§ Major Sir CLIVE MORRISON-BELL
I beg to move,That this House approves of the foresight of the Government and congratulates it on its prompt action in taking steps to safeguard the lives of British subjects endangered by the civil war in China.Before I deal with the Motion, I would like to refer to the efficient manner in which this force was raised and transported. Two Departments of the Government were concerned, the War Office and the Board of Trade. The War Office had to select the troops to send out, they had to fill up the ranks from the Reserve and they had to see that they were supplied with equipment suitable to the different climates. The Board of Trade dealt chiefly with the transport. The chief operation which the War Office had to undertake was to fill up the ranks of the battalions going out, and I think the House will hear with pride that out of the 1,581 men who were called upon to fill up the ranks of 2113 the battalions only four failed to turn up to answer the call. The "A" Reserve is a special reserve the men of which can be called up at once provided they have not left the Service for more than two years. They get extra pay for coming back. It is a matter of great gratification that so many, practically the whole of them, answered the call. The House has heard a great many of these details before; they were referred to by the Under-Secretary of State for War on the Supplementary Estimate that was moved for the Shanghai force, but the whole of the facts of this operation are so creditable to all concerned that the story will bear repeating again, if only briefly.
The second operation was to commission the transport and to transport the force from these shores to Shanghai. There, again, we see signs of great efficiency. The whole transaction was carried through with smoothness and in the quietest and most unostentatious manner. When the ships had been commissioned, they had to be altered and fitted with special fittings. Stabling arrangements and water Mg arrangements had to be provided for the horses. All these gigantic operations, which went on clay and night, were concluded so swiftly and efficiently that it was only a week from the time that the orders were given before the first transport left this country. I think all Members of this House must feel proud that these two Departments of State were able in such a short time and so efficiently and so quietly to carry through the operation which is the subject of our Debate tonight. It was just as if the War Office and the Board of Trade had merely pressed a button and the whole operation had taken place without any further trouble or ostentation. With these few remarks on the, efficiency with which the operation was carried cut, I will pass to the subject of my Motion.
Hon. Members will notice that I particularly stress the words "foresight of the Government" and the "prompt action" taken to "safeguard the lives" of our fellow-countrymen in Shanghai. The Government had not an easy derision to take eight or nine weeks ago. For the foresight which they displayed on that occasion we may have reason to congratulate ourselves in the course of the 2114 next few days; I hope it may not be so. Hon. Members will surely agree with me in this that when you have to make arrangements for safeguarding the lives of our fellow-countrymen 10,000 miles away and four weeks distant by ship, it is no use waiting until the crisis is actually upon you. You have to use foresight and moral courage. The whole situation lent itself to the most flagrant misrepresentation. At the moment that very mischievous organisation "Hands off China" was at work: but the Government had to take all things into consideration and decided, and rightly decided, that they must at once organise this Defence Force and send it out to succour our fellow-countrymen in Shanghai.
The best way to appreciate what the Government have done will be to contrast their action with the suggestion put forward by hon. and right hon. Members opposite, both inside and outside this House. It is very instructive but very difficult—I have tried it during the last few days—to try to find any policy at all in the proposals which the Opposition have put forward. Take the proposals which they made in the Debate on the Address, in the Amendment which was proposed from the Front Opposition Bench by the right hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan). What was the real point in that official Opposition Amendment. It contained this most astounding sentence. It askedfor the immediate diversion and recall of the Forces now on their way to China.I would ask lion. Members to pat themselves in the position of the men and women living in Shanghai when this particular Amendment was proposed in this House, and I would ask them to consider what the result would have been if that Amendment had been passed. The troopships were already ploughing through the Indian Ocean, near Colombo. What would have been the effect on our fellow countrymen at Shanghai had they heard that a telegram bad been sent and that these troopships, following the advice of the official Opposition, had turned 16 points and started for home again? What would have been the effect in China and on our fellow countrymen there? There would not, have been a Treaty Port that would not have been ransacked and looted within 24 hours. 2115 It would have been said that the British Government, which had already dispatched its force, had turned tail, following the advice of His Majesty's Opposition, and there might have been the most appalling disasters in China inside 48 hours. I do not know who drafted the Amendment. I suppose it was their back benchers. I understand the Opposition were not very keen about it. Hon. Members opposite have great imagination on the platform and elsewhere. Can they conceive what would have been the result of the policy of turning this force back, on the whole situation in China? It is amazing to think that they could lend themselves to such an Amendment. Curiously enough, it is a real policy of scuttle. And why? I believe I am correct in saying that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition voted for that Amendment. I do not know how on earth the right hon. Gentleman, who is responsible for writing in the "Forward" newspaper thata settlement could not he obtained by surrender, and is not to be obtained by scuttlewas able to vote for an Amendment containing the last sentence which I have read. It absolutely passes my comprehension, and it surely passes the comprehension of anybody who seriously thinks the matter over. I do not think our fellow countrymen and women in China, who are carrying on most useful work in Shanghai and helping—
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
Yes, I hope so. I do not know anybody who does not work for profit. Whoever heard of a Socialist at the end of a week saying "I do not want any wages; I do not work for you for a profit." Of course they are working for a profit for themselves, and for people in this country too. They arc working for a profit for Lancashire, and I am told that the works in Shanghai and the business that is done in Shanghai provides wages for no less than 50,000 people in this country. I do not know why hon. Members opposite should sneer at the word "profit," but our fellow countrymen and women in Shanghai would not have been reassured by the remarks of the mover of the Amendment to the Address, the right 2116 hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) or the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Pcthick-Lawrence) who associated himself with the policy on the Debate on the Supplementary Estimate. The right hon. Gentleman said:There is a risk of mob violence and uncontrolled soldiery in Shanghai.Yes, there is a civil war going on there. But the right hon. Member says in the easy kind of way Which we can adopt sitting comfortably on these green benches:We first of all say that we have no right to put that risk very high.I am sure that will be most consoling to the people who are menaced by these dangers in Shanghai. The right hon. Gentleman says we need not put the risk very high, and that remark found an echo in the breast of the hon. Member for West Leicester who said the same thing and the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) who said:I do not really think that our people in Shanghai are in very great danger.Those gentlemen who have the responsibility of advising His Majesty's Government, our Minister in Pekin, our Consul-General at Shanghai, our Consul-General at Hankow arid Mr. O'Malley, put the risks very high, and it only proves how right the Government were in taking these steps and sending this force to China. But perhaps a more amazing argument still—the action of the Labour party has been so amazing that it is impossible to understand what they are driving at—is that the presence of these troops will endanger the lives of the people in Shanghai.
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
I shall have something to say about that. Many hon. Members opposite have taken this line a very foolish line indeed. The argument is that there are only about half the number of English people in Shanghai that there are outside and, therefore, by sending troops to protest Shanghai you are endangering the lives of those people who are outside Shanghai. That is the argument. Let me observe how very little hon. Members opposite have reflected on the matter. 2117 The majority of the people outside Shanghai are at Treaty ports, where there are ships in which they can get away if the situation becomes desperate. All the time for the last nine or ten weeks those people who are living up the country have been slowly getting down to the river or to the Treaty ports. That has been going on for the last few weeks. They are coming to Shanghai as a place of refuge, and I doubt very much whether there are a great number of people who have not succeeded in getting to a Treaty port or to the river. I admit that the situation of those who cannot get away obviously must be dangerous, but the fact that most of them by now have probably got clown either to a Treaty port or to the river by every means they can take, means that the majority outside Shanghai are at the other Treaty ports, and the use of this argument is another example of the muddled thinking of the Labour party on this particular subject. But perhaps the most muddled of them all is the hen Member for Leicester West, who improves on this argument. In the Debate on the Supplementary Estimates he did not go so far as some of them who used the foolish argument that the people outside Shanghai were in danger. I quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT. The hon. Member said:The risk of loss of life to the people in Shanghai, in so far as there is a risk at all, is very much increased by the sending of these troops.
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
I accept the hon. Member's correction. Ins and outs are very much alike, and it is easy to see how the mistake may have occurred. I thought his argument was particularly foolish, but now I find that it is only as foolish as the argument used by other hon. Members opposite. It is the same argument as that used by the hon. Member for Smethwick, who I do not see in his place at the moment. He began by saying, "I have never belonged to a more harmonious party," and then proceeded to support the argument that the troops being sent out endangered the lives of our fellow countrymen in China. It is obvious to everybody except a Labour party man in 2118 search of an election cry that the mere fact that there are troops at Shanghai turns this place into a city of refuge, and the mere fact that troops are there in sufficient numbers gives moral courage to every man and woman outside Shanghai to try and get there. The whole effect is exactly the reverse to what we are led to expect from anything the Labour party says; and it again proves the foresight of the Government. There is only one more argument to which I will refer before I deal with the Amendment, and there is about as little in it as in any other argument put forward by the Labour party. It was put forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). We have always thought of the hon. and gallant Member as having a bowing acquaintance with the Navy.
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
I should hardly have thought that the hon. and gallant Member, if he had been 17 years at sea, could have been responsible for such a silly argument as the one I am going to quote.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do not question the hon. and gallant Member's knowledge of his own profession. Why does he question my knowledge of mine? It is most objectionable.
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
I am going to show the hon. and gallant Member why I think his knowledge of his profession failed him on this particular occasion. It is one of the many arguments that the Labour party put forward to justify their extraordinary conduct on the Chinese question.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it usual for the professional position of a Member of this House, his professional capacity outside this House, to be impugned by an hon. and gallant Member in this way and a withdrawal refused?
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
I absolutely withdraw the adjective at once. I am now simply challenging the hon. and gallant Member's aptitude for sizing up a situation. Since he has been in the Navy for so many years, I do not mind making this acknowledgment to the hon. and gallant Member. When I was for three years with the late Lord Long as Parliamentary Private Secretary, and the hon. and gallant Member was practically carrying on the Opposition on his own shoulders, Lord Long used to say to me, "Find out if Kenworthy is getting up." He had the highest opinion of the hon. and gallant Member as a critic of Naval affairs—a very high opinion. On this particular occasion the hon. and gallant Gentleman's common sense has failed him, and, if he will allow me, I will explain why. He will have plenty of opportunities later of explaining why he thinks I am at fault. I do not want to delay the House. The argument that the hon. and gallant Member put forward in a recent Debate was that there was no necessity to send troops, that the ships could do it and that there were sufficient men in the ships. That is the argument to be found in the OFFICIAL REPORT. But when the hon. and gallant Member was speaking the ships had not all arrived there; they were on their way.
We have been told that the landing parties from the ships at Shanghai numbered exactly 600 men. There were also about 1,300 volunteers in Shanghai, men of five different nationalities, no doubt a very useful and self-sacrificing force, but owing to differences of language not as efficient as 1,300 men of one nationality would have been. The hon. and gallant Member says that the ships would have been sufficient. The work of the landing parties would be "sentry go," two hours on and four off, so that there were available 2n0 men to keep people out of the Concession. Has the hon. and gallant Member any knowledge of the length of the perimeter of Shanghai? It is 14 miles. That is what our troops are trving to hold. But the hon. and gallant Mem- 2120 ber, with a slip from his usual accuracy, says that a landing party of 600, of whom 200 would have been available, would have been sufficient to hold a perimeter of 14 miles. That is why I say that the argument of the hon. and gallant Member was useless and absurd and fantastic, and I believe that now I have explained myself the hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree with me.
I have a few words to say on the Amendment which is to moved by the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Barker). I notice that he and his friends have been reduced to the use in the Amendment of the famous word "ostentatious." They refer to an "ostentatious despatch." It is not a very grave accusation. I have already said, and I repeat, that nothing could have been quieter or less ostentatious than the departure from this country of the troops for Shanghai. Had it not been that the Press photographers, correctly gauging the public interest in the matter, obtained snapshots of the Coldstream Guards marching down Birdcage Walk and other troops on the landing stage, hardly any of us would have known that there was an Expeditionary Force being sent abroad. So quietly and efficiently was the whole movement carried out that anything less justifiable than the word "ostentatious" could hardly be imagined, except possibly inside the ranks of the Labour party. I was very interested to read some remarks of the hon. Member, when he spoke on the China Debate. He said that there was no justification for sending these troops; and that the Government were doing great injury to the prestige of this country. I tell the hon. Member what I think is doing great injury to the prestige of this country, and that is the trafficking of certain elements of the Labour party with the anti-British interests in China.
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
Perhaps the hon. Member does not agree with some of his colleagues, but some part of the Labour party have been—
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
That is the difficulty. I do not know whether the hon. Member on the Front Bench (Mr. Kennedy) would accept the views of the "Hands Off China" movement, but there are Members engaged in it. That is the difficulty of dealing with this question. The Labour party on this subject are just as difficult to deal with as the Soviet and the International in Russia. You do not know where you are. The Front Bench repudiates the back bench, and that is the difficulty of knowing where we are. An hon. Member says that the prestige of this country has been lowered by the sending of troops. That is not the way that our prestige is being lowered. My case is that it is being raised. But I do think that what the Chancellor of the Exchequer called the "double diplomacy" indulged in on this matter, the Foreign Office dealing with one authority and the Labour party dealing, behind the backs of the Government, with other interests, mostly anti-British, has a tendency to lower the prestige of this country. I hope the hon. Member will repudiate that action as Dr. Haden Guest has done. The hon. Member further said:We have got a pledge from Mr. Chen himself that they have no intention of invading the International Settlement.The hon. Member may feel that a pledge from Mr. Chen is a sufficient guarantee for the whole of the International Settlement in Shanghai. I hope it may be true. But the hon. Member and the House must remember that Mr. Chen speaking at Hankow, which is 100 miles up the river, and an uncontrolled mob in Shanghai, are two very different things. What Mr. Chen says might not be obeyed by those who are out for loot, if loot is easy to obtain and if there are no policemen or soldiers about. These people might not pay attention to what Mr. Chen says and I do not think we must rely too much on what Mr. Chen undoubtedly wishes to be brought about but which be might be incapable of bringing about. When the case against my Motion is put by hon. Members opposite, I hope we shall hear some better arguments than those to which we have listened previously in Debates on this 2122 point to disentangle the different arguments used by them. One of the excuses of the Leader of the Opposition for carrying on this traffic with Mr. Chen—[HON. MEMBERS: "What traffic?"]—was that he wanted to put Mr. Chen right as to where the Labour party stood on this question. I am sorry for Mr. Chen and if I could communicate with him I might tell him that I fail to understand where the Labour party stand on this question. I do know this—that everybody who speaks on this subject should take thought as to the effect which some of their words may have on our fellow-countrymen in Shanghai. I hope the newspapers have not reported some of their speeches like that of the hon. Member whom I see sitting opposite, and who said we ought to pray for the nonsuccess of our troops.
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
I have the quotation here, and I think I can if necessary find the exact words used by the hon. Member. Does he suggest that he was misreported? That is the effect of what he said—that he hoped practically speaking that our troops would not be successful.
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
Even with that qualification the hon. Member does not make it any better. If you want your own troops to be defeated—
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
The purport of it is as I have stated, and think of the effect that would have when read by our fellow-countrymen who are out in China. The irresponsibility of some of the remarks made by members of the Labour party, especially when they are out to win by-elections, surpasses belief. They are often funny and we can afford to laugh at them here because we understand them—
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
The hon. Member does not want me to read his actual words. I am sure he is very much ashamed of them. Anyhow, what is useful in a by-election is hardly what I should like to be read by our fellow-countrymen in Shanghai. Speeches of that kind, especially if uttered in this House, must have a deplorable effect not only on the spirits of those bold people who are facing risks out there, but also on the Chinese with whom we are trying to negotiate. Talk about prestige! If these remarks go out there, where will our prestige be? It would be absolutely nowhere, if it were not for the very wise provision which the Government have made in sending a defence force to Shanghai. Therefore, it is with the utmost confidence that I shall ask the House to vote for this Motion. It is quite possible the Labour party will think better of going to a Division. There is nothing to be gained by going to a Division, but if they do so, I hope the House will send a real and cheering message to those brave people in Shanghai by congratulating, the Government on their foresight, and showing the real opinion not only of this House but of the country.
§ Mr. MITCHELL BANKS
I beg to second the Motion.
In doing so, I am faced by two difficulties. The first is that in the course of what I think everybody will agree to have been a tactful and convincing speech, the Mover has covered all the principal points in this controversy. The second is that one would have supposed, in the ordinary course of things, that the proposition which he has just moved for the approval of the House, was not susceptible of controversy at all. There has indeed been a very strange alteration in the attitude of this House to foreign 2124 affairs in the last two generations. I can imagine different arguments being raised upon the Floor of this House 50 years ago. I can imagine arguments which were susceptible of controversy being raised with particular vigour in the House of Commons as it was 50 years ago; and I can imagine a Conservative Government having to defend itself with all the resources at its command against very vigorous and pertinent criticisms for having concluded at all, such agreements as have been concluded with Mr. Chen in the matters of Ilankow and Kiukiang. I can imagine that in those days such an agreement would have been criticised as nothing loss than a humiliating surrender of British interests to force; and we should have been told that in these so-called negotiations and so-called agreements, we had given everything, gained nothing, encouraged further outbreaks and exorbitant demands and seriously damaged not only the prospects of British trade, but British reputation in China and throughout the East. [HON. MEMBERS: "What would you have done?"]
Now a difference is apparent and my hon. Friend and I rise to express our gratitude to the Government for doing what is its primary duty. Its primary duties are to preserve order and to govern in this country and to defend all British nationals who are upon their lawful occasions in other parts of the globe. As a matter of fact, responsible opinion on the other side of this House has conceded that that is the primary duty of His Majesty's Government. If it is, then it follows, I think, beyond all possibility of denial, that there was only one course which they could possibly adopt in the discharge of that duty and that is the course which in fact they have adopted. One of the most difficult things in the world is to adduce proof and arguments of the obvious. It is like moving a resolution that a citizen is entitled to defend his own life and property against criminal assault. One would suppose that anybody who took the trouble to deny that was a subject rather for medical treatment than for persuasion. Of course once you abandon first principles curious results arise and nothing is obvious any more. During recent times I have noticed, as I have listened to Debates in this House, as I read the publications 2125 of the Socialist Press and peruse the numerous resolutions that come to me from Labour and so-called Labour bodies in my own constituency, that the Socialist party has adopted a new set of principles in the matter of foreign relations. They are relevant to this argument because we have to consider their whole attitude in relation to these principles.
The first principle is that, in any dispute with a foreign Power, Great Britain is always wrong. I challenge hon. Members opposite to show me one case of controversy during the last 15 years where Great Britain has been at loggerheads with a foreign Power when they have not condemned Great Britain unheard and backed the foreigner. The second principle they have adopted is this: that if it is a matter of investigating facts in order that we may argue the question in this House with some grasp of its realities, you should always trust a foreign revolutionary rather than a British official. And the third principle is that it is advisable, also, in the matter of research and investigation of facts, to believe somebody who has never been outside England rather than some Member of this House who has spent a lifetime on the spot and knows a great deal about it by experience. It sometimes happens that we have a conflict, not between ourselves and some foreigners—and when I say "foreigners" I do not mean the word offensively, but as shorthand for whoever it may be who are not Britons—but between two groups of foreigners, hon. Members opposite are in a great dilemma, and they solve it by backing the particular group which is most hostile to Great Britain. But it sometimes happens that there are even deeper difficulties, because both groups are equally hostile. In that case, they find out which side the Bolsheviks are on, and back them. Finally, when anything happens of an untoward nature to our own countrymen, wherever it may be, whether in India, in Egypt, or in China, the course of action they take is to say: "They have brought it upon themselves by their own provocative and arrogant conduct, and, anyhow, they are only capitalists and not worth troubling about."
My mind goes back to other days, and it is an interesting speculation, purely 2126 in parenthesis, what the attitude of hon. 11T1embers opposite would have been in 1857 at the Indian Mutiny, but if I am right about their principles—and I do not think I am very far wrong—I can envisage them sending telegrams congratulating Nana Sahib, and protesting against the relief of Lucknow. They say, "Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate." It is a very wise course for us to adopt, I candidly admit. We could not do anything else but negotiate. We had no power behind us. We have very little power behind us now, but the problem that has been in my mind all the time is why Mr. Chen should ever trouble to negotiate with people who by negotiation apparently mean surrender. What was to stop Mr. Chen from taking Shanghai if he wanted it, just as he took Hankow and Kiukiang when he wanted them? There was nobody to stop him. He has or had the force, and we at that time had none, and in any case why should hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who say "Negotiate" not leave the negotiations to take their course? Why should they adopt the unprecedented conduct of going behind His Majesty's representatives, who are chosen out of that party which has an overwhelming majority of public approbation behind them to conduct the negotiations, and indulging in unwarrantable and mischievous interference on their own? I say that it was unwarrantable and mischievous interference, because this is not now a question of whether it was some obscure branch accepted by the Labour party, or repudiated by them, or adopted by them, or legitimatised by subsequent matrimony with the Labour party, but it was the Labour party themselves. Their message to Mr. Chen contains the extraordinary observation that they want the ultimate abrogation of treaties "that have now no right to be enforced." These are a series of treaties conducted by a series of Governments for the past 100 years, treaties which are in existence, and on the strength of which, as the right hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. R. MacDonald) said, great enterprises have been built up, vast sums of money have been invested, and, incidentally, a very large business which is very profitable to the constituents of some hon. Members in Lancashire has been built up. Yet the moment there is trouble they say that 2127 these treaties are wrong and ought to be abrogated. That is the thing to negotiate with Mr. Chen! That is very much as it would be if I were to go into Court to-morrow and say: "May it please your Lordship and gentlemen of the jury, I am going to do by best in this case, but I would like to admit that neither the law nor the merits are on my side." Then they go further and they say thatthe British Labour movement sends to the Chinese workers its most sincere sympathy and support in their attempts to improve their economic conditions.They know perfectly well that the economic conditions of the Chinese workers have nothing whatever to do with the difficulty with which we are now faced. If anybody has improved the conditions of the Chinese workers it is not Mr. Chen, nor the students, nor M. Borodin, nor anybody else, but it is those British firms in China which have set up a very high standard indeed. Perhaps we shall see another instance of that harmony that prevails so notoriously in the House of Commons and which we hope will prevail when glee singing is attempted by the party opposite. In the meantime, I am content to rely on the assertions of the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), who said:From information within the reach of all, I think it must be allowed that, while standards are low and while they afford a fruitful soil for the growth of discontent among the Chinese workers, it cannot be said that British endeavour in China has not aimed at raising the standard of industry compared with the efforts of the owners of the other mills."—(OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1927; col. 1078, Vol. 203.]If Mr. Chen and his friends really represent China, and really represent progress in China, and are so concerned with the economic position of the Chinese workers, why do they not make a beginning with their own mills, which are about five to one in comparison with the British mills? So much for the negotiations. Whatever hon. Members may choose to espouse or to repudiate in this House, we know that, whatever they do here, they take full advantage of the propaganda outside this House among the Communist party, branches of the Independent Labour party, and other organisations more or less remotely connected with them, which does not concern itself at all with trying to press for better conditions for the 2128 workers in China, but does spend its whole time in blackguarding Britain, and in encouraging revolutionary movements simply because they are in sympathy with revolution, wherever it happens, all over the globe.
Mr. Chen apparently thinks we should negotiate with him, but there are two questions that arise about that. If you are going to negotiate with anybody, especially when one condition of the negotiations must be the security and preservation of your own nationals, two questions arise. The first is: "Has he the power?" and the second is: "Has he the will?" Hon. Members opposite assume that Mr. Chen is to be trusted because he is high minded, and progressive, and democratic, and has all sorts of qualities. I do not know what they know about Mr. Chen, but his biography is mysterious and suspicious, to my way of thinking, and the only things that I know about him are that in May, 1922, he organised and started the Young Men's Communist party in China. Another thing about him is that he is a lawyer, and yet another thing I notice is that it has been stated—and, so far as I know, not denied —that he has been a British subject and at one time, when in trouble, claimed the privileges of those British subjects whom he would now leave to mobs and revolutionary troops. Then, he writes manifestoes in a language which reminds me more of Independent Labour party leaflets than of any other publication. But he represents China. If so, it is a very odd circumstance that he should have spent all his time up to now, when not inciting mobs to loot our concessions, in fighting fellow-countrymen. He represents the Cantonese Government, which is the national government and democratic government. What is the Cantonese Government? There are one or two features which I should have thought constitute the essence of a Government, about which we are entirely in the dark—at least I am, and if hon. Members opposite will enlighten me on the subject I shall be very much in their debt.
I want to know how the Cantonese Government is appointed, what is the system of election, how many electors there are, how many voted for the Cantonese Government, what legal powers it has of taxation, and why we never hear of the Prime Minister of the Cantonese 2129 Government? Presumably, there is some sort of Prime Minister to whom the Cantonese Government is responsible. Finally, is there any sort of national elective Assembly which ratifies the actions of the Cantonese Government and Mr. Chen? I do not think we have much information upon these points. It is enough that a man should be talkative and revolutionary for all the Labour party to speak about him as if he were a relative by marriage, if not by blood, and as though they had known him for years. But he is progressive, he is national and he is democratic. I suppose his love of progress and democracy consists in being the only person who up to the present has efficiently employed large numbers of troops. Militarism is a dreadful thing. It is a terrible thing to see a battalion of the Coldstream Guards marching down Birdcage Walk, but Cantonese troops are quite a different matter.The more we are together, the merrier we will be.For your friends are my friends, and my friends are your friends.We know that that enlightened country, which is their spiritual home, from which they take most of their ideas and most of their vocabulary, was in the forefront not only of verbal but of chemical poison gas. He must be a very righteous person also, presumably, because he is advised by Mr. Borodin. It seems odd that we should be told over and over again that this is a purely nationalist movement, that it is founded purely on Chinese sentiment, that it was bound to come anyhow. But there is Mr. Borodin. In what official capacity one does not know. I fancy if one looked in here and saw General Wrangel or General Denikin sitting beside hon. Members on the Treasury Bench, there might be a suspicion that they were in favour of White Russia; and yet, when we find this Minister of Foreign Affairs, who affects to negotiate on behalf of 400,000,000 people—most of whom I suppose do not know his name—accompanied by this Russian Bolshevist, we as reasonable men are expected to believe there is no connection at all.
Finally—and this is a very important thing which must commend itself to hon. Members opposite—he has found out a new patent method of using strikes. 2130 These strikes, as everyone knows, have got nothing in the wide world to do with economic questions in China. If they were really industrial disputes, we should have heard by now of some special terms being formulated for which some special group of strikers was holding out. We should have heard that for some particular factory or industry, the labour organisation wanted their hours shortened by so much, or their pay raised by so much. No such specific demands are ever formulated in the case of these strikes. They are of a nature which even the most ingenious hon. Member opposite could not describe as a lock-out. They are, in fact, organised and run by two groups of people. In olden days in these matters we always had to deal with governors and with troops—something you could talk to, and something you could hit. Nowadays we have to deal with large numbers of persons calling themselves students. Whenever trouble in China or Egypt arises, it always begins by large numbers of students parading the streets. To what particular university they are attached, what degrees they hope to take, or what particular curriculum they study we never hear. They are merely characterised as students, by which, I think, is meant a group of young holigans who have had a smattering of Western culture, and think they ought to get highly paid jobs.
With regard to these strikes, here is the novel method of warfare pursued in China, and here it is that the real danger exists. Most of the armies appear to fight, I was going to say, by negotiation, but, at any rate, some considerations pass between one General and another, and the military position is reversed in a very startling manner. Instead of sending forward the air arm, or cavalry or light infantry, trained battalions of agitating gas bags are sent. They go forward as they did at Hankow, and as they are now doing at Shanghai. Those who refuse to strike, not for any economic cause at all, but who refuse to create disorder and violence, loot the European Concessions and assault foreign officials, are removed by the simple, old-fashioned Oriental method of assassination. The consequence is that the real danger, in my submission, comes not so much from a comic army outside, 2131 with a lawyer at the head, as from mass disorder and violence inside the city itself, and the next thing that may happen at Shanghai, as it happened at Hankow, is that when these forces have got, as they always do get, beyond control—as certain forces are rapidly getting beyond the control of moderate, constitutional pale-pink hon. Gentlemen opposite—then Mr. Chen stands outside and says, "Here are the workers on strike to advance their economic conditions, and if one of you Europeans has the insolence to defend his own business premises or house, and fires a shot, such will be the indignation, that I am sorry to say I shall not be able to control my own troops, and machine guns will be turned on from outside." That is a very dangerous and a very perilous position indeed. I believe, from some practical experience, that the presence of British troops in Shanghai or anywhere else in the World will do nothing but make for good nature. Thomas Atkins is not a licentious, blood-thirsty, Bashi-Bazouk, but a very amiable well-disciplined creature, and his first impulse is to, fraternise with the other people.
I may conclude by telling the House a little personal anecdote to demonstrate that proposition. During the War we occupied a town on the Euphrates and the authorities erected a large gallows in terrorumagainst looters and brigands. I cannot recall that anyone was executed—[An HON. MEMBER: "How did you escape?"]—but I remember that a month later I witnessed a football match in which some of our wicked and licentious soldiers were engaged with a group of Arabs and some boys from the desert. One of the goal posts was represented by a pile of uniforms, and the other goal post was represented by the gallows. The British soldier is always amiable, always good-tempered, and if patience, discipline and self-restrant can avert a catastrophe in Shanghai, the presence of our troops will do it; and if it be unavoidable, we shall have reason devoutly to thank God that the Government had the courage to take those precautions and that the mischievous Amendments of the party opposite were soundly defeated in this House.
§ Mr. BARKER
I beg to move, as an Amendment, in line I, to leave from the 2132 word "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsregrets the ostentatious dispatch of the special Shanghai Defence Force to Shanghai as being unnecessary and calculated to increase rather than diminish the danger to British subjects living in China.We have had to-night two speeches, occupying one hour and three minutes, made up of scurrilous abuse and entirely unworthy either of the House or of the subject with which we are dealing. I am not going to follow those two hon. Members in their offensive remarks, but I will try to deal with the Motion on the Paper. They have acted as a lawyer always acts when he has no case, that is, he abuses his opponent. This subject is one of the most serious the House could be engaged in discussing, but it has been treated with unparalleled buffoonery by the hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Motion may be divided into two parts. First, it congratulates the Government on their foresight in sending troops to Shanghai. I am not going to say very much about that side of the Resolution, except to quote an eminent man who has already commented upon this action of the Government. Viscount Grey, speaking at Bradford on nth February, said:The Government might have done more to make the dispatch of these troops less full of display and ostentation … they might have made the dispatch of troops less 'boomed' than it has been. This is no occasion for bluff; the occasion calls for the very opposite of bluff. I wish the dispatch of the force had been made as unostentatious and as little noticed as possible.That is the opinion of one of the greatest authorities on foreign affairs, and it has relieved me entirely of the necessity of dealing with that side of the subject. With reference to the second part of the Resolution, which is the most important part, the Mover and Seconder have told us very little. In what way have the Government taken steps to safeguard the lives of the people in Shanghai? We have been told about troops being sent out there, but is there no other way of saving the lives of our people? Is it not the: duty of the Government to try to save lives without the use of force at all? Is it not their duty to exhaust all the methods of diplomacy to save the lives of the people in Shanghai? [An HON. MEMBER: "Have they not done so?"] No, I say they have not done it. I say that the double diplomacy to which the 2133 hon. Member for Honiton (Sir C. Morrison-Bell) referred is the double diplomacy of our Government in trying to preach the Sermon on the Mount with guns and bayonets. We are told in the Resolution that the residents in the Concessions needed safeguarding by the British Government. I am afraid the Mover and Seconder of the Resolution knew precious little about the subject on which they were speaking. The Seconder referred to people who never went out of this country. I can tell him, as far as I am concerned, that I lived for ten years in China, and travelled about the Chinese Empire without any protection from Great Britain or anyone else, and I was never molested by the Chinese, though I was in the interior of China. I would rather risk my life with the Chinese than I would depend on an army that may be a thousand miles away, as it is in the case of the men who are in the interior.
§ Mr. BARKER
It does not matter. That makes no difference whatever. I can give the hon. Member information about men in China to-day, in the remote recesses of China, only I do not like to talk about myself. [HON. MEMBERS: "Do!"] I have a son now in Honan who has lived 20 years in China, and I would be ashamed, after having received the hospitality of the Chinese, to use my position in this House to send an army to China in present circumstances. With reference to the question of the safety of the residents in Shanghai I wish the Mover and Seconder of the Motion had devoted some of their time to this very important question. I want to quote from the "Manchester Guardian," which is not a Labour paper. On 19th February that newspaper said:There are in Shanghai 8,000 armed foreigners, soldiers and volunteers, with some 600 British and 2,300 American bluejackets—^before the arrival of the Shanghai Defence Force of some 20,000 men.The defence of Shanghai was not a defenceless settlement. It was one of the best protected settlements in the whole of China. In reply to a question to-day, the Foreign Secretary gave me a list of the Foreign Treaty Ports and Settlements in 2134 China and there are no less than 72. Shanghai is the only settlement that has had a Defence Force sent out. Shanghai, according to this statement from the "Manchester Guardian," had a garrison there of over 6,000, armed with all modern weapons, before ever we sent a soldier there. Our case, and that of my Amendment is that it was unnecessary to send this force to Shanghai. I am not going to indulge in petty puerilities like the Mover and Seconder. I am going to get to the subject and to prove to this House that it was entirely unnecessary to send these troops to Shanghai.
First of all, we had this great garrison in Shanghai and then we have, in addition, the British Fleet. The biggest battleships can sail right up to the Bar and the smallest ships can go over the Bar right up to the walls of Shanghai. We have this fleet there, but the hon. Member for Honiton made light of this side of the question and made out that there was no fleet there. If there was no fleet there, that was one of the most damaging charges you could make against the Admiralty of this country.
§ Sir C. MORRISON-BELL
The hon. Member misunderstood me. I said the landing party was about 600 men. The figures were given in the Debate the other night.
§ Mr. BARKER
The OFFICIAL REPORT will prove who is right. The hon. Member was so imbued with the idea of casting ridicule on this party that I very much doubt if he knows what be did say, but when he gets the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow he will know what he has said. He ridiculed the idea that there was a fleet outside Shanghai. There is always a big British Fleet on the China Station. There is always that fleet there outside Shanghai. Shanghai is made up of a comparatively small settlement, as he knows, but by the side of that settlement is one of the greatest native cities in the whole of China. That native city is entirely dominated by the guns of the British Fleet and therefore there was no port in China so safe as Shanghai, or so well protected, before there was a single soldier sent there.
I had this answer given to-day by the Foreign Secretary with reference to the Treaty ports in China and there are 72 of them, and in the whole of North 2135 China there is only one Infantry Regiment of 936 men. I want to know from the Government and from those who are going to follow me in the Debate what necessity there was to send this great army to Shanghai in the face of the fleet that was there and of the armed forces which reside inside the Settlement? As I have said, the native city is dominated by the guns of the British Fleet, and in a few hours it would he possible for that Fleet to destroy the native city without doing any damage whatever to the British Settlement. We have had a guarantee, which was ridiculed and derided, from the representatives of China, that they will not invade the Settlement at Shanghai. [HON MEMBERS: "Of China?"] That representative was Mr. Chen. [HON. MEMBERS: "He does not represent China!"] He represents the Nationalist Forces, which are the dominating force in China at the present time, and you cannot ignore him and negotiate with him at the same time. The idea of deriding the representatives of China and at the same time continuing diplomatic relations with them and holding them responsible for the pledges that have been given!
We have heard a great deal about the sacredness of Treaties, but the least said about that the better. The history of those Treaties will not bear repeating in this House, I am not going to dwell on the historical side of the question at all. The Foreign Secretary himself has said that the Treaties are somewhat obsolete and he is not prepared to urge that these Treaties should be adhered to. He himself is making arrangements with Mr Chen and perhaps with Mr. Koo as well—that is the Premiers of Peking, in the north, and of Canton, in the south—making the best possible arrangements he can for the abrogation, amendment and revision of those Treaties. Another point I want to make is that Shanghai is an International Settlement, I want to know why its defence is left entirely to Great Britain? I want an answer to that to-night. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not entirely to Great Britain!"] It is is an International Settlement; I want to make a quotation from the "Observer" of Sunday last. That is not a Bolshevist paper. It said:Great dissatisfaction is expressed by Americans on account of the fact that the 2136 American Marines have not been allowed to come ashore and tale up a position in the defensive line now extending round Shanghai. The Marines are cooped up on their troopship and have only once conic ashore in a body.I should like to know from the Government, is it because the American Government know that those troops are not wanted in Shanghai? Is it because they are wiser than our Government? Is it because they do not want to endanger the lives of the Americans who are in the interior of China? Is it because they do not want to irritate the Chinese and destroy their trading relations? It is a very remarkable thing that if Shanghai is in this perilous position which has been painted to-night, that even the. American troops are still cooped up in their ships and are not allowed to land in order to defend the American citizens in Shanghai. I want to submit very seriously to this Horse that the sending of troops to Shanghai is what the Leader of the Opposition has already said is playing with fire, and that is liable to bring us into complications with the Chinese.
I want to point out that we have British subjects all over China in the remotest recesses of China, and I do not think in any one of the 72 ports about which we have had information to-day there is one port that has not got a British population. I say with all seriousness that to send an army into Shanghai where they may come into collision with the Chinese may produce such racial hatred in China as will endanger the lives of those Britishers in the remote parts of China. That is the kernel of our case, and we have put it forward in this House over aid over again. The Government have never met that side of our case, and I challenge them to deal with that one item in our indictment this evening.
I want to ask this question. I would like to know if the Government think that this is the right way to promote trade with China? It is no use the Foreign Secretary sending out copious effusions to the Chinese as if they came from the Sermon on the Mount and then sending the British Army and Navy to enforce these great and lofty ideals. I submit that, bad as our reputation is in China—I am sorry to say that at the present time our prestige amongst the 2137 Chinese is very low indeed—it will not be improved or increased by the sending of the British troops to Shanghai. From the trading point of view, I think this is the most foolish thing the Government could possibly have done. I have here some figures dealing with the trade of China. I find that in 1923 we exported to China 25 millions, in 1924 it was 28.9 millions and in 1925 it fell to 19.7 millions. I am afraid that we are disliked very badly by the Chinese, and I believe the sending out of troops to Shanghai will only intensify the dislike among the Chinese. Therefore, I think we ought to give a gesture of real good will to the Chinese. I do not know anything so nauseating as this kind of Jingoism, specimens of which we have had from the other side of the House to-night. I think negotiations should be resumed if they have been broken off both with Peking and Canton, and the Government should make an effort to settle this great question by diplomacy and not by force.
Of course the idea of going to war with China is absolutely absurd and unthinkable. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I would like to point out, however, that the first stage of war has always been a military expedition, and there was absolutely no need to risk provoking China into war by sending a great military force into the Chinese settlement in Shanghai. I should like to urge that the British troops should be recalled, that negotiations should be resumed with the Chinese, and that a settlement should be arrived at with regard to Shanghai the same as that as has been arrived at with reference to Hankow. The day when we can impose absurd and unjust treaties has gone by and the Chinese demand the same freedom and liberty and the same sovereignty as has been conceded to the Japanese. I should like to ask in all solemnity why are the Chinese not entitled to the same treatment? I think the Government would be far better employed in coming to peaceful terms with China and recalling the troops and resuming negotiations. Let us have a settlement made by diplomats and not by the Army.
§ Mr. WELLOCK
I beg to second the Amendment.
2138 I do so with considerable zeal, partly because the constituency which I have the honour to represent has recently given a decision upon this issue, and also because I do not feel that the Government have really faced the fundamental realities in regard to this situation. I want to appreciate, and I do appreciate, the concessions which have been made by the Government. Nevertheless, I have no hesitation in saying that they have not met the situation with a full appreciation of the circumstances so far as the Chinese people are concerned. My chief complaint is that the Government have not really tried to understand the Chinese state of mind in the present circumstances.
I listened very carefully to the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Motion, and I failed to find in them one trace of any understanding of the position of the Chinese in the situation with which they are faced. I find the same thing generally in the Press. In the "Times" the other day—I think it was on Monday—there was a letter describing why the Government ought to take a firm hand in China; and, when I came to examine the reasons why that ought to be done, I found quotations from British and, I believe, American officials between 60 and 100 years back. I want to say that to approach the Chinese question as we have it to-day by referring to conditions anywhere from 60 to 100 years ago is quite beside the point. The fact is that during the last few years there has been a great change in China. We are not faced to-day with the China of 100 years ago; we are not faced with the China of 20 years ago; we are faced with a new China, an awakened China. We need a policy for that awakened China, and such a policy the present Government do not possess.
There has arisen during the past few years a great educational movement in China. It may be that hon. Members opposite will say that it is an agitation. Nevertheless, it is the same kind of educational movement which we have had in this country, and out of which has come the party to which I have the honour to belong. It is a propaganda whereby the people of China have been made to understand something of their history, and, particularly, something of the events of the last 80 or 90 years. I 2139 want for one moment to try and visualise to the House the facts that the modern Chinese see id regard to their country. They know something about the events which took place from 1839 to 1842; they know something of the events which took place from 1856 to 1858, and something of the events that have taken place on numerous occasions between that time and the present. They also know of quite recent events, which have had a great deal to do with bringing about the present situation in China, namely, the shooting of strikers in Shanghai in May, 1925, the shooting of students in June, 1925, and the shootings at Wahusien in September, 1926. The events which appeal to the mind of the modern, awakened Chinese to-day are such as the following.
He sees, in the first place, the Opium Wars, and the attempts, not only of this country but of other countries, to force opium into his country, and, for that purpose, the securing of treaty ports and other concessions. He understands all about the Opium Wars, and has seen the wringing of concessions and treaty ports from his nation: and he also sees his country coming more and more under the territorial and financial control of foreigners. He sees, too, some of the industries and many of his cities under the control of foreigners. Not only that, but, when he comes face to face with the conditions in such cities as Shanghai, he recognises that they, the Chinese, have no power whatever to remedy those conditions. They have; a, 12-hour day, women working for 6d. a day, and so on. They have no trade unions, and no right to create trade unions. Furthermore, they have no power, as I have said, of improving their conditions, and they have no redress against those conditions. They have no regulations, and no factory inspectors. I want to remind hon. Members that it is in these conditions, and the state of mind which these conditions have produced, that the present situation has arisen.
Now, when it is most necessary that the Chinese nation should be treated sympathetically in the midst of their attempts to gain freedom and to make a unified nation, they are met once again with our military forces, and they, putting two and two together, and remem- 2140 bering their past, think that history is going to be repeated once again. I maintain that the great need of the present moment is for a far more conciliatory attitude than has been shown so far —that we ought to have gone further, and stated quite definitely how far we were prepared to go in the way of concessions. Furthermore, I think it was due to us to give to the Chinese people at any rate an industrial charter, so that they might have some prospect of improving their industrial conditions in the future.
There are just one or two other points of a rather important nature that I should like to mention before I sit down. I think we are entitled to ask, in dealing with this question, what are the motives for the action that has been taken by the Government? Of course in facing a question of this kind, we have to understand, or try to understand, what are the motives expressed in the Press of the country, and what are the motives behind the business and financial interests of the country. I am bound to face such facts as I see, namely, the great satisfaction that is manifested in a, large part of the Press of this country when the Northern Forces in China are victorious, and the Southern Forces a; e defeated; and, furthermore, the fact that we are at the present moment beginning to harness, and have already advanced some steps in the direction of harnessing, the cheap labour of the East to the industrial machinery that we have set up in the West; and behind the minds of business men and financiers, and perhaps I may venture to say also the mind of the Government of this country, there is this big question of the exploitation of the cheap labour of the East.
In China we have 430,000,000 people, in India we have over 300,000,000, and in China, India and Japan together we have 800,000,000 people, or half the total population of the world. I want to say quite frankly that in my view the consequences of this vast problem, the exploitation of the East, are, from the capitalist point of view, of such importance as to lie behind the policy I have described, and also behind the attempt that is being made to impose such policy upon the Government of this country. Already we- have something like 1,000,000 industrial workers in 2141 China. In the cotton industry alone we have something like 750,000 cotton workers in China, India and Japan. When we hear all this talk about the protection of British lives in China, I want to ask, what about the protection of British lives in our own country? During the past few years, as a result of the fact that in Japan the production of cotton goods has increased twelve-fold, that in India it has doubled, and that in China it has made similar advances, the cotton consumption in the factories of Lancashire during the same period has fallen to the extent of between 30 and 40 per cent. The Lancashire workers to-day are suffering as a result of our policy of exploitation in China, and not only our Lancashire cotton workers, but other workers in various parts of the country are suffering as the result of the depleted wages of the Lancashire workers.
Although we speak so much in terms of protecting British lives, when it comes to action, we are concerned about the protection of British profits. Outer real concern is not so much with yellow labour and the fear of the Yellow Peril, as with the white exploiters of yellow labour. What we on these benches demand is that we shall have a greater measure of co-operation between the masses of the people of this country and those of the East, in order that we may be able to help them to develop their trade union movement so as to raise their standard of life, and thus abolish to a large extent the disadvantage that we labour under with the cheap labour of the East. My last word is that in China, to-day we are faced with a great nationalist movement. We are faced with the aspirations of the largest nation in the world, a nation with a great past, which has a wonderful record of civilisation behind it, and which, with the awakening that is taking place and what help the West can give it financially, industrialy, spiritually and intellectually, will again be a great nation. We are up against great spiritual and moral realities, and I trust the Government will take a note of those realities, and remember that they will triumph. They are bound to triumph, and not only will they triumph, they will abide when all the empires of the world have passed away.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
As one who voted for the Supplementary Estimate the other day for the sending of troops to Shanghai, and who is prepared to support the Foreign Secretary in the policy of protecting British lives and property after the declaration lie made that that force will not be used for any aggressive purpose, that it will not be used for intervening between any of the rival contestants for supremacy in China, I deprecate very strongly this Motion that has been moved from the other side. I think it is exceedingly unfortunate that it should be done and that it should be framed in a form which seems to attempt to make party capital out of the trouble. It certainly puts in a very awkward position those who supported the Government owing to the confidence they had in the wording of the Foreign Secretary. If we vote against it, it might be interpreted as if we were going back upon the support we gave to the policy of the Foreign Secretary. On the other hand, if we vote for it, it looks to me as if we were invited to support a Motion which is a flagrant attempt to make party capital out of a real trouble. It is very unfortunate at this moment, when we are by no means out of this trouble. I should like anyone on that bench who knows the facts, or anyone who has taken the trouble to follow them carefully, to predict that this thing is at an end. It will be time enough to move votes of thanks and congratulation when the whole situation is clear. It is by no means clear. A debate is inevitable in the country. You cannot avoid it. The hon. Member who has just sat down, who spoke with such lucidity and force—and I congratulate him on the statement of his point of view—was bound, in the course of his election, to fight the issue, and you cannot avoid it in two other elections, but I should have thought it was not the business of those who are supporting the Government in the very delicate task they have undertaken in foreign policy to unnecessarily provoke discussions upon these issues.
Debates in the House of Commons are very much more serious than speeches in the country from the point of view of what happens in China, and if a challenge is thrown out from the other side of the House to hon. Members on this side who 2143 take a different view, they are hound to present their ease. I do not think in the present condition of China that is helpful to the Foreign Office. Whoever speaks for the Government can hardly feel very happy that this is a wise move to undertake at the present moment. See what is happening there. You have got the Northern forces split up among five or six different factions, and it looks at present as if there where a division even in the Southern forces, and there is a very serious conflict, which may decide the future of China, between the moderate forces among the Cantonese and the extremists. That may decide the whole future of the East. If the extremists win, it means that there is a possibility that you may have 400,000,000 added to another 100,000,000 of a Communist Empire. That is something between a third and a fourth of the populations of the world. I should have thought at this moment it was undesirable to promote debates and raise issues which, telegraphed over there, may have a very determining effect one way or the other upon that very issue. Take the speech delivered by the hon. Member. I think lie was bound to put his case. He put it quite fairly and moderately from his point of view, and no doubt there is great force in it, although in my judgment I think the policy of the Foreign Secretary is not in the least incompatible with an improvement in the labour conditions of China. So that when he was putting that case, it was a good case in itself, but it was not a case against the Foreign Secretary's policy. As I understand the Foreign Secretary's policy, it is one of non-interference with China and of allowing China to settle its own industrial affairs. We cannot from here dictate to China and say "You are only paying 1s. 6d. a day, or whatever it is, and you have got to pay 2s. 6d. or 3s. 6d." That would be an unwarrantable interference with the affairs of China. You can say: "We will not use our force to make it impossible for the Chinese themselves "—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
If you do that, it is imposing British laws on China. We certainly could not do that without attempting to govern China from here. That is not the demand of Mr. Eugene Chen. I followed it very closely, and I have been re-reading it. His demand is that he and his men should be allowed to govern China in their own way, without any dictation with regard to industrial laws or wages or anything else from here. Our business is to help China to govern itself. It is because I believe the Foreign Secretary is honestly of that opinion that I support him, but that makes it a very serious blunder, in my judgment, to raise a discussion of this kind by supporters of the Government, who have already a majority in the House of Commons, which is by no means confined to their own Members, in support of the policy of the Government. [Interruption.] I was at another meeting, and I may be at a disadvantage in not having heard the whole of the Debate, hut I am only looking at the Motion on the Paper. Whoever spoke, spoke in support of his own Motion, and therefore that speech was relevant. As one who voted the other day in favour of this force going to China, I say quite frankly, looking at the recent events, I think that even now the Government have been justified, not because of anything which has been done by the Cantonese, but because of the eruption of this bandit general from the North, the very person whom we were all told was our friend—Chang. He is referred to in our own Press as the bandit lord, and I think he has quite justified that name. He has attempted to levy demands of over £1.000.000 upon the merchants there; he has tried to break into our settlement with force, and, from what I saw in the "Daily Telegraph," with revolvers flourished in the face of the men there. When the Durhams turned him back, he sent word to say that it was purely a misunderstanding. [Interruption.] Well if he had succeeded in going there I should like to know what would have happened. I say quite frankly, I think that that incident in itself has been a justification; but the more you say that, the more provocative, the more unwise and, I would say, the more foolish is a Motion of this kind, coming from behind the Government Benches—a Motion which tries to 2145 make party capital, which congratulates the Government, and which approves of their policy. That might be quite right if you were giving a peerage to somebody at the end for their very successful conduct of affairs. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
What did you get? it you start that business, I shall have something to say. But, at any rate, I say, as one who has voted for the Government, that this is an exceedingly unwise Motion to move in this House, and I think if the Government lend the slightest countenance to it they will be responsible, in my judgment, for dragging into party politics affairs of this kind, that ought to be as national as you can possibly make them. You cannot always get unanimity on these subjects, but, so far as you can, I think it, is the business of the Government to secure the nation, beyond the limits of party, for a great enterprise of this kind. If they give countenance to this sort of thing they will attempt something that will make all these great Imperial and all these great foreign questions tend to become party questions. Therefore, I wish to be against it.
§ Captain FAIRFAX
The right hen. Gentleman who has just sat down has accused us on this side of the House of adopting an unwise policy, and I do not think I shall be going too far if I say exactly the same thing about some of his speeches. The right hon. Gentleman is a past master at the art of making mischief. We have not to carry our minds back very far to remember the attitude adopted by the right hon. Gentleman during the late national calamity. If we do that, I think we shall not be greatly disturbed by his censure of the Motion which we have put down to-night. I hope that the Government will not be at all disturbed by what the right hon. Gentleman has said, and that they will give their support to this Motion. I do not know who is going to reply from the Front Bench, but I hope that whoever does reply will heartily endorse this Motion. I think it is a good thing that this Motion has been put down because, if as has been said by hon. Members opposite, the electors of Stourbridge were so far deceived as to return the 2146 hon. Member for that Division (Mr. Wellock) on the Chinese policy of the Labour party, then it is high time that that policy should be further exposed in the country. If Debates could be broadcast, I think that this Debate should be broadcast to the country, so that the country might fully understand what the policy of the Labour party is on the Chinese question.
I should like to avail myself of this opportunity of adopting the usual courtesy of the House and of congratulating the hon. Member for Stourbridge on his very sincere, able, and, if I may he allowed to say so, well-expressed speech. But I think he has misrepresented the case. However good his intentions might have been I feel that what he said in regard to the Nationalist aspirations in China is not really relevant to the question of sending a Defence Force to defend our own nationals. It seems to me perfectly immaterial what the aspirations of the Cantonese Government are. The duty of His Majesty's Government is to defend the lives of our citizens if they are in danger, quite irrespective of what policies and what national aspirations the contending Chinese parties may adopt. It has been represented that His Majesty's Government is siding with the anti-Cantonese forces and with the anti-Nationalist forces. It seems to me that the attitude of the Government should be to defend the lives of our citizens when they are in peril, and that it is perfectly immamaterial what the policies of the contending forces are. I think it has been clearly demonstrated, by what we have heard in the Press that the sending of a Defence Force to Shanghai has had a good effect. I do not agree with the Amendment—that the despatch of the force was ostentatious. Nor do I agree with Lord Grey—for whom I have a great respect—in holding that ostentation should have been entirely avoided. It seems to me that, in sending out a force of this kind, a very had effect would have been caused if that force had been smuggled out by stealth, as if the Government were ashamed of sending them out. It may be advisable to do good by stealth at times, but in these circumstances, the sending out of a Defence Force of this kind to protect our people, I think it was very advisable to let it be widely known.
2147 It was a very good thing that our nationals in China should know that the Government was sending out this force for their protection, and I think if the Government had exercised unusual powers of censorship in regard to the news of the sending of this defence force the people at home would have had very grave reasons for suspecting that something curious was going on. I hope we shall have the opportunity to-night of hearing the naval expert of the Labour party, but it seems to me that he is in conflict with the views of the Commander-in-Chief at the China Station if he says that the people on the spot were sufficient to deal with the troubles at Shanghai. Figures which can be substantiated show that the strength of 600, which was the limit of the defence force available before the troops were sent out, was quite insufficient in the view of the Commander-in-Chief of the China Station, Mr. O'Malley, and all cur responsible officials out there. They were all agreed as to the necessity for the despatch of the defence force. If the hon. Member, as a naval expert, cares to set up his opinion against the opinion of those in authority on the spot, who are non-party he is taking a great deal on himself. I propose to support the Motion, and I shall be glad to see hon. Members opposite divide against it, because it will be of very great value to me in my constituency.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
We have had an explanation of the reasons for the Motion, in the final sentence of the hon. Member, when he stated that it will be very useful to him in his constituency. Some of us feel that this is a question of far greater importance than that. I have had sent to me to-day copies of some letters which have just arrived from China, written by women who are engaged in mission work. I think it would be interesting to the House to get the point of view of these women N, ho are facing the dangers which hat, e been discussed in this House in relation to this question. These women are all in official positions, acting as secretaries of Y.W.C.A. branches in different Farts of China. Writing on the 26th January, one says:Whatever one thinks of all this, there can he no doubt that there is new life in China. One gets the impression of an enor- 2148 mous amount of energy. There is thinking and discussion going on among all kinds of people, and it is not something engineered from the outside. It is Chinese people doing their own thinking and striving, and whatever the immediate results, that in itself is advance. Nationalism is a fact in China and will continue to be so. There are minor advantages to be laid to the credit of the new regime. Wuchang streets are cleaner than they ever were before. Here and there improvements are being made. The posters and notices painted on the walls are, generally speaking, quite ornamental. On the whole there is more order in the streets.In a letter of the 16th February, from Shanghai, the writer says:Many important groups are occupied urging the Governments through their representatives at home to conciliatory measures. They base their appeals on the imperative necessity of understanding the deeper purpose of the present nationalistic movements, and urge them not to be misled by the exaggerated reports of incidents unavoidable in periods of great social and national change. They are asking people at home to support the Government's decision to negotiate on outstanding issues, and not to permit inevitable incidents to deflect them from a friendly attitude. They are asking that there shall be avoidance of provocative publicity concerning military measures during the period of negotiation, for, through it all, this is interpreted, as I have said, as threatening Chinese nationalism, and preparing for less liberal approach Courageous, imaginative step may alter the whole situation. Along these lines those who are prepared to take our interpretation of this pregnant time are urged to do their own 'bit' with their own friends and in joining with any other groups, making protests to Governments, and pleading for imagination in finding a way out.The letter also proceeds to describe the scare headlines. It says:Newspapers here are playing on the situation by the use of scare headlines which are calculated to bring about a real war mentality. Especially is this true on posters, which have unqualified statements. Other times the headline is most provocative and the text does not conform to the implications of it.The letter also says:The Joint Committee has sent mild letters to the Editors of all the papers asking that each will do its share to lessening unintelligent scare mentality. This organisation has a membership of seven women's organisations in Shanghai, representing six nationalities, including two Chinese groups. The understanding and solidarity that have been achieved in the past years of working together is such that not willingly would the Joint Committee see the stirring up of unnecessary feeling by ill-considered statements.2149 I hope the statements made in this House will not reach the Chinese public. The whole tenor of the letters from these women in the mission field is to the effect that if they are to be successful in commending our Christian religion to that great nation they are hindered rather than helped by the use of force, even when it is used for the protection of their own lives. I speak as a woman and I hay that women have got to that stage in thinking of this national problem. Men can no longer protect them by physical force, and in the 20th century it is time we got away from the type of mind that was suitable to the period of the Indian Mutiny. The Chinese nation is awaking; there is no doubt about the way in which the idea of Chinese nationality is sweeping through the country. The Cantonese army has been welcomed in the towns and cities by the mass of the people. Hon. Members opposite sneer when we on these benches speak on these questions. They seem to forget that many of these men serving abroad ore our relations, and we know what they have to go through in these distant countries. An hon. Member opposite spoke about the kind heartedness of the "Tommies." De not we know it? Are they not the sons and brothers of the people whom we represent? If it was left to the ordinary rank and file soldier, there would be no violence in China; there would he no violence used in relation to the Chinese people. It is because of our own personal associations with these other countries, that we are able to speak with a great deal of confidence.
We do not regard China as merely an opportunity for trade exploitation or the Chinese people as somebody who will supply large quantities of cheap labour to invested capital. We regard them as human beings, the children of one Father, who are now trying to reach a stage of development—having emerged from their old civilisation, which has been the admiration of the world—and are waking up to form new associations and to a new life. Great Britain has introduced industrial methods into China. Other countries have also, but Great Britain has always been regarded as the pioneer and I do not see why hon. Mem- 2150 bers opposite should be upset when we say we have taken industrial methods into China. It is a fact that a great deal of the textile machinery in China is exported from Bury. They have started with the most up-to-date mills from this country end America, and yet the conditions of labour in these mills are worse than they were 100 years ago in our country. At the International Labour Conference at Geneva the Indian representative fully recognised, in a way that does not seem to receive the appreciation of hon. Members opposite, that with these Western methods of production there must be Western methods of regulating the conditions of industry. Our Indian friends have adopted these, and are anxious that we should use all the influence we possess through our international affiliations not merely to get Chinese labour organised to the point of effective negotiation but also to do everything we can to assist the growth in China of the regulation of labour in every possible way.
In that respect the Shanghai Committee is not without blame. I am prepared to admit that there are certain firms, Jardine Mathieson for example, that have tried to give a lead in a certain direction, but there has not been that united support from the British residents in Shanghai that would enable them to get a quorum. There was not that support amongst the British residents that would enable them to make the necessary order. When that happens year after year in an attempt to get regulations for child labour, there is every reason to say that the British traders over there had not done what they could to secure the better regulation of labour. That is the gravamen of the whole situation. While nationalism is a primary cause of the great movement, there is the secondary cause of the conditions under which industrialism is being introduced. There is the cause of bad housing conditions consequent on bringing this agricultural people into the towns, consequent upon bringing young women and girls of different ages from the country districts into the manufacturing centres in unregulated positions. All these are contributory causes to the unrest, and to what is described by hon. Members opposite, and I think described wrongly, 2151 as anti-British feeling. It is not anti-British feeling. It is anti-foreign feeling against those nations—unfortunately we are most prominent among them—who appear by their actions to be setting themselves against the development of the nationalisation of China. It is from that point of view that I, together with the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), deplore the mischievous Resolution that has been moved. I support most wholeheartedly the Amendment, because I believe that it is in the best interests of peace and of good relationship between the two countries.
§ Mr. HANBURY
I fear that members of the Labour party are suffering under the damnosa hereditas of an Opposition. They have to oppose His Majesty's Government and its policy of protection of our nationals in China, and I think that the Amendment, which says that the Defence Force was sent out with too much advertisement, is entirely beside the mark. Surely the advertisement that was given to the Shanghai Defence Force was entirely the work of the newspapers and was not in any way organised by the Government. The Government sent out the Force with the greatest expedition and good management conceivable, of which the whole nation must be proud. When we come to advertisement, surely one of the best objects of sending out a Force is to advertise it thoroughly to the Chinese themselves, to point out the objects of the expedition, which are merely those of the defence of life and property and in no sense whatever interference in the private and national affairs of China. We are out, as our Foreign Secretary has very rightly informed the nation, for the protection only of life and property, and to take no part whatever in the domestic affairs of China.
Another point made by the hon. Member opposite was very illuminating. Referring to the Shanghai Defence Force he said, "They are your troops, not our's". That at once brands the Labour party as taking an entirely un-national point of view in regard to this expedition for the protection of our nationals in China. Hon. Members opposite talk about the necessity for diplomacy and not force. If you wish for peace prepare for war! That is a very good saying and, espe- 2152 cially when dealing with Orientals, you want to show that you are fully prepared to protect life and property and your own interests. We know that Shanghai and other treaty ports have been built up by the industry and adventurous spirit of our forefathers who went to the East to trade and to find an outlet for our manufactures. We know that probably nearly 100,000 people in this country are dependent on the outlet of our trade in China. Not only Lancashire but Yorkshire, not only woollens and cottons but other industries are affected. It is not only the manual workers at home or the operatives in the mills whom we are out to protect. We are out to protect the black-coated gentlemen abroad in China who are carrying on office work, although they may not be actual manual workers. One Member on the Opposition side spoke about "the exploitation of the Chinese people" and "the policy of exploitation which has reduced our trade in the last three years." I believe the reduction of our trade in China is far more due to the propaganda of hon. Gentlemen opposite and their friends in Moscow.
I had brought to my notice yesterday certain trade figures translated from a paper published in Russia. This paper was glorying in the reduction of Chinese trade with this country in the last three years. That is a sufficient commentary on the argument about the exploitation of the Chinese people. We know that exploitation is carried on by the Chinese themselves to a far greater extent than by us, and our cotton mills in Shanghai, as has been admitted by the Opposition, are better managed than those run by the Chinese and Japanese. We are out on all sides to improve conditions of labour in China, and it can only be done by our holding on to Shanghai and by increasing our prestige in the East. Therefore, I join with the Mover of the Motion in congratulating the Government on the extremely efficient and prompt way in which they sent out this defence force to Shanghai. If I ventured to criticise the Government in any small detail, it would be, perhaps, in their policy with regard to the settlement in China, and their apparent wish to give up all our rights there as soon as possible. We must examine carefully the results of allowing the Chinese to manage big affairs in China. If we take the case of the port 2153 of Tsingtau which was given up by the Germans after the War, to the Chinese, my latest information is that the port is going back, and that trade is failing under Chinese management. Are these enormous interests in our Treaty ports and in the international settlement to be allowed to suffer by too quick a delivery to Chinese management. I, therefore, appeal to the Government to look carefully and scrupulously into the question of the future management of these great interests. Before sitting down, I should like once more to emphasise, as a trustee for very large interests in China, my gratitude to the Government for the foresight and promptness with which they tackled this very serious menace to the most important interests, not only of people in Shanghai, but of many thousands of people in Great Britain.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
We have had a most remarkable speech from the hon. and learned Member for Swindon (Mr. Banks), and what is still more remarkable is the fact that he has not remained in his place to hear the rest of the Debate. [An HON. MEMBER: "He did remain."] I do not object to the hon. and gallant Member for Honiton (Sir C. Morrison-Bell) attacking my colleagues on these benches, because, after all, that is what he is there for, and, of course, I do not really object to his making references to my own personal position, and I am sorry I was a little heated, but I think it was extraordinarily foolish for the hon. and learned Member for Swindon to make reflections on Mr. Chen. At present Mr. Chen is responsible really for the safety of great numbers of British people, and my authority for saying that is the Foreign Secretary himself. We know the Foreign Secretary's position in this business. He has always known that in dealing with a country like China, where one of the greatest movements in the history of our time is taking place, and probably the greatest event since the French Revolution in the history of the world, nothing really in the end can be accomplished by force. It must be done eventually by understanding. The sailors have a word in their vocabulary known as "shanghaied." A sailor is sometimes knocked on the head and taken to a lodging-house keeper and shipped on board some outgoing ship, and he wakes up to find himself at sea in a ship of 2154 which he has no knowledge. He has been shanghaied. What has happened is that the Foreign Secretary has been shanghaied by the die-hard elements in the Cabinet, who have rushed these troops out in defiance, on this occasion, of the much wiser Foreign Secretary.
I asked a Question to-day about the very important city of Wuhu. It is a very large city, which I remember as the dirtiest city in China—[Laughter]—but it is of considerable importance from the trading point of view. Hon. Members may laugh, but there are 140 foreigners in that city, including 60 British, and it has been subject to rioting and looting, and the whole of the women and children have left. The men are sleeping—our nationals—on board ship at night for the most part, though they are trying to carry on their business. I have great sympathy with these people, who are trying under great difficulties to carry on business in China. They arc miles up the river, and there is no kind of protection for them, really, but in taking refuge on board a man-of-war, except that the Foreign Secretary ended his reply to me to-day by saying that these disturbances have been brought to the notice of Mr. Chen by our representative, who has asked him to telegraph instructions for the protection of British life and property and the suppression of anti-British agitation. This is the Mr. Chen whom the hon. and learned Member for Swindon comes into this House this evening specially to insult and upbraid. The policy of the Government, which is praised by the hon. and gallant Member for Honiton and his colleagues, his confederates, is very injurious to the lasting British interests in China, which are commerce and trade, and, in the future years, friendship with a people who, when they have regenerated themselves and put their house in order, will be a great power in the world. In trying to arrange the future affairs of an Empire like ours, we must not look three months ahead, but 30 years ahead, if we can, and in 30 years' time China will be a very great force in the world of whose friendship we may be glad.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
there are a few remarks I would like to make about some of the speeches to which I have listened. May I begin with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the 2155 Leader of the Liberal party? As I understand, he objected to this Motion because it dragged in party polities, but, surely, if anyone has been guilty of making this a party matter, it is the right hon. Gentleman himself. He makes that speech almost before the echoes of the speech he made at Bradford have died down. The hon. Member who spoke last made the imputation against my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Banks) of having come to this House to-night for the sole purpose of abusing Mr. Chen. I listened lo that speech, and, if I may say so, I think it was one of the best speeches made in this House for some time. The impression on my mind was that the leading motive of the speech was not an abuse of Mr. Chen. It was pointing out quite justly that the Socialist party in supporting Mr. Chen were attacking our own country, our own Government, and that they were supporting a man who had no claim in any way to represent the people he was leading.
As I take it, the attitude of His Majesty's Government, which we on this side support, is not in any way hostile to Mr. Chen. We want to be at peace with Mr. Chen, but we are not going to put ourselves under the power of Mr. Chen and put the lives of our countrymen at his mercy and the mercy of those he may not be able to control. I well remember a few days ago, when the movement of troops was first discussed, it was pointed out to the Prime Minister that the danger did not arise from organised troops acting under Mr. Chen's orders, but that there were chances of mobs coming down from his armies and soldiers getting out of his control, and that it was for that purpose that troops were sent to protect our people. The hon. Lady, who spoke from the Front Opposition Bench, made, if I may say so, quite unwarranted assertions against our firms in Shanghai. I have a certain amount of knowledge of the work of those firms, and of the incident to which she referred. She did not mention it, but I gathered the reason there was not a quorum was the absence of a British representative.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
The British representatives are more than two-thirds of the whole, and could make a quorum.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
I am not in a position to state that my facts are correct, but I was informed by an authority I believe to be correct that the reason there was not a quorum was, in the main, due to the fact that the foreign people on that body did not attend the meeting, and could not be got. Be that as it may, what I believe is uncontested is that not only the big firms but, in the main, all the firms acting under British control in China, have done what has baen done towards the raising of the level of industrial life there, and to come to this House and make a speech, which by its implication, if not definitely said means that those firms in China are in any way responsible for the level of industrial life in China being low, is unworthy of the hon. Member.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
If the hon. and gallant Member will permit me, I would like to say that the point which we persistently impress upon this House, and elsewhere, is that our firms are the firms which know what are the conditions here, and are the people who ought to set a good example with those conditions elsewhere.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
I gather that the hon. Lady has so far altered her position—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not at all."]to say that she is not accusing our firms, of not taking the lead in China, but is accusing them of not going as far as they might have done. Is that her position?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
They have not altered the conditions, which are still 12 hours a day, and the employment of young children.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
I am very glad to have tad that statement about a 12-hours day, because it was brought to my notice in this building quite recently,, by people closely connected with the mills in China, who had just come from China, that one of the difficulties which one of the firms had when they made a proposal to shorten the hours was that the workpeople themselves went on strike. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laugh, hut that is an absolute statement of fact, for which I was given full authority. It was given to several hon. Members in my presence, 2157 and I believe it to be perfectly true. However, I will pass from that. The Motion declares that the Government did right in sending troops to China when they did, and congratulates them on the fact that they were sent at the right time. Can anyone doubt it, in view of what has happened in China during the last few days? Look at the alteration in the situation there. The troops may not have been sent soon enough, nobody can say; but what we can definitely say is that they were not sent one week too soon. I wonder whether in those letters which were read from the Opposition Front Bench there was one word to the effect that the writers regretted that the troops had been sent and wished them to be taken away? If there was, it was remarkable that the hon. Lady did not quote it; and if there was not, I think it would have been only right for the hon. Lady to make that statement, and not leave it to come from these benches.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
If that is put as a question to me, I would reply that the date of the letter was the 16th February, and the effect of it was that no military effort should be made.
§ Brigadier-General CHARTERIS
I will not take up more time, but I will only remark that several times in the course of my life it has been my fortune to be in a position in which the lives —anyhow the safety—of British women were dependent on the presence of troops. I should he very sorry if those ladies had had to trust to pious aspirations and to letters.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Captain King)
I only wish to say a few words before the Debate closes. Before dealing with the actual points in the Motion and in the Amendment, I would like to deal with the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) as to making a party question of such an important matter of policy. I would like to point out to the House that this Motion is in the nature of a Vote of Confidence in the policy of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman himself acknowledged in his speech that he had already supported the policy of the Government by voting with the Government on the Supplementary Estimate. I do not see that it would be 2158 consistent on his part either to go into the Lobby against the Government on this Motion or to abstain from voting. He has also approved the policy of the Government in sending out the Shanghai Defence Force, therefore, he can only be consistent by continuing his support. When he describes this Motion as turning a matter of serious policy into party politics, I would point out to him and to the House that the turning of the whole China question into party politics first occurred from the Opposition side. [Hon, MEMBERS "No!"] The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just, spoken pointed out that the right hon. Gentleman for Carnarvon Boroughs was not altogether innocent of that himself. But even before the House met and before the question of our China policy was ever discussed in this House, we know that the Socialist party outside the House had already started this question of China as a party question and that they had started this "Hands Off China" campaign and were trying to force on the Government a policy which was opposed to the Government policy and were going behind the Government in treating directly with Mr. Chen in China.
Apart from the criticisms of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, I take this Motion really as a very unusual but very pleasant appreciation of the work which was carried through in sending out this Defence Force. I had the opportunity last week, in introducing the Supplementary Estimate, of giving the House the details of the despatch of the force and I am quite sure that the words which have been said here this evening by Members on this side of the House will be very greatly appreciated not only by the staffs and commands of the Army but also by those officials of the Board of Trade to whose excellent work the despatch of the force was so largely due.
The main criticisms of the policy of the Government which has been brought forward by the Opposition has been that we should have relied entirely on negotiation. They say that there was no necessity whatever for sending this force and that we should have relied on negotiation. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment, if he was closely in touch with the Leader of his own party, would realise that the Leader of the Opposition has already paid tribute to 2159 the foreign policy of negotiation as carried out by the Government. In the forefront of that policy has been negotiation—negotiation the whole time. They have been unceasing in persevering in the policy of negotiation. That policy of negotiation has been carried on with both sides and with all parties in China.
Another part of the policy of the Government comes in there, and that is neutrality. We have maintained strict neutrality as between the contending parties in China. We have negotiated with the Nationalists in the South and we have negotiated with the war lords of the North. I think in that matter the record of the Government shows up extremely well from the point of view of neutrality, as compared with that of the Opposition. The Opposition took entirely the part of the Nationalists of the South and they seemed to ignore that the people of the North held their views just as honestly and sincerely as those in the South whom the Opposition are supporting. Throughout His Majesty's Government have shown absolute and strict neutrality.
One other part of their policy has been negotiation, neutrality and the protection of its own nationals. It was the protection of its own nationals side by side with negotiations that determined the Government to send out to Shanghai a defence force. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment gave certain figures from the "Manchester Guardian,' and he stated that there were between 6,000 and 8,000 armed men in addition to the Marines in Shanghai before we despatched the Shanghai Defence Force. If that is the fact on which the hon. Member is basing his argument, then it is a false basis, because it is not correct to say that there were anything like 6,000 ar 8,000 armed men in Shanghai before the Defence Force was despatched. The hon. Member also asked whether it was true that the British alone were providing troops and Marines for the defence of the national settlement of Shanghai. T can assure him it is not true, because detachments have been specially sent to Shanghai for the protection of their own nationals by France, America, Japan, Italy, Spain, and Holland. Detachments 2160 of the forces of those countries are either already landed at Shanghai or they are in ships specially sent for the purpose. In regard to the defence of Shanghai, we are acting in conjunction with all the other Powers interested in the national settlement.
Another point which has been raised by the hon. Lady opposite (Miss Bond-field) is the one in regard to our aggressive spirit. I would like to say that there is no aggressive spirit in sending troops to protect the lives of our own nationals. I have already pointed out the strictness of our neutrality between the contending parties in China. We have no intention of interfering with the affairs of China except for the defence of our own nationals, and we are determined that they shall receive the full protection to which they are entitled, and that was the reason why a defend c force was sent to China. Many hon. Members will have read of the reception Which the Defence Force received at Shanghai, not only from Britishers and other iioreigners, but also from the Chinese themselves. As has already been stated, wherever he goes the British Tommy is a great favourite and he has already made a favourable impression on the Chinese with whom he has come into contact.
We hope the mission on which he has been sent may be attained sufficiently by his mere presence. We have already seen that no further move has been made by the Southern army towards Shanghai. We have already en that our troops have been useful in turning back armed bodies of men.belonging to one or other of the Chirese Armies. If any armed bodies of men were allowed to enter the International Settlement, there is no doubt fighting would commence, and we should have warfare within Shanghai, with all its dreadful results. I hope that after this Debate the House will pass this Resolution, which is really a Vote of Confidence in the Government, and an appreciation of the work of organsation.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided Ayes, 241; Noes, 116.2163
|Division No. 45.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gates, Percy||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Murchison, Sir Kenneth|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Albery, Irving James||Goff, Sir Park||Newman, Sir R, H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Gower, Sir Robert||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Oakley, T.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Greene, W, P. Crawford||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Grotrian, H. Brent||Penny, Frederick George|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Atkinson, C.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Perring, Sir William George|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hall, vice Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Barnett Major Sir Richard||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frame)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Hammersley, S. S.||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Hanbury, C.||Raine, W.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ramsden, E.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Harland, A.||Remer, J. R.|
|Berry, Sir George||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Betterton, Henry B||Hawke, John Anthony||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Blundell, F. N.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Henderson, Capt. R, R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Ruggies Brise, Mafor E. A.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Herbert,S.(York,N.R.,Scar. & Wh'by)||Rye, F. G.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Hills, Major John Waller||Salmon, Major I.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hilton, Cecil||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Sandon, Lord|
|Burman, J. B.||Holt, Captain H. P.||Savory, S. S.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland,Whiteh'n)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth.S.)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Huntingfield, Lord||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hutchison, G. A.Clark (Midl'n&P'bl's)||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Stanley, Col. Hon.G. F (Will'sden, E.)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Jacob, A. E.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Jephcott, A. R.||Streatfelld, Captain S. R.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Cope, Major William||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Couper, J. B.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S)|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Lamb, J. Q.||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon, George R.||Waddington, R.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Crcckshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Davies, Maj. Geo.F.(Somerset,Yeovil)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Loder. J. de V.||Wells, S. R.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Daiymple-|
|Dixey, A. C.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lumley, L. R.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Ellis, R. G.||McLean, Major A.||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|England, Colonel A.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-S.-M.)||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Withers, John James|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Malone, Major P. B.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Womersley, W. J.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Margesson, Captain D.||Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)|
|Fielden, E. B.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Finburgh, S.||Merriman, F. B.||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Sir Clive Morrison-Bell and Mr. Mitchell Banks.|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (File, West)||Hayes, John Henry||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Adamson, W. M. (Stall., Cannock)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Sexton, James|
|Ammon, Charles George||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bllston)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Baker, Walter||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Barnet, A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Barr, J.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Smillie, Robert|
|Batey, Joseph||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Kennedy, T.||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Bromfield, William||Lansbury, George||Snell, Harry|
|Bromley, J.||Lawrence, Susan||Stamford, T. W.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Lawson, John James||Stephen, Carmpbell|
|Buchanan, G.||Lee, F.||Stewart, J (St. Rollox)|
|Buxton, Rt Hon. Noel||Lindley, F. W.||Sullivan, J.|
|Cape, Thomas||Lowth, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lunn, William||Taylor, R. A.|
|Cluse, W. S.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Clynes, Right Hon. John R.||Mackinder, W.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Compton, Joseph||MacLaren, Andrew||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Connolly, M.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Townend, A. E.|
|Cove, W. G.||March, S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Mosley, Oswald||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Dennison, R.||Murnin, H.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Duncan, C.||Naylor, T. E.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Dunnico, H.||Oliver, George Harold||Welsh, J. C|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Palin, John Henry||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Paling, W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Greenall, T.||Potts, John S.||Windsor, Walter|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Purcell, A. A.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Riley, Ben||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hardle, George D,||Ritson, J.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Whiteley.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks,W.R.,Elland)|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
That this House approves of the foresight of the Government and congratulates it on its prompt action in taking steps to safeguard the lives of British subjects endangered by the civil war in China,