§ Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD
I beg to move,That this House deplores the lack of preparation by the Government and the military character of the British delegation which seriously contributed to the failure of the recent naval conference at Geneva, the slow progress made by the League of Nations Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference, and the refusal of the Government to accept the principle of arbitration and promote a scheme of international security guaranteed by the League of Nations.I see there is an Amendment on the Paper which proceeds on the lines that while God is in His Heaven, and this Government is in office, all is right with the world. I congratulate the Prime Minister on having such very docile followers, and I assure him that he is the envy of every other leader in the House. What I propose to do this afternoon is primarily to draw the attention of the House to the situation in which we now find ourselves in relation to Geneva. This country is solemnly pledged by every Peace Treaty that it signed from 1919, to promote peace and disarmament. Lord Cecil, in another place, gave one of the most illuminating speeches upon the mind and the actions of this Government that I have ever read. He pointed out that when he went to Geneva he was charged to carry out certain words so far as he possibly could; but that whenever it came to a practical proposal that would effect disarmament, he was hampered in his actions, and as he declined to play such a palpably double part he resigned his position as a member of the Commission. He justified that action of his by a narration of events and experiences which is absolutely unanswerable. What this House has to do is to compel the Government to carry out at Geneva the palpable intention of the country, namely, to go ahead as quickly as possible with disarmament, with arbitration, and with international security. If we do not do so now, a generation is arriving which has not had our war experience, and which, in consequence, will be as easily misled as this generation was a few years ago. I, 2090 therefore, am delighted that at the last meeting at Geneva the hands of the larger States were forced by a revolt of the smaller States, and that resolutions were forced upon our own Government and its representatives at Geneva which were not in accordance with the speech in which the Foreign Secretary opened the proceedings at Geneva as far as we were concerned. What happened was this. The Assembly was compelled to pass a resolution outlawing aggressive war and declaring that a spur ought to be applied to the Preparatory Disarmament Conference so that it might hasten to a satisfactory conclusion. The resolution was:That war of aggression is an international crime and that pacific means of settling disputes of every description should be adopted.I wish to ask the Government what they mean by the part of the resolution which I have just quoted. I understand that the words "of aggression," limiting the resolution to that class of war, were inserted on the initiative of our representative. Is the Foreign Secretary prepared to tell us what he means by aggression? Is he, at least, prepared to define an aggressor? This is a very important point, as everybody knows who has had a hand in negotiating on this question. I understand that the original intention of the mover of the resolution was to leave it merely "That war is an international crime" and the motive of that was to attempt to fill up the gap of Article 15 of the Covenant. Among the very voluminous discussions in connection with the consideration of the instrument known as the Protocol, no specific question has received greater attention than that of what our commitments are under the Covenant. I am sorry to see that some representative papers argue like this. It is perfectly true, they say, that Article 15 of the Covenant commits us to certain military action under certain conditions, but, they add, although we have signed that Article and put our names to it, when the occasion arises we shall say that the conditions have not been fulfilled. Instead of that Article and our signature to that Article being a guarantee that we belong to a League of Nations the purpose and constitution of which are to ally nations to punish those who engage in war, we simply say it was all a pious opinion, and so far 2091 as a guarantee and a pledge are concerned, it is so many words and nothing more. I venture to say that if a nation wished its name and its pledge to be degraded in the eyes of the world, it could not take a better line of argument, of defence, and of exposition than that.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Austen Chamberlain)
The right hon. Gentleman said Article 15; I think he meant Article 16.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
Thank you. One gets rather muddled, but I am always glad to get the definite guidance of the Foreign Secretary. It is the Article where, when a war has broken out, the Council meets and considers what military action ought to be taken—that is where what I call the open obligation is—and it has been argued, as I say, even in such a reputable organ as the "New Statesman" a few weeks ago, that, as a matter of fact, although anybody but ourselves might say and believe honestly that we had undertaken, in signing that Article, a definite and specific obligation, nevertheless it is so worded, and there are so many loopholes, that we ourselves could say, after the event had arisen—that is where it is serious—that, as a matter of fact, we never undertook a specific obligation at all. I do not know; there are some of us old-fashioned enough yet to believe, and to try to carry out our beliefs quite definitely, that if the name of this country is put to a Covenant, we are going to fulfil our obligations with extra measure rather than with less measure than the other parties to that obligation. Therefore, I argue—and my hon. Friends around me agree with me—that it is all to the interests of the League of Nations, and particularly to the interests of this country and this Empire, that all doubt about that obligation that we undertake under that Article should be removed by a re-defining, not extending the obligation, but making what obligations are imposed upon us by it so definite, that nobody can have any doubts as to what we have put our name to and what we are bound to do when the event should arise.
When the right hon. Gentleman caused the words limiting war that was declared to be an international crime to only wars of aggression, did he have in his mind a meaning of aggression, or is it once again 2092 a phrase thrown out, a mere sop to get him over his difficulties and enable the Council to go on with its business and imagine that it was doing something that was worth doing? An attempt has been made to define aggression. It is a very simple attempt, and, I think, successful. It is that if we set up arbitration, a something to which resort has to be made before a nation fights another, and if, first of all, one of the two nations concerned refuses to arbitrate, then that nation shall be regarded as the aggressor—a simple test; no question of opinion, but simply a question of ascertainable fact—or, in the event of both nations having agreed to arbitration, if one of the nations refuses to carry out the award of the arbitration, then that nation shall be regarded as the aggressor State. That, I think, is about as good a test of aggression as can be got, and I would like to know whether the Government now have adopted it as their test, or whether they have any test at all.
Then, regarding arbitration itself, I see that in this Resolution we have committed ourselves—because on a roll call this Resolution was carried unanimously—to the statement that specific means should be taken to settle disputes of every description. If that be so, why do we not sign the optional Clause? Surely, we cannot say now that there is any reason in principle—we will take it stage by stage—surely, if we have assented to those words, we can no longer argue that the Government see any objection in principle to signing the optional Clause. But it has gone further than that. If a Government at an international body agree that in their opinion a specific attempt should be made to settle every outstanding question, then they not only say, "We agree to arbitration in principle," but "We see no obstacles in the way," otherwise they were bound to qualify their assent. Therefore, for the purpose of getting this Resolution through unanimously, the Government have said, "We agree to the principle of arbitration"—that is not much, but still—"we also agree that, so far as we know, so far as our experience as a Government is concerned, not merely the Government of an island off the coast of France, but the Government of an Empire, we are prepared to say that every question in dispute should be submitted 2093 to peaceful settlement." I do not know, if that is so, why we do not sign now the optional Clause in the Statute setting up the Hague Court.
I put it this way: Supposing the right hon. Gentleman, in the course of time, were to vacate the office which he holds, and to cross the Floor of the House of Commons, and he had a successor, and that successor was faced at some Committee or some meeting of the Assembly of the League with the wording of this Resolution to which the right hon. Gentleman has assented, and his successor was asked, "What is the objection to signing the optional Clause?" and he said, "Well, I always try to make good the words of my predecessors, and I do not see how I can make good those words without signing the optional Clause, and that is a sufficiently good reason for me for doing so," what ground would the right hon. Gentleman have for attacking him from this side of the House? He has given it all away, and he can twist as much as he likes, and he can try as much as he likes to evade making definite his general commitments, but the moment that somebody comes and does it for him, he is the very last man in the world who can offer any objection to that action having been taken. I should imagine that he would take it himself.
The question of arbitration, moreover, was raised in a very interesting way at another Conference that was held at Geneva—the Conference that is commonly known as the Coolidge Conference. I am sure everybody in this country regrets the way that that Conference was so completely muddled from beginning to end. Perhaps the Foreign Secretary will tell us why it was that he forgot to scout the field before he joined his battle; why it was—and it is a point upon which we do not really require Lord Cecil's statement, because everybody who followed the discussion could see it plainly—why was it that our representatives and the American representatives went into this Conference without first of all ascertaining whether they stood on any common ground whatever. They found, apparently, when they went there that the American naval minds had a certain political and naval object in view. The British naval mind and experience had 2094 a certain political and naval object in front of it. Neither of them—to vary the simile—put those cards on the table. There was no disclosure of the purpose that they had in mind when they defended the existence of a Navy, American or British. No disclosure was made of the purpose of the existence of a Navy, but they began straight away to discuss questions of tonnage, the size of cruisers, gross tonnage, the whole question of naval armaments, guns and all the rest of it. How, in those circumstances, was it possible for any agreement ever to be come to?
The fact of the matter is that, if we were Americans, we would look at our Navy, I think, very roughly in this way. We would say, "We do not require a Navy exactly to defend a long line of communications that run up, say from New Zealand and Australia right through the Straits Settlements and to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, with Singapore at the beginning of the bottle-neck for the purpose of concentrating a scheme of outlying defence." No, we would not regard that as our naval problem if we were America. If we were America we would say, "After the experience of the last War, with its blockade, with the use made of fleets by countries engaged in the War before we ourselves were engaged, we must have a Navy which in the event of another war will enable us to carry on our commerce without interruption, whoever happens to have navies engaged in war on the European side." Whereas our view is the view I have already indicated. Now there is no possibility of coming to any real and satisfactory agreement upon an assumption that, if war breaks out, America, Japan, ourselves and all the other nations can have navies that are going to be regulated by international agreement.
The only chance this country has of coming to a real agreement with America, and the only chance America has of coming to a real agreement with the rest of the world, is that we and America together should take steps to remove the chances of war, because only when the chances of war are removed shall we be able to come to an agreement upon naval questions. In view of our strategical position in the world we keep open certain lines of activity and movement on account of the map of the world. We 2095 construct our naval conceptions of strategy not from something that is devilish in ourselves, but from something that is awkward in the world, namely, the distribution of lands and of oceans which ever remain for us an insoluble and unshiftable problem. If we are to have a Navy that is manned, organised and proportioned in its important arms on the assumption that we have to use that Navy in time of war, then we have to look after ourselves and not after anybody else in making the agreement. What does that mean? That means that we are going to have another war. That means that we abandon for ever the much larger and more important question of security through peace by trying to get security in a way we have never got security yet, and rely on naval armaments, air armaments, and so on. The failure that was registered at Geneva I take as one of those things that I should call a natural failure, a failure in the nature of the case, and I say in pursuing security through peace, security through agreement, we will get round that problem, by trying to discover some means by which America and ourselves can come to an agreement, which means that we need not bother about navies with regard to each other at all.
I say that any agreement with America is far better than no agreement regarding naval armaments, because an agreement that gets round the naval problem is the only agreement that will enable us to proceed with disarmament in relation to each other. The difficulty and the mistake of the Government in pursuing war methods rather than peace methods at Geneva were also shown by the selection of the personnel. Certainly the problem was a political problem. If we were making an arrangement with America for co-operating in naval operations in the event of war, that was exactly the delegation to send. Supposing we were having conversations with America of the same nature that we had with Belgium about co-operating before the War. We had three separate conversations with Belgium then. Supposing the Geneva Conference with Japan and America had been a conference, not to discuss the possibility of disarmament, but for the purpose of discussing the possibility of 2096 cooperating in naval operations, it was exactly the right delegation to send. I would not have changed a man except that I am not at all sure the First Lord is not too much a humanitarian for the purpose I have assigned to him in such circumstances. But this delegation of experts for developing naval force for the use that naval force is to be put to had nothing to do with the business of the politician—absolutely nothing. The politician ought to resent their interference, as the wise politician would be very glad if his ideas as a politician were resented by those charged with service problems and the disposition of service forces.
The spheres are not absolutely separate. I have never said that, and I do not argue that. The spheres are not absolutely separate, but when the purpose of an international conference is to remove the causes that make possible trust to arms, then the service deputation is altogether out of place. Then the service men are merely advisers and nothing else. One could take case after case where those discussions have taken place—nominal discussions on disarmament; as a matter of fact not discussions on disarmament at all, but discussions on how you are going to reduce your expenditure on armaments in order that your various Chancellors of the Exchequer may manage to save upon their Budgets. I say I am not interested in disarmament as an economy move, although that is important. I am interested in disarmament as a means of removing the trust that the peoples of the world have upon the military arm in order to maintain peace and security for themselves.
What we are coming down to more and more is this, that if we are to give peace to Europe, we have to attack the psychology of the people. In the beginning, and as a start, peace is a purely psychological problem, and we found, and the hon. Member, if he happened to be sitting in the chair at a table where there are international delegates, would find, that there is no objection to disarmament, there is no objection to arbitration, there is no objection to any gesture for peace, there is no objection to any declaration in favour of peace—even a very extreme declaration in favour of peace—but when you have 2097 done it all, and when you think you have finished your job, representative after representative will get up and say, "But supposing there is a hitch in it, how am I going to feel secure? Suppose I do knock off half my armament; suppose I knock it all off, how am I going to feel secure?" I say that as far as small nations are concerned, they are far better without any army at all than a small and an inefficient one, and that, I believe, is the view of a late Danish Government.
But we have to attack this problem. How are we going to get the nations of Europe, the nations that enter this agreement on disarmament, the nations that accept the obligation of arbitration—how are we for a period, at any rate, until we get into the civilised habit that we are in as individual members of a nation, who do not walk about the streets always thinking of a policeman—we take it for granted that we are perfectly safe and perfectly secure—and the problem we have to face, the problem the Foreign Secretaries have to face, and the problem the League of Nations has to face, is, how we are going to get Europe and the world into that frame of mind which takes security for granted, and which pursues arbitration and the ordinary civilised methods of settling disputes? That is the problem of the transition stage of mind. I do not know if the Foreign Secretary can throw any light upon it. I do not know if since 1924 he has found out things we did not find out, but I should be glad if he could tell us, has he discovered—his words are not going to do it, resolutions are not going to do it, even disarmament programmes are not going to do it—but has he found out some way by which he can go straight ahead with disarmament, straight ahead with his peace policy?
It cannot be done unless we give a full security. The value of a full security is not that they can trust us. The value of a full security is that when you have got it you immediately begin to practise those habits of arbitration and disarmament that enable you to get into the habit of mind of a peace-loving people. It is a question of how the habit is coming about. That is the problem which, I am afraid, as far as I have been able to study and understand what he has been doing, the Foreign Secretary has 2098 not been at all advancing, but a little bit retarding at Geneva. There was one unfortunate thing at Geneva, and that was the reference be made to the British Empire. I think it was a very unfortunate reference, and other people did so, too, and he knows, I think, that it is certainly not forgotten to this day.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
The Foreign Secretary in his words put the British Empire up against the League of Nations. He was quite mistaken. Australia, after having received reports from its own delegations at Geneva in favour of taking on this obligation, only turned down this method of uniting the three problems together, namely, disarmament, arbitration and security, on the prompting of the Home Government. As a matter of fact, the Attorney-General of the time who was at Geneva, who did accept it and who did recommend it to his Government, carried out with as clear an idea of Australia's problems as the right hon. Gentleman has himself, the ideas that, after full discussion and weighing in every way, he accepted as a delegate at Geneva. There is a section of the League of Nations Union in Australia which submitted this triple policy in a way it describes as follows:At a meeting of the Federal Council of the Australian League of Nations Union held at Melbourne on 8th December, 1924, it was decided that the chief legal experts in Australia should be asked to prepare and issue to the public a considered statement on the above question.That statement was prepared and issued, and it showed that on every point which was supposed to be very badly compromised by the Protocol, the Protocol, in the opinion of these legal experts, improved the position of Australia rather than endangered it in comparison with the League Covenant. The effect on the White Australia policy of Article 3, and the effect on the domestic jurisdiction of the States by Articles 4 and 5—on every point these experts' advised Australia that it was safer for that Dominion to be under the Protocol than under the Covenant as it now stands.
The same took place in Canada. In 1924 Senator Dandurand was the representative of Canada at Geneva. He made a very interesting statement the other day at Geneva, and I propose to quote 2099 a sentence or two from it. He says that Canada is in the fortunate position of having a great neighbour as pacific as itself. Then these are his words:Perhaps that accounts for our sense of security and for the recent judgment of the well known Oxford Professor who said that Canada was a producer and not a consumer of security. In these circumstances it is hardly necessary to add that Canada supports the principle of arbitration for the solution of its disputes with other countries.He goes on to say thatWe still remain firmly pledged to arbitration and we still think that the risk of being non-suited in an arbitral procedure is less than the risk of war, in fact, that even a bad compromise is better than being victors in War.He then says:Among the causes which led us to reject the Protocol was that we had to take count of the result which would arise owing to the non-participation of the United States in case of any attempt to apply economic or military sanctions.And so we are committed to this. That is the whole point. Again you are trying to shuffle out of your obligations under the Covenant in order to pretend that you are not in favour of the Protocol. Nevertheless, he says:In the telegram which the Canadian Government sent to the Secretary-General of the League in March 1925, we said that we were still firmly convinced of the desirability of submitting international disputes to arbitration, and that we were ready to consider the obligatory jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of International Justice in disputes of a legal character, subject to certain reservations, and to examine means of completing the Clauses of the Covenant for the settlement of disputes of a non-legal character, while reserving final decision in questions of a domestic character, and without assuming any heavier obligations in regard to the application of sanctions.That is all we say. The plea I put in is this—will not this Government face the problem of common security? It will find no difficulty from the point of view of the Empire. The Protocol, as we have got it yet, is, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, a first draft, and I venture to say that his experience is very likely to be mine, that we have never yet known a first draft that ought not to have been amended before it became a final draft. But the whole point is this—I believe that this Empire, with the concurrence of all its parts—Australia, New Zealand, 2100 South Africa and Canada—can devise a form of words that will not be words merely, but a form of words to which we can honourably and faithfully subscribe with the intention of carrying it out as a gentleman's bargain—more rather than less. By giving that security we may on paper be undertaking risks as the right hon. Gentleman did when he signed his Locarno Treaty—very serious risks; but what man is there who is not going to take risks, especially if he knows that the risks he is taking may be as black and as big as you like on paper, but from his knowledge of the working of the system that is going to be set up the risk is practically nil? The actual practicable working risk is practically nil. That is the risk the right hon. Gentleman will have to undertake before we can give Europe the help we would like to give in order to bring peace to it. So I hope we have got a policy of arbitration.
Russia has now come in and is going to be present. I am very glad it is. It will, perhaps, not mean plain sailing to begin with, because Russia, too, wants security. I have heard on good authority that the first thing Russia is going to raise is the question of its own security. With Russia in, the explorations of security can now go on. The right hon. Gentleman cannot avoid at Geneva the resolution which includes security as well as disarmament. A Commission which is going to consider security, in order to assist the rapidity of the work of the Disarmament Commission, is going to present a Report, and I hope that when that report is made, the right hon. Gentleman will not stand up and say that the British Empire is the best League of Nations. It may be. He and I may agree upon that, but if we go to an International Court, if we go to an International Assembly, if we go into Europe to help Europe, and if we step into the wider area of the world to help the wider area of the world, we have first of all to get an agreement inside the Empire as to what the Empire is prepared to do. But it is not enough to be negative, to stand up and do nothing and then, when proposal after proposal is made, simply to say that the British Empire will not stand it. It is the right hon. Gentleman's duty to get from the Empire now a complete exploration of what we can do to contribute to the se- 2101 curity of Europe, and I hope he will do it before long, because this report is bound to come from the Security Commission, and when it does come there will be very jealous and watchful eyes and ears that will look at and listen to what we say when we appear at Geneva. I hope that the Foreign Office is going to initiate something and not merely content itself with negation, with voting for resolutions such as those I have quoted. I hope that the Foreign Secretary is going to tell all those who are listening for what he is going to say what he means by an aggressive war. What does he mean to do to carry out the obligations he took upon himself when he voted for that resolution regarding arbitration? What does he mean to do to bring the British Empire as a united, powerful and influential force, into the councils of Europe to make a positive contribution to the system of peace?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the resignation of my Noble Friend Lord Cecil. No one regrets that resignation more than I do because he and I have worked closely and harmoniously together in questions of foreign policy in general, and in all matters that concern this great question of disarmament he has been the principal spokesman and representative of His Majesty's Government at the Geneva Conferences. The right hon. Gentleman gave, I think, an imperfect account of my Noble Friend's reasons for resignation. My Noble Friend summarised them himself. They were first and foremost an act, which was not the act of the present Government but of the right hon. Gentleman's Government, the rejection of the Treaty of Mutual Assistance. If the right hon. Gentleman reads Lord Cecil's speech he will see that Lord Cecil places that as his first reason for his resignation. The second was that we had rejected instead of amending the Protocol. I may say at once that the Government's first endeavour was to amend the Protocol and so bring it to a shape which might have been acceptable to us and the other Governments of the Empire, but we found that amendments for that purpose would be of so extensive and deep-reaching a character as practically to make an alto- 2102 gether different document, which would amount to writing a new Protocol and not amending the old. The third reason of my Noble Friend was his dissatisfaction with the proceedings at the Three Power Naval Conference.
Let me say a few words, but very few words, about the Naval Conference, because that subject will more appropriately fall to my right hon. Friend, the First Lord of the Admiralty, when he speaks later in this Debate. I am not going to touch on any technical features of the Conference. But the right hon. Gentleman has made two criticisms on us in regard to that Conference. They are both embodied in his Resolution. The one which I take first is that the delegation was of a military character. Our delegation consisted of two Cabinet Ministers and one Admiral. It was the least military of all the delegations. The American delegation consisted of one diplomat and two Admirals; the Japanese delegation consisted of a very distinguished Admiral, now Governor-General of Korea, and an Ambassador and another Admiral. Ours was the least military of all the delegations. To describe a delegation which has to deal with a subject largely technical and which consists of two Cabinet Ministers and one Admiral, as a military delegation, is to use words in such a way that they have no sense.
The right hon. Gentleman made another criticism which has more substance and which may be correct. It is a criticism which was also expressed by my Noble Friend in the House of Lords and by Lord Haldane in a speech which he made in the Debate there the other day. It is that we entered the Conference with insufficient preparation. Let us understand what is meant. It does not mean that the British Government had not given the most careful thought and consideration to the proposals which they could make and the contribution which they could bring to the further limitation of armaments. We had made that careful preparation. We had drawn up a scheme which would have produced not merely a limitation of expense, though it would have produced a very great limitation of expense, but would have produced a real limitation of aggressive power. It is not, therefore, failure in that kind of preparation with which we are reproached; it is failure to deal with this 2103 matter through the diplomatic channel before we agreed to go into the Conference at all.
Hitherto, I have been exposed on many occasions by the party opposite to reproach for being attached to the methods of the old diplomacy. I have been invited to eschew secrecy, to trust to public opinion, to come frankly out into the open and in face of all the world to state our view without any previous secret understanding, backstairs' negotiation, or other underhand arrangements. Now, behold, my critics unite to say that the failure of the Conference is due to the new diplomacy, is due to failure to prepare through the diplomatic channel for the Conference before it met. I confess frankly that I take some blame to myself that we did not try to secure further diplomatic preparation. But please remember that we did not summon this Conference, it was not called upon our invitation. It was the Government of the United States who asked us if we would join a Conference, then a Conference of five Powers and eventually of three, to discuss naval limitation. I did consider whether I should say to the United States Government at that moment, "Would it not be well, before you make that proposal formally to us, to consider upon what basis the Conference should meet, and whether there is such a measure of general agreement as would be likely to make the Conference good?"
If His Majesty's Government refrained, it was lest they should appear in the eyes of the American Government to be seeking to evade an acceptance of this invitation, lest we should appear to other people as seeming to be opposed to such an effort further to limit naval armaments. That is the reason and the only reason why this diplomatic preparation was not made. I think it is a lesson of that Conference that such diplomatic preparation is always desirable before a Conference takes place; and may I add that it is also a lesson of that Conference that it is only after great preparation, taking much time, that we can hope to bring the League Conference itself to a successful conclusion? Those who would hurry, those who would press these meetings before the ground is prepared for them, are preparing for themselves 2104 and others the same disappointment as confronted us when we failed to reach agreement in the Conference at Geneva. That is all that I propose to say upon the great subject of disarmament. It was left in the main by the right hon. Gentleman, and will be left by me, to other speakers.
I come now to the right hon. Gentleman's other observations on what passed at the recent meeting of the Assembly. He began by saying that certain resolutions had been forced upon the acceptance of the Government, and were not in conformity with the policy which I had previously announced from the tribune on behalf of His Majesty's Government. The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. As I read the Resolutions, they are very much in conformity with the statement which I made, and show a readiness on the part of the Assembly to admit facts that stare us all in the face, and a conciliatory disposition on the part of everyone such as is required in an Assembly where unanimity is an essential in order that we may arrive at any decision at all. I take, first, the Resolution about wars of aggression. That resolution solemnly reaffirms the doctrine of the Covenant of the League of Nations. To have declared that all war was a crime would either have meant nothing or would have implied that we were prepared to amend the Covenant and make it other than it is. I do not at the moment think the time has come for that kind of amendment in the Covenant. I believe that a practice and a psychology must be allowed to grow up before you can usefully undertake to change the whole nature of the Covenant, to fill up—to use the usual phrase—those gaps which the founders of the Covenant purposely left, because they felt that to make this structure more rigid than it now is would be to risk its existence.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me whether I am prepared to define a war of aggression. I am not, and I think he will make a great mistake if he attempts to do so. They made such an attempt in the Protocol; they made an attempt to define the aggressor. If you lay down, far in advance, for circumstances that you cannot foresee, rigid definitions by which the aggressor is to be determined, are you quite sure that in thus making these strict rules for 2105 circumstances which are unknown to you, you may not find, when the occasion arises, that by some unhappy turn in your definition you have declared to be the aggressor that party which, to the knowledge of all men at the time, is the aggressed and not the offender?
There was an observation made by that eminent jurist and statesman and very true friend of the League and part author of the Covenant, Signor Scialoja at the last Assembly, which is worth thinking about. He went, indeed, further than I would go, for he seemed to suggest, in one passage, that the aggressor could not be discovered. For, he added, after all is not one thing certain, that if only he has a little diplomatic skill, the aggressor, "se fera agresser," he will cause himself to be aggressed. I do not believe it will be impossible—I hope it will not be very difficult for the League at a given moment to say who is the aggressor in a particular quarrel and particular circumstances then known; but I think that if you lay down tests by which you must be bound, you will find that the aggressor will carefully conform to your particular test, and will escape the liability which ought to follow upon his actions just because of the precision of your definition. I, therefore, remain opposed to this attempt to define the aggressor, because I believe that it will be a trap for the innocent and a sign-post for the guilty.
The right hon. Gentleman says, "Find such a definition in a resolution that every dispute shall be carried to arbitration and that that party is the aggressor which either refuses to arbitrate or which refuses to carry out an arbitral award." I think I am fairly stating the right hon. Gentleman's argument. In the first place, I would beg the right hon. Gentleman himself and all other people who are interested in this question to remember what the Covenant already purports. We are all bound not to go to war until we have exhausted either the method of judicial arbitration or the method of conciliation before the Council. There are a whole series of provisions which—I do not say make war impossible, I doubt if you can ever say that anything you might have done would have made war impossible— but make war infinitely more difficult to present as a justifiable act in international relations. Do not let us under- 2106 rate the value of what is already in the Covenant. Do not Jet us so preach its defects—or its supposed defects—or press them upon the attention of everybody so that people think the Covenant as it stands binds them to nothing. It binds each and all of us to a great deal. It binds each and all of us to pursue arbitration in the large sense in which we generally use it in this country as importing not merely a judicial award, but every process of conciliation. I say again, because I think it is of the utmost importance, do not let us underrate the limitations which are put on the right to go to war by the Covenant, or the obligation which is put upon us to exhaust peaceful methods before we go to war.
The right hon. Gentleman argued, I think, or would argue, that the more true that is the less reason you have for refusing to sign either the Optional Clause or, I think he goes so far as to suggest an all-in agreement, an agreement to arbitrate on everything, and not merely the Optional Clause. I will deal with the reasons which prevent the Government from recommending the signing of the Optional Clause at this time. It is not an attitude which is peculiar to this Government. The Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), when they framed the Covenant, had to consider whether arbitration should be compulsory in all cases, and they decided against it. The Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had to consider the question of the Optional Clause.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
The right hon. Gentleman was frying other fish. At any rate the Optional Clause had not the importance at that moment.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I do not know what decision the right hon. Gentleman came to, but I should infer from his saying that he was frying other fish that, in fact, he never came to any conclusion at all on this subject.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
I do not want there to be any misunderstanding. I was following another line, but the Optional Clause was included in the other policy 2107 I was pursuing, and I preferred to try, at any rate, the larger one before attempting the more circumscribed one.
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I should be the last man to say that the attitude which we have to take up at this moment must necessarily be the attitude of the British Government for all time. It is a very few years since the Covenant was signed, since the League of Nations was created, since the Permanent Court of International Justice was established. The decision which His Majesty's Government did in fact come to was a decision reached by the British Imperial Conference when they agreed that it would be premature to adhere to that Optional Clause to-day, and agreed, further, not to take new action in the matter without prior consultation among themselves. I need not say to the House how important it is that in this matter the whole Empire should act together. The embarrassment to all of us would be obvious if one member of the Empire were engaged in a dispute which another member of the Empire had undertaken to arbitrate whilst he himself had not done so. Indeed, it would make our position here one in which, as I think would be admitted by all who know our constitutional system, it would be impossible for us to carry out the engagements we should have undertaken. The case on this point was stated so lucidly, so clearly, and so temperately by the late Lord Chancellor, Lord Haldane of Cloan, in a paper which he left on record when he went out of office, that I asked his permission to quote this paper to-day if I found it necessary or useful in this Debate, and I have his permission to quote it, and to lay the Paper of course, if it be demanded, in accordance with the usual practice. This is a paper which expresses the personal view, of course, of Lord Haldane of Cloan. It does, in fact, coincide with the view and the attitude taken by His Majesty's present advisers, and it sets them out in terms so clear and, as I say, so moderate that I think it is better than any words that I myself could employ. He says:At first sight it appears natural to give the Court compulsory authority in as many cases as possible for it looks as though by doing so the disputes which might lead to war will most effectually be avoided. In the instances of small States with unitary constitutions this seems true, for the juris- 2108 diction could strengthen their position against more powerful nations; but in the instance of the British Empire it is not so clear that this is true. In substance the constitution of our Empire is not unitary, and it is perilous for the Imperial Government to proceed as if it were. We have to secure the assent of the Dominions and of India at every step. An analogous difficulty has confronted the United States. The executive does not dare to give undertakings unless the President is sure, which he rarely is, that the Legislature will adopt his actions. That is the real reason why the President, however disposed to arbitratory treaties, will rarely join them. In the case of Great Britain and the United States alike it is thus, for reasons which although not the same are analogous, undesirable to give an unqualified undertaking which it afterwards may prove impracticable to fulfil. The condition of things in the event of failure is apt to show itself more provocative of insoluble dispute than if no unqualified undertaking had been given.Later in the same paper he says:Speaking for myself, I think it safer in the present state of the constitution of our Empire to avoid trying to go further than Article 13 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. This Article binds us to refer to arbitration any matter which is suitable and which diplomacy cannot satisfactorily settle, including the interpretation of treaties, questions of international law, the existence of facts constituting a breech of international obligations, and the extent of the reparation to be made. The language used in this article is less stringent than in Article 36 of the Protocol of 1920, and gives rise to less embarrassment. I agree with Lord Balfour in his suggestion of 1920, that resort to the Permanent Court is likely, by degrees, to become more and more general, and in the end will probably become compulsory, but this requires time to enable a firm conception of Empire fully to become familiar to our own people. At present I am averse to the explicit acceptance of a principle which will probably give rise, if so accepted, to keen controversy.Those are, broadly, the reasons which commended themselves to His Majesty's present Government when they also had to give their attention to this matter. Perhaps I ought to add that it is, I believe, common ground to all parties in this country that even if we did sign the Optional Clause we should sign it only with reservations. I do not want to delay the House with a long list, but I would beg hon. Members to consider for themselves what some of those reservations must be. At present there is no agreed body of law on the subject of naval belligerent rights. We should not know what law would be administered and I believe it to be common ground to all parties that we should have to reserve 2109 that subject. We should have to reserve everything which concerned the relations of the Empire inter se. We should have to make it perfectly clear that we did not arbitrate on internal matters within the sovereign jurisdiction of the State itself; and perhaps there would be other reservations. What really should we contribute beyond what is already in the Covenant to the sense of general security or to the cause of arbitration by giving our signature to the Optional Clause? But if we are not prepared to undertake engagements in advance which at the time might require for their fulfilment and execution concurrent legislation not in one Parliament but in seven Parliaments of the Empire, that does not mean that we are not ready to use to the fullest measure that is possible the process of arbitration for the settlement of disputes. I hope Englishmen at least—Britons—in discussing what is in the Covenant or what might be added to the Covenant will not forget what our own country has done, whether in the matter of disarmament or in the matter of arbitration.
I think it is true to say that we have arbitrated more—and more important—disputes than any other country in the world. Our ordinary arbitration treaties reserve matters touching the independence, the vital interests and the honour of the country, but in particular cases we have transcribed those limits and referred such questions to arbitration. I will take only three illustrations which occur to me. We arbitrated the Alabama case, we arbitrated the destruction of the fishing fleet on the Dogger Bank by the Russian Fleet passing to the Far East. [Interruption.] The honour of our country! It was the honour of the flag! We arbitrated the Alaskan boundary; and I have heard Canadians say that that arbitration sacrificed something of their vital interests. We arbitrated the other day, not before the Permanent Court of International Justice, but before the proper tribunal for a political case, the boundaries of Mosul.
I said that I would give three illustrations. My right hon. Friend supplied me with a fourth. There are four gigantic questions of first-class importance, each one we have been ready to arbitrate when it came to the point, and as 2110 we have shown our belief in arbitration in the past, and have practised arbitration in the past, so we hope to practise it in the future, even though we cannot undertake an obligation to arbitrate in all cases when we feel that we might not have the power to secure obedience to an adverse award.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to speak of security. The right hon. Gentleman, when he was negotiating, and sucessfully and ably negotiating, the Dawes Agreement, drew a bill which it fell to his successors to meet. He mentioned the magic word "security," and it enabled him, I think, to turn the corner of his difficulties in the Dawes Settlement. That is a bill which we had to meet. It is quite true that in order to meet it we had to take new and large risks. We took them by the guarantee we gave to the Treaty of Locarno. That was our contribution, and an immense contribution to the sense of security enjoyed by Europe, not merely by the countries immediately affected, but by Europe. I do not pretend that our European world is not still a very troubled world, though I do not pretend that the Foreign Minister of this or any other country can go to sleep thinking the trouble is past and the sky is all now clear and no clouds are present. No, Sir, that is not the case. But although troubles and difficulties are met, they are met in a more hopeful spirit and with a greater confidence since those Locarno Treaties were signed and since the additional guarantee which they gave to the peace of Europe and the world. The right hon. Gentleman wants to go further. How much further does he want to go? What fresh obligation is he ready to undertake? The right hon. Gentleman undertook to say that the opposition of the Australian Government to the Protocol was prompted by His Majesty's Government, and that Canada, if I rightly understood him, was in favour of the Protocol. The right hon. Gentleman's sources of information are doubtless many and widely distributed, but I, as the representative of one Government in the Empire, must consider that the opinions of the Empire are spoken by the other Governments of the Empire, and each Government of a State of the Empire a member of the League of Nations put in its own reasons for objecting to the Pro- 2111 tocol and declining to sign it. I have no reason to believe that any one of them has changed in its opposition. On the contrary, I have every reason to believe, from what passed at Geneva last September, and from the attitude of their delegates there, that not one of them would be more prepared to sign the Protocol to-day than they were then. Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to sign it? Was he ever prepared to sign it? I do not know. All I know is that his representative at Geneva, who joined in making it and voting it, was not allowed to sign on his behalf. He would really have helped us to-day if he had said how far he was prepared to go by way of creating a pooled security. As we listened to the speech of one of the delegates who, if not exactly advocating the Protocol was advocating most of the provisions of the Protocol, the lady who was a member of the British Delegation observed to me that he seemed to think that if you promise to marry enough women you would never need to marry at all. The right hon. Gentleman seems to fall into the same error. He said, "Only make your guarantees numerous enough, only undertake enough obligations and you will never be called upon to carry out any." That may be a sound rule in international policy, though I take leave to doubt it. If so, the rules which govern practical wisdom in every other sphere of life are inapplicable when we come to consider international policy.
Let us consider two or three points of difference between the Covenant and the Protocol. By the Covenant the Council is bound by no rigid rules in deciding whether a breach of the Covenant has taken place and the decision requires unanimity. I think the framers of the Covenant were wise. I think if they had done otherwise some Powers that have now joined the League would have refrained from entering it, and the possibility of getting others in who are not yet members would be more remote, and the League if it had come into existence would very soon have broken down under its own weight. But under the Protocol the Council would have been bound by a set of rigid presumptions which could only be rendered inapplicable by a unanimous vote. Everything 2112 would be settled in advance long before we knew what were the facts of the case. It is an automatic machine, an ineluctable machine. Under the Covenant the members of the League decide for themselves as to whether the Council's opinion is justified. Under the Protocol the members of the League have no voice in the matter. Under the Covenant the decision to recommend military sanctions requires a unanimous vote. Under the Protocol the Council has no option. The Protocol says the Council shall call upon the signatory States to apply forthwith the sanctions.
Under the Covenant the members of the League decide whether they are bound to apply sanctions. Under the Protocol the obligation to apply appropriate sanctions, economic or military, arises automatically. Under the Covenant the members of the League are the judges of what they should do to carry out their obligations in connection with the application of sanctions. Under the Protocol the members remain judges of what they will do, but they are no longer judges of what they should do, which has been settled for them by the Protocol (Article 11, paragraph (2)). They are free not to do it, but if they do not do it they commit a breach of a moral obligation. Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to adopt these changes? Is he prepared so to limit the discretion of the Council and tie their hands? Is he prepared to place this country and all its resources at the mercy of a machine of that kind, leaving no voice to this country in this matter? If he is not, I venture to say to the right hon. Gentleman that he would be more usefully employed in defining exactly how much of the Protocol he would adopt, what new obligations he would undertake, and how he would fulfil them than in talking vaguely on these subjects and raising hopes which he cannot fulfil, spreading uncertainty instead of instilling confidence.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
Has the right hon. Gentleman forgotten, when he talks about the Council having this power, that we Lave a permanent representative on the Council of the League of Nations?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
I have not forgotten that, but I have observed that the balance is reversed. Under the 2113 Covenant unanimity is required. Under the Protocol unanimity is required only to depart from the fixed tests applied beforehand. But apart from that I ask the right hon. Gentleman another question. Does he mean that he is only in favour of the Protocol—because if not his interruption had no meaning at all—does he mean he is only in favour of the Protocol because we are permanently represented on the Council, and we can prevent a decision being made? If so, what fresh security is there? What new confidence does he give to Europe or the world when he explains that he signs the Protocol, but signs it because he can always defeat it in action as Great Britain always has a seat on the Council. That is why this vague, this indeterminate talk is so unsatisfactory.
I want to ask one more question. What additional obligations is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to undertake? Arbitration for instance, either the Optional Clause or all-in arbitration. Does he mean arbitration without sanctions, or does he mean arbitration plus sanctions? The right hon. Gentleman, perhaps, would like longer to think about it. It is vital. The object of filling up the gaps is not only to find some definition of the aggressor, but to increase and multiply the sanctions which are to be turned against him, and to bring them automatically into force without discretion left to those who are called upon to apply them. That is the case. If not, what does our abstention matter? If that is not the case, why cannot the Protocol be brought into force as amongst themselves by all who approve of it? We are told that we are the only people who do not approve of it. It is not at all true to say we are the only people who do not approve of it, we of the British Empire, but suppose it were and suppose all the others were in favour. What is there to prevent bringing it into operation as between all the rest of the world, ourselves alone excluded, to-morrow if they wished? It is that, in those circumstances, the British Navy is not at the service of the League for the purpose of the sanctions. It shows how onerous are the obligations we are invited to undertake, that it is constantly said that, unless we come in, this system cannot be applied.
There is one further observation that I should like to make—I am sorry to have detained the House so long—which brings 2114 me back to this argument. A tightening of the Covenant, a restriction of whatever liberty of judgment there may be under the Covenant, leads to an increase in the sanctions, and a new obligation to apply them without any discretion. What effect will that have on disarmament? That is a question which Lord Haldane asked in another place the other day. Suppose, he said—and it is a supposition which we can permit ourselves, in view of what he called our close and affectionate relations with France; if those relations were not as close and intimate as they are, it is an illustration that none of us would like to use—suppose, he said, that France was declared an aggressor by the League; suppose that we were ordered to blockade the French coast and to cut off France from commerce with the outer world; what consequences might that have for us and, what Navy should we need, if we were to undertake such obligations as that?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
There is an immense difference between our obligations under the Covenant as it stands—onerous as they are, in some respects dangerous as they may be thought to be by reason of the fact that great Powers have stood outside the League who were expected to form part of it—there is a great difference between the Covenant as it stands and the kind of fresh obligations that the right hon. Gentleman vaguely thinks we might undertake in order to pool the security of the world. His Majesty's Government have pursued a more restricted, a more modest policy. Where, in their capacity at the League or through the ordinary diplomatic channels, they can help to remove misunderstandings and bring other nations together, they have been glad to do so. Where we ourselves have been in dispute, as, for instance, over Mosul, we have accepted the arbitrament of the League, and, even when the award was in our favour, have used it only to negotiate an agreed settlement. And conscious of the risk in that particular part of Europe which has so often been the seat and the cause of war, and where our interests were most directly and immediately concerned outside our own borders, we have undertaken to 2115 bring to the support of the League's judgment the whole force which the Government of this country commands. I challenge the judgment of this House, and of wider assemblies than this—has any Power done more than we either in the cause of security or in the cause of disarmament? Some have talked more, some have wanted to pass more resolutions, some have been ready to sign more papers; but who has done more, either in the cause of disarmament or in the cause of security? Let him be the first to throw a stone at us.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I had not expected to intervene at this stage of the Debate; I rather thought that the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Duff Cooper) was going to move an Amendment, and I am very reluctant to speak now. I intended to speak only on the naval side of this Resolution. I think that a great many hon. Members in all parts of the House will agree with me that it is most unfortunate that we have not had a clear day for the discussion of what is known as the Coolidge Conference. I think that that was practically promised by the Government, and it is a pity that the time-table has been so arranged by the Chief Whip that we have not had a full day for discussing this matter. However, the First Lord of the Admiralty has come into the House, and I apologise to him for speaking earlier than I had intended, but I am only filling a gap, though it is a different sort of gap from that which we have been hearing described. I am now only speaking on the Geneva Naval Conference. There is a tendency, apparently inspired by the Government, in case of failure in some conference, to blame the experts. Naturally, the First Lord does not do that, but we have had the Noble Lord, Lord Cecil, doing so when he made his very interesting speech explaining his resignation. You take to a conference such as the Coolidge Conference at Geneva a number of naval officers to advise you, and, if you fail in your endeavours to come to an agreement, you say there were too many naval exports. I admit that the wording of this Resolution might lead some people to suppose that we on this side are inclined to blame the experts, though I think what my right hon. Friend the 2116 Leader of the Opposition meant by "the military character" was the military outlook, the warlike outlook, of the peaceably-speaking First Lord of the Admiralty. I must, however, protest against blaming the naval experts at this conference.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Certainly; I will explain my position. These naval experts have a certain duty to perform, which is to obtain all supplies and appropriations possible for the Navy. They have to make the Navy as strong as it possibly could be made, and the First Lord of the Admiralty has the same thing to do, parallel, of course, with the policy of the Cabinet. You cannot expect these naval experts, whether they are of high rank or of more modest rank, to do otherwise than use every effort they can to obtain more ships, more money, more dockyards, more seamen, bigger guns, larger equipment and so on, and they would not really be worthy of their position unless they did. The Government, however, must take the ultimate responsibility. If the Government take the advice of the experts, they must be responsible; if they reject the advice of the experts, they must also be responsible. I am going to declare, after a great deal of thought about this matter, that the First Lord of the Admiralty has done the wrong thing at the right time, and has done the right thing at the wrong time. Take, first of all, the dropping of the two cruisers from this year's programme—one A class cruiser and one B class cruiser. Why, on earth, was not that done before we went into the Conference? Why was it not done when the Japanese retarded their programme after the earthquake? This saving will be perhaps a few hundreds of thousands of pounds on this year's Estimates; the total saving will be under £4,000,000. In 1924, the American Naval Budget was reduced by over £11,000,000. After the Japanese earthquake, the Japanese Naval Estimates were reduced by £5,360,000. I invited the First Lord at that time to make some further reduction in our Estimates, but nothing was done. This spring, the American President rejected the appropriations put forward as required—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
As, I may take it, a state of "grave disorder" has arisen, though not in the usual sense, in accordance with the Standing Order I suspend the sitting until the lighting is resumed.
§ Sitting suspended accordingly, owing to failure of lighting.
§ On resuming—
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I have pointed out that during the last two or three years, for one cause or another, the Japanese building programme and the American building programme have been delayed, that ships have been dropped out. The President of the United States used his discretion in rejecting the appropriation sent out by the House Committee on Naval Shipbuilding, on the grounds that the whole programme was held up by the forthcoming Naval Conference at Geneva. The First Lord was invited to hold up our programme also, and on the 9th March I particularly asked him, in view of the favourable reply which the Foreign Secretary had sent to Washington to the invitation to attend the Conference, to retard our programme. He declined to retard the building of ships under construction, although he said that it was not intended to lay down any of the ships of the 1927 programme until later in the year. He did not retard any of the ships under construction, and as he had 12 ships under construction it would have been much better if he had abandoned the two cruisers before instead of after the Conference. To abandon them now is either a confession of guilt or of an overestimate of what the Admiralty call our vital need.
That is one mistake, and a very serious mistake. It is the sort of blunder for which this Government would be responsible. They are stiff when they should be conciliative, and run away and drop out cruisers after the Conference has broken down. Nothing can be more foolish. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord will no doubt say that although he has dropped two cruisers we do not thank him. That will be his reply. I thank him for small mercies, and I think the taxpayer stands to gain, but I should have been much more thankful if these cruisers had been dropped before the Conference began. I do not want 2118 to go into a lot of detail about his proposal for smaller battleships and cruisers. The right hon. Gentleman exhibits a cross-word puzzle mind and mentality. He put forward a carefully drawn up scheme for 1931 of a certain size of battleship and cruiser, and said, "Look at the saving which will accrue if it is adopted." That was a wrong spirit for the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers to enter the Conference. They should have taken a much wider view of the problem. I am going to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman is living in a world of 1800. The Government itself, in their consideration of the most important matter of Imperial defence, is living in a world which does not exist to-day. I will explain exactly what I mean. We are continually told that we have only seven weeks' food supplies in this country, and that we can be starved out if our sea communications are cut. As a matter of fact, the whole problem of attack and defence of commerce at sea has been radically altered by the modern steam engine as applied to cruisers and merchant ships. It is far easier to attack commerce by means of privateers and submarines today than ever it was in the days of the sailing ship; and it is also easier to deny commerce to your enemy if you have local command of the sea.
Commerce is more easily interfered with to-day because of modern inventions, and recent history proves that. The first warning we had was from the exploits of the Confederate cruiser "Alabama." She was a small cruiser, and operating on the trade routes committed such depredations that we should have received warning of the terrible dangers which threaten merchant ships in any maritime war. The next warning was during the last War. We commenced the War with 128 cruisers. We commissioned 75 large armed merchant ships as armed cruisers, and we had in addition the French, Japanese and Russian cruisers to assist us. We built during the War 40 cruisers. The Germans at the beginning of the War only had four vessels, light cruisers armed with 4-inch guns, operating against the trade routes. They had the squadron of Von Spee, which was kept together as a tactical unit and operated as a unit, but which made very few prizes. The main damage was done by these four light cruisers, the "Emden" and others, scattered over the 2119 oceans, and before they were destroyed or interned, run to earth or captured—one was literally run to earth, because she ran ashore to escape being sunk by the "Sydney"—they had sunk 200,000 tons of British ships and 30,000 tons of Allied shipping. This was done by four small German cruisers without oversea bases. Later in the War three disguised merchant ships escaped through our Northern Patrol, and before they were accounted for they sunk 250,000 tons of British shipping and 39,000 tons of Allied shipping. That is as regards surface commerce raids, and our strategical position was favourable. The British Islands lie right athwart the communications of the Germans.
Let me take the submarine question. At the height of our anti-submarine campaign we had nearly 4,000 vessels, great and small, armed ships of all sorts, engaged in trying to prevent our ships being sunk by enemy submarines, and yet we and our Allies lost 7,000,000 tons of shipping. The Germans only began using their submarines against merchant ships late in the War. Modern submarines are larger and can operate over much longer distances. I have mentioned the number of cruisers at our disposal at the beginning of the War. The number of cruisers of our Allies and ourselves on the trade routes was 104, 70 of which were engaged in searching for or chasing the "Emden." I submit that the Admiralty calculation of 70 cruisers which they are building, and which they declared at Geneva were required for our safety, against a navy that is anywhere near our own in strength is absolutely inadequate. If we are going to rely on our own strong right arm, on our own sure shield, then the Admiralty is being set an impossible task with the money available; that is, if the present laws of maritime warfare obtain. If we are to rely on 70 cruisers to defend our trade routes we are going to have, if there should be the tragedy of another war, a sudden and startling disillusionment. The whole conditions of naval warfare at sea have been radically altered by the steam engine. In the old days of the sailing ship it was much easier to deal with the menace of the privateer, which could only cruise at seven or eight knots an hour until the water supply was exhausted. She might 2120 not make a single prize unless she went to those parts where sailing ships had to congregate, those nodal points where trade had to pass. That is where the privateer in the old days was able to capture her prizes. On the other hand, if you gathered your defensive forces at these points she could not do it, and you were also able to control and throttle the trade of your enemy.
But conditions have altered. Modern commerce raiders can cruise at 20 knots, with an additional speed up to 30 knots, and with the assistance of aeroplanes they have a view of a much larger area at sea. The task, therefore, of destroying merchant ships is very much easier. The task of defending merchant ships is much more difficult—and I have said practically nothing about submarines in this connection. The cruisers, for which we stood out at Geneva, are practically useless against submarines. You can build as many 10,000-ton cruisers as you like, costing from £2,000,000 to £2,500,000 each, and they will be useless against submarines. Every nation is now engaged in building large ocean-going submarines. Our good friends the French, the Italians, the Americans, the Japanese, and ourselves are engaged in building these submarines against which all the cruisers you can build, even in Devonport dockyard—whose representatives I notice are not here—will be quite useless. I will copy the Foreign Secretary who spoke of our good friends the French, as an illustration of his point. I also take France as an illustration. She has more submarines under construction to-day than Germany had at any time before the War. They are large, and they are capable of performing long voyages. They can cross the Atlantic and back, and they constitute a terrible menace, in addition to the menace of the surface raider to merchant shipping
On top of all this, the Government are continually telling us—and they are quite right—that we have only seven weeks' food supply in this country. I see the Prime Minister in his place, and I do not hesitate to say that that is a reason why, at all costs, the Government should have found some policy for agriculture. My right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has a policy for agriculture, whether one agrees with it or not, but the Government 2121 have no policy. If we are so vulnerable, if we could not reach agreement with America because this matter is of such vital importance to us, if we were compelled to refuse to agree to mathematical equality with America on this ground, then we had better arrange to have wheat depots in this country and encourage agriculture by some means. I am not sure that it would not be cheaper to cut down our shipbuilding programme and subsidise wheat-growing, but I ask hon. Members not to take that as my policy. If we are going to rely on force, and on our own strong right arm, we must consider the food supplies of the country as part of our strategy of defence. The same proposition applies with regard to oil. Practically the whole of the Navy is run on oil fuel, and the nearest oil fields on which we can draw are in Persia, or in Mexico. Why not produce oil from our own coal? Why not even build coal-burning ships rather than oil-burning ships? I know of course that the oil-burning ships are better and the hon. and gallant Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon) is waiting to pounce on me with regard to that point, but he knows exactly what I mean. From the strategical point of view it is a mistake to rely entirely on supplies of fuel from overseas for the Navy, when you have a source of supply in your own country, either in raw coal or in oil distilled from coal—which is a scientific possibility.
Our position is becoming intolerable, if we are to stand out for the old right of capture at sea and refuse all approaches from America to re-organise, re-codify and re-arrange by agreement the maritime law on this subject. We cannot afford, and we will not be able to afford in the lifetime of any of us, a Navy that can make us absolutely secure at sea. We ought to meet the Americans half-way in this matter. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition put the case in much better words than I can put it. The Americans are demanding that when they are neutral they shall be able to trade with any nation, whether that nation is at war or peace. That is of course a doctrine which the Americans have maintained for 100 years, namely, that a neutral flag should cover neutral goods. In the Armistice terms the phrase "freedom of the seas" was not fully explained, and there were reservations on the point. The Americans want 2122 peaceable merchant vessels, other than blockade runners, to be immune from capture in war-time at sea, and I suggest that the matter should be fully explored in a serious way.
This is not merely a matter of what the Naval War Staff think. There is a political aspect which must be considered. In connection with this, the Foreign Secretary asked what country have done more for European peace than we had done with our Locarno Agreement? What do we get out of Locarno? I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not in his place. [HON. MEMBERS: "He is!"] I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman; he was behind the candles, and I ask him, instead of asking his noisy friends below the Gangway: What do we get out of Locarno? We guarantee French frontiers or German frontiers if they are aggressively attacked. We have promised the man-power and the wealth of the Empire in defence of these frontiers, which have so often been the cause of wars, and what do we get in return? I suggest that we should ask for a maritime Locarno in return. France is building this very large number of submarines to which I have referred. Is she prepared to guarantee our trade against attack and against aggressive warfare in the future? If we agree to cut down our naval armaments below the 70 cruiser figure which the Admiralty demand, is America prepared to guarantee our shipping in the Atlantic from attack? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Some hon. Members below the Gangway say "No." How do they know? Was the matter ever discussed? Did the First Lord ever put to the American representatives at Geneva the hazardous position of this country, owing to our food supplies being drawn from overseas? Did he ask the American delegates if they were prepared, on the condition that we cut down our cruiser programme, to guarantee our commerce from unprovoked attack at sea? If not, I suggest that course as the most fruitful line of approach to a difficult problem.
The situation is most serious. The First Lord, as I think at the wrong time, has dropped two cruisers. The Americans are beginning to build great deal of leeway. We have 12 cruisers, and they have to make up a cruisers already building—not bad after 2123 the War which was to end war. I have here the figures of the cruisers which were being built before the War, and I find that in 1911 six were building, in 1912 we had 10 building and in 1913 we had 19 building. The average for those three years, before the War to end war, was just over 11. We have at the present time 12 building, and we have just commissioned five new cruisers, and when the present programme of cruiser building is complete, I make the calculation that we shall have 69. The Americans will have either 25 or 28, according to whether the three projected cruisers are approved or not, and the Japanese will have 32. Therefore, we shall have more than the two put together. Nevertheless, the atmosphere of naval rivalry has been created, and it is very unfortunate. In 1931 the Washington Agreement of 1921 need not be renewed, and 1931 may be a very critical year. The Americans will be quite within their rights then in denouncing the Washington Agreement and saying that they feel themselves free to build battle cruisers, battleships and so forth. What these will cost the First Lord knows perfectly well. If they do so, and, if by some mischance, a Conservative Government is in power here, this country will begin to build battleships against them, and we shall be engaged in a building competition, not in cruisers costing £2,500,000 each, but in battleships each of which will cost £7,000,000, £8,000,000 or even more.
That position will be very serious, and I have this proposal to make. I think another conference must be called. The lines of disagreement were so finely drawn last Autumn at Geneva that there is no excuse for not calling another conference, and the initiative should come from our good friends the Japanese. I would like to see the Japanese taking the initiative and calling another conference in 1929 at Tokio, and I think if the matter were fully explored beforehand, we might get some agreement there. It is, at all costs, necessary to try to come to some agreement before 1931, because, if we do not reach an agreement, and if the "Big Navy" party in the United States insist on denouncing the Agreement of 1921, the situation will be worse than it is now. It is tragic that such immense expenditure should be embarked 2124 upon by these various countries, especially when the Foreign Secretary has said that war with America is outlawed in our hearts, and when the Chancellor of the, Exchequer has said that war with America is unthinkable. Yet we have to spend these vast sums, although the American and Japanese navies are the only other navies that count. But I think there is an intellectual revolt among the people of all civilised countries against war preparations at this enormous cost.
I frankly admit that I have been converted to the idea of the outlawry of war. War must be outlawed, but when you become involved with distinctions as to aggressive or non-aggressive war, and defensive or offensive war, then, as has already been said, definition is difficult and you can be jockeyed into a false position. All warfare must be outlawed, and I believe it can be done if we come to an agreement with the American people. I put this idea before the House. During the past fortnight the American aircraft carrier "Saratoga" was completed at a cost of nearly £9,500,000. That was the cost of one warship—the greatest aircraft carrier in the world. Almost on the same day as the completion of the "Saratoga," the new traffic tunnel under the Hudson River, joining two parts of the great city of New York, was opened. This is a wonderful tunnel designed to take fast and slow motor traffic, and the cost of this immense engineering work—the greatest of its kind in the world—was almost, dollar for dollar, the same as the cost of the "Saratoga." But compare the utility of the two. The First Lord is asking for 70 cruisers which, as I have endeavoured to show, will not necessarily secure the food supplies of this country if we are faced by a strong navy. What could be done with the £140,000,000 which those 70 cruisers will represent? Think of the great engineering works the great additions to the communal wealth of this country which could be made with that £140,000,000. There you see an object lesson on the other side of the Atlantic of a great engineering work costing the same as a great aircraft carrier. For Heaven's sake, lot us stop back-biting and bickering, and I hope that no countenance will be given by any Member of the Government to this campaign of misrepresentation and jeering at America that is going on in 2125 so many organs of the Press. They are people speaking the same language as ourselves, and I am certain that agreement can be come to, in spite of the die-hards on both sides of the Atlantic.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
We are conducting the Debate in this House under very exceptional circumstances, and I do not know that I can add very much to the illumination of the House when I come to debate the question before us. I agree, naturally, with the agricultural policy of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), and I am glad that when he crossed the Gangway from this side he did not altogether abandon his sound agricultural convictions. I find myself in a good deal of difficulty in this discussion, because of the interpretation which, to a certain extent, was placed by the Leader of the Opposition upon the Motion. I am entirely in agreement with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in his view with regard to the Protocol, and I stated my opinion of it here in the House of Commons about a year ago. The more I study the question, the more convinced am I that it would have been a profound mistake for this country to have committed itself to unknown obligations, obligations which others practically decided for us, and all we had to do was to honour our obligations.
Ours is a country that is in the habit of honouring its bond, and once we had set our signature to a document of that kind, whatever other countries did—and I am not sure what they would have done—Great Britain would have fulfilled its obligations under the Treaty, and we might have found ourselves involved in very serious trouble in Central or Eastern Europe or other parts of the world on questions with which this country is not in the least concerned and where there would have been considerable doubt with regard to the merits of the controversy. My hon. Friends above the Gangway may not remember, in the first instance, that Russia is not a member of the League of Nations, and there might be conflict between countries which are contiguous to Russia and Russia itself. I know of two or three questions where trouble might arise; I need not elaborate them, but they must be in the minds of everybody. We might 2126 be committed in those circumstances to warlike enterprises against Russia because we had signed the Protocol which had committed us. I ventured to say, when there was a Debate in the House before, that in my judgment it was a booby trap for the British Empire, and I am still of that opinion. I do not depart in the least from that.
There are one or two other observations of the Foreign Secretary with which I find myself in complete agreement. I agree whole-heartedly with what he said about the importance of not making the Covenant of the League of Nations too rigid. I agree with him that the very vagueness of the Covenant to a certain extent was essential in order to induce nations first of all to subscribe to it. It was essential, beyond that, in order to make it a working success. If we had attempted what some people urged upon us at that time, that we should have a precise, detailed, written constitution, it would have been a complete failure. The representatives of the British Empire fought for more or less of an unwritten constitution, which would be worked by practice and by experience. No civilisation begins with these elaborate, detailed laws. Any lawyer knows perfectly well that, if he goes back to the old laws of the Middle Ages, they are just a few lines, very vague, laying down certain principles which are the basis of our laws to-day, and that the elaborate Statutes which we are accustomed to discuss here at great length from day to day are quite new. They are only a matter of the last two ar three centuries. The same thing applies to international law. If you begin by trying to have a written detailed constitution that would endeavour to prescribe for every possible contingency—as the Foreign Secretary pointed out, if you attempt to define what an aggressor is beforehand—you will inevitably fail. You have to work up a system by experience, and that, I think, the League is doing. I wish it were doing it more rapidly, and I am coming to that later on, but as far as the general principles laid down by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs are concerned, I think they are sound common sense.
Then there is another point that I would like to make. If I may say so to him, I think—and I am not at all sure that the Leader of the Opposition did not 2127 fall into the same error—it is a mistake always to assume that war is the only sanction on a failure to obey an award. The Covenant of the League of Nations avoided that, and it is rather odd that even the defenders of the Covenant seem to know very little about it. They always assume that you must have an armed force, and that the only thing you can do, if somebody defies the decisions of the League or breaks the Covenant in any particular, is to send an army or a navy there, or to blockade. The Covenant of the League contemplates other methods, and I would call attention to Article 16 of the Covenant, where you have a right to subject nations that defy the decrees of the League to the same sort of process as you subjected Russia; that is, a kind of boycott, a refusal to deal with them, a refusal to buy or to sell, a refusal to finance. That was contemplated under Article 16 of the Covenant, and everybody knows that this is a very formidable weapon. I hope, therefore, the advocates of the League will not always discuss the question of sanctions in terms of military or naval operations, because the Covenant of the League contemplates other methods, methods which, I think, in the long run would be found to be more effective. We know that in society, where people infringe some rule of society, they are subjected to a kind of boycott by all their associates, and the same thing would apply to international questions.
Now I come to the parts of the Foreign Secretary's speech where I sincerely regret that he could not have given us more encouragment. If he will allow me to say so, I think he dealt very inadequately with disarmament. To a certain extent, I agree that it is due to the fact that he was replying to a speech which led rather up to the Protocol than to the question of disarmament. That is a vital question, a very vital question. As long as you have these huge armaments in the world, arbitration and conciliation will be made quite impossible, and that is common sense, because if you have a nation that has got overwhelming power behind it, it is intolerant, it is impatient of argument and of conference. That is really what led very largely to the Great War. We all know perfectly well that Germany felt that she had not merely the biggest army in Europe, but the 2128 finest army in Europe. As a great military machine, it was incomparably the best in the world, and probably the greatest military machine the world has ever seen. Marshal Foch told me that, during the War. I do not know whether I have quoted that in the House before, but it is relevant now. He told me during the War that the great army that Germany poured into France at the beginning of the War was incomparably the finest military machine, in equipment, in training, in every respect, that this world has ever seen. Well, that produced an intolerance of argument.
You have only to recall—and it is germane to the discussion—what happened. When there was a little discussion about Bosnia, Russia tried to argue, but Germany instantly flung her sword on the table and said: "No more argument; if you do not do it, we shall march an army into Bosnia." They killed argument; they said: "We will have none of that nonsense; we do not want any argument." When we were on the brink of the Great War, Lord Grey—then Sir Edward Grey—suggested a conference. Why did the Germans not have a conference? Because they were quite confident that they had an overwhelming force behind them, and that they could impose their will. They knew that the Russian Army was rotten in respect of its equipment and transport, and that they could easily defeat it. They had the same opinion about the French force. In fact, a great many of our generals who talked to me before the War had exactly the same opinion about the superiority of the German over the French Army. Many a time had I heard great generals say: "They will walk through them like partridges." That was the opinion of the Germans as well. Having all this overwhelming force behind them, overwhelming in equipment and in training, they were not going to waste time with conferences; and that is the evil of a great system of armaments in Europe. You will not get the conciliation for which the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is asking, you will not get the discussions, you will not get arbitration, so the first step is to take some action with regard to armaments. And we are deeply pledged.
I have quoted this letter before, but not in the House of Commons, and it is ignored, constantly ignored. Here is the 2129 letter which the Allied Powers sent to Germany before she signed the Treaty. We were imposing very ruthless terms of disarmament upon Germany, the most ruthless disarmament, I think, that has ever been imposed since the days of the Roman Empire with regard to Carthage. A great army of 4,000,000 had to be reduced to 100,000, and that was not all. If anybody looks through the conditions of the disarmament Clauses they will find that the artillery allowed them was perfectly negligible, and the machine-guns and the machinery would not enable them to stand up against the smallest army in Europe. Very well, but in doing so, we sent them this letter:The Allied and Associated Powers wish to make it clear that their requirements in regard to German armaments are not made solely with the object of rendering it impossible for Germany to resume her policy of military aggression. They are also the first step towards that general reduction and limitation of armaments which they seek to bring about as one of the most fruitful preventives of war and which it will be one of the first duties of the League of Nations to promote.7.0 P.M.
That is a very definite and a very solemn pledge. It is a pledge upon the basis of which the Treaty was signed, and it has not been carried out. I had a little controversy with the Secretary of State for War the other day which I really did not wish to provoke. I made a non-provocative speech, as I generally do, at a League of Nations meeting the other day. I am sorry the Secretary of State for War is not here, but I thought, as we were discussing armaments, he might be here. I am not complaining that he is not, but I mention it in order to apologise for referring to the question without giving him notice. I thought he would be here in a discussion on armaments. I do it without desiring to make any personal attack if I can, but I am bound to give the figures. I stated—and this is very relevant to the discussion—that the victorious Powers had 10,000,000 trained men at least, and I made it clear that by the Allied Powers I meant not only those of the Allies but those who associated themselves with the Allies after victory was assured. I was referring to Poland, Czechoslovakia, parts of Roumania and Yugo-Slavia which at that time were embodied in the Central Powers. In the second speech delivered on the same subject I said 10,000,000 in- 2130 cluding reserves. That meant, of course, all the men who could be called to the flag on the declaration of war. But the Secretary of State was good enough to reply, and say I had grossly exaggerated, and that, as a matter of fact, there were only 3,000,000, I think he said 3,700,000, men altogether under arms. I never said "under arms."
Anybody who knows anything about the subject knows perfectly well that the peace establishment has no reference at all to the size of the armies called together on mobilisation. France has an Army of between 500,000 and 600,000. If war were declared, France would have 4,000,000 men under arms in a very few days. Italy would have 3,500,000. During the War we had to find out what the manhood of our country really meant, that is, men capable of being armed, between certain ages. France put into the field something like one in eight, or, if you include men over 45, something like one in seven or one in six. I rule these out. She put one in eight into the field within a few days of the declaration of war. That was a gigantic effort, but it is perfectly safe to assume that any country can put one in 10 into the field. Every country in Europe except ourselves has compulsory service, some for 18 months, some for 14 months. I am not sure if one or two have not six months. But every country in Europe has universal service. The population of these countries to which I have referred is 164,000,000. That is not including Russia.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Without Russia that means 16,500,000 men being trained for war. If you take the figure of 9,000,000 that has been given by the hon. and gallant Member, that, of course, makes it a very startling figure indeed. All I said was that there were at least 10,000,000 men trained for war. Does anyone doubt it? As a matter of fact, my figures are a gross under-estimate. What else did I say?—and this has a bearing upon the problem of disarmament—I said that their equipment is much more formidable than it was in 1914. Anybody who knows anything about the equipment of armies knows that that is unfortunately very true. France has 4,500,000 men or 4,750,000. She had not 2131 one-fifth as many guns as she has now. I doubt whether she had one-fifth as many machine guns as she has now or one-fifth as many aeroplanes as she has now, and certainly she has not one-twentieth of the great bombing machines that she has now. They were mostly of the scouting type then. Bombing means the destruction of defenceless cities. Then she had no tanks. That is a new arm and a very ruthless and powerful arm; and, most sinister perhaps of all, you have got now poison gas, which nobody ever contemplated as a possibility in those days. We ruled this out in the Crimean War. We would not have taken it now except in defence, and in war we have to go on developing. What is still more, in the last few months of the War we were developing machinery which was 10 times more destructive than the machinery before the War, and I am talking of all the armies of Europe. Great guns fired 50 or 60 miles. We were contemplating a still bigger one. We have discovered something more destructive than before the War, bombing machines more terrible than any the Germans had. That is going on. It will go on and it means you have at the present moment 15,000,000 men training for slaughter in Europe with an equipment such as the world has never seen in its capacity for horror and devastation.
I ask anybody in the Government, have I exaggerated in the least when I said there were 10,000,000 men equipped with more powerful equipment than in 1914? I was just talking what is commonplace. That is the position. What is the League of Nations doing and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State? He has great influence at Geneva with the League of Nations. You have a Disarmament Commission there which has been sitting a year or two years. It has made no progress. You have had a commission of experts examining things. What are they examining? They are not examining the proposition of making a great cut in the armies. As a matter of fact, the whole thing is rendered nugatory by the fact that they have ruled out the question of conscription. The first thing we did was to bring conscription to an end, and until you bring it to an end in Europe you achieve nothing. You cannot have 15,000,000 men without 2132 arms. You cannot have 15,000,000 men without the necessary adjuncts in the way of artillery, bombing machines, poison gas and machine guns. Conscription is at the very root of it. That has been ruled out altogether.
What are they doing? They are going into the most elaborate calculations—how many marks you must give for industrial resources, for the quantity of coal in a particular country, how much you must allow for the financial resources of the country. They are trying to balance and adjust all these things instead of coming to the point. It is not a Disarmament Commission; it is an algebraic farce. No wonder they have not discovered the "x." I was one of the first to hail Locarno, but only as a start. Make it a start. If you do not go beyond it, it is worse than useless. It is a commitment to us and nothing else, and M. Jouvenel, who was the distinguished representative of France, said freely it did not mean the same thing to France that it did to us. To us it meant something else; to Germany it meant a third thing, and that is what will happen unless you go beyond it. Disarmament is the very first thing we ought to take in hand seriously. What are we doing? We are the only country in Europe that spends more money on armaments.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I will give figures. The hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) has given some very striking figures. He has reduced the present expenditure to the figures of 1913, and these are the figures he has given: Great Britain and Northern Ireland spent £77,000,000 in 1913–14. In 1926–27 they spent £83,000,000. That is, we are spending more in 1926–27 by £6,500,000.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I must give these figures first. They have been worked out by a very highly respected Member on the other side of the House. France spent £72,000,000 in 1913–14, and in 1926–27 £26,000,000, which means that France is down by £36,000,000—and do not make any mistake, the French are quoting these figures. The Germans are down; I need not give the figures. Italy 2133 is down £17,000,000. The United States of America and ourselves are up. I tell you what this means. It means that when we go into the Disarmament Commission and begin to urge them to cut down their armies, they will say "What about you? We, at any rate, have cut down our expenditure on armaments. You have increased yours." What they say in so many words is this, that the two countries that did most of the blethering about peace, Great Britain and the United States of America, have increased their expenditure on armaments. They say, "Before you start lecturing us who are supposed to have greater armaments, cut down your own expenditure." We answer, "Oh, yes, but we have got rid of conscription. We had huge armaments and conscription, and we have abolished them." They say, "Yes, but your defence does not depend on huge armaments. Your defence depends upon your Navy, and our defence depends upon our conscript armies. When it comes to your defence, you will not run any risk in the remotest seas throughout the world, but, if our frontiers break down, our homes are at the mercy of the invader,"—and they have a very bitter memory of what that means. We are not in the moral position to enforce disarmament in Europe until we cut down our own expenditure at home. You may say, "What did you do? I say, quite frankly, that we must take the same risks for peace as we took for war. You must take some risks. Personally, I do not see where the risks are. I do not see an enemy on the horizon. These enemies do not develop very suddenly. They develop over a whole course of years; but I do not see where the enemy is now.
§ Major-General Sir ALFRED KNOX
Did not the right hon. Gentleman state in the early months of 1914, that there seemed to be no danger of war?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I provided a very huge expenditure which, may I remind the hon. Gentleman, turned out to be quite adequate when we came to war.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That shows the sort of rash balderdash that is spoken. I 2134 never said anything of the kind, and I should be glad if the hon. and gallant Gentleman can show it to me. Where did it appear?
Did not the right hon. Gentleman convey the fact that unless there was a reduction of armaments—suggesting that this country must lead the way—war was inevitable in a year or two?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I never said a word about a year or two, but I did say that if these huge armaments go on, war is absolutely inevitable in Europe, as inevitable as it was when that process was going on before 1914. If you repeat that process now, war is inevitable. I was not so foolish as to say that it would occur in a year or two. Now, just look at what the position is. When Mr. Disraeli was Prime Minister, the expenditure on armaments altogether was 2 per cent. of our national income. Later, when Lord Salisbury was the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, the expenditure was also, 2 per cent. of our national income. That is the insurance premium we were paying for the defence of the Empire. When Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister there was a formidable and growing German Fleet, and there was a very formidable French Fleet. Our relations with France were by no means very friendly. There were two or three occasions when we were on the brink of war. There was Fashoda, the quarrel over Siam, the quarrel over Nigeria, and an Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs talking about an unfriendly act by France. She had a formidable fleet, and Germany had a growing fleet, and yet Lord Salisbury and his Ministers—and a very powerful Ministry it was—were of opinion that 2 per cent. of the national income was a sound insurance. What are we paying now? When the German Fleet became more formidable—due very largely to our very stupid action in starting Dreadnought building when we had an undoubted superiority—we started building an absolutely new fleet, and the others had to follow suit. The result was that our expenditure went up to 3.5 per cent.
2135 of our national income. At the present moment our expenditure on armaments is 3.1 per cent. of our national income. The German Fleet is at the bottom of the sea and the French are not spending very much upon their fleet, and yet our fleet at the present moment could meet the whole of the fleets of Europe and, if necessary sink them. These figures which are given of the number of ships that you have in commission are no indication of what our Fleet is. I know perfectly well that when War was declared there were a great many ships that had been put out of commission, and which never appeared in the Admiralty accounts, and they rendered very great service in every sea, in the Mediterranean, in the Pacific, in the Atlantic, and in the German Ocean. There are ships of the same sort now, so that we have got a fleet at our disposal now which is more powerful than the whole of the fleets of Europe.
In spite of that fact, we had a programme laid down at the beginning of the present Government's administration which involved an additional expenditure upon new ships and upon Singapore which came to from £65,000,000 to £70,000,000. If the Government decided that the insurance premium is too high having regard to the facts in the world, and to the fact that we have no enemy near our shores that can touch us, and that 2 per cent. is quite enough, they would reduce the expenditure of this country by £40,000,000. You will never reduce armaments by arguing with experts. The First Lord of the Admiralty is just the sort of man experts like. If you are going to start arguing with experts you will never succeed. With experts, whether they are scientific or theological, there is always a certain lack of balance in their own job, and if you begin to say to them, "Twenty cruisers! Fifteen are quite enough," you cannot argue. It is impossible. You have not the technical knowledge, and they will "do you in" every time. That is my experience as Finance Minister, and I know it is the experience of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he was beaten the year before last by the experts.
There is only one thing to do, and that is to say to them, "The insurance premium we paid in the days of Lord Salisbury is quite good enough now. We will 2136 give you so much," and your experts must put their heads together and the survivor will get what is left. Lock them up in a room. Tell them that they have got to distribute a certain amount. What would happen then? The Chancellor of the Exchequer knows it perfectly well. When you go to a Cabinet meeting to try and cut down the Navy Estimates, the Army always supports them. Why? Because they expect the Navy to do the same thing in their turn. One good turn deserves another, and when the Air Force comes along the other two help and they work together. But if you said to them, "Eighty-six millions—or whatever the figure is—is all that you are going to get," then these gentlemen would begin to criticise each other. The Army will say, "What do you want with so many men? and the Navy will do the same thing. You will then get the experts on the side of economy, instead of conspiring together to come to the Treasury as they do at the present moment.
It is the only way in which you will succeed in getting a reduction. You must take the risks. I cannot see at the present moment what the risks are. There is one way of dealing with a situation like this, and that is for the politicians to take the risk, and to ask—"Can you think of any menace at the present moment that may provoke a war in which our Army and Navy may be involved in so many years? That is a risk you cannot ask the admirals to take. They are bound to give their views on every conceivable risk. The risk that matters is the risk which the politician ought to take, and he must take it. After all, here you have an overwhelming and crushing burden of taxation. The greatest risk we are taking is the effect of this terrible burden of taxation upon our industry. As somebody pointed out, and even the Disarmament Commission has pointed out, industrial strength is an essential part of the efficiency of your armaments. You are crippling our war strength by having these excessive Estimates and by building cruisers to-day which, when the time comes—I hope to God it will not—will be of no use. You will want something else, something different. Change is very rapid now, and you are building something that will be quite obsolete when the hour of danger comes, and yet you are doing it to an extent of £40,000,000 to £50,000,000 a year 2137 more than you need. It means that you will be crushing the country with hundreds of millions of taxation for no purpose at all.
The Prime Minister was very complacent the other day about the condition of Europe. The Secretary of State was not quite so complacent. He spoke of possible trouble. I do not know whether he saw Mr. Stresemann's speech in which he used almost the same language, but he did not use any words of menace There is no doubt at all, however, that there are now elements in Europe that were not in existence even three or four years ago. Anybody who looks at the Continental Press will see that they are throbbing with anxiety and full of doubts. If you have these huge armies going on when these questions are being debated, those armies are there at the hand of any man who wants to make mischief. I am very reluctant to put in a word of criticism of the Foreign Secretary's speech, especially as he laid down at Locarno principles of which I thoroughly approved, but I do wish that he had seen his way to go further in the direction of pledging the Government to use the whole of its great influence in Europe, and first of all with his own colleagues, in order to cut down armaments. He talked about arbitration, about our being the pioneers. We were at one time the leaders in arbitration, but anyone who has been to Geneva can tell the Secretary of State that we are now rather holding back and stopping the way. I hope the Foreign Secretary will use his influence for the furthering of disarmament and arbitration, without which, I still say—it may not be in a year or two but in the not distant future—unless these two things are established, there will be an upheaval in the world such as it has never seen before.
§ Mr. DUFF COOPER
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from the word "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words,recognising that the efforts of His Majesty's Government have been constantly directed to the mainteance of peace, the reduction of armaments, and the advancement of the authority of the League of Nations, and remaining opposed to the assumption by this country of the extended and dangerous obligations embodied in the Protocol of 1924, approves the policy pursued by His Majesty's Government.2138 So far the Government side have very little to answer in what has been said by the Opposition to-day. We have had some interesting views on disarmament and some vague suggestions in favour of it, with which we all agree, but we have had no real case made out against the Government for anything that they have done wrong or failed to do. In regard to the somewhat technical speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), I do not pretend to give an answer, because I am not competent to enter into technical matters, and I shall leave that to my military friend, the First Lord of the Admiralty, whose knowledge of these technical questions is superior to mine. But with regard to the speech of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), while I shall not enter into the statistics which he brought forward, I may say that I never heard statistics given in this House by any Member that were not later contradicted by someone else, and I feel confident that this evening there will be someone who will take upon himself the task of putting the right hon. Gentleman right on his statistics. With regard to the right hon. Gentleman, I always have a little less confidence in his statistics than in those of some other Members because they have often, in the course of one speech, an alarming way of expanding. The right hon. Gentleman explained, for instance, a figure that he had given, of 10,000,000 armed men in Europe, and defended it by saying that there were 10,000,000 men who might in certain circumstances be called to the Colours, but later in the same speech, in the flow of his oratory, he said that there were 15,000,000 men in training for battle in Europe to-day, which is a very different thing from there being 10,000,000 men who might in certain circumstances be called to the Colours.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I intervene only to correct the hon. Member. The statement I made was that there were at least 10,000,000 men trained in the use of arms. That is true. They are either receiving their training or have been trained.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It simply means that under universal service you have in Europe now at least 10,000,000 men—that is the figure I gave—who have been trained in the use of arms.
§ Mr. COOPER
There is a real difference between men who have been trained for arms and men in training for arms. I have myself been trained for arms, and many hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions more have been trained for arms, but they cannot be said to be in training for arms to-day or likely to render their country much service in the next war. The right hon. Gentleman must concede that that is a real point and a point of some substance. But if his case be true, if it be the fact that there are so many millions of men training in Europe to-day, if there are between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000 who may be called to the Colours in France tomorrow, that seems to me to be a justification, if a justification were needed, of our present expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman said, first, that there is this enormous potential army in France, and two minutes later he said that France was reducing her expenditure every day and had reduced it by £32,000,000, while our expenditure was going up, and he asked, "How can you justify it?" The right hon. Gentleman justified it himself.
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman went out of his way to make a violent attack upon one of the branches of the League of Nations which is now doing, and has done, extremely useful work at Geneva. I refer to the Disarmament Commission. It was mentioned in the official Motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition, but he did not refer to the slowness for which the Commission has been condemned. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs went so far as to say that the Commission was nothing but a farce. That kind of spirit does not help the League of Nations. It is a Commission in which 20 countries are represented. Its members have been working hard and have produced extremely valuable reports, and they have come to certain conclusions. They have not done anything; they could not do anything, for they were not plenipotentiaries who had authority to sign Treaties or to take any steps. They were merely appointed to inquire into the possibility of disarma- 2140 ment, to explore the tremendous technical difficulties with which every branch of the question is fraught, and to try to find some solution.
They had, for instance, to explore the very difficult question of the true meaning of "trained reserves," which the right hon. Gentleman himself does not seem to understand. They have found that these words, like the word "aggression," it is almost impossible to define. It is a very simple thing for anyone in this House to say that this country has so many trained reserves and another country so many more, but what do we mean by trained reserves? Do we mean only those who have been drilled as soldiers, or do we mean also engineers, and if we mean engineers do we mean motor drivers? Every army in these days must have motor drivers. That brings us down to chauffeurs as trained reserves. Every army must have its medical board and its doctors, and it is quite arguable that every doctor may be included in trained reserves. These are the technical difficulties into which that Commission has been going quietly and in which it has done very valuable work. It is not fair to the Commission and it does no good to the League of Nations when responsible statesmen like the right hon. Gentleman refer to a Commission of that kind as a farce.
The Leader of the Opposition did not go very closely into the words of the Motion. He did not explain satisfactorily how we should have done better by making more preparations for the Naval Disarmament Conference. In so far as it might be regrettable that certain diplomatic negotiations did not take place before the Conference actually met, he has the expressed agreement of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary. The Lord President of the Council in another place also said that he thought it quite possible that previous negotiations might have led to a better result. It was possibly a mistake in tactics. If so, it was to be regretted. But that does not justify the Vote of Censure of the Opposition. I do not admit that it was a mistake, although I am and have always been a believer in the old diplomacy, which has hitherto been so much condemned by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and which I am glad to see, they have now 2141 come round to support whole-heartedly. But I have not such faith in the efficacy of the old diplomacy as to believe that even it cannot sometimes fail. I believe on this occasion it would have failed.
I believe that if it was impossible for the right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and Lord Cecil, speaking across a table to representatives of the United States, to make plain to those representatives what our real intention was and what were the needs of this country and what our figures were, I do not believe that we should have succeeded in doing it over the wires or the wireless or whatever connects London and Washington. These negotiations, if they had been entered into, would probably have revealed the fact that there was no basis upon which we could meet the American Government, and that the Conference that was suggested was doomed to end in failure. Supposing that that fact had been revealed, we should never have gone to the Conference. That would have been a far greater calamity than the failure of the Conference, certainly from the point of view of the Government. The only real difference would be that we would be discussing to-day a vote of censure framed in much more violent language, and that we should be denounced from the benches opposite for having refused to go down to Geneva openly, at the request of the President of the United States, to discuss our differences and to lay our cards on the table, and because we had preferred to go back to the old bad methods of secret diplomacy conducted by diplomatists who delight in huge armaments, and because they had succeeded in crushing the Conference before it took place.
I believe there is a strong feeling in America in favour of having the largest navy in the world. It is not an unnatural feeling. They are the richest people in the world, and if they wish to have the largest navy in the world, I for one would advise this Government to let them have it. We have many sound reasons for adopting a policy of that kind. We could be content with saying that we will in future protect our shores from every possible attack, protect our commerce from every possible menace, leaving out of consideration altogether the possibility of our shores or our commerce being attacked by the United States. I believe that that would be a practical policy, and 2142 that it is the only way in which we can beat the big navy party in America.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Does the hon. Member realise that that is quite impossible as long as we maintain our present right of capture at sea?
§ Mr. COOPER
That is an entirely different point. The only way in which you can defeat the big navy party in the United States is the way I have suggested. If they see that nobody is building against them, they will not long induce the people of the United States to demand, or the taxpayers to pay for, a vast armament built against an imaginary foe—an imaginary foe which can exist only in the diseased imagination of some kind of jingo who can even imagine it possible that there could be a war between the two countries. The Foreign Secretary has said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, and it has been said over and over again, that war between England and the United States is unthinkable. Then let us cease to talk about it. If it did take place remember this: We are not divided from the United States by the sea. The British Empire is divided from the United States by 2,000 or 3,000 miles of land frontier. That frontier is not defended, and never has been defended, by a single soldier.
Is it not absurd for two Empires which are connected by this long land frontier to spend money on building naval armaments against the possibility of war between them? There is the final argument why we ought to disregard the American Navy, and that is that we cannot stop them building the biggest navy if they want to do so. If they choose to adopt, if they were to be so mad as to adopt, the policy of laying down two keels to every one that we laid down, we could not stop them doing it. We could not afford it. They are a richer people than we are, and if they are determined to waste their money in that way, there is no power on earth that can prevent them. I think the latest decision of the Admiralty to delay our cruiser programme, although it has not been received this evening with that welcome which I think it deserves from the benches opposite, is a sign that they are adopting the kind of policy which I am suggesting. It has been received well throughout the world, it has been 2143 commented on in every newspaper in Europe, and action of that kind is worth a great many disarmament conferences. I myself have always been pessimistic with regard to the result of disarmament conferences. I do not believe that they will ever induce people to disarm unless they are first persuaded that they are safe. I think the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs is wrong when he talks vaguely about disarmament and puts arbitration in the background altogether. Not until people feel safe will they lay down their weapons. You cannot persuade a man to take a journey in the dark unarmed if he thinks he is going to be attacked, and you will not persuade the nations of Europe to disarm unless you can persuade them that there is a power and a law in Europe and in the world which will protect them when attacked. That is the principle of arbitration.
We are all in favour of the principle of arbitration, just as we are all in favour of disarmament. The only difference between us and hon. Gentlemen opposite is that some people want to go rather faster and some people want to go slower, some people think we are dawdling on the way, some people think we are hurrying too fast; but surely we must all admit—and when I say "we" I mean not Great Britain but the British Empire, the great Commonwealth of independent free nations—that we shall all agree that the nations, as they proceed along that path towards peace and disarmament, must keep step with one another. That is the case which the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary has for refusing at present to sign the Optional Clause or to undertake any obligations on behalf of this Government. We cannot do so until he has the full consent and good will of every other part of the British Empire. I think it was wrong to accuse the right hon. Gentleman of setting up the British Empire against the League of Nations. He has done nothing of the kind. He sees the British Empire as an integral and a most important part of the British Empire. I must ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to look at this question not from a British point of view, not from an Imperial point of view, but from a detached and from an international point 2144 of view. You have all these various nations of the world, and you are trying to build them together into a fabric which will make for universal peace.
I do not know whether any hon. Gentleman has ever indulged in a pastime which should be reserved for children, but which is sometimes practised by grown-up people—jigsaw puzzles. I will explain it to those who have never seen this game. You have a number of tiny pieces of wood which, when fitted together, make a picture. We are trying to make a picture of peace. It is broken up into a thousand pieces. Right across it all we have got one bit which sticks together. It starts at one corner of the picture and it ends almost at the other. That is the British Empire. Just because there are bits that we cannot fit in, because, for the moment, we cannot find where they belong and how they should hang together in the whole, is that any reason why we should break up the one piece that does fit together, the one huge substantial lump that does really belong to the picture of peace that we are trying to construct? Since the beginning of the League of Nations the British Empire has been its main support, not only for idealistic reasons but because the British Empire has least to gain from war, has most to hope for from peace, has no further ambition. That is one of the reasons why the British Empire has always upheld peace and the League of Nations. The League itself is incomplete, but the British Empire is like one of the main pillars of it, and it would be worse than folly, it would be madness, if in our eagerness and our haste to build the whole building we knocked down the pillar upon which the structure itself depends.
I am sure those sentiments and those considerations are always present to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary when he represents us abroad. Since he has been handed many compliments this evening I should like myself to assure the House that there is no statesman in Europe to-day whose reputation stands so high as that of the right hon. Gentleman. Other nations know that what he says he means, and for a speech for which he has been so much criticised by some eager enthusiasts and some of those whom I have described as being too much in a hurry—the speech 2145 he made last September at Geneva—most sensible people, not in this country alone but in Europe, were thankful, because they knew then exactly where this country stood. If there is one thing more than another that makes for war in foreign affairs, it is uncertainly. I do not agree with the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs when he said that Germany went to war because she had such a large army. People do not go to war because they have a large army. They go to war because they do not know what is going to happen, are nervous, and think "This is the moment to strike." Germany thought this country was not coming into the War. That was one of the reasons—I do not say it was the only reason—which led to the War. The words spoken by the right hon. Gentleman at Geneva, which made our position perfectly plain, which let the world know where we stood, and how far we were prepared to go at present, helped to clear the air and helped to establish confidence throughout Europe.
I am as keen a supporter of the League of Nations as anybody in this House, and I will defend every action the right hon. Gentleman has taken since he first assumed the position he now occupies, since when he has shown himself the best friend the League has ever had. He has attended every Council of the League and at this moment, to the real friends of peace, the character alone of the right hon. Gentleman is an international asset.
When we consider the question with which this country is faced at the present time, the possibility of another war and the cure, and the only other suggestions which have been made, such as those of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, let us ask ourselves what he would do if he were in the position of the Foreign Secretary to-day and whether he would act differently. I frankly will do him the credit of saying that I do not believe he would. I do not believe for a moment the right hon. Gentleman would sign the Optional Clause without the consent and without the goodwill of the other Dominions and the other parts of the British Empire. I hope that steps may be taken to persuade the Dominions to take the view that it is possible for us to sign that. As the position stands at 2146 present, we have not refused to sign but we have agreed with the Dominions that we will not sign until there has been further consultation, and I hope that consultation is taking place, and that the Secretary of State for the Colonies, during his journey round the world, is discussing this, amongst other matters, with the Governments of the various Dominions.
Would the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, if he were now in power, sign the Geneva Protocol? He brings out that Protocol regularly now in his speeches on foreign affairs. I think he makes a mistake in wedding himself to the Protocol. I am sure that if he were in power he would have nothing to do with the Protocol, nor with the Treaty of Mutual Assistance. He would have considerable difficulty in defending the Protocol from the fact that it had been condemned by his own Chancellor of the Exchequer and by his own Lord Chancellor. All the arguments which he used in turning down the Treaty of Mutual Assistance apply absolutely with the same force to the Geneva Protocol. He said that under the Treaty of Mutual Assistance we were assuming obligations which we could not be certain of fulfilling when the time came, and, above all, that we were providing no guarantee which would justify us in pursuing a policy of disarmament. He thought that having signed the Treaty of Mutual Assistance we should have been obliged to increase rather than diminish our armaments. All those arguments, and many others besides—such as the refusal of Canada to join the Treaty of Mutual Assistance—apply equally well to the Geneva Protocol. I have no wish to sneer at the Geneva Protocol. The ambition and ideals of those who framed it were lofty, and it was a very sincere contribution to the cause which all wise people must have at heart, but I do not believe that in the Geneva Protocol lies the gateway, the path, to that lasting peace which is the goal of our endeavour. The Geneva Protocol seems to me rather like a vague sketch of what we ultimately hope to obtain, and not a guide map which will enable us to find the way. The way must necessarily be long, it must necessarily be difficult, it must necessarily be fraught with obstacles at every turn. I believe that with patience and 2147 with fortitude we may succeed in making some progress along the road, and if we do not reach the end ourselves, we may at any rate make it easier and smoother for those who come after us to do so. But the first step is to get rid of the spirit of distrust, suspicion and fear among the nations of the world, and we can never get rid of that unless we first get rid of that same spirit of distrust, fear and suspicion amongst our own people at home.
§ Commander COCHRANE
I beg to second the Amendment, so ably moved by my hon. Friend. In listening to the Debate, I have noticed a curious similarity in the speeches which have come from the opposite benches. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) and the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) both devoted a great deal of their speeches on disarmament to an explanation of the technique of war. Indeed, the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull was scaremongering, if he will forgive me for saying so. The picture which he painted of the future of his country was really very dreadful, and I was only comforted by the thought that I do not believe he had devoted sufficient care to considering the differences between the past and the present of naval warfare. I desire to limit the very few remarks I am going to make to the parts of the Resolution and of the Amendment which refer to the recent Geneva Conference—the Coolidge Conference. It certainly would not have occurred to me to describe the delegation which went to that Conference as a militarist delegation, or to regard that as a term of reproach, because the purpose of that Conference was definitely to consider naval disarmament. We accepted the invitation of the Government of a foreign country to come together and discuss naval disarmament. I was surprised to find amongst the party opposite the view that on this question of naval disarmament we are never to get down to hard facts. In this case there is the reproach that the Government sent a military deputation to discuss naval disarmament. In another place Viscount Haldane, speaking on this matter, said:If you want to get any agreement for the restriction of armaments, it is essential to my mind that it should come from a larger point of view than merely that of the ques- 2148 tion of the armaments immediately concerned.That is not a general expression of opinion. That was an expression of opinion in regard to this particular Conference, which was called for the specific purpose of reducing naval armament. What is this larger point of view? Is it that we want peace? Are we not all agreed upon that? I find it difficult to understand this peculiar attitude of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to the question of naval disarmament.
May I give an illustration of the difficulty which I find in understanding their point of view. Heaven knows there are enough difficulties without creating further imaginary difficulties. Why do they not face the real facts? Take, for example, the Economic Conference, which was recently held. Suppose for the purpose of party politics all the Governments represented at that Conference had sent either convinced Free Traders or convinced Protectionists and had refused to employ any experts? The proceedings of such a Conference might have been of interest as an example of community singing, but when the delegates got back to their own country they would find the problem was left exactly as it was when they started. And yet on this question of naval disarmament we are told By the resolution which has been moved that we are not to get down to this problem.
The answer emerges from the fact that the party opposite has preconceived notions on the subject of naval disarmament. Not only that, but beyond that there are political theories and party cries which have gone on for years, and there is still a belief amongst hon. Members opposite that a Tory Government means big armaments and no reduction of armaments. The Leader of the Opposion said that this was largely a psychological question, and I agree with him. May I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that there would be a very good ground for the starting of his propaganda in the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull. But while I agree that this is largely, a psychological question, it appears to me that the difficulty of getting the party opposite to face the facts lies in the reason which was stated quite openly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member 2149 for Carnarvon Boroughs, and when they come with their pre-conceived notions up against those in the naval service who know the facts, then the facts are too much for them, and instead of facing them, right hon. Gentlemen opposite are constantly evading those facts in order to hang on to their preconceived notions. They will not admit that those who have spent their lifetime in the Navy are the best persons to point out the difficulties and the dangers to be faced in bringing about such a policy.
The Labour party opposite have a policy of their own in this matter. Only a few months ago, on behalf of the Labour party, the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) moved a Resolution to the effect that all ships over 5,000 tons should be scrapped. What authority is there for that suggestion? What authority is there for declaring that we should not have ships of more than 5,000 tons? Why not 3,000 tons or 2,000 tons? I feel disposed to press this point because after all in this matter of naval disarmament we are not only considering the great general question of the defence of the Empire, and the necessity for defending the Empire; upon that question we are all agreed. We are not considering any mathematical formulæ when we talk of ships, guns, calibres, and so on, but what we really mean is that which we have instinctively relied upon for generations, namely, the men who man those ships. What authority have the party opposite for declaring, without naval advice, that it is right for this country to send men to sea to defend our country in ships not over 5,000 tons?
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
May I point out that my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley put that Motion forward as a proposal for mutual agreement, and all other countries were to agree. That is the answer. It was not only this country but all the countries were to agree, if we could get them into one frame of mind.
§ Commander COCHRANE
I think the hon. and gallant Member will agree with me, from his knowledge of the Navy, that you could not possibly reduce all ships to 5,000 tons and leave everything else as it is now. If our greatest ship were 5,000 tons it would be possible to 2150 immediately evolve a flying boat or submarine which would put that ship in danger. That is one of our difficulties in considering this matter. People still think that if you can reduce the tonnage of all ships we should have a nice little tea party, and everything else would remain the same. That is not so, because the naval designers would get busy and conditions would soon be changed entirely. If people would only realise that fact we should not hear so much of these theories. I would like to impress upon hon. Members that upon this question of the type of ship which we are going to employ for the defence of the Empire and for the defence of our trade, each and all of us have a very direct responsibility. I have mentioned the proposal which has been put forward by the party opposite, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull has given us an explanation of it. On this subject there can be no doubt that the policy has to be laid down by Parliament. It is a mistake for hon. Members to think I have suggested that our naval officers should be allowed to lay down our naval policy, because that has to be laid down by Parliament.
Of course, Parliament is not capable of deciding as to the details. In general, naval strategy is comparatively simple, and the principles of it are not very difficult. They are very much like the principles adopted in painting a picture when you arrange the colours on the canvas. I know there would be a great difference between the daub I should make and the picture which somebody who knew something about it would paint. The principles of naval strategy are also simple, and the whole difficulty arises in the application. For that reason I press upon hon. Members the view we hold of a very direct responsibility when we claim that the tonnage of our ships should be so reduced as to upset the whole balance of naval warfare. If anybody puts forward such a proposal as that which was suggested in the spring by the party opposite, then they must accept a responsibility which I decline to accept. I have attempted to put before the House a less highly coloured view than that put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend. In this matter of naval disarmament we have a solid foundation in the Washington Agreement. We have had the 2151 Geneva Conference which did not succeed, but surely it is possible to regard that merely as a committee meeting subsequent to the general Washington Conference. Why is it necessary to bring votes of censure against the Government when they have already announced a reduction in their programme? It appears to me that that policy lays down a solid foundation, and undoubtedly indicates a desire for a further conference. Therefore, I think a very mistaken policy is embodied in the Resolution which the Opposition have put forward.
§ Mr. BUXTON
The hon. Member who moved this Amendment has been supporting words of praise to the Foreign Secretary for having advanced the authority of the League of Nations. I am very glad that that is what the hon. and gallant Member wishes to do, but we differ profoundly as to the way to do it. We differ as to the method, and we differ in regard to the spirit in which that work should be done. Our policy is a whole-hearted devotion to the cause of peace and a 100 per cent. activity and assiduity in the work of the League of Nations. We hold that a change in the public mind is not only possible, but might soon be reached if properly promoted. As the Leader of the Opposition said the other day, it is not impossible to abolish the military mind. We urge three sides of League activity, namely, disarmament, arbitration and security. In that respect we differ from hon. Members opposite who are doubtful whether security in the sense in which it is often used can be visualised at the present time.
An uncontrovertible argument has been put forward to-day for more rapid disarmament. Perhaps not much is gained by disputing over figures, but I might remind the House that to-day the "Times," which is certainly not disposed to exaggerate the cost of armaments, confirms in a special article the fact that our own expenditure is considerably increased. This matter of arbitration is not merely a financial matter; it is a moral matter, too. We induced our enemies to sign the Treaty of Versailles on the promise that the limitation of armaments should be rapid. Although foreigners do not always think we are sincere, we are very sensitive about 2152 moral obligations, and, surely, the Foreign Secretary must feel deeply mortified in his heart of hearts that things have not been moving more quickly than they have. Some people may console themselves, as the "Times" attempts to do to-day, by declaring that our present expenditure is really reduced to the standard indicated in Article VIII of the Treaty of Versailles. But if that be all the standard, it is not a standard that satisfies us on these benches by any means. The standard of 1919 is the standard that ought to be worked for, and it ought to be worked for with unremitting assiduity.
Not very much has been said to-day about the situation which causes anxiety. We regard it as a very urgent and dangerous situation. The proof of the failure of the Locarno Treaties, is that disarmament has not proceeded, that there are urgent dangers in some parts of the world, to which I will come a little later, and that there is a tendency to rival groupings. The recent Treaty between France and Yugo-Slavia is only a sample of such treaties. It arouses an immediate disposition to bellicosity in Belgrade, and the repercussion of that is that Italy is disposed to take a firmer grip upon Albania. France and Italy are now playing in the most dangerous part of Europe, namely, the Balkans, the part that Russia and Austria played before the War. The Foreign Secretary may say that this is not our doing, but he can influence the disposition which leads to these dangerous groupings. The remedy is not isolated Treaties, but general Treaties. The notable thing is that these very States which are forming themselves into groups are the States which at Geneva urged that agreements should not be bilaterial but general, and yet we are regarded by them as the Power which does not favour general agreements, as the Power which lags behind.
The Foreign Secretary's personal attitude has been alluded to to-day. It is a great puzzle to me. He claims great friendship for the League, and we give him all credit for his constant attendance there, and praise his work at Locarno. But what a tragedy it is that, if he desires to put his friendship into practice, an impression has been given out there that he is not the warm friend of 2153 the League, but that he is the League's cold friend. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) made rather an amusing comparison between the Foreign Secretary and a stork standing on the edge of Lake Maggiore at Locarno, and priding itself that to catch one trout was all it need ever do. I feel that the Foreign Secretary might more fittingly be the subject of another ornithological parallel. Is he not rather more like a hen in charge of ducklings and constantly warning the ducklings not to get into the water? He is always attempting to call a halt in the activity of the League. We know that he does not favour the optional Clause, or further arbitration. He went out of his way to attack the Protocol system at Geneva, not persuasively, as he might reasonably have done, but provocatively and inimically. That was the cold douche that had such a startling effect upon the Assembly. And then, in regard to Hungary he has created the impression that he does not want to stand actively by the principle of arbitration involved in the Arbitral Tribunal. In another place, noble Lords have described that action as a blow to arbitration. The result has been the kind of revolt of the small Powers to which the Leader of the Opposition alluded this afternoon.
I have always hoped that the Foreign Secretary was working to the best of his ability for the League, but we could not but have our doubts, and, to our chagrin, the worst doubts we have entertained have been confirmed by the resignation of Lord Cecil and the reasons which he has given for that resignation. In the matter of the procedure of the Council, for which this country must be so largely responsible, the criticisms at Geneva this year were not infrequent. Mr. Hambro, who made such an impression, talked about the Council within a Council; the term "Holy Alliance" was freely used; constant adjournments were deplored; and the "Manchester Guardian," I think it was, commented that all the time there were urgent dangers which ought to have come before the Council—that was in the summer—and which were not discussed there. Then we had the Foreign Secretary making some analogies to the League which throw light on his idea of its functions. In July he made a speech in which he spoke of desiring to see the 2154 growth of the League as imperceptible as the growth of our own Constitution; and at Geneva he spoke of comparing it with the growth of an oak, which we might watch without action on our own part for an immensity of time. But can one really give utterance to analogies like that without creating ideas which do harm, which tend to pacify what ought to be a sense of urgency? Is it not much more like the case of a ship that has sprung a leak which has to be stopped? Are we really so safe that we can feel that the League will grow automatically like an oak tree? I should have said it must be at least a poplar, or some quick-growing tree, to make any possible comparison.
Then the Foreign Secretary alluded to the stopping of the gap in the Covenant as something which was like stopping the desirable passages in a house—it was going to cramp the freedom of the League. What an extraordinary analogy that is. The only freedom alluded to in the current talk of stopping the gap is the freedom to make war. It really seems to me that the Foreign Secretary has been obsessed by the idea that the members of the League want to make it into a super-State, that it is trying to interfere with our internal affairs. He reminds me of the statement that Professor Gilbert Murray made about the strange people who do not want to abolish war. He said there was a class of Liberals—who, I trust, are not represented in this House—who feel that in abolishing war you would be abolishing some form of liberty which would be a loss to the world. I thought that a very true thing was said by one of the men who has been most distinguished in the work of the League, M. Rappard, who has been so well known on the Mandates Commission. He drew this analogy, which seemed to me to be excellent:For a Statesman to proclaim the outlawry of war, while refusing to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of any tribunal for the settlement of all justiciable disputes, strikes me as about as futile as for the captain of a football team to repudiate sharp practices while denying access to the field of an umpire.The result of our attitude at Geneva is that we are not in the van of leadership. It seems to me rather an indignity for this country, a regrettable event, that Germany came before us in deciding to sign the optional Clause.
2155 I want to urge a particular sphere of activity in connection with arbitration. The preparatory Commission has been charged with studying schemes, not only for disarmament, but for security and arbitration. In connection with that a proposal has been put forward by a great friend of this country, Dr. Nansen, who, praising the action of England in support of the League, has proposed an optional convention for arbitration in case of failure of conciliation by the Council, the object being to avoid the objection which this country has felt to the obligation to impose sanctions. Now if the Council differs, if one disputant or two disputants reject the award, there may be the right of private war. Dr. Nansen says, Why not have an arbitration treaty agreeing to arbitrate, avoiding the obligations objected to, and removing at the same time what exists strictly in the Covenant, the right of private war. Surely it is our duty to give a lead if possible, and I trust the Foreign Secretary has not excluded from his mind the possibility of supporting the Nansen proposal, all the more because, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, he had committed himself to words in one of the resolutions passed at the Assembly this year which binds him to support the study of security.
When you come to security, there is one side of it upon which I particularly want to dwell. We are for the principles of the Protocol, and there is a feature of the question of security with which the Protocol is bound up which has not been very much discussed here, but has been latterly discussed at Geneva—the machinery that exists already for conciliation. The Preparatory Commission early last year found that you cannot divide the question of disarmament from the question of conciliation, and a committee was appointed to study the particular applications of Article 11, on which Lord Cecil reported in the document that we have had as a White Paper. M. Broucquère further on elaborated a memorandum on that subject in which he said we ought to define Article 11 if we wanted to get security, the end being to meet the general desire not to dwell on sanctions—on punishments—but on prevention, and that surely is an aim that ought to appeal to 2156 the Foreign Secretary. We believe in security, which must be a general scheme, but in conciliation we believe too, and if the Foreign Secretary is opposed to general schemes, surely he ought to develop the existing machinery of conciliation to the utmost.
Let me put this to the test of certain dangers that exist to-day. Many disputes and danger points have been brought before the Council under Article 11. It was used notably in the case of the Aaland Islands and the Bulgarian case of 1925. Next week cases such as that of Lithuania will be brought before the Council under the same Article. The Under-Secretary may say: "Why forestall cases which have not been brought before the Council by the parties concerned? Why not leave them till danger arises? I want to urge that we have evidence, in the facts of the past, of the extreme danger of leaving cases of dispute unsettled and the desirability of bringing them before the Council, not as late as possible, in the last resort, as the Foreign Secretary appears to advocate, but in the earlier resort in order to avoid danger.
Let me instance one case where immense danger was run. In the invasion by Greece of Bulgaria intense danger of conflagration was aroused. Two appeals by the Bulgarian Government had been previously rejected by the Council as not a matter of urgency. As the result, war was risked, and we all know that war on a small scale will perhaps inevitably become war on a large scale. It has been stated that war for two Powers is war for all. You may also say that some incident, or a request by one of the parties, ought to be awaited. In the case of the Aaland Islands there was neither. It was brought by Lord Curzon before the Council because it was a matter that might give rise to an awkward situation.
The second paragraph of Article 11 particularly contemplates cases of that kind, and alludes in these words to such cases where it speaks of threats of war and circumstances which threaten to disturb the good understanding between nationals, evidently not designed—because other parts of the Clause are designed—for immediately urgent, but for possibly urgent matters. There was 2157 a proof in the history of the Council of the extreme danger of drifting that occurred in 1921. That was another case of intense anxiety where the Serbian troops invaded Albania, after the Albanian Government had appealed to the (Council in June and the Council had replied: "Better wait for the Council of Ambassadors." In August an excuse was used for marching into Albania, and then the Albanians appealed both to the Council and to the Assembly. The result was that just in time a conflagration was avoided, but not before 100 villages had been destroyed or injured, and it was only by the extreme activity of the Council, and possibly by luck, that a spread of the conflagration was avoided.
We have at this moment two extremely dangerous points. One is again the case of Albania, and there you are dealing with a conflict of ambitions. The relations of Italy and Jugoslavia are strained, and more than strained, over the Albanian question. Last March the Italian Government sent a note to the other great Powers, but not to the League, calling attention to the movement of Jugoslav troops, and the Jugoslavs themselves urged an inquiry by the League. There surely was an opportunity for His Majesty's Government to bring the matter before the Council and attempt to avoid danger in the future. Instead of that, the matter was treated on old-fashioned, diplomatic lines. The three Powers offered to lend their military attaches—a return to the old method of the Concert. The offer was not accepted, and the chance was lost of removing a danger which remains today. You have in that difficult country roads being driven through which are believed by the Jugoslavs to be purely military. You have incidents like the arrest of a dragoman the other day. You have the frontier traversed backwards and forwards by brigand bands, and imminent danger of frontier incidents. I hope the Foreign Secretary will consider the use of Article 11 in order to bring this matter before the Council and lead to some system of frontier control which may possibly save the world from great disaster.
The other case is somewhat similar. It is the case of the frontier between Jugoslavia and Bulgaria. There you are dealing with another great problem, the 2158 question of minorities. You have there a severe conflict of ideals and partialities between the population and the Government. That country has been since long before the War, what Lord Lansdowne called it in 1902, the chief powder magazine of Europe. I would like to urge on the Foreign Secretary that Lord Lansdowne' s example might very well be emulated with regard to these powder magazines. Lord Lansdowne worked very hard in attempting to induce some mitigation of tension and disorder there in order to minister, not only decent local government, but to ensure international peace. The whole question of minorities is, in a sense, relevant to this question of security, because everyone knows that unless you get contentment and ordered government, or unless you can arrive at an alteration of frontiers the world will not remain at peace. And it was, indeed, under this Government that a report to the Council was made in 1923 which very truly said, expressing the views of the British Government:The greatest importance attaches to the strict maintenance of the system of minority protection laid down by the Peace Treaties. The system is one under which personal and political rights of many millions of people in Europe are secured, and its strict observance is a matter which directly affects the peace of Europe as a whole.That is a statement of the views of the Government, but we all know that there has been a lamentable failure to apply the Minority Treaties or to remove to any extent the sufferings and grievances of very large populations. The particular case that I am alluding to is one where not only bad government is concerned but international peace. I want to urge that here again you should, if possible, use the Council not in the last resort but at the earliest possible moment. You should bring this case under Article 11 before an early meeting of the Council. You should follow the precedent which was set by the Council in 1925 where an incident occurred—the invasion by the Greek Army of Bulgarian territory which caused sudden and intense alarm throughout the world and which was just rescued from disaster in time. That was the case where the telegram reached the President of the Council at Geneva and led to an order to the Greek Army to retire only in the nick of time. One hour later, according to the report, and a certain town would have been taken, and it 2159 would have been no longer possible to prevent war on a regular scale. Everyone remembers that incident because of the fear which it inspired of European conflagration. Sir Horace Rumbold was sent to the spot, and, by the authority of the Council, not only was immediate war avoided but a system was established which removed the danger of frontier incidents in the future. You have now, under this Conciliation system, two Swedish officers appointed by the League, one on each side of the frontier. It is exactly the system which you want on the other dangerous frontiers which I have mentioned.
The Foreign Secretary has gone out of his way to claim the great credit due to the League which has been involved in this piece of conciliation. These two cases are part of the whole system of security, and they are cases where, even without any emendation of the Covenant, much as that is needed, you can do a very great deal to produce that security which in turn is necessary to lead to disarmament. If these dangers are removed, surely it will be time for some further steps to become possible in regard to arbitration. Until arbitration advances we shall not get rid of the atmosphere of tension in Europe.
I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) that the crux of the whole matter is our relations with America. Till they are set on a peaceable basis it will not be easy to remove the tension in Europe. Is it not an absurd paradox that, while we are declaring that war with America is unthinkable, we will not contemplate any step towards arbitration with America? What is possible in the future depends on the prevalent ideas which govern mankind—the right of private war and other such ideas. It is only through the survival of ideas of that kind that we can tolerate the treatment of America as a rival. Surely, it will be possible to approach the question of our relations with America in a totally different light; to treat the Americans as a nation which can under no circumstances fee a rival or an enemy of ours. The greatest danger of all is the idea that this country is not fully loyal to the spirit and the undertakings of the Covenant. If that idea 2160 were to spread, there would be very little hope for the future. We must remove the belief which does prevail upon the Continent that our policy has been dictated as much by technical and naval as by political ends. What I want to see is the Foreign Secretary removing entirely the impression that he lags behind.
§ Captain EDEN
In the latter part of his speech the right hon. Gentleman led us to understand that there is in Europe now a very real anxiety as to the attitude of our Government towards the Covenant. I do not think that anxiety is as deep-seated as he suggested. I think that if other nations were as desirous of implementing the Covenant as we have shown ourselves to be, not only by profession but by deed, we should have far less need of anxiety for the peace of Europe. Earlier in his speech the right hon. Gentleman dealt very specifically with two areas in Europe or, rather, with one area in Europe and two places within that area. He will not expect me to make any detailed reply; I lack entirely the technical knowledge to do so, but this I do feel, and I think other hon. Members who listened to the speech will have the same impression, that he has an unnecessarily gloomy point of view when he casts his eye over a part of Europe which, admittedly, has been the cause of trouble in the past. The parallels which he drew, parallels calling for immediate intervention, were not quite true parallels. The position as it is to-day I do not think can be parallel to the situation in the Balkans as it has been in one or two of the examples which he gave us to-night. We hope and believe that those differences to which he referred are now in the course of settlement, settlement not, it is true, by means of intervention by the League of Nations, but direct settlement between the parties concerned. On the whole, for my part, I believe that if settlements can be achieved by direct negotiations between the parties without appeal to the Council or to the League, those settlements are much better than settlements arrived at through the intervention of the League. If, as we hope will be the case, those disputes are settled as a result of direct negotiations, I feel that there is no case such as the right hon. Gentleman tried to make out for the 2161 intervention of the Council as a body under present conditions.
In the remainder of his speech, as in the Resolution on the Paper, and the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be trying to strike two targets with one blow and, as not infrequently happens, the blow fell between the two targets. The right hon. Gentleman and the Leader of the Opposition have assailed the Foreign Secretary and the First Lord of the Admiralty. In the first place, we are told in the Resolution that there was insufficient preparation for the work at Geneva. Insufficient preparation diplomatically has been, in some measure, admitted, but as we were the invited and not the inviters the invitation was ours either to accept or refuse, and delay would have had the obvious consequences of laying us open to a charge of luke-warmness. I think we have a right to congratulate those who were responsible for the fact that although the invitation came upon us somewhat unexpectedly our plans were ready and prepared down to the last comma, and the very last detail.
In the Motion, although the right hon. Gentleman carefully refrained from using it in his speech, there is an epithet which strikes most of us as being somewhat inappropriate. It described the delegation as "military." I do not think that any of us would associate the First Lord of the Admiralty with the clashing of sabres or Lord Cecil with the jangling of spurs. It would have been difficult in connection with any work to find two countenances more essentially pacific. I believe the First Lord of the Admiralty went to Geneva with all the benignity of a Father Christmas, and I believe the Noble Lord, Viscount Cecil, went there with the ecstacy of a martyr on his way to the stake. The stake in his case was quite unnecessary and entirely self-imposed, but it does not affect in any way the genuineness of his martyrdom. Therefore, I think we can see from the character of the delegation how superfluous is the description "military" in these circumstances.
The right hon. Gentleman indulged in a complaint because of what he called the slow progress which had been achieved by the Disarmaments Commission. Most 2162 of us would be prepared to agree, I think, that progress has been slow, but did anyone expect that progress would be other than slow? Over and over again we have been reminded, and by Lord Cecil himself, that the progress of the work of that Commission must inevitably be slow. I feel sure that no one on the benches opposite, least of all the Leader of the Opposition, would make the mistake that was made by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). Nobody would think that you can bang and bustle the world into peace. That has been tried before; we saw it tried. We saw the attempts to drive the world into peace by leaps and bounds, and the result was a Celtic somersault. Hon. Members opposite are not likely to follow that example or to follow in those footsteps in order to secure peace for Europe.
§ Captain EDEN
Yes, for most things in the world. The right hon. Member who has just spoken, equally with the Leader of the Opposition, seemed to lament the lingering death of the Protocol. I fail, really, to understand how it is that hon. Members opposite have such a deep sympathy with and love for the Protocol. Inevitably and essentially the Protocol means for us an extension of our commitments and greater responsibilities. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Certainly it does; inevitably it must do so. It must do so, in the first place, if we have to accept the principle of compulsory arbitration, which hon. Members opposite—I do not quarrel with them on the point—have shown no haste to accept in industrial matters at home. The Protocol means that we have to undertake increased obligations if we are to join in applying sanctions to any recalcitrant member of the League. A most serious obligation must essentially fall upon us because of our geographical position and because, owing to the British Navy, we are the most mobile nation in all the community of nations. The responsibility of intervention upon any nation called upon to fulfil it would fall in the first instance most severely upon this country and upon the British Navy. I do not think anyone can seriously suggest, although I know it is an argument 2163 of hon. Members opposite, that in these conditions the Protocol does not mean new and far-reaching commitments for this country. It has been said, and it is a very apt comparison, that the difference between the obligations which this country incurs as an ordinary member of society, a nation amongst nations, and the obligations we have to undertake under the Protocol, is the difference between a citizen in ordinary life, going about his daily work, and a citizen who becomes a special constable. If that is a true parallel, I would ask, is there anyone who wishes this country to act as a special constable, say, in a dispute between Japan and China or between Poland and Russia?
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
Does the hon. and gallant Member suggest that this country would have no commitments and no obligations in the event of war, in the ordinary course of things?
§ Captain EDEN
I do not suggest anything of the kind. I suggest that the difference there would be in our position as an ordinary nation amongst nations and as a nation under the Protocol, is the same as that between an ordinary citizen and a special constable. The responsibility of the latter is far more serious. If the hon. Member, as an ordinary citizen, saw a burglar, his obligations would not be so serious as they would be if he were a special constable.
§ Mr. RENNIE SMITH
With regard to the application of the Protocol, is it not a condition that before it can in any circumstances come into operation there has to be a policy of radical and general disarmament?
§ Captain EDEN
I am fully aware of all the safeguards and also fully aware that no hon. Member on the other side has yet told us whether he is prepared to support the Protocol or not. All we get are the vague suggestions in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition and in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I am asking the House to consider what we believe will be the obligations we should have to carry out under the Protocol, and that under 2164 its conditions these extra obligations would certainly entail on this country further commitments and responsibilities. It might be, under the Protocol that decisions, which would be binding on this country, could be given not with unanimity, but by means of a two-thirds majority. That is a further possibility of which the House should not lose sight. The powers which this House enjoys would be in a great measure surrendered, and we should bind ourselves beforehand to definite action in certain eventualities. That is a course which I do not think this House or the country will take. We are told that the smaller nations are supporters of the Protocol. I can readily believe that. If I was a member of a smaller nation I should be a supporter of the Protocol, because the smaller nations get all the advantages and this country has to bear the greater share of the burdens.
What we have to consider in this House is not what is best from the point of view of the smaller nations alone but what is best from the point of view of the greatest of nations—the British Empire as a whole. It is curious that hon. Members opposite should support the Protocol—smaller nations naturally do—as it increases our commitments and at the same time decreases our power to discharge them. Hon. Members opposite are always clamouring for a further decrease of armaments.
§ Captain EDEN
I am speaking of the state of our armaments. Hon. Members opposite are anxious to see a decrease of armaments, but at the same time under the Protocol there would be an increase in the commitments which this country would have to carry, and to increase your commitments and decrease your defensive power does not seem to me to be a very sound policy. The only conclusion we can come to is this; hon. Members hope that by giving a large number of pledges they will never be called upon to fulfil any one of them. I cannot imagine anything more dangerous than the giving of a large number of pledges in the vague hope that their very multitude will prevent anyone ever calling upon you to carry them out. Vague pledges of this sort given here and there are bad, and are more likely to cause confusion, 2165 which in itself causes war. I think we should refuse to bind ourselves and tie our hands in directions where we cannot see what the future may hold for us. I do not believe we can maintain peace in Europe now by handing out a hotchpotch of pledges.
Hon. Members opposite may ask what is the alternative. For my part I consider that in the Locarno Agreement we have gone as far as we are entitled to go. I do not believe the Empire as a whole, and we have to look at this question from that point of view, is prepared to pledge its future to any further extent. Any further progress in this direction will have to be by means of regional pacts, local Locarnos, made by the nations of the districts whose interests are most closely connected. In that way we might further the cause of peace in Europe; that is by a number of small Locarnos. It is pointless to say that we must have disarmament without telling us how we are to have security. You can have any number of agreements to disarm but there will be no real confidence and security. Obviously, it is our task to remove suspicion so that confidence may grow and armaments diminish. I believe that the policy of 1925 is in the long run better and wiser than the policy of 1924. The progress if it happens to be slow is sure, and that is much better than progress which appears to be swift but which is actually no progress at all. Furthermore I believe we cannot as a country extend our commitments over a wider area than is the case to-day, and that by continuing the even course which is now being pursued this country can render the greatest service to peace among the nations of the world.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. AMMON
Whatever may be the outcome of the Division, should it be taken, I think it will be generally agreed that the discussion of this important subject has been worth while if only because it focusses attention on the matter. There are at any rate indications of a general desire to arrive at some better method of settling grievances than by the arbitrament of war. I have been impressed by the fact that in the discussion there is a deep cleavage between the two sides of the House, not so much in argument as in the method of approach. Hon. 2166 Members opposite, and also the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) seem to have approached this subject as though it were a sum in proportion. It was difficult to understand where the right hon. Gentleman for Carnarvon Boroughs actually stands on this question by the time he had finished his speech. The only thing I would say is that a discussion on the relative position of each country carries us nowhere as far as disarmament is concerned. If we go back to the time of bows and arrows, war would still be with us, and we should be no nearer peace. The right hon. Gentleman simply says that if you are keeping the relative position it is a kind of insurance against war. That is the kind of talk we heard in 1913; and it did not insure us against the War. The whole thing rather comes down to a question of psychology and the method of approach.
We believe that if one nation gives a lead every other nation will be prepared to follow, and we therefore must approach this subject from an entirely different standpoint. In proof of that I propose to refer to one point only, and that is the discussion in connection with the Coolidge Conference. While it is true that we were invited by the United States to take part in that Conference, and that might be taken as some excuse for diplomatic unreadiness, it does not absolve us from the charge that we seem to have gone there entirely in the wrong frame of mind and to that extent are responsible for the breakdown and the consequences which followed. I agree that the First Lord of the Admiralty in appearance is anything but warlike, but history does not prove that those who have been the least dangerous have been the most peaceful looking, and the right hon. Gentleman might at least have shown a greater willingness to make concessions to American susceptibilities and show that we were eager to lead the way in this particular direction. That view was put forward by an authority whose name will, I believe, command respect on the other side of the House. Lord Lee of Fareham, who, I believe, was a predecessor in office of the right hon. Gentleman, in a letter to the "Times" wrote:Any attempt, therefore, to interpret it as being conditional or dependent upon the 2167 ascertained relative requirements of the two countries, however fair and moderate, is necessarily doomed to failure and can only lead to futile and dangerous misunderstandings. To ask the American people to admit officially that they do not need as many cruisers or any other vessels as the British Empire is about as profitable as it would be for them to ask us to declare for prohibition. At any rate they are not prepared to do it. On the other hand, provided their right to equality is not challenged, I am convinced neither their desire or the political conditions would permit them to embark upon a great programme of naval expansion. Granted that they have the financial means in superabundance and that they alone of all the nations would not feel the strain of competitive armaments, there is no likelihood that Congress or American public opinion would give any countenance to the demand of their naval extremists Challenge, however, their right to build cruisers and a Jingo policy might easily sweep the country.That letter represents a condition of mind which was sadly lacking in our conference with the United States. Had we approached the problem from that point of view, and shown a willingness to go as far as possible in meeting the Americans, we would have done a great deal to advance the cause of disarmament. There would have been none of the ill-feeling which undoubtedly there is now between the United States and this country and there would have been a greater feeling of security in the nations. In spite of what may be said by speakers on the other side about a desire for peacefulness and a desire to meet the representatives of the United States it is worthy of note that Lord Cecil himself has said:The representatives of the Admiralty scarcely concealed their indifference, if not their hostility, to the whole proceedings.
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Bridgeman)
Is not that reference of Lord Cecil's merely to the Disarmament Conference? It has nothing to do with the Naval Conference at Geneva.
§ Mr. AMMON
I accept the correction, but, after all, we cannot wholly dissociate the Coolidge Conference from the question of disarmament. As the right hon. Gentleman has said, however, this remark of Lord Cecil's has reference to the discussion of the Protocol and matters arising therefrom. It nevertheless is an indication of the spirit which obtained in the discussion both on the question of 2168 naval disarmament and on the larger issue. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy) has already shown that a large Navy in no way assures us that we can guard our lines of communication effectively or that we shall not be in considerable difficulties if unfortunately war should occur. We suggest that a fresh method of approach to the problem will have to be found. It has been suggested that if we had full agreement we would have greater security than could possibly be given by the largest Navy we could build but our approach, in this matter, has been lamentably inefficient.
Let us look at the matter from this point of view. Is it not a standing disgrace to civilisation that the two great English-speaking nations should have come together and should have failed to arrive at agreements on a question such as this? It can only have been because of unwillingness—and whether that unwillingness was on both sides or on one side or the other, we cannot escape our responsibility. We at least could have put ourselves right if we had shown a willingness to give concessions, even big concessions, in a cause which is of far more importance than big armaments. It would have been a great thing had the United States and this country been able to show that they were willing to sink all questions of rivalry and were prepared to make sacrifices in order to give a lead in this matter. We on this side of the House are as jealous as anybody for the good name, the prestige and the standing of our nation, but we are anxious that in these days we should take a different line to maintain that prestige. We are anxious that we should hold the moral leadership of the world, and that, I think, is an ideal which is worth striving for and which can be achieved. We have in our past much that some of us may deplore; but we may be proud that, on the whole, we have in large measure placed moral leadership above everything else. Now some of us fear that that leadership is slipping away from us rapidly. Nothing has done more to emphasise that feeling than the breakdown of the Coolidge Conference. Again, I express the disappointment of many Members of this House, not confined, I believe, to my own side, that we have lost what was indeed an exceptional 2169 opportunity of demonstrating for our own part and for the whole English-speaking world, that we were desirous to cut adrift altogether from the folly and madness of war and lead the nations in a higher and a better way.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I could not help thinking during the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) that he was unduly sensitive in regard to his pre-War speeches. After all, we on this side prefer to remember the right hon. Gentleman's War record rather than his pre-War speeches. The reason why we recalled the pre-War speeches about "Navies to Resist Nightmares" and the right hon. Gentleman's interview with the "Daily Chronicle" early in 1914, when he urged that the expenditure on the fighting Services should be cut down owing to the moment being most favourable, was because the right hon. Gentleman showed a most unpleasant tendency to revert to his pre-War record rather than to his War record. When he compares our post-War expenditure, surely he can remember that pay and pensions were fixed by his own Government; that the standard in regard to Japan was fixed by his Government at the Washington Conference, and that we are making smaller provisions in regard to cruisers than his Government thought necessary in relation to Germany. We have about half the number of cruisers that his Government had when we entered upon the War. The right hon. Gentleman should also remember the enormous increase in cost which has been going on, because it is a fact that a 10,000 ton cruiser to-day costs as much as did a 22,000 ton Dreadnought before the War. When we come to maintenance charges, the cost of the 10,000 ton cruiser is far greater than the cost of the 22,000 ton Dreadnought before the War. I pass to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. He said that there was only one line for this country to take at present, and that was to fulfil, and more than fulfil, every obligation into which we had entered. When the right hon. Gentleman made that remark, I could not help recalling his own attitude in 1914. We are bound to do so, because new men come into office, and they may say, "This League of Nations is a capitalist conspiracy, and we are not bound to honour 2170 what they say or do." The Leader of the Opposition wrote a letter to the "Leicester Pioneer" on 7th August, 1914, after the German armies were well into Belgium, and in that letter he said:The only reason from beginning to end in it"—that is the War—is that our Foreign Office is anti-German and that the Admiralty is anxious to seize any opportunity for using the Navy in battle practice.He added:Never did we arm our people and ask them to give us their lives for less cause than this.We had an honourable obligation then, a treaty by which we were bound to defend Belgium against aggression. If the aggression had come from France, we should have had to defend Belgium against France. Yet there was the Leader of the Opposition advocating that we should dishonour our obligations, and accusing the Government of having needlessly gone to war. The right hon. Gentleman naturally used Lord Cecil, but I should like to say that the Noble Lord seems to me to have a tendency always to preach to the converted. I have never heard that Lord Cecil had applied for his passports to go to Moscow in order to preach peace to the Russians. Those figures published by the Secretary of State for War show that the bulk of the military armaments are Russian and that the bulk of the preparation among the Central Powers is against the threat of Russia.
§ Mr. RENNIE SMITH
Will the hon. and gallant Member give us the figures of Russian armaments in 1914?
§ Commander BELLAIRS
The Secretary of State gave them the other day. I believe the actual standing army to-day in Russia is well above a million men, or more than one-third of the armies of the rest of Europe. For Lord Cecil to go to the people of this country, who are all in favour of the League of Nations, is very much like crossing the river, going to Lambeth Palace, knocking at the door, and asking the tenant whether his soul is saved. Mr. Wells also preaches to the converted. Mr. Wells went to the Southend electors and looked for enemies among the converted, just like Lord Cecil does. He said the Government were heading for another war, but the electors 2171 of Southend answered him according to his own folly. The great danger of all this business is that if you create an overwhelming opinion in this country in favour of peace, and you have not a corresponding opinion in other countries, those are factors which themselves make for war. You have only to go back to the great Peace Exhibition of 1850, when everybody in this country talked peace, everybody was in favour of peace, everybody preached peace, and immediately after that exhibition we had the Burma War, the Indian Mutiny, and the Crimean War, and then a few years later there came the American Civil War and four European wars. I can only account for Lord Cecil's state of mind by this explanation, that he was a lawyer, steeped in law and logic, and he is in a high reaction of idealism to that law and logic. That explains to me, what has always puzzled me, how Utopia came to be written by a lawyer.
The consequence is that Lord Cecil was the chief negotiator in getting us the Treaty of Mutual Assistance, which I should call an unlimited series of treaties of unlimited liability. The Protocol is very much the same. There is a great inconsistency in the position of the Opposition. With all the liabilities that they are trying to thrust upon the British Navy through the Protocols, they are clamouring at the same time for the reduction of the British Navy. The Opposition constantly talk as if nothing had been done. The four chief Navies of the world, from the Armistice up to 1923, laid down 310 warships of all kinds, and our contribution to that total was only 11 to the others' 299. That was what induced the Leader of the Opposition, as Prime Minister, to come to this House and say he could not allow the Navy to rot from the bottom; and he brought in the biggest programme of cruiser building that has yet been brought in since the Armistice. What is the result? We go to the Conference, after setting these examples, with a very low number of cruisers, namely, 387,000 tons, and the American argument is, "Why, when you were content with 387,000 tons, are you now asking for 460,000 tons?" The reason is very clear, as far as the Admiralty is concerned. Each Government in succession has given a sort of letter 2172 of indemnity to the war Services by telling them they are not to visualise a first-class war for 10 years to come. That assurance was re-made by the Socialist Government when it was in power, and it was again made in 1925, and holds good till 1935, by the Conservative Government.
Here is the difficulty. We have considerably reduced the strength which is considered necessary on the assumption, which I think is a justifiable assumption in many ways, that there is not going to be a first-class war for 10 years, but you cannot go and put that into a treaty. You cannot go to Geneva and stereotype that in a treaty. Because of this fact, however, it was very much to our interest to bring about a reduction of armaments, and so it came about that the Admiralty prepared what I must regard as an admirable plan. I shall be making some criticism of the Admiralty presently, but I must say that their young war staff officers prepared what I regard as a most admirable plan for the reduction of armaments—in every way, a most admirable plan. Do not, however, take my word. Take the words of a prominent Japanese staff officer. The "Times" Tokio correspondent on 24th June telegraphed that an officer of high rank on the Japanese Naval Staff said:It was a noble plan; it went too far; it would dry up Japan's dockyards.Yet the Opposition contend that the Admiralty have done nothing. We all know the official figures, to the effect that it would save £48,000,000 on battleships and about £1,000,000 on every A class cruiser, and so on. Here is a point with which I was glad to see the Foreign Secretary seemed to agree. The Admiralty had, according to the First Lord, been preparing this plan for a long time. Why was it not communicated to America? The Congress Resolutions had all stipulated for a fresh Conference on naval disarmament applying to such parts as had not been settled at Washington. The President's invitation was on the same lines, for a strictly limited Conference. Now the Admiralty, quite rightly, were pressing to extend the Conference, and when the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs says he was thinking of the appearances of the matter in not having secret diplomacy, and communicating with America about this, I do not think there 2173 was any risk as to appearances, because we were proposing to extend disarmament and not to curtail it, and therefore our hands would have been perfectly clean. The trouble was that the Americans were caught unprepared. That is my opinion, and there is nothing that a man hates more, especially a professional man, than to have his ignorance shown up in public, and I think the ignorance of the American Delegation in regard to battleships and so on was rather shown up in public, and therefore that was calculated to produce antagonism.
The next flaw was, to my mind, that the officers became talkers to a large extent. I know the reputation of the Navy for being a silent service, but I can assure the House that naval officers can be most voluble and vehement sometimes. From that point there began a talk of parity which looked as if we were in antagonism to America. If, as Napolean said, the morale is to the physical as three to one in war, then the psychological is to the material as 10,000 to one in peace. It would be a very unfortunate thing if the impression got about that we were thinking of America as possible antagonists. I do not wish to say that the British Delegation were alone at fault, for, to my mind, the Americans were much more at fault. They could think of nothing else but gross material strength, and could talk of nothing else—just as if in material strength lay the prestige of America, whereas the prestige of America lies in the great deeds of her people and not in 10,000-ton cruisers.
I would also remind them that the backing of the British Navy and of Canning behind the Monroe Doctrine was worth to them any number of 10,000-ton cruisers, and the backing of the British naval representative at Manilla was worth to Dewey as much as half-a-dozen of these 10,000-ton cruisers. We know also that the British Delegation were under a feeling of irritation owing to the gross misrepresentation in the American Press, but, after all, that is no new thing. We have had it for 100 years, and I would ask the First Lord to bear in mind the speech of Disraeli made in this House on 13th March, 1861:I look on such expressions as something like those strong and fantastic drinks that 2174 we hear of on the other side of the Atlantic, and I should as soon suppose that this rowdy rhetoric is the symbol of the real character of the American people as that those quotations are symbols of the aliment and nutriment of their bodies.In my view, the American talk was directed against Great Britain but the real objective was Japan, and they did not like to say so, and when Mr. Gibson justified having big battleships, big cruisers and big destroyers, at one point he inadvertently let out that he was thinking of the Pacific, which showed that what he had in mind was Japan. There is only one possible difference which we can have with America, and that was referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), and that is our wartime interference with neutrals. It ought not to be impossible to come to some agreement with America on that point.
One of the difficulties in having naval officers to discuss these matters is that naval officers have been from their youth and as boys imbued with the doctrine of materialism. Therefore, they get a tendency to look on big ships as being all-important. If I had been an American I should have desired that America should be lifted up above all this talk about the material, to the great psychological effects. I think that would have happened with Boot and Hughes. Whatever we may feel about it, there were errors of omission and commission on both sides, and the only party which comes out really with immense credit is the Japanese. The Japanese undoubtedly gained the whole of the prestige. I cannot imagine how the situation arose which induced Mr. Gibson to finish up his final speech with the taunt that we were risking the Conference for fear of a few 8-inch gun cruisers.
I now come to a more important point which, I think, has been missed in the previous speeches. We had an assurance from the Japanese representative. Admiral Saito, that Japan did not intend—according to the "Times" report of his speech—to lay down any additional 8-inch-gun cruisers until 1936. Therefore, we had not got to consider Japan. I do contend that it is foolish indeed to consider America. I cannot help asking what has become of all the feelings that we had when the American Sixth Battle Squadron served with Admiral Beatty in 2175 the Grand Fleet, and in 1919 went home to America. Following that, America got a little ahead of us in battleships and battle cruisers or capital ships. She had 16 post-Jutland ships built and building to our three and not a dog barked, not even a diehard dog. Nobody bothered their heads about it, and if that was the feeling at that time, why has the feeling changed? The effect of our taking no notice whatsoever was that when the Washington Conference came, America made a voluntary proposal to scrap 13 ships in various stages of construction—10 per cent. to 90 per cent. completed.
That is an example of psychology which we should bear in mind. The only victory has been the victory of psychology. We have now to rectify the materialism of Geneva—that materialism which induced the First Lord of the Admiralty to say—and I hope he will repudiate this because, according to the interview in the "Daily Express," he said it on 9th July—that if America builds large cruisers we must defend ourselves. I ask the Government to put America out of consideration altogether. We never considered her in the past. Supposing we were stampeded by our own imagination in the same way in regard to the Canadian frontier. There, there is not a gun along the frontier or a gunboat on the lakes, and if you are going to talk of equality and parity between Canada and the Americans, you will have to ask the Americans to cut down their population by 100,000,000. It seems to me that the whole key to the situation lies in the new Japanese spirit. It is quite different from the spirit which existed in the years 1918, 1919 and 1920. Having made that declaration that they had not the slightest intention of laying down any additional 10,000-ton ships until 1936, it give us an opportunity of reducing our own programme.
I rejoice that the Government have retrieved the situation in regard to America by announcing the abandonment of part of their naval programme. The situation has entirely changed. We are living in a changed world since 1907. In that year we had 47 capital ships of over 14,000 tons to 10 for the United States and seven for Japan. I think we are at the end of one epoch and the beginning of another. It may be that America will realise the prophecy made by De Tocque- 2176 ville in 1836 that she would be the first maritime power in the world. It may be so, and if it is so, we can rest on our oars, confident that history will say that never in the world has there been a case of such unexampled power held for so long a time that has been so used for the great benefit of the world. Again and again it has saved the liberties of the world. It has been used in peace for the mapping out of the whole world, so that every foreign navy and every foreign ship, as well as the British Navy and the British Mercantile Marine, sail in safety by reason of British naval charts. It brought about the suppression of piracy and slavery. We can therefore turn to America, whenever they do become the predominant naval Power, and say, "Now that you are the predominant naval Power, will you share our burden?"
§ Mr. ERNEST EVANS
I think this is the first occasion on which I have sought to intervene in a Debate which is concerned with foreign affairs. Although I have never sought to speak in such a Debate before, I have listened to many Debates, and in listening, two reflections have occurred to me. The wonder is the facility with which hon. Members in different parts of the House seek to put the blame for all the evils they are criticising upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). That attitude is particularly mean, because many of them in days gone by were glad enough to shelter under his wing; and it is even meaner on the part of some of them who were his colleagues in the time he adopted the policy which to-day they are very glad to criticise. The second reflection is that in these Debates it has been assumed that the only Members of this House who can take part in them are those who presume to themselves a particular knowledge of foreign affairs; and I am taking part in to-day's Debate because I think the time has come when, in discussing foreign affairs, those of us who do not claim any such pretensions, began to express our opinion, because the subjects which we are discussing are not subjects for ex-officers either of the Army or of the Navy. These are matters which undoubtedly affect the life of every private citizen throughout the country, and it is time we began to take these matters out of the hands of those people who call themselves experts, and that we, the 2177 ordinary people of this country, began to tell them what we think about the larger issues and the issues which undoubtedly affect the life of individual citizens in this country, and which affect the security of our country and of the Empire, as well as of future civilisation.
It is all very well for some hon. Members to talk as they have done. I notice a little sensitiveness on the part of some members of the Government to the tone of criticism which is directed to the Government in respect to the sort of matters which we are discussing. Of course, severity of language comes more natural to some men than to others, and in matters of speech habits are easily acquired, but whatever may be their resentment to the tone of the criticism, I want them to understand that the sentiment which we are to-day desiring to express is the sentiment which is commanding a great amount of support in the country. If ever this country finds itself in a great crisis again, it will have to depend in future, as it did in the last War, upon what was the overwhelming conviction of the country that we were involved in a dispute which we could not avoid; and the danger would be to-day that if we again found ourselves, unfortunately, in a dispute, that spirit would be lacking. I agree with an hon. Member who spoke a few minutes ago in disapproving of the expressions used by Mr. H. G. Wells that the Government are heading for war. I think that statement was a bad example of the ineffectiveness of exaggeration. I do not believe for a moment that the Government either desire to go to war or are heading for war. The trouble is, not that we are heading for war, but that we are in danger of drifting into war, and of the two the latter is the greater danger. There is a great deal of ground for the alarmist view.
The most effective way to prevent war is to promote peace, and the promotion of peace is an active thing. It means taking active steps in order to promote peace, and it is no good talking largely about peace unless you are prepared to come down to "brass tacks" in regard to two matters which have been referred to in this Debate, namely, arbitration and disarmament. On the question of arbitration what have we heard to-day? I join with other Members in pressing 2178 upon the Government the importance of signing the Optional Clause. Have the Government convinced anybody of the correctness of their attitude in declining to sign the Optional Clause? The Foreign Secretary said his advisers could not accept this at the present time. He talked about certain reservations, certain difficulties that would arise in regard to naval belligerent rights and in regard to rights within the Dominions inter se. These are matters about which it is no use the Foreign Secretary talking with an aloof attitude as if we did not understand ordinary things; and if he wants to make reservations in regard to matters of that character, he can make them under the Article as it exists at the present time.
If I were to make any criticism of Article 13 at all it would be this—not that it binds this country to things to which we ought not to agree, but that it leaves the whole sphere open for reservations which may completely destroy the whole value of the Article. It is very much like the case, of which I heard, of a certain village in which, under the inspiration of a certain temperance orator, the villagers passed a resolution that from that time they would become total abstainers. No sooner had they passed that resolution, than somebody moved that there be appended to the resolution the reservation that alcoholic drinks should be allowed on the occasions of sheep-dipping, and rumour has it that every villager took steps to acquire at least one sheep, and that at least one sheep was dipped every day in the year. The reservation defeated the resolution. In the Optional Clause there are openings for reservations which may defeat the whole objects of the Clause, but there is nothing drastic in the Optional Clause itself. It affords ample protection, and even the hon. Member who proposed the Amendment, in which he expresses complete satisfaction with the Government, said, "I agree that the Government cannot adopt the Optional Clause at the moment, because the Dominions are not prepared to agree to it, but I hope the Dominions will agree to it."
I want to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty a question. Are there any conferences taking place to-day between the Government at home and the Govern- 2179 ments of the Dominions as to the attitude that should be adopted on this Optional Clause in future? The question of the Optional Clause I mention only as an illustration. The necessary thing is to create in this country and in Europe the impression that we have got away from the old tag that, human nature being what it is, international arbitration is impossible. As to the acceptance of the Optional Clause by the British Government, the truth of the matter is, that what is impossible in one generation becomes inevitable in the next generation. The acceptance of the Optional Clause by this Government would not only kill the philosophy of the impossibility of arbitration, but it would create an impression of the inevitability of arbitration in reconciling international disputes.
I turn to the question of disarmament. I am not going to enter into The controversies between the Secretary of State for War and my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, and the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), beyond saying that I think it is futile to put forward figures of the men actually under arms at the moment without realising that there are in different countries men who, although they may not be in arms at the moment, can be put in arms within a few minutes of the declaration of war, that there are large numbers of reservists who will be called up and for whom arms and equipment are now available, and that there exists a law which would place the citizens of certain countries absolutely at the disposal of their Governments in time of war, and that those Governments have arms and equipment ready for those millions of people. The Foreign Secretary may say, "How does this affect me?" It affects him in many ways. To one way in particular I want to refer. There is no doubt at all that in many countries in Europe to-day they are looking to Great Britain for a lead in this direction. They have looked to us for a lead in the past and, as the Foreign Secretary claimed to-day with great pride, they have had a lead from us in the past. To-day, however, the position is that, whereas they are looking for a lead from us, they are not getting it.
2180 What happened at Geneva? Lord Cecil was not the only man who was a little disturbed; he was not alone in thinking that the Government, to use his own words, "were lukewarm in their desire that the Conference at Geneva should have a decisive result." I say frankly that I do not fail to appreciate the difficulties that any Government may have in dealing with a man with the particular temperament of Lord Cecil, nor do I conceal the fact that I think he was himself very largely to blame for the particular difficulties in which he found himself. I am not here to say that it was not his own fault; I think it was. I do not want to blame the Government for Lord Cecil's deficiencies but for what I think are their own deficiencies. An hon. and gallant Member who spoke from the Government side rather resented the criticism that we entered that Conference with insufficient preparation. But is not that accusation justifiable? Of course it all depends on what your idea of the Conference was, and therefore what you mean by preparation for the Conference.
But one thing is perfectly clear, that the result of that Conference has been not only unfair to Lord Cecil—that does not worry me very much—but it has been unfair to the First Lord of the Admiralty, and in particular to the advisers of the First Lord. That is a matter which I much resent, because I think that civil servants in this country are entitled to be protected from the sort of criticism to which the failure of the Conference at Geneva has laid them open. I say that for this reason. If you ask the advisers of the Admiralty to advise you as to what is required to secure the safety of this country so far as naval communications are concerned, they will naturally take, and would not be doing their duty if they did not take into consideration, the question of preparing against all possible contingencies. That is what they are there for; it is their duty. You cannot blame them for doing their duty, but you would be entitled to blame them for not doing it. It is one thing to put a certain question to the official advisers of an administration on one basis of policy, and quite a different thing to put that question to them on an entirely different footing. It is no good the Government asking their naval advisers, "What in any contingency 2181 would you advise us is necessary to enforce security? and for the Government as a matter of policy to go into a Conference with quite different ideas.
In regard to this particular Conference, it seems to me that not only was there lack of understanding and co-operation at the outset, but that that lack of understanding and co-operation continued throughout the Conference. The result is that even now, after the passing of several weeks, Lord Balfour suggests that the failure of the Conference was due to a big question of policy, based on the refusal of the United States to admit our right to build small ships, whereas Lord Cecil says that the Conference broke down on a much smaller and much more technical question, namely, whether the small cruisers should carry 6-inch or 8-inch guns, and that he himself was refused permission by the Home Government to suggest as a compromise that they should carry 7-inch guns. It is extraordinary, when you have a Conference which is of vital importance to the peace of Europe and the relationship of this country with the United States, that you should get Lord Cecil, who was one of the official representatives of this Government in that Conference, giving one reason, a small reason and a technical reason, for the breakdown, whereas Lord Balfour, a man of great distinction and greater experience, speaking for the Government, says that the failure was due to something different. That is a conflict of views which is humiliating to the country.
It is quite obvious that, apart from that, the difficulties of our representatives at the Conference were considerably enhanced by the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we were not able to bind ourselves to the principle of what he called mathematical parity in naval strength. That is only an illustration of the difficulties which surrounded the holding of this Conference. It is also an illustration of the great danger of allowing the Chancellor of the Exchequer to go about making speeches. Quite frankly the coining of phrases may be as damaging to the country as the coining of money. They pass into circulation and deceive the ordinary innocent members of the community. However that may be, the result has been a great disappointment, and it has created the spirit of anxiety to which I have re- 2182 ferred. It is a matter of serious concern not so much because of the intrinsic significance and importance of the Conference as because it is an illustration and test of the intention and the purpose and the will of a country which has given leadership in the past and from which guidance is expected in the future.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
I hope to give the First Lord of the Admiralty full time in which to reply upon this Debate, but before I come to the special criticism which I wish him to deal with I would like to examine the figures given by the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs), which surprised me a good deal when I first heard them and which, in the half hour subsequently, I have attempted to examine. He told us that since the Armistice the four chief navies of the world had built 310 vessels—
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
—and that we, on the other hand, had laid down 11, and that this showed how very non-aggressive we in this country were. I noticed that the First Lord of the Admiralty expressed agreement with those figures. They are surprising figures, and I can only assume they are reached by taking no account whatever of the hundreds of vessels which were almost completed at the time of the Armistice and have been completed since.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
I see. They take no account whatever of the vessels which had been paid down and on which building was in operation and others which were on the verge of completion on the day the Armistice was signed, but only reckon the vessels which" were laid down after the Armistice was over.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
It means, then, that the figure you gave us does not include a vessel like the "Hood," which is the largest fighting vessel in the world and which, as a result of the Washington Conference, is bound to remain unique. If you take the number of vessels on the way to completion at the Armistice and reckon those in the account, the figure of 11 rises to a figure of nearly 400. The hon. and gallant Member's cal-calculations are out of reckoning by about 4,000 per cent.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
But we are dealing with the state of mind prevailing after the Armistice, and whether it is a peace mind or a war mind.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
What I am indicating to the House is that statistics can prove anything. Statistics which take into account only 11 vessels laid down after the Armistice and miss out the 400 which were being completed at the Armistice, including the "Hood," are entirely meaningless for any practical purpose. I shall put very shortly to the First Lord of the Admiralty the criticism which we direct against the negotiations at Geneva, a criticism which, I think, from such observations as he has made, he does not yet recognise as having the full force it contains. To begin with, I think it may be said that the broad responsibility for the failure at Geneva must be mainly shared between ourselves and the United States; but this is the special point to which I would like him to direct his attention. Having read all the accounts of what took place there, we are of opinion that in spite of all the difficulties, which he will no doubt explain to us, agreement might have been reached had it not been for the fact that the Cabinet of this country were divided in two on the main and central issue on which the success of the Conference depended. That was the issue of parity with the United States. It was on that point that there was confusion and incoherence in the Cabinet, and that the negotiations finally came to an end without any agreement being achieved. That is the point of the criticism, and that is the point which has not been met by any supporter of the Government in any statement which I have read.
2184 The difficulty at the Conference arose over the question of cruisers. No doubt the First Lord of the Admiralty will explain to us how impractical it seemed to attempt to combine our demand for a large number of small cruisers with the demands of the United States for a small number of large cruisers. The fact is that all these difficulties were on the point of being finally disposed of and adjusted when the delegates were suddenly summoned home by the Cabinet. I do not think the First Lord of the Admiralty will deny that the critical period in the negotiations came in the last week in July. At the second plenary Conference, Mr. Gibson, on behalf of the United States, made a proposition that this country and Japan should try to come to an agreement with regard to the cruiser problem, and he stated that if they did come to an agreement, the United States, on their side, would probably be able to adjust themselves to that agreement. We did come to an agreement with Japan. The cruisers were divided into two classes, large cruisers and small cruisers, 10,000 ton cruisers and 6,000 ton cruisers, and a figure was arrived at for the cruiser tonnage as a whole. The great obstacle which had separated us from the United States had been this question of cruiser tonnage as a whole.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
We are coming to a rough arrangement with regard to cruiser tonnage. That is an arrangement which there was a substantial reason for hoping the United States would accept. The main difficulty left was whether 6,000 tons should be the tonnage for 6-inch or 8-inch guns. Even on that difficulty agreement seemed possible, and the Conference seemed well within distance of reaching a successful result. That is a point which I wish to bring to the notice of the First Lord of the Admiralty. We know now that what happened was that at that moment the Cabinet summoned the delegates by telegram to return home, and summoned them against the will and judgment of one at any rate, and probably all of them. What did we see? I remember at that time comments being made by a number of hon. Mem- 2185 bers of this House. Every morning telegrams were being sent by the correspondent of the "Times" at Geneva pointing out that owing to the absence of our delegates an opportunity was being lost, irritation was being created, tempers were getting exaggerated, and meanwhile, for 10 days we saw the First Lord of the Admiralty wandering about the Lobby voting on Supply Votes until one or two in the morning putting up his Division Lobby records. During that week a valuable opportunity was lost. When the delegates returned to Geneva, although undoubtedly the temper was very different, even then a chance remained and a proposal was made in regard to a 7-inch gun for the smaller cruisers. That was vetoed by a telegram from the Cabinet, and a few days afterwards the Conference came to an end. Just look for a moment at the position which that created. The Conference had almost succeeded. It was well known that we could probably have got an agreement with the United States on battleships. We had really reached an agreement in regard to destroyers and submarines as well as aircraft carriers, and yet at the last moment the whole Conference was allowed to break down on the difference of an inch on the guns of cruisers of a secondary class.
I come now to the special point of criticism which we have to make. It is now evident from the details which have been added to this story by Lord Cecil that the reason why the Conference was allowed to break down was on the central question at issue whether the United States was to be allowed to have mathematical parity with this country if she wished it in either class of vessel, including cruisers. On that question there was discord, confusion, vaccilation and incoherence in the Cabinet itself. The First Lord of the Admiralty, after he had been to Geneva a few days, accepted officially and definitely on behalf of the Government the principle of mathematical parity with cruisers with the United States, but he had not the agreement of all his colleagues in the Cabinet. We know that is so now because it has been mentioned by Lord Cecil that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in particular in particular insisted that he would not accept mathematical parity, and this banged, bolted and barred the door against any possibility of agreement. The 2186 right hon. Gentleman no doubt accepted the principle genuinely, but the fact is that since the Conference the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made speeches flatly contradicting the policy which the First Lord of the Admiralty publicly accepted at Geneva in the name of the British Government.
When we hear so much about our mischievous speeches in this House, and when we are told that we should not rouse the feeling of the United States on these questions, what justification can there be for such speeches as those which have been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? The First Lord of the Admiralty has abandoned two cruisers for the sake of making a movement in the direction of peace towards the United States. Let the right hon. Gentleman now take the next step. His next move should be to prevent the Chancellor of the Exchequer making speeches dealing with questions outside the affairs of his own Department.
I can put our criticism of this Conference to the First Lord of the Admiralty in a very few words. We do not primarily throw the responsibility upon him, or upon either the Naval delegate or his colleague, Lord Cecil. As far as we can see, they agreed to and had accepted the principle on which the success of the Conference depended. But we know, now that the story is complete, that what occurred was that they were not supported from home by the Government; that the Cabinet contained Members who were not loyal to the decisions taken by their representatives at Geneva; that the Cabinet was divided in two; that the Cabinet was in discord; and that on this central issue at the critical moment the Cabinet presented a spectacle of confusion, incoherence, division of counsels and muddle which makes their continued existence a peril to the peace of the world.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
As I have a good deal to say on the naval side, I hope the House will excuse me if I do not refer at very great length to the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), after listening to the speech of the Foreign Secretary, but I would like to call attention to two of his criticisms. He said that the Disarmament Commission at Geneva was doing no good at all. 2187 He said, to illustrate that, that they were useless because they had not abolished conscription. He did not add that we were the only nation that had done away with conscription, and, therefore, if the Disarmament Commission was doing no good, on that point, at any rate, it could not be our fault. One might have thought that, if the right hon. Gentleman wished to represent the attitude of his country in a favourable light, he would at any rate have called attention to the fact that this country had done it and no other country had. He was criticising his own country for a failure that could not in any way be attributed to it. The right hon. Gentleman went on later to complain that France was abnormally strong, and almost in the same breath he said that we had increased our armaments more than France had. Both of these things can hardly be reconciled, but I shall have a word to say about the so-called increase of British armaments later on in my speech. The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) laid great stress upon what he described as the divided attitude of the Cabinet, and the responsibility of that attitude for the failure at Geneva. It is not for me or for him to describe what takes place at a Cabinet.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
Quite so. Whether he was right to do it or not perhaps the hon. Gentleman, when he is in the Cabinet, will decide. The hon. Gentleman begged the question rather by saying that owing to that we lost the opportunity of getting an agreement, and that is a point upon which I want to dwell for a minute or two. In the first place I should like to say that the Cabinet took a decision, for which they were all responsible, that the principle of demanding in the future 6-inch guns instead of 8-inch was a vital principle from which we ought not to depart. I think that that was perfectly logical. If we had signed an agreement admitting any number of 8-inch guns in the future, we should have been signing, not for limitation, but for increase. Therefore, I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman in looking upon that as a secondary consideration. I think it is a consideration 2188 of primary importance, and certainly one of logical consistency as far as our attitude at Geneva was concerned.
The hon. Gentleman's other point was on the question of parity. I do not think he established that case at all. I do not think the question of parity was ever discussed in public conference at Geneva. I was interviewed by the Press on the question, and I said to them that I had no intention of disputing the claim of America to parity, that I was not going to quarrel about that; and the only reference, I think, that I ever made to it in a public meeting was at the second of the plenary conferences. May I say here to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) that this is an answer to a point which he urged against us, namely, that we had not made our position clear. I said:
It is not parity with America that is troubling us. We have not raised any objection to that. Nor are we troubled by the proportion to which Japan should be entitled. It is our own security with which we are concerned, and our power in future to protect our sea communications against any hostile raid the disastrous effects of which we had bitter experience during the War.That is what I said about parity. The Government expressed their opinion about parity in this House through the mouth of the Foreign Secretary on 27th July, and, without disputing the question of equality with America, they pointed out that paper parity might mean superiority for one country or the other. That was the statement of the Government, and it is in no way that I can see inconsistent with what I said. Therefore, I think the hon. Gentleman is wrong when he pretends that there was a great difference of opinion. The difference of opinion, so far as it existed, between Lord Cecil and myself was that he thought the question of the 8-inch gun was one of secondary importance, and I thought, with the Government, that it was one of primary importance. Then the hon. Gentleman said that on the more essential principles we had got very near an agreement with Japan, but allowed the chance to go by insisting on the 8-inch gun. As a matter of fact, when we discussed with the American delegates the respective agreements which we thought we could arrange with Japan, they did not turn on the 8-inch gun, but 2189 on the question of tonnage. Therefore, it is not correct, in my opinion, to say that by giving in on the 8-inch gun we could have got agreement.
Perhaps I might be allowed to turn to the words of the Vote of Censure. We are accused of lack of preparation. That has already been dealt with by the Foreign Secretary, but I should like to say this. Someone has asked why we did not, even after the Admiralty had made its preparations, institute diplomatic conversations with America. They must remember the history of this matter. It is quite true that the Admiralty had been working for some months at a plan for limitation of armaments, and it so happened that I was able to submit that plan to the Prime Minister, asking him to bring it before the Cabinet and, if possible, if it was agreed upon, to call a conference on the subject, about a week before President Coolidge's invitation came. President Coolidge's invitation was one of a limited nature, to discuss a limitation of naval armaments and nothing else. The question we had to decide was whether we should accept that invitation or whether we should not. Is there anyone here who thinks we ought not to have accepted the invitation? Having accepted the invitation, which everyone here admits we ought to have done, was it possible then to have diplomatic conversations ranging over the whole number of subjects mentioned by hon. Members opposite, which are far outside the question of mere limitation of naval armaments? At any rate, if you mean by the words of your Motion that we went with out preparation ourselves, I entirely deny it. We went most carefully prepared. We thought out a very elaborate plan, and I would like to ask whether any other country which went to that Conference was as well prepared as we were—[Interruption.] Well, if that is why it broke down, do not blame us. The next criticism is that the members of our delegation were of a very military character. The Foreign Secretary has attempted to defend me and Lord Cecil against that charge. I am sure hon. Members who felt as the Leader of the Opposition appears to have felt about it, had great qualms and conjured up a picture of a second Napoleon and a second Alexander arriving at Geneva embodied in the form of Lord Cecil and 2190 myself. Cold shudders must have gone down the spines of all the other delegates when they saw these men unsatiated in their lust for blood coming to disturb this peaceful Council. But really, I do not think any of the spectators at Geneva felt that uncomfortable feeling. When, as the Foreign Secretary pointed out, it is realised that our delegates consisted of two Cabinet Ministers and one Admiral, and the American delegates of one Diplomatist and two Admirals, and the Japanese of one Diplomatist and two Admirals, it seems to me a little hard to accuse this country, which had only one of these terrible experts there as a delegate, of having gone too far in a military demonstration.
I myself asked the Prime Minister that Lord Cecil should be allowed to accompany me, not because I thought it was necessary to show that I was able to go hand in hand with him, and that I was not the militarist that hon. Gentlemen opposite imagine, but because I thought it would be very useful to have him. He knew all about the ways of Geneva—you cannot learn them in a day—and he could act as a liaison officer between us and the Disarmament Commission to which he belonged, my object being that we should fit in as far as we could everything that we did at our Naval Conference in such a way as would simplify and assist the work of the Disarmament Commission.
The last criticism of a definite character which has been voiced by several speakers, including the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, is that at this sort of thing experts ought not to be admitted. I really venture to think that if you are going to choose your delegates to any Conference on the ground that they know nothing of the subject which they are going to discuss and allow yourself to be entirely dictated to by the benevolent gentlemen who are chosen because of their ignorance of the subject, I do not think we should meet with any very great success in any Conference upon which we were allowed to embark. I was very much astonished to find how strongly the attitude of those of us who resist this Vote of Censure is supported by the representatives of a very considerable and necessarily vociferous section of the party opposite. I am sorry 2191 that some of them are not here to-night to applaud what I have to say. I find that on the 12th March of this year the right hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley), in describing in a paper called "Forward" the movement to which he belongs, said:We are not Imperialists in the sense that we would grab more territory for Britain"—
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
The quotation proceeds:but we are in favour of holding all that our Imperialists have grabbed. I know of no part of the Empire which we are prepared to cut off. If a Colony wished to secede we would be reluctantly compelled to apply force in order to keep the Empire together. With regard to military affairs, our position is similar. We wish to maintain the Army and Navy sufficiently strong to maintain by force Britain's power and position in the world. Even in opposition"—and this attitude I highly commend to those who follow the right hon. Gentleman:we would never dream of proposing then abolition, and if in office the question of national requirements in force would be largely decided by experts, as it is by the Tories. Indeed, I think those who say that the greatest of all national waste is the maintenance of a force too weak for its object, have an unanswerable case.I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman and his friends are not here to vote against this Motion and to substantiate their faith in their programme.
I come now to the observations of the Leader of the Opposition. He did not deal quite so fully with the naval aspect of the case as he did in a letter which he wrote to the Southend electors; I am glad to say in vain. He said that our programme was a programme of expansion; of more ships and of heavier costs. I ventured at the time to say that that was a gross travesty and misrepresentation of what we did at Geneva, and I am glad to find that I have convinced him and that he has not repeated that statement to-night. What was our programme at Geneva? It is a very interesting thing that in all the course of this Debate, with all the panoply and 2192 importance of a Vote of Censure, not one single speaker opposite has said that our proposals at Geneva were wrong or that they did not involve an enormous economy, or that the world would not have been very much better if they had been agreed to. I say to hon. and right hon. Members opposite: "Here is your Vote of Censure. You cannot, any one of you, deny that our proposals were admirable, that they were economic, and that they would have done an immense amount of good, and yet you move a Vote of Censure on us who made those proposals rather than on those who rejected them."
I want very seriously to call the attention of the House to the principle on which we went in making these proposals with which nobody has found fault. The principle was that in the past increased expenditure and extravagance on armaments had always resulted from the competition in building a ship larger and more highly armoured as you went up from a battleship to a dreadnought, and to the super-dreadnought. That is what caused extravagance, and the danger of competition, and also the danger of war between the countries of the world. It was the fact that no limit was put to the size of these vessels which led to that extravagance and competition, and we thought, and very rightly I consider, that the proper way to limit armaments was to come down by the same path that we had gone up. That was the fundamental basis of our proposals at Geneva. We proposed that in each class of ship a limit should be fixed. At the Washington Conference in 1921, with regard to cruisers, the only thing that was agreed was that they should not exceed 10,000 tons in displacement or carry more than 8-inch guns. Looking back one realises that it was a great mistake at that time to fix the limit so high. It was not our proposal, but in order to get an agreement on battleships we accepted this way of dealing with the cruiser position. One sees now that it was a mistake. Every one who began to build cruisers built up to the maximum size, because it was felt that they might have to meet ships of that size from other countries with whom they might be at war.
§ Mr. THURTLE
I am delighted to have the opportunity. The whole of our negotiations at Geneva were based upon the assumption that at some time or other America would be at war with us.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I have already quoted a sentence from a speech which I made at the second Conference, where I said over and over again that it was not America that was troubling us. I said that we were not thinking of them, but of our own security. The effect has been for this high maximum to become a standard instead of a maximum, and one or two speakers have blamed us because we have built ships of this size ourselves. One hon. Member, in answer to the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone, tried to make out that ships built and laid down during the War were ships of the new type, that is after we had learned the lessons of the War. What my hon. and gallant Friend pointed out was that of post-War ships, built after we had learned the lessons of the War, 300 had been built for other countries, whereas we had built about 11. That was his figure. Therefore, nobody can say that we began a competition in cruisers. It was begun by other countries, and when we began to build, we had to build something equal to them. If there is anybody to say that it was wrong to do so—I do not say it—let me remind them that hon. Gentlemen opposite were the people who started these 10,000 ton cruisers. They were the first to lay them down in this country, and, in my opinion, it was about the best thing they ever did. To do them justice, they would not have had to do so, if a lower limit had been fixed at Washington for the cruiser size. In that case, they would have built smaller cruisers, and we would have been able to go on with smaller cruisers in the future.
I think the most important of our proposals at Geneva was that in future the size of battleships should be reduced and that their lifetime should be extended, and I never yet understood why that proposal was not acceptable to the United States of America. It was readily accepted by the Japanese delegates and I still live in the hope—especially in view of what seemed to be a slight relaxation on the part of the American delegates towards the end of the Conference—that that reduction is one which may be 2194 possible at an early date. It would mean a saving over a period of years of about £50,000,000. We also proposed a reduction of all cruisers in the future to a much smaller size and to a much smaller calibre of guns, namely 6-inch guns. That, if carried, would have meant about £1,000,000 saving on each cruiser. With regard to submarines, we proposed, if the other two would agree, that there should be no more submarines in at all. That was accepted in principle by America but not by Japan. Nobody has complained or can complain of these proposals which would have meant a great reduction in armaments and a great saving in money, but we went further.
§ Mr. RENNIE SMITH
If the American Government were willing to conclude an agreement on these several points of economy, would His Majesty's Government accept them in detail apart from the general scheme?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I have always said so. I said it at Geneva and everywhere else. In fact, I asked on the very last day at Geneva that we should sign an agreement on the points on which we had reached conclusions, but they said, "Until we fix you down on total tonnage we will not sign any agreement at all." I was always willing and shall be now. People have said, "Let us have another Conference." By all means, when the time is ripe, but our attitude is the same on these points. We went further. We said to the American delegates, "If you will agree, after you are level with us in the 'A' class of cruiser, not to build anything in the future in the way of cruisers with more than 6-inch guns, we will mark time." Could any offer have been more reasonable than that? They did not accept our offer. All the same, we have agreed in the programme of this year and next not to build an "A" class cruiser, and to give them the opportunity to reconsider that point and whether it would not be wise to limit the number of these large cruisers for the future. Not only, therefore, were our proposals such as to bring very great economy and very great limitation, but they were the only proposals made at that Conference which had that effect. The Japanese proposals were practically to mark time, and the American proposals, which would have allowed an unlimited number of 8-inch gun class 2195 cruisers, would, as I said just now, have led, not to a reduction, but to an increase in the cost of the fleets of the world. Therefore, I think nobody can say here that we did not make every effort in the cause of limitation and of economy at the Geneva Conference, and I hope that in future our critics will, at any rate, not go about describing our efforts as an attempt to increase armaments.
I very much deprecate all the speeches which are made talking about the existence of a warlike spirit. The right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) said there is a warlike spirit abroad. It may be abroad, but it certainly is not at home. You cannot find any man, from Land's End to John o'Groats, who has got a warlike spirit and who wants war now. What is the sense of pretending there is a warlike spirit about in this country? It is only done to give you some sort of justification to pretend that you are the only people who care for peace. The whole country is in favour of peace. The whole interests of the country and of the Navy are in favour of peace, and even the League of Nations sometimes looks to the Navy to preserve the peace of the world. If it were true that there is a warlike spirit, would it not be rather bad policy to publish it abroad? But if it is false, as everyone knows it is, it would be one of the most unpatriotic things that any party in this country could bring forward in this House. Mr. "Punch" says, with much reason,In our opinion, the alleged uneasiness in Europe is largely due to too much rattling of the olive branch.I want to say a few words on what the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said about the increase of armaments. There are a lot of figures thrown about on that subject that are grossly unfair to this country. I do not want to trouble you with a lot of figures, but I would like to give the figures of the Navy only, as this is a naval debate. Before the War, in 1913–14, the cost of the Navy was £48,732,000. We have calculated that the difference between the value of money now and then, so far as pay and the money spent on the Navy are concerned, amounts to about 75 per cent. Therefore, you have to add 75 per cent. to the £48,000,000 spent that year 2196 in order to get the equivalent cost to-day.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
It has nothing to do with wholesale or retail prices. It is based on fact and on the wages we pay to the men, on pensions and such charges. If you want to have a good comparison with foreign countries and see how much less we spend on our Navy to-day all you have got to do is to put back the wages to what they were pre-War and then you have a magnificent comparison, and you can go to a League of Nations meeting and say, "Now, see how we have reduced the aggressive strength of the British Navy."
Taking 75 per cent. makes £85,000,000, and that is the equivalent of the amount spent in 1913–14. But this year our Estimates are £58,000,000, so that we are £27,000,000 below 1913–14. [Laughter.] It is all very well to laugh. If I had time, I could make it still more clear to hon. Members. Nearly half of the total is due to personnel, and that has increased, not by 75 per cent. but by 120 per cent. since the pre-War level. As regards the dockyards—another large item—the increase has been 100 per cent., and the non-effective Vote—pensions and so on—have increased 150 per cent. Am I wrong, therefore, if that be so, in considering 75 per cent. as a reasonable addition? The comparison in the book from which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs quoted is totally wrong. What you have got to think of is what actually would have been paid to the men in those years and the equivalent value of what we are paying now. That is the calculation, so that it is perfectly plain that the cost of the Navy has gone down by £27,000,000, and that the reduction is entirely in strength, and that the increase is due to higher pensions, better pay and so on.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
It bears exactly the same proportion of increased pay as the staff in other Offices. What I am talking about is the offensive strength of the Navy, and I am eliminating altogether staff payments, salaries and wages, and am trying to point out that the strength of the Navy 2197 in war material has enormously decreased since pre-War times. It is we who have set the pace to other countries, and not we who are lagging behind. Let me give one other set of figures. Before the War, in July, 1914, there were 704 warships of various kinds, with a tonnage of 2,695,000 tons; at the end of the War, there were 1,327 of such ships with 3,294,000 tons. Now there are 395 warships with a tonnage of 1,444,000. I am not one of those who take the gloomy view some people do about the effect of the Geneva Conference. I do not think it has done the great harm that so many hon. Members seem to think, and I am sure if they would not talk about it in such a gloomy way, and talk so much about anti-American feeling in this country and anti-British feeling in America, it cannot do any harm. We had a very frank interchange of views. Freedom-loving peoples do not get angry with each other if they express their views with some frankness. We never lost our tempers with each other at Geneva. We arrived at a great deal of common ground which need not be lost in future, and can be made up at any future Conference.
It is quite true that the cruiser problem is the difficult one, and I do not know that you can find any exact formula
§ which can meet the totally different conditions of the three countries who came to that Conference. Even the collective wisdom of the Opposition cannot find a solution. Even if you got a formula, it would be of very little use if the will for peace did not exist between the three countries concerned, and if the will for peace does exist, as I am perfectly certain it does, in all the three countries, then a formula is not really so essential as some people seem to think. What you want is to find out and eliminate any causes of friction or difference there may be, and then you will not depend on formulæ. Freedom and peace are very close allies, and if you tie people up too closely with too tight fetters and bonds, these bonds will cause friction rather than smoothness in the relations between countries. Therefore, let us aim not too much at strict formulæ, but at doing away with any differences of opinion there may be between the three countries, reassuring us and everybody else that there is no desire for war on the part of any one of us.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 105; Noes, 316.2201
|Division No. 389.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Adamson, w. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Gillett, George M.||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Gosling, Harry||Potts, John S.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Ritson J.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Robinson, W. C.(Yorks, W.R.,Elland)|
|Baker, Walter||Groves, T.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Hardie, George D.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Scurr, John|
|Broad, F. A.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Sexton, James|
|Bromley, J.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Buxton, St. Hon. Noel||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Charleton, H. C||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kelly, W. T.||Snell, Harry|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kennedy, T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Phillip|
|Compton, Joseph||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Connolly, M.||Kirkwood, D.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lansbury, George||Stephen, Campbell|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lawrence, Susan||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lawson, John James||Sutton, J. E.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Lowth, T.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton), E.)|
|Dennison, R.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Palsley)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Duncan, C.||Montague, Frederick||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dunnico, H.||Morris, R. H.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Edge, Sir William||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Naylor, T. E.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Owen, Major G.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Fenby, T. D.||Palin, John Henry||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Gardner, J. P.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Whiteley. W.|
|Wilkinson, Ellen C.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)||Windsor, Walter||Mr. A. Barnes and Mr. Hayes.|
|Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)||Wright, W.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Holt, Capt. H. P.|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Homan, C. W. J.|
|Albery, Irving James||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.|
|Apsley, Lord||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Atkinson, C||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Huntingfield, Lord|
|Balniel, Lord||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Dawson, Sir Phillip||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Drewe, C.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Eden, Captain Anthony||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Ellis, R. G.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Berry, Sir George||Everard, W. Lindsay||King, Commodore Henry Douglas|
|Bethel, A.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Fermoy, Lord||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Fielden, E. B.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Phillip|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Finburgh, S.||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Ford, Sir P. J.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Forrest, W.||Loder, J. de V.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Long, Major Eric|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Looker, Herbert William|
|Bridgeman Rt. Hon. William Clive||Fraser, Captain Ian||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Fremantle, Lieut-Colonel Francis E.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Lumley, L. R.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Ganzonl, Sir John||Lynn, Sir R. J.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Gates, Percy||Mac Andrew, Major Charles Glen|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Goff, Sir Park||Macdonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gower, Sir Robert||MacIntyre, Ian|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Grace, John||McLean, Major A.|
|Burman, J. B.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Grant, Sir J. A.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Mac Robert, Alexander M.|
|Calne, Gordon Hall||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Campbell, E. T.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (Wth's'w, E)||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Grotrian, H. Brent||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.(Bristol, N.)||Meller, R. J.|
|Cazalet. Captain Victor A.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Merriman, F. B.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J.A. (Birm., W.)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hammersley, S. S.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Christie, J. A.||Harland, A.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hartington, Marquess of||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Murchison, Sir Kenneth|
|Clayton, G. C.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Haslam, Henry C.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hawke, John Anthony||Neville, Sir Reginald J.|
|Cockerill, Brig-General Sir George||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Cope, Major William||Hilton, Cecil||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Couper, J. B.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Holbrook. Sir Arthur Richard||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Penny, Frederick George||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew,W)||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Perring, Sir William George||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Waddington, R.|
|Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Shepperson, E. W.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Philipson, Mabel||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen'sUniv., Belfast)||Ward. Lt.-Col.A.L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Pilcher, G.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Pilditch, Sir Philip||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Power, Sir John Cecil||Smithers, Waldron||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wells, S. R.|
|Preston, William||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Price, Major C. W. M.||Sprot, Sir Alexander||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Raine, Sir Walter||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.||Wilson, Sir Murrough (Yorks,Ricnm'd)|
|Ramsden, E.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Wilson, H. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Rees, Sir Beddoe||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Remer, J. R.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Withers, John James|
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Styles, Captain H. Walter||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ga & Hyde)|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Salmon, Major I.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Tasker, R. Inigo.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Templeton, W. P.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Sandeman, N. Stewart||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Sanders, Sir Robert A||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Sanderson, Sir Frank||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Sandon, Lord||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and Colonel Gibbs.|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Savery, S. S.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Mr. MONTAGUE rose—
§ It being after Eleven of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded to interrupt the business.2202
§ Whereupon Commander EYRES-MONSELL rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 288; Noes, 66.2203
|Division No. 390.]||AYES.||[11.11 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks,Newb'y)||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Buckingham, Sir H.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)|
|Albery, Irving James||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Bullock, Captain M.||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Butt, Sir Alfred||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool,W. Derby)||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Caine, Gordon Hall||Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)|
|Apsley, Lord||Campbell, E. T.||Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Carver, Major W. H.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cassels, J. D.||Davies, Dr. Vernon|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Atkinson, C.||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Dean, Arthur Wellesley|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth. S.)||Drewe, C.|
|Balniel, Lord||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Eden, Captain Anthony|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Chamberlain, Rt.Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm.,W.)||Elliot, Major Walter E.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Ellis, R. G.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Christie, J. A.||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Fermoy, Lord|
|Berry, Sir George||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Fielden, E. B.|
|Bethel, A.||Clarry, Reginald George||Finburgh, S.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Clayton, G. C.||Ford, Sir P. J.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Forrest, W.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Galbraith, J. F. W.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Colman, N. C. D.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Gates, Percy|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Cooper, A. Duff||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Cope, Major William||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Couper, J. B.||Goff, Sir Park|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Grace, John|
|Brooks, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Lumley, L. R.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||MacIntyre, Ian||Sandon, Lord|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||McLean, Major A.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Macmillan, Captain H||Savery, S. S.|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ., Belfst.)|
|Harland, A.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Smith, R.W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Hartington, Marquees of||Malone, Major P. B.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Margesson, Capt. D.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Meller, R. J.||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Merriman, F. B.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Henderson, Capt. R.R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Meyer, Sir Frank||Stott, Lieut-Colonel W. H.|
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Mitchell, W. Font (Saffron Walden)||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Hilton, Cecil||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Holt, Capt. H. P.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Homan, C. W. J.||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph||Tinne, J. A.|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Nelson, Sir Frank||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Hudson, R. S. (Cumb'l'nd, Whiteh'n)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Waddington, R.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Nuttall, Ellis||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Huntingfield, Lord||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Hurst, Gerald B.||Pennefather, Sir John||Wells, S. R.|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Penny, Frederick George||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Perring, Sir William George||Wilson, Sir Murrough (Yorks,Richm'd)|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Philipson, Mabel||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Plicher, G.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Withers, John James|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Preston, William||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Raine, Sir Walter||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Ramsden, E.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Loder, J. de V.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Long, Major Eric||Remer, J. R.||Major Sir Harry Barnston and Major|
|Looker, Herbert William||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Sir George Hennessy.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Scurr, John|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barnes, A.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Bromley, J.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kelly, W. T.||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kennedy, T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Compton, Joseph||Kirkwood, D.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lansbury, George||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dalton, Hugh||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Montague, Frederick||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Dennison, R.||Morris, R. H.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Edge, Sir William||Owen, Major G.||Whiteley, W.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Palin, John Henry||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Fenby, T. D.||Potts, John S.||Windsor, Walter|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Ritson, J.||Wright, W.|
|Gillett, George M.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W. Bromwich)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Robinson. W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Saklatvala, Shapurji||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Hayes.|
Question put, and agreed to.
That this House, recognising that the efforts of His Majesty's Government have been constantly directed to the maintenance of peace, the reduction of armaments, and the advancement of the authority of the League of Nations, and remaining opposed to the assumption by this country of the extended and dangerous obligations embodied in the Protocol of 1924, approves the policy pursued by His Majesty's Government.
§ The remaining Government Orders were read and postponed.
§ Whereupon, Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 8th November, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-five minutes after Eleven o'Clock.