; what type of Chinaman he proposes to educate; and in what way he is going to educate them? Personally I think there would be a good deal of backing in China for this money to 'be expended in a different way—a way which would be more beneficial to the Chinese than trying to educate some of the more educated Chinese people. If we could use this money to develop some of the railways, roads and canals in China we should do far better than educating Chinese. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Naturally there are jeers from hon. Members opposite. Possibly they are not aware of the size of China. China measures 4,000,000 square miles, and in China they have only 7,000 miles of railway serving 436,000,000 people. They have famines in China very often because they are not able to get food from one place to another, and some of the Chinese very often die of starvation.
I think the Chinese would be more grateful to us if we spent some of this money, which is really our money, he it remembered, in trying to develop the lines of communication in China than in trying to educate some of the more educated Chinese. If we did that we should be able, not only to help the Chinese but to help ourselves in this country, at a time when we have a large number of unemployed. If the £400,000 a year were capitalised in China we could raise a loan. the Chinese could raise a loan of some £8,000,000 in China, which would be very valuable to extend railways over there. I feel quite certain we should do a great deal more for the Chinese if we did that than we can do by allocating the money entirely to education. I am not going to oppose the Second' Reading of the Bill, because I feel that any Amendment on those lines should be put down in Committee, but I think we should consider carefully what we are going to do with this money, remembering 290 that we are very much over-taxed in this country. I am not suggesting that we should keep the money, although I dare' say a lot of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House would agree that it would be far better to use the money, which is really our money, for the Exchequer in the ordinary way. I think my right hon. Friend would be well-advised to consider very carefully how this money should be spent, and see whether the Bill could not be put back into the form in which it originally was, instead of indicating that the money is to be spent absolutely and entirely for educational purposes.
§ Mr. JAMES HUDSON
I beg to move to leave out from the word "That", to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsThis House, not being satisfied that there are adequate guarantees for the money to be administered by the committee under the China Indemnity (Application) Bill being devoted primarily to educational purposes, declines to give a Second leading to the Bill.The hon. and gallant Member for Clitheroe (Captain Brass) has shown that in the minds of some Members there is a definite intention, if the opportunity presents itself, to spend this money not at all upon education, but upon such purposes as the laying down of railways, and so on. Had that statement not been made so emphatically, I should have had to spend some little time to try to show that that really is the intention of a considerable number of influential people in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I suggest to hon. Members who put that question to me that they ought to ask their leaders on the Front Bench why it is that year after year until 1945, £400,000—I do not describe it as our money; it is not our money—
§ Mr. HUDSON
It is money that is collected under an international agreement, it is true; but in consideration of the fact, as the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has reminded us. that the Chinese took a certain part during the War as our Allies, it has been agreed that henceforth that money shall not be collected from the Chinese for our sole 291 use—it is Chinese money. In any case, the question I am putting to hon. Members is: Why continue to allow China to spend £400,000 on her own purposes, or on purposes that partly meet her needs, when, as the hon. and gallant Member for Clitheroe reminds us, there is so much that might be done in this country—so many unemployed, and so many constructive pieces of work to be carried through 7 That is not a question for the hon. and gallant Member opposite to put to this side: it is a matter for him to take up with his own Front Bench.
I suggest to the hon. and gallant Member for Clitheroe, and those who agree with him, that the real reason why this year the Conservative Front Bench and last year the Labour Front Bench decided to use this money for purposes that would be beneficial to China, even though they might be beneficial to us as well, was because it is now realised on all sides of the House—at any rate, in the responsible quarters of the House—that China has become an adult nation, that China must be treated as an equal, that if there are to be adequate opportunities for Britain (thinking of its own interest in the future) to enter into effective arrangements that are going to help China and help ourselves, they can only come on the basis of treating China as an equal with ourselves. If we were not prepared to admit that, the findings of the Washington Conference with regard to China encourage people in that country to-day to look upon themselves in a vastly different light from that in which, I am afraid, some hon. Members opposite look upon China. The fact, too, that, with regard to this indemnity, America has treated them in a comparatively generous way, compels us to alter our attitude. For some years past the Americans have foregone the money that otherwise would have been paid to them under the terms of the indemnity. I agree that the Americans, having spent so wisely on educational effort, some of the results have gone for the benefits of American trade. It has been said that students trained in China with the help of money that the Americans have foregone have ultimately gone across to America, continued their training there still with the help of the same money, and have finally gone back 292 to China as commercial emissaries of American industry. But America has gone a great deal further than that. She has set up a Committee consisting of 15 persons, 10 of whom are Chinese, five of whom are American. Those five Americans are exceedingly distinguished men in the world of education. One of them is Professor Dewey, and another is Dr. P. Monroe, both of whom can be depended upon to look upon the problem of education not merely from the mercantile point of view, but in its widest humanitarian aspect.
That is what America has done. She is willing that such money as she formerly had control of should be spent under the advice of a Committee largely Chinese and for the rest consisting of distinguished intellectual leaders in American opinion. Curiously enough Russia, which was referred to by the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, seems to have been able to set us an example in this matter. It has been decided by Russia that a Committee shall be set up to supervise the expenditure of the money over which formerly that country had control, the Committee to consist of three persons, two of whom are to be Chinese and the third a Russian. I know it may be said that a regulation is laid down that tilt: decisions of that Committee shall be unanimous before action can be taken, but I do not know that that very much differentiates the Russian procedure from the procedure suggested in this Measure. After all, our Committee, with its ten representatives, is only an Advisory Committee, and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs acting as a single individual has the final right of veto, as the single Russian representative might have on a similar Committee. That is the position regarding the development that has been made in the ideas both of this country and of other countries.
I come now to trace the opposite tendencies, the proposal backed up this afternoon by the hon. and gallant Member for Clitheroe, that the money should be spent for commercial ends. We are told that the 6,000 miles of railway in China now are not sufficient. How many more miles of railway can you construct if you spend the whole of this money? Two thousand miles at the most. The £400,000 a year capitalised would make, not £8,000,000 as is suggested, but possi- 293 bly £10,000,000 or £11,000,000, and that would provide 2,000 miles of railway. That being the position, you cannot pretend that by a proposal of that kind you are going to do something which will bring benefit to all the homes of the 400,000,000 people in China. What hon. Members are thinking about, I suggest, is the benefit that can be obtained by a comparatively small class, and I am afraid that that class is not in China but is to be found wholly in this country.
There was an interesting statement made recently by a distinguished Chinese military leader, Marshal Tuan Chi-jui, who said that it might be possible to use the money for the purposes of education and it might be possible indeed to develop village schools, but that in order to get the village schools it would be necessary to get railways completed and to provide the means of people getting into the schools. There is the practical point of view expressed by Marshal Wu-pei-fu last year, who also suggested that the money should be used for railway purposes. But I see from other Chinese opinions that what has happened in this regard has been this: the Chinese military leaders have in the past obtained grants for the making of railways. They have run the railways in as economical a way as possible, disregarding all margins of safety, having accidents on the railways, with rolling stock and tracks inefficient, and making out of the grants they have received sufficient in profits to pay their soldiers, and. through their paid soldiers to continue that anarchy which hon. Members opposite so often profess to despise. The granting of money for railways, in fact, instead of helping China on to its feet., if the grant be made in connection with some of the military leaders of China, may actually make the present confusion worse confounded.
There is not only that difficulty which we have to face regarding expenditure of this kind. Unfortunately for us, the Chinese have a different idea of our commercial expenditure than, perhaps, we have. Hon. Members think with great pride of what we have done in China, but the Chinese have known all along what the Commission of the Shanghai Municipal Council reported not very long ago regarding some of our commercial undertakings in China. I see that upon that Commission one of the representa- 294 tives was Dame Adelaide Anderson, who is suggested as one of the representatives of the Committee which is to be engaged in supervising the expenditure provided for under this Bill. The Commission brought to light such facts that it was necessary for them to recommend that child labour under 10 years of age in factories be abolished. More than that, it stated that if that provision were carried out, 50,000 children in Shanghai would be affected. They discovered that children of five years were engaged in brushing silk and that children of the same age were employed in match factories, working for the equivalent of a penny per day or less. Our commercial relations with China, then, have not been of the happiest. It is because we to-day suspect that this Committee is likely to use the money, not for educational purposes, but for railways in backing up other commercial enterprises, that we feel we cannot accept the Measure in its present. form; at any rate, we cannot accept it unless some undertaking be given that the Committee which supervise the process is a very much more satisfactory Committee than that at present outlined.
Let me indicate what will be the nature of the Committee, as far as one can see from the reports in the Press and in other quarters. The Committee is to consist of 10 persons. It has already been announced in the House of Commons that the place of Mr. Bertrand Russell or of Mr. Lowes Dickinson will be taken by Professor Soothill, of Oxford. We have no criticism to make of Professor Soothill, who is a very distinguished scholar. He has given very earnest service on the mission field of China, ultimately becoming, I believe, the Chancellor of a University. But Professor Soothill's work has been mainly in connection with what might be called missionary education. Unfortunately the Chinese do not look upon missionary education in quite the same way as we look upon it. Indeed, I saw in a statement made by Mr. 'Leung Koo, who is the Oriental Travelling Secretary of the Students' Christian Movement, in a speech in Manchester shortly before Christmas the following:There has been some talk of missionary educational institutions in China applying for the Fund when it is returned to China. Chinese opinion is wholly against that. We 295 hope the mission will not apply for the money.I do not believe that if Professor Soot-hill were left to his own devices he would desire the money to be used entirely for missionary purposes. But clearly there is a suspicion in China that by displacing Mr. Bertrand Russell and electing Professor Soothill you are going to have the money spent in a way that will not altogether meet with the approval of the Chinese people. If that be the case, you are failing in the main purpose that you have set before yourselves in foregoing this £400,000 a year that would otherwise have been available if this Measure had not been passed. I see that Professor Giles, another distinguished Chinese scholar, of Cambridge University—I suppose we can regard him as the natural opponent, as far as the Universities are concerned, of Professor Soothill£made the statement recently, in a discussion with Chinese students at Cambridge, that he was entirely opposed to the spending of the money for what might be described as Christian purposes. Professor Giles probably felt the necessity of saying that because of the action that the Government has taken. I believe that unless you can get back on to the Committee men of intellectual eminence who are free from particular interests in the way that Mr. Bertrand Russell and Mr. Lowes Dickinson were, you cannot expect to succeed with the Chinese in the main purposes that you are pursuing.
May I draw the attention of the House to the general complexion of the Committee as it now stands? I understand that there are three official representatives from the public Departments. But one of them, Sir John Jordan, strictly speaking, is no longer a public representative; he is as much concerned with private interests as other directors of private companies whose names I discover on that Committee. I see that Sir John Jordan is a director of a Chinese-Indian company, and naturally he will look at the problem from the point of view of the company of which he is a director. Sir John Jordan, not very long after the Conservative Government came into power, found it to be within his duty to make a speech violently praising the Conservative Government and drawing attention to the fact that the 296 Russians had humiliated themselves, had brought themselves down to the level of the Chinese, and were nothing more than equal with the Chinese in the Russo-Chinese-Treaty that was recently signed. How, then, can the Chinese 5.00 P.M. themselves, when they hear of Sir John Jordan making speeches of that kind, expect him to look at the problem from their point of view, and try to guarantee effective education from the Chinese point of view '? I see there is also included in the Committee Sir Charles Stewart Addis, and, looking at his record, I discover that he is a director of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, a director of the British Indian Steam Navigation Company, a director of the Eastern Telegraph Company, a director of the British and Chinese Corporation, a director of the Chinese Central Railways, and chairman of the London committee of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. Do you imagine the Chinese, reading the qualifications of these gentlemen, are going to put the same estimate upon their capacity to deal with China as some hon. Gentlemen opposite have done? Our criticism is that, though you propose to spend £400,000 mainly upon education in China, the Committee you have set up is entirely incapable of giving an unprejudiced view regarding Chinese education, and until there can be included upon it men of eminence, impartial men, in the sense that Mr. Bertrand Russell and Mr. Lowes Dickinson are. I do not believe you can expect any effective results from the giving up of this very large sum of money.
§ Mr. LOOKER
I should like, at the outset of the remarks I have to make, to say a few words in reference to what has just fallen from the opposite benches with regard to Sir John Jordan and Sir Charles Addis, and to assure my hon. Friends opposite that Sir John Jordan has a long and an honourable record in China, that he represented His Majesty most faithfully and ably in China for many years, that he enjoys the confidence of the Chinese and the British alike, and that there is no man in this country who desires more to further China's interest and aid her aims, than Sir John Jordan. As regards Sir Charles Addis, he is well 297 known as having a long connection with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, which has had nothing but China's interests at heart ever since it was started. He has been one of the greatest friends that China has ever had in that connection. Hon. Gentlemen on the opposite Front Bench may laugh, but I can assure them they are laughing at something they do not know, and the Chinese themselves, if they were asked to select two gentlemen, who, by their experience and connection with China, were more fitted than any others to advise the Government as to how this money could be best applied, would select those two names before any others.
The purposes of this Bill, important as they are on the face of them, namely, by a natural, friendly and generous act to China to give proof of our good-will and our friendship to her and of our desire to promote her welfare and development, present to all those who have a personal experience of China, or who have long business connections with her, and who have some knowledge of her needs, of her history, of the aims which she has in front of her, and of the historic connection of this country with her, a deeper and greater significance still. Our friendship with China is no new thing. It is of long standing, and well-tried, and we could take no better step to convince her of our desire to do what we can to encourage her on the road she is now pursuing than by the step we have taken regarding the application of the moneys as provided for in this Bill.
The right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated, in opening, that. the chief reason, as I understood him, why this money was being applied to these purposes, was because of China entering into the War on our side. I can only say that I think all those people who have lived any length of time in China, and who know and respect her and have an affection for her, as everyone has who has lived many years in the Far East, would have liked it better if it had been put on the ground of old friendship and of our desire to promote those aims of China which she is so ardently hoping to achieve, and not merely on the ground of some reward, because she did not fight against us in the struggle that finished the other day.
298 I should like, if I may, to congratulate the Government on the wisdom and the foresight which have led them to put in this Bill words of such width as regards the purposes to which this money may he applied. First and foremost comes education. Now education is a very valuable thing, and it is generally recognised, both throughout China and in this country, that it is very desirable to give assistance to China in this direction, but I would point out to the House that there is already a, tremendous amount of financial assistance being afforded to education in China already. There are scattered up and down the length and breadth of China universities, colleges, and educational establishments of all descriptions. They are turning out every day a greater and greater number of students, well equipped, owing to lectures by experts from foreign countries in all those branches of modern commerce and modern science which China desires to encourage in her own country. There are every day students going from China to foreign countries, to Japan, to America, to the Continent, and to this country, to complete their courses and they are returning every day to China in greater and greater numbers. There is in Hong Kong a university, which was set up with the aid of British munificence, which has the finest staff of expert professors which you could possibly get, which has an increasing number of students going to it from all parts of China, the Straits Settlements and the neighbouring islands, and which is putting at the disposal of China as a whole a university course which is now as fine as she could possibly get anywhere else.
But education for a growing country is not everything, and it is a great question at the moment as to whether China is not getting, possibly, more educational facilities than at the moment she can readily absorb, and I think it is common knowledge that many of these students who have been abroad, and completed their education and training, on their return to China find there is no useful avenue in which they can employ and make use of the knowledge they have gained, because China in many respects is not yet in a sufficient state of development to enable them to do it. I would suggest to hon. Members opposite that it may be a wise thing, while you are educating, and help- 299 ing to educate, China, to take also such other means as you can to enable China, to reap the benefit of this education which her sons have got. I, personally, am not in favour of any definite object being immediately laid down other than education to which this money can be applied. But what do we see? China is roadless for all practical purposes. Her communications are choked; her conservancy is neglected. She is subject to famine and pestilence with all its consequences. If, therefore, by means of a little wise expenditure in these directions, you can help to develop, you can help to aid that demand which is so insistently raised on her part for modern, western methods, manufactures and products, you will assist in giving the opportunity to those students you have educated of putting what they have learnt to some good use.
I would respectfully suggest to the Government that when this Committee, which will be set up to consider the application of these moneys, has that question under its consideration, it should not be in any hurry at the moment to apply them in any particular way, for this simple reason. China at present is in a state of chaos, and you have no guarantee, if you spend the moneys at the moment, and under the present conditions, that the fruits of your expenditure will be permanent. There are many avenues, perhaps, in which the money might usefully be spent, but it is impossible to tell, in the existing state of affairs, that within two or three years, owing to further fighting, the acts of disbanded soldiers, or unpaid soldiers, or bandits, the whole of the fruits of what you are spending may riot entirely be wiped out, and I submit it will be very desirable to go very slowly and cautiously in any respect in which you are applying these further moneys. I would suggest to the Government that they should not be too eager to spend or apply these moneys to any purpose other than education until they are assured they will have permanent results. After all, why close the door to any other good suggestions which may be made as to how this money can be usefully applied in benefiting China and benefiting this country? Suggestions are sure to arise. Why limit yourselves now to one particular thing, when you may very much regret in a few years you had not liberty to spend it elsewhere? I appreciate very 300 much, if I may say so, the very human reasons which have led hon. Members on the opposite benches in the circumstances to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill. I hope, nevertheless, it will not deter them from giving this Bill a Second Reading, and enabling it to be passed into law, and so convince China not only of our friendship, but also of our bone fides that we really mean, and are anxious to do, what we have said we will do, to apply this money in some way which will be beneficial to her as much as possible at the earliest possible moment.
§ Mr. A. A. SOMERVILLE
There are several things which one would like to say, but I think most of them can be more conveniently reserved for the Committee stage. I can only view with astonishment the attitude which has been taken up by the Opposition on this question, because here we are dealing with a Bill which is, word for word, the same as it emerged from Committee last year. In the Bill we read that the indemnity money is to be devoted to educational and other purposes mutually beneficial to His Majesty and the Republic of China. We have an assurance from the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that the words "or other purposes" do imply that the other purposes will be of an educational character, or of a similar character, as, for instance, medical education and medical research, which I hope will be included in "other purposes." Having the assurance that part of the money will be devoted to educational purposes, I am surprised to find that the Opposition is prepared to deny a Second Beading to this Bill just because two Members of a Committee which they appointed very irregularly last year have not been re-appointed, although the Bill which would have made that Committee statutory was not passed.
§ Mr. PONSONBY
There is no irregularity in asking Members to serve on a Committee, and getting their acceptance. That is the usual course we have to pursue in those cases.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
At any rate the appointment of the two gentlemen in question was not confirmed by the present Government, and, instead of one of these gentlemen, Professor Soothill was appointed, and it is now contended that the educational element in the Committee is hopelessly 301 weak. I would like to see that Committee considerably altered. The object of the Bill is for the mutual benefit of this country and China, and therefore it seems to me to be a corollary that there should be full weight given on that Committee to Chinese opinion and feeling. I should also like to see more guidance given to the Committee by this House. With regard to "educational and other purposes," we see already what a large difference of opinion there may be in the interpretation of the word "other." I should like to amend the Bill to insert the words, "medical, or other similar purposes," and I shall probably move an Amendment to that effect.
There is a principle involved; it is for Parliament to give guidance to the Committee in this matter, and if guidance is not given the result will be considerable further delay. Already delay has caused an unfortunate impression in China. The remarks which have been made in reference to devoting some of this money to railways has deepened a suspicion in China, as one knows from letters received from men on the spot, that the intention of this country is to use this money merely to serve English commercial interests, which we know is not the intention. Two of my hon. Friends have spoken about applying this money to railways, but in these matters is it not as well to know the opinion of people on the spot, and more particularly the business people on the spot? I have here the British Chambers of Commerce Journal of China and Hong Kong for December, and there is in it a leading article on the Boxer indemnity. It says:Nor do we think that the British commercial community in China as a whole, were its opinion consulted, would be inclined to recede from the Resolutions in favour of using the indemnity for educational purposes passed at successive annual conferences.Then it gives the argument as stated in the same journal as far back as December, 1921, as follows:(a) That in the modernisation of China the part played by the British in education has been far smaller than their other activities in this country:(b) That as a result of this British influence has been unduly narrowed to the spheres of commerce and finance:(c) That this narrowing is a bad thing both for Great Britain and for China; for Great Britain, because it minimises the just rewards to which the work of her sons in 302 this country entitles her; for China, because British education has certain qualities which are not to be found in any other. The fact that amongst the just rewards alluded to are commercial opportunities is the least important consideration. The issue is a much bigger out. than commercial opportunity. The issue is the all-round part which Britain, not only as the leading power in the East, but as the centre of a vast Empire built up on traditions of government from which every free country in the world has borrowed, ought to play in this country which is daily re-acting to foreign ideas and examples.
§ Mr. LOOKER
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at the, present moment the British Chambers of Commerce and the China Association are writing home and strongly supporting the wording of the present Bill?
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
That does not preclude the words "and other being interpreted as" educational. "I should like to add that Anglo-Chinese firms have backed their opinion by contributing £50,000 for these purposes I know that some hon. Members are sceptical as to the value of education in China, but may I remind them that China is an ancient country with an ancient civilisation and a traditional reverence for education, and, although the percentage of educated Chinese in comparison with the great population of China is extremely small, yet the weight of their opinion and influence is out of all proportion to their numbers. I will give one example from an article written in the November number of the "Empire Review," which no doubt a good many hon. Members have seen, by Dr. R. P. Scott, a member of the Chinese Committee of the Foreign Office who has studied this question on the spot. He says:In the Boxer rising of 1900 there was a barbarous massacre of British missionaries and their wives and families, and in expiation the Chinese Government offered half a million taels.That is about £80,000, but the missionaries, under the leadership of Dr. Timothy Richard, realising that the crime was due to ignorance, refused to accept the blood money, and suggested, instead, that a university should be founded with that money, and it was founded. There were admitted to that university, not ordinary students, but those who had taken their Chinese degrees, and the university worked 303 under Dr. Richard for 10 years. In 1911 the Revolution put an end to its activities, but the effect remains, in that Shansi, which was once the most backward Province in China, is now the "model Province." We are told that there are 436,000,000 people in China, and we are asked how are you going to apply this money for educational purposes. Since 1911 China has been recasting her educational system. We might help her by establishing an efficient inspectorate. We might support the secondary schools in China which are under British control. We might give additional help to the Hong Kong University which is badly needed.
Above all things, one of the most necessary things we might do would be to found a club and hostel for Chinese students in this city. We do not realise how much we lose in national prestige by the w ay in which the students of foreign countries are treated here. If there is no centre for them at which to meet, they often get into wrong hands, and they go home and say that the English are as bad as their own people, the result being that we lose prestige. If we had a large club in London, it would be a centre for the Chinese students where they could meet quite voluntarily, and there would he a fostered feeling of friendship, the effects of which would be very great on their return to their own country. One other suggestion is that some of this money might be spent to encourage medical research and medical education. That view is very strongly supported by a letter from Bishop Norris, and I will quote one passage from his letter. He contrasts the attitude of young China and old China in this matter, and he adds thatYoung China and the old China are at one in believing that this money should be applied to education.He adds his own support of that, but is would all depend upon the lines upon which the help to education is offered. He says that if you wish to get immediate definite results, keep the expenditure of the money as completely as possible under English control; but if you want great results and you wish to take a long and a broad view, even at the cost of some waste in expenditure, you should limit English control as far as possible. I 304 have been hoping that this Bill might pass with the unanimous blessing of all parties, and I believe that money employed in the direction I have indicated would do much to encourage friendship between this country and China and would also do something to promote world peace and world progress.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I am very much in agreement with a good deal that the previous speaker has said with regard to this Bill. For my own part I have no great objection to the principle of this Measure, and personally I hope that the result of this Bill when it is put into operation will-be the development of much more harmonious relations between ourselves and the people of China. There are, however, one or two things which I think need to be said in connection with this discussion, and there are one or two questions that I should like to ask the Under-Secretary, which I hope he will take particular care to answer. Before I come to them, I should like to make one or two general remarks upon the subject-matter of this Bill. I think it will be agreed that the whole world is just now beginning to turn its attention towards the East. Eastern affairs are beginning to occupy the attention of diplomatists and politicians of all schools of thought, and the fact that Eastern questions are occupying so large a proportion of our interest and time must necessarily add importance to this present discussion. Anyhow, I think we cannot dissociate entirely from this discussion a consideration of its relation to the international situation in the East at some future date.
The question, therefore, arises as to what our attitude is going to be towards the people of China generally, and I am rising in support of this Bill because I want to urge that we should accord to the Chinese as judicious a treatment as possible in regard to this problem of the indemnity. After all, Britain cannot but secure much good from the exercise of as full and complete a measure of goodwill towards the Chinese people as is possible. For my part, I say frankly to the House that I should have been very glad if we could have wiped out this indemnity many years ago, but it was not the case, and, consequently, I agree that, in the absence of allowing the Chinese people 305 complete forgiveness of their debt, this, perhaps, may be the second best way of dealing with it.
The proposition, as I understand it, is that this money shall be utilised in the direction of some form of educational work in China. It is not, I think, the unanimous opinion of Members of the House that education should have the first claim. The point has been put forward by one or two previous speakers that railways and transport have a prior claim over the claims of education; but I think most Members will agree that educational effort is, after all, the most likely to provide lasting benefit for the people of China. But, in regard to this educational effort, I should like to emphasise the necessity of taking good care that such educational effort, shall be embarked upon with China rather than for China; that is to say, we ought to strive, as far as we can, to secure as complete a measure of Chinese co-operation in this matter as possible, rather than dictating such proposals to her. If I may say so, I should have liked in that matter to see—and in this I agree with the previous speaker—a larger measure of representation given to the Chinese upon this committee of ten.
The question for us arises, what sort of contribution shall Western civilisation make to this problem for and on behalf of the Chinese people? This proposal is our contribution, I take it. This is our suggestion—that we should remit to the Chinese the unpaid proportion of the indemnity, so that the money shall be spent upon some form of educational experiment and operation. In that matter I am bound to say I cannot agree with one of the previous speakers, who argued pretty strongly that this was our money. For my part, I cannot quite see where the generosity comes in, for, after all, the debt is one that was incurred in 1900, but since then—largely, let it be remembered, under very strong pressure from representatives of England and America—China came into the late War and gave a certain measure of service; and, in return for that service, we very generously told China," In return for your service, we will allow you to be forgiven the debt which you owe to the other fellow." So far as we ourselves are concerned, we seem to be sticking to our share of the bond.
306 The difficulty, therefore, arises, as I think the Under-Secretary indicated, that a measure of uncertainty has been created in the minds of the Chinese people as to what our attitude is going to be, and is likely to be, having regard to the action of leading nations like America, Japan, and, indeed, Russia. I feel that this is an excellent gesture, but, in making this gesture, I think we ought to make quite sure that we are proceeding upon right lines. There is, I gather, no inconsiderable amount of educational provision in China at this moment. They have a large number—I suppose, compared with the extent of China, it may be small, comparatively speaking, but still there is a substantial number—of educational institutions, primary schools, secondary schools, and, indeed, universities, in various parts of China; but the trouble, as I gather, is that all these educational efforts in China are largely disjointed. There is no coordination amongst them; there is no common standard of efficiency; there is no common degree that is taken in the universities. In fact, there is no sort of authority to co-ordinate the efforts of these various institutions throughout the country.
§ Mr. LOOKER
May I just explain that in most of the universities in China the, whole of their curriculum is directed to getting a recognised degree from America or from this country, and that that is the object at which they are aiming?
§ Mr. JONES
I think that is true, but the point I was making was that all these universities are operating in a large degree independently of each other, and I should imagine that, if this money is to be devoted to educational purposes, it ought to be directed as far as possible to the co-ordination of educational effort throughout China. In doing that, however, I should like to urge that no attempt be made, as I gather is somewhat suggested this afternoon, to give the education a sort of bias in favour of this nation or of that. There is a great danger, it seems to me, that any such attempt may result in denationalising education in China. Those of us who have watched the experiment in a greater or less degree of educating students from Egypt or India in this country, will appreciate that that experiment has not been entirely un- 307 attended with great difficulties subsequently in the countries to which those students belong, and I should be extremely sorry if we created a sort of feeling amongst educated Chinese people that we are trying to give a sort of English education, as against and as a rival to American education or Japanese education. Education ought not to be divided in that way; it ought not to be denationalised; it is universal in character, and the whole purpose of our efforts should, it seems to me, be to develop the cultural side of the characteristics of the Chinese, and to give them a feeling that we are really working, not in the interests of British commerce or British trade, but primarily in the interests of Chinese development itself.
If I may, I should like to make one further point. I believe there is a feeling abroad, and, indeed, a movement abroad, in favour of spending some of this money upon the establishment of, say, a university in. Pekin or elsewhere. For my part, I trust that this Committee, when it is established, will not allow itself to be side-tracked into such a movement as that, but that it will see, as far as possible, that this money shall be disbursed fairly universally and generally throughout the country, in so far, of course, as that is possible. The point., however, that I want to raise with the right hon. Gentleman is this: My hon. Friend, the late Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, intimated to the House the reason why he felt. that the conditions had somewhat changed since last year. I think it is agreed that in general terms the Bill of this year is in strict accord with the Bill of last year, and that we are still in general agreement with the purpose of the scheme. But the point which my hon. Friend put was this: Last year a Committee was appointed by the late Government, and two members of that Committee have been. shall I say, asked to resign.
§ Mr. JONES
Then I should like to put this to the Under-Secretary. On the 17th December questions were asked in this House in regard to this very matter, and my hon., Friend the late Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs asked this question:What is the reason for cancelling the invitation sent to Mr. Bertrand Russell and Mr. Lowes Dickinson asking them to serve on the Committee to be set up under the China indemnity Bill?And the reply of the Secretary of State was as follows:Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: The reason is that on reconsideration it was found that the composition of the Committee—the numbers of which it is important to keep small—was not sufficiently representative, and, in particular, that it included no member with practical experience of educational organisation in China.Then my hon. Friend asked a further question:Considering that these gentlemen were both very well qualified for the post which had been offered them, was this decision really only because of their association with the Labour patty?And the answer was:I am not anxious to discuss the qualifications of these gentlemen unless the hon. Gentleman forces me to do so. I have given a sufficient reason, in my opinion, for alter-in, the composition of the Committee."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1924; col. 962, Vol. 179.]I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, does he really think that that question is fairly closed by a reply such as that? After all, these two gentlemen are very distinguished people, people who hold very high positions, and are held in high esteem in certain universities of this country. I believe one of them was for years before the War a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. I believe he still lectures at Cambridge University. As I understand it, this gentleman is being trusted, and is deemed to be good enough to lecture to English students, but is not deemed to be good enough to advise upon the education of Chinese students.
In fairness to these people, and to the late Government, as well as to the House of Commons, it is, I think, entirely just 309 and proper that we should ask the hon. Gentleman opposite to give us in much more clear and precise terms an answer to the specific question as to whether it was political reasons which led to the exclusion of these gentlemen from this Committee. After all, we are not urging that their successors on this Committee are not men of high academic distinction. They doubtless are, but the appointment of the two people I have named was hailed with great delight by, I will not say all, but same sections of public opinion, and academic opinion, in China. Now these people have been removed and the inevitable consequence has been, rightly or wrongly, that the impression has been created that they have been removed because they might be person[...] in-gratte to the present Government on account of their political opinions, and the deduction therefore is made, rightly or wrongly, that there is some sort of ulterior motive behind this proposal and that the money is not primarily to be spent for educational purposes. Therefore it is in order to get the matter made perfectly clear by a distinct announcement from the right hon. Gentleman that I ask him to state a little more fully the reason why these two gentlemen have been removed from the Committee. With that proviso and with that reservation I wish this scheme every good luck. I believe if you encourage educational institutions in China you will have a new set of young leaders for the China of the future, and that after all is the greatest desideratum in connection with a country such as this, that it shall be able to evolve its own leaders and not depend upon leaders from outside. They will have the necessary initiative, they will have a certain independence of mind, they will be disciplined in the institutions of a free country and they will be able to appreciate something of the meaning of corporate responsibility, and I trust that this experiment when it is made will be attended with the fullest possible measure of success which I am sure the whole House desires for it.
§ Mr. McNEILL
The direct challenge the hon. Member has made to me is one which I think it is necessary for me to take up, and I am not only ready to answer his challenge but, considering what he has told me, I am very glad to have the opportunity of doing so. I have 310 not the slightest hesitation in giving a most categorical denial at once to" the suggestion that any alteration which has been made in regard to the personnel of this Committee- was due in the smallest degree to any consideration of the political opinions of the persons involved. It had nothing whatever to do with it. As that particular point has been touched upon by more than one hon. Member opposite I ought to tell the House exactly how this occurred and they will see that, instead of being apparently a sinister conspiracy from a political point of view, it was an extremely simple and sincere desire on the part of the present Government not only to have a good Committee, which I am quite willing to admit had been provided by our predecessors, but a superlatively good one. I am not going to say a word against the two gentlemen whom we did not invite. All I say is that we were fortunate enough to get gentlemen whom we thought better for this particular purpose in hand. I do not think hon. Members opposite are quite accurate. or justified in speaking of the removal of these two gentlemen. I think the appointment, or at all events the making public of the names of the Committee by the late Government was rather premature. It is frequently done in such cases to appoint a Committee and to make known the names to Parliament on the Third Beading of a Bill, but I think certainly it is just as common to say on these occasions that it would be premature to appoint a Committee or to announce their names until the Bill is through Parliament.
At all events, what happened was this. With the General Election, the end of a Session and of Parliament, this Bill, which had only gone through Committee, of course, came to an end. It no longer existed. The Committee which had been set up, prematurely as I suggest, which depended upon the passing of the Act, ipso facto fell to the ground along with the death of the Bill, and when we decided to re-introduce the Bill, of course we were perfectly free to nominate and invite an entirely new Committee. Hon. Gentlemen opposite could not have had the smallest ground for complaint, and I think myself probably they would have complained less if we had not invited any one of the gentlemen they invited.
We were under no obligation. We knew 311 the names they had suggested, and we went through the list to see if we thought they had got the best possible Committee together. We did, in fact, endorse their judgment to the extent of inviting nine of the gentlemen they had invited, scrutinising in those cases, too, whether the qualifications which had commended them to our predecessors equally commended them to us. For instance, so far from there being anything political in the question, I might retort to the hon. Gentleman and ask was it for political reasons that they nominated those two gentlemen. I do not suggest that it was, but it is really quite as plausible to suggest that they had been nominated because they were supporters of the Labour party as to suggest that we did not re-invite them because they were not. As a matter of fact, I am certain their political opinions had nothing to do with it either in one case or the other. But what did we find? We were extremely anxious to have one special representative of education, and education in China, and we found for this purpose our predecessors had nominated Mr. Bertrand Russell.
Mr. Bertrand Russell, of course, has a most, brilliant intellect. He is a man of most brilliant parts who would do honour to a great many appointments, but the whole question was were his brilliant gifts exactly what was wanted for this particular job, and were they the best we could net. The late Under-Secretary laid stress on the fact that Mr. Russell had been a year in China delivering lectures. I agree that if we had not been able to find anyone better that would have been a, qualification, but we think we have found someone with much greater qualifications. I entirely accept the principles laid down by my predecessor. He wanted a man who was an educationist with a knowledge of China and he wanted him to be sympathetic to China, and I think there were some other similar qualifications which the hon. Gentleman laid down. I accept all that. All I say is that, with all his gifts, Mr. Russell did not possess them. We have substituted instead of a brilliant philosopher who has spent a year in China—whether he knows a word of Chinese or not I do not know I very much doubt whether Mr. Dickinson does and I very much doubt whether Mr. Russell does— 312 we have secured the services of a gentleman who has spent 20 years in administering education in China. We have secured the services of a professor of Chinese at the University of Oxford, a man who was himself President of one of the most successful universities in China, which has sprung up from the indemnity given to the missionaries at the time of the Boxer Rebellion when the missionaries refused to accept blood money and handed the money over to found a university. That is the only connection, as far as I know, that can be alleged between this university and missionary activity. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. J. Hudson) objected that this gentleman was not, perhaps, the best possible- because he was a missionary educationist. He is quite mistaken. This gentleman went to China originally as a missionary, but he. has been connected with the general administration for 20 years of almost the most successful of the Chinese universities, thoroughly knowing the language and the people, one of the best authorities and writers upon Confucius and Confucianism and consequently one who, we may well say, has not only a knowledge of China but is sympathetic to China and the Chinese.
That is the whole reason why we did not invite Mr. Bertrand Russell and Mr. Dickinson, because we thought, going through the list, we had succeeded in getting someone who had still greater qualifications for the post. That is the whole story, and the idea that there was anything political in our minds never occurred to us for a moment. It came quite as a surprise to the Foreign Secretary when this suggestion was made. We again endeavoured, as far as we could, to show that we had no such feeling in mind by one after another inviting two distinguished members of the party opposite to go on this Committee. We were unfortunate in not being able to secure their services, but, at all events, I hope I have said enough to show, in answer to the hon. Gentlemen's challenge, that nothing was further from our thoughts than to let political or party feeling come into the matter at all. We claim that we have got the best possible Committee together for advising the Secretary of State in this very important matter. I think the 313 importance of it has been shown in the course of the Debate. I do not want to deal with the other point, as to what the object should be for which the money is to be used, because that is a matter which can be much better discussed in Committee. We cannot alter the words of the Clause now on the Floor of the House. There will be plenty of time to discuss that point when we get upstairs. I am very largely in agreement with what was said by two hon. Members opposite. I do not want to see this grant commercialised. I want to see it given, in the main, to education, or similar objects, but I do not want to be tied down to a strict definition. I think there ought to be a certain amount of latitude allowed to the Advisory Committee. With this explanation, I hope that right hon. and hon. Members opposite will believe in the sincerity of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who entirely repudiates any desire either to disparage the two gentlemen referred to, or to deal in any way disrespectfully with the right hon. Gentleman who was responsible for their original invitation. Nothing was further from our thoughts. Our only desire has been to get the best Committee. I hope that the House will now give us a Second Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD
I have no intention of resisting the Second Reading of the Bill. I accept the statement made by my right hon. Friend regarding what. I think is a rather unfortunate incident. The right hon. Gentleman, complained that somehow or other the nomination of certain members of the Committee appeared in the Press before the Bill had got a Third Reading in this House. At any rate, I understood my right hon. Friend to object to the names of those who were appointed appearing in the Press and becoming known before the Bill which created the Advisory Committee had received a Third Reading in this House.
§ Mr. McNEILL
If I said that, it was not what I intended to say. I think I said that it was rather premature to announce the names; that the fact of the Committee having been appointed before the Bill became law was premature in that sense, and that it was not fair to take exception to our action in not accepting 314 all the names which appeared on that previous list.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, it is quite impossible to wait until a Bill like this has had its Third Reading, or approaches its Third Reading stage, before the selected members of the Committee are approached and asked whether they will act upon it. We took the usual procedure. I admit, after my right hon. Friend's explanation, that the Foreign Office did not mean to do what I confess I thought they had meant. and that was, first of all, that the Foreign Office had. dismissed these two gentlemen from the Committee. They did not simply fail to reappoint them. I have seen the letters, and if the letters were intended to convey in the proper way that their appointment was not to be continued, they were unfortunately worded, because the effect was to say that their services were not required.
The second point was this. I confess that when I was considering the appointment of the Committee I was pressed very hardly to make it a commercial Committee. I was pressed again and again, and I did not dismiss the idea straight away; I went very carefully into it. One hon. Member has suggested that the money should be spent on railways. There is a great deal to be said for that idea, but when you go into the details you find that you cannot do it. You find the difficulties. Supposing you capitalised your income and created a capital of £8,000,000 to be spent upon railway development in China. I doubt whether at the present time, and. I am afraid for some time to come, there would be a Foreign Secretary who would care to face the load of troubles and complexities and negotiations that would have to precede and follow the floating of a. company with a programme such as that contemplated in the suggestion made by my hon. Friend opposite. It is quite impracticable. On its merits, I thought that it was far better that. it should be spent on education.
There is a psychological effect which we must consider, as well as the direct commercial effect. There is no doubt that America has gained very much in her status in the mind of the Chinese on account of the way she has handled her part of the Boxer indemnity. My right hon. Friend did not make quite clear to the House that he removed two educa- 315 tionists from the Committee and put only one educationist on, and that the second appointment instead of being that of an educationist was that of a business man. If the House would be good enough to scrutinise the Committee that I appointed, they would find that, as a matter of fact, business was rather excessively represented upon that Committee. I expected that objection would be taken to the Committee I appointed, on the ground that there were too many business men upon it. I did it with my eyes open because I wished to get the confidence of that section. I was perfectly certain that the case that could be put up was so strong that I could trust it almost to any Committee. Therefore I made the appointments that I did, but my right hon. Friend has tilted the balance so much that I am afraid I have not that confidence now. There is only one distinct educationist upon the Committee—of course, there are others interested in education—and the rest can hardly claim that distinction, unless the right hon. Gentleman claims it for Dame Adelaide Anderson.
I would be the very last person to depreciate the admirable educational work that the Professor of Chinese at Oxford University has done for China; but the problem that I think the right hon. Gentleman will have to face, the problem that I tried to face, and the problem that this country must face if it is going to encourage western education in eastern countries—we have had our experience in India, and it is not a happy experience—is how we can bring the spirit that has grown up through western historical conditions and western educational conditions into contact with the east without denationalising the east, and creating a sort of intellectual breed of men and women who belong to no country, to no clime, to no constitution, to no racial psychology, and to no past.
I confess that when I sought for an educationist to advise the Secretary of State. the sort of man I would have liked to have to advise me if I had been doomed to remain longer in office, so that I should have had to take action under this Bill, would have been the type of man I will endeavour to describe. Without depreciating in the least the qualities of the faithful education servant who has spent 316 many years in China, I preferred a fresh mind, and I believe I was right. Hon. Members know perfectly well that when you land in a strange country, which is perfectly new to you, you, somehow or other, if you are made in that way—I suppose it is a gift of God rather than anything else—begin to take up the atmosphere of the country, and whilst you cannot describe the forest from the point of view of the trees, nevertheless, if you are the right type of person, you can describe the forest as a whole far better than people who have been living there for years in that country and who have become blind to the general lie of the land, although they have become tremendously learned in all the details of the configuration of the country.
A wise Secretary of State who wished to get the best advice for the expenditure of this money on education, knowing the great problem that eastern education possesses for the western mind, and having on the one hand the choice of a trained mind who knows all the details by years of experience in the country, becoming blind to certain things and enlightened on others, and, on the other hand, wide, open cultured minds, representative of western intelligence and culture, men who had been in China, had studied Chinese conditions and had given proof of their capacity of understanding by their writings, would choose the latter rather than the former. I am not going to praise either of the two gentlemen who have been rejected, but I will say this, that hon. Members who have spent, I hope, delightful hours in reading Mr. Lowes Dickinson's book on Eastern Civilisation, and his still more delightful book, "The Letters of John Chinaman," will not dispute that here is a man with a fine western culture, the beautiful production of the best of our English Universities, who has the capacity to go out and put himself under totally new conditions, with totally new surroundings, and at once to assimilate them, to pass them through his own mind and his own culture, and to produce an appreciation of them which is essential if education conducted by westerners is to be successful under oriental conditions.
That was why I, quite deliberately, made the selection that I did, but I accept unreservedly what my right hon. Friend has said on the matter and, as far 317 as I am concerned, I am willing that should be closed. I felt that I ought to explain to the House why I made the selection of these two gentlemen. It was not because they were politicians. I was not interested in politics as such when I appointed educational advisers to China. My only desire was to get the very best men. There was a method in the selection, and I am profoundly convinced that before we successfully face the problems of oriental education, some method such as that which I tried to employ will have to be employed by those who are responsible in this country.
Question," That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.