HC Deb 22 March 1932 vol 263 cc989-1010

Postponed Proceeding resumed on Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

Question again proposed.


When I was speaking some time ago I found I had landed myself into Manchuria whereas I had intended to remain a little longer in Japan. I should like to say, while I was living in a northern province of Japan, how very happy my lot was among those people, whom I found invariably courteous and superlatively honest. I also discovered that they were in thought and deed the most peaceful people it has been my lot to live among. Everywhere I went I found the name of England greatly respected. I was very proud to be an Englishman in Japan, because, to all classes of Japanese, to be an Englishman meant to be almost the best man in this world, and they looked to England to give a lead in doing the right thing in all circumstances. So, because of this feeling of admiration that the Japanese have towards England, and this dependence on England and English opinion, I feel that I must speak on their behalf at this juncture. I am not speaking as a partisan in the ordinary sense of putting the pros and cons in any adventitious sort of way to serve some partisan purpose. I am speaking rather as feeling myself one of the Japanese themselves, conscious alike of their weaknesses and their strength. It is in that sense that I will speak. I do not speak with any animus towards China. From living among the Japanese themselves I have been led to regard China and Japan as inseparably connected and committed to a common destiny. That is the feeling of the Japanese themselves and the feeling that I have drawn from them. Certain portions of the Chinese stock are far more like the Japanese than they are like other portions of the Chinese stock, and racial, cultural and economic considerations alike demand that these two nations shall always be mutually dependent upon each other.

10.0 p.m.

I am speaking because I hope that what I say will help towards a fruitful peace between China and Japan, and I feel that all Westerners are intimately concerned in the destiny of Japan and China, because to a very great extent we are responsible for the present situation. Only 80 years or so ago Japan was a hermit nation, a peaceful nation, content to go on living in that way, when her seclusion was roughly broken into by the Western Powers, and then she was faced with a choice of one of two alternatives. Either she must sacrifice her sovereignty and submit to foreign exploitation or she must make herself a great Power in approved foreign style. Of course, I cannot go into details, but I am convinced that no small nation has ever achieved Imperial greatness so heroically and so honourably as Japan has done, and never has any progressive nation, so soon as its powers became obvious, been subjected to so much discouragement, and even at times suffered so much from betrayal, as Japan has done at the hands of other great Powers. I ask hon. Members, especially hon. Members opposite, in their righteous enthusiasm, which I to a great extent share, for an ideal world, not to segregate Japan from all the other great nations and demand that she alone shall present a case which will pass muster before a heavenly tribunal. I am satisfied that, judged by the standard which other great nations, including China herself, have observed, Japan stands above them an in her international policy.

When this trouble broke out in Manchuria our ignorance of her history led us to look at the thing entirely as if it was something that had risen de novo. There was trouble in Manchuria. Here we had the League of Nations. We said it was obvious that the matter must be brought before the League of Nations and it would soon be solved. It was not so easy as all that and the result has been that the League of Nations in the minds of many people has been discredited and condemned, and Japan has also been condemned because she has not been able to submit to everything that the League demanded. The trouble is that this new creation, only 12 years old, has been called upon to deal with an old problem as if it were an entirely new one.

The trouble dates back 30 or 40 years to something of which China has no great cause to be proud. The present situation would never have arisen if China, from fear and jealousy alike, after the Sino-Japanese War had not entered into secret negotiations with Russia in order to thwart Japan. That was the beginning of the trouble. This secret treaty was not brought to light until a few years ago, and now it is admitted that China was plotting against Japan. In the engineering which eventually led to the war between Japan and Russia, China did not come out with an altogether good record. I am not speaking against China any more than against Japan, but it is no use blaming Japan, because she has been the victim of circumstances to a much greater extent than many people realise. Manchuria came into the hands of Japan as a result of the war with Russia. Manchuria has been connected with China for some little time only. The Russians had many rights granted to them and the Japanese took them over. Even in recent times, in 1924, the war lord of Manchuria declared his independence of China, and actually initiated a treaty with Soviet Russia concerning the Chinese Eastern railway. I do not know how the matter stands to-day between the war lord of Manchuria and the Chinese Government. The war lord of Manchuria, whose name I will not inflict upon the House, has governed Manchuria entirely as his own affair, and has exploited it in such a way as to bring Manchuria into very great distress.

Japan, having become possessed of rights in Manchuria, proceeded to develop the South Manchurian Railway, and also to bring into that country a vast amount of capital. What were her aims in so doing? An hon. Member opposite rightly dismissed the idea that Japan intended to colonise Manchuria. Many people, however, realising the serious population problem with which Japan is faced, at once assumed that Japan intended to colonise Manchuria. Certainly, if a nation needs some colonies, it is Japan, because it has a rapidly expanding population. Japan has never sought what we should call colonisation, but has tried to solve her population problem by means of emigration to other foreign countries, and she has been rebuffed wherever she has turned. Now Japan is seeking to solve her population problem in part by means of a more general public advocacy of birth control. Japan has never been able to solve her problem by colonisation, and she has certainly never sought to colonise Manchuria. The Manchurian climate does not suit the Japanese, but the result of some 30 years of Japanese influence in Manchuria has been that this sparsely populated province has increased its Chinese population from 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 to 30,000,000 or thereabout, and there are at the present time only 250,000 Japanese in Manchuria.

It is the Chinese who have benefited because of Japanese influence in Manchuria. The Chinese have flocked there because the Japanese have put their capital there, and they owe a great deal to Japan. Japan depends upon Manchuria, because Japan is a small country with only a limited amount of natural resources. She depends upon Manchuria for supplies of coal and iron ore, and also rice. There are many people who do not know that Japan cannot now produce all her own rice, and actually has to import about one-fifth of what she consumes. She depends upon Manchuria for those commodities. Again, she depends upon Manchuria and also upon China for foreign markets. Japan is a great industrial nation, and without foreign markets cannot hope to make progress. She has also brought great benefit to the Chinese in Manchuria by introducing the soya bean into western markets. The soya bean is now one of the great agricultural products of Manchuria. Therefore, there is a sort of mutual dependence of Japan upon Manchuria, and of the Chinese in Manchuria upon Japanese capital and Japanese railways.

What is the trouble? One of the chief troubles is that the lease of the railway rights which the Japanese took over from the Russians, with the consent of China, expires in two or three years' time. It was always assumed that the lease would be renewed, and in 1912 and 1913 other leases for other parts of Manchuria were granted to the Japanese in order to make branch railways. The Japanese became very nervous about the question of the actual renewal of the lease. It was absolutely vital that their position in Manchuria should properly be recognised and admitted by the Chinese, and therefore in 1915 Japan presented 21 points to China. There were people who objected very much to Japan's action, but they failed to see that Japan was getting pretty desperate. Japan presented those 21 points because she had something about which to bargain, and she was pleased to have some of those points granted, the chief of which was the extension of the lease of the South Manchurian Railway and a guarantee that the Chinese would not build any competing lines of railway. That was all that Japan got out of the 21 points.

Meanwhile, conditions grew worse in China. People fail to realise, when they take up the case of this peaceful, innocent China against this brutal aggressive Japan, that there have been 5,000,000 soldiers marauding throughout China for many years, and that China herself has suffered infinitely more from her own brigands than she has suffered, or can suffer, from any Japanese aggression. In Manchuria there was a regular army of 400,000 men living upon the industry of the people, and as Japanese prosperity was linked up with Chinese prosperity, Japan began to suffer enormous losses owing to the state of brigandage and war going on in China and Manchuria. Also, the Chinese began to build competing railway lines. All the time Japanese subjects were being molested, and Japanese officials were being injured and sometimes murdered. In fact, Japan was in a state of terror as to what was going to happen in Manchuria. She must have her rights recognised in Manchuria; otherwise, she would be ruined. Japan was suffering terribly economically, and the uncertain state of things in Manchuria was making her desperate. Japan up to that time had a very good Case. How is it that after the incident of the 17th September last, Japan appeared to do such things as to present her in a very bad light to the Western world?

I would ask the House to come with me and to look briefly into the position of Japanese policy. In Japan there has been a battle fought on behalf of Liberalism. I do not use the word "Liberalism" in any narrow political sense and I do not want to give any wrong interpretation of it. Liberalism in Japan is making great progress. There can be no doubt about that fact. The first general election that was ever won on a real programme, as opposed to one by means of gerrymandering and so on, was won in 1930 by the Liberal party, which had the biggest majority which any party had hitherto had in the Japanese Diet. Up to 1930 Liberalism was very strong in Japan and practically all educated opinion—


What has this to do with any Minister in this House?


My point is that the Minister has been attacked for asserting his attitude at the League Council, and I want to show the very great difficulty with which the League was faced in dealing with this problem. The problem is peculiarly difficult, not only in consequence of the fact that Japan had a good case up to a certain point, but that certain events have made it appear that her action has complicated the task before the League and made it difficult for this country and His Majesty's Government to satisfy public opinion as completely as they would wish. Of course, I must accept your Ruling. Japan is very pacific. My own students were almost to a man in favour of what could only be termed pacific nationalism, but all Japan was intimately interested in her rights in Manchuria. It was that which led to the events of 17th September. This brings me into close touch with the action of our own Government in regard to Japan. The Army in Japan is not under Cabinet control, but when the incidents occurred in Manchuria the Japanese Cabinet tried to preserve peace and when His Majesty's Government, along with other Governments in the League of Nations, took action, the Japanese Foreign Office said that they quite approved of what had been done but the peaceful people in Japan were irritated that we should interfere because they were afraid that Japan would lose the rights that she had in Manchuria.

When the Leader of the Opposition suggests that Japan is afraid to submit her case to abitration he perhaps has not considered the difficulty that Japan had made a Treaty with China. China wanted the Treaty to which she had agreed rejected; she wanted to submit it to arbitration, but Japan said "No, the Treaty has been made and we will not submit it to arbitration. If a treaty like that can be rejected then the peace Treaty upon which the League of Nations depends is in jeopardy, because it may be said to have been forced on one set of signatories." Japan was, therefore, afraid that her rights in Manchuria would suffer. The fact that you have ruled me out of order, Mr. Speaker, makes it rather difficult for me to refer to the points I was going to make, but briefly it comes to this, that Japan has a very good case indeed. It was her own internal difficulties, the acute depression, which gave an opportunity to the reactionary elements to seize control and so prejudice Japan in the eyes of the League and in the eyes of the world. But actually her case still remains good, and the Japanese themselves are realising that they must do all they can to put their good case properly before the League of Nations. When the General Election took place the Conservative party won with a huge majority, but they are now seeking to form a National Government because they want—


The hon. Member is now referring to matters outside the scope of the discussion.


I am quite satisfied that if this country will approach the problem of the settlement of this dispute with the idea of giving justice to both sides then peace will ensue.


Having heard the case put before the House so far as it affects what are called the rights of Japan, it is only right to examine one or two of the points that have led to the present dispute in Manchuria, and, incidentally, to the trouble in Shanghai. These are matters which are under consideration at the present time by a com- mittee set up by the League itself. The hon. Member who has just spoken has emphasised the rights of Japan in Manchuria as a justification, in part, for many of the actions that Japan has taken in and round Shanghai. He spoke of the Japanese lack of faith in China as giving Japan certain rights in Manchuria. He mentioned the Treaty of 1915 as giving those rights to Japan. But surely he as a teacher, not a student, of Japanese thought must realise that that Treaty was forced upon China by Japan.


Practically every treaty made in this world can be said to have been forced on one side by the other.


I am afraid that the hon. Member could not prove his point even if he had the whole of the next Parliamentary Session in which to bring forward examples to this House. He knows quite well that when the Great War broke out in Europe, and Japan had the policing of the Eastern seas, Japan forced upon China that infamous Treaty of the 21 points at a time when the European Powers were so busily engaged that they could not interfere. He must remember that the very last of those 21 points stated that if China divulged any of the conditions of the Treaty to any third Power, Japan would look upon it as an act of hostility. It. was a secret Treaty. China protested all along against the Treaty, which transformed China purely into a province of Japan. One condition was that the Japanese were jointly to control practically every institution in China.

10.30 p.m.

When the Peace Treaties were being discussed in Paris immediately after the Great War, China protested against any of the 21 Clauses being carried into effect, and it was because of the public agitation and indignation against Japan then that the 21-points Treaty was abandoned practically in its entirety, despite the fact that Great Britain had a Treaty with Japan, the Anglo-Japanese Treaty, at the time. It is no use the hon. Member telling this House what he be lieves to be the rights of Japan in Manchuria or in China. We all realise the difficulties with which Japan is faced. She requires expansion for her increasing population, but it is well-known to every Member of this House that Japan also had her eyes, and still has her eyes upon Australia. Would the hon. Member justify Japan doing in Australia the things which she is doing in Manchuria and China?


The hon. Member is now introducing an argument which seems a very long way from anything that concerns the subject before the House.


I take it that Australia comes under our Dominions Office and I think I am perfectly right in asking that question in relation to a point which is at present before the League of Nations and upon which the Foreign Secretary reported to this House this afternoon. I submit that I am in order in asking that question in regard to a particular country whose doings have been the subject of discussion here this afternoon and are now before the League of Nations.


What the hon. Member is now seeking to bring into the discussion, in regard to Japan arid Australia, has really nothing to do with the question which is before the League of Nations.


I am using it as an illustration of the intentions of Japan prior to the War and I am asking the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Pickering) and other hon. Members, if they would justify the things being done in Australia which they are attempting to justify in Manchuria. Surely, I have a right to argue that what would be wrong in Australia, one of our own Dominions, cannot be right in Manchuria, a province of China. That is sufficient I think to show the necessity—[An HON. MEMBER: "For a big Navy…"] for considering very impartially the whole question as regards China and Japan. Both are members of the League of Nations and the League has a right to consider what is being done by two countries which are part of the League itself. The Leader of the Opposition raised this question in order to get from the Foreign Secretary a definite statement of the view taken at the discussions in the League of Nations of the situation in Shanghai and in Manchuria. As far as the trouble between China and Japan—which is now under examination by a committee of the League of Nations—is concerned, we can afford to leave on one side the 21-points Treaty, if justification is not sought to be made for it again in this House. We can afford to leave on one side various things which have transpired in China and Japan, until we get the report of the committee which is now examining on the spot the circumstances that have led to this disastrous and regrettable conflict between these two eastern Powers.

With regard to the League itself, I would put this question to the Government. We are pleased to hear from the Foreign Secretary of the attitude taken up by the League on this dispute, hut unless a more definite and a firmer attitude is taken by the League on matters affecting disputes between nations, we are likely to see in the future some other Powers flouting the Covenant of the League, in the same way in which it has been flouted in the East. It must be, if the League is to become the power which most of us desire it, to become that greater power shall be taken by the League itself in interfering in disputes between nations. Those of us who were in the House when the Peace Treaty was brought before the House, at the end of the War, remember all that was said about the War, what it had been fought for, and that it was a war to end war. We cannot afford to-day to allow another conflict, either in the East or in the West, to become the match that will set alight another disastrous conflagration over the world.

The next war will not be a war such as the last war was, bad as it was. An hon. and gallant Member, speaking in this House on the last occasion when disarmament was discussed, made the statement that the next war would be much more disastrous than anyone could conceive, and that whole populations living in the industrial belts would be swept out of existence by the chemical warfare that would be rained upon them from the sky; and we want to avert a disaster of that kind. We must see that the League of Nations is strengthened in its powers and that those whom we send to represent us at the League take up a firm attitude with regard to conflicts between nations. We must see also that in the action which they take and the propositions which they put forward for adoption by the League, they obtain from this House and from the country wholehearted support in order to avert any future war coming upon the world.


I should not have risen if it had not been for a remark which fell from the Leader of the Opposition, who, as I understood him, said that he thought the Government ought to surrender our extra-territorial privileges in China.


All Governments, not ours only.


The right hon. Gentleman said that the British Government and other Governments ought to do so, and he founded that remark on the supposition—I am using his own words—that there was only a certain amount of civil disobedience in China at present. I do not agree with either of those propositions. The fact of the matter is that the Chinese Government at the present moment is not in effective control over the greater part of China. In three-quarters of China the writ of the Nanking Government does not run at all, yet China is a member of the League of Nations. I am very glad that China is a member of the League of Nations, but she certainly does not fulfil the conditions for membership of the League which were recently laid down by the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations. That Commission issued a very interesting report in November of last year and laid down five conditions which should govern the membership of a country in the League of Nations. In the first place, that country must have a settled Government and an administration capable of maintaining the regular operation of essential government services; in the second place, it must be capable of maintaining its territorial integrity; in the third place, it must be able to maintain public peace over the whole of its territory; in the fourth place, it must have at its disposal adequate financial resources to provide regularly for normal Government requirements; and, lastly, it must possess laws and a judicial organisation which will afford equal and regular justice to all. There is not one of those conditions that China fulfils at the present moment.


May I ask whether the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a member and with whose foreign affairs he was connected, or his chief, the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), at any time, when conditions in China were infinitely worse than they are now, ever raised one of those questions or whether any member of the League of Nations did?


My right hon. Friend never proposed the abolition of extra-territoriality right away.


Oh, yes he did; he negotiated for it for years.


He negotiated for the gradual disappearance of extra-territoriality by international mutual agreement. The very fact that Manchuria has been recently declared independent proves that China is not capable of maintaining its territorial integrity. It is certainly unable to maintain the public peace, not only throughout the whole of its territory, but even in a very small proportion of it. The right hon. Gentleman talks about civil disobedience. There are independent armies marching all over the place and huge hordes of bandits, and very often the armies and the bandits are practically the same. It is notorious also that equal and regular justice is quite unknown. The fact of the matter is that China is not what can be called an organised State at all, and responsible Government is not in existence in the country. When you talk of China to-day, you are talking of a vast disorganised territory with no cementing central authority. Under Chinese administration to-day, the Government continually cannot implement the promises they make, and under Chinese rule property and life are not safe and the Chinese Government seem powerless to make them safe.

Therefore, in spite of what the Leader of the Opposition has asked the Government to do, I fervently hope that at this juncture the Government will suspend their negotiations for the surrender of our extra-territorial privileges. China is quite unable to protect foreigners. It is perfectly true that at the end of 1923 and from the beginning of 1927 my right hon. Friend the late Foreign Secretary gave a promise that extra-territoriality so far as we were concerned would be gradually abolished, but that abolition was to be gradual in character and a matter of mutual international agreement. Since that time, we have had civil war, which has made the interior of China far worse than it was, and on top of that we have a foreign war, which has made it even worse still. Even in 1920 the Commission which sat on the whole question of extra-territoriality did not favour abolition until certain reforms had been carried out.

The right hon. Gentleman opposite must remember that that Commission was an international commission absolutely impartial, with a Chinese sitting on it. Their report, with the exception of certain details, was unanimous. They pointed out that martial law in China was declared with such frequency that normal administration of the law was gravely menaced. They also pointed out that ancient laws and principles continued side by side with new laws rendering the efficacy of the latter without any effect at all. They pointed out that military and naval courts exercised jurisdiction over the civil population even in peace time, that there was trial in camera, that legal counsel was denied, and that appeal was not allowed. They emphasised a very grave additional feature, namely, interference with the civil departments by the military leaders which upsets the normal administration of justice.

As I reminded the right hon. Gentleman before, this commission was an impartial commission, and international, with a Chinese member sitting on it, and their report was unanimous. I am sorry to say that in spite of this the Nanking Government declared extra-territoriality abolished as from January of last year. It is perfectly true that they have taken no practical steps up to the moment to carry out the decree, but I feel it to be very important that some kind of opinion ought to go forth from this House that China should realise the very strong international feeling against any such step being taken, except by gradual stages and by mutual international agreement. As I have said before, and everybody knows it is perfectly true, banditry and lawlessness are rife everywhere, and the risk to foreigners is, in consequence, quite formidable. I have no doubt that hon. Members and the right hon. Gentlemen opposite have read what is known as the Feetham Report, which I suppose is one of the most important reports of that kind ever published, and which corroborates every single word of the report of the commission of 1926. There is in China to-day what is known as the independent body of missionaries, who are most strongly against the weakening the Shanghai by the rendition of that settlement or the abolition of the extra-territorial privileges.

Everybody knows that Shanghai has grown great on account of the security which is based on law and order in the international settlement, and there was a general agreement in the evidence collected by Mr. Justice Feetham, that if security is withdrawn Shanghai will sink to the level of those Chinese cities where there is no such security. In the international settlement in Shanghai the reign of law prevails, and Chinese, just as much as foreigners, can go about their business knowing that they will be immune from military interference and the arbitrary decrees of the executive; and in the other Chinese cities where this security does not exist conditions are exactly the opposite. Therefore, it seems to me that it is quite clear that there should be no surrender of our extraterritorial privileges until four conditions have been fulfilled. First, until internal conditions in China, and the control of the central Government, are so far improved that risk to the settlement from civil war has been removed. Second, until the idea of the rule of law has taken root in China, and a constitutional government has been established which can guarantee the independence of the courts and the enforcement of their decisions. Third, until local self-governing institutions enjoy real independence without being subject to orders from the National Government or the control of any party organisation. Fourth, until the Chinese community in the settlement have acquired sufficient experience in working representative institutions to enable them to assume responsibility for the administration of the settlement with a reasonable prospect of success. I cannot believe that you can wipe out extraterritoriality and leave nothing whatever in its place. There is no constitutional Government in China at the present moment. The Chinese Government, even when it functions, is merely an instrument through which the party of the Kuomintang exercises a dictatorship. Everybody knows that. No other party can exist at present, and there are no effective legal limits to its power, and therefore the courts of justice are not effective. The executive of the Kuomintang can make laws and unmake them. There is unlawful seizure and taxation and confiscation by Government officials which never come before the court of justice at all. That being so, it does seem to me that the only solution is some kind of international treaty or agreement to provide an element of stability and security in China, and I do hope that it is along that path that the Government are going to proceed.


I would ask for that indulgence which the House always gives when a new Member addresses it. I cannot claim that intimate knowledge of China and Japan which many hon. Members possess, but events which have occurred during the last few months in the Far East have raised larger and wider issues than those which are merely concerned with that region, important as it is. Ever since the Japanese Admiral took certain action at Shanghai—whatever views we may take about that action—the instruments which have been so carefully set up since the War in order to deal with international affairs and place them on a new basis, have been seriously tested. I do not feel, in spite of the fact that they are being tested and that weak places are being found out, that there is any reason for despair, or to feel that the whole structure is in ruins. After all, the League has been challenged a number of times since it came into being. It has been challenged even in the very heart of Europe, and I feel that if it is challenged once again in a distant part of the world, even though that challenge is a serious one, there is no reason why it should not be overcome by the wise and sensible courses which have been taken in the past. Though hostilities came to an end in Europe as long ago as 1918, I do not think any of us will feel in the last few years that we have been living in a period of normal conditions. In fact, I think it has been more a period of gradual pacification, and if that view is true, as I believe it is true, then the slow progress of both disarmament and the Sino-Japanese crisis may be looked upon, not as challenges to the new order, but as something of a legacy from the more stormy past.

There are one or two factors with regard to this crisis which have arisen in the Far East, which are in themselves not surprising, but in regard to which the action which has coma from one direction is indeed surprising. Whenever demands have been made from certain directions that Sanctions should be applied, I think those demands have arisen very largely from the fact that there is a certain confusion of thought in regard to what has been described as an international police force. An international police force can only be effective if there is overwhelming public opinion behind it, and it can only be effective if it represents a firm and strong Government. No such public opinion at present exists in the international sphere. The result would be that if Sanctions were actually applied there would be no police force in the ordinary sense of the word to put them into effect, and the League would in the end be dependant on that authority which speaks through machine guns. The League cannot act with the same vigour, the same freedom and the same speed as a nation. I think there is a great deal of misconception with regard to the League. It is a League of Nations, not a sort of super-State; it has power, and its great power is in focussing public opinion upon particular questions.

Let us take the case of Shanghai. I think that it is particularly impressive. After national animosities had been aroused, after the warlike spirit was abroad, and after prestige had been involved, the nations represented at the League of Nations with different traditions and in different stages of development could apply themselves to a particular issue. There was no question of military or of economic sanctions, and yet we find that the Japanese and Chinese are gradually coming together. I believe that this has been brought about because the public opinion of the world has been mobilised and only moral sanctions have been applied.

11.0 p.m.

Very closely linked with the question of Shanghai is the question of Disarmament which began at the same moment as the crisis occurred at Shanghai and which, therefore, brought the problems which the Disarmament Conference had to face very close to the men who were sitting round the table when the Conference opened at Geneva. The task of the Disarmament Conference is a distinctly limited one. You can limit the size of ships and guns, and you can come to an arrangement as to the size of armies, navies and air forces. I hope the Conference will abolish submarines and poison gas, but of one thing I am convinced, that we can never make war a gentlemanly or a pleasant profession. The causes of international friction really lie much deeper, and the Disarmament Conference can only deal with one side of the question. Every country since the War has paid lip service to the cause of peace, but no country except our own has really carried out disarmament; in fact, other countries have feverishly prepared for war at the same time as they profess peace. But the real problem which faces Europe at the present time and which is intimately connected with the Disarmament Conference is the fact that as far as wars are concerned they are not any longer merely concerned with armaments. Every field, every bit of livestock, the whole energy and force of the nation, must be mobilised in the future when war breaks out, and we have seen the development throughout Europe of an effort to create self-contained economic units. If we are to break down those barriers, we must remove the intangible and tangible fears which are now causing divisions between nations. We hear a great deal about national planning, but it seems to me that the day has arrived when we should attack the question of international planning, in order to reopen the trade routes and re-establish the means of exchange. I believe that the Government, by their action in supporting the effort to reconstruct the Succession States on the Danube, are laying a foundation even more important than will be laid by the Disarmament Conference. I do not believe that we shall make any headway until we attack these economic and political questions at the same time as the Disarmament question. An hon. Member on the other side said recently that he had a great terror of the next war. I must confess that I share that terror. But I think the day has come when we should think less of terror and more of courage in facing the problems which are immediately before us. There is a real danger that, if we look back too long and too intently on the burning cities, we may well share the fate of Lot's wife.


It happily falls to my lot to express the sincere congratulations of the House to my hon Friend the Member for South Derbyshire (Mr. Emrys-Evans) on the very interesting and suggestive maiden speech which ha has just made to the House. We hope that in the future he may give us the further benefit of his lucid and briefly expressed remarks, which in this case contained so much valuable suggestion.

This Debate, despite the inevitable interruption, has been the occasion of several important speeches, and I feel sure that I shall be expressing the view of the House if I first express our appreciation of that delivered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Marylebone (Sir R. Rodd). I hope that the forecast which he made that it was the last speech that he was likely to make in our Foreign Office Debates may not be well founded, for we have so often and so gladly had the benefit of his advice and help in the past that we should all feel the absence of that help in the future.

I do not want to detain the House long at this late hour, but I think I cannot do better than reply first to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition about Disarmament. The right hon. Gentleman seemed rather to complain that, in some of the speeches made during the Debates on the various Service Estimates, there were suggestions that the Government would have to reconsider the amount that they were spending upon armaments; but those suggestions, as I feel sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree, were all based on the assumption, which I hope, and which the whole House will hope, may prove to be false, that the Disarmament Conference might fail to effect a material reduction in world armaments. If the Conference were so to fail, it must be evident to all that this country which, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Derbyshire has said, is giving the world a lead in the matter of Disarmament, would obviously be compelled to reconsider its position in the light of facts as they then were. It is sincerely to be hoped that that eventuality will not have to be faced this year, but it is one that no Government bringing in its Estimates can afford to ignore. What are the prospects for that Conference? I think it was my right hon. Friend who quoted at the Assembly the cynical remark that there had never been a conference from which more was hoped and less expected, but in fact I think it is true to say the earlier debates of the Disarmament Conference were distinctly hopeful. I am sure there was a greater measure of agreement than some had dared to hope for. Since then the Conference has been engaged upon more technical matters, very largely upon the arrangement of its programme. After Easter the Conference will resume for its most serious business, and the right hon. Gentleman can rest assured that the Government will be very fully represented throughout those proceedings as it has been heretofore, and will not hesitate to make its contribution to secure that world reduction of armaments which has for so long been our ambition.

As to the Far East, I think this Debate has revealed a very wide measure, perhaps an unexpectedly wide measure, of support for the policy which the Government have been and are still pursuing. The only suggestion of criticism has been that in the pursuit of that policy the Government might perhaps have shown itself a little more vigorous. That was particularly the point of view of the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks). I wonder whether he and those who share that view have sufficiently considered the basic ambition which the Government have felt throughout this difficult time—the determination, in seeking a solution of the problem, to secure the active and continuous co-operation both of the League and of the United States. I think some of those who wish that we might have been a little more eager than we have been in the prosecution of what they call a forward policy may perhaps have overlooked the fact that, had we indulged in such eagerness as they would wish, we might have found ourselves acting alone, and isolated action at a time like this would not only have been unwise and ineffective, but, worse still, would have been directly harmful, for it would have broken up that collective action which we can alone hope to make effective in a situation such as this. I think equally this Debate has been notable for the restraint and strict sense of responsibility which has actuated each one of the speakers, and I do not think we could say that a similar rectitude has always been displayed outside the House. There have been one or two in recent weeks who have preferred to brandish the sword in the cause of peace. Of these I have only to say that a man, in my judgment, is no less a Jingo if he makes pacifism the pretext for his Jingoism. Fortunately, the Government is happy in the possession of a generous amount of advice as to how to treat those who speak with less than the usual responsibility of these difficult matters. Six years ago no less an authority than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) gave the Government of that day, at a similar crisis, a warning Against those anxious to work up war in the Far East. We shall heed the warning of the right hon. Gentleman, and also his still more definite declaration at that time. The most menacing symptom, he said, was the uttering of high-sounding phrases which constituted the tocsin of war. Anybody who indulges in the uttering of such phrases to-day may be assured that they will fall upon deaf ears in this country, and I hope they will fall upon deaf ears in the world outside.

One or two hon. Members have raised technical points of great importance to this country, more particularly in relation to the position in Manchuria. As to that I would only say this. While negotiations are in progress I would like to assure the House that we are not unmindful of these important individual points where British interests are concerned. While we shall do our utmost to promote general agreement, we shall not lose sight of important British interests in the meanwhile. The hon. Member for Broxtowe gave us a long record of events in Manchuria. I am neither going to follow his history nor attempt, as I might like to do here and there, to correct him. I would only remind him that this is a controversy of 30 years' duration or more, and that the more we have an opportunity of studying it the more fearful are we to enter upon this phase in the difficult situation. I do not share the hon. Gentleman's complaint that the matter has not been dealt with more promptly. He said that the Commission which has gone out there has very insufficient powers. I do not think so. I find it hard to imagine a Commission with wider powers. Here in a sentence are its terms of reference. This is from the Resolution of the Council: To appoint a Commission of five members to study on the spot and to report to the council on any circumstances which affect international relations or threatens to disturb the peace between China and Japan or the good understanding between them on which peace depends. I find it very hard to believe that the terms of reference could be drawn wider.


I did not say that they had insufficient powers but that the powers had been limited; flat the powers originally suggested for them had been reduced.


It seems to me that those powers are amply wide enough to meet any consideration it is possible to conceive. I think that a Commission which has power to consider any circumstances affecting relations between China and Japan has as wide an authority as anyone could suggest.


The powers taken from them were the powers to bring about the withdrawal of Japanese forces to the railway zone.


I am well aware what the hon. Member has in mind, but the point I am making is that the Commission has powers amply wide enough to come to a decision, and that the enforcement of the judgment must be left to others. The terms of reference are, we are convinced, sufficient for the purpose of the Commission, and we shall be well advised to leave to them the inquiry into this vexed question, believing that they are well capable of making good use of the wide powers which have been given to them. In this Debate there were two points of view which hon. Members had in mind. There were those, like the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who were concerned with the immediate position in Shanghai and Manchuria; what we may call the short-range policy. As to that, the House knows the means by which we are hoping to bring about an improvement in the situation and knows also that the outlook at present is certainly more promising than it has been at any time since the unhappy dispute began.

But there is an equally big issue which was raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) in his most interesting speech. He referred to the future relations of this country with. China. I think it will be generally accepted that there has been a definite improvement in our relations with China in the past five years, and I think that that improvement can definitely be dated from the combination of firmness in the defence of well-established British as well as other foreign interests and of sympathy with just Chinese aspirations, which formed the policy of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain). That policy has been the British policy ever since and will, I trust, continue to be the underlying principle which guides us. We hope that when the present unhappy circumstances are over the Chinese Government will prove itself able to deal with those difficulties which have so often in the past been the cause of trouble to itself and its friends, and will be able to re-establish a Government in effective control of the whole country. All we seek is trade upon mutually satisfactory conditions, and for that we need a policy of friendship and good faith on both sides. We have had it for many generations in China. It has been growing in strength in recent years, and it will be our effort continually to give it further encouragement, mindful both of the great interests of our people in China and of our traditional friendship and sympathy with their aspirations.

Bill accordingly read a Second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.