HC Deb 10 February 1927 vol 202 cc310-426

I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add the words, But regret the delay of the Government in dealing with the Chinese situation, and deplore the despatch of armed forces to the Fan East as calculated not only to increase the risks to which British subjects in various parts of China may be exposed but also to put obstacles in the way of arriving at an equitable and permanent friendly understanding with the Chinese people on the basis of a frank recognition of their national independence; and this House accordingly calls for the immediate diversion and recall of the forces now on their way to China. It is unfortunate, in connection with the subject which we are discussing to-day, that the nation was so much occupied last year with the coal stoppage, and that we had not then free minds to be watching and discussing and weighing what was happening in China. Disastrous events were there occurring—events to which I must begin by alluding, because, without being able to weigh their importance, we cannot really judge the situation which exists there to-day. Not only during the last two years has the popular democratic Government of Canton become the dominant force in China. Certain other events have occurred. To us here the shootings at Shanghai and Shameen and Wanhsien are unfortunate incidents occurring 10,000 miles away. Towards those incidents our Government have adopted the policy of saving very little, of giving very late and rather reluctant informa- tion to this country, and I think that the greatest disservice done by the Government in that kind of action has been that they have given a wrong impression here of the real significance of those unfortunate incidents in China. The significance of those incidents in China is very vital to the understanding of public opinion in that country. Take the results of the Shanghai shooting. I ask the House to follow what happened and to realise what it meant. Within a fortnight of the shooting at Shanghai some 200,000 Chinamen, in protest against the killing of their fellow nationals, began to leave Hong Kong. It is seldom that there has been such a great movement in such a short time. They went off to Canton.

4.0 p.m.

What happened then? The authorities at Hong Kong sent word to the authorities at Canton that they were to send back these people. There was about as little chance of their being able to send back these emigrants of patriotic indignation as there was that the Israelites should be returned across the Red Sea. Then Hong Kong stopped food ships going up to Canton. On that there was begun by the Cantonese and the Chinese a boycott of British trade. If we had not had our minds so full of what was happening here and the even greater disaster to our trade of the coal stoppage, our minds would have been full of the results of what was going on in China. I need not give many figures to the House, but I must remind them of the kind of disaster to our trade which these events implied. The export of cotton goods fell from £12,600,000 in 1924 to £7,500,000 in 1925, and to £6,800,000 in 1926. The decrease of worsted tissues was from £1,000,000 to £6,000,000. Then, as evidence of the kind of disaster to our trade in Hong Kong, this is a statement of the vice-chairman of the China Association, who said: The depreciation in the value of property and shares in local industries in Hong Kong amounts to no less than £100,000,000. To quote the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what he repeated last night, Almost the last thing you wished to do with a potential customer was to shoot him."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1927; Col. 201; Vol 202.] last year came the events of Wanhsien. Again, we vaguely discussed what happened at Wanhsien as an incident, but we have had no Papers yet laid. We really do not know what claim there is for a justification for what happened in Wanhsien. All we know is something of what happened. Scores of people were killed, and a city of the size of Bristol was bombarded by our ships and a large part of it laid in ruins. The Chinese do not forget this. I want the House to realise that, if you want an explanation of the anti-British feeling of the Chinese, if you want an explanation of Hankow, if you want an explanation why to-day our trade on the Yangtse is going, well then it is in these events which are constantly before the Chinese people. There is no need for wild propagandists to make people object to being shot. There is an effort to make out that the real reason why the Chinese are so passionately indignant to-day is because of Borodin—because of Russian adventurers. I want to say this very plainly and I believe I speak for—[Interruption]—I am certain that I speak for my friends behind me—that the policy of Canton is absolute independence for the Chinese, that the policy of Canton is the extinction of the unequal treaties, that the policy of Canton is the disappearance of the Concessions, that the policy of Canton is the withdrawal of the military and naval forces of the Western nations from the territory and waters of China. That is also the policy of the Labour party. It is the policy which the Labour party announced the other day: We will do everything we can to procure such a settlement as will place China on a footing of national independence in the fullest meaning of the term. I only want to say this with regard to Russia. Soviet Russia is backing this policy, and we are not going to allow our country to quarrel with Russia, because this time at least they are supporting a cause which we also declare to be just. There ought in this House to be the beginning of complete agreement as to what our nation wants. I am not quite certain, but I think the policy of His Majesty's Government is attempting to be the same. It is naturally moving in that direction with more caution as it is a Conservative Government. A great many of the declarations which the right hon. Gentleman has made indicate that he will go very far at any rate in that direction, and I should like to quote something which has recently been said by Mr. Vandervelde, the Foreign Minister of Belgium. It indicates, in the first place, how far that very astute states man thinks, or indeed knows, that the nations will have to go in regard to China, and it indicates also how clearly he has been given to understand how far our Government and the other Governments are ready to go. Mr. Vandervelde the other day said: Belgium is siding with those who are not over-anxious to maintain in China institutions which have been imposed by Europe and which are in any case hound to disappear before the current of national sentiment which will become more and more apparent. This is not only our own attitude. On the contrary, it seems to me as if the heads of Governments, which have interests in China more considerable than our own, are convinced that any frosh resort to force would not only be illegal but ineffective, and, even farther, impossible. Mr. Vandervelde went on to say that. For any expedition we would not even provide four men and a corporal. I think that Mr. Vandervelde is right in two things. I think he is right, first, in indicating that the nations of Europe have got to give up the whole of their unequal privileges in China, and I take it he is right in indicating that that is the general attitude of our Government and of the other great Governments. We here have watched the efforts which the right hon. Gentleman has been making in the last few weeks to begin to make a settlement in the hope that he would succeed, and we are sorry that at present he has not succeeded. The challenge of this Amendment is against the action which is in fact stultifying all his wiser policy. A nation cannot play two games at once. It cannot try to be friends and expect to be believed by another nation and at the same time threaten that other nation. The sending out of this force has thrown back everything into chaos when it appeared only a few days ago that we were going to get something like a settlement. Self-respecting Governments do not sign treaties while the mailed first is being shaken in their faces. We are sorry that the Government have taken the action that they have done

I should like at this juncture to say that I think the sending out of this expedition is a very unfortunate example to be given by a tuition winch ought to take the lead of the world in the League of Nations. I regret very much that at an earlier stage the main matters of issue in China were not in some way or other brought before the League of Nations. Of course, there is no need to remind the House that no doubt technically it would be extremely difficult to bring the Chinese question up in the League of Nations, because the weak Peking Government is the only Chinese Government that has an official position in the League of Nations, and because, also, the United States of America are not in the League. I think it possible and probable that the normal and regular machinery of the League could not under any circumstances have been used. But the normal and regular machinery of the League did not settle the trouble between Italy and Greece, and yet it was the influence of the League indirectly used by the right hon. Gentleman and others that prevented the struggle between Italy and Greece reaching more formidable dimensions than it did. I think it would have been a good thing if, even at an earlier stage, there could have been an impartial intervention by disinterested Powers and if that could have been made available. I do not know whether there is any truth in it—perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us—but I see in the newspapers to-day that the Government are said to be thinking of approaching the League. I only wish the time may come and come soon when a Government will think first rather than last of approaching the League of Nations.

The argument which has been brought forward hitherto in favour of this great expedition to China is the plea that it is necessary in order to protect our fellow countrymen in Shanghai. Of course, on both sides of the House there will be agreement that there are risks. What we are called upon to do to-day is to weigh the nature of the risks one way and the other. There is the risk, which seems to be the only one in the minds of a great many right hon. and hon. Members opposite, of mob violence and uncontrolled soldiery in Shanghai. We first of all say that we have no right to put that risk very high. There is no proof yet that we could not have got some very considerable guarantee of security from the Chinese. I should like again to press the right hon. Gentleman to reply to a question which was put by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition the other day as to whether any attempt was made to get in agreement with the Canton Government regarding the security of our people in Shanghai. After all, so far as the Canton Government are concerned, we have knowledge that we are dealing with reasonable people. Hon. Gentlemen may not altogether agree with them. That is a different thing. Nobody reading the utterances of Mr. Chen could think otherwise than that we have reasonable men to deal with. I should like to read another statement by another of the Chinese leaders. This is by the Generalissimo of the Southern Army, who says: Foreigners who wish to remain in China are cordially welcome to stay here and to be governed by our laws. Nations who wish trade with us may do so in accordance with our laws. We will not solicit foreign capital for China, but it will always be welcome if foreign concerns wish to continue their factories in this country or open any other form of industrial enterprise they will be given our hearty support, in exactly the same manner as any Chinese enterprise, but it will only be permitted provided it is in the interest of the Chinese people. The welfare of the workers comes first in our scheme. Missionaries also will always he welcome as heretofore. Surely that is the statement of a moderate and reasonable man, and think it most unfortunate if that is the case that we did not try to come to an understanding with these reasonable leaders of the Chinese people before we entered upon this course of military demonstration which is frustrating the better ends which we have in view. I will go further than that. Why should we put the risk in Shanghai so high? In the last two years scorns and scores of Chinamen have been killed in conflicts with us and our nationals. We heard to-day that only three Englishmen have been killed. HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Well, very few. There has been no great outburst of fury against individuals in China, but there has been a very serious thing indeed to us, as I have pointed out already—there has been an attack on our trade. There has been a very serious boycott, but there has not been any great outburst endangering the lives of people. Therefore, the danger to which the right bon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) alluded yesterday, the danger that the police in Shanghai would be unable to deal with the situation, and that we should have to have recourse to embarking our population in order to take them into safety, is a very remote possibility. But, on the other side, the risks of the course which the Government have taken are infinitely more disastrous and more immediate. In the first place, the chance of a negotiated settlement is destroyed, at any rate for the time. That disaster has already occurred. The negotiations have been broken off. The end which we were all wishing for—coming to terms with the Chinese people—has been defeated. That is the first disappointment. Then there is another very serious matter.

Hon. Members opposite wish to secure the safety of the 8,000 or 10,000 Britishers in Shanghai—as we all do. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] There is no need for me to dwell on that point. Everybody knows we all want that. According to figures given to us this afternoon, there are 9,300 British people in Shanghai. This expedition is going to make their lives secure without the necessity of removing them if danger occurs. What about the other Britishers? By the figures given us to-day there are another 6,000 scattered all over China Up to now, on the whole, these compatriots of ours have been safe. [HON. MEMBERS "Oh!"] They have been, on the whole, unmolested. There have not been any cases in which any of them have been killed. What is going to happen to them if there is slaughter in Shanghai? If there is fighting in Shanghai because of the presence of our troops, what is going to happen to these people in the other parts of China? Our troops do not help them at all. Our troops endanger their lives. Our troops by increasing the indignation of the Chinese people, by in creasing ill-feeling in China, put these compatriots of ours into a far worse position than they were in a few weeks ago. But there is another thing. If we do begin to fight, what then is going to happen? We now know that we have united all China against us. A few days ago, after the announcement of the British expedition, the son of the Mukden War Lord, Marshal Chang, made this announcement: If the British attempt force, I am sure the Chinese, both Northern and Southern, will rise together to defend their country. So, at last, we are managing to unite the Chinese people. If the Government will not accept the suggestion which we make; if they refuse our Amendment, it they will not call back their army, what is going to happen? These troops will go to Shanghai. They will land, watched by a sullen, hostile population, and until they go, they will be faced by the same hostile, sullen, angry people. The best that can happen for us is that the angry Chinese people will not attack, and that they will be content with a trade war upon us, and with boycotting our trade. The worst that may happen is the ghastly bloodshed of war. A spark may light it as we have sent the powder there. I think it is a tragedy, because the right hon. Gentleman had come so near to success. He had nearly brought the thing off with the goodwill of everybody, and then, in comes this expedition, making it impossible for him to succeed until he himself, or until his colleagues, will retract the decision which they have made.

The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Austen Chamberlain)

As the right hon. Gentleman proceeded with his speech I understood the hesitation which overcame him in an early passage of it when he undertook to tell the House for whom he spoke. He finally decided he might confidently say that he spoke for those who sat behind him, but I think it is clear he can hardly be thought to have spoken for those who sit beside him. The attitude which he has taken to day is very different from the attitude taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) in the speech which he made recently in the country or in the speech which he made in the House yesterday. It is not necessary to refer to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition has never under-estimated the gravity and the difficulty of the position with which His Majesty's Government are called upon to deal. He has carried the responsibilities, which I now bear, at the same time that he carried the responsibilities of the office of Prime Minister, and he knows how grave those responsibilities are when British life is threatened by violence and disturbance elsewhere. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and I, myself, speaking on behalf of His Majesty's Government, are not far apart in regard to the policy which we desire to follow in relation to China. The right hon. Gentleman, in one of his earliest writings on the subject, observed that ho was for a, revision of the Treaties; that he was bent on a peaceful settlement, but that that settlement could not be obtained by surrender, and would not be obtained by scuttle. So, I hope the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment will pay a little attention to the words of caution which proceed from his leader.

The right hon. Gentleman has used language which cannot make my task easier, and which cannot possibly contribute to the solution which he desires. I impute no motive, but I say he has used language which cannot possibly contribute to the peaceful solution that he desires and may well be taken elsewhere as an encouragement to refuse a settlement, which, if there had been no such encouragement in past speeches, might even now have been reached. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that you cannot understand the present position unless you take some account of the history of this question. From time to time in the long history of China a dynasty has failed, or been overthrown, and a long period of civil disturbance has followed. In recent times, since the contact between the West and the East, those periods of civil disturbance have always been periods of risk and danger to the foreign communities in China. That has been the case in the years which have led up to the present moment and in the troubles which have existed ever since the fall of the Manchu dynasty. His Majesty's present Government are responsible for but two of those years. When we took office, our first endeavour was to co-operate cordially with the other Powers which have interests in China, and above all with those two, the United States of America and Japan, which, next to ourselves, have the largest interests, because we felt that division among the Powers made the reaching of any settlement more difficult and might make it impossible.

When we came into office, the Tariff conference arranged by the Washington Treaty was not yet in existence, and the Commission to examine extra-territoriality had not been brought into being. Our first efforts were to secure the meeting of the Tariff Conference, and we went to the Tariff Conference to secure, through the deliberations of that Conference, the completion of the Washington Agreement, to the advantage of China and to the amelioration of the relations of foreign Powers with China. We sometimes sacrificed our own view of what was wisest and best to this desire to secure harmony and a result, and I do not think, whatever impatience the people may feel about the delays as they look back upon them, that anyone would have justified us if we had broken up that Conference by unwillingness to concede to others or by hasty action of our own. We followed that. Conference to the end, till it petered out, alas, without agreement among the foreign Powers. It petered out because there was no Chinese Government with which it could any longer negotiate. Then we took up the question of what was to be done since the Tariff Conference had failed and since we had received the report of the extraterritoriality Commission, and in our December Manifesto, which appeared, not actually on Christmas Day, but, considering its tone and temper, not inappropriately on the day after, we indicated the broad and liberal lines on which we were ready to move in the hope of placing the relations of foreign Powers with China, and our own in particular, on a friendly and satisfactory basis.

Our new Minister at Peking, arriving in China, stopped first in the South in order to inform himself as to the character and nature of the movement there and of the intentions of those who directed it. He took the opportunity of opening conversations with Mr. Chen. The right hon. Gentleman repeated a question, put by the Leader of the Opposition, as to whether, before the troops were ordered to move, we had made any effort to arrive at an arrangement with the Nationalist Government. Already, Sir Miles Lamp- son, on his way to Peking, had stopped for the purpose of opening up conversations with Mr. Chen, and it was understood between them, when he continued on his way to Peking, that either he himself would return or Mr. O'Malley would be sent to Hankow in order to resume those conversations. it was at that stage that the attack upon the settlement at Hankow took place; but before I deal with that, I must say something of an earlier incident, because it is only by reviewing things as a whole that you appreciate the full gravity of the menace to British life which that event disclosed and that you see how patient we have been and how earnestly we have ensued peace, notwithstanding singular peril and grave provocation.

The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the Shanghai incident. Observe that what took place originated in the death of a Chinese workman in a foreign mill, not British; that the British Government did not control the Shanghai Municipality or the police of that municipality, but that, in consequence of disturbances in Shanghai, the municipal police had to fire to arrest an attack upon a police station in which arms were stored. For that action His Majesty's Government had no more responsibility than any other foreign Government in China, yet, although the incident had its origin in a dispute between the Chinese and a man of another nationality, not British, all the force of the agitation stirred by that shooting was used to promote anti-British feeling arid turned to anti-British purposes.

You come to Canton. Two Concessions were attacked. Firing was opened by soldiers, mixed in an otherwise peaceful procession, across the river into these two Concessions, and the troops of both Powers, one of which was the British, fired in defence of their nationals and saved the lives of their nationals. Again, all the agitation is turned against the British, and the whole of the feeling, I will not even say prejudice, naturally aroused by any ease of that kind was used to fan an anti-British agitation and was directed to making our position, the position of our nationals in China, impossible. A boycott was opened against our trade, and long after it had ceased in the rest of China it was persistently continued at Canton against all that Came from British sources or through the British Colony at Hong Kong. You come then to Hankow. I do not deal with Wanhsien for two reasons. That was not an incident between the British and an authority of the National Government, because I am glad to say that our relations with Yang Sen have been, and are, perfectly satisfactory. [Interruption]. Our relations with the authorities at Wanhsien have been peaceful and friendly, and are peaceful and friendly now. Please observe that I have been dealing with cases where we and other foreign nations were equally concerned, or, as at Shanghai, where we ourselves were not concerned, except by the fact that the officers of the police force were British, but where the whole of the passion aroused by the incident, or which it has been possible to call forth by the incident, has been directed against British interests, and British interests alone.

Now you come to Hankow. There are three Concessions at Hankow, but it is only the British Concession that has been attacked. I do not say that there has been no disturbance, no cause for anxiety to other nations in respect of their Concessions, but all attack again fell upon the British Concession. The other Concessions still remain, on the old terms within the ownership of the nations to which they belong. Now what happened at Hankow? On the morning of 3rd January, a large mob, after listening to inflammatory speeches made by a member of the Nationalist Government and by Borodin, tried to enter the British Concession. During the afternoon the available naval ratings were landed and were employed, with the 35 marines who were already ashore, to protect the Concession. During the whole afternoon they were subjected to a fusillade of bricks and stones. They never fired a single shot. Some of them were knocked down and injured. There had to be a bayonet charge to rescue them, and in the course of the bayonet charge two Chinese were wounded, but not a Chinese was killed. Did ever troops subject to every provocation show such gallant self-restraint? By evening, these naval forces, this small naval force, were withdrawn to their ships or to headquarters on shore, where they were held in readiness during the night. The volunteer force of the Chinese and Indian Concession police had been employed all day in maintaining order inside the Concession.

On the next morning, 4th January, the Rear-Admiral arranged with the Chinese authorities that Chinese troops should guard the boundary of the Concession, on the understanding that the British naval forces would be withdrawn. The Chinese did not properly carry out their part of this arrangement, for on the 4th and 5th a violent and threatening mob entered the Concession, and the assistance of the Chinese and the military police had again to be called in. The fact of the matter was that it was a mob which you could not control without firing, but our officers refrained from giving the order to fire, in order not to create just that kind of incident for which the mob had been provoked and incited.

The right hon. Gentleman said, in words which I regret, as they may he taken elsewhere to have a meaning that I do not suppose he wished to attach to them, that no self-respecting Government would sign a treaty when the mailed fist was being shaken in their face. In spite of the mailed fist being shaken in our face, in spite of the forcible seizure of our Concession, we have negotiated. We are negotiating. The hon. Member says, "A mob." Yes, but if it is only a mob, and nothing more, why did not the Chinese authorities at once turn it out and restore the Concession to its rightful treaty owners? That is what happened at Hankow. And observe that that happened after Sir Miles Lampson had been in consultation with Mr. Chen, and after he had arranged that either himself or Mr. O'Malley would return to Hankow in order to renew the conversations. In spite of the dictum of the right hon. Gentleman about self-respecting. Governments, His Majesty's Government consented to negotiate. Conversations were entered into with Mr. Chen with a view to arriving at a peaceful settlement. I, perhaps, ought to say that something very similar to that mob violence and loot had taken place in Kiu-kiang, and that Kiu-kiang had been evacuated by us in order not to have to fire upon the Chinese and Chinese troops.

It was at that stage that the right bon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition wrote that you could not settle affairs in China by a surrender, and that peace was not to be obtained by a scuttle. His Majesty's Government had to consider what might be the reactions and the consequences of events at Hankow, and they had to think in terms of Shanghai, where there is a great international settlement with, as has been said, between 8,000 and 10,000 British subjects, a great number of other foreigners and a very large Chinese population. We were advised by everybody on the spot that it was necessary to send reinforcements, and that the forces available were insufficient for security of life in Shanghai if trouble arose. It is very easy to stand here at this Box—no, it is easier to stand there at that Box, and to say you must not over-rate the risks; you must not put it too high. Would the right hon. Gentleman feel quite as happy if his wife were in Shanghai? Would he feel as happy if he were there himself? Would he be as confident that those were risks which, in face of the advice of every man on the spot, he could fairly take, if upon his shoulders, instead of upon ours, rested the responsibility?

We decided, therefore, that we must send reinforcements to the Far East. It is asked, why we thought those precautions necessary when no other Power took similar precautions? Every Power has taken some precautions, but our position is a very special one. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] For the reasons I have explained in the earlier part of my speech, that throughout the last two years the whole drive has been against the British. HON. MEMBERS: "Why? Our nationals were more directly menaced than those of any other Power. Our community was larger than that of any other Power except Japan; but whereas Japan could pour as many troops as a liked into Shanghai in 48 hours, any additional force sent for protection from here must take weeks to arrive. We could not wait until the danger was at the gate. We could not wait to take these precautions—and purely precautionary measures they were—until lives were already in immediate and imminent danger. Accordingly, we gave our orders for reinforcements on the 17th to the 22nd January. Meanwhile, Mr. O'Malley had gone down to Hankow to enter into conversations and negotiations with Mr. Chen. The movement of our troops was known to Mr. Chen at least by the 24th, when he recorded a formal protest against our precautions. But he, nevertheless, continued to negotiate.

By the 29th January, a Saturday, an agreement was reached about the Hankow and Kiukiang Concessions on the basis of the further British Memorandum which has already been published, and signature was fixed for the next morning. Next morning, the 30th, Mr. Chen sent his Secretary to Mr. O'Malley proposing further amendments in the agreement which had been made the day before. These Amendments were discussed, and some—I do not know the details—but some alterations were made. New documents were prepared for signature, and at four o'clock on that afternoon Mr. Chen sent word to Mr. O'Malley that everything was in order, and arranged for signature at five o'clock. At a quarter before five o'clock, Mr. Chen's Secretary again appeared and informed Mr. O'Malley that some of Mr. Chen's colleagues had raised certain objections to the agreement—not to the force on this occasion, but certain objections to the agreement, and that further proceedings would have to be postponed until Mr. O'Malley should hear again. On the afternoon of the 31st January, Mr. Chen's Secretary informed Mr. O'Malley that Mr. Chen was unable to sign the agreement, but would resume the conversation on the 1st February. On the 1st February Mr. Chen read to Mr. O'Malley the statement which has appeared in the Press, the point of which was that the Nationalist Government could not conclude an agreement if the British troops were concentrated on Shanghai. They concluded that stage at a later point, on the 5th February.

On the 5th February, Mr. Chen made a statement to Press representatives at Hankow, which has appeared in our own papers, and where he says, commenting on my speech at Birmingham, that I entirely misunderstood the position, and all the stress of his objection is laid upon the fact, not that we are not offering an agreement to the Nationalist Government, not that we are sending troops but that we are consenting to negotiate on the same terms, and making the same offer to the Government at Peking. In other words, he states that my offence and the offence of His Majesty's Govern- ment, is not that we will not treat with the Nationalist Government, but that we will not treat exclusively with them, and thus make ourselves parties to the internal faction. When Mr. Chen made his last communication at that stage to Mr. O'Malley, he gave a not very definite undertaking—I am not sure that I should be entitled to call it a promise—that he would think matters over, and communicate with Mr. O'Malley again. His Majesty's Government, therefore, decided to await the comments of Sir Miles Lampson and Mr. O'Malley on his report, and a further communication from Mr. Chen, and Mr. O'Malley, acting upon instructions, pressed Mr. Chen to let us have whatever more he had to say.

5.0 p.m.

The result is that the conversations which were broken off have been resumed, and have been continuing steadily between Mr. Chen and Mr. O'Malley. We have now reached this point. As regards the Concession, we are in agreement. The Concession at the present time is being administered by a Chinese Commission. All the British civilians ashore are concentrated in one building, and the line of the Agreement which has been reached is that the Concession should be returned to the British Municipal Council, who would formally hand it over to a new Sino-British Municipality. The new municipal council would be modelled on that already existing and functioning satisfactorily in the former German Concession. It would be elected by the ratepayers and the funds that were raised would be spent in the municipality. All cheques would be countersigned by one of the British Consuls. There would be a joint Sino-Councillor audit of the accounts, and the ratepayers would have the right to settle the Budget and a veto right. On these conditions Mr. Chen and Mr. O'Malley are agreed, and we shall be prepared to give Mr. Chen an assurance that the British authorities concerned will do all in their power to implement and ensure the successful operation of the agreements. As far as the British authorities are concerned Chinese citizens will enjoy and be entitled to the same rights as British subjects in the said areas. These are stages of the agreement, but, as far as these parts are concerned, we are agreed if we arrive at agreement upon the whole. Mr. Chen is prepared to give to His Majesty's Government or to Mr. O'Malley an assurance, which was in the manifesto which was published on 22nd January, when the Nationalist Government declared their intentions and their immediate readiness to have all questions outstanding between Nationalist China and Foreign Powers settled by negotiation and agreement. This implicitly implied, and was intended so to apply to the questions of the status of the British and other Concessions and the International Settlements in China. This necessarily means (so the declaration runs) that the Nationalist Government will not use force or countenance the use of force to effect changes in the status of the Concessions and the International Settlements.

There remains the question of the troops now moving towards Shanghai, and it is necessary that that also should conic into the agreements. Without agreement in regard to that there is no agreement at all. His Majesty's Government cannot take the responsibility for the safety of the lives of their nationals in Shanghai out of the hands of the men on the spit, who are not only best able to judge what the danger is, but are alone in a position to judge. His Majesty's Government have been advised by their Minister in Peking, by their Consul-General in Shanghai, by the Commander-in-Chief of the China Station, who is at Shanghai, and by Mr. O'Malley, that additional troops are necessary to enable those forces already in Shanghai to afford security in these troubled times to British lives. His Majesty's Government, therefore, whilst prepared to accept the agreement which Mr. O'Malley and Mr. Chen have drawn up, are prepared to give the assurance which Mr. Chen desired. They are prepared to accept the assurance which he Gives on behalf of the Nationalist Government that they will seek an arrangement by negotiation and will neither use force nor countenance the use of force.

As regards the troops, in order to remove any misapprehension that those troops which go to Shanghai go there for any purpose except to protect British life, or that they can be used to take part in civil war in China on the side of one general or one Government or another, His Majesty's Government are prepared to say, that as regards the troops at Shanghai His Majesty's Government have reserved the right to take such measures as are necessary for the protection of British lives and interests against mob violence, disorderly troops, or any form of violent attack; but His Majesty's Government have never contemplated the use of troops for any purpose except such protection, and will land only such numbers as are necessary for this purpose. These troops will be stationed within the settlement and will not be moved outside except in case of grave emergency. It is contrary to the policy of His Majesty's Government to become involved in any armed conflict between contending Chinese forces, and His Majesty's Government will continue to maintain a strict neutrality in the civil war in China. If this agreement he signed and this assurance accepted, the troops that came from India, and which are already on their way to Shanghai, will be landed at Shanghai. That is what we are advised is immediately necessary to safeguard British lives. But the further troops going from the Mediterranean and from home will be concentrated in Bong Kong, and will not proceed to Shanghai unless they also should be required by the emergence of fresh or greater danger.


I think we are all very sensible of the importance of the statement that is being made, but what I would like to ask is this. A statement has been read regarding the troops and His Majesty's Government's intentions with respect to them. Will that be sent to Mr. O'Malley and be communicated to Mr. Chen, and in the communication of that message and statement to Mr. Chen, will Mr. Chen's opinion—it is very difficult to put—will Mr. Chen's mind be asked for by Mr. O'Malley so that if not exactly any agreement between Mr. Chen and His Majesty's Government be come to upon that point nevertheless Mr. Chen may indicate that if that is done he will have no objection?


The whole object is to remove the misapprehensions which we are informed are entertained in certain quarters in China as to the purpose for which we have sent this force or as to the purpose to which it might be turned. The words which I have read have already been telegraphed to Mr. O'Malley for communication to Mr. Chen. It is the endeavour of His Majesty's Government to satisfy Mr. Chen, to remove these misapprehensions with due regard to the warnings which we have received as to the danger at Shanghai and with due regard to our paramount duty, recognised throughout the whole world as our paramount duty, to protect British lives. I cannot predict the future. The course of negotiations is always uncertain, and it is doubly uncertain perhaps when, as in this case, they are carried on not merely at what I may call a confidential stage but in the presence of the whole world. I hesitate now to say so much in this House lest I should give offence to Mr. Chen in case he would not have received the communication which Mr. O'Malley has been instructed to make. Let me say that we have acted without any delay and with the utmost expedition that is possible.

That is how matters stand at this moment. I hope that peace is secure; I hope that not only is peace secure, but that a new and a better understanding of British aims and purposes may spread among the Chinese people; that they may see that we have no purpose that is hostile to them, that we have no desire to keep them in a state of subjection or tutelage or inferiority, and that we shall rejoice as they develop their institutions so that they may discharge to the full the obligations of any civilised Government to the foreigners within their gates, and may relieve us of privileges so-called which have become burdensome to them and obligations which it ought to be the duty of the Chinese authorities themselves to enforce and to protect. Having said that, and having told the House exactly how matters stand, I do not think I need appeal—I know that. I do not need to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition or to any sneaker who may follow me in this Debate—to walk warily among the perils and the hopes of the moment, to use no word that could cause Mr. Chen or those with whom he is acting to think that upon a policy so peaceful, se liberal, pursued so earnestly in spite of all that has happened, there is a single difference of opinion throughout the whole of the benches of this House.


I am sure that the whole House has listened with pleasure to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he envisages a prospect of peace, but when he asks hon. Members on these benches to walk warily in their statements, I would ask him to remember that it is the statements and activities of Members on these benches, according to the statement of the Foreign Secretary of the Cantonese Government which has made it possible for these negotiations to continue at all, and for this prospect of peace to-day to be in sight. For my part I hold that the best prospect of insuring and guarding that peace is to show to the Cantonese Government that there is in this country a strong body of opinion determined to keep that peace and to resist the policy which in the past disrupted it and brought us to the verge of war. The right hon. Gentleman adopted the customary device of Conservative Governments which have brought the country into a dangerous situation and proceeded to denounce as unpatriotic, and as hindering the Government of the day in the discharge of their duty, any person or any party who ventured to rebuke the authors of that policy or who advances a solution in accord with the postulates of reason.

Conservatism makes a mess, and then demands that the country shall be united in support of the mess. If this country had been united on the despatch of troops to Shanghai in support of the provocative policy which the right hon. Gentleman has on occasions pursued, this prospect of peace and this continuation of negotiations with the Cantonese would not be taking place, and it is to that body of organised resistance that we may give a. good deal of the credit for the change of that policy. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be surprised that a self-respecting Government should object to negotiation under a hostile mobilisation, but it is not so very long ago that the Government of this country took a similar course in relation to their own countrymen. The right hon. Gentleman and his Government plunged this country into industrial war, [Interruption.] May I ask this question? Who was it broke off negotiations, and why were those negotiations broken off? Because a, few hundred men, without authority or official cognisance, left the "Daily Mail," that was taken by the Government as the first act of war, and refusing to negotiate under a threat of war, as they said, they broke off the negotiations and precipitated that war. Now they are surprised when, in international affairs, another Government, on much sounder grounds, takes a similar view of the situation.

The right hon. Gentleman thought he saw differences of opinion in this party of all the harmonies. I have never belonged to a more harmonious party, and that is a certificate which hon. Members opposite will recognise as bearing the weight of some authority. Throughout the policy of the Government we have seen that tendency to halt between two opinions which has brought us to the verge of disaster. I hope that in this recent announcement the Foreign Office has at length asserted its control, and that the Government have assumed some authority over the activities of the militarists in their midst. The right hon. Gentleman who denounced this party as divided had, only a week or so ago, to sit at a public function while the Secretary of State for the Dominions was openly flouting the policy which he advocated.


That is not so.


Then was it the policy of the right hon. Gentleman to say that he had reached the limit of concession in regard to China?


Yesterday the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) said that my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary had stated that we had spoken our last word. What my right hon. Friend did say was that when our proposals were published, as they shortly would be, the country would see that we had gone to the very limit of conciliation. I have never known a sentiment, a statement, so perverted to the very opposite purpose for which it was made.


Let us—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"] Let us have further clarity. Does the right hon. Gentleman then say that that published statement was the very limit of the concession to which we should go? In the interests of peace I will not press that question in order to secure the partisan advantage of illustrating the divisions of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Solicitor-General said on the 26th January that it was impossible to negotiate with a typhoon. To-day we are negotiating quite happily with that typhoon. If there has been wild and irresponsible language used in this controversy, it has been used by responsible Ministers sitting opposite; and what else can we expect from a Government which embraces such variety of character and such diversity of temperaments? There has been nothing quite like the infelicitous union of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer since the coalition of Newcastle and Fox in 1754, which was described in this House in a very famous simile. They were compared to the union of two rivers, the Rhone and the Saône, near Lyons, the one gentle, feeble, languid, and though languid of no great depth, the other a boisterous and tempestuous current; but, different as they are, they meet at last. How appropriate are those words, used so long ago, to the divergent elements which have come together in the present Parliament, and are at present engaged in distracting industry at home and the peace of the world abroad.

The right hon. Gentleman accused hon. Members on these benches of advocating a policy of scuttle and of surrender. May I ask whether his first peace proposal preceded or followed the victorious advance of the Cantonese army? When you do not mention peace until you are confronted with successful force, then, indeed, you can, and justly, be accused of surrendering. If, on the other hand, you pursue the policy of this party, and accede to the demands of reason before violence occurs, you escape the charge of surrender. In this Chinese situation we have the same position as the Government got into in Ireland in days gone by. They resisted the appeal of reason, and ultimately surrendered to a successful violence far more than they had been asked to surrender to reason at an earlier stage. That is the recurrent catastrophe with which a Conservative Government confront this country, and it is a lesson which the country should mark well. Toryism will never do the big thing until passions have been inflamed by the smaller things. [Interruption.] When I said smaller things I meant no personal reference to the Government of the day. We still have an extremely anomalous, doubtful and dangerous situation arising from the Government's partial persistence in the policy of despatching troops and reinforcements to Shanghai.

The right hon. Gentleman in his statement made absolutely no reply to the questions put to him or to the arguments against that policy adduced in this debate. In the course of this discussion we have had a change from the previous position. Formerly we were told that these troops were to be used to deal with a mob outbreak and with that alone. Now we are told that in some eventuality they are to be used to deal with other troops, and that marks a very serious stage in this discussion. Of course the position was clearly untenable that it would require over 20,000 men to deal with an unarmed mob, and the Government have now retreated from that position. It was clear from experience that the troops were not necessary for that purpose in Shanghai, for only in 1925 very serious riots were dealt with, were suppressed with the utmost brutality, by the forces on the spot; judging by that experience no reinforcements were required for the troops already there. There must have been some other purpose in the despatch of these troops. If the police and the troops already on the spot were not sufficient, then, judged by their own standards, the Government were criminally negligent in leaving this large population to the mercy of an inflamed crowd for a period of two years.

Let us ask the Government, Under what circumstances are these troops to be used to deal other troops? If Shanghai is to be defended against the attacks of other troops, it is clear that lines must be drawn far outside the city. That is the only wav to render the Concession immune from artillery fire. Supposing, then, the eventuality occurs which was envisaged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last night. If a beaten army retreats against our lines, what is going to happen to it? Is it to be allowed to cater those lines, there to reform for a counter attack? If so, goodbye to the prospect of peace; because no victorious army in the world, no Government could possibly consent not to pursue a beaten enemy under conditions like that. If, on the other hand, we adopt the ordinary law of neutrality, and these troops on entering our lines are disarmed, then we shall have to intern them and to feed them, at immense expense to this country, and d very large body of men will required to look after them. On the other hand, is it the order to the commander on the spot to resist the entry into our lines of any troops of any kind Are they to be penned up against our lines and slaughtered by their opponents? What are the orders, what is the general tenor of the instructions issued to the commander on the spot? We may ask that not alone in the interests of peace but in the interests of the unfortunate soldiers, who are ever being dragged into impossible political situations and then have the blame for political blunders thrust upon their shoulders.

The right hon. Gentleman and all speakers from the Government side have refrained altogether from attempting to answer the main indictment against them which was advanced from our Front Bench to-day, the indictment that only about half of the total British nationals in China are in Shanghai itself, and that there are isolated communities scattered all over that country which the Government are leaving entirely defenceless. We on this side have been accused of being afraid to defend the lives of our nationals. Our case against this so-called Defence Force is that so far from defending lives, so far from saving lives, it is actually endangering lives. Our case is that already in Shanghai there are ample forces available for the preservation of order, and that it is not proposed to defend in any way our people outside Shanghai, against whom the Chinese will be provoked and inflamed by our action in sending reinforcements. So far from saving British lives, this action is very liable to lose British lives; and no doubt when they have been lost the drums will beat louder than ever, and patriotism will demand a punitive advance into the very heart of China. We are told that vital interests have to be safeguarded. May we ask what are those vital interests here is another explanation which the Government is singularly slow in making. Our interests in China are two-fold, one beneficent and the other, in my view, malignant. The first is the sale of British goods to the Chinese popu- lotion, It is very difficult to see how our trade with China is going to be promoted by the presence of a defence force, because you cannot make 400,000,000 of people buy your goods at the point of the bayonet. So far from this policy promoting our trade it is sure to destroy the bass upon which that trade rests, namely, the willingness of the Chinese to buy our goods.

But there is another interest in China, and it is that British capital is invested there in the production of all kinds of goods. Very cheap goods are produced there virtually by slave labour, and those goods are sold in the markets of the world in competition with British goods. Owing to the competition of these sweated goods, on the thesis of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, British labour is to-day being displaced and the English working class is being put out of a job. Under these circumstances what a strange piece of irony it is to invite the British working class to fight in defence of such interests as those. We are led to this conclusion, that the despatch of our troops to China has already broken off negotiations and ruined the prospects of peace on one occasion, that there is a danger of it ruining the new hope of negotiations unless the Government policy is further modified; that such a policy, so far from safeguarding life, is actually endangering life; that the only trade interest, which is a real interest, namely the. Chinese market, is being ruined by destroying the goodwill of the Chinese, while the only interets which the Government is really protecting is cheap production in China, which is inimical to the trade of the country.

Under these circumstances, I hope that the efforts of the Opposition will advance the latest negotiations for peace. I hope that the Foreign Secretary, in the course of those negotiations, will approach this problem in no spirit of bargaining or narrow huckstering. We do not improve our position in the East by adopting the methods of the bazaar, and it is time that we substituted the policy of a great nation for the policy of the pawn-broker. If scuttle we must, let us scuttle with dignity. As a matter of fact, the Tory party are scuttling all along the line. What nonsense it is to talk of scuttling and surrender. We scuttled out of Ireland under circumstances of the greatest ignominy after the failure of the militarist policy of the Government, losing hundreds of lives and millions of money which our policy would have averted. In China to-day we see the beginnings of a repetition of the same thing. The Government policy in China is one conceived in arrogance and conducted in panic and in danger of being concluded in ignominy.

These foreign adventures arise when a reactionary and incompetent Government finds itself in a domestic situation brought about by its own folly, and which is both intolerable and indefensible. I do not mean that the Foreign Secretary says to the Prime Minister, "You have brought the domestic situation to the verge of disorder; let us cover it up now by having a little war abroad." Things do not happen so crudely as that nor is the human mind capable conciously of devising a policy so brutal. But it is the interest and historic tendency of a reactionary party which has landed itself in a domestic entanglement to try to save itself by launching out into a war in a foreign country. The present Government, which now stands as a weakling before the country wishes to launch out in a posture of strength into some other direction. This threat of war does not arise from the strength, but from the weakness of the Government. It is a trouble which has also arisen from the systematic reversal of the policy of the Labour party.

Hon. Members opposite have been complaining of the intervention of Russia, as they allege, in Chinese affairs. I ant sure that if Russia interfered in any way with the interests of this country hon. Members opposite ought to be the last people to complain, because not long ago when peace had been made with Russia, they proceeded to destroy that peace, and during the last few years they have seized every opportunity of striking Russia in the face, and we need not be surprised if a man does not work very actively with you when you strike him in the face. Because a man named Borodin is connected with the Cantonese party they try to implicate the whole of Russia in his activities. It would be equally reasonable if we complained that because there is a man named Sutton with the army of Chang-Tso-lin the responsibility for every outrage committed by that army were brought home to our Foreign Secretary. Proof has yet to be produced to show in any way that the Russians are responsible for the developments in Canton. Many statements have been made but no definite proof has been forthcoming, but even if these allegations were true it would he due to the reversal of the pacifist policy of the Labour party two years ago. We have had on many occasions of late references to Japan. What is the position of Japan to-day? Is she quite as friendly to this country since the dockyard was built at Singapore?




It is strange to see the hon. Member interested in a competitive dockyard.


The hon. Member has been out of the House so long that he does not know that I do not represent a Government dockyard constituency.


Now I understand Why he was not on his feet at Question Time yesterday; times change.


Yes, they do.


I was going to ask if the attitude of Japan is quite as friendly as it was before Imperialism under the present Government was developed in the Far East. Why is it that the head of the Customs in Pekin, a British official, has been dismissed by the Pekin Government, which is controlled by Chang Tso-liu, who, in his turn, is controlled by Japan? I would also like to know if there is any truth in the rumours which have appeared in the Continental Press that a Commercial Treaty has been concluded between Japan and the Chinese. I believe it is true that during the two years of tile present Conservative Government's period of office they have succeeded in antagonising not only China and Russia but, to a large extent, Japan, upon whose co-operation in the past we could always rely in regard to affairs in the East. The Government have pursued this policy unassisted and unsupported by any other single Power in Europe. It may be true that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by the charm of his personality and the affinity of his opinions, has succeeded in inducing a black-shirted contingent to go to China. I read in the Press that this contingent has actually left, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman representing the Government, when he replies, will be good enough to say whether that is so or not?

Of course it was natural that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should visit Rome, and we have no complaint to make upon that score. Julius Cæar visited this country some 2,000 years ago, and after a proper interval the Chancellor of the Exchequer has returned the call, only on this occasion the result has to be reversed, and the right hon. Gentleman has had to leave the Fascist State saying, "I came, I saw, I was conquered." It is a great triumph of Conservative diplomacy to recreate the balance of power in the world, placing in one scale Russia, China and Japan, and in the other scale Britain and Fascist Italy. Whether they are now going to commit the crowning folly of breaking off negotiations with Soviet Russia at this stage I do not know. I think it would indeed be a real disaster and a terrible reflection on the wisdom of Conservative policy if at tins moment in face of all these entanglements and difficulties to which they are committed all over the world they took the additional step of breaking off negotiations with Soviet Russia—[HON. MEMBERS: "You mean relations?"] Yes, I mean relations. Hon. Members opposite seem to be more meticulous now in the use of language than they used to be. As I observed once before in this House I always follow with interest and sympathy the development of the strange noises which occasionally arise from the benches opposite, because they represent the dumb, instinctive yearning to achieve the flights of human speech. Since I was here last considerable progress has been made, and a short time ago I heard from the benches opposite a bark that was almost human. I do not desire to be diverted from the main purpose of my intervention, which was, firstly, to state the relief which I am sure is felt by the announcement that a continuance of negotiations is still possible in China, and, secondly, to point out that the ten- dencies on the benches opposite which have brought us to the verge of war are still apparent even if they have been modified.

Therefore, I hope that this Debate will be pressed home, and that we shall not be diverted, by appeals to back the Government and present a united front, from presenting that criticism which in the past has made possible peace. Conservatism, when it is in difficulties, always appeals for national unity; but national unity in itself does not bring salvation. National unity in wrong-doing merely makes disaster certain. There have been many communities which have been united in folly and have suffered disaster. I once, with the help of a Biblical illustration, illustrated that fact in this House. The famous herd of Gadarene swine, when they rushed down a steep place into the sea, were completely united, and, judged by Tory standards, were a highly patriotic community; but their unity on that occasion overwhelmed the whole herd in disaster.


What did you say about it last time?


These images spring very easily to the mind when one is confronted by some persons. This party, which appeals for national unity in its support, is a party which has brought war between class and class at home, and has nearly brought war between nation and nation abroad; and between our conception of foreign policy and domestic policy and their conception there can be no compromise. [Interruption.] This nation will not be united in support of war abroad, and it will not be united at home in the interests of one small class. This nation will one day, I believe, again be united in war against poverty. But other hands will bring that unity and other ideals that inspiration. Now, it is the duty of an Opposition to fight a Government which stumbles from failure to shame, until the nation they have betrayed strikes from their hands the sceptre of power, and in their place demands a Government that will govern and a creed that will inspire.


We recognise the high sincerity with which the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Mosley) has approached one of the most anxious and grave questions which this House has had to consider for many years; and we appreciate also the deep sense of responsibility with which he has answered the appeal made by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that there should be nothing provocative said in this Debate. It was one admirable characteristic of the greater part of the hon. Member's speech that, as it might apply to any subject which came on for Debate in this House, so, no doubt, we shall have many opportunities of hearing it again in the future. [Interruption.] There was an observation in the hon. Member's speech which should not be passed over in silence. There are upon these benches Members possessing, I suppose, among themselves, as big a body of direct experience of the horrors of war as is possessed by any body of men in the world of their numbers. It is we who are told to-day that to gain a political advantage we are promoting another war in the Far East. When such a charge is made against such men, I think we are conscious that we are faced with an irresponsibility to which it is needless to reply. [Interruption.]

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain FitzRoy)

The House has been singularly quiet under provocation, and I must ask hon. Members now not to interrupt.


I have but one word more to say by way of appreciation of the remarkable oratory of the hon. Member. I am sure his speech was one which will be read with profound sympathy by our 15,000 fellow countrymen in China, by all their relations here who are anxious about the fate of their loved ones there, and by all the humble millions of this country whose livelihood depends upon Chinese trade. This is the serious, this is the responsible, this is the helpful method of dealing with so grave a subject.

If I could detect any arguments amongst the scintillations of the hon. Member's rhetoric, they were these. He desired that the British Government should have made even bigger concessions to the Cantonese party than they have. But, as I understand the situation, the British Government have already offered all that the Cantonese party have ever asked for, and all that delays matters now is that the Cantonese party refuse to accept what was once their own demand. Then his military analysis of the situation led me to a very positive result, and that was that, instead of sending 24,000 troops, we ought to have sent 48,000. I can deduce no other result. As it seems to me, there are four opinions that have been advanced about this question of the defence force. There are those who think that no troops should be sent; there are those who think that the troops should have been sent, but that they should be stopped at Hong Kong; there are those who think that the troops should go on and land at Shanghai; and then there is another and peculiar opinion which I think is shared principally by followers of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), though he has not himself voiced it, and that is that the troops should have been sent, but less should have been heard about it—that it should have been kept dark, a secret. I cannot think that that is a wise counsel. I do not think it would really be in the interests of the Chinese that, say, the hostile forces of some Chinese General should be hurled against Shanghai, to find 24,000 British troops in ambush. That must lead to just the sort of situation which we desire to avoid. Common sense points to this conclusion, that, if you are going to send troops there, the more the Chinese know about it the better. What we have heard to-day about the instructions which have been given to our Commanders in the Field has very greatly relieved our minds of anxiety as to the mariner in which those troops are to act.

It appears to me that the speeches to which we have listened from the other side have moved in a world of illusion. The first illusion in which they move is as to the nature of the Government in the south of China. We have heard something about the interests of the Chinese themselves, and that is certainly a matter to which we are not so hardhearted as not to give some consideration. None of us in this House can affect to know whether the Cantonese Government is really for the benefit of China or not, but one sees one or two things which make one very much doubt it, and doubt very much whether they are entitled to the sympathy of the champions of democracy opposite. The first reason is this. China is the worst governed country in the world. No established Government in China need turn round or go very far to make some improvements in Government. The people of the country call out for the decencies of life. What does the Southern Party do? What it does is to attack the Concessions, which are the only decently governed part of China. It in as though a gardener set out to try to improve a garden by rooting up the one or two healthy plants that it contained, in order to make a fair start with a level waste of desert. The second thing that the Southern party are doing is to appeal to the anti-foreign passions of the Chinese. It is those passions that have kept and are keeping China back. The illustration of what happens in that regard is the country to which our hearts have gone out to-day, our Ally, the Empire of Japan. When Japan was to be brought, forward along the path of civilisation, it was understood by the brilliant statesmen who were leading that country that every effort must be directed towards the removal of the traditional anti-foreign prejudice in the country. They stamped upon it ruthlessly whenever it showed itself, and by that chief means made Japan a free and equal member, an agreement-keeping member, of the family of the comity of nations. The policy in China, alas! has been nothing but appeals to the most dangerous passions of that old land, passions that are our own worst foe.

There is another illusion which appears to me to be equally grave, about the nature of British interests in China. We have had the usual appeal from the hon. Member for Smethwick—the appeal of prejudice against the bond-holders. What an easy drum that is to beat! It is true there are £250,000,000 or £300,000,000 of British capital invested in China. It is true that, of that, £60,000,000 is at Shanghai, and £20,000,000 is owing to us by the Chinese Government. It is the case that our money has gone there to provide China with the rudiments of civilisation. [Interruption.] Yes, the foundations of material civilisation, in docks, harbours, railways and factories. That is the foundation upon which the civilisation of China will have to be built in the future. It is the case that it would be a very shrewd blow both for China and for us if that great mass of credit were to be destroyed, wiped out. It would be a shrewd blow to the people of this country. Do we realise the extent to which our success in getting through our troubles at the present time depends upon Income Tax upon foreign investments? Wipe out the foreign investments and you do not get the Income Tax, and if you do not get the Income Tax the people who suffer in the long run are the people whom we are carrying on our shoulders—the people who are out of work, who are supported out of revenue earned by the country. That, however, is not the great interest of this country. The great interest of this country as has been truly said is the interest of trade. We have exports to the value of £20,000,000 a year, which could be increased in a good year to £10,000,000; that is where our true interest lies. How tragic it would be, if it were not laughable, that this country, in its present state, labouring under its enormous difficulties, should have to meet this charge of arrogant Imperialism from the Chinese.

6.0 p.m.

We are told of our Byzantine desire to dominate the peoples of the East. Indeed our only interest is this trading interest of humble millions of producers in Lancashire. That is where our interest Lies; it is for them we are fighting to keep our end up. And there are not only the humble producers in Lancashire, but the humble consumers of China. It is their necessities that they are to be deprived of by the false statesmanship—let me use no severer word—of the present leaders of the Southern party. We hear hints about territorial ambitions. Territorial ambitions for us in our present condition! The hon. Member who spoke last spoke of the expedition that is going there as if it was to be followed by some battle of Plassy in China and as if we were to take over and govern China. He is 200 years out of date. Two hundred years ago it might have happened. We might have fought a battle of Plassy near Shanghai and China might have had the inexpressible benefit of 200 years of good British rule. But it has been denied them, and unfortunately we are not now in a condition to envisage a further burden of the sort. There are countries with territorial ambition in China. I will mention only one. I will observe the appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman that no provocative word should be said, but Russia is not unused to provocative words from these benches. Russia has territorial ambitions in China, as those know who are well acquainted with the condition of the country in the interior. Russian agents penetrate into outer Mongolia and through Mongolia towards China—no mere penetration of propaganda, but direct control of country which was formerly Chinese by Russian rulers. There was never a more pathetic instance of blinded statesmanship than that of the Chinese directing all their hatred against the only power which has no territorial interest in China, at the dictation of a country which is actively pursuing there its territorial ambitions. We have no interest except to keep the door open to all countries.

When I turn to the situation in China I find the illusion that there has been some sort of great awakening of the Chinese people. Would that it were so! I have only the same means of judging as hon. Members opposite, but it would appear to me by such evidence as would convince a reasonable man that there has been absolutely no awakening in China. The great masses of China are the same as they ever were. In the present troubles there is the same loot, rapine, and occasional murder as of old, and at the bottom of everything that passion for which China has been famous throughout history, a bitter, insensate hatred of the foreigner. Those who have seen photographs which have arrived of the lowest classes of the Hankow mob could see it in their faces. They are not civilised faces, but the faces of barbarous men inflamed with an insensate passion of hatred. There is no doubt a small band of educated men who are making use of these forces. Here I come to another illusion which seems to occupy the fertile mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). It is that those who are leading the Southern forces are not under the influence of Moscow, that they are not Bolshevists. There are two parties, no doubt. Those who have more knowledge than I have tell me that Mr. Chen himself is a member of the moderate party, but we cannot doubt from their actions that the inspiration of the other and the prevailing party comes from Moscow. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. You see the Moscow influence in the erection of the Soviet system in China, you see workers' unions, and the establishment of the full Communist system, so far as their organisation, which is very rudimentary, allows. You see a beginning of a grimmer and darker feature, the murder and looting of wealthier Chinese because of the taint of bourgcoisie. Are not these hall-marks of the influence of Moscow?

Then when you come to their external policy you see the strange negation of all system in government, that it is legitimate to bargain with minorities, and pass over the accredited and established government of a country. Is not that the hall-mark of the methods of Moscow? You see that spirit of vain aggression in some of the pronouncements which also we recognise to flow from the point of the Moscow pen. Finally, I am sorry to say, in many of the pronouncements which have been received we see that disregard for binding engagements which we have come to know as the bedrock of the other system. I have only made these observations to introduce a caution against the furtherance of the illusion that if a certain party prevails in Southern China we have not to deal with a Bolshevik Government. The policy laid down by the Government is absolutely watertight, save in one respect. It provides for the right course, the beneficial course of action in every eventuality except one. Supposing we have an established Government in China, and that established Government accepts the full principles of Moscow, regarding no agreement, tearing up old treaties, confiscating property, and all the rest of the battery of Communism against civilisation. I must be content with the question, what is our policy to be if that eventuality comes to pass? I can find no special provision for it in the line that has been taken hitherto.

For the rest, as regards the provision for the safeguarding of life we have had it charged against the policy that has been adopted that it pays no regard to the little scattered communities of British in China. I will ask hon. Members to exercise their imagination on the subject and try to put themselves into the minds of those who are living in those scattered communities. What would they want, above everything else, in order that they and their wives and children should sleep in safety? It is that there should be some place of refuge on the Continent of China to which they can go if the storm breaks. They can have ample warning; they can all be told to fall back on Shanghai; and as long as Shanghai is safe they are safe; but what will be their condition if in the whole of the Continent of China there is no safe place of refuge. It is for their sakes as well as for the community at Shanghai that this move is essential. We are perfectly content, I make bold to say, to leave the decision as to where the troops are to land, as the Government propose, in the hands of their advisers. It is the sound and obvious course, but pressure is developing from certain political quarters in this country to the effect that the troops shall be landed at Hong Kong. If that is so it is perfectly legitimate for others who take a strong view to exercise the opposite pressure in order that between the two the Government may be free to follow their advisers. Some of us hold the strongest possible views that it is better to let the troops go to Shanghai. The city is full of Chinese. There is not only the white population but a million Chinamen live inside the lines you have to defend. In such a situation you will have no warning of trouble. It is better the troops should not be even 24 hours away. If it is known that there is this strong opinion, we are content to leave it to the Government.

As to the maintenance of our trade, our true interest, we must realise that this is the greatest trade tragedy of our time. All through the darkest times people said, "After all, some day China may come in with fresh demands and restore our markets." Now what was to be a bright point is become a dark one. How is trade to be maintained? Obviously, the bedrock is the maintenance of friendly relations. But China is still an uncivilised country. There is no settled Government. Trading with an uncivilised country where there is no settled government, you must have protection for your traders. You cannot do without the Concessions until there is a settled Government. There must be concessions where ordered government is established for our traders or trade is impossible. There must be special legal conditions for our traders or trade is impossible until there is a settled Government in China. Look back at India, Africa and every other uncivilised country. You cannot trade with an uncivilised country unless you have established settlements. The time for abandoning the Concessions will be when there is an ordered government. That is the first essential.

I come to a final point. The keeping open of our generous offer is the best road to friendship. The conciliatory offers which have been made will not indeed serve much unless there is propaganda to bring them to the attention of the Chinese people, otherwise those who are taking an anti-British line will prevent it being known amongst the masses of Chinese how conciliatory the British policy is. But may we, in all modesty, ask this question? Is it any good pressing the negotiations far in the present unsettled conditions? You do not even know yet what the final government of China is going to be. Is it any good making final agreements and final treaties with any of the present powers? Final bargains made under such conditions as these are only too likely to turn out to be no good in the long run because of the complete re-shuffling of the cards. Would it not be better to keep our liberal offer open and wait until the Chinese have settled amongst themselves the question or what their government is to be. When that time comes, we know by bitter experience in other parts of the world, that there is only one safe and solid foundation for future good relations between the two countries. In the first place, no doubt, a full and free acceptance by this country of that absolute masterhood in its own house which is due to an independent state; but in the second place, the insistence' by us on what is equally necessary as a basis for good relations and that is the honourable observance by others, as well as ourselves, of agreements entered into, whether between States or between the Nationals of those States.


I intend to try to follow the book of conduct laid down for us by the Foreign Secretary, and not to make any remarks provocative to any quarter of the House. May I say, first, with regard to one or two remarks expressed by the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Hilton Young) that it seems to me unfortunate to refer to the very ancient civilisation of China as uncivilised. I have very good reason for believing that it is that particular kind of reflection—I am certain the hon. Member had no intention of using it offensively—which is resented by the Chinese even more than the display of military force. I have always regarded the Chinese as very civilised. I have studied the works of their ancient philosopher, Confucius, who was ancient before some of our own philosophers were even very new. I do not, however, rise for the purpose of crossing swords with the hon. Member for Norwich, but for more serious reasons.

I find myself, speaking from this side of the House, not able to support the Amendment which has been moved from this side. It seems to me that for au Opposition to ask the Government of the day to recall troops after their advisers have told them that troops are required is not. a responsibility which any Opposition should take upon itself, and it is not a responsibility which I feel that I can put upon my own shoulders. I do not intend to take that responsibility. It is not as if the advisers were people whose trustworthiness was questioned in any way. We have the words of the Leader of the Labour party, that Mr. O'Malley and Sir Miles Lampson are men of the very highest polity and character, and that we could not have better advisers on the spot. The Leader of the Opposition used words to that effect. We have had from the Foreign Secretary to-day a statement that he has received from all the leading authorities in Shanghai, from his men on the spot, the demand that it is necessary to have troops for the defence of our nationals. In these circumstances, I do not see how any responsible man, responsible to his constituents, responsible to the country as well as to the party to which he belongs, can in this House vote against the policy of the Government. That is not a thing which ought to be done, and I hope very much that some means will be found whereby it may not be done. Mr. Vandervelde has been quoted. What is his view of the policy of the Govern- ment? Speaking of the December Memorandum he said: The principles which it puts forward, the policy which it proposes, and the measures of immediate application it suggests give evidence of a breadth of view, a spirit of peace and conciliation, and a desire to meet the national aspirations of the Chinese people which cannot be sufficiently admired and approved. I take this quotation from a document entitled, "The Crisis in China," written by Mr. Harry Lee, with an introduction by Mr. George Hicks, chairman of the Trade Union Congress, from which I shall have occasion to quote one or two more interesting passages. Therefore, I think we may take this quotation as an accurate quotation of what Mr. Vandervelde has said. If the Foreign Secretary of Belgium can make that statement, if it is possible for all the responsible people who have looked into this matter to come to the opinion that it is necessary for us to send a force for the protection of our nationals in Shanghai, I do not see how we on these benches can resist that appeal.

I want to point out, and I wish to make this appeal to my own party, that the Amendment which stands in the name of the Labour party on the Order Paper to-day is not—I say this with a due sense of responsibility—the considered policy of the Labour party. This policy is expressly excluded from the lines of policy laid down by the joint meeting of the trade unions, the national executive of the Labour party, and the executive of the Parliamentary Labour party. The question of the recall of troops is expressly excluded by the line of policy there laid down. It is also expressly excluded by the speeches of the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) and the Leader of the Opposition in this House on Tuesday and yesterday. The right hon. Member for Derby, speaking in this House yesterday, said: I start clearly and definitely by first admitting, and not only admitting but frankly saying, that no matter what Government may be in power, it is the duty of that Government to defend their own nationals."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1927; Cols. 136–137, Vol. 202.] That is a categorical and definite statement made by the right hon. Member for Derby. The right hon. Gentleman wishes, as we all wish, and as I am convinced the Foreign Secretary wishes, to get to a condition of peace at the earliest possible moment. With regard to the protection of our nationals, which means the use of troops, if necessary, the leader of the Labour party—and I am endeavouring in my way to follow the lead which he gave on Tuesday to our party—said, speaking of the negotiations with the Canton Government and of the possible use of troops and the undesirability of the use of troops: Then something must be done on our side, and, if that is going to be done, we in list give an assurance to the Canton Government that, if negotiations are reopened, if in a peaceful way the Shanghai difficulties can be removed from our line, then those troops will be taken back at once and will not be landed, either in Shanghai or anywhere else in China."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, 1027; col. 30, Vol. 202.] You cannot remove troops unless they are there. That is not a categorical demand for the recall of troops. It is a demand, a reasonable demand, and a demand with which I believe the Foreign Secretary would be very much inclined to agree, for the removal of troops when agreement has been arrived at of a satisfactory character with the Canton Government. That seems to me to be the policy which the Labour party ought to follow, but that is not the policy of the Amendment on the Order Paper. I have in my hand the pamphlet to which I have previously referred, a very interesting pamphlet, which only came into my hands to-day. It has an introduction by Mr. George Hicks, Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, who recommends the pamphlet to the attention of the Labour movement, and says this, amongst other things: In such an atmosphere it is difficult to keep cool and to do clear thinking, though it is just that which is most required. Harry Lee's pamphlet— The pamphlet has been written by Mr. Harry Lee— will certainly help us in that respect. The author of the pamphlet is exceedingly well known in the Socialist movement and he may be taken, I think, to be expressing not only the official Labour opinion, but Labour opinion perhaps a little bit towards the left. What does he say about the use of troops? He says: It must be admitted— He was speaking of the concessions and of our position in China generally— that if they— meaning we— are occupying privileged positions arising out of British actions in China in the last century which are indefensible, a British Government—even a Labour Government—can scarcely stand idly by and take no steps to protect the lives of those out there to-day, who are certainly not responsible personally for the acts of several decades ago. The difficulty will be to restrict these armed forces solely to defensive purposes, unless most definite orders to the contrary are issued by the Government. Those orders, we know, have now been issued. In this pamphlet, the specific policy of the Foreign Secretary is definitely recognised as being a policy which, if it be adhered to, is a policy which is desired by the Labour movement in this country. I think I have shown, under circumstances of a certain amount of difficulty, that there is very little between this side of the House and the other side on this matter, and it would be the gravest possible disaster if there should be any appearance to the world outside of any serious or grave division of opinion. I cannot regard this question as one which can be played with from the party political point of view, and I do not believe that any responsible man on this side or anywhere else in the House desires to do that; but I do feel that, standing as I do, and as each one of us must stand, responsible to the men and women who elected me, and responsible to public opinion in this country and to the Empire as a whole, I must, and we must, remember that we cannot lightly play with the lives of British men and women who are in our care in any part of the world. Whatever Government were in power in this country to-day it would be the duty of that Government, and I believe it would fulfil that duty, to protect those lives.

I am very regretful and I am rather embarrassed in making a statement for fear that anything which I may say, or anything that may be said by subsequent speakers, may make greater difficulties in our negotiations with China. I desire, and T think we all desire, to treat the Chinese on a footing of complete equality, but I think it would be foolish for us to delude ourselves into thinking that there is no violence and no possibility of disorder in China, that all the troops in China are well-controlled and that everything goes on oiled wheels. There is a very considerable risk of an undesired conflict in China, and, for my part, I cannot support a policy which would deprive our people in China of the protection which they would get from our troops who, as the Leader of the Opposition said on Tuesday, were sent there to act not as soldiers but as police.

The policy which I have been applying is the policy of the Labour movement in contradiction to the policy laid clown in the Amendment, which is not the policy of the united Labour movement but of a small group—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Some of my hon. Friends question that statement. I say, categorically, that the policy laid down by the united Labour movement excludes that particular form of words used in the Amendment; that the policy was laid down in order to exclude that. I cannot reveal confidential conversations, but I am within the recollection of my hon. Friends in saying what is absolutely true. Knowing that, and feeling that, I do hope very much that it will be found possible either not to press the Amendment to a Division or to take some other course which will avoid a conflict. I am not speaking of a conflict in the Labour party, which is a matter of relatively minor importance compared with the affairs of the Empire as a whole or the lives of men and women in Shanghai. I am speaking of the danger of a conflict in this House, which may perhaps be used in other parts of the world in a way which we do not realise in this country. I have been reading with some attention descriptions of the kind of meetings which are held in nationalistic China and other parts of China, vast meetings addressed by orators skilled in exciting the frenzy of mobs. And what use are they going to make of speeches made here to-night, quite innocently and without any hurtful intent? I have seen the use which can be made in other countries of speeches made here. When speaking in another language there are all kinds of translations and all kinds of flowers of speech added which would no doubt very much alarm the original speaker. To-night I appeal very seriously and earnestly to the members of my own party to come hack from the very dangerous excursion they are taking. It is not the road towards peace and security; it is a road which may lead them in a different direction. I do not wish to say anything of an inflammatory nature. I do not want it to be thought that stand here alone. I do not. I believe that I am voicing the inarticulate opinions of millions of people in this country, and that what I am saying is really more true of the feelings of the members of the Labour party than the opinion expressed in the Amendment before the House.


The hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. Haden Guest) is to be complimented on the courage he has displayed in stating what I believe, quite truly, is much more the view of the great mass of the working men of this country than the extraordinary literature which has been showered throughout the country by the Independent Labour party, much more of their view than the extraordinary resolutions that are being passed, or the amazing speech we have heard from the Front Opposition Bench to-day by a right hon. Member who was once a colleague of mine in the old days of the Liberal party. It is very difficult for some of us to understand, when any question arises such as is involved in the present condition in China, why a large body of hon. Members opposite should immediately assume that their fellow countrymen are in the wrong, that they are scoundrels and marauders, that everybody else is in the right, that the lives of their fellow countrymen are of no value, and that whether they are mass acred or not is of little importance.


It is not true, deliberately not true. I for one, say on behalf of my colleagues categorically that that statement is not true.


If the hon. Member will say that outside this House to those he endeavours to delude, it would be a great deal more The speech of the right hon. Gentleman, who opened this discussion to-day, was on this line. He said that three Englishmen had been killed; but what are they? What are three Englishmen, anyhow? They have been killed, but why should we attach such enormous importance to the risk tr. life? Is he a better judge of the risk to life, of the risk to British men and women in Shanghai than the people on the spot, or His Majesty's Government who are in daily contact with the military authorities out there? This was the whole burden of his speech, the speech of a responsible Member of this House, who has been a Minister of the Crown. It was a speech that was cheered by hon. Members opposite, but it was entirely contradictory to the statesmanlike speech made by the Leader of the Opposition, who from the beginning to the end has shown a marked divergence of view from the "Hands off China" movement, and has shown, as a former Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary and a possible future Prime Minister, that he, at any rate, is not prepared to share views so hostile to his own fellow countrymen. But the right hon. Gentleman who made these statements, made them without any kind of warrant. I have in my hand a pamphlet issued by the Independent Labour party, in which they make statements like this: They refer to incidents which occurred during a strike in Shanghai—this is what they hand out to their deluded supporters—and they say that in 1925 a labour dispute broke out in a Japanese mill—not a British mill—and the strikers were arrested by the British. They do not say that they were arrested by the municipal police at Shanghai, who happened to be officered by the British. They give the impression that they were arrested by the British Government, and also say that unarmed students were shot without warning by the command of British officers.

That is an entire travesty of what took place. It is an entirely untrue statement. That British officer was not an officer of the British Army. It might have been a Japanese officer, or any other international officer, who happened to be in command of the international police. What I ask is this: is that fair propaganda? Men who write such statements as that, blaming their fellow countrymen, must realise that the statements are not correct. They must know they are incorrect. Why do they do it. Why are these wretched Englishmen who have worked hard for years for the sale of British goods, which give employment to hundreds of thousands of people in this country, to be thus assailed? What have they done to hon. Members opposite? They have been described in a speech by an hon. Member of the Opposition as "shady adventurers." It shows either a most pathetic ignorance of the facts or that they are distorting the truth. To describe the great merchant houses of Shanghai, with centuries behind them for a reputation for integrity, to describe firms like these and my own firm, who for fifteen years have been propaganding for the use of British chemicals in China with a staff of great ability, as "shady adventurers," carrying on some kind of extraordinary clandestine trade—


Who said that?


An hon. Member of the Labour party.


Which one? Give us his name, in case you have invented that too?


I have the quotation here. It was made by an hon. Lady, I do not remember her constituency, but I think it is Middlesborough (Miss Wilkinson). This is what she said: Our troops were not being despatched for the protection of British subjects in China, but for the protection of the very shady trading that went on there. This was said at Aldershot on the 1st February, 1927.


She was referring to the opium traffic.


It is a most extraordinary way of referring to a traffic which ceased many years ago; and we made great sacrifices in order to terminate it.


It is going on now.


If it is, it is smuggling. But that is not the great trade of Shanghai. It is impossible to argue with people who are so ignorant. Shanghai is a great mercantile centre of the world, and you might just as well talk of New York as being occupied in bootlegging. No, Sir, there is no object to be served by this policy, and I cannot understand why hon. Members should constantly traduce their own fellow-countrymen who are carrying on a most arduous work in every part of the world. I can assure the House from my own knowledge and experience that it is not so easy to obtain Englishmen of ability to live in these difficult climates, far away from home and under very trying circumstances, in order to promote British trade. If these people are to be harassed in this way, if instead of being allowed to live in a European garden city, which is all that a concession amounts to, among themselves, with sanitation, and the kind of life to which Europeans are accustomed, then I say it will become impossible for any firm in this country to carry on trade in China at all. I take issue with those who imagine that all you have to do in this matter is to conciliate the Chinese trader. He is not interested in the political circumstances. He is prepared to carry on business with us, with no unfriendly sentiments towards us. If he cannot carry it on during the daytime because of the boycott, he carries it on during the night, but you make it impossible to carry on any trade at all if you do not create conditions which enable great European firms to have staffs out there capable of doing the work.

It is most unfortunate for us, but it is not our fault, that China is now in the throes of a great civil war. There is no ordered Government, and the difficulties, therefore, of developing friendly relations are much heavier, particularly when you have a country which is filled not with armies, but with bands which one day are armies and the next day may be looting bandits, and when you have a condition under which men will join an army because they cannot get a week's wages. It is not easy for hon. Members opposite to find a parallel to the condition of affairs in China. You would have to go back to the 16th century, when cheery leaders of armies paid men to fight for them, and these men went sometimes on one side and sometimes on the other, and sometimes in the middle of the battle went on strike for higher pay. These are the kind of difficult conditions which have been going on for a long time; and the condition of the country is an extraordinary tribute to the 400,000,000 Chinese, and it is a great tribute to their mercantile tenacity that trade has gone on. In Hankow business is being done in spite of it all. The right hon. Member who moved the Amendment deprecating the sending of troops to Shanghai would have us believe that it will be irritating to the Chinese and make negotiations impossible. It will do exactly the opposite. It will enable the moderate men of China to point out to the wild extremists under the Bolshevists that they cannot kick the English out of China into the sea without any kind of opposition. Far from irritating anyone, it will have exactly the opposite effect. Strength properly displayed during negotiations leads to a speedy settlement. During my life I have done some negotiating of one kind or another, and I have never found, when I represented what was strong and powerful, that it was more difficult to negotiate than when I represented what was feeble.


Perhaps you never had regard to justice.


I do not see where injustice comes in here. There is no injustice being done to anyone. There is a delusion among Members opposite on that point. China is a vast country, as big as Europe. In that vast area there are four or five small spots, smaller than the Port of London, which are occupied by Europeans under special conditions. The Hankow Concession is not much more than the Hampstead Garden City in area. Imagine five Hampstead Garden suburbs in the whole of Europe, populated by a few people from China, and the whole of Europe so troubled and its dignity so damaged that Europe really could not carry on for another month! The thing is ridiculous. Everybody is agreed that a lot of the regulations in operation in the Concessions want changing, but that is very different from allowing yourself to be kicked out by a Chinese mob or a nationalist Government. The display of the defensive force will not make the position more difficult Will hon. Members opposite remember that 300 American marines have been landed in Shanghai, that Italian troops are to be landed, and that the Japanese are prepared to land troops? Are Members of the Labour party going also to send resolutions to all those countries? Shanghai is an international settlement. What a curious rôle Great Britain would play, seeing that the capital 1invested is £63,000,000 and that there are 9,000 British subjects on the spot, if every other Power in the International settlement sent troops there to guard its nationals and the 9,000 British people there were compelled to admit that the people at home were not supporting them at all? If there were a Labour Government sitting on the Treasury Bench today, it would not act in any way different from the way in which the present Government is acting. I am certain that if Labour Members had the responsibility, instead of the tail trying to wag the dog, they would carry out the only policy that any British Government dare carry out and remain in office for another 48 hours. Hon. Members opposite live in continual delusion. They think that the great mass of the British people wish to see the lives of their compatriots in danger. They are making a great mistake. If they fought an election on that issue they would find themselves in a very queer position. The Amendment on the Paper is inviting the massacre of British subjects.


Are you prepared to do any fighting?


The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary naturally could not cover in his speech all the many complicated issues involved. I am sure, therefore, that he will not mind my putting to him one or two questions on which information is desired by a great many who are interested. What is to be the position of property in these Concessions under the new conditions? What is to be the position to be taken up on the very important question of Customs and tariffs? It has to be remembered that China has borrowed very large sums of money in Europe, a condition attached to the loans being European control of Chinese Customs. If the Customs are no longer to be under the control of Europeans, as in the past, a very curious position will arise, because the stability of Chinese bonds will be affected. I would like to hear something about the dismissal of Sir Francis Aglen, the head of the Customs system in China. I would also like to have a Government declaration on the question of submission to Chinese law. In China they still practise a system of criminal law somewhat equivalent to mediaeval law as it was in this country. Their method of obtaining evidence by torture has not been altogether abandoned. Their methods of punishment show the ingenuity of an ancient civilisation combined with the extreme amount of refinement in inflicting the maximum of pain on the criminal. Surely it is not intended that Europeans should be subject to a criminal code of that character? The whole legal position is very obscure and ought to be cleared up. China was a famous country and produced great art and literature at a time when other nations were in a state of barbarism, but in modern times, as anyone who knows China must admit, their ideas of life and of law are different from ours. We have to look to the future, not with any idea of superiority, but remembering that the East and the West are not, and cannot, be the same, and that we have to protect Western ideas and Western civilisation. It seems very important that on these points some declaration should be made at the earliest possible moment.

Such negotiations as are in progress should reach a very successful issue. There is no sane human being who wishes to have any military or other trouble in China. Everyone is anxious at an early date to see China quiet, with a stable Government, and to see our relations with China as cordial as possible. At present, unfortunately, we seem to fall between two stools. The Government of the South is angry with us because we will not help it against the North, and the Government of the North is angry with us because we will not help it against the South. I would like to know which of the great Powers has recognised the Cantonese Government up to the present. I understand that the United States Government has refused to recognise it or to negotiate with it, that France is making no concessions of any kind, and that Italy is in the same position. Are we proceeding on an isolated course of action in this matter? I hope I have not said anything which will render more difficult the task which the Foreign Secretary is undertaking, the strain of which we can all understand. After the speech of the right hon. Gentleman we ought to rely, not merely on his well-known sense of fairness and moderation, but rely on the people on the spot to guide us in this very difficult matter. I had hoped that after the Foreign Secretary's speech some responsible Member opposite would have risen and would have declared himself satisfied that the objects the party opposite were aiming at were being carried out by the Government, and that the Amendment would then have been withdrawn. What can we gain by showing a divided front to the Chinese or to the world? Who can benefit? The hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Mosley), who signalised his return to the House by one of his characteristic outbursts, which both sides of the House enjoyed equally, practically argued that it was he and his friends who produced the Government policy. If that be so, why vote against it?


It was a change for the better.


As the hon. Member is now one of the leaders of the Labour movement, he may induce some of his Labour colleagues to agree that we should not divide, but should accept the declaration of the Government. I think it is the duty of all Members to support any Government in the middle of difficult and delicate negotiations by showing a united front at home, and so enabling the Government to reach that honourable peace which is the object of all parties.


If anything were required to convince me that the position taken up in the House to-day by the right hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) was justified, it has been the deliberate and wilful misrepresentation to which his statements have been subjected. My right hon. Friend may be right or he may be wrong, but, at any rate, he put up a reasonable case. My right hon. Friend asked certain questions, which have not been answered. Let me try briefly to restate them. There is the Government's policy of sending troops for protecting our nationals in China. I am not arguing whether they should land at Hankow or Hong Kong or Shanghai or Singapore or anywhere else. Part of that Imperial force has already arrived at Shanghai. The right hon. Member for Central Newcastle moved an Amendment which asks that these troops shall be withdrawn, and the reason why he asks that is that he believes, and I believe, and the overwhelming majority of Members on the Labour benches believe, that the presence of those troops can in no way safeguard the lives of the 6,000 British people who are not at Shanghai. That is a reasoned case. You may send your troops to Shanghai, and it is quite arguable that you can safeguard the lives of British nationals in Shanghai. But the troops in Shanghai can do nothing whatever to safeguard the lives of the 6,000 British nationals who are in the interior of China.

7.0 p.m.

Some of us on this side of the House have friends in the interior of China. Some of us have relatives there. We are quite as anxious to safeguard the lives of those people as is the representative of the new English party who has just spoken. We are going to take no insults about patriotism from any hon. Member on the opposite side. We are as sincerely anxious to protect the lives of our fellow countrymen in any part of China as is any hon. Member opposite, but we believe, and we are prepared to argue, that the best method of safeguarding the lives of our 6,000 nationals in the interior of China is not to send armed forces to Shanghai. If a conflict is provoked there we shall have the lives of many of our fellow countrymen lost in the interior. Several hon. Members have asked for a united front; the hon. Member who is now leaving the House particularly. They have already got tons of rotten Zinovief literature ready. I hold copies of it in my hand. It is printed in red, to be scattered up and down the country, and it is a flagrant misrepresentation of the attitude of this party on the Chinese issue. The hon. Member for Southwark North (Dr. Haden Guest) spoke this afternoon and I have no objection to him stating his point of view. I myself have frequently been in a minority in this party, and I have claimed the right to express the minority view. I extend the right to the hon. Member or anybody else. But the hon. Member for Southwark must not put on airs that he and those who think with him are the only people interested in safeguarding British nationals in China. The hon. Member, I think, if he will read his speech to-morrow, will find that that was very definitely the impression created on these benches. I am within the recollection of the House that he made certain statements which can be construed in that manner.

There are two points of view about the defence of British nationals. There is the point of view of those who hold that the forces in Shanghai will protect them, and there is the point of view of those who hold that the forces in Shanghai will increase the risks which our nationals in the interior are suffering. I do not think that sending a military force will do any good at all, but that it will increase the risks, and because of that I strongly support the attitude of the right hon. Member for Central Newcastle. We had a very partial history given us by the Foreign Secretary. He told about the mobs. He did not tell us that the leaders of the Cantonese Army had hung some of those mobs. He gave us little parts of the story and left out other parts, just as the hon. Member who spoke last gave us a travesty of the attitude of the Labour party on this question. Nobody has spoken of the blessings of civilisation we have carried into China. Nobody has told us about the labour conditions there. It is from the point of view of trade and industry in this country, and from the point of view of the British working-classes that I primarily approach this question. We have in China men who do not so much carry the blessings of civilisation as carry credit into China. With that credit they erect factories and mills because they can get access to cheap raw material, silk and cotton. They run up factories there. They do not run them up for fun or to carry the blessings of civilisation there. They do it for profit.


Are you referring to the British?


To all—British, Japanese, American, French, Belgian. I will give you the whole string of them. My point is that they do not run up factories for profits. They get cheap labour. They produce commodities with that cheap labour, and it is not a fact that they sell these cheap commodities back into Britain, because they sell very few of them back here, but they send them into neutral countries such as India. The Indian cotton manufacturers declare that their trade is being ruined chiefly by Japanese, but now partly through Chinese mills. That is official.


Will the hon. Member say how many British mills, or mills controlled by British capital, there are in China?


I cannot tell; I can give you all the figures.


Will the hon. Member accept it that there are, only four cotton mills in China controlled by British capital?


I have here the figures given in a book which I got from the Library of this House. It is called "Papers respecting Labour Conditions in China," Command Paper 2442.


I am very sorry to interrupt. The hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Bondfield) when she was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, and when she answered a question I put on that exact matter, stated that there were 120 cotton mills in China, of which five were British, 40 Japanese and 75 Chinese.


Since then one British has been handed over to the Japanese.


Hon. Members might add to their information what is in the official documents that there are a large number of concerns in China where there are British managers, and where the capital is partly British. If we are going to have the story, we might as well have it all. The export of British capital for the production of commodities by cheap labour, by miserably cheap labour, in any part of the world, but particularly in China, is not a British interest. As a matter of fact, it is violently opposed to British interest. Lancashire cannot compete with the products of those mills of the international settlement in Shanghai. The percentage of imports into China of Lancashire goods has steadily fallen, let us say, for the last two years. There is no doubt about that. The percentage of other countries is steadily rising. I do not think there is any doubt about that.

We are told that the mob is ignorant and illiterate. Why is it that there are angry mobs at all in China? We have heard nothing about that to-day. Nobody is going to tell us that it is Borodin who is touring up and down China inciting the mob. Let us see the facts. The position is described by Dame Adelaide Anderson, late Chief Factory Inspector of His Majesty's Government who went to Shanghai to examine the matter for herself. She reports on it in a White Paper. I go back to the 29th March, 1923, when the miserably, weak, tottering Peking Government, starved of its revenues by the fact that the Concessions at the ports are all collared by other nationalities, promulgated factory legislation. I will give you four of the Regulations. Article 3 prohibited boys under 10 and girls under 12 years of age from working in the factories in China. Article 6 fixed a 10 hours day as a maximum day for adults. Article 7 prohibited night work for juveniles under 17, and for girls under 18. Article 12 provided that wages should be paid at least once a month. This was too much for the Shanghai International Settlement. Three months afterwards the Shanghai International Settlement Executive Committee appointed a Child Labour Commission to make inquiries. On this Commission sat Dame Adelaide Anderson, late Chief Lady Factory Inspector in this country, and Miss Agatha Harrison, of the Y.M.C.A. They recommended, not the Peking Government proposals, but something much weaker. They recommended certainly that boys under 10 and girls under 12 should be prohibited from getting jobs in the mills. But in Shanghai, the pioneers of civilisation said, the thing is not to become compulsory for four years. Children were to be limited to 12 hours per day, said the Commission. These are the recommendations of the Commission. Even those recommendations were too much for the pioneers of civilisation in Shanghai. A ballot was taken. No Chinaman was allowed to vote. The Chinaman pays taxes but has no vote. It is only foreigners who have the right to vote in Shanghai, and when the foreigners' ballot was taken as to whether they should endorse those proposals, there was an organised boycott of the ballot; a quorum was not obtained, and even these miserable breakdown makeshifts of the Factory Act are not now in operation in Shanghai.


Did the Chinese agree to them?


As a matter of fact, they did. The answer is in the affirmative. I do not think that interruption has any validity at all. I have already said that the Peking Government was a tottering Government, but I said, "Here was their suggestion, their proposal, their regulation." I said even those regulations were too strong for Shanghai. In Hong Kong directly under British control there is a minimum standard of factory legislation.


May I ask the hon. Gentleman if there is no standard of a similar description in the cotton mills of Shanghai?


The answer is "No." In Hong Kong the Regulations prevent night work for children. In Hong Kong child labour of any kind under the age of 10 is prohibited, and that does not operate in Shanghai, or did not operate in Shanghai at the time of these reports.


Is the hon. Member certain that it did not operate in the British mills then?


That is what I am saying. It did not. Let us see what the conditions are in the British cotton mills. I am going to deal with the British cotton mills alone in Shanghai. On the 18th June, 1924, our Consul-General at Shanghai reported to His Majesty's Government that the hours of labour in the British cotton mills were 12 hours per day, allowing only two stop-pages of 15 minutes each for food. Those were the conditions in the British cotton mills, and hon. Members who wish to justify them may get up afterwards and try to do so. Let us see what were the conditions at Chefoo. In the report to which I have already made reference on page 36 I read this: Apprentices in the blacksmith trade work from six a.m. to one a.m. seven days a week. In this particular trade they are at work almost constantly during these hours. It is not at all an uncommon sight at 10.30 or 11 o'clock at night to see them fall asleep at their work, often receiving severe burns and injuries as a result. Our Consular representative heads the next paragraph: Paradise for Employers. This we must remember is an official paper, and it states: Strikes are rare and condemned, lockouts are universal and unquestioned. The few attempts to strike have been immediately suppressed by police forces, and the workers compelled to resume their work under the existing conditions. This is at Chefoo. Let us compare this with the wages conditions in Shanghai. On page 114 we discover what the coolies get by way of wages in this International Settlement to which the blessings of civilisation have been transported from these shores. They get 15 dollars (Mexican) per mouth, which is roughly 30s. per month or 7s. 6d. per week Rickshaw coolies, however, do not get that amount; they get eight dollars (Mexican) per month, representing 16s. in our money or 4s. per week. Hero is the comment by the Child Labour Commissioners appointed at Shanghai: The average cost of living for a man and his wife of the very poorest class was generally given as 16 dollars a month. In other words, the average cost of living for a man and his wife in the very poorest class is higher than the wages paid to the coolie, so that the coolie cannot maintain himself and his wife, even at this low level, out of the wages which he is officially admitted to be receiving. I have not dealt with the case of adult female feather sorters who are getting 10 cents per day, or 2½d. per day in our money. I find also that tuberculosis is prevalent and there are most pathetic stories—here in a Government blue book—about these pioneers of civilisation.


Was this within the International Settlement at Shanghai or in the suburbs?


Within the International Settlement—within the jurisdiction of the Shanghai Municipal Council. On page 115, under the heading of: "Evidence—Medical," we find: The crowded living conditions are to a great extent responsible for the poor physique observed. It was agreed by all the medical witnesses that the existing industrial conditions in Shanghai are extremely adverse to the bodily and mental welfare of the Chinese child employé. I find in the same report that the average earnings of young children—employed in the factories at five years of age—are usually 20 cents, or 5d. a day, and that the cotton mill hours in the International Settlement are 12 in the British mills, rising to 15 in the other mills. Fancy 15 hours per day for seven days a week! The British mills as well as the foreign mills have a seven day week. It is little wonder that Lord Inchcape, who has some interests out there, should come back and denounce the missionaries. We are told to remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy, but any missionary who goes out there and talks about a day of rest will find Lord Inchcape and his gang very bitter against him. I am not going to go into the condition of the employés in the silk filatures. They are in even worse plight, but let us take one or two further quotations about Shanghai. When the right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister he sent a request, through the British Ambassador at Peking, to have inquiries made into the labour conditions in China—as to how far they affected the production of commodities which, in turn, affected employment in Great Britain. These reports, such as they are, have been published, and I read that in Shanghai: The companies show a disinclination to disclose the requisite information. When the present Foreign Secretary took office he too became interested and on 4th February, 1925, he sent out a despatch asking the British diplomatic representatives to assist in getting these child labour regulations through. But the people concerned in employing this labour did not mind the right hon. Gentleman. They did not care anything about the credit of the British Government or about employment in this country; they cared nothing whatever about British civilisation. The people who would continue to exploit poor Chinese labour, or any kind of labour, under the conditions I have indicated have no heart and no conscience whatever. When, in addition to that, we find that these people who pay no British Income Tax, are asking us to send out British troops and gunboats, I think this House is entitled to ask what the troops and the gunboats are going out there for. I fear I have already taken up more time than I had intended, but I should like to refer to a book written for the despised, Independent Labour party by an ex-Member of this House who has just returned from China. He has given a very detailed and, in my view, a very accurate account of what he saw in China. I refer to Lieut.-Colonel L'Estrange Malone, whose pamphlet "New China, Report of an Investigation" has been published by the Independent Labour party. Writing from personal experience in regard to the Chinese sailors, he says: I received a vivid impression of the risks which they run and also evidence of the cheapness in which we hold life out East when the liner in which we were travelling from Shanghai to Hong Kong collided, at night, with at least six fishing junks, breaking the masts of five which came down with a crash, possibly injuring many and sinking at least two junks. Our steamer passed on without making any sort of effort to ascertain what damage we had done or whether we could render any assistance, in spite of the yells which came from the unfortunate fishermen, the beating of drums and the letting off of fire crackers. They were only Chinese! Are these the blessings of civilisation? I see the Secretary of State for the Dominions is present. He believes in a higher standard of civilisation for the people of this country. He has been for years preaching it on his own political platform. Can he look on with equanimity at His Majesty's Government holstering up this growing attempt to lower our standards? Every new factory that goes up there, without factory regulations, will produce goods at miserable starvation wages, inadequate to keep body and soul together. They will produce goods which beat us in the market and tend to lower us down further and further until we reach a coolie level of civilisation. To-night we are pleading with this House of Commons to look at this question from a new angle. Certainly I, for one, do not want to see anybody hurt, whether British national or any other national. I should like to see the lives of all protected, but I do not believe that the way to protect our nationals in the interior of China, some of them 600 miles from Shanghai, is to send troops into Shanghai. I believe that if trouble breaks out in Shanghai the lives of some of these people in the interior will be lost. We have relatives and friends there and we are as sincere in our belief that the Government's way is not the best way to safeguard the lives of British nationals, as hon. Members opposite are sincere in their belief. That is an arguable position; but what I do not regard as arguable is that the continuance of cheap sweated labour and the export of British capital, British brains, British management and intelligence for the exploitation of that cheap sweated labour in the Far East or anywhere else is a British interest. I believe it is an anti-British interest.

Major-General Sir JOHN DAVIDSON

It is not, true!


I believe it is true, and apparently the Shanghai Municipal Commissioners believed it.


Hon. Members will have the opportunity of putting their own point of view at the proper time, and should not do so by way of interruption.


I will conclude. I do not believe that sweated labour at home or abroad is a British interest. It is opposed by our Australian cousins. They will not have it. They will not assist in bolstering up this sort of thing. I do not believe it is in the interests of Lancashire or of our foreign trade; I do not believe it is in the interest of our working class or even in the interest of sane British capital as a whole. For the life of me, I cannot understand why any industrialist in this country continues to support or to allow his name to be used in support of a policy which, if developed, must end by beating us in the markets and trailing us down to the coolie level of civilisation. It is because I hold that view that I whole-heartedly support the Amendment.


In addressing the House of Commons for the first time, I claim that concession to a new Member which is generally shown. From the speeches we have recently heard, I fear the House will be getting an unduly pessimistic view of affairs in China, and I should like to put before hon. Members some experiences of my own, as for the last 70 year my family and I have been closely identified with trade in China. It is some 30 years ago, I am bound to admit, that I spent two years in China, mostly in Shanghai, and I found that conditions of life there at that time were very pleasant and that there was a very friendly feeling between Chinamen and Englishmen. I had the good fortune to travel same 4,000 miles up into the interior of China with an expedition that was sent out from Lancashire to investigate the trade of Western China. We had the most universally kind reception, and when I tell the House that after coming back from, those 4,000 miles of travel I had lost not even a pocket hand- kerchief, I think they will appreciate something of the true honesty and good nature of the Chinese people. I have always had the profoundest belief in the character and good sense of the Chinese people, and I, therefore, think the House ought to welcome our position in China and the fact that the Government are doing all they can to maintain our position there.

I, as trustee for very big interests in Shanghai, welcome this police force which is being sent out to keep the peace in the international settlement at Shanghai. The House might be interested to hear that 30 years ago I was a member of the Shanghai Volunteers—a humble member, a full private—and that we had some riots and were called out to defend the settlement. There were only a few hundreds of us, and there were many thousands of rioters, but the mere fact of our being called out and lined up on the water front, and the mere fact of our fixing bayonets, not firing a single shot, was enough to send those rioters home again. Therefore, I think we may draw an analogy with this comparatively small force that is being sent to Shanghai to-day, and that in that way we can come to the conclusion that the peace will be kept in the same sort of way by an exhibition alone of force.

Since I was in Shanghai, the place has grown tremendously, and there are something like a million Chinese, I understand, there, besides nearly 20,000 Europeans. Presumably, therefore, the interests have grown enormously. We know that the trade has grown immensely, and we have heard that the interests amount to something like from £60,000,000 to £80,000,000 sterling in Shanghai alone. Therefore, it is only right and proper that we should he defending those interests. I noticed that the right hon. Member for Central Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. Trevelyan) admitted in his speech that the Cantonese movement is under Soviet backing, and I am glad to find that he admits that those bandits of Moscow are behind this movement, because we do not know whether or not that movement is going to succeed. The fact is that they have got only a third of China under their control, and as we know from past history, movements have come from the South of China and may carry on for a time. Take the great Taiping rebellion, which lasted for 15 years, and in which between 30 or 40 million people perished. That went on for 15 years, and at the end of that time the Manchu dynasty, the Northerners, got the upper hand, and the same thing may still happen to-day. The steadier, stronger men of the North may defeat these harum-scarum Southerners, who take up new ideas from Moscow, and I think we are doing the right thing to treat with both factions in that enormous Empire to-day.

I am surprised and horrified at the suggestion of hon. Members opposite that we should evacuate China. I notice that one hon. Member went so far as to say that the ships which have been sent there should bring away the whole of the British population, rather than take men and arms there. That would indeed be a terrible blow to our prestige throughout the East, for if you evacuated China, India would come next. The hon. Member who spoke so ably behind me remarked that unless we keep our flag flying and have strong jumping-off places for our trade into a country like China, we cannot hope to do the business we should be doing. I regret as much as my hon. Friend opposite the terrible conditions in the cotton factories in Shanghai to-day. I, personally, know very little about it, because the whole thing has sprung up since I was there, but from his own showing the British factories already are working shorter hours than those under foreign management, and presumably, if we go on staving in Shanghai and other Treaty ports in China. we shall gradually be able to insist on and carry out those better conditions of labour to which we all aspire in this country. I think it would be a most unfortunate giving up of our position in the world if we deserted our position in China to-day, and I am quite sure that hon. Members opposite, were they in the position of responsibility in which we find ourselves to-day, would do the same thing in sending a police force of troops to protect those interests in the Far East.

I should like perhaps to allay some of the fears of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston), who spoke last. He says that the isolated communities up in the interior of China will be in greater danger from the bringing of troops into Shanghai, but, surely, we have heard that all those isolated communities are coming down the rivers and rapidly join- ing up to the base at Shanghai, and one can only hope that the sense of security, which we shall obtain by our flag flying in Shanghai, will protect those people from the country. I do not believe in the hostility of the Chinese people to our nation. I believe there is a foundation of very great friendship between the two nations, and I believe that the trouble is largely caused by disturbers of the peace in the West, from Moscow, and from the appalling propaganda that is going on from that horrible centre in Russia. In negotiating with Mr. Chen we cannot be certain that we are negotiating with the whole of China, and I would, therefore, ask the Government to let negotiations go on on the sane lines on which they are proceeding to-day, in the hope that when we can see China settled as one great people under a strong, firm, progressive Government, which we all wish to see, then the friendship of this country will prove to have been laid on good foundations by our negotiating with both sides in this terrible turmoil that is going on to-day in the Far East. But I think we ought to feel grateful to our Government for the strong action they have taken and for the very wise and prudent course of sending a defence force capable of dealing with the enormous crowds which have gathered to-day in the Treaty port of Shanghai.


It is with very peculiar pleasure that I have listened to the hon. Member for Northern Dorset (Mr. Hanbury), especially as he himself has been in China, and it so happens that I too have been in China. We have had a very interesting address from him, and I hope, after the long silence that the hon. Member has kept, that he will give us more of his presence in this House and more of his pleasant society. I have been taking a good deal of interest in China, because I have lived in that country for 10 years, and I have a son there now. I listened with very great interest to the speech that was made by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon, and I was very much surprised at how lightly he passed over that terrible affair at Wanhsien. He treated it very lightly indeed, with simply a wave of the hand, but I do not think that this Government has yet published the actual figures with reference to that occurrence at Wanhsien. If I am correctly informed—and I have got the Chinese version of it here, and would not mind reading it, if I could, because I am certain that the British House of Commons would allow the Chinese case to be taken in this Chamber—there were some 2,000 or 3,000 lives lost at Wanhsien. It is very regrettable that the British are responsible for that loss of life, and I think we ought to have a fuller explanation from the Foreign Secretary with reference to it.

The right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) made an appeal to us to withdraw this Amendment, but I am certain that we have had no reason whatever given, since coming here today, for withdrawing it. The Government themselves have bucked the issue. The question that is primarily before the Chamber is whether or not it will protect human life in China to send troops to Shanghai. I am sorry that there is no representative of the Foreign Office on the Treasury bench now, and I have noticed that the Foreign Secretary has been absent for a considerable time during this Debate. I hope he is well and that it is not through ill-health that he has had to leave his position here, but I think that, when there is a Debate of this gravity going on, either he or his Under-Secretary should be on that bench during the whole time of the Debate; and though I am a back bencher, I think I have as much right to be heard as anyone else in this House, especially when I am speaking on a subject such as we have before us to-night. The question is: Are the Government taking the proper course to protect human life by sending British troops to Shanghai? I join issue with them entirely upon that point, and I say that they are not taking the best steps to protect human life in China by so doing. I do not impute any motives to the Government. I, myself, believe they are sincerely anxious to do the best in the circumstances for the protection of human life, and I am gratified to learn from the Foreign Secretary this afternoon that negotiations are still proceeding. If that be so, it is a strong additional reason why these troops should not be sent to Shanghai. In China there are 49 Treaty ports. I presume there are British in every port. Why are troops being sent only to Shanghai, if it is necessary to protect human life? How is it they are not being sent to the other 48 ports, and what is going to happen to the foreigners in those 48 ports if there is collision between the British troops in Shanghai and the Chinese troops? That is a question which the Foreign Secretary evaded. I hope whoever is going to speak later in this Debate will not pass over that question, because it is the very kernel of our ease for this Amendment. The area of China, I am given to understand, is about 4,250,000 square miles. It is a larger country than Europe, and we have British subjects all over that country in small isolated districts. The hon. Member who spoke before me, I think is not correct in saying that those isolated units have been withdrawn. I do not believe any of them have been withdrawn. There have been certainly some missionaries withdrawn from the interior, but, as far as I know, these isolated units are still following out their engagements in the isolated areas of China.

The Foreign Secretary was rather personal this afternoon, especially in reply to the right hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan). He asked him a very personal question. He said, Would he like to send his wife to live in Shanghai? I do not know whether I ought to follow the discourteous example that he set, but I should really like to know if the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) would like to send his lady into the interior of China while the British Army was being sent into Shanghai? That seems to me a far more pertinent question than the question that was put to the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate this afternoon. What will be the effect of sending these troops there? I am certain it will be looked upon by the Chinese as an unfriendly action. I cannot imagine anyone thinking he is conciliating a nation by invading it with armed forces. We should think it a most extraordinary thing if the Chinese suggested that they should send a fleet up the Thames and 20,000 Chinamen to protect the Chinese in Great Britain, and I am certain that the Chinese themselves think it is a most extraordinary thing that these troops are being sent to Shanghai. What I am afraid of, and what Mr. Chen is afraid of, is that it will irritate the Chinese.

I should like to call the attention of the House to one great fact, which is one of the greatest tributes which we can pay to the Chinese. That country has been in a state of civil war for, I think, about 15 years, but certainly a great number of years. I do not know whether there has been a single foreigner molested during the whole of that time. There have been foreigners in the interior during the whole of that period, and they have never been interfered with. Is it not remarkable that, although the Chinese army surrounded Hankow, not a single British life was lost. They occupied the city of Hankow, and invited foreigners afterwards to go on with their business and they would be protected. I think that is one of the greatest tributes that could be paid to any country in circumstances of such a trying nature. I do not care to contemplate what would have happened had we sent an army a few weeks previously into Hankow. It was duo to the very fact that we had no army there then that not a life was lost on either side, and I think that is the strongest argument that can be used against sending this expedition into Shanghai.

There is another question that I think has been overlooked in this House this afternoon. It has been suggested over and over again that Shanghai is an international settlement. That is so. There are more Japanese there than there are British, and nearly every European nation has trade interests in Shanghai. But how is it that only Great Britain is sending an army into Shanghai How is it that we are always the "softies" of the piece, always doing the things that other people will not do? We always rush in where other nations fear to tread. The Foreign Secretary says he is working his best to co-operate with the other Powers. If that is so, how is it that the British Army is the only European army in Shanghai? How is it the Americans refuse to send troops? How is it that the Japanese refuse to send troops? In my opinion, if you could get at the back of the whole thing, the civilians in the settlement dread the importation of force into that settlement at Shanghai. I believe that is the reason why the other Powers will not bring an army into Shanghai. The effect of this importation of troops into Shanghai by Great Britain alone is bringing all the odium of China on this nation. It is doing more than anything to deter our trade. In 1923, we exported £25,000,000 worth of goods to China. In 1924 we exported £28,000,000 worth; but, in 1925, only £19,000,000 worth was exported.

Therefore, I say we have no justification whatever for sending these troops. I think the Government are ill-advised. They are doing great injury to the prestige of this country. They are doing tremendous injury to the trade of this country, and are endangering the lives of the British who are in the interior of China. It is impossible for the Government to protect those isolated units. It is a mockery to think you can send an army to Shanghai to protect people 800 or 900 miles away in the interior where there are no roads, no railways, no telegraphs. They are right away in inaccessible quarters of China, and yet you are sending troops to Shanghai on the pretext of protecting British subjects in China. The whole thing is absurd, and it demands an answer and explanation. If the Government are going to justify the sending of these troops to Shanghai, they have got to answer the case that is made from this side of the House. We say in our Amendment, that these troops should be recalled, and the obligation should be placed upon the Chinese of protecting European life. As a matter of fact, we have got a pledge from Mr. Chen himself that they have no intention of invading the international settlement. If that be so, why do we not pay some respect and some regard to the statements that are made by the people with whom we are negotiating?

It is said that the Chinese are not united, that the Government have no one with whom they can negotiate. Then how is it they are negotiating with Mr. Chen all the time, and why are they continuing to operate these old and obsolete Treaties if there is no unity among the Chinese people? I think the case made by this side is absolutely unanswerable, and if anything happens in China, there will be a very grave responsibility upon this Government, because no lives have been taken, no Europeans interfered with up to the present time, and if anything happens subsequent to the importation of these troops, there will be a very strong case to be made that the Government were really the cause of any trouble which might follow their action. I do not know whether it is too late. The Government say it will damage our position in India, and all that kind of thing. Are we going to continue to do wrong on a pretext of that kind? Let the Government face the issue, withdraw the troops and continue the negotiations, so that we can have peace and trade restored in the Far East.

8.0 p.m.


The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) and I have some slight difference of opinion. I am very glad, therefore, to have this opportunity of saying what is in my mind, and I regret that the hon. Member is not here to listen to what I have to say. Everybody, I think, is aware that the factory conditions in China and Japan are not comparable with those in this country and, indeed, cannot be compared. They are totally different, and on a different basis. I agree with the hon. Member so far that I, and, I suppose, everyone else in this House, would like to see those conditions keyed-up to our level, or even to a higher level, so as to give our people in this country a preference in their trade and secure employment. But, as I say, conditions are totally different in China, nor have we got any voice in them at all. If there are 120 textile mills, 4 per cent. of them being British and 96 per cent. Japanese and Chinese, I would ask the hon. Member how can we control the factory conditions in Shanghai? It is utterly beyond our power. Supposing we insisted on keying up those conditions to something like those in this country we should be thrown out altogether. It is entirely the business of the Chinese themselves to raise their factory conditions, and we cannot follow them, but we can lead them all the way as we are doing at present. Out there it is a well-known fact that the Chinese frequently come into the few British-owned mills to get the advantage of better conditions, but I think people do not realise quite what the conditions are there, and I would like to make this point. I believe that quite recently—so I have been told—and I am prepared to verify this if anyone wants to verify it—that when in a British mill it was proposed to reduce the hours of work by, I believe, three hours, the Chinese themselves in that mill threatened to come out on strike or to get compensation for the loss of their pay. That would be inconceivable in this country, but it just shows how totally different the conditions are out there.

Everybody who has spoken on this side of the House has referred to the anti-British speeches which have been so prevalent in connection with this crisis in China. I go beyond that and I say that it is not only anti-British but it is a wilful misrepresentation of the facts, and it has been going on not only in this House but on the platform throughout the country. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) quoted just now a pamphlet of Colonel Malone, who was formerly in this House. Colonel Malone comes down to the neighbourhood of my constituency and he makes a speech which is designed to inflame the feelings of all those people who have not the facility for acquiring knowledge on the situation in China and who are ignorant of the subject altogether. Colonel Malone said at Portsmouth only the other day: Could it be that because child labour was one of our vital interests that the marines were going to China? Is that a fair statement to make to people? Is it fair to get them to read in Portsmouth, where the marines come from, that this capitalist Government here is sending the marines out for the purpose of securing child labour in China? That statement is an absurdity and altogether a travesty of the facts. I will not quote Colonel Malone again but I will go further and quote a newspaper called the "New Leader." It presumably is a responsible paper, and it has large headings as follows: Profits first; human lives nowhere: the real significance of the Chinese danger. It has the large heading: "British factories in China," when, as a matter of fact, only 4 per cent. of the factories in China are British. It is altogether misleading to write in that way. It is most reprehensible and it is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts, because the extreme section of the Labour party know perfectly well what the facts of the case are, or they could easily find them out. Even people in authority on the other side make these statements, and I think they ought to be very careful, just as the Mover of the Amendment should have been more careful in what he said to-day. I want now to quote a speech made two years ago by the hon. Lady the Member for Wallsend (Miss Bondfield) when she was in the Ministry of Labour in the Labour Government. She said: I have in mind the situation which is growing up in China, —this was on the I 0th March, I 924— and I am informed—and I think it is not in dispute—that many of those mills that have been started in China were started with British and American capital; and yet the conditions in those mills in China are worse than those at the beginning of our own factory system. The one way to tackle a thing of that kind is to see to it that British investors as well as traders have some conception of responsibility for the conditions of the industries in which they invest their money abroad."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, I 0th March, 1924; cols. 2085 and 2086, Vol. 170.] I pointed out to her that the statement regarding the number of British mills in China was false, but she waved me aside and it was not until a week later, on the I 8th March, that I was able to tell her the actual facts of the case and the number of British mills in China.


Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman give us particulars of the actual British capital invested?


You mean in the Chinese mills? I can give no details about that, but I can tell you this much: it will surprise me very much if over 90 per cent. of that was not Chinese capital. Everyone knows very well that there are many rich Chinese in China and they have a great deal of capital invested in these mills, and I know the majority of them are financed by the Chinese. I say that this is a deliberate misrepresentation and it is being preached throughout the countryside, and the ordinary electorate of the country, who have not the opportunities of acquiring the information, are grossly misled, and I think it is a very great pity. They are generally misled by those who ought to know better.

May I just say one word on the subject of the Russian aspect of this Chinese problem, and I am very glad to see that the Foreign Secretary is here. There is no doubt whatever that the Soviet Government has been working against our interests, has been taking sides in the civil war in China with the Cantonese party, and has been undertaking actual political propaganda and fomenting trouble and inciting to revolution. Is it a correct attitude for any government to take sides in a civil war in a foreign country? Of course it is not, and they have undoubtedly been importing arms and ammunition for the Cantonese army. That can be proved.


What did we do with the Russians in 1918 and 1920?


I am talking about the position in China. I see in to-day's papers that the Soviet Government cannot leave us alone in China even yet. I saw in the "Times" to-day that the Soviets were acting as agents for Canton, and they were doing so in this way, that, owing to the boycott, our trade goods were not going China, and they were making arrangements to get the Poles to take our goods and to pass them through Russia into China in that way. I really think that the time has come to take some action against the Soviet Government. By the constant infringement of the Trade Agreement, the Soviet Government have continually been encouraged to go on with their propaganda, and their official recognition in this country is an encouragement to our Communists at home. I know perfectly well that the Foreign Office has all the information necessary for it to come to some proper decision, and I do not want to threaten in any way. They no doubt know their own jobs far better than most of us back-benchers, but I say that there is a very strong feeling in the country that something should be done in regard to Russia, and that we should either break off our Trade Agreement or take some action to show that it is our intention definitely to stop this propaganda against us. Before I sit down I should like to refer to a letter which was written by one of the Labour Members quite recently to the "Times"—the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Consett Division of Durham (Mr. Dunnico)—which exactly expresses my view and the view of many people in this House. He says that there is unfortunately a tend- ency in certain quarters to assume on all occasions such as the present that our country is always wrong and that every other country with whom we are in conflict is always right. He adds that this attitude of mine is to be deprecated. I must humbly endorse those views of his, and I only wish other members of the Labour party would follow him in that expression of opinion.


I should like to say in reply to the hon. Member who has just spoken that my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) was nor so much complaining as to the proportion of mills owned by the British as he was of the fact that the wages and conditions under which Chinese labour was employed and especially child labour, boy and girl labour, were such that the Chinese were revolting against us, and that now we were being called upon because of those disturbances to send armed forces to defend those conditions. That is the case, and really the hon. Member has not attempted to answer it. It does not matter whether it is 96 per cent. or 90 per cent. or 4 per cent. of Chinese, the fact remains that the disturbances that have taken place in China are due to the labour conditions. Before the British people are called upon to spend flesh and blood to defend those conditions they should be considerably improved, and certainly we ought not to be asked to defend those people who make money out of the labour of children in the fashion which the hon. Member for Dundee has described. I will say something about the propaganda part of the business in a moment.

I want first of all to say what I think is a positive fact in regard to all of us on this side of the House. We do not deny at all that it is the duty of the Government, a Labour Government or a Socialist Government or whatever Government is in power, to have regard to its nationals in other countries. What we do dissent from is the method by which His Majesty's Government propose to carry out their duty. I do not contend that it is the right policy, when the nationals are in danger for reasons which could have been prevented in the first place, to run the risk or the almost certainty of making those conditions much worse by sending our troops there. I recognise that we cannot escape the dilemma that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has put to us and the dilemma that the Foreign Secretary has put to us, which is, "What would you do if you were the Government in these circumstances?" I say quite deliberately that it would add more to our prestige and it would add more to the respect with which our country would be held in the councils of the world if, instead of sending armed forces and so precipitating a great war between ourselves and the Chinese people, we were to evacuate those who desire to leave Shanghai. Shanghai is the storm centre and the total number there is stated this evening as only 9,500. The men who are on the ships on the sea run into tens of thousands, and it would be infinitely easier to send ships to bring away all those who consider they are in danger rather than to send warships in order, as I believe, to put them in the peril from which you are supposed to be rescuing them. I cannot see why you should not do in the case of China exactly what you would be obliged to do if civil war broke out in France, or if the civil war at present raging in Portugal resulted in some of our nationals being endangered. You would not dare to land troops or to send warships to defend our nationals in Lisbon. What you would do would be to have ships ready, and, if the nationals were in danger, to take those people away, or give them an opportunity of coming away. Therefore, I hope we shall not be told that we people have no regard for the lives of the men, women and children in Shanghai or elsewhere.

Then I would like to ask the Under-Secretary, who, I believe, is going to reply, from whom has the Government received, or from whom have the officers on the spot received, any appeals for extra protection? Have any of the missionary societies in China, or any of the missionaries there, asked for protection? Every now and then I read in the newspapers some terrible story about the ill-treatment of a missionary; but when I make inquiries I almost always find there has been either exaggeration or that the supposed outrage never took place at all. I can speak for the missionaries connected with the Society of Friends, and I am certain that not one of them has asked the Government to send gunboats and guns and aeroplanes to defend them. Further, I cannot see how you can get away from the statement in the document quoted by the hon. Member, who, having made his speech, has gone out, that these ships and men and guns are being sent solely to protect the rights of certain capitalists exploiting Chinese children, and for no other purpose.

I think the Government are following along the lines of all Imperialist Governments by breaking their pledges to nations that are under its domination. The people of India are being called upon to pay for and to send troops to China in order to help to maintain law and order. Anyone who follows events in India knows very well that the sending of troops from India to China is an absolute breach of a solemn undertaking given a short time ago. Here is the undertaking: The the army in India shall not as a rule be employed for service outside the external frontiers of India, except for purely defensive purposes, or, with the previous consent of the Governor-General in Council, in very grave emergency; providing that this Resolution does not preclude the employment on garrison duties overseas of Indian troops at the expense of His Majesty's Government, and with the consent of the Government of India. The people of India have not been asked; and if I am told that this is a tremendously grave emergency, I say that I deny it altogether. No emergency has arisen which could not have been met by sending troops from this country, or sending British troops from India instead of Indian troops. It is all very well to say you are taking them because of the emergency. If I admit your emergency, I say there are enough British troops in India on whom you could have drawn instead of taking Indian troops and so insulting, again insulting, the Indian people by breaking your sacred word to them. I do not know that I ought to call it "sacred," because the British Government have continually broken their word, both to the people of India and all other subject races under their control.

We are always being asked why the British are hated in China. The hon. Member who have just sat down, as is usual with hon. Members opposite, dragged in the red herring of Russia. Hon. and right hon. Gentleman opposite ought to know a little more history than they appear to know. It is nothing unusual that the British should be hated in China. [Interruption.] Nothing at all. I do not want to prevent hon. Members from speaking by speaking too long. [HON, MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Then I will be kind to you. I recommend you to get this volume of Hansard for I 857, and to read the debates that took place when the Palmerston Government were turned out over the China War, and in it you will find statements of exactly the same kind, word for word, as have been made here to-night in regard to the hatred felt by the Chinese for the British. You will find in that volume evidence supplied not by the rhetoric of Parliamentary speakers but by despatches sent home by the "men on the spot," as they are described. One of them said: People want to know why the British are hated, why the British are always clamouring for protection. It is because of their treatment of the Chinese, because of the manlier in which they comport themselves. [Interruption.] If hon. Members contradict that statement, I will have to read it all to them, and I wanted to spare them that. I thought they might read it for themselves. They will also find in that volume a document that came from Canton. Canton is playing a big part in the discussion and in the fighting to-day, and it did on that occasion. Hon. Members will find there a petition from the inhabitants asking the Queen and the British Government to interfere to stop the killing of aged people, the destruction of Chinese homes, the rendering of women, children and men homeless, and the leaving of the aged and the sick to to lie in the streets. That happened all those years ago. I know what hon. Gentlemen said to me a year ago, when I stood here and spoke about the opium wars—that this is all very ancient history. If that were so I certainly should not recall it merely for the purpose of repeating the evil which my countrymen have done. If these malpractices had stopped and our treatment of China had been fair and honourable now, I should not have thought it worth while to recall that incident, but I have recalled it because during the years that have intervened, and up to the last six months, there has been one continual succession of incident after incident which has happened to the detriment of the Chinese. You have had five opium wars. Is it denied that they were solely waged to make the Chinese people take a poison which they did not want to take? Will anybody deny that during the Chinese war, upon which Palmerston was turned out of office, the only thing we fought for on that occasion was the right of Britishers to smuggle opium into China which the Chinese Government said should not be imported.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Young) talked about civilisation. We know there has been nothing of that kind between Britain and the Chinese people, and the only sign of civilisation in China has been that accomplished by the missionaries and the medical missionaries, who were trying to undo some of the evil which the Government were doing. I would not take the trouble to call attention to the reasons why we Britishers are called foreign devils if the conditions in China had changed. I will recall one incident. In 1924 and 1925 I asked questions in connection with an incident which took place at Wanhsien. What was it? We are continually saving that we want to do justice and deal out fair play to the Chinese. The incident I am referring to is to be found in the pages of the OFFICIAL REPORT for 1924–25. At that time there had been trouble on the Yangtse River with the bargemen, and a strike took place. Of course, there is nothing illegal in this country about strikes, and therefore we should not complain if foreigners follow our example. During the dispute an American citizen was killed, and the American and the British authorities, acting in conjunction with the captain of the "Cockchafer," said to the municipal authority at Wanhsien that the Mayor and members of the corporation should march in the funeral procession which carried the unfortunate American to his grave. But they did something worse, for they compelled two men to be taken prisoners. They were tried at a court-martial, and, directly it was over, the men were hung while the guns of the "Cockchafer" were turned against the people of Wanhsien, and they were told that unless certain things were done the town would be bombarded. I have frequently asked for a report on this subject, but no one has ever been able to produce it, and even my colleagues in the Labour Government could not extract it from the Admiralty.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Godfrey Locker-Lampson)

Is the hon. Gentleman referring to a recent incident?


No; it is an incident which took place in 1924, when the Peking Government made a protest to the British Government. I asked whether what I have stated was a fact, and I got a reply in the affirmative, but no official report could be given because the Admiral on the China Station had not sent in his report. I do not believe that the Foreign Office has yet received that report, and I would like to ask the representative of the Government to tell us whether the Admiralty has given the Foreign Office any report as to why the captain of the "Cockchafer" issued an ultimatum as to what should be done with certain prisoners. It is actions of this kind that make Britishers hated in China. We have been told that this state of things has arisen in China on account of Communist propaganda. Really I ask hon. Members opposite to shake up the grey matter in their heads. Sun Yet Sen was educated in this country. We invite the Chinese and the Japanese people to this country, they go to our public schools and universities and they sit in the Gallery of the House of Commons. Then they go back to China and Japan and say, "Why should we not do the same things? Why should we remain in ignorance of these matters?" Sun Yat Sen came to this country, and I would remind hon. Members that he was very nearly put out of the way by his own people. A certain diplomatic incident occurred because of his arrest and he was taken into the Chinese Embassy. Sun Yat Sen went back to China full of the ideas of economic and political liberty which he learned in this country. Of course he probably added to them by rubbing shoulders with people from Russia, but other people have done that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] There is no crime in that. We have not vet come to the position that anyone who speaks to a Rusian is in danger of hell fire. Sun Yat Sen is responsible for these things in China, and Great Britain is responsible for planting those ideas into his head. It is no use attempting to put this responsibility on to anybody else. Chickens come home to roost. You taught the Japanese how to make Dreadnoughts and naval guns and some day you may have to pay because you taught them to use those guns.

I want to call attention to what has happened quite recently, because if we do not get these facts into our minds we shall not realise that in the main the disturbances which have occurred in China are connected with labour conditions and we shall not get this thing properly fixed. If you take the nine months from June, 1924, you will find there were 56 strikes in China affecting 90,000 workers in Shanghai alone. There is nothing of politics in that. They objected to the labour conditions to which the hon. Member for Dundee called attention a few months ago. Organised workers were absolutely forced by their employers into an open attack upon them. Trade unionists were dismissed, and an incident happened in which a Japanese was killed and this is what happened.

The Foreign Secretary said to-day that he could not understand why any of us should hold Britishers responsible for what happened, and certainly not the British Government. We are bound to acknowledge that, in the control of the Shanghai municipality, the British have the predominating voice. No one will deny that, nor will anyone deny that the consular body found that the gentleman who gave the order to shoot, on the occasion when there was a demonstration in Shanghai, was a British officer. Let the House keep in mind that four British lives have been lost in these places that are under discussion to-night—four in two years. On this occasion, what happened? By order of a British police officer, Sikh police fired on the crowd. The crowd was unarmed. In India, of course, they are accustomed to that sort of thing. Here in Shanghai, in May, 1925, an unarmed crowd was fired on. The hon. Gentleman supplied me with some figures this afternoon. I think his figures are totally inadequate and quite inaccurate. It would be much better that the hon. Gentleman, instead of giving these figures which he gave to-day, should publish the Consular Report of the inquiry that was made into these events. Up to the present, the Government have refused to publish that Report. Why? Will they tell me, when they reply, why they have refused to publish that Report? They cannot say they have not had time to read it. I believe it is because they are ashamed to publish it.

What happened? Very many more were killed and wounded than the hon. Gentleman stated in reply to me to-day. A manifesto was issued, not by the Russians, but by the Chinese Seamen's Union, and thay put the casualties at 120 wounded and 41 killed, and even the Consular inquiry definitely charged the British officer with the responsibility. I again say that the whole of that Report should have been put before this House long ago. That is what we mean when we say that the Government have neglected to take this question in hand soon enough. These things have been festering in the minds of the Chinese workers for the least two years, and you are reaping to-day what you have sown in hatred in the minds of the Chinese workers. Then, at Canton, on the 23rd June of the same year, a demonstration was marching through the streets. We shall march through the streets on Saturday, and I am quite certain that no one will attempt to fire on us. When, however, these Chinese march out in the streets, they are, of course, marching out to demonstrate against their superior white masters, and, therefore, they must be taught that that sort of thing is not to be allowed; and so, because they were opposite one of the foreign settlements called Shameen, which I believe is inhabited by foreigners of all nationalties, they were given a taste of British Lewis guns, and Britishers were assisted by Frenchmen on this occasion.

Commander FANSHAWE

Will the hon. Member kindly tell us who opened fire first on this occasion?


Nobody. I tell you that the Chinese did not open fire first—

Commander FANSHAWE

That is where I must disagree.


We make speeches in this House for a variety of reasons. [Interruption.] I certainly never make one with the idea that I shall get my ideas into the heads of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. We can give them arguments, but we cannot give them the intelligence to accept them. As the crowd marched, the French and British opened fire.

Commander FANSHAWE indicated dissent.


The hon. Gentleman will be able to correct me, but I shall still stand to my statement, because I know something of official reports of disturbances in this country, and they are almost wholly totally inaccurate. When people are called upon to defend some nefarious piece of work that they have done, they very seldom tell the truth. As the strikes spread to other centres, the troops and the police were continually used to shoot people down—

Commander FANSHAWE

Who is the author of that?


I am. [Interruption.] I will stand by every statement I make here. The British Governor of Hong Kong—and I am sorry the Secretary of State for the Colonies is not here—announced that arrangements had been made to deal with pickets in that Colony, and that in future they would be flogged. I suggest that as a Clause in the Governments new Bill for dealing with trade unionism. Now I come to the last of the incidents that have happened. [Interruption.] I am glad that you have some shame, and are glad that one is reaching the end of this story. In I 926, there occurred another incident in Wanhsien, and I would like to remind the House that this was the second, and a much more terrible one. One of the Generals—and on that occasion it did not happen to have been one of the Cantonese Generals—was having troops moved. Of course, it is treated as a matter for hilarity and made a good joke because it is only Chinese that are being slaughtered. Four of our countrymen were killed, and I have already read out figures for 150 Chinese.

Commander FANSHAWE

You have no authority for them.


The hon. Gentleman gave me nearly the same number this afternoon. On this occasion, at Wanhsien, troops were being moved, and, as in the river Thames, if big ships are not properly navigated, barges are often swamped so on the Yang-tse River the same thing happens. On this occasion two barge loads of soldiers—not Cantonese soldiers—were sent to the bottom, and the Peking General seized, or ordered to be seized, the two steamers that committed this outrage. He was entitled to do that, according to the rules and laws governing the Yang-tse River. Then what happened? After unsuccessful diplomatic attempts to secure the release of the steamers and their officers, British gunboats suddenly appeared and attempted to carry the boats off by force. The gunboats opened fire point blank on the men who were in charge of those two ships. You may not believe me, but you will believe the "Times," and the "Times," on 6th October, I 926, said, "The steamers were soon a shambles." But even so they were not released, and as the gunboats were steaming off—

Commander FANSHAWE

Your account is again inaccurate.


Whether it is inaccurate or not, I stand by it until the hon. Gentleman produces the report of the officers which we have asked for and which they dare not produce. As the gunboats steamed off they bombarded the town of Wanhsien. I should like to know by what authority they bombarded the town and what happened in the town. Two barge loads of soldiers have been sent to the bottom—[Interruption.] It is very dangerous when people do not observe the rules laid down for safety, and as it was only Chinese who went to the bottom, I suppose we think it, did not matter, but the Chinese think it did matter very much.

We bombarded Wanhsien. I want the hon. Gentleman to defend that bombardment and to tell us by what authority, without any declaration of war, you made war on that city. What was the result? Not only were the soldiers sent to the bottom. Here again you will believe these authorities. They were reported in the Press, and they ran from 2,000 in the "Daily Telegraph" to 5,000 in the "Morning Post." The Cantonese manifesto puts it down as 500 killed and 1,000 wounded. I want to know why that was done, because until you answer that question you will not answer the question properly as to why you are hated in China and why it is that the Chinese single out the British for their hatred. You stupidly put your heads in the sand and say this is Russian Bolshevik propaganda. Mr. Cobden, speaking just here years ago, pointed out this to the British House of Commons, and I cannot do better than repeat it to you to-night. He said, "Ask yourselves, if the River Mersey were held under control as we are holding under control ports in China, what your feelings would be." That was GO years ago; and this last incident happened only last year. The Government up to the present have not published a single paper. The fact that they have not published papers and have not apologised and not explained the first "Cockchafer" incident, and have not taken the trouble to express any regret for the slaughtering that has gone on on these three occasions, is proof positive either that they have something to hide or that the Admiralty has its hands on the throat of the Foreign Office and only allows it to report what it pleases the Admiralty that it shall report.

It is for this reason, among others, that I object very much to the statement of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary that we are leaving it to the discretion of the men on the spot. I do not trust their discretion because, like so many men in this House, as has been proved to-night by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich, they look upon the Chinese as inferior. I look on them as I look on any other man, as human beings entitled to the same rights that I claim for myself. If I were a Chinaman I would never rest until every foreign concession, every foreign privilege that we by our policy of piracy and plunder have forced them to concede to us—until my country was back and belonged to my people and was administered by my people for the benefit of my people. You yourselves, if you were Chinese, would never tolerate the intolerable conditions under which they live. We want peace in China, but you will only have peace in China, and you will only have peace in Soviet Russia, you will only have peace in India, just as you will only have peace at home, when you are willing to treat all men in the same manner that you want to be treated yourselves. British Governments have robbed and plundered the Chinese people for generations. You brought their men to fight in the Great War, a war of freedom for little Belgium. The Chinese have gone back and said, If it was good enough to fight to keep the territory of Belgium for the Belgians against the aggression of the German tiger, it is good enough for them to stand pat and say "China for the Chinese, and let the Britishers and all the foreigners go out except when they come here and deal with us in the same manner as they expect to treat us when we go into their country."


It is evident that the hon. Member who has just spoken has never been to China. When he assumes that the Chinese have such a feeling against the British I should like to tell him, for his information and that of the House, that it was my privilege to be in Shanghai, Peking and Tientsin as late as last November, and one never saw anything but the utmost kindness shown to the British people and to foreigners generally. There seems to be an extraordinary idea as to what Shanghai is, and how the people in Shanghai are treated. The international settlement of Shanghai is managed very largely by British officials, which reflects the greatest credit on them. Anyone who has seen the streets, the buildings, the power house, the lighting and the offices in Shanghai would be surprised to think that so much could be and has been done in such a short time. Yet, when you step outside the settlement lines, you are astounded at the want of imagination of the Chinese themselves. There are only 5,000 acres under the supervision of the international concession. Outside that area you go along streets which are practically impossible, and you see buildings which are anything but modern. The Chinese, who have the whole responsibility, have none of the municipal spirit that you find in the international concessions at Shanghai or Tientsin. If hon. Members, before they make rash charges against the foreigner, were really to see for themselves what really exists, instead of trusting to their imagination for their facts, I am sure they would have a totally different outlook as to the position at Shanghai. The real reason why it is necessary for the Government to send a defence force to Shanghai is because there are in that settlement over 30,000 Europeans, and from 800,000 to 850,000 Chinese. It is quite easy to work up the Chinese into a great state of excitement. That is being done time after time by a certain number of individuals who are more educated than those to whom they are appealing, and they work them up into such a condition that they have no control over themselves. It is to protect the 30,000 or so Europeans and the buildings and the contents of the buildings that the troops have been sent. It is right that they should be protected in case the mob becomes such that the local force cannot deal with it. The local force only consists of a small international police force, and the volunteers, who are also an international body of 1,400 or 1,800 men.

Shanghai is a very important centre for those outside the lines who live in the interior of China. It is a very important haven of rest and safety for them to come to. Hon. Members on the Labour benches have asked why it is that the Japanese or the Americans are not sending a defence force to Shanghai. The answer is simple. At Tientsin, which is only a few hours distant from Shanghai, an American force could be got at once. Japan in a few hours could bring a large force. Surely, it is the duty of any government to see that its nationals are put in a position that they can have reasonable protection. We have heard a great deal of sneering over the idea that British money has been put in China for the purpose of developing certain industries. May I remind the House that from £250,000,000 to £300,000,000 has been invested in China for the development of industry? Surely, it is not a crime to build up and organise a business at Shanghai, whereby the goods that go there from Lancashire and other parts of England may he distributed? It is a very important point to hear in mind, that Shanghai is a very important centre for the distribution of large quantities of goods that go from this country to China.

More goods would go into China if the railways had not been taken over by the rival factions. It is easy to find out why our trade is less this year than last year. It is impossible to get goods moved from Shanghai up-country, and it is impossible to get goods that are up- country brought down. There is a desire on the part of those who have business interests in that part of the world not to take the risk, far there is a great risk, of never getting their goods delivered, on account of the holdup of the railways. In some parts of China the trains are only able to run once or twice a week; the balance of the time the railways are occupied by the warring armies. It is not remarkable that trade is less this year than it was last year, when you know the facts. Not only is it impossible to get goods' upcountry or to bring goods down from the country by the railways, but there is great difficulty on the water, for the same reason.

9.0 p.m.

With respect to the conditions that exist in the factories, I should like to say that I visited mills owned and financed by Japanese, owned and financed by Chinese, and owned and financed by British. As far as the buildings were concerned, there was very little to complain about. The hours worked are certainly longer than are worked here, but fewer hours are worked in the British mills than in the other mills. I am not arguing that the hours worked are not too long; but what I am suggesting to the House—we have to have some sense of proportion—is that when hon. Members criticise what is being done in Shanghai, we have to ask ourselves what are 99 per cent. of the mills doing. We have to remember that only a small percentage are foreign mills and that the others are owned and run by Chinese, and if you want to do any trade you must be in a position to compete in the world as they do, otherwise you might as well shut up shop.


What about Hong Kong?


I am not discussing Hong Kong. I am only speaking of the places I have visited and the things that I have seen with my own eyes. The idea that the British are thought badly of is an entirely wrong impression. Upcountry, however, and in many parts of China, there are to be found, recognised by the Chinese themselves, a number of individuals who seem to be inspired with ideas propagated by and, certainly, to a large extent, recognised as coming from Moscow. These individuals try to create anti-British feeling amongst the Chinese, a large proportion of whom are very ignorant people. From the point of view of culture thousands of years ago and the work done by the Chinese, we must admire them, but they have not kept pace with the times. There is no use disguising that fact. A tremendous lot of propaganda is going on in China at the present time. There are two forces at work there now, The Leader of the Opposition said, on Tuesday, that if we settled with the Cantonese everything would be right in China. He seems to forget that there is another faction to account with at Peking. I should be sorry to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman. He said: If Canton and ourselves are determined that a settlement shall be made in Chinese affairs, then, in the making of that settlement, there ought to be no need whatever left for a demonstration of armed force."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th February, I 927; col. 30, Vol. 202.]


Hear, hear.


The fact remains that there is a faction in Peking. You cannot interfere with Peking or the Cantonese and help them to settle their own internal troubles. Our only business is to see that our nationals at Shanghai are protected. That is all we have to do with the matter. It seems extraordinary that hon. Members, particularly on the Labour benches, should make statements to the effect that the British are hated because they treat the Chinese badly. In a large number of houses I found that the Chinese and the British work well together, and they seem to be very happy. As far as I am concerned, I did not hear of any bad feeling between the two races.

The trouble is that the two warring parties are trying to get control of China, and they are also jealous of the great success of the International Settlement at Shanghai. There is no doubt there is a party in China which would be very pleased to see the British walk out from that settlement, and take it over themselves. I do not think any British Government will pursue such a policy. The Municipal Council of Shanghai are to be congratulated on what they have done to make the city what it is. The same thing applies to Tientsin. The modern factories which have been built in Shanghai will compare very favourably with any factories in this country. The conditions under which they work in these factories are really surprising, and the medical authorities of the municipal council are very particular indeed as to the way they are kept and the cleanliness that is observed by the employés. It is perfectly true that they work seven days a week. They work seven days a week in Japan, and 11 hours each day, and there is no international settlement in Japan. When the Labour party in this country say, "Why do not we have an eight-hours day?" how can we compete with a country like Japan? I am not advocating 11 hours a day; I am only stating facts as I found them in Japan. I disagree with it; all I am saying is that certain factories and mills in Japan work 11 hours a day and seven days a week.

Hon. Members also must remember this, that the cost of living in China is very different to that in this country. It is ridiculous to make any comparison. The health of the people I saw in the factories was surprisingly good. It is nothing like as bad as some hon. Members have tried to make out this evening in describing what took place some 30 years ago. We have to bear in mind what is occurring to-day. There are parts of China which are a disgrace, but they are not within the settlements. You can go to parts of Peking where you would be choked with the dirt, but it has nothing to do with the settlement at Peking. It is because the Chinese have control, and it is not our business to interfere. Consider what took place when the Chinese took possession of the German Concession. Begore it was run in a high state of efficiency, but the Concession to-day is no more like what it was before than night is like day, and it is simply because the Chinese have not been trained in municipal or national administration. They require more experience, and I say frankly that the leaders of the Peking Government would admit that it would be useless to give them the management of the municipality or government at once, because they have not the trained people to run it.

As the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) has said, in this country and in America we have educated a certain number of young men in our universities, and they have gone out after three or four years as economists, diplomats and organisers. They have gone back to China as half-baked politicians with certain ideals, but lacking the ballast to carry them out. If, after the knowledge they have gained at the universities in this country and in America, they took a period of probation, and gradually assimilated the art of local government and national government, they would no doubt be able to do what Japan has done after some years' experience. The manifesto that was issued last Christmas by His Majesty's Government took the big view, and with the explanation given by the Foreign Secretary to-day, it must appear to the people of China that this country is doing all that is humanly possible to improve the state of affairs in China. I hope the Amendment will not be pressed to a Division, and thus give a wrong impression in China as to what is the real attitude of the House of Commons towards that country. Everyone who has at heart the true interests of China will support His Majesty's Government.


I have listened to a number of speeches on China to-day, and I am beginning to feel that much more important than the question of the settlements is a change of attitude towards the Chinese themselves. A great deal has been said pointing to the conclusion that this is not really a Chinese question at all, but a Russian question. We have been told over and over again that our attitude towards China has been strictly correct, that we have sought, on the whole, to carry out certain Treaty relations. The general disposition, in looking at this question, is to leave out of account altogether what is central to the matter—namely, that a great nation is waking up to modern ideas, to modern forms of thought and to social and industrial development. The nineteenth century was chiefly important in the Eastern world because of the rising of Japanese nationalism. We know that one of the main forces making for Japanese freedom was the fact that the Japanese were driven to the conclusion that, until they imitated the military life of Western Powers and built up a powerful army and navy, they would never have anything like a secure foundation for national freedom. The Japanese, working on a much smaller scale than the modern Chinese, after being subjected to the same kind of unequal treatment and humiliation and the same kind of injustice and one-sided trade, laid themselves out to become the Prussia of the Far East. We know how well they learned to absorb the military ideas of Western civilisation, and how their military efforts laid for them the foundation of national independence and freedom.

I cannot help thinking that the Chinese, who have considered the rise of modern Japan and the way in which Japan has won her freedom—the thoughtful and cultured men and women of China, those upon whom we must rely for the development of our trade and of Anglo-Chinese co-operation, those who have been trained under British missionaries and British professors who have spent their lives amongst the Chinese—I cannot help feeling, looking back over the past 10 years, that they have been driven slowly and remorselessly to the conclusion that the Western Powers, and particularly Great Britain, will never allow the Chinese to develop towards freedom and independence until they have repeated the same cycle of military development that has characterised their neighbours, the Japanese. That is the central problem which we have to face.

I have listened to speech after speech from hon. Members opposite, and throughout there has been a failure on their part to value what is the biggest movement for freedom now at work in the world. I do not know where one could find men and women with the best education that they have been able to acquire who are so intoxicated for freedom as are the Chinese to-day. I do not know any place where men are prepared to make such great sacrifices for freedom as are the contemporary Chinese. In Shanghai, in the next few weeks, I believe that 20,000 educated Chinese, if they were told that by standing in mass formation, without gun or revolver, and confronted by British guns and British bayonets and British aeroplanes, they could be guaranteed freedom for their Motherland, would be forthcoming. I do not think there are many parts of the world of which that could be said. The Chinese are literally drunk for freedom and independence. It is of the greatest importance, if we are to help our Foreign Secretary to make good in negotiations, that we should build up in the country the strongest possible opinion that we value, as the chief of good things in the present situation, not simply the continuance of unequal trade under unequal conditions, but this desire for Chinese freedom, and that we want to back it. During the last three or four weeks I have praised the work of the Foreign Secretary in respect of the documents that he has published, but I am sure that we cannot make those documents come true in action, and we cannot implement them with deeds of construction and reconstruction in Chinese life, until we adopt towards the new Chinese a totally different attitude officially and nationally.

Hon. Members know quite welt that in the development between the old Turk and the new Turk we backed the wrong horse. Whatever may be said for the methods of backing the Peking Government and the line of diplomacy that we followed in China for 30 years, it is obvious to all that the time has come to recognise the new nationalist movement. We have done it on paper, but that is not enough. It we believe that this movement is the new dynamic which is to do for China, a quarter of the world's population, which has been done in Japan, it is of the greatest importance that we should recognise the fact, and face all sorts of inconveniences and sacrifices in order to get into active co-operation with the forces of the new China. When I read that it is possible still, in the settlement of Shanghai, to exhibit in the municipal park notices that "Dogs, bicycles and Chinese are not admitted," and when I notice the inner content of so many speeches of hon. Members opposite, I am convinced that it is not really treaties that matter, but rather the deep-seated feeling of resentment which the Chinese have, the feeling that they are not treated as men and women in the same sense as Western peoples are treated. The feeling that has rankled amongst the Chinese for 80 years is the foundation of the tremendous passion that to-day smoulders among educated men and women in China.

I want, therefore, to present to the House the view that the Labour party of this country should strengthen the forces that make for negotiation under conditions of equality, under conditions of the largest and most generous recognition of the new China, and should deprecate the sending out of large military forces. To send out forces which include armoured cars and 80 aeroplanes, in 1927, at the very moment when we are recognising that we have been working too long with the shadow Government, of Peking, and that there is a new China to be reckoned with, is to undermine the whole effort which the Foreign Office has made. I want to see the British Labour party rallying this nation and building up a public opinion which will not only recognise Chinese nationalism, but will wax enthusiastic for it, When we do that we shall not only find it easy to solve our problems, but we shall spare China and the world from going the way of the Japan of the nineteenth century.

We shall have the possibility of stopping the decline of our very petty and small amount of trade. What is the whole of it when we remember we are dealing with one quarter of the human race? What trade might we not do if we could win the goodwill of the Chinese people? What immense possibilities of trade are there! If we place ourselves alongside, not the militarists who have laid waste the country-side, but if we put ourselves alongside the new order and work with them, I aim perfectly convinced that we can have international cooperation and a trade immensely bigger than the petty and small beginnings of this tremendous Chinese movement. I would plead again and again for the sake of that 10,000 people that we shall not only consider holding the troops up at Hong Kong but go further. We have had testimony from all sides of the House that the Chinese are to be trusted, and that notwithstanding all the difficult developments of recent years hardly a Britisher has lost his life. Therefore I would plead, in the interests of peace and security, that we should exercise far greater trust in the method of negotiation and not wait for the threat of the sword and then drive the Chinese smarting from the lessons of 80 bitter years, and enforce justice, and our own way at the point of the sword. I plead for a new national movement. We may prove clearly by taking risks that we do not stand for the method of the sword but that we want to see peace. We do not want in China in the 20th century to repeat the old wicked militarist way of the 19th century as the only way for China to achieve her freedom and independence.


The experience of this nation during the last two years reminds me of nothing so much as of the history we find in the Rook of Job. We never seem to be quit of one trouble until some other is laid upon us. Blister implacably follows blister on the back of our necks, and we never get our heads up. We recently had a great industrial disturbance. We began to breathe freely when it was over and take some heart of courage from the fact that orders were beginning to come to our shops. Now we are faced with this Chinese trouble, which not only is having very serious and injurious effects upon our trade but also confronts us with a menace of worse things if by any chance our feet should be ensnared in some hidden difficulty. It almost seems as if some malevolent spirit were inducing a benign Providence to lay burden after burden on our backs in order to test this people to the last ounce of their endurance. That reflection immediately raises in one's mind the plea which the Foreign Secretary made this afternoon for a co-operative effort on the part of the nation. It is perfectly plain that, whether we can get co-operation or not the fact that we are acting under divided counsel weakens all our effort. In every sphere division makes for weakness, but much more in the sphere of foreign politics than in that of home politics. Our domestic divisions may be discounted, but the front with which we face the world is vital to the prestige and success and prosperity of this country. If the Government announce one policy and if there is a loud denunciation of that policy by the Opposition, whether it is justifiable or not, it is perfectly obvious that the people whom we are both. addressing are not going to be so greatly affected by what we say as if we were speaking with one voice.

I do not suggest for a moment that an Opposition should forgo its criticism of the policy of the Government, but in con- nection with foreign affairs I think it is not too much to ask where the division of opinion is not very great or very bitter, that in such circumstances it might be possible that some combined policy might be adopted. I listened very carefully two days ago to a speech by the Leader of the Opposition which I hope he will forgive me for saying I greatly admired. In all the circumstances and particularly considering that he had come from the meeting in the Albert Hall on Saturday or Sunday night with quite other sentiments ringing in his ears than those he expressed, I think it was a speech showing high courage and an exalted sense of responsibility. It is the kind of speech the country has been accustomed to get from its most notable leaders in times of national difficulty. Tie deprecated all this talk of war. He said he did not believe there was any intention upon the part of the Government to embark upon anything of the kind. He accepted the assurance of the Foreign Secretary that this force which was being sent out to China was in no sense an expeditionary force with a view to aggression. He supplied a phrase which was better than any used on these benches. He called it ultimately a police force. Instead of trying to make out that we are embarking upon some imperialistic and fantastic conquest of China, he took pains to say that the only difference between his own view and that of the Government was as to whether you were more likely to avoid trouble by sending troops or by keeping them at home. That is the point to which the right hon. Gentleman boiled down the issue. It seems to me to be an issue on which it would not be very difficult to come to some united opinion in this House. After all there are two ways. My right hon. Friend may be right and we wrong, or he may be wrong and we right. Just look for a moment at the consequence of the two different views. Suppose he is right and we wrong, what is likely to result? The force, as everyone knows, is not large enough to be aggressive. It could not begin a campaign in China. Its only hope for its own safety is in being confined to this narrow enclave with the sea behind it where British and other Allied ships will be lying.

Accordingly, it seems to me, at the worst, if my right hon. Friend is right, all that is going to happen is a position of stale-mate there in which, ultimately, negotiations are bound to begin. Let us conceive the consequences if he is wrong. What have been the experiences of mob violence in China in the past? Is there any man in this House who would ever forgive himself if he saw perpetrated upon the British community in Shanghai to-day the kind of violence which we know from past history? What man could reconcile it with his conscience, if he had neglected to take the simple precautions which would have saved those people from such horrors and barbarities? I put it to the House, as a previous speaker did, that we might surely on the present occasion, instead of following divided counsels in this Parliament, show to China that in fact the country has complete confidence in the purity of the motives of His Majesty's Government and that they are prepared to support the action, the perfectly innocent action, which we are taking for the safety of our own people. There have been in the course of this Debate certain references to the supposed success which has attended private communications, afterwards made public, sent by the committee of the trade unions to Mr. Chen. It is explained that these communications have been the greatest factor in preserving peaceful negotiations. That may he, hut I am not certain of it. I should not have thought that it would help peaceful negotiation to show a division of opinion in this country.

When I first learned of these communications, I was abroad, among a foreign population, and perhaps I was unduly sensitive, or more sensitive than I should have been at home as to the prestige of our country. But it may be of interest to the House if I tell hon. Members my reflections upon these particular communications, because my view about them has not changed. Suppose that this kind of independent communication were to become common and frequent in this country. Let us suppose, for example, that the Federation of British Industries were of opinion that their view was of importance in such circumstances, in the same way as the committee of the trade unions seemed to think that their opinion is of importance. Suppose that the Federation of British Industries thought it necessary to send to one of the leaders in a foreign country a view either supporting or differing from His Majesty's Government as the ease might be. Suppose they were joined in this attitude of mind by the chambers of commerce of this country and that then, perhaps, the Co-operative Congress thought that they might indulge themselves in a particular point of view and communicate it to the representatives of a country with which His Majesty's Government was in negotiation. Into what a condition of ridicule and confusion the whole of our diplomacy would be thrown. Let me put another point of view. Suppose for example, that when my right hon. Friend was Prime Minister and was engaged in delicate negotiations in Europe, the National Unionist Association had thought fit to send to somebody, with whom he was in a difficult negotiation, a communication saying that they were entirely adverse to his policy and had started private communications with the representatives of that foreign Power. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite, would they have thought in such circumstances that we were playing the game? Would they not have considered that we were queering their pitch and not only doing something which was unhandsome to them but something which was against our country's cause? There is still one more reflection, if the House will bear with me, arising out of the reply received to these communications. I am sure the words of that insolent reply are in the minds of all of us at the moment. Mr. Chen sent back a telegram in which he said that, of course, matters would be entirely changed for the better if a Labour Government replaced—

Mr. MacDONALD indicated dissent.


I have the words here. He indicated that the situation would be totally different once Labour statesmanship—and this is the matter to which I specially wish to refer—replaced "Tory Imperialism, war and Byzantine glory." I think those were the concluding words of the telegram. I am in the recollection of people who have read it and the right hon. Gentleman will tell me if I am wrong.


We shall read it again.


Those are the words, I am certain, but, whatever the precise terms, I want to know what my right hon. Friend and his Government would have thought if a foreign statesman with a robust attitude towards Socialism had replied to a similar communication from a Conservertive Association and had said, "We shall be far happier in dealing in the future with the British, when a constitutional Government has been substituted for the sloppy sentiment and cheap-jack nostrums of a Socialist Government." All I want to ask is this: do hon. Gentleman opposite think that that kind of thing helps negotiation? Is it not perfectly obvious that it creates irritation; that it may very easily put sand into the wheels of progress and bring to a bad end negotiations which have started favourably? We should surely avoid that kind of interference in international communications.

The speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down dealt very eloquently with a point of view, which I not only appreciate, but with which I sympathise. I am perfectly prepared to co-operate with anybody in endeavouring to make a better state of things in China, to enable the Chinese people to realise the spirit of their race and to advance to the greatest prosperity. But he drew a picture of China, as it is to-day, which is wholly fallacious. What is China as we know it? It is a country with a bigger area than all Europe. It has 400,000,000 people, representing a quarter of all the people of the globe. What cohesion is there among these people? There are practically no main roads and, as far as railroad communication is concerned, in that vast territory, they have only 7,000 miles as compared with 256,000 miles of railways in the United States, which is the next largest single territory. The fact is that in China to-day there is really no internal communication and the great bulk of the people have little knowledge of what is going on in the distant parts of China. There are many people in China to-day who know nothing about the civil war that is proceeding at the present time.

Let me take the matter a little further. They have had many changes of dynasty in China in the course of their history. Their last took place in I 912, when the Manchu dynasty fell, and in the 14 years which have elapsed since that time there have been eight Prime Ministers or heads of Governments, there have been 42 Cabinets, and there have been 25 Ministers of Justice. The last Prime Minister or head of the State, whichever you choose to call him, was put in prison for three months without any accusation made against him. He escaped when Chang Tso-lin attached Peking, and took it, and as soon as he got out where did he go? He made a bee-line for safety to the foreign Concessions at Tientsin, and found there two of his predecessors, who were there for the same purpose. Some complain that people go into these Concessions to find safety and security. I have no doubt that we would turn out any of these people if any accusation of crime could be made against them, but, of course, you are not going to turn them out if the only objection to them is that they differ in politics from the man who wants to slay them because of that difference. That is the kind of cohesional spirit you have got in China. What about their laws? I do not know whether the House understands that for most of the social intercourse of life there is no law in China. There is no code by which to guide decisions. They have now at last, after a long period of time, got a draft of a commercial code, and one of the reasons why you have had this extra-territorial principle in China has not been so much because we were imposing it upon them as that China had no law at all to apply to her business transactions, and if you are going to carry on business at all, it is necessary that you should have courts and a system of law. Only now, however, as I say, are they in process of gradually accumulating a code. The Judges for the most part are seldom paid their salaries, and it is not surprising that many of them make their judgments suit the method of obtaining some recompense for them.

The whole country at the present time is under military domination and tyranny. There are at least four large armies assembled in China. Most of the men in them are unpaid and in consequence, are the more prone to loot in order to get some kind of reward for their services. The main division, of course, is that between the North and the south. At the present time the railways in China, which are lucrative sources of revenue, are robbed of the whole of their revenues by the armies, and nobody can get any revenue out of the railways, while seldom can the railwaymen get their pay. That is the condition of things at the present moment in China. The only systems which are working well are the Post Office, the collection of the salt tax, and the collection of the maritime customs, and the whole of these things are in foreign hands. It is absolutely certain that if we once gave up the Customs and the Chinese collected them, the money would never see its way past the military chests of these great War Lords.

The question is: What can we do to help in a country which is in that condition? No sane man could assert that those conditions were ever caused by anything that Britain has done or could avoid doing. Those conditions are created by Chinese, not in the places over which we have control, but over the vast territories which they themselves control and which are in the undeveloped condition that I have described. Britain has taken from the, beginning, when any claim has been made upon her, the most generous and liberal view.

As far back as 1902 we declared solemnly to China that if she could set up Courts which were adequate to dispense justice, we ourselves would immediately agree to abandon the extraterritorial principle; and at the Washington Conference Britain readily agreed to take, her full share in bringing about a condition of things in China in regard to tariffs and extra-territoriality which would satisfy the Chinese. What has happened? When the Tariff Commission sat, the Chinese attended for a short time, and then all the proceedings were made entirely abortive, either because they got tired of attending them, or because they took no more interest in them, and the Tariff Commission has never been able to report because of the absence of the Chinese. In the matter of extra-territoriality, there is an admirable Report given by the Commission, which sets forth a plan for gradually setting up proper Courts in China, but the British Government have gone ahead of the Extra-territorial Commission's Report and offered greater concessions than are offered in the Report. Accordingly it can never be said that, so far as our Government are concerned, there has been any lack of sympathy in meeting the just and proper claims of the Chinese. At the present juncture, as I have said, you have got these two great armies facing each other. The general of the Cantonese army has declared it to be his object to get rid of the concession at Shanghai. I put it to the House that, with two great armies facing each other and with influences in China—I am not putting this higher than the late Chancellor of the Exchequer himself put it the other day in an article deliberately written upon this topic—which are adverse to us, and which do not want to see peace between us and China, with these influences at work, I ask the House to contemplate the possibility of such trouble in Shanghai as will involve the British population. On that ground alone I would venture to justify everything that the British Government are doing at the present time.

I have detained the House longer than I intended but there is one other thing I should like to say before I sit down. I have been listening to a considerable part of this Debate, and I will not say I am startled, but I am disappointed that there is a certain note in the speeches from the benches opposite which always indicates a depreciation of the British position and of British people who have taken part in building up trade with China. [HON. MEMBERS "No!"] In listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), I thought he was much more eager to give credence and credit to the Chinese than to British sailor officers. I have heard adverse comments upon the British factory system in China, and, of course, the conditions in factories in China are not all that they would be at home, but the proper comparison to make is one between the factories which are operated by British people in China and those which are operated by the Chinese themselves, carrying forward this reflection, that, supposing we all disappeared out of China to-morrow, those great establishments which we have built up would revert to the much worse conditions of the Chinese.

There was a notable speech made in the autumn which contained a suggestion to the effect that much of the trouble from which we are suffering in China was due to the greed of the British trailer, and yet it is to the credit of the British trader that what once were swamps and morasses at Tientsin and at Shanghai are to-day the foundations of great, enterprising, and progressive communities. All you see of modern civilisation in China was built up upon the initiation of the British trader. Why should we hang our heads in shame or make attacks upon ourselves and depreciate our position? You cannot go about the world with an observant eye and a just mind without feeling pride at the great achievements which have been made by your countrymen both in the present day and in the past. It is true we have followed our own interest—it is true of every people—but, certainly, we can say for ourslves that no race more than ours has brought fair play and justice into its dealings with foreign people. I observe that when China wishes to exclude the foreign populations, even those which have brought her her greatest prosperity, it is hailed as an indication of a laudable spirit of nationality on the part of the Chinese; but if we seek to keep out alien immigrants who come here to plot against our own people we are guilty of a sin against humanity. In fact we, with the long record of a glorious history, are the only people who are not entitled to take any pride in our nationality, and our territory is to become the dumping-ground of the world.

I, for my part, am not prepared to accept that position for our people. That attitude, if persisted in, will ultimately undermine us materially as well as morally. You find in many parts of the world to-day the old enterprise of the British representative and the British trader sapped, because he has no longer confidence that he will be supported in his just rights from the home centre to which he has always previously looked. We cannot afford to allow that position to continue. Our trading and commercial interests could not Buffer such a setback as that view would involve, and I, for my part, for that reason, amongst others; very much hope, holding the same opinion as the right hon. Gentleman who spoke behind me, that now that the Government have announced their intention of sending these troops to Shanghai, they will not be deflected from that resolution by any suggestion of provocation. After all, we have played a great role in the peaceful development of the world, and we are entitled to take proper measures to defend our people without coming under any suspicion with regard to the sincerity and purity of our motives.

10.0 p.m.


It is getting a little bit unfortnuate, I think, that the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) never comes into political conflict with myself without raising some sort of theological controversy. He started his speech this evening by reference to the experiences of Job. I am not quite sure my right hon. Friend has read Job as recently as I have. He, certainly, has not, unless he has gone through that most delightful and improving exercise within the last fortnight. Now Job found health both for his body and his mind by very careful experimenting with his opinions—very careful thought, listening to Members like the right hon. Member for Hillhead on the one hand, and two or three others—but he got his sanity and health of body and I mind by standing very firmly on well-ascertained and well-tested principles. Perhaps the House will allow rue to say something I had no intention of saying on account of what the right hon. Gentleman said with regard to what he called negotiations with Mr. Chen. There were no negotiations with Mr. Chen—none whatever. What there was with Mr. Chen was a communication of views, not in the nature of negotiations, but in the nature of definition of where the Labour movement stood. Why was it necessary? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I am going to try, certainly, not to make things worse, but I hope hon. Members opposite will be good enough to remember that these rather superior interjections are not exactly in accordance with what, at any rate, they say they believe to be the seriousness of the situation at the present moment. There were all sorts of elements, both here and abroad, that were communicated to the Canton Government using the name of British labour. We know some of them, and the communications they made regarding the position of British labour were not true. They did not give the opinions of British labour, and it was perfectly plain that those communications were influencing Mr. Chen—and when I say Mr. Chen, I do not mean him personally; I should say the Canton Government—were influencing the situation in Hankow, and the negotiations that were going on.

The communication that was made was, therefore, made primarily to let Mr. Chen know exactly what our views were. Those communications having been made, also went this far, to let Mr. Chen quite clearly understand that if he in any way wished to respond to the views of British labour, he should carry on his negotiations with the properly accredited representative of the Government, and carry those negotiations to a successful issue. Then Mr. Chen replied. I should like, before I go away from that, to take the matter to a very definite point. The right hon. Member for Hillhead asked whether, if I were in the right hon. Gentleman's position, I should like, if the National Union of Conservative Associations made certain representations—supposing I were negotiating with a black-shirt body, and supposing there were all sorts of die-hards in the Conservative party who were sending false information about the views of the Conservative party, on the issue upon which I was negotiating, and supposing those die-hard representations were misleading the Government or the people with whom I was negotiating, and very likely resulting in putting obstacles in my way, if the right hon. Gentleman would be good enough to get a good authoritative committee of the National Union of Conservative Associations to communicate the real views of the Conservative mind, and do it in the same language, in the same way and with the same care as that communication was sent to Mr. Chen, I should privately and publicly thank him for the service he had done.


I should hope the Conservative party would in all circumstances, no matter which Government was in power, say "Our Government are the people you have got to deal with."


I am not quite so sure about it, but in any event if I use that as an illustration my right hon. Friend will not blame me for it because he did it himself. The right hon. Gentleman said how would I like it if I were in his position and the National Union of Conservative Association did this. I have replied, and if he does nut like the assumption of the reply, I beg him to remember that he made it and not I. My right hon. Friend gave a translation, a very freely paraphrased translation, of what Mr. Chen said about the Conservative party. I hope the right hon. Gentleman reads the Book of Job with more care than he has read Mr. Chen, because he really has read Mr. Chen with a carelessness which is not characteristic of his Scotch intelligence. Mr. Chen made a statement in which the words that the right hon. Gentleman quoted did appear, but how did he make the state went? I will read both paragraphs to the House. This is dealing with the question of the sending out of a force to China, and Mr. Chen says: The object of these war-like measures is said to be to guard against British lives and property being put in jeopardy by the forcible Chinese seizure of the international settlement at Shanghai. That is the first position he takes up. He goes on: If this is the real aim and purpose of the British concentration, there ought no longer to be any anxiety or fear on the point, in view of the categorical statement I have to-day made to the British representative who is engaged in negotiating with me. Now that is his first position. He says "If the object of the Government is so and so then I negotiate." There is no insulting language there. In the next paragraph he says: If, however, the massing of armed British forces in the direction of Shanghai is an illustration of the type of governing, mind that feeds on bodies of slaughtered men"— [Laughter]. And is not that the alternative? Is not that the alternative the Foreign Secretary himself is constantly defending himself against? It is contained in the passage and the first paragraph that I have just read. The right hon. Gentleman says, "I have no intention of fighting." No man could have hammered that in with more enthusiastic sincerity that the Foreign Secretary himself has done. But then Mr. Chen says, "If that is so, then negotiations are possible, and I can relieve his fears." But, he says, if that is not so, and the opposite policy is so, then if the British Government policy is the alternative which he describes, then then it, is to be feared that the disablement of British trade and commerce may have to continue until British Labour is entrusted by England with the task of arresting the British decline in Far Asia by substituting statesmenship"— [Laughter]. That is a guffaw, and you may guffaw as much as you like. Telephone, telegraph and cable your guffaws to Hankow, but there is the statement. It may be inelegantly made. Its form may not be the most distinguished, but nevertheless let us face the facts and the real meaning of them.


Read on.


I hope hon. Members opposite who have been guffawing will not objeot to my having stopped in the passage I was reading. Mr. Chen says: then it is to be feared that the disablement of British trade and commerce may have to continue until British Labour is entrusted by England with the task of arresting the British decline in Far Asia by substituting statesmanship, peace and productive work for the Tory statesmanship of Imperialism, war and Byzantine glory. Will the right hen. Gentleman put those words before any judge of England, and accept the verdict as between the right hon. Member for Hillhead and myself? I had no intention of referring to that, and would not have done so but for the special point which the right hon. Gentleman made.

Earlier in the day, the Foreign Secretary made a speech which was one of very great importance, and I hope most sincerely that the weight, the effect, and the opportunity of the speech will be duly weighed at Hankow. There has been some change since then. We have had a speech from an hon. Member elected to this House as a Liberal, who crossed the floor of the House and continued to enjoy his position in this House, which I hope will not be cabled to China, but which, if I were a Russian Bolshevist or had any sympathy with such a person, I should see was cabled to Hankow, because I should know perfectly well that its insulting spirit would do more damage to negotiations than the magnificent, appeal which the Foreign Secretary has made. I must say that the placid and very friendly references—references which, believe me, I quite reciprocate—of a real desire to settle this question and settle it quickly and settle it permanently, are very good, very promising and very helpful. But I hold in my hand two leaflets—specimen leaflets, not the whole stock—that are going to be distributed all over the country—[Hon. MEMBERBS: "Are being distributed!"]—are being distributed—by the National Union of Conservative Associations They are not quite in the same tone, in the same spirit, as the speeches made by the more responsible leaders of the Conservative party in this House. I remember a very unhappy scene in this House, a scene that made us shiver, when a certain Member of the Liberal party sitting on the Government front bench got up and replied to Lord Balfour, then a Member of this House, who had characterised a statement he had made as being a "cold, calculated, frigid lie." That description is the description of these leaflets.

It is all very well for right hon. Members who hold responsible positions here to say, "We are not responsible." The Foreign Secretary had to inform this House, within a few weeks of the election of this new Parliament, that they were not responsible for certain attacks made upon the Foreign Office at that time, attacks, however, which contributed very largely to the return of the present majority. They are responsible—and this sort of thing cannot be done. I am fighting, my colleagues are fighting—it is known very well by the other side that we are fighting—in order to get an accommodation that will result in peace, an accommodation that will result in a settlement, and we hold, and we hold quite sincerely, that the transport of troops is the biggest obstacle to that accommodation at the present time. Our position is, surely, perfectly clear. So far as the Foreign Office is concerned, so far as these Memoranda are concerned, so far as the instructions to Mr. O'Malley are concerned, so far as the action that was taken at Hankow is concerned—has anyone supported the right hon. Gentleman more than some of us have done? [An Hon. MEMBER: "Some!"] Others did not. If hon. Members think that interruption a great contribution, I make them a present of it. There is no dispute at all about the negotiations, none what ever. In that communication the value of which hon. Members opposite may doubt, though I do not, every section of the Labour movement has combined to make the negotiations easy—[Hon. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—to make the negotiations easy, and to stand behind the Foreign Office in conducting those negotiations. The dispute, the division, is over the dispatch of troops. I say that if there was any justification for the dispatch of troops, every possibility of removing the danger ought to have been exhausted before that step was taken, because surely it is perfectly obvious—[Interruption]. I assume that there is some honesty in what the Government say and that their policy is not based on leaflets like these. Of course, if it is, then I understand them. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Read them!"] Supposing that the party opposite are sincerely desirous of protecting British subjects in China. Let us assume that, as I do assume. Then we say first of all that the best method of protecting them against risk is to remove the risk. There is nobody who can read the documents that have been published and the statements that have been made on both sides who does not perceive that for weeks there was a chance of getting an agreement which would have removed all danger of invasion and all danger of the rushing, of Shanghai. There is another paragraph in the Chen Message, and the substance of it was communicated to Mr. O'Malley on the 22nd January. This is the paragraph to which I allude: In the manifesto dated the 22nd January the Nationalist Government declared that it was their wish and intention to have all questions relating to treaty and other cognate matters settled by negotiation and agreement. That impliedly covered, and it was so intended to cover, the question of the future status of the international settlement at Shanghai, which it is not, and has never been tire contemplation of the Nationalist Government to occupy by force. Is not that the basis not of a defence by putting up some contrary power but the best of all defences, that is the deferce of having risks removed so that we do not require to trouble about them at all. The second point is if you send troops what is it you are doing. You really resolve one risk by putting another in its place. Hon. Members cannot get away from that fact. You talk about defence. Can any hon. Member of this House sit down and visualise the action of defence—not words, I do not care about words and phrases—but visualise the action of defence, the mob, the troops, the confined area of the International Concession or the still more confined area of our part of the international Concession; can hon. Members visualise the stream of a beaten army coming and rushing down into Shanghai on your international Concession meeting this defence force—can hon. Members imagine that and then say that the action taken at the moment for defence is an action that you can confine to defence the next day? You know perfectly well that the boundary will break down, and before you know where you are unforeseen events will have happened.


Taking the hypothesis which the right hon. Gentleman himself has suggested, are we to stand aside and allow this rabble of soldiery to overflow the Concession?


My point is this, that the right hon. Gentleman has taken—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer!"]—my point is this, that the right hon. Gentleman has never tried to protect himself against that except by soldiers—[Interruption.]—and that, in adopting that method alone, he knows perfectly well that he can draw no line in an operation which begins with defence but which is bound to end with offence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense!"] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman who is going to reply will give me an illustration of the possibility of drawing lines between defence and offence in circumstances such as this. Hon. Members may say it is nonsense. I am very glad to see the source from which the observation comes, because I am afraid I must confess to the hon. Member that it is a very reassuring source to me. The right hon. Gentleman to-day, referring to my right hon. Friend who moved this Amendment, said, "Supposing his wife were in Shanghai." Well, not very many hours ago I heard from a parent who is going through, at the present moment, untold tortures on account of the risks that his son is running outside Shanghai because British troops are being put into Shanghai. What the right lion. Gentleman has never answered, except by vague hypotheses is this: Supposing that you can protect Shanghai by his policy and by the War Office policy—


No, I must decline that distinction.


By the Government policy; it is much fairer to the right hon. Gentleman for me to put it in that way. Supposing that he can protect Shanghai by that policy, what about the 6,000 or 7,000 Britishers who are outside Shanghai? I am really pressing this point, because I am perfectly certain we are right in our conclusions and in our constructions of policy on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman has already united the North and the South in protest; he has already created unsettlement in China, and I come back to the basis of my position, which cannot be denied. The Under-Secretary is going to reply. Can he deny this, that no attempt was made to use Mr. Chen's statement of the 22nd January in order to remove risks completely by coming to an agreement regarding that declaration about Shanghai? Until the Government answer that, they stand condemned for taking a step which should have been the last step, but winch they took as the first step. That is the position upon which we stand. I promised to sit down at Half-past Ten, and I keep my bargain in this as in other things. The Government are wasting public money; the Government are not diminishing the risks that British subjects in China are running. The Government are embarking upon a policy which simply means that one kind of risk, the risk of a general conflict, is being substituted for another kind of risk, and the Government have neglected, before undertaking that risk, which ought to be the last to be undertaken, to seize opportunities which Mr. Chen gave in order to guarantee that Shanghai will not be the subject of mob violence, and our people in Shanghai will not be disturbed on account of revolutionary and military movements in China.


When the Foreign Secretary made his speech to-day and sat down—J do not say this in order to maker debating point—I fully expected the Leader of the Opposition to get up and say that considering the speech the Foreign Secretary had made, declaring that negotiations of the most important character are now going on with Mr. Chen at Hankow, no further speeches of a controversial nature had better be made. If the right hon. Gentleman had said that and suggested the Adjournment of the Debate until those negotiations were over, he would have enhanced what is already a great reputation in this House. He has complained of certain leaflets which have been issued, I understand, by certain Conservative agents. But after all, we are not the only people who issue leaflets. I have here a leaflet numbered 190, 4s. per 1,000, published by the Labour party from Eccleston Square, which was being distributed to-day on the District Railway. One of its headings is this: The Government are supplementing negotiations by armed force. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Perhaps hon. Members will cheer the next, They have just sent out another 20,000 troops. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that that kind of leaflet issued by his party helps the negotiations that are now proceeding? I am very sorry the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Mosley) should make his début in his new party by making such a hitter speech as he did to-day. Can he really say he made it with the intention of helping negotiations which are now going on at Hankow? I listened very carefully to the speech of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). Does he think that speech is likely to lead to a peaceful solution of what is going on in China at present?




He raked up the old opium war. What really has that to do with the present emergency? He also referred to the incidents at Shanghai and Canton and the Wahnsien incidents of 1924 and last year, and although I know perfectly well it was done inadvertently, his speech was absolutely crammed and bursting with inaccuracy. He said we started firing at Canton. That is completely inaccurate, and there is the evidence of French and American witnesses to the contrary. He also asked why did we not publish what happened in the Wahnsien incident of 1924. That incident took place while the late Prime Minister in office, and if he wanted the report published, I am surprised that he did not ask the Prime Minister of that day.


It happens that I did ask on two separate occasions, and I asked one other Government. I am not sure whether it was the present Government.


It is quite evident that the hon. Member got no satisfaction from his own Government. Then he asked why did we not publish all about the Shanghai incident and the Shameen incident. The whole inquiry into the Shanghai incident was published, and a White Paper was laid about the Shameen incident.


May I ask the hon. Member to tell me the date on which the British Government published the consular report of the Shanghai incident?


I did not say the British Government Report.


That is what I understood.


Why does the hon. Member want that first? He said what he wanted was the publication of a report of the Shanghai incident. The report of the inquiry was published, and it was open for anyone to read.


It is not true.


It is. The hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. Haden Guest) is a strong party man, but he made a far more helpful speech. He made a very interesting observation. He said that the Amendment was against the policy of the united Labour movement. I was only sorry that, while he was making that speech, so very few Labour Members were present. The hon. Member for North Southwark is an authority on this subject, and he is, no doubt, absolutely correct in what he said. If that be the case, I cannot understand how this Amendment ever found its way on to the Order Paper.

What is the real cause of the ferment that is going on in China at the present moment? It is due to the new spirit which is abroad in China, the spirit of nationality, the desire to make China an independent country and free from foreign control. It is a genuine movement of Chinese aspirations, although I am sorry to say that outside influences have intervened to use it for their own purposes. It is perfectly true that, at the present moment, foreigners in China are largely outside Chinese law, Chinese administration and Chinese taxation. They are not subject, as defendants, to Chinese law and Chinese Courts. They are not subject to internal taxation. Customs tariffs cannot be altered without the consent of the Powers. When foreigners are engaged in coastal or river traffic they are not subject to Chinese regulations. Chinese subjects are often enabled, under cover of foreign concessions, to evade their obligations to their own State. These privileges have gradually grown up under Treaties under agreement and under customs and usage, until we practically have in China to-day what we may call an imperium in imperio, or a dual authority on Chinese soil.

That is the Chinese case. I think it is a substantial case, and the Government realise perfectly well that that case has to be met. Especially do they realise that during the last few years the Chinese have set about putting their house in order in regard to their penal and civil courts and in regard to the other branches of their national life.

What has the Government really done to meet this Chinese case? I do not believe any Government has ever done more to try and meet the wishes of another people than the present Government has in this case. For a whole year, as was pointed out by the Foreign Secretary in his speech, we took part in a tariff conference in Peking and did our utmost to carry the programme of the Washington Conference. That proramme was meant to increase the Chinese revenue so as to give China a better opportunity of regulating her internal finances and obtaining larger means for the development of her resources. We went further and promised to grant a tariff autonomy by the 1st January, 1929. As the Foreign Secretary has pointed out, unfortunately this conference came to an end before its work was ended, but it was suspended, not because of the fault of this Government or owing to the fault of the Powers, but merely because of the civil war and because the central Government, with whom we were negotiating had practically disappeared. As soon as it is possible to resume that conference, we hope steps will be taken to that end.

I should like to deal with one point made by the right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond). Here again, Sir Francis Aglen was dismissed from the position of Inspector-General of Customs. The Peking authorities made a great mistake. They did so because he would not consent to collect the Washington Surtax, and he would not consent to do that because under Treaty he has to get the consent of the Powers before doing so. If he had collected this Washington Surtax he would have had the whole of the South of China, with Canton, against him because Canton does not want to see these surtaxes collected by the North as they are afraid they would be used in the civil war against the South. There is no doubt it would have led to a break-up of the Customs administration, and it is quite clear as in the Washington Conference itself the Chinese Delegation made this declaration, that: They had no intention of effecting any change that will disturb the present administration of the Chinese Maritime Customs. Representations are being made to the Peking authorities by the Powers, and I hope there will be a settlement, and that the Customs administration will function as hitherto under Europeans in the service of the Chinese Government. Again, we have shown our good faith in the question of extra territoriality. In fact, we have given them an instalment of our concessions in regard to extra-terroriality in the rendition of the Mixed Court of Shanghai. In 1925 we passed an Act in this House surrendering the whole of the residue of the Debt due on account of the Boxer Indemnity, amounting to £11,000,000 sterling, and just before the Central Government at Peking lost control we had another Bill ready in this House placing the control of this fund with the majority of the Chinese themselves. Those funds will be spent on the development of China, on education, on her railways, and on any part of her economic life, in whatever manner she deems most suitable. We have taken various other steps, which I would like to mention, but time will not allow. We took those steps long before the Hankow and Kiukiang incidents. We took them long before those Concessions were seized. That is to say, that in making these concessions we did not surrender to force, but surrendered to good will and to a sense of justice.

And what have we done since? We have given definite promises to the north and the south. They have all been published in the Press, and I will not go through them here. They go so far that I have no doubt some of our friends in China think that they go a little too far. I think I am correct in saying that no country has ever gone further in trying to meet the legitimate aspirations of another people. No Government has tried harder to put itself in someone else's place and to see someone else's point of view. Think of the difficulties with which we have had to contend. In the first place, The Central Government of China had disappeared. You have a multiplicity of factions with which to deal. If you try to meet the claims of one you are very liable, indeed, to offend the other. Not only that, but areas are shifting from day to day, so that if you come to an agreement with some area under someone's control one day, the next day you find that area absorbed in another. Civil war is raging all the time. You have movements and countermovements of huge armies. The whole country is in a turmoil, and men's minds are distracted by all the dangers that they see around them. It is the very worst time imaginable for the calm consideration of constructive proposals.

Then you have the immense distance of China from Europe. It is 12,000 miles from London to Shanghai, and a dispatch takes six weeks to reach Peking. The only communication is by telegraph, when your arguments or advice have to be put in abbreviated form. Far more has to be left to the men on the spot than is usually the case. Finally, you have to deal with the anti-British agitation which is being fed and fostered from outside China. We are always up against it, and it increases our difficulties whenever we try to negotiate. It is an alien and poisonous influence, and it hampers and injures the Chinese just as much as it hampers and injures us. In addition to all that, we have the further difficulty of having to persuade all the Powers and getting them to co-operate in our various efforts. I would like to say, in reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen, that at the present moment I believe we are in complete harmony with the Powers, and certainly we cannot run any risk of official recognition of any part of China which might lead to the disunion of China, because we especially hope that in the future China will once more be reunited under a central government.


Would the hon. Gentleman say whether any other great Power has recognised the Cantonese Government?


My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reminds me that no Power has officially recognised the Government of Canton. We have not done so either. There is no Government in China at the present moment which is recognised as the Government of all China. Therefore, I submit that we have done and we are doing all that is humanly possible. We want to see a united, an independent, a sovereign and a prosperous China. We are prepared to help this in every possible way. We are bound to see that the lives of British subjects are secure. Can you say that you would neglect that when a Chinese paper in the South of China published a notice the other day: Kill. Kill. You have nothing to fear. That was in relation to the Foochow incident. Unfortunately, there is no Chinese Government at the present moment that can guarantee the safety of our people abroad. That is our reason for the despatch of troops. It is merely a precautionary measure. Directly it is clear that there is no further risk, those troops will be recalled home. Personally, I am sanguine enough to believe that not a single shot will be fired, but I am perfectly sure that, if we had not taken steps to protect our fellow citizens in China and had abandoned them alone to the risks to which they are now inevitably exposed, we should have justly incurred the reprobation of all decent people throughout the country.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The House divided: Ayes, 113; Noes, 320.

Division No. 1.] AYES. [10.54 p.m.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hayes, John Henry Scurr, John
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Ammon, Charles George Hirst, G. H. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Smillie, Robert
Baker, Walter Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Barnes, A. John, William (Rhondda, West) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Barr, J. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Snell, Harry
Batey, Joseph Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Beckett, John (Gateshead) Kelly, W. T. Stamford, T. W.
Broad, F. A. Kennedy, T. Stephen, Campbell
Bromley, J. Kirkwood, D. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Buchanan, G. Lansbury, George Sullivan, J.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Lawrence, Susan Sutton, J. E.
Cape, Thomas Lee, F. Taylor, R. A.
Charleton, H. C. Lindley, F. W. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Cluse, W. S. Lowth, T. Thurtle, Ernest
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Lunn, William Tinker, John Joseph
Compton, Joseph MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Townend, A. E.
Connolly, M. Mackinder, W. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Cove, W. G. MacLaren, Andrew Varley, Frank B.
Dalton, Hugh Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Viant, S. P.
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) MacNeill-Weir, L. Wallhead, Richard C.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) March, S. Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Day, Colonel Harry Maxton, James Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Dennison, R. Montague, Frederick Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Duncan, C Mosley, Oswald Westwood, J.
Gibbins, Joseph Naylor, T. E. Whiteley, W.
Gillett, George M. Oliver, George Harold Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Palin, John Henry Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Paling, W. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Groves, T. Potts, John S. Windsor, Walter
Grundy, T. W. Purcell, A. A. Wright, W.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Roberts, Rt. Hen. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Hardie, George D. Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Salter, Dr. Alfred Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles Edwards.
Hayday, Arthur Scrymgeour, E.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Cope, Major William
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Briscoe, Richard George Couper, J. B.
Ainsworth, Major Charles Brittain, Sir Harry Courtauld, Major J. S.
Albery, Irving James Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Crawfurd, H. E.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Bullock, Captain M. Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)
Apsley, Lord Burman, J. B. Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Burton, Colonel H. W. Cunliffe, Sir Herbert
Astor, Maj. Hon. John J. (Kent, Dover) Butler, Sir Geoffrey Dalkeith, Earl of
Atholl, Duchess of Butt, Sir Alfred Dalziel, Sir Davison
Atkinson, C. Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Campbell, E. T. Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Carver, W. H. Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)
Balniel, Lord Cassels, J. D. Davies, Dr. Vernon
Banks, Reginald Mitchell Cautley, Sir Henry S. Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Dawson, Sir Philip
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.) Dean, Arthur Wellesley
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Duckworth, John
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Eden, Captain Anthony
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Edmondson, Major A. J.
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish- Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Elliot, Major Walter E.
Berry, Sir George Chilcott, Sir Warden Ellis, R. G.
Betterton, Henry B. Christie, J. A. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)
Blades, Sir George Rowland Clarry, Reginald George Everard, W. Lindsay
Blundell, F. N. Clayton, G. C. Fairfax, Captain J. G.
Boothby, R. J. G. Cobb, Sir Cyril Falle, Sir Bertram G.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Cockerill, Brig,-General Sir G. K. Fanshawe, Commander G. D.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Cohen, Major J. Brunel Fenby, T. D.
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Conway, Sir W. Martin Fermoy, Lord
Brass, Captain W. Cooper, A. Duff Fielden, E. B.
Finburgh, S. Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Looker, Herbert William Sanderson, Sir Frank
Forrest, W. Lord, Sir Walter Greaves- Sandon, Lord
Foster, Sir Harry S. Lougher, L. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Foxcroft, Captain C. T. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Savery, S. S.
Fraser, Captain Ian Lumley, L. R. Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E Lynn, Sir R. J. Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)
Galbraith, J. F. W. MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Ganzoni, Sir John Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Shepperson, E. W.
Gates, Percy Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart) Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Ht. Hon. Sir John MacIntyre, Ian Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfast)
Glyn, Major R. G. C. McLean, Major A. Skelton, A. N.
Goff, Sir Park Macmillan, Captain H. Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Gower, Sir Robert Macnaghten, Hon, Sir Malcolm Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Grace, John McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Smithers, Waldron
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) MacRobert, Alexander M. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Grant, Sir J. A. Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel Spender-Clay, Colonel H
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Malone, Major P. B. Sprot, Sir Alexander
Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E)
Grotrian, H. Brent Margesson, Captain D. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.) Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Meller, R. J. Streatfeild, Captain S. R.
Gunston, Captain D. W. Merriman, P. B. Strickland, Sir Gerald
Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Meyer, Sir Frank Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Styles, Captain H. Walter
Hanbury, C. Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H
Harland, A. Moore, Sir Newton J. Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Harrison, G. J. C. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Templeton, W. P.
Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Moreing, Captain A. H. Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Hawke, John Anthony Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)
Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Murchison, Sir C. K. Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Nelson, Sir Frank Tinne, J. A.
Herbert, S. (York, N.R., Scar. Wh'by) Neville, R. J. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Hills, Major John Waller Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'd) Waddington, R.
Holland, Sir Arthur Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Wallace, Captain D. E.
Holt, Captain H. P. Oakley, T. Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.) O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Hopkins, J. W. W. O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities) Oman, Sir Charles William C. Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Hore-Belisha, Leslie Owen, Major G. Watts, Dr. T.
Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N. Pennefather, Sir John Wells, S. R.
Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Penny, Frederick George Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple-
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Perkins, Colonel E. K. Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Hume, Sir G. H. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Huntingfield, Lord Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Hurd, Percy A. Philipson, Mabel Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Hurst, Gerald B. Pilcher, G. Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Power, Sir John Cecil Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Iliffe, Sir Edward M. Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Assheton Wise, Sir Fredric
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Radford, E. A. Withers, John James
Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Ramsden, E. Wolmer, Viscount
Jacob, A. E. Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington) Womersley, W. J.
James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Reid, D. D. (County Down) Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Jephcott, A. R. Remer, J. R. Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)
Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Rentoul, G. S. Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Kindersley, Major Guy M. Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint) Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
King, Captain Henry Douglas Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford) Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A. Wragg, Herbert
Lamb, J. Q. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)
Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Rye, F. G.
Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Salmon, Major I TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Little, Dr. E. Graham Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Commander B. Eyres Monsell and
Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Sandeman, A. Stewart Colonel Gibbs.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.

Main Question again proposed.

It being after Eleven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed To-morrow.