§ Again considered in Committee.
§ [Major Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR in the Chair.]
Question again proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £116,700, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1929, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary: of State for Foreign Affairs.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
There is only one question we have to consider, and it is whether we are going to remain in Egypt or not. If we remain in Egypt, then we must discharge our obligations. I have yet to learn that there is any party in this House which has put forward a definite proposition to clear out of Egypt. I doubt very much whether you could form a Government, or get a sufficient number of Members of this House to form a Government, that would be prepared to put forward such a proposition. I do not believe that such a Government would get a sufficient number of Members to support it in the Division 471 Lobby. Egypt is in a very peculiar position. It is obviously an exceptional country. It is a corridor country. It is exactly in the same position as Panama, on the other side, and the American Government have found is absolutely necessary to plant garrisons there, and to exert a certain control over the country. They find it essential to do so. They would watch with very jealous eyes any attempt on the part of any foreign country to interfere with Panama. I am not criticising it, but what is true about Panama is certainly much more true about Egypt. It practically divides the British Empire. You have, on one side of Egypt, in the British Empire, a population of 100,000,000. On the other side of Egypt, Egypt being the only road between them, you have a population of 300,000,000, and that is practically the only access, unless you go right round the Cape. During the War, we realised that it was not merely a theoretical question, that it was not merely a nominally geographical question, but a question of vital moment to the Empire itself We found that all troops from India—practically a million of all kinds and grades—had to come through Egypt; all the troops from Australia had to come through Egypt, and all the troops from New Zealand had to come through Egypt; and, had it not been for the protection of British troops, that country would have been, not merely a nominally Turkish province, but really a Turkish province under German control.
The whole defence of Egypt devolved upon us, and I recollect the anxiety of Lord Kitchener, who knew a good deal about Egypt. I think that his apprehensions turned out to be exaggerated, but he was very apprehensive, as my right hon. Friend knows very well, as to what might happen there, and it was deemed necessary to send an enormously large force to Egypt in order to protect that country and prevent it from being captured by the Turks, officered by Germans. It is no use talking about Egypt as if it were an ordinary country. It may be fortunate or unfortunate, but Egypt is so placed that it is the corridor between east and west, and, as the British Empire is the one that is most concerned with a corridor of that kind, it has devolved upon us to take charge of it. If we did not, some other country 472 would inevitably take charge of it. When there was trouble in Egypt a short time ago, the French, the Italians, the Greeks, and I rather think the Americans, appealed to us for protection, and said that unless we protected them they would themselves have to land troops there. That was quite right. We said that the obligation was ours, and we would discharge it, but, unless we do discharge it, someone else will inevitably do so.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone that we are too apt to discuss the Egyptian Parliament in terms of the British Parliament. It is, however, quite a new experience for them. I am not trying to disparage them because they are a foreign people, or even because they have not yet reached a standard of literacy which would enable them to be a thoroughly modern democracy; but they are not accustomed to free institutions. Liberty is not merely a privilege to be conferred; it is a habit to be acquired. We know that in this country it has taken us hundreds of years to acquire the mastery of democratic institutions, and, even in countries which are far advanced in comparison with Egypt, one sees how constantly parliamentary institutions break down because people are not habituated to institutions of that kind. It occurs in many European countries, and in others as well, and undoubtedly the same thing will happen in Egypt. Can anyone imagine any country habituated to self-government passing a law which punishes the protector of the law more severely than the man who breaks the law—punishes him four times as severely? That is a kind of thing that no country accustomed to self-government would ever have dreamed of passing; but there they have not yet mastered the art of self-government. I have no doubt at all that they will in due course, and it will be time enough then to discuss what would be the right thing for us to do in face of developments of that kind.
My right hon. Friend asked a question which he said he had no doubt would be explained. I wish he would explain the question, because I do not understand it. It was a question which was full of the obscurity which occasionally characterises him when he likes, but, as far as I can understand it, he was referring to 473 the Fourteen Points in self-determination. I was not the author of the Fourteen Points, and it was never proposed so far as Egypt was concerned. I do not think that anyone, not even President Wilson, ever suggested it as far as Egypt was concerned. It is a totally different proposition. It is a very easy thing, if anyone exercises his ingenuity, to suggest that the Foreign Secretary ought to have done this or the other thing, or that he should have written in a different sense. I am not doing that, because I do not find anything to criticise. I dare say, if I applied my mind to it, I could find something. But it is very difficult to handle a situation like this in Egypt. I have had some experience of it. The Government of which I was the head was the author of the Unilateral Declaration. We did not agree with the recommendation made by the Milner Commission that troops should be sent to the Canal. I am still very doubtful about that proposition. I do not pretend to know enough about Egypt, but I should ask the Government very seriously to consider, before they committed themselves to that proposition, what the effect would be upon the British Army if you are always going to send contingents of it to desolate places here and there. You must think of your Army first, and I am doubtful whether you could exert the same authority by planting your troops there. Still, if the Government come to the conclusion that it is a feasible proposition, I am not criticising them from that point of view.
At any rate, if the right hon. Gentleman erred at all, it was in the direction of straining his authority and the position of this country in order to meet the demands of Egypt. Whether in 10 years the League of Nations takes that point of view or not, I am very glad that he has agreed that this matter shall be referred to the League of Nations to decide definitely—that it shall be referred to some body to which we can present our case and which will decide quite impartially on the facts. I have not the slightest apprehension as to what will happen, because any body set up by the League of Nations to adjudicate on a proposition of that kind would give fair play to both parties. The right hon. Gentleman has not committed himself, but is proposing only to refer the matter to the adjudication of the League. I congratulate him also on 474 the fact that the Egyptian Prime Minister has acknowledged the very conciliatory manner in which he has handled the matter, and I hope now that that is the end of the trouble, and that Egypt will proceed on its way without giving us any further anxiety. I think the incident itself may have a very good effect. It was necessary for us to make it absolutely clear, by a demonstration of this character, that we meant to abide definitely by our obligations, and were neither going to be cajoled nor bullied out of them. I think it will have an extraordinarily good effect in Egypt itself. With regard to America, I am not quite clear what line the right hon. Gentleman means to take. I understand that on the whole it is friendly—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am not sure whether he is going to have some reservations here. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition in thinking that that would be a mistake. After Mr. Kellogg's speech, I do not think there is any point in making reservations. He has made it clear that, if we accept his declaration, it does not interfere in the least with our obligations under Locarno or under the Covenant of the League of Nations, and those are the only two obligations that we have, so far as I can recall them; I do not know of any others. He has made it quite clear that the acceptance of his proposals would not interfere in the least with the obligations which we have already incurred. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we must abide by declarations which we have already made, and by obligations which we have already incurred. We have the reputation of standing by our treaties, and that is a great asset to this country. We waged a great war because we were parties to a treaty, and that treaty was infringed. Therefore, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we ought to make it clear that we are not entering into any arrangement which is a departure from solemn obligations which we have already incurred. I think that Germany has already made that clear, and I do not see why, that declaration having been made, it should not be possible to accept this.
I agree that it is purely the acceptance of a principle or a declaration, but I agree with the Leader of the Opposition 475 that that has a value. It is just like saying, "Thou shalt not steal." The enforcement of it depends upon other laws and other machinery, but it has its value in training people to regard it as an offence against the moral law and against society; and, in the same way, if you get a declaration outlawing war, it will have its moral value and its instructional value. I think there is another advantage in accepting this from America, and that is because it has come from America. America is the only great country—let us say it quite frankly—that has increased its Army and its Navy in comparison with what they were before the War, and, when a country that does that actually comes and offers to outlaw war, we ought by all means to accept it the very first time it is done; and it might have a very useful effect, because, having outlawed war, we surely ought to have no difficulty in making arrangements about cruisers.
There is another advantage. The United States of America and Russia are the only two countries that have not come into the League of Nations. I think the United States of America have experienced practical difficulties in consequence, and they have made attempts by various propositions to come into the community of nations in a general effort to promote peace. The party in power, having declared against the League of Nations, find it impossible to go back upon that, but they have made other proposals, and, if they are willing to make proposals of that kind, which would bring them into co-operation with the Powers that are inside the League, ultimately it will work out all right, and we shall be working together. Therefore, there is a real advantage in accepting this proposition because it comes from the United States of America, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will do it and make it quite clear, as he has done to-day, that if there has been any delay it is not because there has been any hesitation. That is really very important. It is also important that it should be made clear that we are not merely coming in behind France. France has other obligations, and very dangerous obligations, in Central Europe. They have to take those into account. We have no such obligations, and I do not think there ought to be left any impression, 476 either in France, in Germany, in the United States, or in this country, that we have not a mind of our own upon this subject. We have our own interests, we have our own view, and we have our own standing in this matter. We are in a better position than any other country in the world except the United States of America to make peace and to ensure peace in the world, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman, when he comes to make his Declaration, will make a really British Declaration and will speak on behalf of the conscience of his own country. Let France speak her own mind. Let her deal with her own difficulties. Let him speak in the name of Britain and of her Empire. I think it will have a very great effect throughout the whole world.
§ Captain L0DER
It is a little difficult to switch one's mind from one of the newest of the great countries of the world to one of the oldest, but it is to Egypt to which I wish to direct my remarks. The Government, I feel sure, will be grateful for the support they have received from the right hon. Gentleman. He has given almost complete support to the Government. I am not quite sure that we on this side do not watch him most carefully when he is distributing his favours, but, at the same time, on the subject of Egypt there is no one whose support we have a greater right to expect. After all, he was himself Prime Minister during the years when the events took place which are the foundation of the present situation, and, as he may justly remark, it was the situation in Egypt during the War which brought home to people in this country the essential nature of the special relations in which we must stand to Egypt. There are those, on the one hand, who say that we are not firm enough in our relations with Egypt. On the other hand, there are those who say we are always bullying her. In point of fact, I do not think either of these two theories will hold water. Take the case of what happened at the beginning of the War. We might quite well have annexed Egypt. Annexation was considered. Actually we proclaimed a Protectorate. In that way we thought we should be paying regard to the national feelings of the Egyptian people, and at the same time we recognised, what is undoubtedly a fact, that without Egyptian co-operation the 477 Government of Egypt is almost impossible. It is very often forgotten that we have never directly administered Egypt. The British and other foreign officials who are in Egypt are there as servants of the Egyptian Government and not of the British Government. They are not appointed in any kind of way from London.
It is a great pity that the Declaration of February, 1922, could not have been made immediately after the Armistice. That Declaration gave us a policy. It did make people understand what we were really after and what the important points in our relations in Egypt were. Immediately after the War I suppose people had not had time to look round and take account of what was going on. It has always seemed to me that the really vital mistake, so far as mistakes have been made on our side, was made immediately after the Armistice, when the Egyptian Prime Minister and Zaghloul Pasha asked to be allowed to come to England and open the question of the status of Egypt. Naturally, I suppose, when that request was refused it was not imagined that it would have such serious results. Very likely the right hon. Gentleman who was then Prime Minister said to himself, "We must take these things one by one. We must first of all deal with the situation in Europe, and after that we will deal with the situation in the East." That was a very natural thing to say, but of course he left out of account the fact that the people of Egypt thought their problems were the most important of any. That, I think, was a mistake. If it could have been avoided—and it is difficult to say it could—it might possibly have produced the Declaration of 1922 at the end of 1918, and might have saved us many years of bickering and difficulties of which we yet can see no definite solution. Yet things have progressed a great deal in these last 10 years. By the Declaration of February, 1922, Egypt's independence was proclaimed. With that proclamation of independence went the establishment of Egyptian diplomatic representation abroad, the abolition of martial law, which had been in force all through the War, and the termination of the control of the internal affairs of Egypt through the retirement of a number of foreign officials. Whether Egypt has not 478 lost more than she has gained by dispensing with the services of these very devoted servants is, I think, open to question. The fact remains that Egypt is now entitled only to employ, except in one or two cases, such foreign officials as she wishes.
That fact, together with the general state of the country and the disorder in which it has been in the last few years, has undoubtedly brought about a serious decline of the administrative efficiency of the Government of Egypt. That fact has been one of the most important in creating difficulties for the Egyptian Government itself. The Declaration of February, 1922, was a unilateral Declaration and by it we gave independence to Egypt, but at the same time when we made those four reservations we put it to the Egyptians to fulfil their part of the bargain, which was to set up such a constitution, such a standard of administration, that it would be possible for us to negotiate our agreement with them on those four points on terms which would not derogate from the independence of the country. Those conditions have never yet materialised, but since the Declaration of 1922, the onus has been on Egypt and not upon us. We have made the fullest possible gesture. We have said, "We abrogate the Protectorate. We do not wish to be in any relations with Egypt which would make the people think Egypt was a subordinate country. We are only waiting for Egypt to put her house in order so that those four reserved points can be settled." We hope that time will come very soon, but I do not think everyone quite realises how extraordinarily difficult it is for an Egyptian Government to make the necessary progress in the direction of getting a stable administration.
The Leader of the Opposition said the Treaty had been turned down not so much by Sarwat as by his own Cabinet. Of course, his own Cabinet only contains two Liberal members, and the rest are all members of the Wafd, but, apart from that, the difficulty of the Parliamentary situation has been that ever since the first Parliament elected under the new constitution at the end of 1923 or the beginning of 1924, there has been a Wafdist majority but no actual or potential Wafd Prime Minister. They have not desired to enter into negotiations with 479 England or made the slightest effort to improve relations with this country. Every other Prime Minister has been faced with a hostile majority in the Chamber. If Sarwat had had the ordinary constitutional majority which we should expect a Government to have in this country, there is no question that be would have been able to carry the Treaty through. Unfortunately, that was not the case. It is exceedingly difficult, and I think we ought to take that into consideration, especially in judging the attitude of Egyptian leaders such as Sarwat Pasha. I am glad no one so far has tried to take either a tragic or a bellicose view of the situation. This is not the first time we have had our little troubles with Egypt. After all, we can carry on under the Declaration of February, 1922. It has its inconveniences, but these inconveniences are not very great from our point of view. From the point of view of Egypt, the position is much more unsatisfactory. These perpetual crises do no good either to the moral or to the material credit of Egypt, and it is very much more to Egyptian interests than it is to ours, I believe, to reach an early settlement.
The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, I think, ought to be congratulated upon the patience which he has shown during the years he has been in office. I think he ought also to be congratulated upon the broad-mindedness with which he faced the problem of the Treaty which he was negotiating with Sarwat. From time to time one hears it rumoured that this Government are unfriendly to the League of Nations, yet in looking through that Treaty I find that the League of Nations is mentioned in almost every other article. It is a document in which we express our willingness to lay such an important question as to where our troops shall be stationed for the protection of the Canal before the League of Nations if no agreement can be reached in 10 years. I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman will get not only the support of the Liberal party but the support of most of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, who will in this case, as in other cases, see with what good sense their Leader spoke. I hope that the whole Committee and the whole country will press the Foreign Secretary to maintain that patience and that broad- 480 mindedness to which I have alluded, that before very long the Treaty which we all desire will have become an actual fact, and that our relations with Egypt will at last be stabilised.
§ Mr. THURTLE
I want to say a few words about Egypt. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said he believed that the Leader of the Opposition, had he been in the same position as the Foreign Secretary, would have acted in a similar way, and I gather also that the right hon. Gentleman himself would have acted in a similar way. It is very good to know that the Liberal party, as represented by the right hon. Gentleman, take the same view as the Conservative party on this issue. They are prepared to back up the warship policy. But I cannot believe that he is right in suggesting that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition would have taken up any such attitude.
The Foreign Secretary seemed to me to be extraordinarily pleased about the result of the recent crisis in Egypt. He reminded me very much of a new kind of Dr. Pangloss, who says, "All is for the beat in the best of all Foreign Offices." I cannot imagine seriously that he thinks he has achieved anything in the nature of a diplomatic triumph in connection with Egypt. This settlement, such as it is, was not a settlement by negotiation, was not a settlement by argument, was not a settlement of reason, but was, in fact, a settlement of brute force. It was a triumph of the policy of the mailed fist, and if the Foreign Secretary is satisfied with a triumph of that sort, I am bound to say that he is very easily satisfied. The view of the Labour party is, that this policy is a mistaken policy. They do not think that it was necessary over this Public Assemblies Bill to go to the drastic step of sending warships to Egypt and sending an ultimatum to the Government of that country. If it was not necessary, it was bound to do the reputation of the country infinite harm. We are looked upon with suspicion in America, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said, and we are looked upon with suspicion in Russia and in many quarters as a bullying Imperialist Power. We ought not to do anything to give countenance to that kind of belief. But by this policy of 481 sending warships to Egypt over a comparatively trivial dispute such as this we have given the impression to the outside world that we are a bullying Power, and are prepared to use force even when force is unnecessary. I want to make it clear here and now that it is futile for the Foreign Secretary, or for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, or for anyone else on the benches opposite to identify the policy of the Labour party with the policy of the Government in this matter. We are emphatically in disagreement with what has recently taken place in connection with Egypt, and in case it has escaped the notice of the Committee I would like to call their attention to the statement regarding the Labour party's policy which was issued only last week. It reads:The method adopted by the British Government, to enforce its views upon Egypt was that of an ultimatum and a threat of armed force, which the Labour party strongly condemns "—anyone who suggests that there is uniformity of policy, please note this—as wholly unsuitable to the situation, and calculated to leave behind it feelings which are inimical to the growth of the relations desired with the Egyptian people.You have there in specific language the disavowal of the Labour party that they agree with the policy of the Conservative Government. When I put a question to the Foreign Secretary last week and suggested that there was a considerable body of opinion in this country which dissented from that policy, he said that no such opinion existed. I would ask him now to remember that the Labour party, with all the great mass of working class opinion for which they stand, are opposed to that policy, and I am entitled, therefore, to say that there is a very large body of opinion in the country which feels that the action of the Government was precipitate and provocative. I would like to go further, and make this point. It is idle for Members opposite to try to induce the Labour party to accept the gospel of continuity in foreign policy. Our conception of foreign policy and Imperialist policy is as far apart almost as the poles from the policy of the Conservative Government. The Conservative Government believe, as far as their Imperial policy is concerned, in retaining possession of all those tracts of country which has been obtained in the past, 482 by some means or another, as long as they possibly can, and they would only relinquish their hold on those tracts of country reluctantly and as slowly as possible.
The policy of the Labour party is the exact opposite of that. We have Imperialist commitments which we want, to see liquidated at the earliest possible moment. Therefore our policy is to hand back to the people to whom this land belongs, at the earliest possible moment, what is their rightful possession. Whatever obstacles we may encounter we shall show an earnest desire to get those responsibilities liquidated at the earliest possible moment. When you have two totally opposed conceptions of Imperialist policy such as those, you cannot possibly have what is known as continuity. I hope that there will be no attempt on the part of Members on the benches opposite or on the part of Members of the Liberal party to suggest that the Labour party have no distinct and separate Imperialist policy and no distinct and separate foreign policy from that of the present Government.
Let me get back to Egypt. The Declaration which we have been discussing this afternoon has never been accepted by Egypt as one which is valid and binding upon that country. Repeated declarations to that effect have been made by successive Egyptian Prime Ministers. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir R. Rodd), to whose speech we listened with so much interest this afternoon, said that we had given Egypt her independence. What sort of independence is it that we have given to Egypt? It is an independence which involves occupation by foreign troops. It is an independence which debars the country from doing anything in connection with foreign policy. It is an independence which involves, as we have seen in the present crisis, interference with Parliament as far as the-regulation of its own domestic affairs is concerned. Surely, one might say, if that is independence, if that is freedom, in Heaven's name what is slavery? It does seem to me that if you are giving a country independence, and you hedge it round with all sorts of conditions and restrictions of this kind, it is equivalent to keeping it in bondage. Let me refer to the way in which the Foreign Secretary has treated Egypt on this occasion. 483 So far from treating Egypt in a friendly way and desiring to get a satisfactory settlement, he has adopted a patronising and, if I may so put it, a hectoring kind of attitude towards the Egyptian Government. Let me direct the attention of the Committee to paragraph 3 in page 13 of the White Paper—and, mind you, we are not supposed to interfere with the internal affairs of Egypt—Recent Egyptian history, from time to time, affords evidence of a willingness to stir up unreasoning political passions in order that they may he turned to party purposes.That comes from a Minister who was a member of the "Hang the Kaiser" Government.
That comes from the Foreign Secretary who is identified with the party which won the last Election on the Zinovieff letter, and that is the Foreign Secretary who lectures Egyptian politicians on the undesirability of stirring up unreasoning political passions in order that they may be turned to party advantage. Surely, it is absurd for the right hon. Gentleman to stand upon a pedestal like that, and lecture the Egyptian people in this way.
Let me deal with one other point. There is the question of the Canal. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said it was imperative that we should preserve that as a free means of communication with the rest of the Empire. Let us accept that as being absolutely essential to our existence. He then went on to say that if we did not guard the Canal, if we left it, that someone else would be bound to come in. I could not help wondering, as the right hon. Gentleman was talking—I almost interrupted him to say so—whether he had ever heard of the existence of the League of Nations; because surely if there is one body more than another competent to take charge of that vital means of communication and preserve it not only for the British Empire but for the convenience and well-being of the whole world, it is the League of Nations? As a matter of fact that is a policy which the Labour party has in regard to the Suez Canal. It wants, I say, the Suez Canal put under international control, and I submit that any fair-minded man ought to admit that vital waterways like the Panama and 484 Suez Canals and the Straits of Gibraltar ought to be put under international control, so that they can always be free for the use of the whole world and not any particular sections of it.
That is all I wanted to say as far as Egypt is concerned, but I would like to add a few words in conclusion: I have been striving since the end of the War to see the creation of conditions which will guarantee the world against the occurrence of another war. I was extremely glad to hear the attitude expressed by the Foreign Secretary in regard to the Coolidge offer. I believe the whole of the House must be glad to think that there is a possibility, by means of this offer, to build up an effective barrier against the possibility of another war. I would only like to ask the Foreign Secretary to get rid of any kind of reservations, any kind of doubt or misgiving in regard to this matter. Whether he knows it or not I do not know, hut the great mass of the people in this country, irrespective of political affiliations, are passionately desirous of seeing some international bulwark created against another war, and if he will only take his courage in both hands and take this offer from America in the spirit in which it is made, I am sure that he will earn the gratitude of the whole British people.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
After listening to the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken no one would dream of denying that the Labour party has a definite foreign policy. Some people might even think that they have several foreign policies. I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition was not here listening to the hon. Gentleman's statement of the policy of the Labour party. If I understand the hon. Member, his plan is to dispose of the various fragments of the British Empire to people who might be able to manage them. That is an interesting policy, and it must be instructive to the electors of this country, if that is the policy they may expect to be carried out when a Labour Government comes into power. I gravely doubt if the hon. Member in putting forward such a policy would succeed in carrying conviction to the electorate, or would get many votes in support of his party's policy.
§ Lord H. CECIL
The hon. Member does not submit himself to his own leader. Independence, with him, begins at home, like charity. He is out to make all the different parts of the British Empire independent, and he wishes to make the Members who compose the Labour party not less independent. I welcome very much indeed the impressive and important declaration of the Foreign Secretary that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government at the proper time to accept the proposal of the Government of the United States to make some common declaration of the outlawry of war. Such declarations, of course, are principally important because of their weight with opinion, and I cannot help hoping that the opportunity may be taken to educate opinion by adverting to what really are the root causes of war, and by showing how, if we wish to get rid of them, we must set about that business. Many people, even many of those who are guides to public opinion, seem never to have reflected that the essential cause of war lies in the resolve of every nationality to insist on what it conceives to be its own vital interests, in defiance often of the conflicting interests of other nations. The greater part of the wars that have taken place, I think it would be true to say, have not really taken place on an issue of right—on anything that is issuable—that you can bring before a tribunal which can even theoretically come to a judgment between the disputants. It is the fundamental difficulty of using arbitration as a complete solution to the problem. Obviously, you cannot go to a Judge and ask him to determine your dispute, unless you admit a common law to begin with, covering the whole area of the dispute, and unless you admit an equal claim to justice and right, a claim which recognises a common standard of right, common both to the litigants in the dispute. Unless you do that there is nothing for the Judge to decide upon.
That is not what happens. In every war you say, "This interest is vital to us. It does not matter to us what other people's interests are. Our first duty is to our own people and to stand by their vital interests, and for that reason we must fight." The effect of that attitude of mind makes war inevitable, and it makes every war and every country engaging in war essentially defensive and 486 not aggressive. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said with perfect truth that in this country it has never been our plan to make war as part of our policy. That is to say, we have not gone to war to achieve a political object. All the wars we have made we claim to have made defensively or for some other country wrongly and intolerably invaded; and it will be generally found that we never unreasonably threatened the vital interests of other countries, but have acted on the defensive. It is clear that if you once admit that there is no common standard and their interests are put higher than the interests of anyone else, and each country is entitled to insist upon its own interest and disregard the interests of other countries, war from time to time seems to be inevitable and seems to be defensive.
Therefore I do not think, and I have never thought, that arbitration is a complete solution. Arbitration is very valuable, because it enables you to get rid of a great number of minor disputes, and to get authoritative judgment on the meaning of documents on which a dispute may turn. But it does not completely solve the problem, except in getting national opinion all over the world to recognise that now, at any rate, whatever may have been the case in the past centuries, the world is a community whose common interests are more important than the individual interests of each nation. That, I think, is, at any rate, true of the most civilised countries. They are so intimately bound together that they cannot get anything individually by a war which would balance the injury to the whole community. Therefore any war that took place between them would be a civil war rather than an international war, and I believe the late War was of that character, and that that is why it carried destruction so far as it did. The characteristic of civil war is that every part of the community that engages in a civil war is desolated and impoverished in that war.
It would be a valuable thing if, in connection with this American declaration, the whole subject could be explored, because, after all, let us recognise that it is in opinion that there lies the real mischief. Unless you pledge the opinion of the world your safeguards are liable to break down. You must get opinion 487 in a new attitude. I think, for example, that it is desirable to recognise that national sentiment, if productive of a great deal of good, like other human passions may be productive of a great deal of evil. It is not at all recognised by the great mass of the people who are still in the habit of thinking that they must stand by their own country, that the nationalist attitude and that the nationalist cause is the right one, that you must insist and vindicate the interest of your country regardless of the interest of the other country. You want to balance that by a loyalty to the European community. That could be done only by change of opinion. Disarmament may be a very valuable thing, but armaments are a sign of evil rather than the cause of it. They are like a high temperature in illness. It would be very desirable, if we could, to carry out disarmament—immensely desirable from the financial point of view; but the root cause of war will be there as long as we have this sense of separateness. The only real idea is to get people accustomed to thinking that they are members of a larger community.
I should like to see the League of Nations divided into three sections. I should like to see a European section which would comprise Africa, an Asiatic section, and an American section which would naturally be dominated by the United States. The three sections would have common meetings once in ten years, but the international business, the normal business, would be done by each section. That would be a more natural limitation of common feeling than the world-wide one, and you would build up the centre of a true European community; and that is the real way of stopping war. The hon. Member who last spoke wanted bulwarks. You cannot stop war by bulwarks. If public opinion in two countries desire war, there will be war, and no treaty, no system of diplomatic negotiations will prevent it. At the present time, so long as the late War is an approximate memory, no doubt opinion, provided the process of diplomatic relation allows time for reflection, will be on the side of peace, and that is the only possible bulwark which will keep war out. What we want to do is to change opinion more thoroughly; to get people not to think so much of nationality as they used to 488 do, but to think more of the common interests of the whole world.
The extreme emphasis on nationalism is a very modern thing. It really arose in the 18th and 19th centuries. Earlier, of course, there was a sense of European community; the holy Roman Empire was a relic of it. There was a sense of common Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church for many centuries preserved that sense of civilised mankind or rather of Christian mankind belonging to the community. That disappeared with the smash-up of western Christianity and the growth of rationalist opinion, and during the 19th century people thought of nothing but nationality. It took different forms. The Conservative temperament concentrated on the glory of the British Empire. The Liberal temperament was zealous for small nationalities and new nationalism; the enthusiasm for Garibaldi in Italy and the enthusiasm for various small nationalities all over the world. All these things were part of the same sentiment, and that sort of sentiment is the cause of war. I do impress upon political parties in this House, especially the Labour and Liberal Members of this House, the fact that zeal for nationality is a very imprudent thing—
§ Lord H. CECIL
I know that a great many people of my own party have nationalist errors, but for the moment I am pointing out the danger of it to the Liberal party and the Labour party, who do not even know that they are in the wrong. That knowledge is the first step in contrition, which is called being convinced of sin. For example, the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle), while he was asking for bulwarks against war, was insisting on the claims of Egyptian nationality; two almost contradictory frames of mind. The most unwise thing, of the many unwise things which were done in the Treaty which closed the late War, was the bringing into existence of a great number of new nationalities, without the security that they would not be the centres of war.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Who did that? It was a Coalition Government of Tories and Liberals who did it, and not Labour people.
§ Lord H. CECIL
This Government is thoroughly unlike that Coalition Government, in every respect. When I was interrupted, I was saying that these new nationalities, these small nationalities were called into being, and necessarily they have become centres of armaments, centres of war expenditure. No doubt, the League of Nations has most usefully exercised a restraining influence over them, and apart from that there would probably already have been a war caused by one or other of them. They are the most inflammable element in Europe at the present time. It was a most imprudent thing to bring these new nationalities into existence without stipulating that they should have no armaments which were not approved by the League of Nations, no expenditure upon armaments which did not pass some independent authority, and certainly no tariffs which were injurious to the interests of their near neighbours.
Unlimited nationality is a danger to peace, and we ought not to desire it or to pursue it any more. We ought to look forward to the time when it will gradually be merged in the life of the larger community. I am afraid that I have been led astray somewhat. I was only seeking to press upon my right hon. Friend the necessity of ventilating the whole subject. I hope that the American declaration will be mainly of value because of the effect it will have on European and civilised opinion. We shall co-operate, and I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and other statesmen will be able to make diplomatic capital out of it, diplomatic organisation which will give expression to it advantageously in one way or another, and in the end the great value of it will be in its stimulus to opinion. I think that stimulus might be made much more valuable if it were accompanied by some authoritative instruction; if the general subject of the dangers of war and how wars originate were authoritatively investigated, and why war comes about was lucidly expounded, so that people could be taught that, fundamentally, they 490 must recognise that nationalism, though a most ennobling passion, is, like certain other passions, a great danger if it is not disciplined and controlled. My right hon. Friend will remember what was said by Gretchen after her betrayal:Doch allas das mirDazu Trieb Gott war so gut ach!War so lieb"—Yet everything that drove me to it God! was so good ah! was so dear.Extreme nationalism is a sense of the beauty and passion of living made a destructive vice or crime; it is that we want to emerge into a notion of nationalism; a beautiful, powerful and elevating passion, but one which must be disciplined and controlled if it is not to destroy the world.
I wish to advert to another question on which I feel very deeply and on which I know that my right hon. Friend sympathises with me. I refer to the present position of the eastern Christians—some of whom are still undergoing great suffering in Turkish territory—who are being settled in Syrian territory within the mandated territory of France. I would like to impress upon my right hon. Friend very strongly the desirability of our coming to the help of these poor people and doing all we can to settle them. The story is perfectly familiar to the right hon. Gentleman. It is a terrible story and one which must make every Englishman feel heartily ashamed and, indeed, the whole body of Allies. The story is that the Armenians who took our side in the War were massacred and almost exterminated. I think the late Lord Curzon stated that of 3,000,000 people only 130,000 were left alive. Many have been driven out of the country and dreadful as that may be at the moment it may perhaps be the happiest thing for them in the long run; but There remain a remnant of people for whom help is urgently needed.
The Prime Minister when he was out of office signed a document, jointly with the late Lord Oxford, most strongly pressing the claims of these people upon the Government of which the right hon. Member the present Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister, and asking that a substantial sum of money should be given to help them. I believe that much less money would be caned for now than would have been needed at that time, because in various ways the problem has solved itself; that is to say, 491 the British Exchequer has gained by the blood, the tears and the sufferings of these poor people. It is no longer necessary to appeal for so much money, but it seems to me to be a most elementary claim upon us that we should help the people who remain. The difficulty of my right hon. Friend will be a financial one, but the sum of money which would be a very sensible advantage to these poor people would be quite insignificant compared with the great figures of the Budget. I hope my right hon. Friend will consider the matter sympathetically. I know that he has expressed sympathy, but will he see that some small sum of money, I mean small in relation to our national exchequer, will, be provided, to settle these poor people in Syria and enable them to lead not only a peaceful but a prosperous life?
I have spoken of the dangers of nationalism. Is it not remarkable that if you can make a national appeal you can get things done? If I were able to say that these people are British subjects, that they are our own flesh and blood, the whole world would ring with their wrongs. But they are of another race. They are, however, of the same religion as ourselves; but that seems hardly to count at all. Although they hold in pawn the honour of our country, that counts for little. Because we thick so much more about nationality than about justice or about religion, they suffer and will, I am afraid, continue to suffer a great deal. For my part, I would rather have us do those things that come to our hand, try to vindicate justice, try to show compassion where opportunity offers, than even make great schemes for the future for the vindication of that inestimable benefit, the perpetuation of European and world-wide peace.
§ Mr. RENNIE SMITH
The mentors of the party to which the Noble Lord belongs are, as a rule, never weary of telling us that we of the Labour party have no country, no sense of patriotism, and that the last thing we have is the capacity to be just to our own people. Therefore, it is extremely refreshing to us to have been able to listen to the Noble Lord and to know that there is, at any rate, one very distinguished voice in the Conservative party which expresses views n an opposite direction.
492 I wish to add my very deep satisfaction with the statement of the Foreign Secretary in relation to the American proposal for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy. During the last few months I have followed public opinion in this country on this subject with some care, and I think the Foreign Secretary will agree that there has not been for many years an international proposal which bears so vitally upon foreign politics which has had so remarkable and so widespread a reception of welcome in this country as the Kellogg proposals. Whether we take the representative leaders of the "Times" or the "Manchester Guardian" or the "Daily Herald," we find a common attitude of mind asking for the acceptance in principle and the welcome in principle of the proposal of the American Government. If we turn to the political parties, the Foreign Secretary knows the state of opinion within his own party, and he knows that the Liberal party have, in principle, committed themselves to the acceptance of the Kellogg proposals. Lady Bryce speaking yesterday at the Women's National Liberal Federation meeting advocated the proposals.
§ It being Half-past Seven of the Clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed, without Question put.