HC Deb 19 February 1931 vol 248 cc1628-34

I beg to move, in page 3, line 7, after the word "London," to insert the words: for the following purposes:

  1. (i) To arrange for representative Chinese men and women to visit and lecture in the United Kingdom and representative British men and women to visit and lecture in China;
  2. (ii) To assist Chinese students coming to the United Kingdom to find hospitality and suitable living accommodation;
  3. (iii) To advise Chinese students as to their course of studies in the United Kingdom and as to other matters connected therewith;
  4. (iv) To encourage and facilitate the teaching of the Chinese language and literature at the universities of the United Kingdom by the endowment for those purposes of professorships and lectureships, or otherwise;
  5. (v) Generally to encourage closer intellectual co-operation and to promote cultural relations between China and the United Kingdom."
This Amendment represents the result of discussions and agreement between myself and the representatives of the Universities who raised this matter last week and the representations of the Universities China Committee, which is to receive this grant. [Interruption.] I am still confident that it is not strictly necessary, and that it would have been possible without this Amendment for the Universities China Committee to utilise some of their funds for the teaching of the Chinese language, but in order to make it clear this form of words has been designed as the result of discussion and agreement. The Government are anxious to leave the Universities China Committee reasonably free, but we are quite sympathetic and should be very glad to see some part of the money used in this way. I may say, further, that in a general way I am sympathetic to the purpose of the two Amendments to the proposed Amendment, which my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Malone) has, on the Paper—(1) in line 1, at the end, to insert the words:
  1. (i) The establishment in Great Britain of a China Institute, which shall be the administrative organ of the Universities China Committee and shall be jointly controlled by British and Chinese.
(2) in line 11, to leave our paragraph (v), and to insert instead thereof the words:
  1. "(v) To maintain an information service and reference library and generally to encourage closer intellectual co-operation, and to promote relations between China and the United Kingdom.
  2. "(vi) To issue publications as necessary.
  3. Provided that at least one-third of the members of the Universities China Committee shall be Chinese subjects"—
but I hope he will not press them, because if he did, he would be extending unduly the list of specific purposes to which this money might be devoted. I can tell him for his own information that the representatives of the Universities China Committee have said that they would be glad to see developments along the lines he suggests, but they see no prospect of financing them at present. For that reason, I hope he will not press his Amendments. The hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) is not here, but were he to move the Amendments standing in his name, I would be prepared to accept them. I hope in view of the full discussion that we have had that this Amendment will meet with the general view.


I beg to move as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 2, to leave out the word "representative," and to insert instead thereof the word "such."

I do so on behalf of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gains-borough (Captain Crookshank).

Commander SOUTH BY

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment to proposed Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made to proposed Amendment: In page 3, line 3, leave out the word "representative," and insert instead thereof the word "such."

In page 3, line 4, at the end, insert the words "as may seem to them suitable."—[Mr. C. Williams.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the proposed words, as amended, be there inserted in the Bill."


I am sure that the Under-Secretary will get embarrassed by the compliments that have fallen on his head, and I had intended and had wished on behalf of my colleagues who represent the Universities to thank him for his help in meeting the difficulties that we have had. We felt strongly that the cultural relations that exist between China and the United Kingdom could hardly be better served than by utilising this opportunity to improve the teaching of the Chinese language and the encouragement of the study of Chinese literature, and, when this Bill was before the Committee, we had the assurance from the hon. Gentleman that this suggestion met with his approval and that of the Government. Then it appeared that in the draft charter of the Universities of China. Committee the first three of these particular proposals were included in the purposes that that Committee Was to cover, but that the fourth was not specifically mentioned. We felt very strongly on this point. However, we are now perfectly satisfied, and we thank the hon. Member for the trouble that he has taken.

1.0 a.m.

There is just one point that I should like to emphasise, and that is the hope that the Universities of China Committee may realise that economy and efficiency will be best served if they use this money in a concentrated form rather than scattering it in small sums over the whole of the Universities. There are already three or four of the great universities in England where professorial Chairs of Chinese exist. Certainly in Oxford and Cambridge very valuable libraries are already in existence. I hope they will bear in mind that it is better to help those universities where the teaching of Chinese and libraries already exist than to spread out the assistance to universities where these are not already begun.


May I also give the hon. Gentleman my thanks. My attention has been drawn to the words in paragraph (iv) "or otherwise." It has been suggested that that is cutting down the universities, but I do not look at it in that light.


"Otherwise" would include libraries.


I would like to give my thanks to another Member of the House for assistance in this matter. Looking through the Second Reading Debate in the OFFICIAL REPORT I see this plan was raised by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) who is always in the van of progress.


I do not want to hinder the House, but I should just like to add my word of thanks to the Under-Secretary for the spirit in which he has met the universities. The group of universities which I represent are also interested in this matter. [Interruption.] At Manchester owing to the very small amount, of money they were able to devote—the university possesses a small endowment for Chinese—they were unable to obtain adequate professorial assistance. With the help we now hope to get from the China Committee I think the university will be able to go forward with the study of Chinese for cultural purposes and for valuable commercial use in such a great city as Manchester.


The work the university Members have put into this Bill is admirably represented in the Amendment before the House. When university representation in this House is in danger of disappearing we welcome the good work which the University representatives have embodied in this notable Amendment. I think it is fitting that a word of praise should be paid to the university Members in this House. [Interruption.] For generations yet to be they have erected a monument in memory of themselves.


I wish to make a few short observations on paragraph (iv). It appears to me that the Members for the universities in framing this paragraph have succeeded only too well in looking after the special and sole interests of the universities in this matter. It appears to me the Clause would have been better if the words relating to the universities had been left out. That would not have prevented the universities carrying out their present intentions, but it might well be that it would be very desirable to give instruction in some of the schools, perhaps of a technical nature, perhaps for commercial purposes, which would be readily available to those who have entered into some form of employment, such as bank clerks, junior engineers, etc., to whom it might be a great advantage to acquire knowledge of Chinese. I should be grateful—if it is not too late—if the Members for the universities and perhaps the hon. Member in charge of the Bill could give this matter a little attention.


In reply to the objection expressed, may I say that the work of the universities does not consist of lectures at the universities and the university colleges. They deliver a very wide course of lectures not in the buildings or in the precincts of the universities but under the auspices of the universities. I think that will cover that branch, a very important branch of their activities. If any university is approached by any responsible body of people for the object of delivering lectures to encourage and facilitate the teaching of the Chinese language and literature it will not be confined to the precincts of the university, and lectures will be delivered to people who are not under-graduates.

Apart from that I should like to join my friends in thanking the Under-Secretary for the not unexpected and sympathetic way in which he has received this Amendment. By accepting it he is doing what every Member wants to do—to facilitate and encourage greater co-operation in industrial and other directions between our own country and other countries in the world.


I would not have intervened except that we have no worse condemnation of university representation than the manœuvres which have taken place. What are the facts of the situation? The junior Member for Cambridge University (Mr. G. Wilson) was on the Committee which considered this matter. He and the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) were the only two Conservatives which attended the Committee.


That has nothing to do with this Amendment.


I will confine my remarks to the actions of the university Members on the point before us. I think I am entitled to discuss that after the speech of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Rennie Smith).


And others will want to answer the hon. Member.


I agree that it is desirable that this Amendment should be agreed to, but I suggest that the universities should have discovered their objections to the Bill at an earlier stage.


If the hon. Member will allow me, the mistake could not have been seen until the charter was put into our hands. The charter was put in our hands in Cambridge on a Sunday, and we raised the question on the Monday.


I sincerely hope the money will be kept in the hands of the universities, because I am perfectly sure they have the facilities for giving the education. As I am perhaps one of the few Members of the House who know some Chinese, I realise how necessary it is, when men go out to those parts, that they should have the opportunity before they go to China of learning something of that language. In all our commercial dealings it is of the greatest value that men should go out knowing something about the language of the country. In the nature of things they will not know a great deal even if they learn it here, but, if they learn a smatter ing here, it will be a great benefit to them and to this country too. I join in thanking the Under-Secretary.


It would be extremely discourteous if I did not rise to thank the hon. Gentleman for the part that he has played. I did raise it in the first place, and I am glad that others have followed and have been successful in getting this Amendment made. Nothing is more important than that we should have trained in this country a large number of people well equipped in foreign languages and in the capacity to go to other countries and understand the trade and languages of those countries.


There is a Standing Order against either tedious repetition of one's own arguments or those of others.