Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £3,090,000, 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, 1928, for the excess cost involved in the employment of extra troops in China, not provided for in the Army Estimates of the year.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Commodore Douglas King)
In presenting this Supplementary Estimate to the Committee, I want to emphasise the fact that it is to meet the excess cost of the extra troops which were sent to China. That means that this Estimate does not cover the cost of the ordinary garrison of three battalions stationed in China, nor does it take into consideration the normal cost of those extra troops which were sent out there. I would also add that where, owing to their move to China, any saving has been made in the ordinary or normal expenses of the troops, that saving has been credited to this Vote. In March of this year we asked for a Supplementary Estimate for £950,000 to meet the expenses of the Shanghai Defence Force up to the end of the last financial year, up to 31st March last. In presenting that Estimate I explained that only those expenses which could be paid in the last financial year were included in that Supplementary Estimate. In presenting the main Army Estimates of this year my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War made it quite clear that no sum whatever was being included in those main estimates for the extra cost of the Shanghai Defence Force, but that Supplementary Estimates would be laid to cover those expenses. That is the reason for the Supplementary Estimate which I now have to present to the Committee.
I think it may be of interest if I draw attention to some of the movements of troops which have taken place since March and those which took place before March. In the first place, before the 2330 end of March, that is, during the last financial year, two infantry brigades and one extra battalion, together with artillery, an armoured car company, and various ancillaries, had been sent from this country and from Gibraltar and from Malta. Part of the cost of that movement, but only part of it, was included in the Supplementary Estimate taken for last year. In addition to those troops there was also, of course, one infantry brigade, with artillery and various ancillaries, sent from India. After March, in April and May, one additional infantry brigade, with details of artillery, and various ancillaries, was sent from this country. The troops I have mentioned which were sent out to China formed the Shanghai Defence Force, and they were distributed between Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tientsin and Wei-hai-wei, under the command of Major-General Duncan. The very presence of those troops had undoubtedly, a steadying effect in China.
In July it was decided that the strength of the force could be decreased, and the Indian brigade, which had been sent there in the first place, was returned to India between the months of July and November. It was later decided that five battalions of infantry and miscellaneous details might be withdrawn from China and sent to home and other stations. That means that it was decided that two brigades of infantry and one additional battalion should be withdrawn. I would like to refer to an answer which I gave to a question by the hon. Member for Stourbridge (Mr. Wellock) on Monday. He asked me the present strength of the additional troops in China, and I replied that the present strength was nine battalions, six of which were in Shanghai. I was then asked a supplementary question by, I think, my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Looker) as to whether any further reduction was contemplated. The figures I gave in reply to the original question were the actual troops in China at the present time, hut I had in mind that the five battalions which I have referred to, and which it had been decided to withdraw, had either been withdrawn or were in process of being withdrawn. Of the nine battalions which I gave as the present strength one is shortly being withdrawn, being one of the five battalions being taken away. That means that 2331 when that battalion has been taken away, and when these decreases have taken their full effect, the strength remaining additional to the garrison in China will be eight infantry battalions, of which five will be at Shanghai, in addition to supporting artillery and various ancillary troops. That is the force which will remain there for the present. It is impossible to forecast the future. The conditions are always being carefully watched, but I think that the Committee will agree that the whole force cannot be removed until a Government in China can assure us that it is able and willing to give adequate protection to our own nationals. The force which I have outlined as remaining there will, of course, be far less expensive than the larger force which has been there during the past year, and, assuming that no large expenditure for transport has to be provided for in the next year, the cost for the following year will be very much less than the figures now before the Committee.
I would like to refer to the position of the troops which have been out there. I think the Committee will realise that the position has been one of extreme difficulty, because, wherever the troops have been called in to assist at all, it has been in the case of riot or civil com-motion, and there are no more difficult situations with which troops have to deal. I think without doubt that the troops in China have acted with very great restraint; in fact, they have lived up to the very highest traditions of the British Army. The actual living conditions of the troops have been by no means perfect, and I think we shall sympathise with them in that respect. Their quarters have been in a confined space where they have had to live in improvised encampments. There have been very few facilities for training, and the opportunities for recreation have been very much restricted. Yet, in spite of all these disadvantages, the discipline of the troops has been excellent, and their conduct most exemplary. It may interest the Committee to know that, in view of all these circumstances, the health of the troops has been very satisfactory. In the earlier months of the occupation during the hot weather, there was a somewhat serious outbreak of pneumonia, but that was largely due to the climatic 2332 conditions, and also to the common but very unpleasant habit of the Chinese in spitting on the ground everywhere, in public carriages, and in all public places. To that habit was partly attributed the somewhat prevalent disease of pneumonia at the beginning of the occupation. On the whole, the health of the troops has been satisfactory.
Before turning to one or two of the items of the Supplementary Estimates, I should like to say a word with regard to the A Reservists. Questions have been put in the House with regard to the employment or re-employment of A Reservists when they return home. Some 3,000 of these men were recalled to the Colours to make up the numbers of the Shanghai Defence Force. Those men were within 12 months or two years of having left the Colours, and in the A Reserves they receive the sum of 1s. 6d. per day, which is 6d. more than the ordinary Reservists, on the sole condition that they place themselves at the disposal of the Government, and can be called up for service when necessary. They were called up, and some of them have already returned to civil life, and others are on their way back again. I would like to take this opportunity of appealing to the employers who employed these men before they were called up. Naturally, it is to those employers that these men will turn on their return home in the hope of being reinstated in their former employment. I know that a considerable number of them were unemployed before they went out to China.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Are we to understand that, where these men were in jobs when they joined up, the firms have not kept their posts open for them on their return?
§ Commodore KING
I have heard of individual cases where the men have been refused reinstatement, but many of them have not yet returned, and when they do return they get one month's leave with full pay and allowances, and many of them enjoy that month's leave before seriously looking for employment. [An HON. MEMBER: "They have earned it!"] Certainly, they have earned it. That is one of the difficulties in dealing with A Reservists, because some of these men who have returned have not yet been seriously looking for employment. I think this is a good opportunity to make one 2333 more appeal to the employers of this country, not only the previous employers of these men but also to other employers to do what they can to provide employment for those who have given up their civil employment and have rendered such excellent service in China.
§ Commodore KING
That point has been dealt with before. Every one of these men has a certain amount of paid-up time for insurance benefit up to the time he leaves the Colours.
§ Mr. SHEPHERD
In view of the services which these men have rendered, surely the Government ought to be responsible for finding them employment, if their former employers refuse to do so.
§ Commodore KING
No, Sir. It really is impossible for the Government to undertake to find employment for these men. Not only A Reservists but many others leave the Colours every year, and it is impossible for the War Office to undertake to find employment for one particular section. We do our best for them, and we are in constant touch with committees and other bodies who try to find employment for them. I am doing all that I can to get employers to re-engage these men. We have allowed them 28 days' leave with full pay and allowances, so that they may have an opportunity of finding employment.
§ Commodore KING
The War Office always does its best for those who have loyally served their country. [An HON. MEMBER: "You are running away from the point!"] I am not running away from the point, and I can say confidently that on any occasion that the record of the War Office with regard to help and assistance, and their interest generally in ex-service men, is examined it will be found to stand high in the opinion of those who have taken such a deep interest in ex-service men.[Interruption.]
It would be much better to allow the hon. and 2334 gallant Member to proceed with his speech.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Commodore KING
I only want to impress upon the Committee that we are doing our best, and will continue to do our best to find employment, and I merely mention this matter in the hope that, once again, it will come to the notice of employers, and that they will do what they possibly can to give employment to these men who have served their country so well. I have dealt quite shortly with one or two of the main causes of the introduction of this Supplementary Estimate. In the first place, perhaps, the item which jumps to the notice of people is the sum required for sea transport in excess of the normal trooping programme. The sum of £978,000, of course, seems rather large, but when hon. Members realise the conveyance overseas some 10,000 miles— the distance which these troops have to be carried—I think it will be realised that it involves a large item of expenditure. I have already explained how 17 battalions with ancillary troops, motor transport, vehicles, etc., had to be sent out to China. Some of these have already returned, and, in some cases, double transport has been incurred. But when ships have to be provided, as they had to be in the first place, at very short notice, hon. Members will realise that the cost is bound to be considerable.
Then, again, with regard to the cost of accommodation at Shanghai or Hongkong, and also reinstatement charges, hon. Members will understand that troops went out there to places where no accommodation was available. In some cases we were able to get buildings; in some cases we could only obtain land, and had to construct buildings and encampments upon those lands. We had no powers such as we might have under Emergency Regulations in this country in times of requisition, and, therefore, we had to go into the market and obtain accommodation on the very best terms which we could make. The cost certainly has been considerable, but some of this cost covers reinstatement of premises we are already giving up, so that the expenses in the future will not be so great. While I am dealing with the question of accommodation, I think it will interest the Committee to know that with regard to Shanghai, the Shanghai Municipal 2335 Council are paying the extra cost of billets, fuel, light and water due to the use of one of the battalions on internal security duties; also that the Shanghai Defence Force is exempt from the taxes on land and buildings, occupied and unoccupied, and that the land and buildings belonging to the Shanghai Municipal Council utilised by the troops are provided rent free. That is a contribution by the local municipal council towards the cost incurred by this country.
§ Mr. DALTON
Could we have the total amount of the contribution from the Shanghai Municipal Council?
§ Commodore KING
I am not sure whether I could give the hon. Member that information, because it is not in actual figures. They are remissions. Of course, I have not got them in my head, but I will inquire whether I can give the hon. Member any estimate or approximate figures. I think, obviously, it is a substantial concession for which we may be grateful. It is a saving of money, anyhow, on the Army Estimates, and, therefore, to the taxpayers of this country. Another item is for the full maintenance, pay, rations, etc., of the Indian Contingent. In introducing the Supplementary Estimate in March, there was some doubt at that time, as I explained, as to whether India would pay part of the expenses of that Contingent, or whether it would all fall on our Votes. The whole of the amount has fallen upon our Votes—their pay, rations, transport and everything else. They are all included in the various headings under the Supplementary Estimate now before the Committee.
Then, of course, there was the purchase of additional stores. Stores which were withdrawn from stock had to be replaced, and that amounted to considerable additional expenditure. There is one item to which critical members of the Committee may refer, and that is under Vote 5, L. It certainly looks rather peculiar to see "Add Appropriation-in-Aid (Deficiency)." I would like to explain, that that particular Appropriation-in-Aid, which is debited as a deficiency, is in respect of sea transport which would have taken place under normal conditions of relief to India. We obtained an Appropriation-in-Aid from India covering the cost of any normal 2336 transport for relief troops going to India, but, as the troops did not go to India, that Appropriation-in-Aid, of course, will not come to us, and therefore the amount is rightly added to this item as an additional charge to War Office funds. Of course, there are many items in the Supplementary Estimate which hon. Members may wish further explaining; I shall be glad to explain them if they are raised, but I do not think the Committee wish to be detained too long on details, as most of them are self-explanatory. Therefore, I hope we may get the Vote without much discussion.
§ Mr. TREVELYAN
We have had from the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken a lucid and businesslike statement such as we are beginning to be accustomed to have from him, but it was so businesslike that we have not succeeded in learning very much about what really matters greatly to the House, which is, why the soldiers are still there, and how long they are going to stay there? There is, moreover, a matter of detail on which I am never able to get any definite information from the hon. and gallant Gentleman. It is, how many of our soldiers are out there? We get units. We are not all military people here, and we do not know exactly to what an infantry battalion unit and all the ancillary troops may happen to amount, and the numbers that are out there are important in one respect. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has just said that the health of the troops is good; I do not know how many troops there are, but I will assume, for the sake of my argument, that there are 20,000, or shall I take the figure at 15,000?
§ Mr. TREVELYAN
They are constantly varying within very small limits. There are a certain number of units being brought back, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman must know perfectly well how many there are within 100 or 200 at any moment, and he must have known it all along, but he will not tell us. I will, therefore, assume there has been an average of 20,000 during this year. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the health of the troops has been good.
§ Mr. TREVELYAN
These are the figures which the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself has given of the approximate average number in hospital during the various months. It began in March with 580. I am only going to read the "other ranks," although, of course, there is a proportion of officers. In April, the figure was 740; May, 370; June, 959; July, 1,309; August, 1,132; September, 1,191; October, 799; and November, 713. The Committee will observe that those figures are something like one in twenty always in hospital. I do not know whether that is a good average or a bad average. I should not think that it was a very good average, and that is one of the reasons I wish the Government would tell us how many soldiers we have had out there the whole time. The truth is, I do not think the Government want this defence force to be talked about too much. Recently the newspapers have not talked very much about it, and Ministers do not talk much about it. I think Ministers sometimes, perhaps, forget its existence. I do not know whether Lord Cushendun may have been been under the impression that these 20,000 men were disbanded, instead of being sent away to China, when he thrilled the astonished nations the other day with the announcement that Britain was disarming. Perhaps that was the impression he was under. But what we want to ask the Government in this Debate is not merely details such as those with which the hon. and gallant Member has been dealing, but how long this forgotten army is going to stay in Chinese territory. We want some statement of the Government's policy.
I am not going to waste the time of the Committee in reviewing the centre of our old controversy, that is to say, the question whether or not it was necessary for the safety of the British in January to send out troops to Shanghai. I am not going to repeat the arguments, because we all know perfectly well that we shall not agree. There are, however, other matters in connection with it. To us, of course, it will continue to remain an unhappy and a dangerous escapade on the part of the Government. No doubt those who support the Government will continue to say that it is a necessity, but we said that there were other results which were going to follow. We said that 2338 it would further embitter Chinese feeling which was already bitter enough towards us because of the Shanghai shootings and because of the bombardment of Wahnsien, and we said that whereas no doubt you would be able to say—and no doubt it is true—that behind the wire entanglements of Shanghai the British people would be safer if they had got 20,000 troops than if they had only 5,000, yet those outside Shanghai would be in greater danger because of the embittered feeling of the Chinese. So right were we about that, that no sooner had British troops been sent to Shanghai than the Government themselves issued invitations to Britishers in all other parts of China to go down to the coast and abandon their places of living. At any rate, the second thing which we said about the sending out of this force to Shanghai was perfectly correct, that is to say, that the British in the rest of China were in greater danger, and the Government themselves proved it by their own suggestion.
The next thing that we said was that British trade would suffer even more severely than it was suffering already. I think it is worth while that there should be a little, if possible, impartial consideration of what the effect on British trade is, by all parties in the House of Commons. The prosperity of one great county in this country, namely, Lancashire, is very deeply involved. During the last few years the exports from the United Kingdom to China have been falling steadily and rapidly. In 1922 they were worth £21,800,000. In 1923, they fell to £17,290,000; in 1924 they rose slightly, to £19,000,000; in 1925 they fell to £13,500,000. In the last year there has been a very serious drop indeed. The total value of United Kingdom produce and manufactures exported to China in the first-six months of 1926 was £9,259,000, and in the first six months of 1927 the figure had fallen to £5,194,000. This fall is the more serious because the exports of cotton piece goods have fallen by nearly 50 per cent., from a value of £4,000,000 to £2,300,000; and this process is still going on.
We maintain, and I think with some reason, that this is due to the fact that the policy of the Government is continually aggravating the Chinese people into greater hostility to ourselves; because let it be observed that, while our trade with China is steadily falling, it 2339 is not the case that the consuming capacity of the Chinese is declining. While we have been losing this trade, the Chinese, in spite of their civil war, in spite of all that has been going on in their country, have been importing just as large quantities of cotton piece goods as they were before; and not only so, but there has been an actual increase. Taking the last three years—I am not going to convert these taels into pounds, because I merely want to compare the three figures—in 1924 the import was 192,000,000 taels; in 1925 it was 196,000,000, and, in 1926, 205,000,000. That is to say, during the period when our trade was steadily falling, when our export of cotton goods was going down, even in these circumstances the Chinese people were consuming more. That is a very serious fact for us. The fact is that Lancashire is being blockaded at Shanghai, and, if the Government do not recognise this, at any rate those in Lancashire do. The General Council of the Amalgamated Weavers' Association said:We recognise that the civil war in China is detrimental to Lancashire trade, but we know that it will be a thousand times worse if the presence of armed forces results in hostilities. We warn the cotton workers of Lancashire that the danger of war is not past until the armed forces are withdrawn and the British Government recognise the full independence and sovereignty of China.It is also worth mentioning that this feeling in regard to the disaster which the policy of the Government is bringing upon them is not confined entirely to the working class. Mr. William Heaps, the Chairman of the Manchester Cotton Association, speaking of the long period of tribulation through which the cotton trade was passing, said that:the trade could not be again fully employed until there was a greater demand from the important market of China.The demand is there, but it is not coming to us, because of the policy which the Government imposes upon us. The question, surely, for this Committee to-day is, how long are we going to leave these troops there, and how are we going to get out of this morass in which our trading interests are in China?
I do not think that there is necessarily any great difference of opinion between us as to the ultimate way out. We on this side may put it a little more bluntly; perhaps that is the only difference; and 2340 we think it ought to be done more quickly. We say that the unequal treaties have got to go, that the Chinese have got to be treated as equals, and that as soon as possible the ports and cities of China ought to belong to the Chinese people again. The direction in which the Government want to go is the same; I presume that their policy has not changed, and that the Memorandum of last December still stands as the policy of the Government. But how can they get a step further in carrying out the ideas of that Memorandum as long as the army of occupation is there? It is that which makes it impossible for them to negotiate and to make any further advance. It is said, of course, that there is chaos in China. In the first place, I should like to say that China is a very big place—it is a continent, not a country. There are in it immense tracts which, even in the present troubled circumstances, are securely and peaceably governed, and have been for years past. If you are discussing whether you can come to terms which would enable you to withdraw your troops from Shanghai, the Government with which you have to deal is the Nanking Government. The Nanking Government is a Government which, as everybody knows, is one with which even now, according to the standards of the party opposite, you can deal. They have dealt with their Communists, and there is no perceptible reason for supposing that there would be any Communist reaction in Nanking. It is known, from the statements which have been made by those responsible for the Nanking Government, that they would be ready to meet us. Mr. Wu, the Foreign Secretary, recently issued an announcement in which he said that they had taken note of the statements emanating from authorised spokesmen of the foreign Governments as to the inapplicability of the existing treaties and their readiness to meet the wishes of the Chinese people, and that:With every confidence in the good intentions of the foreign Governments, this Government earnestly hopes that negotiations with a view to the conclusion of new treaties will immediately be opened.That could have been done, but our Government have not chosen to do it, and, as long as we keep our Army there, as long as our Army is there creating distrust, creating terrorism by the exhibition of overwhelming force which is 2341 incompatible with negotiations, clearly nothing can be done. I want to ask the Government to say, through a later speaker on their behalf in the Debate, whether they are going to consider a withdrawal of the troops in the course of the next few months. They have brought back one battalion after another, but they still keep the main force there. Or, on the other hand, are the British forces going to remain there indefinitely until the situation is perfect in China? How long is that going to be? If they are going to be left there, we shall get accustomed to leaving them there, and they will be more and more forgotten. The months will go by, and we shall go on into another year, paying, paying, paying. This year we have paid between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000 for keeping them there; are we going to pay £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 again next year? Is the economic Government, that is saving on unemployment and saving on education, going on paying out this £4,000,000 or £5,000,000? Then there is the question of the health of the troops. I have shown, by the figures I have read out, how, in the summer months at any rate, the number of the sick in hospital amounted to one in 15 or one in 20—I cannot give the exact figures because I do not know them. I presume that, if they continue to stay there, we shall have the same kind of sick list. We on this side consider, in the first place, that there never was an expenditure and there never was an expedition which was less justified than this to Shanghai, but we think it will be infinitely worse if this force is kept there indefinitely, ad infinitum. There is on the Paper a Motion in my name and those of other hon. Friends of mine, to reduce the Vote by £100, but I do not propose to move that reduction, because it does not adequately represent our views. We object to the whole of this expenditure as wanton, wasteful, hard on our people, and still harder on our soldiers who are kept out there, and we intend to invite the Committee to vote against the whole Estimate.
§ Mr. WARDLAW-MILNE
I had no intention of taking part in this Debate, but I feel that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) has made certain statements which it would be desirable to answer, even in the perhaps rather indifferent 2342 way in which I am able to answer them at a moment's notice. I think the Committee will have a certain amount of sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman, on account of the difficulty of the waters in which he was steering his barque, because it must be within the knowledge of all Members of the House that the attitude which his party took up on this question only a few months ago was one which results have shown was utterly wanting in statesmanship, showed an entire absence of any knowledge of China and Chinese conditions, and, indeed, if their advice had been followed, would have plunged, not only the British people, but a large section of the coast-living people of China, into great trouble and danger. The right hon. Gentleman said in effect that the fault lay upon the Government for sending these troops to China, and that the results which had come about in Shanghai had, to some extent at any rate, been caused by their despatch. On the contrary, I think it is within the knowledge of probably every Member of this Committee, and of most people in this country by this time, that, but for the despatch of these troops, not only would the lives of the British people in Shanghai have been in immense danger, but also a vast number of Chinese would have lost their lives who, as things have turned out, have been saved, while Shanghai has become, by the sending of these troops, the Mecca of the pilgrims who look to it as a place of safety and sanctuary from a great many neighbouring and troubled parts of China. As one listened to the right hon. Gentleman one could almost have believed that the civil war in China is entirely caused by the fact that the British Government sent out certain troops to protect our interests at Shanghai. As a matter of fact the real position is that there is no resentment in China, far from it, at our sending out these troops. On the contrary, it has been an action so statesmanlike and so vital that to-day Shanghai is probably the only really stable and secure city on the whole of that great coastline.
The right hon. Gentleman was also wandering far away from fact when he dealt with the situation at Shanghai as having anything to do with the falling off in the demand for Lancashire piece goods. It is extraordinarily true, as he says, that the demand for goods of all 2343 kinds continues to the extent it does, even in spite of the civil war, but the falling off of the exports of Lancashire goods is by no means entirely due to conditions in Shanghai or even to the civil war, but to totally different circumstances which to a large extent would have operated whether there had been a civil war or not. [HON. MEMBERS: "What are they?"] In the first place, the position regarding China as a market for Lancashire goods, as in the case of India, is one that has been changing steadily for a great many years past. The position is simply this. In the old days, Lancashire had a unique market in the East and was almost the sole supplier of cotton piece goods of all kinds. To-day in India, China and, indeed, all over the East, we are meeting competition, particularly in the coarser counts, which it is almost impossible for Lancashire to deal with, and there is no doubt that in normal times, in times of peace, that competition is likely to increase, based as it is upon longer working hours, cheaper labour and raw materials at hand. I do not wish to speak as an authority, but I fancy it would be generally agreed that the solution for us must be, in all these Eastern markets, the creation of the finer class of goods with which competition is not likely to be met from the East, or, at any rate, in which that competition will be at a later date than in the case of the lower quality goods. These circumstances have nothing whatever to do with the war in China or with conditions at Shanghai.
But there is the further statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the troops we have sent there have, in fact, set the Chinese people against us. I think that is a sort of statement which, if spread through the country and not contradicted, may do real harm. As far as my information goes, that statement is quite untrue. There is absolutely no foundation for it. On the contrary, the probabilities are that our action in sending troops to China was welcomed by many peace-loving Chinese. What the end of the civil war and the future of China may be, none of us can tell, but it is certain that the only statesmanlike action for the British Government is to follow the course already laid down. After the wonderfully generous declarations that were made only a year ago 2344 as to our intentions in China, in which we led all the Powers in the world in our clear statement of our desire to work amicably with China, to interfere as little as possible in Chinese affairs and to do everything we could to help to establish a stable Government, it seems to me the attitude of the British Government must remain as it is to-day, that we should keep our troops in Shanghai not to interfere in China, not to try to teach her her business, but merely to safeguard the lives and the interests of our British people there and incidentally to try to safeguard, to the extent that it is right and just for us to do so, the interests of the large numbers of workers in this country who, if the trade through Shanghai were stopped to-morrow, would immediately be thrown out of work.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Although I do not intend to withdraw for one moment from the position I took up last year, that our people at Shanghai were perfectly safe with our Fleet there and their very efficient volunteer force in being, I do not think at the present time it would be worth while debating with the hon. Member whether a year ago we or the Government were right. The fact is that we are faced with a situation which every Member of this House, and everyone interested in British trade, and I would add everyone interested in the Chinese people, have got to face afresh. We have at Shanghai an Army of occupation. I want to ask several questions in connection with the present situation. Has the Foreign Office envisaged the future to any extent, or is it simply carrying on the doctrine of "Wait and See"? China has now been undergoing these civil wars for the best part of 12 years. There is no more prospect of civil war coming to an end to-day than there was a year, five years, or 10 years ago. The situation is as bad as ever it was, without any sign of improvement. Are we going to continue under these circumstances the policy of "Wait and See," which was futile a year ago but which is now not merely futile but excessively expensive for the taxpayers of this country? It was, of course, possible to wash our hands of the question, to let the Chinese carry on, and protect our people there as best we could with our own right arm. We chose instead to send an Army costing this country between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000 a year. 2345 I suppose with the reduced Army now there it could carry on at an expense of £4,000,000 a year. We have had no estimate.
§ Commodore KING
This Estimate is for the whole year, and is for just over £3,000,000—not £4,000,000 or £5,000,000.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am sorry. I am not in a position, therefore, at present to ask the hon. Gentleman the exact additional cost to this country of the Army' and Navy at Shanghai, hut it must be several millions of money. There is a parallel for the situation in Egypt. In Egypt a much shorter civil war led to our sending an Army of occupation which went on from year to year indefinitely. The situation was not strictly similar to this, because that Army of occupation brought about a peaceful settlement, but the Army of occupation remained. In that case, the taxpayer of this country was not called upon to foot the Bill. If we are to have an occupation of China, or of Shanghai, we ought to come to some definite conclusion as to whether the taxpayers here or the people protected in China are to pay for the benefit of that protection.
There is another thing. It is clear to all of us who have been interested in the Chinese question that when the Expeditionary Force was sent to Shanghai it was the hope and intention of the people on the spot that the force would be used to bring about peace by carrying out military operations far outside Shanghai. That has never, I believe, for a moment been the intention of His Majesty's Government. They have always laid it down quite clearly that the Force was solely to protect Shanghai. But I believe the demand which came from the English people in China for that Force to be sent there, was not solely for the protection of Shanghai but to intervene in order in some way to secure peace by bringing the sword. I think now the people in Shanghai itself have given up any hope or anticipation of the British Force at Shanghai being used outside, as General Gordon's Force was used 70 years ago, 2346 to bring peace to China by pitting one set of Chinese against another set of Chinese. That is old history, but it cannot possibly be future history in China. The people in this country would not stand it and any such intervention is wholly out of the question. By now I think the English at Shanghai realise that that possibility is no longer practicable.
§ Mr. AUSTIN HOPKINSON
Has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman any sort of evidence or authority for what he is saying?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Yes. The letters appearing in the English Press in China have perpetually been urging that steps should be taken—of course, never military, but involving military measures —to bring peace about by force. That is quite out of the question and they know it. Is it not possible now to organise at Shanghai itself, from the foreigners there, an adequate defence or police force which would be quite as able to protect life and property as our present Army, the cost of which would fall far less upon the British taxpayer and yet would be sufficient for the primary purpose of protecting the people at Shanghai? It seems to me that is one question the Government ought really to be considering. Without any loss of prestige, without any loss of security, we might have organised there on the spot a body which could protect life and property and at the same time reduce our expenses and the undoubted hostility in the Chinese minds which our armed forces at Shanghai produce.
§ Mr. WARDLAW-MILNE
Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give us any figures of the Western population of Shanghai?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The Western population of Shanghai is undoubtedly far smaller than the Chinese population, but the hon. Member has lived long enough in the East to know that one Westerner is good enough to beat a considerable number of foreigners. It is impossible to give exact figures of the white population, but I should say the proportion is about the same as in the Bombay that he knows so well, and not only that, hut they are the richer part of the population and can afford to employ volunteer services.
§ Mr. WARDLAW-MILNE
If that is the figure, does the hon. and gallant Gentleman think that would constitute a population capable of producing an efficient police force without any military behind them in case of trouble?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Yes, I think so. If the population is 3,000, I presume 2,000 of them will be Englishmen—white men—every bit as capable of compulsory service as the white settlers in Kenya, and, if the danger is serious, I feel certain those people will take up arms, from 16 to 60, and give an adequate account of themselves. Englishmen abroad have to take certain risks and take them willingly, and when they are faced with trouble they generally give a good account of themselves, and I feel sure that the hon. Member's friends in Shanghai would look after themselves adequately. That is one way in which the Government might get out of the present situation. What is the alternative? Have the Government any alternative, or do they conceive of an indefinite continuance of this armed force of ours in Shanghai or Tientsin or elsewhere? Is it possible to organise Europeans on the spot sooner or later to take our place and to bear their own burden of defence?
The second question is whether the Government have formed any new plan for securing co-operation among the western nations interested in China and using that co-operation to call a conference of the various Chinese tuchuns, Governments and ruling powers with a view to eliminating bitterness between the westerners and the Chinese and, if possible, using the good influence of a joint body to bring some sort of peace into that country. Hitherto the jealousies of the different western Powers in China have been pronounced. The three principal interested parties in China are ourselves, the Americans and the Japanese. Co-operation between the three has seemed to be a dream quite impossible to realise. The Americans, we have always thought, have not seen Chinese affairs with our eyes. They look on them through the eye of the missionary and know but little of China except from the missionary angle. The Japanese, with territorial jealousies, and a special interest in Manchuria, have also been difficult to secure for any co-operation. I do 2348 think that as the months and years go on we ought to be in a position to make a fresh move.
At the present time I believe that America sees the Chinese matters far more through our eyes than they did a year ago. Mr. Strachan, who went to China about a year ago, has returned to America and he carries far more weight at Washington than probably any other American on Chinese matters. His speeches since he returned to America have been far more on all-fours with our Government's policy in China, and I should have thought that that would have been an admirable opportunity to get into touch with America, with American sentiment and with the American Government in order to see whether there really was any divergence of view which could perpetuate the dual policy of the two great nations in China. If England and America could agree there could be no doubt that Japan would come into line with us. The whole question as far as China is concerned is an agreement on policy between England and America. I know that the Americans are suspicious of our aims in China, and there are not absent from this House people who are suspicious of the aims of America. We have to discount these people. We have to assume that people of good mind in both countries can be made use of, and I am confident that if the Secretary of State would get personally into touch with the men who count in Washington on this question, we might lay the foundations of something which would redound enormously to the credit of both countries. We might lay the foundation of peace for the people of China.
I am bound to say that in this Chinese business I am thinking less of English trade than of the conditions of the Chinese people. There they are, butchered first by one party and then by another. Bandits are more numerous even than regular soldiers. People are held up to ransom and tortured until their relations provide the ransom. That is going on year after year, and the British and other nations stand around the cockpit offering sometimes well-meant advice but not intervening, because intervention involves war; sympathising, but doing nothing. [An HON. MEMBER: "Occupying Shanghai!"] Occupying Shanghai! Yes, but being 2349 very careful to see that no one is protected for one yard outside the barrier, only the Europeans. Here is an opportunity for England and America doing something which would be of more credit to our civilisation than anything that has happened since the War. If by merely getting together, explaining away the suspicions and the points of difference between us we could have full co-operation between the two peoples—it might be done by plenipotentiaries, by preference, who would be able to call together a conference of the Powers and the Chinese people—I believe that on these lines something might be done to end the business. Even if it failed, it would be a failure, but no harm would be done. If it succeeded, not merely would it save the Chinese people, but we might again employ the people of Lancashire in making the goods which the people of China want.
§ Mr. LOOKER
I wish to reply to a few of the observations made by the right hon. Member for Newcaetle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) before I proceed to my more general observations regarding the necessity for the defence force in Shanghai. The right hon. Member referred to the attitude of the Shanghai leaders which has been gathered by him from what he read in Shanghai newspapers. I would remind him that there is as great a variety of newspapers in Shanghai as in this country, and he is just as liable to read accounts which are remote from the truth in various newspapers in Shanghai as he is in many organs which are published daily in this country. There is not the slightest truth in the statement that the English community in Shanghai or any responsible body or organisation representing it ever demanded for a moment that this defence force should be used as a sort of expeditionary force for the subjugation of the Chinese. There is not a responsible agency there which for a moment would dream of suggesting a course which they know would not only involve this country in operations which might continue for an interminable time but in which it is very doubtful whether they could ever possibly achieve success. He also told us that the defence force was received, if I understood him rightly, with a great deal of hostility by the Chinese in Shanghai. That is as remote from the 2350 truth as a great deal else that has been said in connection with its despatch.
§ Mr. LOOKER
I will go further and say that the despatch of these troops has not been received with hostility of any description by any but the most subversive elements in China. There is not the slightest doubt that the great mass of the mercantile trading community, which exists not only in the coast ports but in the far interior, welcome any signs of order being brought into China either by us or by anybody else, so that there might be security and some opportunity of carrying on trade under orderly conditions. As far as the Chinese in Shanghai were concerned they were naturally apprehensive, at the outset, as to what was going to happen when a tremendous number of foreign soldiers were suddenly landed in their midst, but they soon learned to regard them with the utmost signs of friendliness, and you would get a bigger outcry from the Chinese in Shanghai if you removed the defence force than you would get from any other direction from which such an outcry would be likely to come.
The right hon. Gentleman also spoke about the creation of a Shanghai army and suggested that our proper course was to tell the community of Shanghai—who, I would remind him have gone out there for purely commercial purposes, to further the development of the trade of this country and to uphold the traditions and name of Englishmen and of the British Empire—that they should form themselves, or that they should be formed by some species of local conscription, into a standing army which would be quite sufficient for any period of disturbance in China, however long it might be, to provide the necessary protection in Shanghai. He must have forgotten that the British community out there are engaged all day in commercial pursuits. They have their business to attend to, and they are carrying on that enterprise which is so necessary if we are to increase our export trade. He seems to forget that if you are to have a force of a nature which would have any effect it must practically be on duty the whole of the day and the whole of the night. How could he expect the commercial community to 2351 undertake to act in the capacity of regular soldiers and to carry on their ordinary commercial work. I find that difficult to understand, and I do not think that anybody in Shanghai could understand it. I would recommend the right hon. Member to go out to Shanghai and to stay there for three or four months, and he will see the Chinese intimidator going round shooting responsible Chinese foremen, whose function it is to see that the wheels of Chinese industry are carried on, or inciting the populace to hostility against the European community. If he did that and he put himself in the forefront of the battle for a little time he would not come back and make in this House the remarks which he has made to-day.
The Supplementary Estimate is a little larger than any of us thought it would be when the force was sent out. It is perhaps larger than we were led to suppose it would be, but I do not suppose for a moment that there is any citizen of this country who is not absolutely blinded by the fanaticism of political partisanship who grudges for a moment the money which has been spent. If ever the despatch of an expedition of this nature was justified by this country the despatch of that force has been justified. If ever money has been well spent in protecting British communities abroad who were unable to provide their own protection this money has been well spent. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) referred to the defence force as a forgotten army. I should say that it would be very much happier for his own political reputation if some of the speeches which he made in connection with the despatch of this defence force rapidly became forgotten speeches. That defence force, of course, saved Shanghai. It saved the municipal administration from the chaos into which the administration of Hankow has fallen, and it also helped to save Shanghai from any further trouble that may occur there. Further, it will be available while it is there for the purpose of protecting the British community at Tientsin if any chaos takes place there as the result of any giving up of the British Concession to a mixed Chinese administration which so far as we can gather at present is something which it is 2352 possible may occur. I can only hope that what has happened at Hankow will suffice to convince the Government that as regards the security of the British merchants in China one of the most fatal steps they could indulge in was an experiment of that nature. The hon. Gentlemen who have spoken in such strong terms about the despatch of the force have overlooked the fact that it evoked a spontaneous resolution of thanks to the British Government from foreigners of all nationalities in Shanghai, and that is largely unprecedented in our history. The events that are taking place now in Canton and about which we have been reading in the papers in the last few days afford an eloquent testimony to the necessity of this force in Shanghai for protecting the community there.
It is just as well that we should have the opportunity given to us by this Vote of again turning our attention to the situation that exists in China to-day; to our interests there, to what is at stake, to the fact that there are nine battalions of young British troops confined in Shanghai in comparative idleness, and that nobody can possibly say when we shall be able to withdraw them. My hon. and gallant Friend who presented this Estimate told us that the balance of this force will be left there until a stable Government exists in China, willing and able to create conditions of security. He could not tell us when we are going to find that Government. It is well that we should ask ourselves what is to be the outcome of the existence of these forces in Shanghai, how long they are going to be there, and what steps, if any, we can take to get them back. The conditions in China at the moment are no better than they were when the defence force went out. At that time there was a nationalist movement, which was at least a coherent organisation, sweeping the country, and which bade fair within a reasonable time to establish itself as the national Government at Peking. It was hoped that conditions would then be created which would enable the force to be withdrawn.
What is the position to-day? The Nationalist Government has disappeared. Mr. Eugene Chen, the then Foreign Minister, has disappeared too, and most people hoped the Hankow agreement had disappeared with him. There are now, 2353 instead of one united Government, three different Governments in South China, one in Canton, one at Nanking, and one at Hankow, all disputing which is to be the ultimate successor to the Government which disappeared, all fighting with one another, all endeavouring to see what they can do to forward their own projects and ambitions at the expense of their neighbours. Instead of any recognized authority, we find that there are new military commanders springing up every day. Each of them is in control of a certain number of troops, if you can call them troops. Most people call them brigands. They are intent on lining their own pockets as soon as they possibly can at the expense of their own country. Each of them is trying to get the better of the other, and not one of them is animated by any motive of bettering the conditions of his country or its people. The prize on which the eyes of these gentlemen are set is the flourishing port of Shanghai.
I would also remind the Committee that in Shanghai some 70 per cent of the Customs revenue of China is received. It is of great importance that these Customs revenues should be devoted to the purposes for which they are allocated by the obligations China has entered into and for the service of the various loans which have been made from time to time. Not one of these commanders appears to have any regard for China's obligations, but only for his own interests; and if any one of them were to secure possession of Shanghai it is very plain what would happen to these revenues. If they were sequestrated by any of these adventurers, the prosperity on which China depends would cease. I have no doubt that the conditions which prevail in that part are such as to make it more imperative than ever to see that sufficient forces are maintained at Shanghai in the interests of all nations, and particularly of China, and to preserve it from being absolutely devastated and wiped out. No one will deny that the presence of the defence force at Shanghai is as necessary now as it was when it was sent. No one can possibly tell how long the present conditions will continue, and nobody can say that the object for which we sent it there has ceased to exist.
The question which arises in view of this is, are we prepared to sit patiently down 2354 with folded hands in view of the prospect of that force being maintained there for an indefinite period, without lifting a finger to see if anything can be done? Is that our right course? Or is it to see whether there are no possible steps we can take which can create a state of affairs under which that force can he safely withdrawn or largely reduced? Are we not to make any effort to see if anything can be done? There can only be one answer to that question. We owe it to ourselves, to the men in Shanghai, to the British merchants, to the British taxpayers, and to the large Chinese community in that region with whom we have always been in a relationship of the greatest respect and esteem, to make an effort. In the name of common humanity we owe it to the vast, toiling, starving 'masses in China to see that assistance is rendered in some shape or form. What steps are the Government taking in this direction? What is the policy which they have in mind? [An HON. MEMBER: "What is your suggestion?"] They have announced a liberal policy towards Chinese aspirations but no policy to get the Defence Force out.
What is the next question that arises? What can we do? Any person with any knowledge of the situation there knows that there are other nations involved in this question. We are not the only ones concerned, and I submit that the first step we ought to take is to ascertain by first-hand contact if some common policy of co-operation between us and these nations cannot be pursued. I do not suggest a policy of aggression, of intervention or of force, but a policy designed and intended to create such conditions of comparative security as will not only enable us to withdraw the Defence Force, but to give assistance to China as well; a policy which would keep in check not only these military adventurers, but also tend to be of some help and assistance not only to the British community, but to the Chinese. Trade with China largely depends upon having certain sheltered places where business can be carried on, free from the distraction of these commanders.
We have to recognise that the Washington Agreement has become an obsolete document. It was a document brought into being in respect of a state of affairs which has now ceased to exist. We must ascertain what are the views of these other Powers interested in China, and 2355 see how far they can go with us and how far we can go with them. A great deal of preparatory work is necessary before we can ascertain exactly what the situation is, and I would submit that the right course for the Government to pursue is not to attempt to do this by means of the tortuous process of ordinary diplomatic conversations, which take a tremendous time, but to send out the biggest and best-known man of influence they can find in the country, somebody whose position and reputation are widely known and universally recognised, and charge him with the task of exploring the ground and ascertaining the possibilities by direct contact with responsible Ministers of the other nations concerned, the Foreign Ministers of America, Japan, France, Italy, and the other nations in the Washington Agreement, and who are still interested in China.
I know the Under-Secretary will raise objections to that course. There are objections to any course, and if we allow our policy to be paralysed by objections, we shall find that Defence Force sitting there year after year, and we shall never be able to get it out. But more than that, I suggest that steps should be taken to consult the great mass of moderate opinion in China which is only too aghast at what is taking place, which cannot understand why we permit our rights to be disregarded and our people endangered without making the slightest effort to check the marauders who are carrying out these acts, and who have come to regard us no longer as a strong Power capable of standing up for our rights, but, to use a characteristic Chinese expression, as a paper tiger which looks fierce and does nothing. We should take steps to see if they have not some suggestions which may be of assistance to themselves and to us, if, at the worst, they can suggest some policy we could adopt which would serve to keep alive the centres of trade until more settled conditions exist. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the big Chinese Guilds must surely have some views on this matter which will be worth while ascertaining. Why should we not ask what they are?
If we find that all efforts in this direction are hopeless, I suggest that we should consider laying the whole matter before the League of Nations. China 2356 has disregarded, or very largely disregarded, all the Treaties she has entered into. She has infringed their provisions almost every day. She is imperilling our subjects. She is a member of the League of Nations. Surely it is within the competence of the League, and well worth its attention, to turn its consideration to the large and great issues which are at stake in this part of the world. I ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State if there is anything in the constitution or in the rules or procedure of the League of Nations which prevents this matter being brought to their notice by himself or by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. If they fail there, what else can we do? I suggest that the next step is to see if we cannot obtain a common policy with Japan, with whom I would remind the Committee, we had the happiest alliance for many years. Japan is as much, interested in these questions as we are. She has, perhaps, a greater interest in China than we have. She is equally concerned with us, and she cannot afford to remain long aloof from what is happening in China. We have no right to assume that she would not be willing and even anxious to walk hand in hand with us in this matter. We are entitled to anticipate that she would be only too willing to co-operate with us in some common policy which would not only protect both our interests alike in the Far East, but would be calculated to bring some measure of peace and security to portions of that very unhappy land.
Finally, if everything else fails, if all these efforts are doomed to failure, there is one thing which stands out clearly as an instance of what we ought to do. We ought to ensure respect for ourselves, for our rights, for our interests and for our subjects, by insisting upon China's engagements with us being respected and fulfilled. We ought to permit no interference with, and no derogation from, these rights. We ought to make it clear that we shall maintain them by any means which we consider advisable, whatever the consequences may be. What is the lesson which has been learned through generations of contact with Oriental nations? It is that the less you stand up for your rights, the more you are under the necessity of standing up for them. The more we pursue the policy of offering the other cheek to the smiter, the more we shall have to put up with the 2357 exactions and the excesses of military leaders. If we do not take steps to stand up for ourselves, to see that our rights are not only insisted upon but respected, the more we shall be under the obligation to keep the Defence Force there. Our concessions, our settlements, the railways which have been built with our moneys, and which are run by our management, are outstanding instances of matters in-which we should see that our rights are maintained and preserved.
If we do that we shall at least have this advantage, that we shall maintain certain vital areas of trade in China where there are order and security, and where the Chinese as well as ourselves can carry on the business which they are only too anxious to carry on, if conditions permit. After all, the real question we have to ask ourselves is, Are we content to allow a quarter of the world which contains one-fourth of the whole population of the globe to lapse into devastation and misery without anyone making the slightest effort to see if something cannot be done? I can discover nowhere at the moment any movement or idea on the part of Great Britain or any other nation to take any steps which may be of assistance to the Chinese who are now suffering from the causes with which we have been familiar for some time; and upon the answer to this question depends the answer not only as to the outcome of the future events in China but as to how long we shall be obliged to keep the Defence Force there.
§ Mr. WELLOCK
I desire to oppose this Vote, and I do so because I believe the policy we have pursued in China is entirely wrong. The situation in China when we sent out these troops was very difficult indeed. Involved in it were economic issues, the question of extra-territoriality, and the great national movement of China. The least we could have done in these circumstances was to make our attitude absolutely clear. We never attempted to do that in regard to the question of extraterritoriality, or with reference to our economic position as occupiers of factories and other works in Shanghai and other places. Instead of adopting an enlightened policy in regard to China, we sent our troops there, and there was, naturally, a good deal of antagonism through-nut the country, which has been main- 2358 tained to this day. We are suffering from it to-day, and have suffered from it all along. That antagonism need never have occurred, or, if it had, it might have been removed in the early stages if our policy had been open and enlightened.
There is a considerable number of Germans in China, in Shanghai and outside, and a certain number of Belgians, and in regard to both these sets of nationals there has never been any danger for the safety of their lives, property or business. As a matter of fact, I was reading in an American journal recently an article written by an American journalist, who said that he had witnessed very remarkable things in China. He had seen going down the Yangtse German boats which put on certain Chinese characters conveying tidings of goodwill to the Chinese people, and that a battle between two national parties was actually stopped in order to allow these German boats to proceed on their way. He further said that Germany was picking up a good deal of trade in parts of China where it was impossible for British people to go at the present moment. It must be emphasised that during the last 10 or 20 years very remarkable changes have taken place in the psychology of what are called backward races in reference to their dealing with those Powers who, according to their opinion, are oppressing them. These people are now realising that there are other methods of winning their freedom and maintaining their rights than the use of physical force. They are learning the method of the boycott, and we have been made to suffer as the result of our policy in China, which has led to the sending out of these troops.
I say quite frankly, that if we had been explicit, open and enlightened in our declaration regarding the economic situation in our attitude to the national struggle and to the question of extraterritoriality, we need not have sent a single soldier to Shanghai. That is my firm belief, and our people in Shanghai or in any other part of China would have been far safer than they are at the present moment. There are many items which should go to the debit side of this account which are not in the statement given to us. For example, take the question of trade. Every department of our trade has suffered since we sent our troops to Shanghai. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Ward- 2359 law-Milne) tried to make out that the statements of the right hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) were wrong, as there were other factors which were causing our trade to slump in China and other parts of the Far East. There is a modicum of truth in what the hon. Member says, but the fall in our trade in the present year compared with last year is very marked and sudden, and it took place immediately after our troops went to China.
Take the case of cotton, which is our biggest export trade as far as China is concerned. In January, 1926, we sent out to China, in piece goods, cotton to the value of £799,731. In January of the present year, the figure was £766,057, a drop of £33,000. But come to the month of February, three or four weeks after our new policy had been declared, and you find that there is a much more substantial fall. In February last year we exported to China cotton goods to the value of £985,000, and in February of this year we exported £678,000, a fall of something over 30 per cent. Come to March and you see that the figures fall still more. In March of last year we exported £771,000 worth of cotton goods, but in March of this year the figure fell to £400,000. In April of last year the figure was £598,000, and in April of the present year it was £122,000. I think the Committee will recognise that this fall is a phenomenal one and is the direct result of our policy of sending out troops to China. It means that we have lost something like £3,000,000 worth of trade during the last ten months, so far as the Lancashire cotton trade is concerned; that is the figure in the first ten months of this year compared with the first ten months of last year. The total yardage represented by that amount is 72,000,000 square yards. I wonder what our Lancashire friends would have to say if tomorrow morning orders could be put on the Manchester Exchange for 72,000,000 square yards of cotton cloth? That would be a prospect which I am sure the Lancashire people would welcome. It is one of the costs we have to pay, that the workers of this country have to pay, for sending out British troops to China—a definite cost of £3,000,000, and the workers of Lancashire have to pay another £3,000,000 in loss of trade.
§ Mr. A. HOPKINSON
The hon. Member has asked a question, and I will give an answer. He has asked, what would Lancashire say if a very large number of orders were to be placed with us in the cotton trade? Speaking on behalf of a cotton district of Lancashire that has suffered very severely from the loss of China trade, I can answer that if those orders involved the loss or the safety of a single Englishman or Englishwoman in China, we should repudiate the orders.
§ Mr. WELLOCK
I have already dealt with that issue and I have declared my view that if this country had followed the lines that I have suggested there would not have been one Englishman in China who would have lost his life as a result of that policy. Furthermore there is another item in the account that is not mentioned very definitely. That is the question of the health of the troops. I observed that the Financial Secretary to the War Office stated that the chief disease or illness from which our troops have suffered in China is pneumonia. That statement does not correspond with an article that appeared in the "Lancet" on 18th June last. I quote from that article the following:—Since the arrival of the British troops there have been many cases of influenza and pneumonia, but the question of venereal disease has been the most clamant one, and in spite of every possible precaution the number of those affected has steadily increased.Further on in the article it is stated:—The high venereal rate has given the Command much concern and no stone is left unturned in the effort to lower it.I am not going to attempt to apportion any blame on an issue of that kind. I believe that the statement made here is correct, that everything has been done and everything would be done in order to put right a matter of this kind. What I am concerned with is the fact that when so many thousands of our men have to go out to a place like Shanghai, where you have such a conglomerate population from almost every part of the world, and where conditions of this kind exist, that condition of affairs has to be taken into account when you are settling the bill for such a movement as gave rise to the sending of the troops. I have raised this matter with the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and have been in corre- 2361 spondence with him upon it for several months. I expected a fuller report by this time. It has not come to hand, and, lacking that further information, I shall not go further into the issue at the moment. Nevertheless it is a very important matter and I would like the Committee to realise that this evil does not end when the troops come back to this country. Many tragedies will follow from what is stated to have taken place in this report by an eminent doctor who has been out to China.
I will say one further word with respect to our sending troops from India to China. That again is a very serious matter. Those troops were sent from one part of the East to another part of the East, and the people of India, neither democratically nor through their representatives, had any voice in regard to the sending of those troops. As a matter of fact there were many meetings of protest in India against that action. It is a matter that ought to give us very serious cause for concern, that we should send troops from one Eastern people against another Eastern people, thereby causing antagonism between those two sets of people. Further, I think that the action taken has tended to alienate the public opinion of India against this country. So from many points of view the action of the Government in sending troops to China, both from India and from this country, has been disastrous. I would beg the Government to review their entire policy. I recommend that they should even consider the suggestion made by the last speaker. We do need a more enlightened policy in regard to the Chinese situation. I hope that something will be done, that we shall declare our policy and be able to bring the troops home at the earliest possible date.
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
I will not detain the Committee for long, because upon this subject I know no more perhaps than the hon. Member who has just spoken. But in previous speeches there have been one or two points to which attention ought to be called. I wish first of all to congratulate the right hon Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) upon the concluding part of his speech, which put in very fine language indeed exactly what the policy of the Government has been in respect of China during the time that the pre- 2362 sent Government has been dealing with the situation. If the right hon. Gentleman reads his own speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow, and compares it with those made from the Treasury Bench in the spring of this year, he will find that they tally in the most remarkable way. His suggestion about the formation of the defence force has been met by the arguments of the hon. Member for South-east Essex (Mr. Looker), who pointed out that the material is not really there. The right hon. Gentleman himself would admit, I think, that if he were in charge of the situation he would have very considerable doubts as to whether he could deal successfully with it with a force raised from not more than a couple of thousands of the European population.
It did come into my mind that one solution of the trouble would be to send out the right hon. Gentleman himself to settle China. Many Members of this House have probably forgotten that the right hon. Gentleman at one time was in charge of a district in Zululand. Subject to correction, I state that he introduced into his district such a degree of order and such an excess of discipline that even to this day Zulu mothers say to a refractory child, "If you do not shut up, you little blighter, I will give you to Josh." My real objection to what has come from the Labour benches is in respect of what underlay the speech of the right hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan). On behalf of my own constituents, who are suffering terribly from the depression in the cotton trade of the East, I repudiate completely the suggestion that they, for the sake of their own wages and their own prosperity, would oppose the sending of an expeditionary force to preserve the lives of their fellow countrymen and fellow country-women in China.
§ Mr. J. HUDSON
Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to put that point of view to his constituents and to stand by it at the next election?
§ Mr. HOPKINSON
Certainly. To my constituents, those who are suffering worst, those engaged in coarse cotton spinning, I would put the question, "Would you prefer to have an additional day's wage or an additional week's work which costs the lives of your fellow citi- 2363 zens?" When this matter came up earlier in the year, I did discuss it with some of them. I said to them that in the opinion of the Government—the Government does know something about it, even as much as the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Hudson) knows—it was necessary to incur this expense and to send out this force. The conception, which apparently prevails in the minds of hon. Members opposite, that the Government of this country in our present financial condition sends out an expensive force to China for the fun of the thing, is too ludcrious to be worth consideration. The idea that any Government at the present time would incur such expense, unless they were convinced that it was absolutely unavoidable, is a preposterous idea. Therefore, my own constituents understand that any expense which has been incurred and any loss of trade, have been necessary to preserve the lives of the people in China. Unhappily hon. Members, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle, have very few opportunities of coming into contact with the workers of the country, but those of us who have lived among them; and have worked alongside them all our lives realise that they are very far from being such contemptible creatures as the right hon. Gentleman would have us imagine.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
A lot of the trouble we have is that, as usual, the British taxpayer is shouldering the whole of the burden. I have just had put into my hands by the hon. Member for Stourbridge (Mr. Wellock), on whose speech I would offer him congratulations, the reply to a question which was given by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It refers to the ratepayers in the International Settlement at Shanghai. Perhaps the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Looker) will address himself to these figures. The whole of the bill apparently is being borne by us. It is true that other countries have had warships at Shanghai, but we are the only Power to send troops to Shanghai. The British ratepayers in the Settlement number 1,157, the Japanese 552, Americans 328, Germans 184, Russians 112, French 98, and so on. The total number of Europeans and Japanese in the Settlement is 2,742 and much less 2364 than half are British. Yet we are sending the whole of the troops and bearing by far the greater part of the cost.
§ Mr. LOOKER
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware that the Americans, Japanese, French and Italians have also sent units to protect Shanghai?
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
That is not so. They have not sent troops; they have sent warships. We are the only Power to send soldiers. Not only have we to bear an immediate cost of several millions, but we shall bear odium in future among the Chinese, when I hope they have a central Government responsible to a Parliament elected by the whole of China—a federal Government—we shall have to bear the bad odour for our action. Other Powers have sent warships and so have we, but there are far more British than foreign warships. I sent certain questions to the hon. and gallant Member who opened the Debate, and I apologise to him for not being able to hear the whole of his speech but I had to attend a Committee. One of my hon. Friends, however, tells me that the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not fully answer my questions. Why have we not induced this very wealthy community in Shanghai to contribute something to this cost? There is a very large item here of £156,000 for the rent of buildings in addition to lodging allowances and so forth. I was in Shanghai two or three times during my service in China and even then, many years ago, it was one of the wealthiest cities in the world for its size. I suppose ground rents and values are as high inside the Settlement in Shanghai, as they are in London. For years, this wealthy community has lived without paying taxes apart from municipal taxes. They have not paid any taxes to the Chinese Government or to our Government. They are free of Income Tax, and I do not think they contributed any money to the cost of the War, though a great many of them served in the forces.
§ Mr. LOOKER
I should like to say that as much money was sent from Shanghai as a contribution to the cost of the War, as from any other place.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
The hon. Member for South-East Essex is referring to a voluntary contribution. I give them great credit. They are very generous indeed when they have to put their hands in their pockets but I would rather put a tax on the whole community and let them contribute something in that way. I am reminded very much of what I remember to have happened in the days when I was just beginning to take an interest in politics. The late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain went to South Africa and told the British people that he was going to get something from the owners of the mines in the Rand for the cost of the South African War, but he never got one shilling.
§ Commodore KING
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will allow me, I wish to correct him on one point. He is speaking as though Shanghai were a British dependency. It is an international settlement, and it would have been impossible to have levied taxation on it for the purposes of the War.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I concede that point in reference to the cost of the past War, but we might do something towards getting them to help in paying for this veiled war in which we have engaged.
§ Sir CLEMENT KINLOCH-COOKE
On a point of Order. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has made an assertion about a right hon. Member of this House who is now dead, and he says that that right hon. Gentleman said something to him. I myself do not believe the right hon. Gentleman ever did so, but if the hon. and gallant Gentleman says he did so, I should like to know on what occasion?
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Lieut.-Colonel Spender-Clay)
I do not think any point of Order arises.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I am saying that I never had the honour of speech with Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. I did not say that he made this remark 2366 to me. I am only using it as an illustration. This international settlement should, I think, contribute to the cost of this British Army, and I believe a threat to withdraw the Army would make them put their hands in their pockets and pay very quickly. There is no difficulty about getting it. I am not speaking now about the cost of the late War, but about the cost of the present war in which the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite and the War Office are engaged.
I understand also that the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not answer my question about the occupation of territory outside the international settlement. There may be a case in international law for occupying the settlement. We have done it in the past, and I have always thought in certain circumstances it was quite legitimate. When Shanghai changed hands before, as it did several times when contending generals captured it or were driven out of it, ships have landed armed parties and, with the aid of volunteers—business men and so forth, the "Shanghai Highlanders" and other corps that are in being in the settlement —they managed to keep disorderly elements out of the settlement. I think that could have been done on this occasion. There is a case for that in international law, but I can see no justification for occupying territory outside the settlement. We have crossed the river and occupied certain factories and railway stations and gone a considerable way outside the settlement. China is a fellow-member of the League of Nations with this country, and we have committed an act of aggression. If the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Locker-Lampson) is not able to define aggression, I advise him to address himself to this as a very good sample of an act of aggression. I have reason to believe that we have alienated a great many of the moderate elements in China who were prepared to excuse our landing an army, but who cannot excuse this invasion of Chinese soil.
Further, why is it necessary that our aeroplanes should continually fly over Chinese territory? If this force was a police force, I do not think it needed aeroplanes. Aeroplanes are quite useless for street fighting. I could understand tanks and armoured cars and even howitzers, but why aeroplanes, unless you 2367 intend, when the time comes, to bombard the interior of China? It is naturally irritating to the Chinese to have these machines flying over their territory and when machines are forced to land the Chinese arrest the occupants or remove the wings of the aeroplane. We then move part of the Chinese railway track —at a very convenient time for the Northern armies—until the release of the machine or the occupants, as the case may be. Perhaps the hon. Member for Wood Green will give us the Foreign Office justification for this violation of Chinese sovereignty. Might I also ask what is the position in regard to Wei-hai-wei? I understood that under the Washington Convention we were to evacuate it and return it to China. Are we in this case also waiting for the formation of an all-China Government. Wei-hai-wei is only of use to us as a health resort and I am sure the Chinese would allow us to continue using it as such. They were very good to us in the old days, allowing us to use Bias Bay and other places outside our territory at Hong Kong for Fleet exercises and for landing recreation parties, and all that sort of thing. Our restoration of Wei-hai-wei to Chinese sovereignty would have a very fine effect throughout China and would show that we wanted to make amends for the cavalier treatment which we have served out to China for the last 70 or 80 years.
I notice in the newspapers a very interesting account of a romantic Englishman known as General Sutton, who has been acting as Minister of Munitions for Chan Tso Lin, the Manchurian Dictator. The hon. Member for South East Essex said that the armies of the tuchans were mostly bandits. Chang Tso Lin is one of those people described by the hon. Member. He is one of the contending parties in China. Now, we have signed a convention not to allow arms to go to any of these contending factions in China, and if that convention had been honourably kept, the fighting would not have been so desperate or so long continued. It is notorious that, whereas our Government has tried to play its part in preventing illicit traffic in arms to China, other Governments have been very lax. But here we have a British ex-officer acting as Minister of Munitions in China 2368 to this Dictator in Peking and he is reported to have returned here with a fortune which is variously estimated at £50,000 and £500,000.
§ Mr. LOOKER
On a point of Order. May I ask what has the question of General Sutton to do with the Shanghai Defence Force?
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman was going rather far afield in his remarks, but I do not think he has yet gone out side the bounds of order.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
I think I can relate this matter to the Estimate before us because part of the Estimate is for sending troops to Tientsin, which is near Peking, and that is the area where this General Sutton has been supplying munitions to Chang Tso Lin, and these munitions may, in certain circumstances, be used against our troops. Do not let us make any mistake about it. If Chang Tso Lin is poisoned one fine day, as happens occasionally to dictators in China, another man may take his place who is more hostile to us, and the very munitions which General Sutton has been supplying, may be used to kill British soldiers. It happened in Turkey. I would remind hon. Members that our troops were killed at Gallipoli with munitions which had been supplied by British firms just before the War. This General Sutton has been giving interviews to the newspapers. I have never met him and I know nothing about him, but he seems to be a romantic adventurer. What would happen, I wonder, if this ex-officer had been supplying munitions to the Nationalist armies in China? If he had been supplying them to the great army which has just taken Canton, would he be featured in the daily Press? I think the Home Office would have something to say about him in that case. I mention this case, not to attack this successful adventurer, who, apparently, has had a very good time and has come out with a large fortune, but to show that our Government is in favour of the dictators and is hostile to the parties who are contending in China for a constitution and for national freedom. If that is not sufficient, I would refer to what is, I think, a disgraceful episode in China for which the Foreign Office cannot escape responsibility—
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
Before the hon. and gallant Gentleman leaves the other point may I ask him whether General Sutton is a regular officer or not?
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do not know. He is an ex-officer and he is a British subject. That is my point.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
The point of my question is of great importance. There are Members who sit behind the hon. and gallant Gentleman and who call themselves colonels who are not regular officers.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I presume that "General" is his local rank in China. I do not say that he is a general here.
§ Commodore KING
May I say that this gentleman was never a regular officer. He served during the War and left with the rank of captain.
§ Mr. HARDIE
May I point out that I am not a colonel, though I am sitting behind the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy).
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do not base my case on his temporary or brevet rank in our Army or his rank in Chang Tso Lin's Army. I rest my case on the fact that he is a British subject and he has been allowed to go in and out of the international settlements in China and that he goes to Shanghai and "hob nobs" with the British community there, and nothing is done to him.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do not know that Comrade McManus supplied any munitions to any of the contending factions in China. This ex-officer, this ex-temporary Captain, with local rank of General in China, who engaged in the supply of munitions against the Convention which our Government signed to prevent the supply of munitions to contending factions in China, is now a kind of hero, according to certain newspapers supporting the party opposite, and no steps are taken against him. What would have happened if he had been supplying the Bed Army in Canton? The Home Office would probably have paid 2370 some attention to him, and he would probably be in gaol by now. He is, however, as I say, a romantic adventurer, and I am attacking not him, but the Government. He could have been stopped very quickly in his activities in Peking-if our Minister there had been told to stop him.
I wish now to refer to another matter altogether, and this is a scandalous business. Some 14 students, members of the Kuomintang party—remember, we do not take sides in China at all, and the hon. Member for South-East Essex, who made a much better speech, if I may say so, than his own Foreign Secretary has yet made on China, looks for the day, and so do the Government, when there will be one party in control of the destinies of China, and one Government of whom he can approve. That is what we all hope for, and that will be the party of the Kuomintang, I hope— whether of the right or the left wing does not matter. My hon. Friends on this side might like to know that the people who win victories in China are always called Communists, but their doctrines are not Communistic at all. I am talking of the Kuomintang, and I think the Communist party will find that they are not necessarily friends of theirs.
As I say, 14 students of the Kuomintang party, this party that is struggling for a constitution for China, took refuge inside the British Concession at Tientsin, where British troops have been on guard, and they were handed over by the British police to the Government of Chang Tso-lin. They were, of course, plotting against the Government there. They were the Opposition, and they sought refuge in British territory in Tientsin, and so far have we forgotten the law of hospitality prevailing in the East that we turned over these young men to Chang Tso-lin's emissaries. Of course, they were called Communists after that incident, and this is what happened. I will quote from the "Times" of 30th April last. These are the people who, by an abuse of hospitality, a deliberate example of taking sides, were handed over to this ex-bandit Chang Tso-lin, and this is what happened, according to a correspondent of the "Times," writing from Peking on 29th April:The execution of 20 Communists by strangulation yesterday was carried out in circumstances of great brutality. It appears to have been a deliberately slow process, 2371 each case taking about 10 minutes. In order to increase the moral effect of the executions, 40 arrested Communists were paraded on the execution ground without warning, nor was any announcement made of their sentences.I am expecting momentarily an interruption from some hon. Member opposite to remind me what happened to opponents of the Communists in Russia, but I would again remind the Committee that anyone in China who is in favour of the Kuomintang is described as a Communist, though that is an abuse of words. They are not Communists at all. The "Times" correspondent goes on to criticise the horrible method of putting these men to death and the altogether unjust practices of the Chinese courts. He describes them as Byzantine, and mediæval, and so on, and we know that that sort of thing goes on in China, but in this case these were people who were handed over by the British police in the British Concession at Tientsin, which is guarded to-day by British soldiers, to their political adversaries to be treated in this way, and I say that it is a scandal and a disgrace to British practice in the East. I would remind the Committee of the fact that this sort of thing was not done in past years. These unfortunate political refugees in the past were allowed to take refuge in the International Settlements, and were never handed over to their enemies.
§ Mr. LOOKER
On a further point of Order. Is there any remotest connection between this matter and the Vote which we are discussing, even on a liberal interpretation of what may be discussed?
§ Mr. DALTON
On that point of Order, may I submit that the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Looker), in his speech, introduced a large number of matters as remote from this Vote as Geneva and the League of Nations, and that he was not called to Order?
§ Mr. LOOKER
May I reply to that point by saying that I was discussing what policy we might pursue in order to get this force out of China, which was, I submit, quite a legitimate subject of discussion on this Vote?
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
I think this Vote deals with the maintenance of troops in Tientsin, and, therefore, the hon. and gallant Member for 2372 Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) is in order in discussing that question. In regard to the point of Order raised by the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Dalton), I did not hear the speech of the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Looker), so that I am unable to rule on that.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
To return to this incident at Tientsin, I think it is scandalous and that our Foreign Office is responsible; and this is not the first time that the Foreign Office has allowed that sort of thing to go on. If the hon. Member for Wood Green challenges me, I would remind him of a flagrant case, when he allowed the Chinese authorities to raid the Legation quarter in Peking in order to arrest people in the Russian compound, and that they were afterwards executed in the same brutal manner. That could not have been done without the permission of our Minister in Peking, and the Foreign Office must have known about it, otherwise they were flouted; and I say that the Foreign Office is very much to blame and that we shall pay dearly for this kind of thing in the future.
In Shanghai, under the very noses of our police—and, of course, we expect our troops to behave as British soldiers always do behave, and I readily accept all that has been said in that regard— the most appalling atrocities have been committed, always against Labour men and trade union officials. They are called Communists, and their heads are cut off without any trouble, and a great many are brutally tortured as well. Anyone in China who is aiming to raise the status of labour, to organise the labourers and factory workers, is liable, if reactionary generals are in local control, to be arrested and executed summarily; and this goes on in the area controlled by disciplined British troops, and I think it is very disgraceful. Also, in this city of Shanghai, where such peace and order have been preserved, the local irregular police, largely consisting of Russian refugees, anti-Communist Russians, were permitted to attack the Soviet Consulate and to break into it, and there was bloodshed and shooting on both sides. It was altogether a very disgraceful example of interference with the diplomatic privileges that every consulate may look to, right under the noses of our disciplined force 2373 of overwhelming strength in Shanghai; and to say that our policy in China has simply been one of safeguarding the lives of British men, women and children is nonsense. It has been partial, unfair, and very unjust.
With regard to these executions of trade union leaders that have taken place in the area controlled by our troops, China is going through a period of industrialism. Modern factories are being erected, and the Chinese are being trained as factory workers all over China; and they are being employed at a terribly low rate of wages and under horrible conditions of labour. That is admitted, and these low wage conditions are a menace to the workers of this country, of France, of America, of Germany, and of any other country that has a decent European standard for its workers. The only hope really in China, in the long run, is for labour to become organised and economically stronger, and that can only be through combination. China is going through the same stage that we went through in the early years of this century, when British workmen were deported, and in some cases killed, for attempting to organise their fellows in trade unions. In China the left wing of the Kuomintang are trying to organise labour into unions in order to improve the conditions of the workpeople.
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. and gallant Member is now going rather too far afield. This is a Debate on general policy, but to go into labour problems is, I think, going too far.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I beg your pardon, Sir. I was going to connect it up by saying that in Shanghai, and wherever, in fact, the British have control, I am sorry to say that these Labour organisers are suppressed, and I do not think that is what our troops were sent out to do. I have in my hand a letter from a soldier in Shanghai, and I will show it to the hon. and gallant Commodore representing the War Office if he would like to see it. Of course, it was sent to me under the seal of confidence. The writer, who is a member of a famous corps, says:There is no good purpose being served by the maintenance of the existing large and unwieldy force stationed in Shanghai, 2374 at a cost to the British taxpayer of some quarter of a million pounds a month, exclusive of overhead charges. I may add that this view is shared by the majority of the rank and file of the Army in Shanghai. 'Tommy' realises, of course, his obligation to serve in any part of the world, and in this respect his loyalty is unquestioned, but as a citizen with a vote he is also entitled to know that he is fulfilling some necessary task, and it appears that that cannot be said of the Shanghai Defence Force now, however much it might have been in March last. Why thousands of troops should be kept under active service conditions and restrictions in a place where there is no fighting to do is beyond our comprehension, especially when the place is far from being a health resort, as the hospital statistics show.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
Would it not be rather hard on this man if the hon. and gallant Member sent this confidential letter to the War Office?
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Oh, I will not send it to the War Office. What I said was that I would show it to the Parliamentary Secretary, whom I can trust implicitly, of course.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
I did not say he was an officer. I said he was a member of the Army, but I will show the letter afterwards to the hon. and gallant Member. No names are attached to it, and he can see the letter with pleasure. It is very interesting, and it will do the hon. and gallant Member good to read it. There is a lot more of it, but I need not trouble the Committee with that. Here is this force, which apparently is to be in Shanghai, as the soldiers say, for "a full do." There is no prospect of this force being removed for the present, and we find ourselves in the position of 2375 being saddled with a permanent charge of six or seven millions a year for an indefinite number of years. That, I say, is the result of the muddling of successive British Governments, not only of this Government, but of its predecessors as well.
It would be out of order to go into past history, but for 16 years, ever since 1911, we have been backing—openly, in too many cases—the wrong horse in China. We backed the wrong horse in Russia and spent £100,000,000 of the taxpayers' money. I believe that in the long run the democratic forces in China, in spite of internal differences, will prevail, and that they will restore order in that distracted country. Every one is sorry for the great mass of the Chinese people, and I believe that their only final chance of salvation is in the same way in which we in the West have found salvation, and that is by democratic institutions. When that time comes, the best friend and the best patriot of this country will not be the hon. Member for South-East Essex and those for whom he speaks, but those on this side, who want a little sympathy and help shown to these people who are struggling with adversity and going through a very difficult time, and who protest against this unwarranted invasion of Chinese territory against imaginary perils.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
My hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken has wandered into a good deal of purely irrelevant matter. There is only one question a Member of this House has to decide on this Vote, and that is, whether he thinks that the Government were justified in sending an expeditionary force to Shanghai under the conditions which arose earlier in this year. I was firmly of opinion, after going into the matter very closely, that no Government could have shirked that responsibility; and I am perfectly certain that it does not matter in the least what Government was in power, whether a Conservative or a Labour or a Liberal Government, if they were confronted with the same conditions, I feel confident that they would not have taken any other course, and I do not think public opinion in this country would have tolerated a Government taking any other course. It is nothing whatever to do with the internal conditions of China. 2376 If the Government had been sending a force there to back up any of the rivals, whether they are bandits or generals, or what not, it would have been absolutely wrong. It would have been wrong in principle; it would have been utterly foolish. We would have committed ourselves to an entanglement of which we could not see the end without it costing us far more than £3,000,000 in the course of this year. The Foreign Secretary in his speech, and afterwards by specific replies to questions which I, among others, put to him, gave an undertaking on the part of the Government that there would be no interference among the rival forces, and that the force was to be sent there purely for the purpose of protecting the lives of British citizens there.
I do not know whether it is necessary to recall the conditions under which the force was sent. There was a real danger to British life at Hankow, and there was a repetition of the same sort of thing at Nanking. There are about 16,000 white people at Shanghai. I am unable to ascertain the exact number of the British subjects there, but I believe there are far more British citizens than there are citizens of any other individual nation. They number several thousands. Here was a prospect of a fight—such a fight as you got—in China between two or three rival armies. It was not even two. One or two of the armies are split into various forces. One general captures the command one day, and next day he is deposed. One of these gentlemen actually absconded with the army pay, and somebody else took charge of the concern. There was really no one in charge. It is idle to talk about the League of Nations. There was no one who could be held responsible to the League of Nations or by the League of Nations. The only representative of the League of Nations at the present moment is the representative of the Peking Government. The Peking Government have no authority at all in these areas, and I doubt very much if they had any authority with the nominal general who had Shanghai at that time, but they certainly had not any authority with the advancing army which ultimately captured Shanghai. Supposing we had said, "Let us recognise Mr. Chen." What happened to him? He soon vanished, and since then there have been four or five rival Governments, and even Kuomintang it- 2377 self, whose armies were advancing upon Shanghai, have been split into several contending forces. At one time, Nanking was fighting Hankow, and Hankow was fighting Nanking, and Shanghai was fighting the two. There was no one there whom the League of Nations could summon to discuss the situation.
The question was whether it was necessary or not to protect British lives, and I go to the extent of saying that even if somebody says now that nothing would have happened if we had not sent a force, that does not justify anybody voting against this. We have to consider what the position was at that moment. Even if the Government sent too large a force— that is very probable—I do not think even that is a ground for condemnation. It was a fault on the right side. At that moment the forces seemed to be much more formidable than they turned out to be. If the Government had sent too small a force, you might have had a disaster of the first magnitude which would have resounded throughout the whole world, and would have been detrimental to the repute of our country throughout Asia. In fact, we could not have taken the risk of sending too small a force; though I think it has turned out that it was a bigger force than was necessary.
I come to another question. I should like to hear from the Government what are the prospects of our extricating this force from Shanghai. It is quite clear you cannot keep permanently a big British garrison there, and we ought to hear what the Government mean to do. I should have preferred, as one who supported the Government in sending an expedition, if they had left the forces at Hong Kong. It would have been better from the point of view of the health of the troops. It is clear, when you look at the Estimates, that the health is pretty bad. Two substantial items seem to show that the health of the troops was really rather worse than it would have been if the troops had been in some area over which we had complete control. If these troops had been at Hong Kong, they would have been within two or three days' steaming of Shanghai and would have been quite near enough—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is longer than I thought. Even then, I should 2378 have thought that they were quite near enough to justify our leaving the main body of the troops in a place where we had complete municipal control over the health and sanitation of the area, and where, probably, they would have had very much better quarters than they have at Shanghai. There are three questions I would like to put to the Government. How long do they think it will be necessary to maintain the troops; whether it will be possible to reduce the numbers; and whether, if they feel there is no risk in not having a very large body of troops within reach, it would not be desirable that they should be quartered at Hong Kong rather than where they are now? I should like to say again, that I am very glad the Government have not interfered in the conflict between the parties, and the best proof of that is that there has been a change in the control at Shanghai. The Kuomintang forces captured Shanghai even while the British troops were there. There was no interference to keep the Shanghai forces out. There has been a change in the Chinese control of that city since we have occupied it, and that is the best proof that the Government have kept faith with the House of Commons in that respect by not interfering between the rival forces. It is true that there has been a split between the forces in Shanghai, but we cannot hold the Government responsible for that. I earnestly hope that the policy which they have adopted of non-interference will be preserved right to the end.
Mr. W. FOOT MITCHELL
I will not traverse the ground that has been covered, but I would like to make a few references to some of the points that have been made by my friends on the opposite side of the House. They claim that it was quite unnecessary to send a defence force to Shanghai. I claim that I have some knowledge of China and its requirements, I come into contact with many whose interests are closely bound up with China, and I know that the action of the Government in sending a defence force to Shanghai has met with the very strong approval, not only of the residents in Shanghai, but also of the very large number of British interests in this country which are closely connected with the trade of China. There is no doubt that the expeditionary force was sent in 2379 the nick of time. Had they not arrived when they did, the loss of life would, I believe, have been enormous, and the destruction of property beyond description. Speaking for those who are interested in the China trade, I say that we owe much to the Government for taking this step, and for their foresight in acting at the moment they did; and if we have anything to complain about it is that the interests of the traders in China were not at the beginning of the trouble sufficiently protected, nor were the Treaties enforced as they might reasonably have been.
It has been pointed out in the course of the Debate that our trade with China has been interfered with owing to the presence of the Defence Force in Shanghai. As a director of one of the largest banks trading in Shanghai, I can say with absolute knowledge that it is nothing of the kind. That is not the reason why trade with China has fallen off. The reason is to be found in the action of the Bolsheviks, and the means they adopted to destroy our trade by instituting the boycott. It was pointed out by one hon. Member that while we could not trade Germany could do so, and that is the case, because the boycott was directed against this country and was carried out for a considerable time. It was Britain and British goods which were aimed at, and German trade was allowed to continue freely, the object of the Bolsheviks being to upset British interests in China.
It has been stated that the British taxpayer is shouldering the whole burden, but that is hardly correct. The banks which are associated with China, the large mercantile houses and the steamship companies trading with China, are all paying on this side' their share of taxation. Profits made in China are brought here. A bank's profits made by trading in China are transferred to this side, and Income Tax is paid upon them. Precisely the same thing occurs in the case of a merchant, who has his offices here and transfers his profits from China. He is a taxpayer and is paying his proportion of taxation. Therefore, it cannot be said that those associated with business in China are not paying their share of, or in any way contributing to, the cost of the Shanghai Defence Force. Another hon. Member referred to unequal treaties, saying the present posi- 2380 tion was largely due to the British Government trying to force the Chinese to recognise unequal treaties. There may be something in that contention, but those unequal treaties were thrust upon us by the Chinese themselves. When we sought to trade with them—this was a very long time ago—they refused to allow us to enter the interior of China and allotted to us certain small portions of land which they called settlements, places which, to them, were of little or no value—swamps, as Shanghai was. What they said was, "Make what you can of it, and you may trade there." Trade has been established in Shanghai, and Shanghai has become one of the largest and most prosperous cities in the Far East, and to-day undoubtedly the Chinese are casting envious eyes upon Shanghai, the British enterprise which has made it, and the enormous amount of British capital which is invested there, and also upon other places in China which have been similarly raised from mere swamps into wonderful commercial cities. They are casting envious eyes upon them, and would like to be in a position to taken them over.
When China is in a position to negotiate a new treaty with this country and with other Powers, I am quite certain that Great Britain will not be behindhand in meeting her aspirations, as far as it is reasonably possible to do so, but I do claim that in the meantime it is the duty of the Government to protect, as far as possible, the interest of traders in China. They have gone out there for no other purpose than that of trade. It is trade which has made this country what it is, and trade which will continue to add to the prosperity of the nation. China has been a very large contributor to that trade, and, on the other hand, we have been large purchasers of Chinese produce of one sort and another. The Treaties have not been one-sided. We have profited, and China has profited. The Government despatched the Shanghai Defence Force to China first of all in order that British lives should be protected and that British property should be protected, and in order that, as far as possible, the trade there, which is of great importance both to this country and to China, should be preserved.
I quite realise the difficulties of the Government with regard to removing the Defence Force. It is difficult to see 2381 when and how it may be done. I quite agree with my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Looker) when he says that probably the only means of arriving at an arrangement would be by sending some distinguished person to sound other Powers to ascertain whether we cannot come to an agreement with regard to action there, and the protection of the general trading interests and of life and property in China itself. As to the suggestion of the League of Nations doing this, I am afraid there is no body in China which could represent China in a satisfactory manner. If advances could be made through the League of Nations, and there were any possibility of coming to any satisfactory arrangement with China, I do not think we could possibly have a better channel through which to make some such attempt, but I fear there could be little hope of success to-day in view of the different factions in China. I hope the time may come, and come quickly, when it will be possible to remove the force from Shanghai; but until the Government are absolutely certain that the lives of our people are secure, that our properties are preserved and the obligation which the Chinese have undertaken under the Treaties already in existence are observed, I hope the Government will continue to retain that Force there.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Godfrey Locker-Lampson)
At the beginning of this Debate I rather hoped that I should not have to make a speech at all, that the Debate would be restricted within rather narrower limits, but various questions have been put to the Foreign Office, and, therefore, I feel it is my duty to deal with them as shortly as possible. I am very glad the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) came into the House and contributed the few remarks he did, because the Government have been very glad to have the stamp of his weighty approval to the sending of the defence force to Shanghai. He certainly offered one or two minor criticisms, and also asked one or two questions; these my hon. and gallant Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office will deal with when he replies later, and I propose to deal with questions more or less solely concerning the Foreign Office. The right 2382 hon. Gentleman the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) said that the unequal treaties must go. I entirely agree. The Government entirely agree that the unequal treaties have got to go, and we have already said so. In our Memorandum of December last, which was practically repeated in the following January, we made it perfectly clear that our policy was to negotiate, I will not say the complete abolition, but practically the abolition, of the so-called unequal treaties, and, as the right hon. Gentleman very properly said, we are merely waiting until we can get some body with whom to negotiate. At the moment there is no body with whom we possibly can negotiate on such a subject as that. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme who, I am sorry to say, has left the House, suggested that we should call a meeting of the Chinese leaders, a sort of round table conference of Chang Tso Lin, Cheng Chien and various other rulers and generals who are in the South at the present moment. I cannot imagine any meeting which would be less likely to arrive at a common conclusion at the present moment. Very nearly all the leaders in China are fighting against one another, at the head of vast armies, and I am afraid there would be no likelihood whatsoever of coming to any agreement on any subject regarding China.
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
My hon. Friend the Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Looker) made, I think, a very thoughtful and interesting speech. His first suggestion was that we should get into touch with the mass of moderate Chinese opinion. I wish we could do it, but I do not in the least know how it would be possible at the present moment. There is practically no Press in China. Where there is a Press you can get into touch with public opinion. We did our best in December last by publishing to the world our Memorandum, showing what we were prepared to do, so that all moderate people throughout China would understand our policy and, we hoped, be only too ready to co-operate with us. The unfortunate part of it is that a very large proportion of the Chinese popula- 2383 tion is illiterate and uneducated; it cannot read the Press, and, I am sure, there must be many millions of Chinese people who do not even know that a civil war is in progress.
§ Mr. LOOKER
May I point out that I referred to organisations like the large Chinese chambers of commerce which, more than anything else, reflect public opinion, and with whom we can easily get into touch?
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
We have been in touch with those organisations, but, after all, they have only a very limited sway. My hon. Friend also made a suggestion that we should co-operate more with the different Powers, if that were possible. We have always done our utmost to co-operate in the closest possible manner with all the Washington Powers, and during the last two years we have been in the closest relations with Japan, France, Italy and the United States. We have kept them fully informed on our policy, and we have done our best to bring our views into harmony with theirs, but, of course, this has meant that the slowest has set the pace. You cannot co-operate with a large number of Powers and expect to proceed very quickly. I can give instances in which we have co-operated on the occasion of the dismissal of Sir Francis Aglen from the Department of Customs. We were in the closest possible touch with Japan and it was owing to our co-operation that we were able to get this case more or less reviewed, and to ensure that he got proper treatment and payment at least for a year. We were also in very close co-operation with Japan over the Shanghai Customs Duties, and we were able to get them modified in the same way. We were in the closest possible co-operation over the Nanking outrages, and we sent an identic note in order to try to get an apology and reparation. At the present moment we are co-operating with the chief of the Powers in Peking with regard to the Bias Bay pirates, and we hope that we shall be able to do something to lessen the dangers of piracy in Southern China. If my hon. Friend means that we ought to have some special agreement with Japan to settle Chinese questions, I am afraid I do not agree with him because that would be going back on the Washington 2384 Four-Power Treaty, and if we had a special agreement with Japan the other Washington powers would have a very justifiable grievance.
Then my hon. Friend said that if these two things fail we ought to refer it to the League of Nations. After the right hon. Gentleman's demolition of that particular proposition I really do not think I need say any more. It is a most attractive proposition. I do not say for a moment that it is a foolish one, but I am afraid that at the present time it is quite impracticable, and even Lord Cecil who is so much devoted to the future of the League of Nations and its principles said the other day that it was quite impossible at the present moment to submit this question of China to the League. The other day Belgium attempted to do something very similar. The Peking authorities denounced the Belgian Treaty, and Belgium appealed to the International Court of Justice. What happened? The Chinese did not pay the slightest attention to the Permanent Court of International Justice, and it has only had the effect of rather impairing the authority of that Court without being of the slightest benefit to the Belgians themselves. I may say that we have already taken certain steps. Not so very long ago we wrote a letter to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations, placing the whole of our policy before the League, and saying that directly we could get a proper opportunity of placing the subject before the League, we should not hesitate for one moment to invoke their good offices.
May I say that the Government are very disappointed indeed that there is no improvement in China. There is not only no improvement, but I think that the general condition throughout China is worse than it was a few months ago owing to the increase of the number of generals, tuchuns, and governors, who all seem to be out to fight against one another. Our policy is, as it always has been, one of peace and conciliation. We have published our proposals, and we were the first nation to publish them, saying that we were ready practically to abolish the unequal Treaties. We are prepared to sweep away some of our extra-territoriality straight away without waiting at all; in fact, we have already done so with regard to the Mixed Court of Shanghai. We are prepared to grant 2385 tariff autonomy to China. We have already granted her the Washington surtaxes, in face of the opposition of some of the Powers, and more especially Japan. We are prepared to modify the municipal administration in all British Concessions; in fact, we have already done this in one case. We have already handed over the Hankow municipal administration to a mixed body of British and Chinese with practically Chinese control, and we are prepared to surrender many other privileges in order to meet moden Chinese aspirations.
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
We are prepared to surrender Wei-hei-wei directly we can get someone to negotiate with. The agreement has already been drawn up, and if it had not been for civil war, Wei-hei-wei would have been handed over long ago. We are simply waiting for some established authority in order to hand over Wei-hei-wei. In regard to General Sutton, we could not do anything at all in regard to him, because there was no case for legal action being taken against him. Since then I understand that he has returned. In regard to Tientsin, that was a case of the Chinese themselves imprisoning certain Communist agitators. The Chinese police produced proper warrants. We could not withhold these people from the Chinese authorities, and if they produce their warrants we have to hand over the men. I may say, however, that directly they were handed over, H.M. Consul-General made strong personal representations to the Chinese authorities saying that he hoped and believed they would have a proper trial.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Is the Under-Secretary not aware that ever since 1911, when the rebellion started, political refugees have taken refuge in our concession in Tientsin, and we have protected them? This is the first time that these young men have been surrendered for this brutal execution.
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I do not think that is the case. When a proper Chinese warrant is presented by the head of police in what is, after all, a Chinese 2386 town, I do not see how we can refuse to give these people up.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
In he past we did refuse to surrender these people, although the people temporarily in power demanded their surrender. Of course, we did this in the case of rich mandarins, but in this case they are only poor students.
§ Miss WILKINSON
If there is no proper authority to whom we can surrender Wei-hei-wei, why is there a proper authority to whom we can surrender these unfortunate students for execution?
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
That is a very different question. In this case we are dealing with the local Chinese police, and that is a very different thing from handing over a piece of territory, because in the latter case you must hand it over to a central power. Our difficulty is that there is no established Government with whom we can negotiate. China keeps on being a changing and shifting scene, and you may be negotiating with a general one day and the next morning he may have changed over with the whole of his army to the other side. Therefore, the only solution to-day is patience. Meanwhile, I would point out to hon. Gentlemen opposite that we cannot allow the rights of our fellow-subjects to be put in jeopardy in Shanghai. There they form a little island of British lives in the middle of an angry and stormy sea, and our troops are there merely in the character of a police force. They are not aggressive; they are merely defensive. We are as anxious as hon. Gentlemen opposite to withdraw our troops as soon as possible. Directly some kind of order is evolved, directly some kind of government is established which is able and willing to exercise some kind of control, we shall withdraw our troops at once. Meanwhile, it seems to me that it is our obvious and plain duty to the British citizens who have settled there with their families under treaties, relying on us, if necessary to defend them. It is obvious that we must keep those troops there so long as the lives and property of those British citizens are in danger. I hope hon. Members opposite, having made their speeches and having made their criticisms, may see 2387 their way to allow this Vote to go through silently without a Division.
§ Mr. CONNOLLY
What we are supposed to be doing on this occasion is making an examination of this Estimate. We are supposed to be passing a Bill for some work that has been done. I have been listening carefully all this afternoon, and up to the present I have heard nothing whatever about the Estimate itself. When the last Debate on this question took place, I was one of those who believed that 4,004 troops already in China would be quite sufficient to deal with any crisis there. I do not want at this juncture to discuss whether we were right or wrong in sending such a large number of troops to China, but I want to ask a question with regard to the figures which are published in the White Paper. I heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) make his opening statement, and he asked the Under-Secretary to state the number of extra troops which are considered necessary to make up the Expeditionary Force. No answer has yet been given to that question, although it has been asked several times during the last six months.
I have always been in the habit when starting a job, to make sure that I have got all the right tools. I want to ask, as a Member of this Committee, how can I get to know whether these items in the Estimate are right or not if I do not know the number of men to whom they apply? Item C consists of £17,000 for marriage allowances. When I look at the Army Schedule of allowances, I find that it would take 18,000 men each with a wife and three children to reach that sum in 12 months. If you take the period that the Expeditionary Force have been there, it means about 25,000 men each with a wife and child. Are we to understand that there are 25,000 men in the Expeditionary Force? I would like the Under-Secretary to explain what that means. Then in Vote 5 (H) I find £978,000 for conveyance by sea. We have talked a good deal about the numbers, and I gathered from the Debates previously that it was the intention to send between 9,000 and 10,000 troops. If you take 9,000 troops, this transport by sea works out at £100 per man. If you double it, it works out 2388 at £50 each for 18,000 men. If you multiply it by four and bring it down to £25 each, it still takes some explaining.
§ Mr. CONNOLLY
Yes, in a troop ship. If you take the fare to Australia or the East in a first-class liner, it does not amount to anything like that. Apart from whether we did right or not, it is time that we went into the Estimate. Here is nearly £1,000,000 for conveyance by sea alone. Then there is an item of £22,000 for National Health and Unemployment Insurance. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said this afternoon that it was always the custom of the War Office to do the very best for the men. I want them to do the best they can for the men who have returned. The best that was ever done for returned soldiers from any war was done in 1918. I took part then in the deliberations at which the unemployment benefit was augmented by a very substantial donation amounting to £60,000,000. What was done for 4,000,000 men can surely be done for 10,000 or 20,000. I want to keep the Financial Secretary to his word. If he wants to do the best for the men, let him do the best. He made a very eloquent appeal to employers to re-employ these men. That is not enough. Many hundreds, perhaps a thousand or two, will be out of employment. They will be thrown on the bare unemployment benefit. If it is the intention of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to do the best for them, could not the War Office do what they did in 1919 and increase the unemployment benefit? I believe I have said enough to show that it is now time for the Committee to begin examining this White Paper. We are to-night passing a Vote. Last night we were discussing the Audit (Local Authorities) Bill, which makes drastic proposals for city councils and penalises members of them for passing estimates that afterwards prove exorbitant. Here is the House of Commons dealing with an Estimate for £3,000,000, and we have not yet started to discuss it. We ought to leave alone the merits of what we did six or 12 months ago, and we ought to discuss these items and thus get on with the job which we started at four o'clock this afternoon.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
After the statement of the Under-Secretary and the convincing support which has been given to the policy of the Government in sending troops to Shanghai by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), there seems little need for anyone on this side of the House to say any more, but there are one or two matters to which I would like briefly to refer. The name of Captain Sutton has been brought up by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). I know Captain Sutton, a gallant Englishman who did good voluntary service for the country during the War, and has since then had a romantic and adventurous career. It did seem to me a little unfair that the hon. and gallant Member should try to connect the name of Captain Sutton, who was manufacturing munitions, I believe, somewhere in the interior for some unknown Chinese general, with the possibility of those munitions being used against our forces.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I made no attack on Captain or General Sutton; I attacked our Government for permitting it. The point is that he is making munitions for Chang Tso Lin, the dictator of the Northern Government, whose army may change sides at any time and attack our people with these munitions.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
I am very glad to hear that disclaimer, but I certainly thought that the hon. and gallant Member was blaming Captain Sutton for the possibility of these munitions being used against our forces. It would be more to the point if the hon. and gallant Member and his party would use their undoubted influence with Russia to prevent Russia from supplying certain forces in China with munitions that are undoubtedly used against our forces.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
What does the hon. Member mean by our influence with Russia? We have no sort of influence with Russia, and we wish no one would supply munitions from either side to the Chinese.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
The hon. and gallant Member disclaims any influence with Russia. At any rate, no one will deny that he and his party have a very peculiar interest in Russia. The hon. Mem- 2390 ber for Stourbridge (Mr. Wellock) laid great stress on the fact that Germans were unmolested in China and that the boycott was directed against our nationals and against British traders only. I think he left out one important factor, namely, the intensified Communist propaganda that has been carried on against this country. The right hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) who opened the discussion spoke of our forgotten army. There are a good many people in this country who do not forget that force in Shanghai. I had a daughter at Hankow, and I was thankful there were British bluejackets evacuating the British nationals at Hankow. I have a good many friends at Shanghai, and we know the large British interests at Shanghai. The friends and relatives in this country of those at Shanghai do not forget that force and are devoutly thankful that it exists. It is undoubted that the existence of that force at Shanghai produces one of the only stable elements on the East coast of China.
The right hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), whose knowledge on this subject is very wide, referred to the annual expenditure as being a sum of £3,000,000 or £4,000,000. One of the items—and it was referred to also by the last speaker—is the cost of transit by sea, amounting to nearly £1,000,000. I suppose the troops will have to be brought back some time, but that £1,000,000 can hardly be referred to as an ordinary expenditure. Strictly speaking, therefore, the annual expenditure is about £2,000,000. We all regret this expenditure, but it is satisfactory to know that that £900,000 has gone mainly into the pockets of British shipping, which sorely needed it, and that a very large part of this expenditure has thus gone towards helping British interests, while some of the men who have taken part in this force were men out of employment, who have now got employment. To that extent, the country has benefited from all this expenditure. My hon. Friend the Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Looker) has made suggestions in regard to the future policy of the Government. Those suggestions have been dealt with by the Under-Secretary, and I cannot help agreeing with what the Under-Secretary has said. The Government's policy of non-intervention 2391 has been fully justified. Reference has been made to-night to the League of Nations. Who will represent China at the League of Nations? If we take a representative of the Peking Government, one can imagine what a protest will arise from the opposite side at our Government taking sides in China. It seems to me that the only course left is the course taken by the Government, and we can only hope that that course will lead to discovering some stable form of government which will produce greater prosperity, both in China and in this country.
§ Mr. DALTON
The discussion on this Estimate has brought up two Ministers in defence of it, the Under-Secretary to the Foreign Office and the hon. and gallant Gentleman who represents the War Office. It is evident, therefore, that we have here a mixed question of foreign policy and of Army policy, and I will make a few remarks on both. As far as foreign policy is concerned, the Under-Secretary to the Foreign Office told us a number of things which the Government were doing by way of co-operation with various foreign Powers with a view to getting a better situation in China. All that co-operation is co-operation dealing with the symptoms of the trouble rather than with the deep-rooted causes of the trouble. He told us that they have been co-operating with Japan, France, the United States and other countries with regard to different matters, Customs duties, and so forth. But I would like to know whether there has been any co-operation with regard to the real cause of the struggle in China, which we all know is the civil war. The civil war could not go on unless the civil warriors had something to fight with. We know that arms are being poured into China from a great many different sources. That has gone on for the last 10 years. Had it not been for that continued flow of arms and armaments into China, the civil war would have come to an end long ago. I am informed that within the last month no less than 11 ships have been underwritten at Lloyd's carrying munitions to China from various Western European countries. It may or may not be true, but it is a statement that is made on fairly good authority by business people in the City. What I do submit is that if we are to get a satisfactory settlement of this whole matter 2392 we must endeavour to cut out the root of the trouble and co-operate with other Governments through our Foreign Office in order to stop this trade in armaments. We have had no assurance from the Under-Secretary that co-operation is proceeding along that line.
The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Somerville) has referred to the undoubted fact that Russia is in this arms traffic business along with others. I would like to know whether it is not possible, in view of the recent conversations that took place between the Foreign Secretary and M. Litvinoff, which appear to have been of a more friendly character than might have been anticipated, and in view of the tribute of the Foreign Secretary to M. Litvinoff's friendly and pacific influence in the dispute between Poland and Lithuania, whether discussions might not result in bringing in the Russians and in putting a stop to the whole of this trade in arms. If the flow of armaments could be stopped, the civil war itself could not continue, there would be no need for our troops to remain on any pretext whatever, and the country could be saved this large expenditure which is now being discussed.
The proposal of the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Looker), that the League of Nations should be brought into the matter, has had cold water poured on it by the Under-Secretary—sympathetic cold water, but none the less cold. I wonder whether that is the last word that can be said on that point? I wonder whether it would not be possible to do something further? The League of Nations has been sitting at Geneva under a Chinese Chairman. Either that Chinese Chairman stands for something real, or he does not. If he does not, he should not be allowed to take the Chair at a Council meeting of the League, but, on the other hand if he does stand for something real, the fact that he takes the Chair at a League Council meeting is, surely, a symbol of the possibility of some kind of discussion through League channels. It does not seem to me to be a possible position to say that there is no one to represent China while at the very moment our Foreign Secretary is sitting under a Chinese Chairman at Geneva.
The hon. Member for South-East Essex made other proposals also. He said that if we could not get a settlement through 2393 the League we ought—I took down his words—to make the Chinese respect our rights whatever the consequences may be. I do not know what he meant by that, but I felt that he was taking the Debate back on to military ground, and I am going back now on to military ground. I would like to make one or two observations on the military side of the matter. In regard to the finance of this Estimate, my hon. Friend the Member for East Newcastle (Mr. Connolly) has raised a very pertinent point which I hope will be answered. In fact, I have reason to think that the Under-Secretary is now making preparations to answer it by consultation, and it certainly needs answering. After some of the criticisms that have been made, I feel no kind of assurance—even if we agree that these troops should remain in Shanghai—that this business is being economically managed. There is considerable evidence of extravagance and wastefulness, even assuming that this body of troops ought to be there at all. We do not, however, assume that, and I am afraid I shall disappoint the Under-Secretary, who expressed the hope that, now that the Leader of the Liberal party supported the Government, we would do the same and allow the Vote to go through without a Division. We shall do no such thing, but shall divide the Committee against the whole sum, for reasons which I will proceed shortly to give.
While I am still on the question of finance, may I say that it appears to me that, if we could find out the number of British troops now at Shanghai, we should find that the total number was possibly even larger than the number of British people living in the Shanghai Settlement. We cannot quite settle that, because we cannot get the figures, but it looks as though every Shanghai-lander, man, woman or child, has at least one British soldier, and possibly two, to protect him. I submit that that is an extravagant and wasteful procedure. We have maintained, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) has said again this afternoon, that it should be quite possible, in view of the actual situation which has been shown to exist, for the British community in Shanghai to be adequately protected against any real danger—I do not mean nightmares which have no basis 2394 in reality, but against any real danger— by their own local police force plus the British Navy. We submit that it is most uneconomical to leave these people to be protected, each, as I have said, by more than one, and possibly more than two, British soldiers. British soldiers are too valuable to be used in that extravagant way.
I come now to some questions regarding the British troops in Shanghai. Of course, we were all delighted, though in no way surprised, when the Financial Secretary to the War Office told us that the British soldiers there have behaved with great restraint, and have lived up to the highest traditions of the British Army. We were delighted to hear it. We expected that, and we were in no way surprised at it, although we were delighted to hear it. We sympathise with them, and I would express here, if my voice should reach so far through any Press report, my appreciation of the conduct of our troops in Shanghai, and my regret that they are being subjected to such abominable conditions in respect of health, quarters, opportunities for recreation and other aspects of a reasonable military life. I say it is intolerable that these troops should be kept to protect a rich community, a pampered community, a community which makes no contribution to its own defence, but which profiteers at the expense of the British taxpayers. An account has been given of the manner in which we have had to pay through the nose for very second-rate accommodation for our troops at Shanghai. The British taxpayer is paying through the nose in order that British troops may be kept in wretched accommodation at enormous prices charged by these Shanghai-landers in whose interests these troops have been sent out and this money has been poured forth month after month. It is most discreditable that this community should thus take all and give nothing towards this expenditure.
We are told that our trade has made us what we are. That is a well-worn cliché. But our trade has been going down under this system. Figures have been quoted to show that during the first six months of this year it sank, as compared with the year before, from £9,250,000 to £5,000,000. Very soon we in this country will be paying more in respect of this defence force than the 2395 whole amount of British exports from this country to China, while these Shanghai-landers are making no contribution. The position is impossible and intolerable, whether from the financial, the military or the diplomatic point of view. It is high time that these people were told that, if they want this protection, they must help to pay for it. They pay no British Income Tax; they are, as I have said, a pampered community; and it is high time that a stop was put to this privileged position which they are enjoying at the expense of the British taxpayers and the health of British troops. For that reason we shall, as I have said, divide against the whole of this Vote. We have nothing to withdraw from what we have said on this matter on previous occasions, and we look forward to the time when it will be possible, by diplomatic or other means, to bring about a situation in which even His Majesty's Government will recognise the desirability of withdrawing this armed force.
§ Sir FRANK NELSON
I intervene to ask only one or two questions with regard to the figures of this Estimate. My hon. and gallant Friend knows that, so far as the policy of the Shanghai Defence Force is concerned, it has my whole-hearted support. I am not, however, quite sure whether this £3,000,000 is being spent in the best possible way. In the first place, I should like to call attention to Subhead M of Vote 6—Wages of Civilian Subordinates at R.A.S.C. Establishments, etc., £34,000.Could my hon. and gallant Friend, in his reply, indicate exactly whether that means civilian subordinates taken from this country, or whether it represents Chinese labour, or Chinese clerks, or what it represents? The equivalent of about £3,000 a month is clearly a very considerable amount. Then I should like to ask, with regard to Sub-head A of Vote 12—War Office—salaries, wages, etc., £12,000,whether the Committee are to understand that, as a direct outcome of the sending of the Shanghai Defence Force, we have an increase of staff in the War Office here, and whether that average extra charge of £12,000 a year will remain until these men are withdrawn from China? 2396 Again, I notice that Sub-head H of Vote 6 is—Mechanical Transport, £61,000,while Sub-head G of Vote 6 is—Hired Road Transport, £15,000.Could my hon. and gallant Friend indicate, in his reply, what is meant by "Hired Road Transport"? From the amount of Sub-head H, one would understand that mechanical transport units of some size are out there, and I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend will not mind my asking what exactly "Hired Road Transport" is, and why it should be necessary, if those units are there, to put down this large sum for hired road transport.
Finally, I think my hon. and gallant Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office will remember, although there is not a Treasury representative on the bench at the moment, that at the latter end of last summer the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressed a hope that the cost of the Shanghai Defence Force would be found out of savings. Could my hon. and gallant Friend say whether that is likely to be the case? I am sure that the Committee generally, and particularly those of my colleagues who, with me, are anxiously regarding the question of expenditure generally, will welcome any explanation that my hon. and gallant Friend can give us.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
I rise as one of the strongest objectors to the whole of this expeditionary force, as well as to this expenditure, not because I do not believe that British lives ought to be saved, but because I believe that British lives are endangered by the policy of Great Britain in sending an expeditionary force to save them, and also because I do not believe that, under that false pretence of saving British lives, the British nation had any right to send an expeditionary force to destroy Chinese property and take Chinese lives. I take an out-and-out working-class point of view. I am one of those sincere signatories of the letter which was presented to the Prime Minister the other day by the hon. Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Ponsonby), stating that we will not support any warlike movement, any warlike preparations, or any warlike activities of any Government. When we take up such a fundamental position as that, we 2397 do it with a conscientious belief that there is nothing at stake belonging to this nation which can be or ought to be saved by military preparations and activities.
This expedition would not have been sent out, the pretence of British lives being in danger would never have been put forward, had it not been for the smashing victories of the Communist group in China at that period. The expeditionary force did not add to the safety of British lives; it has added very greatly to the danger to British lives—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—and it has added to the danger that no peaceful settlement of British traders in China will be possible in the future unless this expeditionary force be kept there for all time. What this expeditionary force has done is quite certain. By its presence, by its indirect assistance, by its direct destruction of Chinese lives and Chinese property, it has achieved only one result, namely, the treacherous action of Chang Kai-chek against the Communist army which first enabled him to win his victories.
The sending of this expeditionary force was a political move; it was not an honest move based on any honest apprehension of danger to British lives at all. Moreover, we are not yet quite sure, even from the political point of view, whether this £3,000,000 has been wisely spent. With all the intrigue, with all the manipulation, with the wastage of £3,000,000, we cannot get an answer, but it is certain that the Communist elements have not been crushed, and cannot be crushed. Let me submit to this Committee, taking a purely working-class point of view, that the case of Russia has proved, the case of China has partly proved, and will prove it again, that in these large countries, when the peasants have begun to realise their rights and their freedom against foreign capitalists and foreign rulers, when they begin to organise themselves, when they begin to demand their complete freedom from all bosses and all rulers from foreign countries, there is not a force in existence that can crush them. If Sovietism is going to be introduced by the peasantry of China, this expeditionary force will not be able to crush it.
It is quite likely that you may for a time succeed in sowing dissension among 2398 the Chinese generals. It is quite likely that by the presence of your Expeditionary Force, by the ruinous expenditure of £3,000,000, you may create a feeling of safety, not in the British population but in the Chinese generals to turn traitor to their own people, and to the cause they once undertook. But all these would be only passing measures and passing consolations. You will not effect the permanent crushing out of the Communist movement in China by this expedition, or by many more of the same kind. All you will have done is to impose a penalty of £3,000,000 upon this nation. If I can approximately gauge it, instead of giving that false and unwanted protection to British citizens in Shanghai, it would have supplied much needed protection to the unemployed who have been deprived of their benefit on the argument that there is not sufficient money. It would have supplied about 4s. a week to each individual unemployed person when it was falsely and cunningly pretended to be for the protection for British lives in Shanghai. Apart from this loss of money, this expedition has been one of mischief. It has created mischief much greater than hon. Members opposite may be prepared to admit to-day. It has done a permanent harm, greater than the £3,000,000 lost, in the future relations between Great Britain and China, and Great Britain will well deserve to suffer this loss by their policy of sending out this expedition. Not only that, but the Government are trying to cover up the effects of this expedition besides creating political mischief and impairing friendly relations for all time and embittering the people of China against British citizens, they have furthermore been directly responsible for the destruction of Chinese lives and Chinese property, and when you try to put forward your claims in your future negotiations with China, for this and that debt and this and that investment, the people of China will present you with a bill for loss, damage and destruction inflicted upon them by your sending out this expedition.
I wish to offer a criticism of one item of expenditure, namely, the rents. The Expeditionary Force, we were told, was in response to a desire expressed by British citizens in China, as well, as we were also told to-day, as by the desire of those who had banking and property interests in China, and who were residing in this 2399 country. What is the rent exactly? People who had their property in China called upon you to send an armed force to protect it, and the property owners charged your troops rent for staying on their property for the purpose of protecting it. They have not the decency even to show hospitality to the Expeditionary Force that they invited, according to your version. There is another item of a very grave nature and that is the payment of the Indian troops included in this expedition. It creates a very dangerous precedent. It destroys what I am constantly told is the constitutional mode of governing countries and managing their affairs. The people of India are told point-blank that they have no control over the maintenance or movement of Indian troops. Who controls them? I hope the Committee will agree with me that it is a most dangerous position for any nation that there should be a very large body of men, well armed, and well equipped, who should be at the disposal of military authorities who move out from their own country and go to any other country with a military expedition without being in any control of the people of the country who own and maintain that Army. The people of India have to maintain an Indian Army.
Just as you say this expedition was for the protection of the lives of the British, that Army in India is supposed to be for the protection of Indian subjects in India, and to-day we discover that the military authorities can despatch an army, which is one of the best trained and best equipped in the world, to any part of the world for military purposes, and we are told the Indian taxpayers have to shut up and not have any voice in it—not only the Indian taxpayers but Indian citizens, whose moral relations are at stake when they send out their Army to butcher the working class and peasantry of China. British soldiers also belong to the British working class, and they were sent to attack and suppress the Chinese workers and peasantry. That is the meaning of the word "protection." Here are Asiatics going to fight Asiatics. It was done merely to serve a political purpose, and here is this great position of danger that the people of India are told they shall not have the slightest voice as to where the Indian Army shall be sent, and for what purpose. 2400 It has been mentioned that there are many meetings of protest in India. There were not only meetings of protest, there was a great constitutional issue. The elected representatives of the people of India in the Legislative Assembly demanded to discuss the whole policy of the Government of India agreeing to let Indian troops go out on a warlike expedition to any outside country. The objection was raised that they were interfering with the foreign policy of Great Britain. The President of the Assembly, who is the Speaker of the House, decided that constitutional question and said the Assembly had every right, without discussing the foreign policy of Great Britain, to discuss the question of Indian troops being sent out.
The British Viceroy himself, unconstitutionally, most arrogantly and outrageously interfered and sent an order to the elected Speaker of an elected House that he should not have the debate conducted in the Legislative Assembly. For that the other day I was chastised by the India Office for having raised constitutional issues in India, and having done something seditious. What is the meaning of it? It is this. That an Army can be despatched by some British military officers to create a position of war, and then months after that, this Parliament is asked to pay the expense because it was done for some purpose of Great Britain and not for some particularly Indian purpose. I consider that this is a very grave situation. It means that within the British Empire to-day you can have an armed force which, at the time of going out, is a military expedition not under the control of the elected representatives and taxpayers of the country that maintain that Army and that the Indian authorities can perpetually escape the censure and the control of the Indian taxpayers by making this House pay the cost of the expedition. It looks as if we were doing something morally right when it is something that is morally wrong, and very dangerous and a great menace to the peace of the world. Every country in Europe, practically all the countries in the world, are in constant danger when they find that the British authorities can send an Indian Army outside the control of the Indian taxpayer and a few months afterwards say, "We will pay the bill. We will not allow the Indian taxpayer to have any word in it." 2401 I cannot conceive of a greater danger and a more unconstitutional policy than this. I hope strong objection will be taken to the whole of the Estimates on this ground also.
We were told the lives of British citizens were in danger. Of course, there is a position of danger when there is a civil war or a civil strike going on. Once upon a time we heard there was a civil war in France. There was a civil commotion in Germany, and there may be another between Nationalists and Communists. There was a civil war in Italy after the Great War. There were British citizens living in all these countries. They take their own risk. If we want to help them we can do it by assisting them to evacuate and to come away. Would you dare to send a British Army for the protection of British citizens in Paris during a civil war in France? Did you do it during the revolutionary period in France? Did you dare to send a British Army to Rome, to Milan, or to Venice when there was revolution and counter-revolution going on in Italy, and there were British citizens there?
It is an insolent policy of Imperialist Britain to take advantage of the weakness of a shattered nation and to commit outrages against them which you dare not commit even with the smallest nation in Europe. There are British citizens everywhere. Britain is a nation of shopkeepers. You are shopkeeping all over the world. There is not a part of the world where you cannot find British interests, British rights, British property, British merchants, British men, women and children. You gave that as an excuse to send your Army, not because you were right in doing it, but because you had Imperialist aims and objects in China, because you want to take advantage of the position of civil war to extend your Imperialist power, to extend your opportunities of exploitation, and to degrade and enslave the working class and peasantry of China even more if possible, than you are doing now. On the face of it, I do not accept one shred of evidence that is advanced by the Government or by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) that this expedition was sent out with any honest motive, to serve any honest purpose, or that there was any real danger to British 2402 citizens which could not have been as well settled by friendly relations as by this expeditionary force. It is a cunning conspiracy of Imperialist Great Britain against the lives and liberties of the people of China, and this £3,000,000 is the cost of it. It will cost you still more if you do not stop at that and withdraw the troops.
May we have an assurance from the Government that if the Communist rising in Canton now succeeds further, and if the events of last January and February are repeated next January and February, they will refrain from sending their expeditionary force or from increasing the existing number of troops there? You were not afraid when Chang-kai-Shek was fighting against his former friends. There were more battles fought after the treachery of Chang-kai-Shek than when he was leading the Communist Army. There were more casualties in the country after the reversal of the Communist Army, and there was more destruction of property after the temporay defeat of the so-called Reds. You then were able to decrease the Expeditionary Force. If the Reds succeed again, are you going to increase the Expeditionary Force again, or are you now telling us that you are not concerned with what party wants China and you will withdraw the Expeditionary Force?
§ Captain FAIRFAX
I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the War Office if he will give us some further light on one or two of the points in the Estimate. Under item C, there is the very large item of half a million for work and maintenance. Can he tell us how that very large amount comes to be expended? I gathered during the Debate that Members opposite thought the traders in Shanghai ought to supply buildings for the housing of troops. We should be grateful for a little further light. Then there is Vote 12, additional War Office staff. Is that a continuing expense as long as the force is maintained there? We should like to be assured that some reductions will be effected under this head if the Shanghai Force is to remain. All on this side of the Committee are agreed that the remaining money has been well and necessarily expended. Hon. Members opposite are inclined to grouse at this money being expended by taxpayers, but we do not at all hold with 2403 Members opposite who would prefer to see the money distributed in doles to the unemployed. We regard it as one of our duties to see that our people are protected in foreign countries, and I shall go into the Lobby in favour of this Vote.
§ Commodore KING
I have no real reason for complaint as to the criticisms which have been made against the figures of the Supplementary Estimate. The main part of the Debate has been, of course, occupied by criticisms, not very strong, of the foreign policy of the Government. These have been already replied to by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I would like, first, to deal with the specific points raised in the Supplementary Estimate to which various Members have alluded. In the first place, the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Newcastle-on-Tyne (Mr. Connolly) raised the question with regard to marriage allowances, transport and unemployment. The marriage allowances amount to £17,000, and are in respect of men of the A Reserve sent out to China, and also for the other ranks of the British regiments from India which were sent out to China, and who come under this Estimate because they were entitled to be paid by us. Of the Indian Contingent, there were two battalions and about 3,000 men of the A Reserve. If the hon. Member looks at the Army Estimates for this year he will find that the rate of the marriage allowance is set out, and it varies, of course, with the number of members of the family, but the case he stated of a man with a wife and three children amounts to 19s. a week. That is an extreme case. I do not suppose that all of them get that, but even if you take it at 10s. to 20s. a week, I do not think if he works it out he will find £17,000 for two battalions of infantry, auxiliary and ancillary troops from India very heavy.
As regards transport, I dealt with that in my opening remarks, and I pointed out that some 17 battalions of infantry, regiments of artillery and also large numbers of transport and armoured car companies and other ancillary units have been sent out, and some of them have already returned, and their return passages are included in the amount. I also said in my opening statement that the whole of 2404 the return of the Indian infantry contingent was in this Vote, and that the whole cost of the transport of the battalions coming back to this country will be paid within this financial year. With regard to unemployment, I would like to tell the hon. Member that every man who leaves the forces leaves it in regard to unemployment and health insurance as a fully insured person, and entitled to all the benefits of an insured person. That accounts for the item of contributions for insurance. Then my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Sir F. Nelson) raised the question about Vote 6, (M), Item M, Wages of Civilians. These are wages to civilian subordinates replacing Royal Army Service Corps units sent to China, and also the wages of civilians engaged in China for Army Service Corps duty. Then he also asked me with regard to Items D and H. Hired Road Transport is the extra cost of hiring transport due to Royal Army Service Corps units being sent to China. We have to hire a greater amount in this country, and a certain amount out in China, and these are the road hairings referred to. The item for cost of vehicles under the Item for mechanised transport is extra transport we have had to provide for the troops going out to China. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwich (Captain Fairfax) raised one question in regard to Vote 10 (C). He raised the question of the amount of £462,000 on expenditure for construction and maintenance work. That is expenditure in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tientsin and Wei-hai-wei, the cost of constructing temporary camps, the provision of a general hospital accommodation and provision for camp cookers and the cost of defences, maintenance of accommodation and the reinstatement of accommodation, not required for the reduced force. This is a large item, but it covers a considerable area and a considerable amount of work.
§ Commodore KING
The rents are a different Vote altogether. The rents of buildings amount to £156,000, on the Vote 5, Item C. The hon. Member did not raise that in his remarks, but as he 2405 asks me, I am pleased to tell him. The rent of buildings includes the rent of buildings at Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tientsin and Wei-hei-wai necessary for the accommodation of troops, stores and offices. Where there have been buildings available we have hired them. With regard to the 12,000 under the head of War Office, I thought certain Members might inquire into it, but I should like to assure them that it is accounted for by the cost of financial staff at Shanghai. They are on the books of the War Office though they are out in China, and there are also others here to replace those sent out to Shanghai. They will be dispensed with as soon as possible. The main criciticism raised against the War Office has been really with regard to the number of troops and the fact that the right hon. Member for New-castle-on-Tyne (Mr. Trevelyan), who opened the Debate laid stress on the fact that I always refused to give the actual number. The difficulty in giving actual numbers is that they vary from day to day and week to week. Some men are sent home sick, some are sent home who are due for discharge, and the actual numbers are fluctuating. It is, therefore, very difficult indeed to give a definite figure, when somebody next week will criticise the figures because they are different. Therefore, I refused to give numbers, but I assure the hon. Gentleman they are nothing like 20,000 suggested by the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). When the present reduction is completed, when the five battalions and the ancillary troops are withdrawn, the numbers out there will not exceed 13,000. The 13,000 is, I suppose, the overwhelming British force to which the right hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne referred.
§ Commodore KING
I cannot give any particular day, but in July there were four brigades and one battalion of infantry, making 17 battalions of infantry, various units of artillery and ancillary troops. I cannot give actual numbers.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Commodore KING
The eight battalions, five of which would be at Shanghai. The numbers which I have quoted are, apparently, the overwhelming British force to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred as terrorising and overawing the great Chinese nation. I can hardly think that a force of that description and size can terrorise some 1,500,000 men who are under arms in China at the present time. A small force such as that could not overawe or terrorise a nation like the Chinese. The right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme also raised a question with regard to the formation of a local defence force. There has been a local defence force composed of members of different nationalities in Shanghai, who banded themselves together for protection; but these are business men who have other vocations in life beyond the defence of their wives and children, and they could not devote the whole of their time to the protection of a city like Shanghai. It is absurd to think that 1,500 or 2,000 volunteers could adequately protect an area which has a boundary or perimeter of some 14 miles. A small force of volunteers would be utterly inadequate to give defence to an area such as is enclosed within the concession at Shanghai. That is why we had to send troops to help in the protection.
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), as he truly says, sent me several questions, to some of which I replied in my opening remarks. His question in regard to the contributions by Shanghai I dealt with in my opening remarks. The municipality are allowing us to have land tax free and are providing such buildings as belong to the municipal council rent free.
§ Commodore KING
No. It is tax free. If the hon. and gallant Member will look at the report of my opening remarks, he will see what has been done by the municipal council. He also asked me what land we are occupying outside the Settlement. The only land we have occupied outside has been in instances where the necessity for protection has arisen, and we have sent forces in order to give protection. In one or two 2407 instances, the Japanese and our own troops have gone outside to protect isolated property belonging to our nationals, and I understand that no objection to such forces being sent has been taken by the Chinese authorities.
With regard to the employment of Indian troops, which was raised by the hon. Member for Battersea North (Mr. Saklatvala) and another hon. Member, it was obvious that the need was urgent when the troops were despatched, and it was realised that the nearest place from which we could get troops was India. It is absurd to suggest that the British Government or the British War Office took these troops from India without the permission of the Indian Government. The Indian Government were asked whether the troops could go, and quite naturally they gave permission for the troops to be sent, with the immediate object of getting troops there in the quickest possible time. Had there been a demand upon the taxpayers of India it might well have been a matter of complaint, but it was pointed out that the British Government were paying the whole cost of the troops; therefore, the Indian taxpayer was not personally
§ affected by the Indian troops having been sent to China.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
The Indian Government agreed, contrary to the wishes and without any control from the elected representatives of the Indian people.
§ Commodore KING
If the hon. Member has any quarrel on that score it must be with the Indian Government and not with the War Office. We obtained the Indian troops at the earliest possible moment, and we were very grateful to the Indian Government for allowing the troops to be taken. We relieved them and sent them back to India at the earliest possible moment. I think I have covered all the points raised in Debate.
§ Commodore KING
That is a question for the Admiralty or the Air Ministry. It is only natural when aeroplanes are being used that they must go over territory other than the international settlement.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 242; Noes, 103.2409
|Division No. 479.]||AYES.||[8.7 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||England, Colonel A.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)|
|Albery, Irving James||Chapman, Sir S.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Christie, J. A.||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Fenby, T. D.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Clayton, G. C.||Finburgh, S.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Forrest, W.|
|Atkinson, C.||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Colman, N. C. D.||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Balniel, Lord||Cooper, A. Duff||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Cope, Major William||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Couper, J. B||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Goff, Sir Park|
|Bennett, A. J.||Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Grace, John|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Crawfurd, H. E.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Crooke, J. Smedley (Daritend)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Boothby. R. J. G.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Greene, W. P. Crawford|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Davidson, Major-General sir John H||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hacking, Douglas H.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. Berks, Newb'y)||Drewe, C.||Harrison, G. J. C.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Duckworth, John||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Eden, Captain Anthony||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Edge, Sir William||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Campbell. E. T.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Ellis, R. G.||Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootie)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ., Belfast)|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Hilton, Cecil||Morris, R. H.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Nelson, Sir Frank||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Neville. Sir Reginald J.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Strauss, E. A.|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Nicholson, Col. Rt.Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Huntingfield, Lord||Oakley, T.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Hutchison, sir Robert (Montrose)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Pennefather, Sir John||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Philipson, Mabel||Tinne, J. A.|
|Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Preston, William||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Kindersley, Major G. M.||Radford, E. A.||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Raine, Sir Walter||Waddington, R.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Ramsden, E.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Locker-Lampion, G. (Wood Green)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Loder, J. de V.||Rice, Sir Frederick||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple-|
|Long, Major Eric||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Looker, Herbert William||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Lumley, L. R.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Lynn, Sir R. J.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Rye, F. G.||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Macintyre, Ian||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Withers, John James|
|McLean, Major A.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Womersley, W. J.|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich W.)|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Sandon, Lord||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —|
|Merriman, F. B.||Shepperson, E. W.||Mr. Penny and Major The Marquess|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Simms, Dr, John M. (Co. Down)||of Titchfield|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hayes, John Henry||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hirst, G. H.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Baker, Walter||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Snell, Harry|
|Barr, J.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Batey, Joseph||Kennedy, T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Lansbury, George||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Broad, F. A.||Lawrence, Susan||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Bromfield, William||Lee, F.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Bromley, J||Lindley, F. W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Lowth, T.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Buchanan, G.||Lunn, William||Varley, Frank B.|
|Charleton, H. C.||MacLaren, Andrew||Viant, S. P.|
|Clowes, S.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Connolly, M.||March, S.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Cove, W. G.||Murnin, H.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Naylor, T. E.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Oliver, George Harold||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Dennison, R.||Palin, John Henry||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Duncan, C.||Paling, W.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gillett, George M.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gosling, Harry||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Potts, John S.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Ritson, J.||Wright, W.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rose, Frank H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hardie, George O.||Saklatvala, Shapurji||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Whiteley.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Scrymgeour, E.|