Order of the Day read for the adjourned debate on the Motion of the Earl of Crewe to resolve, "That no duty upon imports into the United Kingdom from Foreign Countries, or from British Colonies and Dependencies, should be imposed, modified, or removed, without the formal consent of Parliament to each such proposal;" and on the Amendment moved by the Marquess of Salisbury to the foregoing Motion, viz:—
To leave out all the words alter 'that' for the purpose of inserting the following words, viz.: 'This House, while affirming the constitutional doctrine that all the fiscal arrangements of this country must be subject to the full and effective control of Parliament over taxation, is not prepared to lay down rules for the guidance of future Parliaments as to the exact method in which such control should be exercised by them in cases which may hereafter arise.'
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I have had considerable doubt whether it would be necessary for me to trouble your Lordships with anything in the nature of a personal explanation as to the reasons which caused me last autumn to resign the office in His Majesty's Government which I then had the honour to hold. But as two of my colleagues who resigned their offices about the same period have thought it due either to their constituents or to the House in which they sat or to themselves to enter upon some explanation of a personal character, and as, in addition, the Prime Minister thought it necessary—as he had not thought it necessary on the other occasions—to reply to my letter of resignation in a tone which perhaps was somewhat controversial, I hope that I may ask your Lordships to allow me in a few words to try to explain the reasons, not so much why I thought it necessary ultimately to resign my office, but why that resignation was for some considerable period delayed. Let me say first that I have no complaint 349 whatever to make of what I have referred to as the controversial tone of the reply of the Prime Minister. I fully recognise that some inconvenience may have been caused to him, and perhaps also to the public service, which might have been avoided if my resignation had been sent in at the same period as that of my colleagues; and if this was so, I desire to express my extreme regret for any want of judgment or any want of decision which may have been the cause of such inconvenience.
My colleagues, who have already made personal explanations, Mr. Ritchie and Lord George Hamilton, were perfectly justified in the statement they have made, that at the time when they resigned their offices they had every reason to believe from the communications which had passed between us that I intended to have taken the same course at the same time. I do not think it is necessary that I should enter at all fully into the reasons why I formed that intention. Those reasons were, in the main, identical with those which have been fully stated by my colleagues. I perhaps could not have formulated so distinctly as they did the reasons for their action, because I had not at the time, and I have not even now, a very clear idea of what were the measures to which we were asked at that time to give our assent, or of what was the policy to which we were asked to commit ourselves. It may be enough for me to say that both the action and the language of the Prime Minister and of some of his colleagues since the first opening of this question had been to me a cause of great anxiety and doubt. I felt myself obliged to dissent from much that was contained in the pamphlet which has been published by the Prime Minister, and from some of the contents of the Memorandum which was circulated to his colleagues at the same time. I also had in my mind that two only of my colleagues had prepared for the Cabinet Memoranda dealing with the proposals which had been put forward by our colleague the late Colonial Secretary, and had made criticisms of those proposals with which I was on the whole in entire agreement.
350 At the Cabinet which met on 14th September it was clearly indicated that in the opinion of the Prime Minister the opinions of these members who had expressed themselves in these Memoranda were such as to make it impossible that they could give their assent to the policy which he was about to propose, and that it was not likely that it would be possible for them, with satisfaction to themselves, to remain members of his Government. Sharing as I did in the main the views which had been expressed by my colleagues, I did not see how, if in the opinion of the Prime Minister they could not with advantage remain in his Cabinet, the same considerations should not apply also to my own case. But there was, however, another reason, which was not referred to in the letters of resignation of my colleagues, but which had a great influence upon me, and I think must have had some influence also with them. I think we were, none of us, quite clear as to the nature of the declarations which the Prime Minister might think it necessary to make in his forthcoming speech at Sheffield; but what I felt, and what we all felt, was that, whatever might be the nature of these declarations, it would be impossible for us to continue to be members of a Cabinet in which the Colonial Secretary would be free to advocate principles which we knew he had adopted, which we also knew it was his intention, either in or out of the Cabinet, to advocate publicly throughout the country. Such a state of things would, I think, have been highly unsatisfactory to us, and contrary to the best interests of the public service. It would have been necessary in such circumstances for me either to remain silent—which would have been an intolerable position for myself—or to have taken an open part in combating a policy which my colleague was advocating, which, I think, would hardly have been a course that would have been decent to colleagues in the same Cabinet.
It is quite true that at the Cabinet to which I am referring some mention was made of the possible resignation of Mr. Chamberlain. My recollection, however, agrees with those of my colleagues who have already stated their views on the subject, that that resignation had not been definitely tendered, still less that it 351 had been, or was likely to be, accepted without protest on the part of the Prime Minister. It is also true that on the evening of the same day, after the Cabinet, I had an interview with the Prime Minister, in which he again referred to the possibility of the resignation of Mr. Chamberlain. But, even at that time, it was not presented to me in such a manner as to lead me to understand that a definite tender of resignation had been made, still less that it was likely to be accepted. At a further interview the next day the subject was again referred to, and the resignation of Mr. Chamberlain was spoken of as being extremely probable, if not certain; but it was not until the third day, the Wednesday of that week, that I learned definitely and finally that that resignation had been tendered and had been accepted. I admit that this communication appeared to me to make a very great difference in my position.
As I have said, I was not even then clear as to the scope and nature of the declaration that the Prime Minister intended to make at an early date; but I understood that it was to be mainly on the lines of his pamphlet, with which your Lordships are all acquainted; and from passages in that pamphlet, and also from communications which took place between myself and the Prime Minister, I thought I was justified in the statement which I made in the letter in which I finally tendered my resignation. The passage is very short, and perhaps your Lordships will allow me to read it—I had hoped to have found in your speech a definite statement of adherence to the principle of free trade as the ordinary basis of our fiscal and commercial system, and an equally definite repudiation of the principle of protection in the interests of our national industries.I thought, from the reasons which I have endeavoured to indicate, that I was justified in forming that opinion as to the general character of the statement which the Prime Minister intended to make. I thought at the time, very wrongly I am afraid, that it was possible that my continued presence in the Cabinet might have the effect of, in some degree, restraining that body from any very wide departure from the principles of free trade to which I still adhered. Still my 352 position, I acknowledge, I felt to be an extremely difficult one. But from that moment when I was definitely assured of the resignation of the Colonial Secretary my difficulties were mainly of a personal and not of a public character. I pointed out to the Prime Minister that the effect which the fact of Mr. Chamberlain's resignation had on my mind would in my opinion probably be similar to the effect which that fact would have on the minds of those other colleagues who had already tendered their resignations and whose resignations had been accepted, understood, however, from him that, whatever might be my decision, there was no intention of asking those colleagues to reconsider theirs, or in fact that any reconsideration on their part would be admitted. My difficulty, therefore, was mainly of a personal character; it was whether I should be wanting in loyalty to those colleagues with whom I had been in communication, who had consulted me as to their course, and whom I had consulted as to mine. My first inclination, I admit, was to insist on being permitted to lay this new fact before my colleagues and consult again with them, and, in fact, to place myself to a great extent in their hands. On reflection, however, I considered that, as nothing which I could do would alter their position, I had no right to ask them to take any responsibility for my own conduct, which affected myself alone, and that my decision must be made solely upon public grounds. I therefore decided that under these new circumstances it would be my duty to remain a member of the Cabinet, and to exercise what influence I might possess in endeavouring to guide or restrain the action of the Cabinet.
There is one further explanation, or perhaps I ought rather to say one further confession, which I have to make. It is quite true, as was stated in the Prime Minister's letter of reply to me, that I saw before I finally gave my decision the letter in which he had accepted Mr. Chamberlain's resignation. I think if I had at that time fully grasped the significance of that letter my decision would have been a different one. But I can only plead in excuse that the letter was only read to me, that I had no opportunity of considering its terms 353 carefully; and I will also ask noble Lords to remember that this was the third day of these proceedings, days which had been occupied incessantly in meetings of the Cabinet, in interviews, and in correspondence, and the strain upon my mind was very great, as I think it would have been on the mind of any man. I was not in a position, my mind was not so clear and lucid as it ought to have been, and I did not, as I ought to have done, fully grasp the significance of the terms in which the resignation had been accepted. On the next day the Prime Minister had left London; I had an interview, however, with his private secretary, and I again had an opportunity of reading the correspondence with Mr. Chamberlain. That more careful inspection of the correspondence, I acknowledge, filled my mind with the very greatest anxiety, and I doubted whether I had taken a wise step in consenting to remain in the Cabinet. I felt, however, that it was too late to recall my decision, and that I could only trust and hope that, notwithstanding the terms of that letter, the declarations which would be made by the Prime Minister would not be inconsistent with those which I had previously expected. With that object, I had, I think, another interview with the Prime Minister's private secretary, in which I impressed upon him to the best of my ability that I trusted that those declarations would be consistent with the opinion which I had formed that the Prime Minister did not intend to depart widely from the principles of free trade as the accepted basis of our fiscal policy.
I have stated already in my letter the reasons which induced me to think, after I bad read the speech at Sheffield, that I had altogether misconceived the position and the opinions of the Prime Minister. Although I did not then, and although I do not now, know what measures I might ultimately have been called upon to defend in this House, I did feel that those declarations, to which I have called special attention in my letter, were entirely opposed to the impressions which I had formed and which I had expected to be fulfilled. It would have been impossible for me, when Parliament reassembled, to stand at this Table, or on any platform 354 in the country, and to profess myself, as a member of the Prime Minister's Government, still a convinced free-trader, as I am, and always hope that I shall remain. That is, I think, all that I have to say on the personal question. I trust that I have not said anything which may make it necessary for any of us ever to reopen that question, which I am sure your Lordships will admit is, and must be, one of extreme pain and difficulty for me.
I desire to offer a few observations on the subjects which have been raised in the present debate. I think that my noble friend Lord Crewe has rendered no inconsiderable service to the House and to the country in raising a discussion upon one side of this question, which up to the present time, I think, has been inadequately discussed. A great deal has been said—not, in my opinion, at all too much—upon another side of the question, that of the attitude of the Government towards the policy which has been proposed, not by them, but by Mr. Chamberlain. But up to the present time very little, comparatively, has been said on the subject of the Government's own policy, or of the proposals which they intend to make either to Parliament or, before a general election, to the country. It is a somewhat curious and remarkable feature of the extraordinary position in which we find ourselves that ten times as much interest—I think I may say a hundred times as much interest—appears to be roused throughout the country in the policy which is advocated by Mr. Chamberlain, and in the attitude of the Government towards that policy, than is excited by the Government's own proposals.
The Government have asserted, and I believe still assert, that they have a policy. The Prime Minister at Sheffield declared that, this question having been raised, it was his intention to give a lead to his Party and to the country. I ask, Where are we to find this lead? It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister has been unable to further explain his views in the House of Commons; but surely he must have colleagues in the House of Commons who would have been fully capable of explaining those views if there had been anything further to explain. The Prime 355 Minister has written a pamphlet and he has made three speeches; and in those, up to the present time, we must find the materials for forming an opinion on the policy of the Government and on the lead which he desires to give to his Party. In the pamphlet the most definite expression that I find is that he pleads for "freedom to negotiate in order that freedom of exchange may be increased." In the speech at Sheffield I find also the definite declaration that he intended to reverse the fiscal policy of the last two generations. That declaration would seem to imply that as the fiscal policy of the last two generations had been one of free trade the Prime Minister's intention was to revert to protection. But we have been assured that that is not the present intention of the Government, and therefore we have to fall back on the freedom to negotiate in order that freedom of exchange might be increased. That does not appear to roe to be so much a declaration of policy as the expression of a sentiment; and until that sentiment is reduced to concrete proposals I maintain that we have not got—and the country has not got—the lead which we have the right to expect.
If the complexity and difficulty of this position could have been increased I think it would have been increased by the speech of my noble friend Lord Selborne last night. Lord Selborne told us that it was impossible to explain the details of a policy which was not yet born. I ask, how are we to accept as the policy of the Government or the lead which the Government have promised to give to the country a policy which, in the words of one of his colleagues, has not yet come into existence. Under these circumstances, it is perhaps not strange that we have not derived very much enlightenment from the debates which have taken place in the other House of Parliament. We have to-night one more chance of obtaining that enlightenment. My noble friend who leads the House holds a position only second in authority to that of the Prime Minister himself, and it maybe—I hope it may be—that he will be in a position to throw some light upon this perplexed condition of things. He told us the other day, in words spoken with some deliberation, that the Government 356 presented a solid front on that part of the policy which they had examined and to which as a Government they were committed. What we want to know is, What are the results of that examination which has been given? I trust that I do not put this question in a hostile spirit to the Government. As I have admitted, while I was a member of the Government I was perfectly ready to enter myself into an examination of certain proposals; but while I was a member of the Government certainly no examination of this policy had yet been undertaken, and if I had remained in the Government I should have expected that such an examination would be made before the meeting of Parliament, and that its results would be communicated to Parliament.
We have never got nearer to a definition of the policy of the Government than that which was given to us by the noble Marquess at the opening of the session. "The policy of the Government," he said, "might be summed up in the words negotiation and retaliation." It is perfectly possible that a policy which has been fully and adequately explained may be summed up in two words; but there never was a policy—and I do not think that there ever will be a policy—which, in the absence of such adequate explanation, could be summed up sufficiently for the consideration of Parliament or the country in a couple of words. Though we have often heard this summing-up of the policy of the Government we have never received any indications whatever as to the manner in which those principles are to be applied to our future fiscal policy. As to negotiation, the Government have always, in my opinion, been free to enter into negotiation.
The Prime Minister says that we deprived ourselves of the means of successfully conducting negotiations, and the other night, in the House of Commons, Mr. Wyndham attributed the failure of certain negotiations with France which took place in 1880 to the absence of any fiscal inducement which it was in our power to offer. I think Mr. Wyndham was not quite accurately informed with respect to that negotiation. It is not the fact that in that negotiation we had nothing to offer. Parliament had already been asked, and had assented, to a 357 reduction of the duties on French wines in the event of the conclusion of a treaty. The obstacle which prevented the conclusion of that treaty was the pledge which was given to Parliament by the Government—rightly given, I think, at that time—that they would not assent to any treaty which should provide for the imposition of higher duties than those which had been agreed to by the French Government in 1860. The French Government, I believe, were perfectly willing to comply with that demand on the part of our Government; and the obstacle which prevented the conclusion of a fresh treaty with France was the unwillingness of the protectionist majority in the French Chambers to agree to the proposal to which their Government were quite ready to assent. That negotiation, therefore, did not fail in consequence of the absence of anything which we had to offer in the shape of inducement. It failed on account of the rigid protectionist principles professed by a majority in the French Chambers.
From negotiation we come to retaliation. I suppose my noble friend Lord Selborne was under the impression last night that he was defending the principles of retaliation. In my judgment almost the whole of his speech, although he every now and then used a phrase about retaliation, might have been just as well made in defence of a policy of protection, or the policy proposed by Mr. Chamberlain. My noble friend used all the arguments which are so familiar in the mouths of protectionist speakers. He asserted that our country had prospered under protection and also that other countries had in recent years prospered more under protection than we had under free trade.
§ * THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (The Earl of SELBORNE)
I made no comparison as to the respective degrees of prosperity. I simply said that foreign countries had prospered greatly under protection.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I was under the impression that my noble friend used the words that other countries had prospered more in recent years under 358 protection than we had prospered under free trade.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I accept my noble friend's correction; but if that is his opinion why does he not boldly advocate a return to a system of protection in this country? It may be that protection is a very good system, and that other countries may have prospered under a protective system; but I do not think that my noble friend can point to any instance where a country has prospered under a system of negotiation and retaliation, or to any country whose fiscal system is based on a formula so unmeaning. But we are not to-night discussing protection. The object of this debate I take to be to endeavour to find out, what, if it is not protection, is the policy of His Majesty's Government. If we were to discuss the question of protection I should find it necessary to challenge most, if not all, of the statements and arguments that were contained in my noble friend's speech; and especially should I think it my duty to call attention to the fact that he based an argument as to the stagnation of our trade upon the exports of our manufactured articles only, and that he altogether omitted to make the slightest reference in the course of his speech—an omission which was somewhat remarkable on the part of the First Lord of the Admiralty—to the enormous progress which has been made under free trade by our shipping industries, by our shipbuilding and our foreign shipping trade.
As to retaliation, it seems to me everything depends upon the meaning which we are to attach to the word and as to the spirit in which it is to be used. There was a somewhat ominous sentence in the Prime Minister's pamphlet, in which he said that the only alternative that was left was—To do to foreign nations what they always do to each other, and, instead of appealing to economic theories which they wholly disbelieve, to use fiscal inducement which they thoroughly understand.If this means, as it seems to me, that we are to base our future fiscal policy on 359 the model of foreign nations—upon what foreign nations do to each other—we can very easily form an opinion of what it comes to. If my noble friend Lord Lansdowne is to be free to present his big revolver at the head of every protectionist State which imposes protective duties against our exports, and to threaten, or to carry out a threat, of imposing similar duties upon their exports, we know very well what that would come to. We know that almost every nation of Europe and the United States of America attach far more importance to keeping control over their own markets than to opening our markets to themselves; and we know that all the fiscal inducements which they so thoroughly understand have never enabled them, if they have ever tried, to establish free trade between each other. If we are to model, as that sentence appears to indicate, our future fiscal policy upon what foreign nations do to each other, I cannot see what other result we can anticipate than the establishment of a system of protection all round.
The Government decline to discuss with us concrete cases. That is no reason why we should not put to them concrete cases of our own for the purpose of helping the country to see where this policy of retaliation may lead them. Lord Crewe referred last night to a suggestion which has been made that it might be possible in the case of Germany, for instance, by threatening to impose an additional tax upon her wines or upon the cheap toys that she exports, to obtain some concession on her part in our favour. It has also been suggested that in the case of Prance we might threaten to impose some duty upon her silks or fancy articles, and by that means obtain some concession from her. I admit that I am extremely doubtful whether the advantages which we could obtain from using such fiscal inducements as these would be very great. I can conceive that, if threats of this sort were made and carried out, it would certainly tend to dislocate a certain portion of our trade, and that it would infallibly diminish a certain portion of our exports which pay for those imports which would be thereby checked. But if, after full examination, His Majesty's Government had reason to suppose that by a threat or the imposition of duties of 360 this kind there would be any probability of their obtaining larger and more important concessions in other directions, I should not have the slightest objection to seeing this experiment tried, to seeing it proposed to Parliament, and seeing on what grounds it could be defended. But let me instance another case of retaliation. I do not know that the proposal has ever been made in a more simple and naked form than it was made a short time ago in a newspaper which is a great supporter of His Majesty's Government and also of Mr. Chamberlain—The Times newspaper. The Times was discussing the question of our iron industry, and said—By a hostile tariff America first shuts our iron out of her market and then invades our home markets and shuts up our manufactories. Would it really be no advantage to be able to retain our home market in spite of their tariff? We could do that by a retaliatory tax upon the iron of every country that taxes ours. Granting that we could obtain no power of negotiation that would open the American market to our own iron—It is not proposed that it should be done in order to secure greater freedom of exchange—still to secure possession of our home market would immensely increase our power of competing with America in every foreign market open to both. All this is so elementary that no free-importer should spoil his case by directly contradicting it.Well, this argument rather appeals to me. I happen to be considerably interested in the iron and steel industry as chairman of an iron and steel company, and I quite admit that it would be rather an attractive prospect to me to be relieved of American competition in our market and to be able thereby to charge higher prices to our customers at home. I have no doubt that if a tariff reformer were to go to Barrow-in-Furness and make the same suggestion to the workmen in our works they would see it in the same light as I do. But, in my opinion, Parliament has got to look a little further than the interests either of iron and steel companies, or even of the workmen engaged in this industry.
It is admitted that we cannot succeed in what we all desire to do—in opening the American market to our iron products; but, as a compensation, we are to be protected against competition in our own. Now the competition to which we 361 are exposed is essentially of a temporary and fitful character; it is a competition of that kind which is now described as "dumping"; it is the occasional export by America or by Germany of a portion of their over-production which has been fostered by their protective tariffs, and by their trusts which have grown up under protective tariffs. A portion of that overproduction is priced below the cost of manufacture But that competition must in its nature be of a temporary character. In order to relieve us from that temporary inconvenience we are to be compensated by a permanent protective duty. It is not easy to see that our power of competing in neutral markets would be increased by the adoption of that proposal. If America or Germany want to "dump" they will "dump" somewhere. If they cannot "dump" here, they will be driven to "dumping" in neutral markets in which we compete with them.
What this tariff would do would be permanently to raise the price of our products to our home customers. Who are our home customers? Nobody that I am aware of buys iron or steel to look at or to put in his pocket. The purchasers of iron and steel are a thousand different classes of manufacturers who convert iron and steel into hundreds and thousands of articles of general utility and advantage. Well, if the price of their material is raised to them, they also must be protected—the price of the article which they produce will also be raised, their consumption will be necessarily reduced, and the effect of this proposal would be that production would be diminished, and that a large number of workmen in these subsiduary industries—a far larger number than are employed in the ironmasters' works—would have their employment by so much reduced. I think it is a fair question to put to His Majesty's Government whether the proposal which I have just described comes under the head of protection, or whether it comes under the head of retaliation. If the answer is that such a policy as has been recommended by The Times comes under the head of retaliation, I think the country will be in a better position to judge than it is now of the consequences which may follow the adoption of the policy which was so simply described to us in a couple of words.
362 There is one point on which I desire to say a word, which seems to me more important even than the discovery of the proposals of the Government itself. It is the relation of the Government to the Unionist organisations which largely control the policy indicated by the tariff reformers. What are we all looking to? We know we are all looking to the future general election, to the preparations to be made for that general election, and the results of that election. The Government are using the whole of their influence to ensure that the results of that election should be a mandate for a change of some kind or another in our present fiscal policy. This is their irreducible minimum, and unless a candidate is prepared to proclaim himself a fiscal reformer of one kind or another he is no longer permitted to be a loyal supporter of the Government. Sometimes they profess a mild preference for their own proposals over the more extreme proposals of the Tariff Reform League. Some of them do not conceal, however, their sympathy with the more extended proposals than their own; but in no case, so far as I am aware, is the influence of the Government exerted, or will it be exerted, to impose any limit whatever on the extent to which their supporters may legitimately commit themselves. I submit that this attitude on the part of the Government is unfair to many of their supporters who desire to give them a loyal support.
I think we have a right to ask that there should be a superior limit as well as an irreducible minimum. Some of us here, and some of those who in the other House voted for the Amendment moved the other day, have endeavoured to induce the Government to fix some such superior limit; but hitherto our endeavours have been without success. I believe and I trust that the whole of His Majesty's Government are not committed to a policy of undisguised preference, protective taxation of food, or to the imposition of an all-round duty. But what is the use of the protests which some of them have made if they take no steps to secure that their protests shall be effective? And unless they take some steps to prevent the return to Parliament of candidates who are pledged 363 to protection and preference, the responsibility of those members of the Government who are not prepared to go to these full lengths will not be, in my opinion, discharged if by their possible future resignations they decline a verdict on the part of the country which they have I themselves been instrumental in obtaining and which by timely action on their part they might have averted.
There is only one hypothesis on which this attitude on their part can be justified. It is that in their judgment these questions are of minor importance as compared with the maintenance of the Unionist Party for other purposes—for purposes, I acknowledge, great and important, perhaps of resisting any revival of the Home Rule policy, of maintaining the principles of the Education Act, and, for all I know, there may be many others; but in comparison with these they hold that the most sweeping changes in our fiscal policy are matters of minor importance. I acknowledge that I am unable to hold this view, for I believe there is no subject which is the least likely to occupy the immediate or early attention of Parliament which compares in importance with that of the principles on which our fiscal policy is in the future to be based. In saying this I think I am taking a more consistent position than that which was taken by Lord Selborne last night. He reminded us that we were risking the existence of the great Unionist Party? But what are he and his friends doing? Are they doing nothing to risk the existence of the great Unionist Party? He has not even the excuse of thinking that these are great matters, for he told us that he considered that a wholly exaggerated importance was attached to the question both by the advocates and opponents of protection.
There are certain compensations for the absence of the Leader of the other House and for his place being occupied by Mr. Akers-Douglas, who, speaking the other day, gave some novel definitions of the principles of Cabinet responsibility. He said—The noble Lord wants to know whether hon. Members supporting the Sheffield policy and hon. Members supporting a more advanced policy will receive the same support from the Conservative associations. I say certainly, as long as they receive the support of their local associations, and my hon. friend the Secretary of 364 the Treasury has observed that he certainly will make no difference with regard to the candidates who are standing now; but the condition must be that they are supported by the local associations, and that they necessarily support the policy of the Government. How else would hon. members have it?I think that is a very frank expression of the opinions of an important member of the Government on this part of the question. We know now who are to control the decision of the future fiscal policy of the Government. It is to be left to individual opinion and the action of the local associations. If by any process of wire pulling a sufficient number of local associations can be got to support the policy of the Tariff Reform League, then it is the policy of the Tariff Reform League only and not their own policy which will be submitted to the country at the next general election. I confess I am not content to leave the decision of this question in the hands of the local associations. Local associations are a necessary and important part of our political organisations; but local associations do not always, and frequently do not represent the opinions of the constituencies which they profess to represent.
I have been reproached with disloyalty to the Unionist Party for having advised free-traders to vote against protectionist candidates. I have given that advice. I have never advised any one to vote against candidates who were pledged to the policy of negotiation and retaliation—partly because, as I have already said, I do not know what that policy means. But I do advise every man who professes free-trade opinions, and does desire that freedom of exchange should not be diminished but increased, to exact from every candidate who seeks to represent him in Parliament a pledge that he will oppose protection in whatever shape it may re-appear—to exact a pledge from the candidates that they will vote against protection, and that they will oppose protective taxes on food, that they will oppose the imposition of a protective duty upon foreign manufactured goods; and I will advise that, failing this pledge, he will refuse to support a candidate even if he professes to be a supporter of a Unionist Government.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (The Earl of HALSBURY)
My Lords, I believe I am only expressing the views of every one of 365 my colleagues, that they regard the departure of the noble Duke as a great calamity, and I can hardly adequately express how his absence from our counsels is felt. The subject of the resignation of the noble Duke is one which I think may be fairly left to him. At least, as far as I am concerned, I absolutely refuse to discuss any part of that matter. I am sure that in the eyes of his countrymen the noble Duke has said and done nothing that is inconsistent with the highest tone of honour. Turning to the other part of the noble Duke's speech, I confess I am a little surprised at the complete innocence the noble Duke appears to display as to the mode in which political matters are managed in Cabinets. I should have thought the noble Duke's experience would have led him to speak less lightly of the opinions of local political associations. Another observation occurs to me upon the noble Duke's remark, that he had never heard of a policy that could be expressed in two words. Has he ever heard of Home Rule? No one has made a more effective stand than the noble Duke himself as to the necessity of distinguishing between the official acts, the official programme, of a Government and the individual opinions of the members of a Government: and until there is that official programme, and something which the Government as a Government is supporting, I should have thought there was no right to inquire into the individual opinions of different members of a Government. The noble Duke quoted a celebrated passage from a speech by Lord Macaulay, in which he pointed out that great and important issues before the country had been advocated by members of a Cabinet and denounced by other members of the same Cabinet. I do not know whether the noble Duke has altered his views since June 15th last. I am afraid I shall have to call the noble Duke's attention to observations he then made on the subject; but on this part of it I am a little surprised to find the noble Duke expressing his view that a member is open to have his expressed opinion challenged by his colleagues and a declaration made by the Government.
Before proceeding further, I wish to make a protest against the impression, which the noble Duke has acted upon for the last twenty minutes, that the House is discussing protection and 366 free trade. That is a kind of trap into which speaker after speaker has fallen. They are not invited to fight that question, and those responsible for bringing the subject forward at Sheffield and elsewhere have over and over again repudiated the statement that it is necessary to take the part of free-trader or protectionist. I have my own views and will not, when necessary, hesitate to express them; but as a member of the Government, and responsible for what I say as representing my colleages, I have spoken no words in favour of protection, nor do I intend to do so to-night. I claim to have my views unchallenged until I say or do something for which the Government will be responsible. It is not a discussion upon any proposal of the Government, and when the noble Duke said he did not understand the measures suggested by the Prime Minister at the time of his resignation, he could not have meant to convey that measures were actually suggested, for certainly they were not. Not now is there any specific proposal from the Government in question, but we are challenged by the noble Earl to say what we are going to do or say in the country. That is what it comes to; and, forsooth, His Majesty's Ministers are challenged on their views without respect to any specific measure capable of being discussed. It is one thing to speak of a policy of retaliation, or what, in other words, the noble Duke more accurately described as freedom to negotiate with other countries; but what is it? Who has given the right to challenge members of the Government upon what they are going to do, or what they are going to say, or what they are going to propose? What has been suggested is an inquiry, an inquiry among themselves to determine what they should propose to Parliament. That was what was suggested; and I think I may claim the authority of the noble Duke for considering this a reasonable and proper thing to do, and one would suppose that the natural result would be that, when a conclusion came to be arrived at as to what was the right thing to do, then a full discussion would proceed as to a general policy and its details. But here the House is discussing nothing in particular and speakers attribute anything they please as to possible proposals His 367 Majesty's Government may hereafter submit.
I observe that not only did the noble Earl who initiated this discussion suggest that a policy should be declared, but that the Government should be bound by a Resolution of the House as to the particular form which a proposal should take. It is a very remarkable thing as a matter of constitutional curiosity, and I think it should be handed down to the future as a precedent which ought to be avoided. On 15th June there was a discussion not very unlike others heard in the House when this subject is raised, and the noble Duke on that occasion used words in which, alluding to the line taken by noble Lords opposite that inquiry into the present system was not even permissible, he said they would—Find themselves compelled, whether they liked it or not, to take their share in this grand inquest of the nation which was to be opened.But from what the noble Duke has just said, it does not appear that his mind is so open as to whether there should be this grand inquest or not.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I thought the inquiry had been concluded, and that the Government had arrived at a conclusion to reverse the fiscal policy of the last two generations.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
What decision? I have not heard of any decision to reverse the fiscal policy of the country. On the contrary, one of the most frequent complaints on both sides is that no decision has been announced. All through his observations to-night the noble Duke referred to free trade; but in the course of his former speech he very justly said we never had free trade, but only free imports. How the noble Duke can have come to the conclusion that the inquiry was concluded is one of those mysteries which I am not able to solve. I was under the impression, until the noble Duke spoke, that we 368 were still piling up statistics, and were still engaged in "the grand inquest." What the noble Duke said in June was good common sense, and ought to be acted on—that a great evil undoubtedly exists, and that it ought to be remedied in some way or another. The noble Duke said with great force that the circumstances had completely changed, and that, instead of manufacturing as we had formerly done for the whole world, we were being surrounded by hostile tariffs. What was to be done was to inquire in what way that great evil could be remedied. Is it, or is it not, an evil that we are being shut out from every market in the world, and, if it is, are those charged with the Government of the country not under some obligation to endeavour to apply a remedy? And if there is no remedy but retaliation, what is the objection? At present, if we go to France or Germany and say, "Will you let our goods in free if we let your goods in free?" the answer we should receive from these countries would be, "Our goods go in free already. You have nothing to offer us. Why should we give you anything, when you have nothing to give us in return?" Whoever heard of a bargain in which one partner began by saying, "I have nothing to give you; please give me something?"
It is not unnatural that the Government should endeavour in some way to get rid of the evil inflicted on this country and its commerce by high tariffs. But it is said retaliation would be ineffectual, that it would lead either to a tariff war, which would be injurious to both parties, or to the duties put on being made perpetual, and thus protection would be introduced. I admit that a commercial war may be injurious; but if it were known that we would go into commercial warfare with a weapon that we could use, our antagonists would be a little chary of challenging us by raising their tariffs. The objection to the present system is that every country may bring its goods to our shores and seriously injure our industries by underselling us, and we have no power to resist them. That injury is being done cannot be denied. But it is said we must take a wider view. I agree that we must not confine our view to one industry, but must look to the prosperity and interest of the whole country. But, 369 on the other hand, we must remember that the whole country is made up of its different parts. How many of its industries may be destroyed with impunity? It is interesting to observe the different forms in which the attack on the Government has been made; and until the Government themselves determine on which line of defence they will place themselves, I suppose they may be justly abused by both sides—by those who complain that Ministers are not sufficiently protectionists and by those who assert that their policy would lead to the taxation of food.
The Government should be judged by their professions. They have put forward no concrete policy. All that is before the country is the Prime Minister's statement that he is prepared to reverse the policy that no duty could ever be imposed except for the purposes of revenue. If there is an evil to be met, is it right to take the leading principle of the Sheffield speech and of the pamphlet—and there is, I assert, no difference between the the private paper and the pamphlet in this respect? The principle is that the country has a right to say to other countries, "Unless your fiscal system is so altered that our goods may get into your markets, we shall refuse to let your goods into our markets." All that is claimed is that that liberty should exist. The form in which and the extent to which that should be done are necessarily matters of detail. But that that should be the leading principle is all the Prime Minister has ever said.
§ * LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
My Lords, I fully share the opinion which has been expressed by the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack, that the Question on the Paper is a very narrow one. I also agree with him that there has been considerable digression during the debate, but that digression is quite natural, and I do not think that any member of His Majesty's Government will complain either that inquiries have been made or that digression has occurred. I am sure there are many in this House who would wish to offer to His Majesty's Government their congratulation upon the two recruits they have obtained on the Front Bench. The speech of the noble Marquess Lord Salisbury and of the noble Earl Lord Donoughmore were speeches of good 370 qualities, and I think the Government may be congratulated on obtaining such recruits. My Lords, I have been accustomed for years to treat everything which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack says with great respect, and I do so now; but he has propounded a doctrine which has fallen on my ears with strange sound. The Government claim the right to appeal to the country to-morrow, or any day, for a mandate of the greatest importance; yet, when details are asked for, my noble and learned friend replies, "What right have you to make any inquiry as to what that mandate is to be for?" I contend that, if the fullest information on the subject is not obtained in Parliament, the country will have actually placed before it the nature of the mandate at twenty-four hours notice, and they will have to determine upon it in ignorance. That is not the way to obtain the genuine opinion of the country on any great question.
The noble and learned Earl, referring to the observation of the noble Duke as to his inability to understand the meaning of a policy which was represented by two words, quoted the case of Home Rule. Of course, the meaning of those two words was clearly understood, for Irish politicians had been for years explaining to the country what Home Rule was; and Mr. Gladstone never consulted the country on Home Rule until he had introduced the Bill of 1886 with all its details Not till then did he ask the country to express its opinion. No one, I think, ought to deny to Parliament the right of investigation as to the nature of the mandate to be asked for by, and as to the policy of, His Majesty's Government. The speech of the Marquess of Salisbury was satisfactory so far as it went. He said the policy of the Government was that of supporting free trade. He went on to say that protection threw a burden on the consumer and gave a benefit to the producer. That is very satisfactory. But he was only playing the part which Mr. Gerald Balfour played in the other House of Parliament. We afterwards had the remarkable speech delivered by Lord Selborne. I am sure the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty knows that it is impossible for me to say a discourteous word in regard to him. 371 But the noble Earl seemed to be suffering from a suppressed attack of protection. Let us see what my noble friend said. He raised a question which is important from many points of view, because it is a purely protectionist point of view. Having had a great deal to do with the Unionist Party both on its platforms and in regard to its policy, I wish to ask my noble friend to consider the effect of his words upon the fortunes of the Unionist Party. He has stated that in the protectionist period, ten or fifteen years before free trade, this country existed in a state of prosperity. Well, the people who were interested in the prosperity of this country will be surprised to hear that His Majesty's Government regard the state of things existing before free trade as a prosperous state of things.
§ * THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I must be allowed to state my point in my own way. The noble Duke had stated that there was no period of prosperity before the repeal of the Corn Laws, and I pointed out that it was prosperous according to the opinion of the period. I pointed out that prosperity was a comparative term, and the standard of comparison was the experience of the world at the given moment, and I proved from contemporary records that in the opinion of that time, before the repeal of the Corn Laws, the period had been considered a prosperous one.
§ * LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
That is exactly what I am traversing. No doubt, after the French War this country recuperated, and our manufactures flourished. Steamships were built, and from the capitalists' point of view there was no doubt an increased prosperity, but that was not the prosperity of the country. May I say that if my noble friend had lived as long as I have he would not have said that that period was a prosperous one. I can recollect when those who looked out at night saw the fires burning from the agricultural homesteads, when reports came in of the breaking up of machinery, when lawless men scoured the country and raided the inns. The miners of Wales were marching on Newport, and I remember standing by the main road 372 to learn whether the Queen's mail coach had been captured by those rebels. Our gaols were full, and men were being tried for sedition and treason. All this did not proceed from political disaffection and wrong, or from bad laws, but it proceeded from one cause alone, and it was that men were starving and wanted food, and had to fight in defnce of their very lives; and they had to break the law in order to make their grievances known. Many of your Lordships may have seen a graphic account of the state of the country during the time which my noble friend Lord Selborne says was a prosperous time. That account says that the whole of the labourers in the agricultural districts were on the verge of starvation; that the poor rates were 20s. in the pound; that the large towns were like beleaguered cities, so dreadful was the destitution and misery which prevailed in them; that people walked the streets like gaunt shadows, and not like human beings; that bread was so dear that few were able to buy it, and we were on the verge of a revolution when the Corn Laws were repealed. Then is given the anecdote about the pinch of curry powder. That was the description given by an accurate and truthful historian of events, for that is the record of Mr. Chamberlain himself. I am not seeking to introduce anything in the way of a taunt to my right hon. friend, but this description represents history, and I take it that this description is true, yet my noble friend says those were prosperous times. People at that time may have looked to the capitalists of the country, and thought that if the capitalists were prosperous the country was prosperous. They are now looking towards the Tariff Commission, and saying that this country is prosperous, but they do not go into the cottages of the people and learn for themselves the suffering that comes from the want of food. My noble friend Lord Selborne said if there had been any amelioration of that state of things it did not result from free trade.
§ * LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
Yes; imports and free food coming in untaxed. 373 Your Lordships will remember that the agitation for free trade commenced in the year 1849, and in the year 1852 the Government of Lord Derby was formed, and at the end of that year free trade had only been in operation some three years. A question arose, on the Motion of Mr. Charles Villiers, whether free trade was a doctrine that ought to be supported, and a discussion took place in December, 1853, as to what should be the opinion of the House on that subject. At that time Mr. Disraeli, as Chancellor of the Exchequer was the Leader of the House, and he then expressed a wish that the Resolution proposed and the question it raised should be definitely cleared up, and in the course of that discussion, which was rather conversational, Mr. Disraeli said—Under these circumstances we endeavoured to draw up a distinct Resolution which we considered would conciliate your opinion to such a degree that we hoped it would be accepted. I have not the Resolution at hand, but I sufficiently recollect it to know that it most unquestionably declared the opinion that the welfare of the working classes was attributable to the cheapness of provisions occasioned by recent legislation.That was the opinion of Lord Derby's Cabinet, and Mr. Disraeli was willing to bring forward that Amendment expressly in the terms which I have mentioned, stating that it was the opinion of the House that the amelioration of the working classes had been affected by means of free imports, and that it was in consequence of the cheapness of food, resulting from that legislation, that the working classes had had their position altered for the better. It turns out that whilst now there are members of the present Government saying that such is not the case, the colleagues of Lord Derby, Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Walpole, Sir J. Pakington, and every member of the Government of 1852, went into the Lobby and voted that such had been the result of free trade in ameliorating the condition of the working classes, and congratulating the country that the previous state of things had been changed. Not only the Government, but 486 Members of the House of Commons, voted that such was the result in 1852, and now it is left to the year 1904 for us to be told that such was not the case, and that there was no improvement for the working classes of this country through free trade. May 374 I mention, in passing, that I think we are to be congratulated upon the fact that one Member of your Lordships' House, most highly regarded, most highly venerated, still remains amongst us, who was a member of that Cabinet, and if he were here to-night—I allude to the Lord John Manners of 1852—I think he would readily confirm that, protectionist as he was, he voted in favour of that declaration, and also, if he had been present to-night, he might have told us how it was that he voted for such a. Resolution. I hope that this statement of my noble friend has now been pretty well disposed of, and I hope he will believe Mr. Chamberlain if he does not believe me. He has now got the statement on this point of the old protectionist Party, and I ask him to listen to such evidence and not rely upon persons less worthy of credence.
Perhaps I may anticipate for a moment what we shall have to deal with. There is one delivered statement which I am sure will affect public opinion to a great extent. The Lord Chancellor says that we have no right to ask the Government what their opinions are individually. I know I have no right to do that, but after his speech I am inclined to suspect them, and I think that my suspicions are well founded. We know the opinion of many members of the Government. Without breaking the canons of privacy, we know pretty well what the views of the Chancellor of the Exchequer are. I think I have a suspicion, from what my right hon. friend Mr. Alfred Lyttelton has said, what he means. You may call his opinions pious opinions if you like, but still they are his opinions, and the Lord Chancellor cannot object to my stating that Mr. Lyttelton has told us that we cannot put preferential tariffs on one side. My noble friend Lord Selborne says that the Government are free-traders, and he says they will not ban preferential tariffs. I suppose that means they will not oppose them. Is that the policy of the Government? When these views are placed before the country we wish to know what the policy of the Government is in regard to them; but when we hear Ministers in the House of Commons telling us that 375 they are in favour of these protectionist views, then we are told by the Lord Chancellor that we have no right to inquire what the views of the Government are individually. Have the governed no right to know the opinions of those who govern I Is it possible to hear these individual opinions and for us to be satisfied while the Government say "We will some time or other tell you what our opinions are?" I would ask my noble friend on the Woolsack to say whether the Government will tell us this after the next general election or before it. We must have some statement on this question. The people of this country are not constitutional lawyers, and if you are going to ask them to vote some time or other you must tell them what they are going to vote upon. It is no good telling them after they have voted. It may he negotiation and retaliation, and if it is, then you would have their banners inscribed with those words, and you would tell the farmer and agricultural labourer "That is sufficient for you, and we will not tell you any more." I feel seriously in regard to the fortunes of the Unionist Party, and I say that such strategy is placing the Unionist Party in very great peril. If you tell the farmer that your policy is retaliation he will ask you what it is you are going to retaliate upon. He will ask whether it is upon agricultural implements or the chemicals he uses upon the land. My noble friend says, "We are not going to tell you, but we shall leave it to the new Parliament and they will tell you." I assure my noble friend that the Unionist Party will stand in great peril in consequence of this state of things. You are practically telling the agricultural labourer, "You are to have this great policy of retaliation and negotiation and what more can you want?" He will ask you, what are you going to tax for retaliation? I think in this way you come down to a very low level and a very commonplace level, but it is a very practical level and you cannot avoid being placed in such a position.
May I ask my noble friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs if he speaks to-night to answer one or two questions. In the first place I want to ask what is the mandate that he expects from the 376 country. I suppose he will accept the view of my noble friend on the Woolsack and he will say, "I shall tell the electors they will vote for retaliation and negotiation." I suppose I must take that answer. Now let me ask my noble friend how is he going to take the opinion of the country upon negotiation and retaliation? How are you going to obtain your vote upon that mandate? How are you going to separate it from the rest of the proposals in your programme? Suppose you are placed between a free-trader and a supporter of Mr. Chamberlain—how are you going to get a vote for the Government under those circumstances upon retaliation and negotiation? There will be men who will not attach importance to their vote upon that question, but they will desire to vote upon education and Chinese labour, and all those subjects that engage the attention of the public, and how can you separate that question from all the other questions which will confront the elector? There is one way you can do this, and it is for the Government to frankly place their propositions before Parliament and before the country, and then you can place them properly before the electors. When I contested my first election in 1868 there was one question before the public, and this course was taken through the statesmanship of a man who knew the necessity for obtaining mandates. In the year 1868 Mr. Gladstone brought forward certain Resolutions in the House of Commons declaring the necessity of disestablishing the Irish Church, and he stated precisely the manner in which it was to take place, and every Liberal candidate had that question in his mind, and at every meeting I read this and used it, and I obtained my majority by virtue of being able to tell the people what it was the Prime Minister required. But we have not got anything like that now, for hero you are mixing up this question with the general policy of the Government. If you take that course the demand of the Government will be driven into the background. It will be Mr. Chamberlain's policy that we shall have to fight, and this Government, asking for a mandate so obtained, will have no proof that the people have ever expressed an opinion upon that question. My noble friend 377 is the Foreign Secretary, and he will have to deal with this question of retaliation. If the election is carried on in this manner, how will my noble friend be able to say to Foreign Ministers that the people of this country have declared in favour of retaliation. The natural reply will be, "You have not found out the opinion of the people of your country, and even if there is a majority in favour of the Government it is not a majority in favour of retaliation, because three-fourths of the electors may support Mr. Chamberlain. And my noble friend will have no power of negotiation if the Government will not be more explicit to show that the opinion of the electors has been declared. Does my noble friend know yet if the Government have formulated anything in the shape of retaliation? Has it been thought over what my noble friend is going to say to each particular country? Has he ascertained what he will say to Russia, or what he is going to tax? We have a positive promise that there shall be no taxation of food, and in the face of that, what can be said to Russia or America, which are the two countries whose imports you wish most to shut out. I fancy that when my noble friend comes to threaten, it will be a practice contrary to his nature, and he will not be able to threaten without knowing he is going to act. If my noble friend takes that course, he will ponder long before he will advise this country to enter into a war of retaliation.
There is another question I wish to ask. It is rather unfortunate that this debate was not postponed for a few days, in order that every Member of this House might have read this Blue-book, which contains an account of retaliation and tariff wars. I should like my noble friend's opinion as to the results of those destructive wars which have taken place, and which are discussed in this Blue-book. Probably none of your Lordships have had time to peruse the contents of this Blue-book, but you must have had time to learn the destruction to the trade of Italy and France. Take the relative proportion of our commerce, and apply the same measure of destruction to our commerce that occurred in Italy, France, and Switzerland, and what can compensate 378 us for the utter destruction to trade that would take place whilst that loss existed, and during the long time which would occur before that loss was made good. The opinion of my noble friend upon that record condemning the policy of retaliation with the strength which is contained in that Blue-book will be of the greatest value to the House, and I am sure that my noble friend will give us the assistance of his advice frankly and completely.
There are only one or two more matters that I feel I ought to detain your Lordships with. This Resolution that is suggested is a very simple one. We ask simply that the control of Parliament shall be maintained to the fullest. I do not understand what my noble friend's reason is for saying that this Resolution was framed so as to control future Parliaments, for there is no power to control future Parliaments. This is an expression of opinion of this Parliament. One Parliament cannot control another, and therefore the Amendment that has been proposed on the part of the Government does not carry us one step further, and it is not an Amendment that anybody can attach any importance to. I do not see how any one can object to the Motion of Lord Crewe. The Government could not object to it; and so, to give the House an opportunity of voting upon something else, this Amendment was put in. No one wants to bind future Parliaments, and the Government must not be taken to be opposing Lord Crewe's Motion by virtue of this Amendment, because it means nothing. My noble friend Lord Selborne last night informed us Unionists that we stood in great peril, and he warned us that we were taking a part in public affairs which may cause us to be associated with men with whom we differ. Well, my Lords, I will take that warning to heart. I have no wish to leave the Unionist Party, but I have to ask my noble friend and his colleagues to save us from becoming a protectionist Party. If you are going to allow us to drift into the position of being a protectionist Party, we, believing that such policy will be fatal to the cause of Unionism, refuse to listen to an appeal which asks us to strike a blow against the principles to which we are devoted. You say it 379 is important that a particular kind of fiscal policy other than free trade should exist. We claim that free trade is a necessity of the greatness of this Empire throughout and we cannot yield or forego it in order to bring success to any Party upon issues of secondary importance. I know that we are told that we are loyally to consider the claims of Party and I admit the obligation. There is, however, one duty which to me is higher than Party, and that is duty that I owe to my neighbour. I have for some years lived in an agricultural district where wages are of the lowest and I know something of what takes place in the homes of these who toil, and I have learned from observation that there is no margin between the receipts of these men and the expenditure they have to incur. Therefore I cannot and will not bring myself to add one farthing to the burdens of these men struggling day after day to keep off poverty from their houses and to find sufficient for those who have claims upon them. When we consider the burdens that are to be cast upon these people we are told that we should think Imperially. The best way to think Imperially is to let our minds dwell upon the foundation and the bed-rock of Empire. Our Empire rests above all things upon the contentment of its people. Our Empire throughout the world must look for its strength and foundation to the contentment and loyalty of the people of these islands. Will you be acting wisely in the interests of that Empire which makes an appeal to you, by doing anything to check the contentment and loyalty of the people by an unjust and class law?
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
I do not rise for the purpose of answering the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down, for I am in accord with his stalwart profession of free trade, and I listened to his able discourse with an admiration which, I am sure, will be shared by all his fellow-countrymen who read it when it is reported in the papers to-morrow. But my Lords, there have been other speeches in this debate, and I am put somewhat in a difficulty about them, because they have already been answered by previous speakers better than I could have answered them myself. I must say that I was deeply disappointed by the speech 380 of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. The object of my noble friend Lord Crewe's Amendment is to endeavour to extract from the Government what their policy is and what it means. There has been no doubt some very great difficulty in the country, for some time past, arising from our failure to get an understanding on this subject. There has been a debate in the House of Commons during the last week, but I do not think we learned very much from it. There were speeches by members of the Cabinet last night and still we are in doubt as to their meaning, and I did hope that when the noble Lord rose from the Woolsack he would have, in common parlance, cleared the air. I may be denser than other people, but I am bound to say that the way the noble Lord cleared the air reminded me of one of our fogs in the atmosphere of London on a day in November. The noble Lord on the Woolsack said that we ought not to challenge the Government as to what they are going to say. No, my Lords, we do not challenge them on what they are going to say, but we challenge them on what they have already said. I am bound to say that they have spoken both in the country and in Parliament with very different voices. Last night we were privileged to listen to two members of His Majesty's Government. One was the noble Marquess opposite, and if he will allow me I will venture, as an old colleague of his in the House of Commons, to congratulate him upon his appearance in this House and upon his speech. If I might be allowed to express my opinion as to these I two speeches I should venture to say that the speech of my noble friend Lord Selbourne was that of a good protectionist struggling with the disadvantages of free trade, and the speech of Lord Salisbury was that of a good free-trader struggling with the disadvantages of protection. On one thing they were both agreed at any rate, and that is that however great the disadvantages of protection or free trade might be, after all, they were quite willing to sink their differences in order to present a common front to the common foe. My noble friend Lord James has referred to certain portions of the noble Earl's speech, and I am bound to say that I shared last night the same impression as 381 he seemed to share as to the meaning of 'my noble friend's words. It appears to me that the noble Earl seemed to rejoice in his recollection of the halcyon days that preceded the repeal of the Corn Laws, and he told us that the state of the country was of a most prosperous description at that time. I have not the slightest doubt that the state of England was very prosperous at that time. We were then, as we are now, the greatest commercial nation in the world. It was not a very long time before 1846 that we were called "a nation of shopkeepers," and I expect that was applied to us as much out of jealousy of our prosperity as a sort of innuendo against our manners. The noble Lord mentioned the name of Sir Robert Peel, and he told us that one of the reasons why Sir Robert Peel changed his opinions and adopted free trade was that from the height of prosperity that existed in this country before 1846 he saw a glimmering of that depression which was about to fall upon this country, and he gave that as one of the reasons why Sir Robert Peel adopted free trade. I think with my noble friend Lord James that one of the reasons why Sir Robert Peel adopted free trade was on account of the state of poverty existing among the labouring classes in this country at that period, and I felt inclined, while the noble Earl was speaking, to read to him, if it had been within the Rules of the House, across the Table, the words Sir Robert Peel used when he resigned office. He spoke of the goodwill existing in the abodes of those whose lot it was to labour when they recruited their exhausted strength with abundant and untaxed food. Anybody who could remember the days of poverty, distress, and starvation amongst the labouring classes, the burning of ricks, and the bread riots at that time must see that, if the rich at that time were richer, certainly the poor classes then were poorer and more miserable than they are now.
I have not risen to refer to the pros and cons of this high fiscal debate which has agitated the country since Mr. Chamberlain first declared war on free trade in May last. I do not rise to do so, because already in this House high authorities have delivered themselves on 382 that subject with infinitely greater ability than I can claim to possess. I have another reason for not doing so, and that is that during the last six months it has been my lot, as it has been the lot of a great many others, to take an interest in politics, to expand every argument which I have on the subject, on many platforms in many parts of the country, and I was fearful, my Lords, lest I should be betrayed into repeating to your Lordships some of those rhetorical efforts, and when I tell you that the shortest of them takes something like one hour and a half to deliver, I am sure I shall have the agreement of your Lordships on the present occasion when I say that I do not intend to make any such effort here. There is, however, one exception I should like to be permitted to dwell upon. I should like to speak upon agriculture and how it has been affected by the policy of the Government, and if I may be permitted to do so without being corrected by the Lord Chancellor I should like to say how agriculture would be affected by the alternative policy of Mr. Chamberlain, because I observe that very many members of His Majesty's Government seem to endorse and approve the views of Mr. Chamberlain, although they do not approve of the means by which he is going to bring them about. My noble friend Lord Crewe alluded last night in the too short references, if I may say so, to the subject of agriculture as it refers to the Government position. It has often been a wonder to me since I have had the honour of a seat in your Lordships' House that so comparatively few debates I on agricultural subjects are initiated in this House. Surely if there ever was an Assembly more interested in agriculture than another, it is the House of Lords. We have amongst us many landowners and many practical farmers, and we have also those who are well acquainted with practical farmers. It is perfectly true that up to the present moment we have no agricultural labourers here, but at any rate we have on both sides of the House noble Earls who have taken a deep interest in allotments and small holdings which deeply affect that large labouring class which I may be permitted to call the third estate of the agricultural community. I may say, moreover, that in endeavouring, as far as possible, to ascertain 383 how the policy of the Government effects the question of agriculture, although I am, as your Lordships are well aware, a most convinced free-trader, I have endeavoured to approach the subject simply from the view of one who is anxious to ascertain whether in the policy of the Government or in the policy of Mr. Chamberlain there can be any benefit conferred upon agriculture, or whether, on the contrary, those policies will do injury to the agricultural classes. The position of agriculture, though it may be a little better during the last year or two, is not in the position that agriculturists would like to see, and I am quite sure that your Lordships will admit that fact. Landlords have, during the last fifteen or twenty years, lost large sums of capital which I am sorry to say there is no chance of them ever recovering. Farmers have lost capital and they have left their farms and been replaced by other farmers who, I am afraid, have not so much of that desirable capital as their predecessors. The only class which seems to me to have prospered during the last twenty-five years is the large class of agricultural labourers, the purchasing power of whose wages is higher, and who are in a general sense infinitely better off than they were before the Corn Laws were removed. Now I should like to say on my own behalf that having given the schemes of the Government as far as I can understand them—and I am bound to say that they are somewhat misty as regards the official programme of the Government—fair consideration, and having given the schemes of Mr. Chamberlain, as far as I can give them, full consideration, I have deliberately come to the conclusion that neither one nor the other will in any way benefit agriculture at all. On the contrary, I think there is very considerable danger that they will do agriculture a great deal of harm.
With your Lordships' permission I will first of all take what I would call the authorised programme of the Government, and then I will take, I will not call it the unauthorised but the semi-authorised programme of Mr. Chamberlain. The authorised programme of the Government, as we understand it, is negotiation and retaliation, of which two retaliation is the one, I suppose, which is 384 the most effective. Now how will retaliation affect agriculture? That is a question which I think agriculturists may very well put to themselves. We have had an authoritative statement in another place by the Home Secretary, speaking, I suppose, with the consent of the Prime Minister and with the assent of his colleagues in the Cabinet, and what did Mr. Akers Douglas say as to the meaning of what the Government policy was. He said—We are anxious to see a reduction in those hostile tariffs which have been injurious to the trade and commerce of the country.What hostile tariffs have been injurious to the trade and commerce of the country? I do not gather much from the Government on that point. There is some illuminative light thrown upon it by the speeches of the late Colonial Secretary, and if I understand him aright then nearly every trade and industry is injured at the present moment by the hostile tariffs, and if Mr. Akers Douglas has truly stated the policy of the Government there is no trade and industry which may not be affected by retaliation and against which hostile tariffs may not be placed. Yes, there is one industry, and that we learn is the industry of agriculture. Nothing is to be done for agriculture, which Mr. Chamberlain has also told us in one of his speeches has practically been destroyed by free trade. I say deliberately that the Government do not intend to do anything for agriculture whilst they protect the rest of the trade of this country, because Mr. Akers Douglas on the same occasion said the Government were opposed to any duty on food, foreign wheat, or other agricultural produce. In that case what would be the position of agriculture. Every other trade, every necessity of their life, all their machinery, every one of their comforts and necessities may be taxed, and heavily taxed, and they will have to pay more for them whilst their own agricultural industry will not be benefited in the slightest degree. If this policy is carried out the last stage of agriculture will be infinitely worse than the first. For my part, if I had to choose between the two as an agriculturist, I think that the scheme of Mr. Chamberlain is infinitely less deleterious to the agricultural interest than the authorised programme of the Government.
385 I should like to turn for a moment to the effect that Mr. Chamberlain's scheme would have on agriculture, and I do so because we are told by the Government that if the next election goes in that direction they, at least, have not excluded it from their programme. Mr. Chamberlain's proposals seem to me, if he really wished to introduce protection as a statesman, to have failed to grapple the very crux of the effect of imposing protection in this country. France, Germany, and the United States exist under different conditions, but in this over-populated highly commercial country it seems to me that Mr. Chamberlain has not dealt with the crux of the question, which is how you are to reconcile the rival claims of agriculture on the one hand with the claims of commerce on the other. That seems to me to be the real question which has never been dealt with, faced, or settled by any of Mr. Chamberlain's speeches. Your Lordships are aware what great protagonists of agriculture, like Mr. Chaplin, put forward. They say that large tracts of land have gone over to pasture which formerly grew wheat, and their idea is that those tracts should once again be transformed into wheat-growing land. How does Mr. Chamberlain's scheme affect them? He proposes to put a 2s. duty on corn. I ask any farmer or landowner who has a practical knowledge of farming whether a 2s. duty on corn would turn over those pasture lands to growing wheat rivalling the virgin soil of Canada and other countries abroad? We all know that it would require a 10s. duty or a 15s. duty before that millennium could be brought about. But if a 10s. duty or a 15s. duty on corn is the only protection you can give to the farmer what will the artisans say about it in the great centres of industry? Their cost for food will be raised to a point which will set the commercial against the agricultural interest, and you will either leave the agricultural interest worse than it was before or you will make the commercial interest rebel against the imposition of duties upon corn just as it did before 1842 and 1846.
If I may for one moment more detain your Lordships on this subject, I would 386 like to take the case of preferential tariffs supposing they are admitted. I do so without any apology because I have a sort of suspicion that my noble friend the First Lord of the Admiralty and the President of the Board of Agriculture have at least a pious opinion about preferential tariffs with regard to the Colonies. How would preferential tariffs affect the industry of agriculture? I say that they would be the very worst enemy agriculture could have. What would be the object of them? To check the import of corn from the United States who send us most of our corn, and to stimulate the growth of wheat in the north-west province of Canada where everybody knows there are large tracts of virgin soil which only require labour in order to grow enough wheat to supply this country, and perhaps a large portion of the world. As regards labour that is going to the north-west province of Canada. I asked the President of the Board of Agriculture a question some time ago about emigration from America into the north-west province of Canada, and he minimised the figures I put forward; but if at the present moment he were speaking he would not so minimise the vast amount of emigration from the United States which is increasing every day. What has happened in the meantime in this country? Farmers have been obliged to adapt themselves to the agricultural circumstances of the day. They have done so at great expense to themselves through times of trial and stress. They have adapted themselves to the circumstances of the day. What happens if you check the influx of wheat from the United States. It cannot be done in a day. During the period when the wheat is not coming from Canada farmers and landowners at home may be tempted by the high price of wheat to break up those pastures and revert to the old practice of wheat growing, and then perhaps the north-west province of Canada will by that time be more fully developed, and they will be able to flood our markets with wheat. Again I say that the last state of the farmer will be worse than the first. Incidentally, a very curious thing might happen with regard to preferential tariffs. We had an animated, 387 or, at any rate, an energetic, debate in 1896 about a Bill which was brought in, in order to bring about the slaughter of all cattle at the ports, and the question at issue was whether the Canadian store cattle were to be kept out. If you are going to have preferential tariffs with the Colonies the first thing you will have to do with Canada will be to revoke that Bill, which I think was very strongly fought for by landowners and others in this House.
I have only one other point, and I fear I have detained your Lordships far too long. I wish to refer to the policy upon which the Government are going to the country. This has been referred to by other speakers, and it is the only remaining question with which I wish to deal. That policy, if I understand it aright, has been practically laid down by the Home Secretary in another place with the authority of his colleagues and the Prime Minister, and that policy consists of three things—namely, negotiation and retaliation, no preferential tariffs, and no taxes on raw material or food. That I understand from Mr. Akers Douglas to be the official policy of the Government. Unless I am corrected by some member of the Government I presume I am right, judging from Mr. Akers Douglas' speech, in saying that the whole of that policy is governed by another phrase which he used later on, because he said that the Government were prepared to keep their pledges until the electorate pronounced upon them. What we want to know is not what the Government are going to say after the next general election, but what they are going to say before the election, in order that the country may have a fair issue placed before it; and if this is not done I venture to say, with all submission, that the Government policy is not fair to the candidates in the constituencies, it is not fair to the electorate, and it is not fair to the nation, and you cannot possibly get a true and proper verdict upon which to decide when the general election is over. If I understand the position of the Government aright it is, "We are going to the country on retaliation and negotiation, and we do not include in our programme preferential tariffs or taxes on food." You go to the country with that proposition, and you 388 say if the country should say "No" to it and wish to go further you will go for Mr. Chamberlain's programme. But you have never said that you accept his programme. I repeat that that is not fair to the candidates, the electorate, nor the nation. Having had some experience of contested elections during the last twenty years I will venture to give an illustration and a concrete instance of what I mean, in which I think I shall be able to show that under these circumstances the Government may very probably, and almost certainly in some in stances, not get the true verdict of the nation, though they think they do. It is well known to everybody who has had anything to do with electioneering that many candidates come down to constituencies and advocate more advanced principles than their official leaders in London. The electors say, "He is a good Conservative (or Liberal as the case may be): he is a young man who advocates different opinions, but if we return him to Westminster it will be all right, for we know what the official policy of the Government is and they will keep him in order." But if the candidate goes down to represent Mr. Chamberlain's policy, and he is supported by the official organisations in London and receives letters from distinguished statesmen using such mystic phrases as, "Vote for this candidate and fiscal reform," which may mean anything from repealing the income tax to a 20s. duty on corn, the good Conservative elector will say, "I will vote for this man although he is a protectionist," and then the Government will claim that the country has voted protectionist, and many voters—enough to turn the election—will have voted for such candidates because you have told them that the official policy of the Government is free trade and not protection, while at the same time you will declare the result to be that the country has pronounced in favour of protection. I venture to say that that is not a fair issue-to put before the country. What we want to get is not this shibboleth of a policy, we want to get at what are the convictions of the Government. We want to know what their views are upon these great fiscal questions which have been put before the country; what their real mind is with regard to imports and exports; and whether the foreigner does absolutely pay the duty or not. We want to 389 know when a man has saved money and invested it abroad and his interest comes back in imports and increased wealth to this country whether they think such a position as that places the country on the direct road to financial ruin. If the Government would tell us what their convictions are we should understand what their shibboleth of a policy is. They have had plenty of time to make up their mind. They have had plenty of pabulum to fill their intellects. They have had Blue-books full of interesting figures, and a succession of speeches, books, pamphlets, and other information such as probably never occurred before, since 1842 or 1846; and I venture to say that if the Government have not been able to arrive at any opinion upon this subject by this time they are about the only sixteen or seventeen men in the whole Empire who have not done so. I thank your Lordships for having listened to what I have had to say on these various matters, and I say without fear of contradiction before I sit down, that the country has a right to ask for guidance in this great and important question from His Majesty's Government and from the leaders of a great Party, and if they are not in a position to give us guidance on this subject then their policy will go down to posterity as a policy of unsettled and divergent opinions tempered by opportunism.
§ LORD FARRER
I rise to support this Motion because I believe it to be impossible to distinguish between retaliation and protection. What does "retaliation" mean? When I am in a difficulty I go to that great authority Dr. Johnson, and I look out what the word means. In this case I have looked it up and I find that it means "requite" or "revenge." I venture to say that revenge is hardly a policy suitable in matters of trade. I have heard a great deal lately about thinking Imperially. It appears to me that it is much more necessary to think accurately, and if we do this, I think we must consider what is the effect of retaliation when applied in practice? It appears to me that retaliation must be either for a short time or for a very long time. If it is for a long time it cannot by anybody be said to differ in any respect from protection. If it is for a short time, then I venture to say that 390 you are put into the most difficult position possible when you come to take that protection off, for you have encouraged industries—and it is a well-known fact that such has been the case in the United States of America-—which you are injuring enormously when you take it off. I do not suppose that even Gentlemen who advocate this new policy will propose that compensation should be given to such persons, although I think it is actually going to be proposed to compensate people who hold a public-house licence for one year only. Therefore I do not know what may be the opinion of people who hold such views. But there is another and a more interesting reason for supposing that retaliation is a very dangerous policy. I think it has hardly been noticed in this debate that we have had in this country experience of retaliation before. I venture to say that very few people have read the debates which occurred in 1844, when for twenty-five years this very weapon had been tried in every possible way. I think if the Gentlemen sitting on the opposite Benches, and whose opinions upon this question are not settled, would read those debates, they would see how retaliation and even prohibition had been tried with absolutely no success for twenty-five years. They would then, I think, greatly modify the opinions which they hold at present. I have been looking at the speeches of that date and I find that Mr. Ricardo, Earl Grey, Mr. Ewart, Mr. Villiers, and Mr. Cobden all supported free imports on the very ground that for twenty-five years previously that weapon of retaliation had been tried and had been found to be completely useless. I am rather surprised that we have heard so little about the history of retaliation from that period. It was tried, I believe, in the case of Brazil, Portugal. Spain, and France, and in all cases it resulted in enormous increases in the tariffs of both nations. I suppose statesmen who sit on the opposite Benches are possibly greater statesmen than those of the day of Sir Robert Peel and Lord Palmerston, but I venture to say that they have not had the experience of this weapon for twenty-five years like those statesmen had. I think it is well to remember what Lord Palmerston said on that occasion in regard to the weapon of retaliation. He compared it to a bridge 391 with one toll-gate upon it, and he said it was hardly sensible when they had to go across to add another toll-gate on your own side. I cannot help thinking that the history of those days has been too little considered. I believe I am right in saying that retaliation has in practice always resulted in protection. It has certainly been so in the case of France, Germany, the United States of America, and in the case of Canada. All these countries began with retaliation and they ended in simple protection.
But there is another point to be considered in this matter. Do we find that those retaliatory nations get better bargains for themselves than we do with our policy of the most-favoured-nation clause? I believe it to be absolutely untrue that they do get better bargains. We have had, I believe, the most-favoured-nation clause in force with Germany, France, Russia, and with Italy. Perhaps I ought to except Russia, because ever since the Sugar Convention I believe Russia has put duties on our Indian teas which may have a very serious effect. Therefore I do not think the first effect of this policy of retaliation is such as to induce us to go light-heartedly into it generally. I do not know whether noble Lords opposite happen to live in the country, and have heard about the price of sugar in the humble homes spoken of, but as far as my experience goes, and I have figures from several Co-operative Societies in the South, since the Sugar Convention was put into force the price of sugar has gone up, and it is a very serious matter to find that not only has the price of sugar gone up but the consumption of sugar per head of the whole country has decreased. The consumption of sugar in this country per head in the year 1900 was 87.18 lbs, but in the year 1902 it fell to 83.95 lbs per head of the population. I am aware that time has not yet quite arrived to say what the effect may be absolutely, but I fully believe that the reason of the rise in the price of sugar is owing to the operation of the Sugar Convention. I should like to ask also whether in this policy of retaliation it has been considered what a terrible effect it would have if other countries began to retaliate, as they certainly will, upon our shipping. I do 392 not wish now to go into the figures, but everybody who has looked at the question during the last four years must have seen with astonishment how we, the only free importing country, have got the shipping almost of the world. I think it is also too often forgotten that the United States, who have pursued a totally different policy from our own—indeed they have pursued the policy which we are now asked to adopt—have come down from being the great carriers of the world to practically nothing at all. I fancy that shipping is the very easiest thing for foreign countries to attack, and I do not think it is for a Government which has spent more money than any Government for the last seventy years, during which time Consols have gone down from 112 to 87, to ask us as business men to alter a policy which has so much developed our trade.
I noticed yesterday we were asked whether we could say that on the whole trade was good. I think everybody admits that trade is good if you ask amongst business people. If you look at the figures I should for my own part be willing to admit that trade was good, and I care much more about the actual facts than what are called "tendencies." I shall not repeat the figures which have been given us so admirably to-night by the noble Duke as regards our industries, but I do protest myself, at this attempt to divide articles into manufactured and non-manufactured articles. I believe the case which has been so much put before the country and based upon those figures is a case which cannot be maintained. Nobody can settle what is a manufactured and what is a non-manufactured article. I say that the most serious thing in this new policy seems to me to be the question of giving more power to the Executive Government. In my own opinion the Executive Government has got far too much power in its own hands. What is Parliament? Why are we sitting here? What did it originate in? Why, in money being got by taxation from the people when the people were unwilling to give it without the fullest and freest discussion. The centuries that have gone by have proved that it is most undesirable to give to the Executive Government a weapon to be used at their own discretion without consulting Parliament. Anyone who 393 looks at the history of Parliament will see the jealous care which Parliament has always exercised upon financial matters. I have not heard a single word from any of the noble Earls opposite to justify us in granting them the power of using thus weapon themselves by means of the Executive Government, rather than in the old way of bringing in a Bill before Parliament. For these reasons I venture to hope that the Government will give us definite information as to what they mean by retaliation, and I beg to support the mover of this Motion.
My noble friend who introduced this Motion is reported to have stated what is the attitude of the agricultural community upon this question and he said—Agriculturists do not seem to care very much for Mr. Chamberlain's proposals which have been placed before the country.I cannot forgot that Mr. Chamberlain, at Greenock, on 7th October last year, told us that agriculture had been practically destroyed. I am one of those individuals whose money is entirely invested in land, and I am entirely dependent on the rents that come from my tenants, and, consequently, I received this statement with a good deal of apprehension. I was, however, comforted with the thought that perhaps after all it was only a theory, but, as far as I am aware, the distinguished statesman who made this prophecy has never owned, nor, as far as I am aware, has ever been the cultivator of a single acre of agricultural land. But Mr. Chamberlain rather raised our hopes when he told us after that rather dismal prophecy that his proposals, which all the country are aware of, would not raise the price of food one farthing, and that they were calculated to benefit all classes of the community; which means, I suppose, the landlords, the tenant farmers, the agricultural labourers, and the country parsons, who, to use a homely phrase, are four dogs all gnawing at the same bone. Mr. Chaplin, who is one of our great agricultural authorities, also gave us some comforting information, because he pointed out what the resolutions were that were passed fairly unanimously in the different counties in England by the different Chambers of Agriculture, and he depended a great deal on these resolutions, which more or less have been friendly to the 394 proposals of Mr. Chamberlain. But after all, I think the House will agree with me that Chambers of Agriculture are sometimes composed of loquacious gentlemen who have not been successful in agricultural pursuits, and perhaps Chamber of Agriculture meetings are not very numerously attended, and, consequently, their resolutions do not deserve the importance which they themselves would sometimes be apt to attribute to them. Consequently, I thought it might be a good thing to take the practical opinion of the tenant farmers themselves individually, and if the House will forgive a personal reference I would like to inform your Lordships of the result of my own investigations. I sent round two or three questions to some of my principal tenants to ask what their practical opinion, as men of business, would be upon this question as my co-partners in agriculture. My estate includes about 24,000 acres, and I have about 200 tenants holding different sorts of holdings from about 9,000 to 150 acres, and I ha\e 3,000 small holdings and allotment tenants, which I have been fortunate enough, with the co-operation of my tenants, to put on the ground. These small holding tenants were unanimous against Mr. Chamberlain's proposal, and I think very few of this class would be found to be in favour of them. I sent four questions to fifty-two of my principal tenants to ask them their opinion as to the proposals brought before the country by Mr. Chamberlain. The first question I put was—If Mr. Chamberlain's proposals become the law of the land would you allow me to have some share in the new prosperity that we are promised, by giving some increase on the present rental?The second question was—Would you be able to employ more labour on your farm?The third question was—Would you be able to offer increased agricultural wages, say 2s., 2s, 6d., or 3s. per week more than the present current wage?I put on these question papers "Yes" and "No," and asked them to scratch out either one or the other and return the paper. The fourth question was—If you are unable to do all these things at once how long would it be, in your opinion, before we should all reach this desirable state of things?My tenants were extremely good -natured, and they took a lively interest 395 in this agricultural catechism, and the replies they gave, and the opinions expressed by them, are very instructive. From twenty-eight tenants came the reply—We shall be unable to pay any more rent, or employ any mote labour, or give any higher wages, and we would rather give no opinion whatever on the subject.That was a very decided answer. From seven more—one of whom has a bust of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham on his chimney piece—came replies saying they would rather not commit themselves. They wrote—It is a very great subject; we must think it over, and we would rather not commit ourselves or give any opinion, good, bad, or indifferent.From twenty-one the answers were perhaps a little more hopeful, for they wrote to say that they were generally favourable. Five of them answered "Yes" to the first three questions, but the majority said:—They might be able to employ more labour, or to give their landlords, perhaps, or their labourers perhaps, a little more money.But very few of them said they would give both. That was more generally satisfactory, but unfortunately there was a saving clause as regards the fourth question put by me, which your Lordships will recollect was in the following terms—If you are unable to do all these things at once how long would it be, in your opinion, before we should all reach this desirable state of things?The answers were very unsatisfactory indeed. Two hopeful creatures thought that it might perhaps be in two or three years, but nobody said at once; they said in two or three years they might possibly be able to do something either for me or the labourers on the land. Fifteen replied—Not for several years.And amongst those were several who stated—When corn growing pays.That was rather interesting, because the general consensus of opinion was that the prices would have to go up at least 25 per cent. before any more money could be paid. The other four were in a 396 very disappointed state and they made up the twenty-one. These four said they thought they would be able to pay a little more money to myself or the labourers in an unlimited time. One said—In a thousand years, and probably never.And the last man said—Never.I think the House will agree with me that we can hardly call these practical persons unduly sanguine about Mr. Chamberlain's proposals. Amongst the answers came some very curious covering letters upon the question of the right hon. Gentleman's agricultural proposals. One tenant began farming under my father, and farms a tremendous lot of land, pays a wages bill amounting to £4,000 a year, and well-to-do and an excellent practical farmer. He says—It would be several years before I could employ more labour.He pays capital wages, and in his opinion he could not employ any more labour for several years, and he adds—But I cannot pay one penny more rent.Then I got another opinion from three brothers in Lincolnshire. Their father was a farm, labourer in North Lincolnshire, and he brought his children up extremely well. These three brothers went on the land with small holdings and began with half an acre apiece. They went on to a fifty acres, seventy acres, and 100 acres, and now the three have a 250 acre farm and they are doing well. They say—We do not approve of Mr. Chamberlain's proposals; we hope they will never become law. We do not think we should benefit by them in any way, and we think it would be worse for the country in every respect.I will give one more opinion, and it is the last. It is from another tenant farmer in Lincolnshire, who has a very large farm, and in good times he used to pay £2,000. He has been forty one years on the estate, and he has not done badly, because it has come to my knowledge, when he asked for a reduction of rent, that he had bought 700 acres in the county of Norfolk out of farming, so I thought that fact alone showed he had done extremely well, and I thought we 397 could continue as we were. This gentleman writes—I am strongly in favour of Mr. Chamberlain, but he does not go far enough.That I think is the crux of the whole case, and if you want the farmers to back up the Government in their policy which we hope they will introduce at no distant date, I am afraid that 2s. on corn and 5 per cent on dairy produce and meat will be of very little value to the farmers. Mr. Chaplin says we must have wheat at 40s. If you want it at that price and the American price is 23s. you will have to put 17s. a quarter on wheat. I leave it to the Government to decide whether the working man will pay that price. If you want the farmers with you you will have to put a more considerable duty on wheat because 2s. a quarter, as my tenant said, does not go half far enough. A small duty would not raise the price of food or yield a profit to the farmer which would enable him to pay higher wages. I think that a good many tenant farmers will be found to agree with the Marquess of Salisbury, who is reported in The Times to have said that—There is no reason to suppose that with protection everybody would be richer.I suppose we may take it for granted that the noble Marquess Lord Salisbury last night was not only speaking for himself—and perhaps I shall be contradicted if I am wrong—but I take it for granted that he was speaking not only for himself but for all his colleagues, including Lord Onslow, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and all the members of His Majesty's Government, when he said that the Government were not concerned to defend the policy of that distinguished statesman, Mr. Chamberlain. I apologise to the House for having intervened in this debate, but I felt, as an agriculturist and as a person entirely dependent on land, that we should have heard from the other side of the House some thing on the agricultural side of the question, but perhaps later on in the debate we shall be told what the ideas of His Majesty's Government are on this great question. Once more I beg to apologise to the House for having intervened in the debate, and I express the hope that we shall have some decided and intelligible statement from His Majesty's Government as regards 398 agriculture, which, of course, is so great and important an industry in this country.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF NORTHAMPTON
My Lords, last night I listened to the speech of the noble Marquess who spoke for the first time in this House, but to whom I have often listened in the other House, and I should have been glad, had he been present, to congratulate him upon the excellence of his remarks, especially as he made one or two distinct statements which, though they have not cleared away some of our doubts, at all events have given us a little light upon the subject before the House. He told us that the Government would consider the Motion of the noble Earl as a vote of want of confidence in the Government. I confess that I consider it is a vote of want of confidence, but I feel that it is justified, considering what the country is at present thinking as regards His Majesty's Government, and especially considering what has taken place on those occasions which afford us our only opportunity of testing the feeling of the country, viz., the by-elections. It seems to me that the country as much as the Opposition has lost confidence in His Majesty's Government. The last expression of opinion came from Mid Herts, a part of the country with which the noble Marquess is intimately acquainted, and as he declared himself as distinctly opposed to what is called the Chamberlain policy, I should have been glad to learn from him whether he was pleased or sorry at the result of that election. As a matter of fact, at the present moment we are all turning our thoughts to the general election which is impending. At that general election there will be decided—I do not think it can be postponed to another election—one of the gravest issues ever placed before the country. I am going to endeavour to keep to the Motion and the Amendment before the House, but we must recognise the fact that the general election will not and cannot be fought on the question of retaliation; it will be fought upon what is known as Mr. Chamberlain's policy. We had another speech last night from the noble Earl at the head of the Admiralty, in which he certainly declared himself as an "anti-free-importer," and we 399 heard from the noble Marquess just before that we on this side of the House were unconvinced Tories. I have been accustomed in my political life to be called many bad names, but I confess it is something new to be called an unconvinced Tory. Though I deny altogether that I am an unconvinced Tory, I will acknowledge myself to be a convinced free-importer, and it is upon that issue in my opinion that the battle will be fought at the next general election.
We are asking at the present moment for more information from His Majesty's Government as regards their retaliation policy. I heard the speech of the noble Earl on the Woolsack to-night. He seemed to impress upon us the fact that we were not to be too inquisitive as regards the private opinions of Cabinet Ministers, and, as it seemed to me, he also suggested that it would be better if we were not too particular as regards the collective opinion of the Cabinet. I am perfectly aware that the noble Earl did not say that, but I think he suggested it. At the present moment we are pressing for the collective opinion of the Cabinet on a particular question which they say will occupy our attention at the next general election, and we have not yet in any way obtained that collective opinion. We have heard and read a great many opinions from various members of the Cabinet, but we are still unaware whether they are all of the same mind even on the subject of retaliation. When Ministers speak, either in the other House or in your Lordships' House, they devote very little time to the subject of retaliation, and a great deal of time to Mr. Chamberlain's policy, and, if I may with all respect say so, I think the noble Earl on the Woolsack, although at first I thought he was going to keep to the subject of retaliation, did not refrain from wandering from that subject into the more important matter embodied in Mr. Chamberlain's policy.
We are all perfectly aware what retaliation means. There is no difficulty in understanding that. We have had many instances of retaliation taking place between Russia and Germany, France and Italy, and I noticed in the speech of the noble Marquess who moved the Amendment that he instanced the case 400 of Switzerland, in regard to which he said that when Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs he was a little inclined to threaten Switzerland because their tariff was inimical to the interests of our trade. We are all perfectly aware of what retaliation means. We have had our experience of the Sugar Convention. But the question at the present moment is not what retaliation or negotiation means, but how will the Government carry out the policy of retaliation if—as is very doubtful—they receive a mandate from the country at the coming general election? I appeal now to the noble Marquess the Leader of His Majesty's Government in this House. Is it not the case that either in the other House or in your Lordships' House a responsible Minister of the Crown can at any moment come down and propose retaliation against a foreign nation? As far as I am aware, there is absolutely nothing to prevent the noble Marquess himself bringing before this House, or some other member of the Government bringing before the other House, any gross case—I am using words which have been used in speeches—of unfairness on the part of a foreign nation towards this country as regards preference, or import duties, or any thing else. There is absolutely nothing to prevent any member of His Majesty's Government coming before us, without any mandate or general election, presenting a policy of retaliation in a concrete form, and appealing to the good sense of his fellow countrymen to support the Government in a policy which they believe to be the best for manufactures and our people. If I may respectfully say so, I think that point has been somewhat overlooked during this discussion.
If that is the case I am anxious to know why a mandate is required or asked for. I should like to ask the noble Marquess to explain tonight what would be the difference in his action if he received a mandate from the country as compared with the present condition of affairs under which he has full power to come before Parliament and ask for authority to use retaliation. I think that is a fair point to put to the noble Marquess, especially as there are at the present moment suspicions—I will not say more than that—as regards the 401 action of His Majesty's Government in this matter. If there is power at present to retaliate without any mandate of general election, what did the noble Marquess mean—I know he dislikes the term, but I use it only because it shortly explains my case—when he asked for a revolver? He was asking for much more than he at present possesses if I understand him aright. And what did the words of the Prime Minister mean when he spoke of the "complete reversal" of the traditional fiscal policy of this country? I am told that we are asking for information which we are not likely to receive. I think my question is one which ought to be answered before we go to a division. If there is no difference between what we can now do and what we are to be asked to do in the future, we can all vote for both the Motion of the noble Earl and the Amendment of the noble Marquess opposite, for they would in such circumstances mean absolutely the same thing. The whole point lies in what is the extra authority His Majesty's Government are anxious to possess. The only thing I can see is that there may be a doubt in the mind of His Majesty's Government as to whether Parliament would accept their proposals for retaliation at the present moment, and that consequently they would like to have a general election on the subject so as to be quite sure of greater support than they at present have. But can it be conceived that His Majesty's Government believe that they will get greater support after the next general election in favour of retaliation than they are likely to get in the present House of Commons and the House of Lords—especially in the other House? It is admitted that the control of Parliament is to be kept supreme. If the noble Marquess came down with any proposal it would be the same thing now. I noticed that when the noble Marquess who moved the Amendment was speaking last night he emphasised the word "each" in the Motion of the noble Earl. Is the only difference that in the future it will not be a question of each individual case of the imposition of a duty coming before Parliament, or is it that a sort of conglomeration of import duties will be placed before us, or will it be the case that in the future, as at present, we should have a distinct proposal as regards the 402 beating down of import duties against us, when any foreign country proposes to impose duties which may do harm to our manufactures or manufacturers? I confess for my part, free-importer as I am, that if His Majesty's Government came down with a good case of grave injustice against any manufacture, and if it could be proved that by retaliation we should do no harm whatever to any other industries or to those employed in other industries, I think their plea for retaliation would meet with very favourable consideration at the hands of the people. But I do not see that that is the present proposal of His Majesty's Government. There seems to be something behind which has not appeared, and in discussing this question we cannot help reviewing what has happened during the last few months.
We are aware now that a proposal of what we call protection—to use a short term—was brought before His Majesty's Government before Mr. Chamberlain went to South Africa. We are aware that the Prime Minister sympathised to a certain extent with that proposal, but that he felt the country would not accept it because they would not agree to the imposition of any duties on the food of the people. We cannot help coming to the conclusion, therefore, that the retaliation policy was adopted subsequently to the proposal of Mr. Chamberlain's policy, and as a sort of a stop-gap for the ultimate adoption by His Majesty's Government of the policy of protection. The whole of the political machinery of the supporters of His Majesty's Government is in the hands of those who favour Mr. Chamberlain's policy. I am aware that there area certain number of members of His Majesty's Government who at the present moment say, and I believe sincerely say, that they are opposed altogether to anything further than retaliation. Well, if they stick to their opinion it seems to me that in the future they may be cast off as other members of the Cabinet have been, and be put outside when the true views of His Majesty's Government are placed before the country. The whole country are at the present moment thinking and speaking—and after all we have enough of speeches—not of the subject of retaliation, but 403 of the subject of protection. We who take some part on the public platforms of the country are aware that the only thing which interests the public mind is the Birmingham policy: no interest at all is taken in the retaliation policy—whatever it may be—of the Government. That is the outside, the public view, and I think that when we come to close quarters with the Government as we are coming tonight, and as they came the other night in the other House, we ought to receive, before going into the lobbies, a distinct and plain statement, not of what retaliation means, for that we understand, but as to the exact difference between the powers which His Majesty's Government at present possess for the purposes of retaliation, and the powers which they will ask us to grant them after a general election.
I said that we were suspicious. We are more than suspicious; we are alarmed. We feel that this is one of the gravest questions that have ever come before us. I am told that there is some fear in the minds of others that if this question were decided against the Government it might cause a change politically, so that for some time in the future we should have a Liberal instead of a Conservative Government, and that there would be some danger then of measures being introduced by that Liberal Government which Unionists would feel bound to oppose. We are told that if the Government is defeated there will be a danger of Home Rule. As far as I understand the present position of the question, the Bills that were introduced by Mr. Gladstone—the Home Rule Bill and the Land Bill—are absolutely dead. There is no fear whatever that any sane Liberal statesman would ever introduce such measures again. I do not for a moment believe that these questions could be raised in the next Parliament. I am perfectly well aware that there will be an extension of local government through all parts of the United Kingdom, but that is another matter. We are face to face now, in my opinion, with as great a danger as the Unionist Party had to face in the Home Rule Parliament. We believe that any attempt to reverse our fiscal policy will, bring upon this country not only danger but ruin. We believe that any change in our fiscal policy such as is proposed by those who really express their minds, 404 would not only bring ruin upon our country but also cause amongst our working population as great distress as was caused in the old times of protection. We are not taking this matter lightly; we are taking it seriously. We are determined—when I say "we" I am only speaking for those amongst whom I move, not so much Members of your Lordships' House as those outside—to do all that in us lies to prevent what we consider a suicidal policy being carried into effect. In my opinion it is not a matter of Party; it is a matter in which every patriotic Englishman ought to take the keenest interest, and one which those who know most about it ought to oppose with all their heart and with all the force they can command.
We are told that this question of the alteration of our fiscal policy is a question of Empire. We who consider ourselves as strong Imperialists as any who sit on the Benche sopposite do not believe the Empire is in danger. We believe the unity of the Empire will be in danger if you venture to carry out any part of the policy which has been proposed by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, and it is because we think the Government are going in that direction with their retaliation policy that we are determined to oppose it.
* LORD ROBERTSON
My Lords, I should imagine that when the Unionist Party desires advice as to the dangers which beset it from the side of Ireland they will not resort to the noble Marquess opposite for consolation or information. Although I am opposed to the policy of His Majesty's Government on this particular subject, yet I must say that I think it is rather too open an invitation to walk into a trap which has just now been addressed to us by the noble Marquess. I, for my part, think that the danger from Home Rule is urgent, and one of my chief accusations against His Majesty's Government is that in a move men to that kind they have introduced measures which have shattered the Unionist Party. The subject which we have before us to-night has been brought to a point by the Motion and the Amendment before the House. The question immediately to be decided is whether my Lord Crewe's 405 Motion should be adopted, or whether instead of that we should adopt the Amendment which has been moved by the noble Marquess. When I first read the Motion of the noble Earl opposite, I searched for an excuse for voting with the Government, and I thought I had found it. It was that the Motion of the noble Earl was a platitude and was axiomatic, that it declared principles of Parliamentary conduct so plain that they ought not to be resolved upon by this House in the year 1904, because a proceeding of that kind was likely to throw doubt upon them. Just as one would decline to resolve on some proposal embodied in Magna Charta, I thought I had found a satisfactory excuse for myself in voting against a Motion which upset ideas instead of settling them. But the leaders of my Party and the heads of the Government think differently, and what they propose is this—that while Lord Crewe's Motion does nothing more than declare—That no duty…should be imposed, modified, or removed, without the formal consent of Parliament to each such proposal,we are now asked to pass a long Resolution that—This House, while affirming the constitutional doctrine that all the fiscal arrangements of this country must be subject to the full and effective control of Parliament over taxation, is not prepared to lay down rules for the guidance of future Parliaments as to the exact method in which such control should be exercised by them in cases which may hereafter arise.I cannot find in Lord Crewe's Motion anything at all about "rules for the guidance of future Parliaments" as to the exact method in which anything should be done; it merely asserts what can be found in any text-book in which is laid down the relation of Parliament to imposts upon imports. This seems to me not merely in itself an important matter, but a highly significant one. The House will remember that when in old days Parliament asserted against the King the sole right of determining what imposts should be laid upon imports into this country, it was with reference, among other things, to this very question of retaliatory duties. I do not know whether noble Lords, unless their attention has been specially directed to it, are aware that in 406 the year 1610, when these great constitutional questions were raised, one of the arguments for the King's power—by which, of course, we mean now the power of the Executive—of levying duties was this: Lex ttalionis is to be applied for the defence of British commerce, goods for goods, tax for tax. Accordingly this question was full in view of the statesmen of those days. And what was said in the Petition of Rights was this—If the levying of impositions be indeed the only means left to redress a grievance, why should it not be done by Act of Parliament in these times as by Henry VII. and Queen Elizabeth?I grant that Henry VII. and Queen Elizabeth lived even longer ago than Mr. Cobden, and I suppose that the exhortation of Mr. Balfour addressed to faithful followers, who I should have thought might have escaped that reproach, implied that we ought to bring our ideas up to date. I have brought them up to date, and I venture to say that this is sound doctrine in this year of grace much more than it was even then. Why do I say so? Because it is not for nothing that this difference is made. This Amendment is moved upon Lord Crewe's Resolution. As I have said, Lord Crewe's Resolution is the tame milk and water constitutional doctrine of this country. But what is wanted now is to drop a broad hint that future Parliaments may amend this in such a way as to bring about the easier imposition of duties. So I read the Amendment. It is in your Lordships' judgment; it is before you all. I cannot understand why Lord Crewe's Motion is to be rejected. I could understand its being rejected altogether merely because it is a platitude, but I cannot understand its being rejected in favour of this newfangled Amendment. I have said I cannot imagine it being rejected; perhaps that is hardly frank. I can imagine.
There is a new notion abroad that Parliament ought by Act of Parliament to devolve upon the Executive the power of imposing duties upon imports. I will refer for a moment to a very able and very temperately written book by Professor Ashley of Birmingham, which I expect has had a good deal to do with some of the speeches that have been delivered in the course of the autumn 407 recess. Professor Ashley says (it is all highly condensed, his book has that among other merits)—What seems dictated by the requirements of the case is a statutory authorisation of the Executive to impose the duty that may be required from time to time as circumstances arise.Now, my Lords, it is open to the noble Marquess to say, and he is well entitled to do so, that this is merely a professor—although he will observe it is a Birmingham professor—but I may say for the information of noble Lords around me, who I am quite certain to a large extent think that Mr. Chamberlain's policy is on the whole in favour of the country, and that it is a sound protectionist policy, that if they will buy that book for half-a-crown (I am not an agent for its circulation) they will be in a position to pose as seers and prophets and missionaries of Empire to their heart's content. They have it all there in that book, down to jams and pickles.
I have dwelt upon this question, the immediate question, upon which we are to vote, for this reason: I think it is highly significant that the veil of obscurity which has been drawn over the region within which retaliation is to be exercised, the mode by which it is to be exercised, and the authority by which the Ministry is to be authorised to proceed to enact it, applies to the legislative proceedings as well as to everything else. But now I want to ask the House to consider this: What is the area or region within which retaliatory duties are to be imposed? It seems to me that that is one of the first questions to be determined. I may say frankly for myself that to the general doctrine of retaliation as stated by the Foreign Secretary last year I have no objection whatever. It seems to me, whether it be consistent with the strictest sect of free trade or not, it is at all events an acceptable doctrine and worthy of practice that the diplomacy of this country should be busy in furthering the trade of the country, that it should concern itself with the removing by diplomatic methods of the barriers which obstruct the trade of this country. And I may say here, and I hope I shall not say anything to offend the susceptibilities of noble Lords on the other side, that I think if some Liberal 408 Governments had shown a little more activity and a little more sensibility on this subject twenty years ago, this question might very likely never have arisen. Still, so far as I am concerned, I have no objection whatever to your doctrine of negotiation and even of retaliation. But, couple the latter word with this. The effectiveness of this method as a whole must depend upon the ultimate result of the policy of retaliation. I hope I shall not be saying anything rude or forward if I express my doubt whether that aspect of the question has been fully considered. To this general doctrine I believe on this side of the House there is no objection; I believe that even on the other side there is very little objection to it; there may be a lingering doubt as to its doctrinaire aspect, and consequently as to its practical consequences, and I also reserve my doubts as to its practical consequences. But if the Unionist Government had come forward spontaneously, on their own initiative, and proposed the policy of negotiation and retaliation, I believe they would have had the Conservative and Unionist Party at their back to a man. But they have not done so. The hitch in the whole argument which is persistently ignored by noble Lords on the Treasury Bench is that this is not a first hand proposal. This is not a proposal which arises either from the opinion of the Party on this side or from the exigencies of the country. It arises, on the contrary—I am speaking now not of motive, but entirely of the political sequence of events—from a move made by a distinguished politician in the Unionist Party. That is the real truth, and that accounts—I deeply regret to say it—for the vapid and inane explanation of the existence of this policy which we are receiving from day to day from the Government.
These are the circumstances which seem to me to make it doubly imperative on His Majesty's Government that we should be treated with an abundant frankness on this subject. I speak for one moment, and merely to dismiss the subject, of the humble individual before you. I am a Tory who has seen the Tory Party grow in power and strength, and have rejoiced in it. I have no interest in this matter except to see that those institutions which to the benefit of the country have swayed its fortunes during the last eighteen years should continue so to operate. I see on 409 the contrary the policy of the Government drifting this Party to ruin and destruction. The noble Earl on the Woolsack has contributed to this debate in the most remarkable manner. I am, as he knows, his colleague, his disciple, and his admirer, but my powers of admiration have been exhausted to-night by the declaration he has made. Custom cannot stale his infinite variety. He has told us tonight that this fiscal question, this question of a tariff, can be settled without prejudice to any difference of opinion between free trade and protection. I remembered at the moment an illustration used by Fitzjames Stephen in one of Ms memorable books, viz.—that you can no more do this (whatever it was he was speaking of) than you can do sums right without prejudice to a difference of opinion upon the multiplication table. It seems to me that that declaration removes indefinitely any possibility of arriving at sound ideas upon the Government policy. The Government policy seems to be something like the horizon which you advance towards and never reach.
Now, my Lords, I want to ask the representatives of the Government on the Treasury Bench one or two plain questions. First of all, they are aware, at least I hope they cannot but be aware, of this, that they attained their majority of fifty-one the other night in the House of Commons because Mr. Akers Douglas declared at the most solemn moment when a Parliamentary pledge can be given, just before the division, that the Government were opposed to duties upon food and raw material. Now, I pray the House to observe, because we require to draw distinctions, it is not that taxes upon food and raw material do not form part of the Government policy; we have heard that very often, but it is this time definitely that the Government are opposed to taxes on food and raw material. I hope my noble friends on these Benches will observe that that is the condition upon which we are proceeding in this debate. There are to be no taxes upon food or raw material; therefore any of us who had brilliant ideas about taxes which would make some of our friends rich—I mean the farmers and people of that kind—must send them 410 away to that capacious reservoir of unfulfilled promises which is associated with the name of Birmingham. If you so circumscribe the area within which your policy of negotiation and retaliation is to operate, how will it work out? I suppose I shall be told that that is a question of detail into which it is impertinent to intrude; that is the tone of the discussion. When my noble friend Lord Salisbury—whom as an old House of Commons friend I would gladly have congratulated, in his presence, on the success of his speech last night, in which he showed the charming qualities of character as well as of speech which endeared him to us—I say that when Lord Salisbury spoke on this subject and infused into our debate an absence of mystification which at all events was gratifying, he said flatly that he was against Mr. Chamberlain's views, and he said various other things which, as I have said, brought a tonic into our somewhat oppressed atmosphere. I want to ask the noble Lord who is going to reply on behalf of the Government, can it be possible that they do not adhere to Mr. Akers Douglas' promise given on the eve of the division upon which as a Ministry they exist? And if they do, how does the policy of retaliation work out? Has that point been thought of? I own with great regret that the more I press into this question the more I am convinced that the whole of this subject has not been thought out. I cannot think that the obvious objections and the obvious difficulties which beset the whole of this question would not have been met and considered and cleared away if it had been possible to do so or if any pains had been taken about it.
But then comes a serious question which really and truly has alone caused me to speak to-night. There was said in the House of Commons not long ago something which I really think ought never to have been said by a Conservative Minister. He had been appealed to on this very subject to tell us—observe "us," not you of the Opposition who are hungering for some fault in the Government, but us who want merely to be satisfied in going on and supporting the Conservative Party as we have known it—he had been asked to tell whether he could not state, even on this vital question of the constitutional procedure to be 411 adopted, whether Parliament was to be approached before these measures were sanctioned, and various other things of that sort; and Mr. Gerald Balfour said that that question of procedure—of procedure, observe the degree of confidence between Minister and country—had been settled—by what? By Mr. Gladstone's conduct about the Home Rule Bill! I hope I shall not offend the susceptibilities of noble Lords opposite, many of whom were Mr. Gladstone's friends, if I speak freely of the characteristics of that statesman's methods. I will not go further than this: they were sometimes, particularly in his later days, wily and astute, and, on this side of the House, language was applied to them which was a good deal more pointed. We, on this side of the House, thought, and we think still, that it was not fair to the country that they should be involved in proceedings of vital importance to the safety of the Empire unless they were told exactly how they worked out. I say the same now. I am not going too far when I say that it is not right that a Conservative Minister should appeal to us to keep quiet, and to shut our eyes and our ears about a matter of vital importance to the poor and rich of this country alike, merely because upon a certain occasion our most bitter opponent, under our fierce denunciation, had made a somewhat similar economy as to the facts. I could understand all this if it were applied to noble Lords opposite as a tu quoque which would silence their tongues, but I cannot understand the leaders of the Conservative Party turning round upon us, who have never done anything to forfeit their confidence, and saying: "We will treat you as Mr. Gladstone, your direst opponent, treated you."
I heard last night, with more than interest, the appeal made by my noble friend Lord Selborne to his supporters on this side of the House. He said that this was a vote of want of confidence, and he appealed to us whether we were going to throw away vital interests, of which the Unionist Party are the custodians, merely because we differed from the Government on this subject. The noble Duke touched on the subject to-night; I also will venture to touch on it because I am a Tory who is going to vote against the Government, and I feel bound to say 412 one or two words on the subject. We are represented as leaving or deserting our Party at a critical moment and imperilling Unionist interests. I stand astonished at that accusation. What is the history of this matter? It is a history of the last two years. When the present Government—by which I mean the Government of Mr. Balfour—acceded to power, they came into possession of the lead of the Unionist Party—Mr. Balfour, especially, as a Tory, came into the lead of the Tory Party—when that Party had attained a strength and a power and a usefulness which had never been rivalled in this country. I believe, for my part, that if the Party had been kept out of this morass into which it has been led it would have maintained the confidence, and the proud confidence, of the country for a generation to come. What has been done? I do not refer to my distinguished friends who are now scattered over the two Houses of Parliament; I refer rather to those graver and deeper differences which have been created by the act of the Unionist Government. The Conservative Party—I speak of it because I know it best, and without the smallest disparagement to the Liberal Unionists—had been built up by Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury into a momentous organ of national welfare; it had based its power by showing the identity of its principles with those of the loyal working classes; and, what was equally striking, it had done exactly what Matthew Arnold told it to do twenty years ago—it had made friends with the mind of the country. With those two elements on the one side and the other the path of prosperity and progress was clear before it. What has happened? We have seen the word and idea of Empire, which had cheered our people on to great exertions in the past, vulgarised beyond description. We have seen a successful attempt to capture a Party based upon the deepest and clearest principles of national life and conduct, and the Party is now being turned into some sort of trading machine.
I am going to ask the Government one more question about their policy of negotiation and retaliation. How do they intend to work it out in this country? As my noble friend Lord James said in his admirable speech—a speech which ought to be read all over the country— 413 "Who brings you tidings of your mandate?" The answer must be "Mr. Chamberlain's candidates." Of course; you have not got enough of your own. Will the noble Marquess at the head of the Government in this House show me a complement, a sufficiency, of candidates on the Conservative and Unionist side who are able to bring him back the clear tidings, "We have brought the financial truth through all difficulties; no more taxation of bread, and, on the other hand, no more foolish Cobdenism, but the very soul and truth of the word, and you are in a majority?" My noble friend has no more prospect of that than he has of excluding Home Rulers from the next Parliament. What I want to ask is this. At the end of the day if—and it is a large"if"—the Chamberlainites bring triumph to your standard, what is to be done? I would not insure at a high rate your puny policy of negotiation and retaliation. I greatly fear that they would go by the board and you with them, and the question is—What then? This is one of the points upon which I am most anxious. Should this election go in favour of fiscal reform, what is coming? A ministry of Mr. Chamberlain. And what then becomes of Church and State? What becomes of the schools in which noble Lords on this side interested themselves so greatly last year? Would they not be open to the first bidder, who would go one higher on the subject of tariff reform? Have you considered that the miscarriage of your puny barque of negotiation and retaliation means the return into port with full sail of a system of Government the methods of propagating which were embodied in old-age pensions and in the promise of high wages? That is a consummation to which I frankly decline to be a party. I owe Mr. Chamberlain no allegiance, and I decline for my part, and I hope many noble Lords will be found to do the same, to lend a hand to anything which will bring about such a sinister catastrophe.
§ EARL CADOGAN
My Lords, perhaps I may be permitted to vary the ordinary formula which comes from those who address the House for the first time by asking your Lordships' indulgence for 414 one who has not, as far as he knows, addressed the House for nine years. I had no desire to intervene in this debate, and I can promise the House that I shall not trespass on their indulgence for any lengthened period. I am sorry I entered the House at a late period in the speech of my noble friend behind me (Lord Robertson) and that I am not able to follow the arguments of a somewhat singular nature by which he appeared to be supporting his view. I did hear, however, an attack upon a very distinguished statesman—Mr. Chamberlain—and it appeared to me, from what I could hear, that my noble friend was not prepared to consider on its merits the all-important question which is now before the House. He was filled with anticipations of evil which might arise from the triumph of Mr. Chamberlain; he saw before him a disestablished church, and various other matters which I think it will hardly be necessary for us to discuss to-night. As I said before, I am very unwilling to intrude in this, as in any other, debate, but I am impelled to say a few words, in the first place, because during the whole of this discussion I have not heard one word in support of the position which I feel I ought to occupy in this discussion.
As a result of the 'debates, both in the other House and in your Lordships' House, we have arrived, as far as I can understand, at a unanimous agreement upon one subject. I have not heard anyone on these Benches, or read of anyone elsewhere, who doubts that we have arrived at a time at which our trade and commerce is carried on under conditions which require, if not amendment, at all events consideration. That lands us, at all events, at the first stage of the discussion. Of course, there are some noble Lords, and I am afraid I must divide them into four categories, who have spoken in this debate, who appear to feel that in some cases there is no necessity for any change, and in other cases that that necessity is of a more modified character. Perhaps if I were to single out one among my noble friends as hardly appreciating the necessity for any action, or even for any consideration of this important question, I should point to my noble friend Lord Balfour of 415 Burleigh. I believe, if I understand his speech aright, that he sees no necessity for any inquiry into the system which now obtains, and he is quite content that we should remain as we are, and do nothing. Then there are noble Lords opposite. I do not think that any one of them will deny—I do not know that my noble friend who leads the Opposition has ever denied—that there is at all events a case for grave consideration, that there are doubts which must be solved, and although, as we know, his opinions are very distinct and very loyal upon the doctrine which he has always advocated—the doctrine of free trade—yet he and his noble friends also admit that something possibly may be done, though not in the sense of the proposals of the Government. Nobody, as far as I know, has mentioned in the course of the debate the alternative policy which has been placed before the country by the right hon. Gentleman the late Colonial Secretary. We have had attacks upon His Majesty's Government; we have heard that they have not expressed their own opinions clearly, and that they have not placed before the House a policy which is intelligible to us. To a certain extent I am obliged to coincide with that view. But with regard to the policy which has been very clearly laid before us by the late Secretary of State for the Colonies, nobody, as far as I know, has discussed that policy. Perhaps they were correct in not doing so, because that policy is not before the House. But if that policy is not before the House, I should like to know what is.
Here I should like to associate myself with those who have offered their sincere congratulations to my noble friend opposite who initiated the discussion on the admirable form which he has invented for the Motion now under discussion. It is one which I recommend to the notice of all those who in future will manage our business here. It is one which no doubt offers some difficulties to those who wish to meet it. My noble friend gave notice of a series of questions which he intended to put to His Majesty's Government; he answered those questions according to his own lights, and reserved to himself the right of moving, which gave him a locus standi, a Motion embodying a principle which had already been agreed to 416 by my noble friend on this side of the House. That is a very convenient way, no doubt, of creating a peg upon which to hang a discussion, and I am bound to say that I listened with the greatest interest to the admirable speech which my noble friend delivered from his point of view.
I wish in the few words I shall address to the House to point to the difficulties in which the supporters of His Majesty's Government are placed by the apparent want, not only of information but of cohesion, which is to be found in all the utterances of the various members of the Government. We must all admit that the Government have been placed in exceptionally difficult circumstances during the debates on this subject. There is no man in the country who does not regret as much as I do the illness which has overtaken the Prime Minister. We have all watched by his bed-side; we have all grieved at the loss which his absence has entailed upon us and at the sufferings he has undergone; we have all been gratified to hear of the improvement of his health, and I am sure his return will be welcomed, to the great relief of all Members on both sides of both Houses of Parliament. I think there was a great deal to be said for the statement made in the other House of Parliament as to the position in which the members of the Cabinet then found themselves. They said, and with great reason, that the one man who had a right and who alone had a right, to expound the policy of the Government was the Prime Minister. But I noticed that they proceeded, as perhaps they were in duty bound to proceed, to expound that policy for themselves. What I have to find fault with—and I do so with the utmost respect—is the fact that those expositions have come upon us in a painful alternation, with an ebb and a flow, which has bewildered us all, with the general result that it is very difficult to ascertain where we stand and in what position we are with regard to this question. I have no hesitation in saying where I stand, because, although nobody has said so before in this House, and I am afraid nobody is about to say so, I myself am inclined to support the larger policy, the more frank policy, the more practical 417 policy, which is embodied in the proposals which have been enunciated in public by my right hon. friend the late Secretary of State for the Colonies.
But while I say that, I wish to offer my tribute of respect to my noble friends—the noble Duke and others—who have never made any secret of the position which they have taken up on this question. They still are devoted to a policy which they call free trade and which they believe to be free trade, but which I think the noble Duke has modified into a policy merely of free imports. I hope I am not misinterpreting them. I think they are satisfied with the status quo, they do not see any reason for debating a policy to revive what is admitted to be an unsatisfactory state of trade, therefore, it is very difficult to urge anything which will have any effect upon them or induce them to join anyone who proposes fiscal reform. The policy of His Majesty's Government is I admit, of a very different character. His Majesty's Government has admitted that these difficulties exist; they have also intimated their intention to remedy them. We look to the Prime Minister and to his declarations for an explanation of the lines upon which they propose to deal with this all-important subject. I am sure I should not be considered to be taking any unfair advantage if I read a few extracts from a speech made by the Prime Minister, I think in June last, at the Constitutional Club, which, if he has not been able to inform us lately as to his views, at all events gives us a basis upon which we can found our appreciation of the policy which he intends to carry out. I think it was on 27th June last that my right hon. friend the Prime Minister attended a luncheon given at the Constitutional Club in honour of the late Colonial Secretary on his return from South Africa. The occasion was a very interesting one, and loth as I am to take part in any public functions of that sort, I determined to be present and to hear what the views of the Prime Minister at that time were. There was no doubt whatever about those views then. It fell to the lot of the Prime Minister to present an address to the then Secretary of State for the Colonies and to make a speech congratulating him on that visit to South Africa which was the ad- 418 miration of all those who observed the energy with which the late Secretary of State for the Colonies performed a duty which few men at his age could have accomplished, and returned, having, as we believe, done a great work towards the pacification of, and the arrival at friendly arrangements in that important part of our dominions. The Prime Minister on that occasion, as I have said, proposed a vote of thanks to the late Colonial Secretary and presented him with an address, and he made several remarks on that occasion which I think bear upon the question now under your Lordships' consideration. He said—It would be folly on the part of the Conservative or Unionist Party to make particular opinions on economical subjects a test of Party loyalty.He said the questions were not new, and that he saw four dangers ahead. This, I think, is an important statement, because if there were four dangers ahead those dangers ought to be dealt with. He said that the first was what we now call "dumping," which he expressed in much more detailed language. The second he said was that negotiation with regard to tariffs was rendered extremely difficult or impossible by the present position of our tariff. Since Cobden's treaty with France and other concessions we had had nothing left to give. Now my Lords, I hardly know what this can mean except that retaliation will create for us something to give, and I doubt myself whether that can be done without protection. Then the third point of the Prime Minister was a protest relating to the Canadian-German difficulty. The fourth is in these words—If possible there should be some arrangement made with these self-governing colonies which would unite us together in fiscal bonds.And he added that he left that to his right hon. friend Mr. Chamberlain to deal with. This was at the banquet—If possible there should be some arrangement made with these self-governing colonies which should unite us together in fiscal bonds.We hope it may be possible, but we have heard nothing of that arrangement since. It is important to remark that I believe we all understood at the commencement of these discussions that the Imperial question, the question of drawing the Colonies closer to us, was to be one of the leading 419 objects which the Government and Mr. Chamberlain proposed to themselves in starting this campaign. The Prime Minister further stated, in reference to the possible opposition to taxation on food—There is no logical or substantial reason why a policy, if it be wise and if it be practicable in other ways, should not be carried out without increasing the cost of living to the working classes of this country; but, at all events, let us set our minds to consider how that can be met.After what I had heard at that meeting I considered that the Prime Minister, if he did not wholly coincide with the views of the late Colonial Secretary, at all events agreed with him in the more important points of his policy. Not only that, but I understand that Mr. Chamberlain had the high sanction of the Prime Minister in the campaign in which he subsequently embarked. So far, so good. What I would like to ask on behalf of many supporters of the Government is this. We understood the position of the Government at the time to which I have just referred. What is our position now? We have had the debate in the other House of Parliament; we have had the debate just concluding in this House, but I suppose it would not be too much to say that if we looked for guidance to the speeches of members of the Cabinet we should be somewhat puzzled as to the decision at which we ought to arrive.
I may say at once as regards the Amendment before the House that I shall give it my humble support. I should always wish to support His Majesty's Government, because, if I understand their policy, they not only realise the difficulties under which we labour, but they are prepared with a policy which in their opinion is adequate, and which, whether we agree with it or not, is a policy in the direction which we may hope will lead to a remedy of the evils complained of. I cannot see any such hope in the attitude of noble Lords opposite. I think that any Motion proposed on behalf of His Majesty's Government in this matter should be supported by all of us, because, although we think they might go further, at the same time they are prepared to do something, while I cannot see that noble Lords opposite, or even those who dignify themselves by the name "free-fooders," are likely to help us in any degree.
I should just like to say that I have felt very deeply the position in which 420 supporters of His Majesty's Government have been placed. It is quite true, as I have said, that the trumpets give an uncertain sound, and that whenever the subject is discussed we find some members of His Majesty's Government who lead us to hope for strong measures, and others who, on the contrary, limit very strictly the hopes of those who support them. But there have been, especially last night, one or two statements made by Ministers which I confess have given me considerable consolation, and have led me to hope for better things before long. There was, for instance, the speech of my noble friend Lord Selborne. That speech has been described by some as a speech throughout in favour of protection. I am not quite sure that I could go so far as that in the description of it, but there was one element in it to which I should like to draw the attention of the House. We have had no more eloquent statement of the difficulties in which the country now finds itself; we have had no more eloquent refutation of the allegation which was made on the other side of the House that this country is at present in an exceptionally favourable and prosperous condition. But the more my noble friend argued that trade is decreasing, that our industries are in danger, and that a state of things has arisen which calls for a remedy, the more I think does he invite upon himself the retort that the Government in that case should provide some effectual remedy for the state of things which now exists.
What is the remedy which the Government propose? It is negotiation. Well, the power of negotiation they possess at present. It is retaliation. Well, retaliation, as I understand it, means the power of imposing a protective duty in reply to one imposed against us by a foreign country. But my noble friends say that retaliation does not mean protection. The noble Marquess Lord Salisbury, whose appearance in this House was an event of great and deep interest to those who, for many reasons, would have recalled to their memories recollections of his illustrious father, and whom we all congratulate on his success, told us, not only that there was no protection in retaliation, but that there was not even a protective flavour. I have heard of the odour of 421 sanctity but I have never heard of a protective flavour. However that may be, I imagine he meant that retaliation, in his view, could be carried out without any protection at all. That I very much doubt. I quite understand that protection pure and simple means protective duties all round. I quite understand also that retaliation may be said not to be simple protection, because it means merely imposing one duty ad hoc as a quid pro quo in the case of a duty imposed against us. Be that as it may, I take it that my noble friend Lord Salisbury has told us that there is to be no protection, and we have already heard that there is to be no preference. But is there to be no preference? I do not know whether it is in order to refer to a speech made in the other House, but the Secretary of State for the Colonies in a speech there, after detailing the policy and the position of the Government, made a pathetic appeal to the supporters of the Government. He begged and implored them—it is not necessary to implore me, because I should not do it in any case—under no circumstances to forget that there was this preference behind. I think his expression was that he would never take his eye off that preference. Then my noble friend Lord Selborne said that he hoped we should not put any ban on preference. I hope we shall not.
I have ventured to make these few remarks because I think that the arguments which have been used by those who have attacked His Majesty's Government have come from those who do not believe in the necessities of the situation, who do not believe in providing any remedies for those necessities. I wish merely to put the case, which I do with all respect, from the opposite point of view. There may be no Member of your Lordships' House who agrees with me, but I believe that the Government will not be able to confine themselves to the limited policy which they have laid before Parliament. I venture with all respect to agree with what fell from the noble Earl on the Woolsack. I am not sure that I realised all his views, but I have never heard him quoted as a very strong free-trader, and I think that so far he left the argumentative part of the question. He simply informed us that it was not the duty of the Government to lay down the conditions of any policy 422 which was not before the House. We know that the policy before the House is a very limited one. His Majesty's Government have told us that the policy now before the House, which they admit is before the House,—viz., the policy of negotiation, and what I may term contingent retaliation, is the only policy which they mean to supmit to the electors of the country. It is impossible for His Majesty's Government to limit the scope of the consideration of such a question as this within the lines which they have laid down for themselves, not only because it would not be easy under any circumstances, but because a much larger, a much fuller, and I venture to say, a much worthier policy has been already laid before the country by the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for the Colonies. The country is in possession of that policy; they have discussed it, and they are about to discuss it; and in my opinion, which perhaps is not worth having, the country will adopt towards that policy an attitude not entirely unfavourable to the views of my right hon. friend. Of course, if His Majesty's Government lay down their policy—their limited policy as I venture to call it—and pit it against that of the ex-Colonial Secretary, no doubt the country will be able to decide, but I am afraid His Majesty's Government are deceiving themselves if they believe that the discussion in the country, both up to and during the election, will be limited to the proposals they have made. I am afraid they will find themselves mistaken. I say this in all honesty, and not in any spirit of antagonism to my noble friends who are members of the Government or to the Government itself. On the contrary, I realise all the difficulties which the Prime Minister had to face. I admit that he was not only Prime Minister, but also the leader of a Party, and I am far from saying that he was not right and that he did not exercise the highest duties of statesmanship in limiting the policy to what he believed would be endorsed by the majority of his Party, leaving further developments to the future. But I am afraid he deceives himself if he thinks that the people of this country have forgotten his own utterances. They believe that the Prime Minister is favourable—he had admitted it very often—to the policy of 423 Mr. Chamberlain. They know and they understand—and nobody blames him for it—that he says it is a policy which it will take a long time to develop, and upon which the electors of this country will require a considerable amount of education. But, as I said before, I think His Majesty's Government will do well if between this and the general election—which I hope will be long postponed—they reconsider their policy in the sense of augmenting and strengthening it. I can only say that, as far as I am concerned, and I know I express the views of many Members of your Lordships' House and of Members of the other House, any strengthening of that policy would be viewed with gratification. I trust that before long the Government will see that they are more likely to enjoy the support of the country if they will go "the whole hog"—I hardly like to use the term, but I know no other way of expressing it—or at all events if they will advance some further step towards the realisation of what I believe will prove in the end to be the policy to the best advantage of the people of this country, and by which I believe they will secure the strong support of the constituencies throughout the Kingdom.
§ * EARL SPENCER
My Lords, I do not regret that I gave way to the noble Earl when I rose to address your Lordships a short time ago. The noble Earl's speech is one which, I think, has made an impression on your Lordships. It was what I may call the speech of a candid friend of the Government, and certainly a very independent speech. But why is it that on this great national question the independent supporters of the Government are so silent I It is a remarkable thing that, with two exceptions—and they were not warm supporters of the Government—not a single independent Peer has spoken on the opposite side. We had a very able speech from the noble and learned Lord (Lord Robertson), but he is an ex-member of the Government. We have now had a speech, as I have said, from a candid friend, but the noble Earl is also an ex-member of the Government. Why is it, I repeat, that on this great national question the independent supporters of the Government do not express their opinions? Is it that they disagree with 424 His Majesty's Government, or is it for some other reason? Can it be. I hardly think soon such a great question, a justification of what I said on the opening night of the session, when complimenting the mover and seconder of the Address, that the atmosphere of this House was not conducive or encouraging to debate. My noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh, in very kindly terms, differed from me on that subject, but I still adhere to what I said.
We have had, nevertheless, a remarkable debate. We had a very interesting speech from the noble Lord the late Secretary for Scotland; we also had an interesting speech from my noble friend the noble Duke, on the personal part that they played in the changes in the Government. I shall not discuss the attitude they took up, nor the attitude of the Prime Minister towards them. But I think I may observe, with the approval of everyone in this House, that what they have said is honourable to them, and that everybody believes that they acted in the spirit of honourable statesmen doing their duty, as they conceived it, to their Party and their country. The attitude of the noble Duke and that of the noble Lord who sits near him is of great importance. The reasons they have given for separating themselves from the Government of which they were such strong supporters, show what an extraordinary position His Majesty's Government is in, and how very vague and dangerous an attitude the Government take towards this great question of free trade or protection. My noble friend behind me, Lord Crewe, put a specific Motion relating to one part of the subject, but, considering how much this part of the subject bears on all the larger questions connected with free trade and protection, it was natural that the debate should run into other parts of the question.
Though I shall not trouble your Lordships at great length at this late hour of the night, I must refer to one or two of the points which have been raised, and I shall also have a word to say with regard to retaliation and negotiation. Those of your Lordships who are free-traders rejoiced to hear the noble Marquess (Lord Salisbury) speak with no faltering voice in favour of free trade and against protection, 425 but it is worth while noticing that the speech of the noble Marquess hardly coincided with that of the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty. I am not going to say that the First Lord of the Admiralty made a completely protectionist speech; but, if I am not mistaken, in his speech there were echoes from the arguments of the great man who has been stumping the country. Although no doubt the noble Earl very ably expressed them in his own words, still his speech contained a great many of the views which Mr. Chamberlain has urged. More than one noble Lord has referred to something I said on the opening night with regard to this question. I am stated to have admitted that the trade of the country was not as satisfactory as it should be. I entirely deny that I said anything of the sort. What I said—I am quoting from the report in The Parliamentary Debates—was—There are continual declarations from the President of the Board of Trade and others that the trade of the country is declining, but I am convinced this is an entirely erroneous view, and that trade was never more prosperous in this country, though I admit that some changes may be necessary, for we have to meet a keen and active competition from other nations, and must look to ourselves to see we are fully armed for the struggle.We may compare this question to illness; we find that there are degrees of illness. It may be necessary for a man to undergo a serious operation to save his life, or his illness may be a very trifling matter. Can anybody say that at the present moment the state of trade and commerce in this country shows signs so ominous, to use the expression of the First Lord of the Admiralty, that a remedy of the greatest possible severity must be applied? Yet to upset the whole fiscal policy of the country is a proposal analagous to the most serious operations in surgery. Lesser evils which may demand consideration do not call for any such treatment. When I speak of the necessity of technical education, I cannot help having in mind the example of Switzerland. That country, mountainous, and with no harbours, has yet been most successful in industrial competition, because enormous attention has there been paid to technical education.
As to the comparisons that have been made between the state of trade in this 426 country now and in former years it will be remembered that in the early period of this discussion one famous comparison, which dealt with a period of inflation following on the Franco-German war, has been shown to be entirely erroneous. We do not hear of that kind of comparison now. How is the comparison made now? The progress of our commerce is now compared with that of other countries, but I venture to say that that is false matter of comparison. The First Lord of the Admiralty has said that sixty years ago we were commercially supreme and had no rivals. But is it to be expected that now-a-days we are to have no rivals? Our trade and commerce have reached such enormous dimensions that we cannot expect that we should increase it in the proportions we did formerly. I would compare the increase of our trade and commerce with what takes place with regard to other matters. Take the speed of trains. In early days, when trains only went twenty miles an hour, it was not difficult to increase the speed to thirty miles. But now, when we have reached a speed of sixty miles, it is exceedingly difficult and expensive to augment it. The noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty will, I am sure, admit the same argument with regard to the speed of battleships and cruisers. The speed could be pretty easily increased when those ships went at twelve knots, but when they reach twenty-two knots, it is very difficult, if not impossible, without incurring tremendous expense, to increase the speed. It is the same with regard to our trade and commerce. Our trade and commerce, as I have said, have reached such great dimensions that we cannot expect that the same proportion of increase should be maintained. On the other hand, our neighbours, owing to great activity and also to great intelligence and learning, have been able to improve their position. Their position was not nearly as advanced as ours, so that they are therefore advancing at this moment in far larger proportion than this country. I cannot share the forebodings of evil which seem to fill the mind of the First Lord of the Admiralty. It is true that our trade and commerce are not increasing at the same rate that they did twenty years ago, for the reasons I have given, but I believe they were never more prosperous than at present.
427 Referring to the pamphlet on "Insular Free Trade" which the Prime Minister issued not long ago, what, I ask, is the Premier's test of a nation's prosperity? The amount of its imports. He says clearly that exports are only required in order to enable us to obtain imports. If, then, our imports continue to increase we need not trouble ourselves about exports. This clearly follows from Mr. Balfour's own arguments. He also says emphatically that the wealth of the country is greater and better diffused than at any previous period. Why, then, should we risk anything? People do not run great risks except when they are suffering great evils. The shipping question, which is one of the most important of the questions connected with the subject of free trade and protection, has been scarcely referred to during the debate. Yet our shipping trade is marvellous in its proportions, and it is increasing enormously still. We are in no way going back. We are the great carriers for the whole world, and it is, I believe, the fact that British steamships have increased 1,000,000 tons every five years since 1870. That is an important evidence of the prosperity of this country, and I think we ought to be very careful to do nothing which would interfere with the prosperity of the shipping trade, for, as the noble Earl opposite will, I know, agree, its prosperity is not only of vital importance to the commerce of the country, but also as the great nursery for and helpmeet to our great Navy.
Free trade has given our shipbuilders access to the cheapest and best materials in the world. And consider how diverse these materials are. As Sir Christopher Furness recently pointed out, the steel is made from ore produced in Spain and Sweden, the brass from Spanish and American copper, the spelter comes from Germany, the woodwork from America and Norway, the ropes from Russia, and the hemp from the Phillipines. Is not that evidence of what enormous importance free imports are to trade in this country? I sincerely hope that nothing that His Majesty's Government may do, and nothing that Mr. Chamberlain can do, will in any way check that great volume of trade which is carried all over the world by our shipping, and which is of 428 such gigantic importance to our influence, power, and wealth. The noble Earl argued that we could not trace the commencement of our commercial prosperity to the period after the introduction of free trade. Well, I venture to say he has overlooked a great deal in making that statement. He has overlooked the state in which the country was at that time. He began by referring to the year 1846.
§ * EARL SPENCER
The noble Earl seemed to have forgotten that long before that Sir Robert Peel commenced his great reform of the tariff. From 1842 he made enormous changes, which had very great effect on the whole of the country. The noble Earl quoted Sir Robert Peel before he became a convert to free trade, and I might quote numerous passages from the speeches of Mr. Chamberlain, in which the right hon. Gentleman most eloquently and clearly put the very arguments which we wish to enforce to-day. I should like to quote what was said by a very great man, and a man whose name will carry weight. Speaking at Edinburgh, on 2nd December, 1845, Lord Macaulay, referring to the condition of the country in 1841 said—Will anybody tell me that the capitalist was the only sufferer, or the chief sufferer? Have we forgotten what was the condition of the working people in that unhappy year? So visible was the misery of the manufacturing towns that a man of sensibility could hardly bear to pass through them. Everywhere he found filth and nakedness, and plaintive voices, and wasted forms and haggard faces. Politicians, who had never been thought alarmists, began to tremble for the very foundations of society. First the mills were put on short time. Then they ceased to work at all. Then went to pledge the scanty property of the artisan; first his little luxuries, then his comforts, then his necessaries. The hovels were stripped until they were as bare as the wigwam of a Dogribbed Indian. Alone amidst the general misery, the shop with three golden balls prospered, and was crammed from cellar to garret with the clocks and the kettles, and the blankets and the Bibles of the poor. I remember well the effect which was produced in London by the unwonted sight of huge pieces of cannon which were going northward to overawe the starving population of Lancashire.Is that a picture of prosperity? Does that show that before free trade came in the country was in a very prosperous condition. On the contrary, it shows— 429 and I could quote the opinions of others to the same effect—that the condition of affairs was most deplorable in the country, and such as nothing, to my mind, but free trade was able to put straight.
Now, my Lords, I come to the actual Resolution which my noble friend behind me has proposed. We have heard a great deal about retaliation, and I hope we shall hear something more from the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, who, I presume, will wind up the debate. We understand perfectly well the policy of Mr. Chamberlain. We understand what my noble friend Lord Cadogan supports. But, as has been pointed out, time after time, we cannot understand the position of His Majesty's Government. They have two views. I hardly think the free-trade opinions which were expressed by the noble Marquess the Lord Privy Seal were at all echoed in the speech of the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty. Now, what is retaliation? We have heard it described to-night, and up to a certain point we understand what is meant by retaliation; but can retaliation be called a policy? I rather think that retaliation is a weapon by which you can carry out a policy. We do not know how His Majesty's Government are going to carry out their policy. It may be done in various ways. They may proceed by Act of Parliament, giving power to the King in Council to act in certain circumstances, following the precedent contained in the Navigation Laws. I cannot help thinking that the refusal of His Majesty's Government to accept the clear proposal of my noble friend implies that they intend to have some general power of this sort, which will avoid their having to come to Parliament in each case. Why are they so afraid of the little word "each?"
If we do not have it to-night, we must have before long, certainly before an appeal is made to the country, the clear, definite, and cohesive opinion of the Government. The noble Earl said there was a want of cohesion on the part of the Government. I entirely agree. We have heard more than once that members of a Government may differ in opinion, and I quite agree that on certain questions they may differ. There are certain questions which may be considered open 430 questions. Take, for instance, a very important Irish question—that of an Irish Catholic University. We know that in Lord Salisbury's Government there were various views on that subject; but that is a perfectly open question It was not going to be made a question to be taken up by the Government. But I do not consider that this is a question which can be treated as an open question upon which a divergence of opinion among members of the Cabinet may be tolerated. It is a question upon which the Government and every politician must have a clear and decided view. It is not a question on which there can be two, four, or five views in the Cabinet. I will not detain your Lordships further, but I would impress upon His Majesty's Government the absolute necessity of clearing up their position, and stating whether they are going to support indirectly, if not directly, the policy of Mr. Chamberlain, which is protection, or whether they are going only to support retaliation and negotiation. If they are only going to support retaliation and negotiation, then I say they must define exactly what they are going to do, otherwise it will be impossible for the constituencies in the country to come to a correct vote and decision on this question, which is of such vital interest and importance to the whole kingdom.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess OF LANSDOWNE)
My Lords, this discussion has ranged over a wide field, and at this hour of the night it is scarcely possible for me to go over the whole of it. We have listened to the important and interesting statements of the reasons which induced two of our colleagues to leave us recently. We have had a critical examination of the Motion and the Amendment; we have had a full discussion of the Government policy; and we have had a considerable amount of controversy with regard to another policy which is not that of His Majesty's Government, and with which they do not associate themselves. With regard to the two speeches which have been delivered to us upon the resignations, I can only say this, that I listened to them, as I am sure my friends on this side of the House listened to them, with a deep sense of the 431 depth of feeling with which those speeches were uttered and of the absolute sincerity with which they were characterised. We have great regret in parting from the friends and allies with whom we were associated so long, and as we listened to them we could not help feeling how great a loss this Bench has sustained in eloquence and ability by their defection. There is only one circumstance in which I am inclined to find consolation in the speeches of my noble friends. They made it perfectly clear to us that they left us under circumstances which rendered it absolutely impossible that they should continue to be our colleagues. There can be no question of their having left us owing to one of those momentary misunderstandings which sometimes lead to decisions forming the subject of lifelong regret. It is said of our first parents when they found themselves turning their backs upon the Garden of Eden that—Some natural tears they shed yet wiped them soon.I think we may say that of our colleagues. They have gone forth like our first parents to till the earth, and we can only hope that the furrows which they trace may not be found to diverge too widely from ours.
As to the policy of the Government, we have been interrogated with a closeness and a persistency which I do not think I have ever seen equalled in the discussions in this House. The endeavour of our critics is to show to us that our policy means either nothing at all or else protection. Our policy does mean something, and that something is not protection. If one could find amusement in these things, I am almost amused at the persistent efforts which have been made to tar us with the brush of protection. I believe it is true that in some parts of Africa there are native officials whose business it is to smell out witches, and I think noble Lords opposite and their friends make it their business to smell out protection in all sorts of quarters where it does not exist. Sometimes it is a humble Under-Secretary, sometimes it is the Colonial Secretary, sometimes it is the First Lord of the Admiralty, and sometimes it is the Prime Minister himself. None of us are 432 safe, and we must congratulate ourselves on the fact that up to the present moment none of us have been done to death by our inquisitors. We say that we are not protectionists, but free traders. We say that our interpretation of free trade is as true an interpretation and founded on as high an authority as yours. Your theory is that if other nations freely supply us it does not in the least matter whether we are allowed to supply them; you keep your eyes permanently upon the importer and the consumer, and allow the producer and exporter to take chances for themselves. That is not, I believe, sound political economy, or, for the matter of that, sound sense. We hold, on the contrary, that you can only have free trade if the course of commerce is allowed to flow freely along its natural channels and when the country which gives and the country which receives are both allowed to reap the full advantage of natural conditions. We are not content with your theory of free trade; we believe, on the contrary, that the limited free trade which has contented you has been the cause of serious injury to our commerce, and we agree with my noble friend Lord Salisbury, who, I think, with great presence of mind succeeded in taking the sense of the House last night and in obtaining an opinion nemine contradicente, that all is not well with the trade of this country.
Leaving for the moment the question of theory, I would lay before your Lordships very briefly indeed one or two facts which seem to me to support the contentions which I have just urged. The first fact is this—that during recent years there has been a steady tendency on the part of all foreign countries to raise their tariffs against us. I will not trouble your Lordships with too many figures, but in 1879 the German tariff was raised to a protective level; in 1881 the Russian tariff was increased; in 1882 there was a general increase of the Austro-Hungarian duties; in 1884 there was a further increase of the Russian tariff; in 1885 there was a further increase of the German tariff; in 1887 the Russian duties were again increased; in 1888 the Italian duties were increased; in 1890 the McKinley Tariff was introduced in the United States, and there was a further 433 increase of the Russian tariff; in 1892 there was some reduction in the tariffs of central European Powers, but the French, Spanish, and Portuguese duties were increased; and in 1897 the United States scale of duties was largely increased. The second fact is that the effect of these successive heightenings of the tariff wall has been to divert our trade, to some extent at all events, from protected countries to those which are not protected; and the third fact which I would draw attention to is this, that at this very moment the European Powers are contemplating a still further addition to their hostile tariffs.
We are frequently told that what is called the "most-favoured-nation treatment" is sufficient protection for us against these dangers. My noble friend Lord Selborne very properly pointed out that the most-favoured-nation treatment has ceased to be a protection against hostile tariffs, and the reason is not far to seek. In these days the tendency is towards very minute classification of tariffs, with the result that when two Powers wish to make a commercial agreement between themselves, excluding from its advantages a third Power entitled to most-favoured-nation treatment, they can easily do so by a process known to experts as gerrymandering the tariff. The thing has in fact been constantly done to our disadvantage. I may mention an instance of this. In 1892 the central Powers of Europe revised their commercial treaties, and, although we had at that moment an export trade to Germany of no less than 675,000,000 marks, only 2.6 per cent. of that large trade obtained any relief under the most-favoured-nation treatment to which we were entitled. Of course, besides that there are other devices, such as preferential railway rates, frontier dues, and in certain cases interpretations of the most-favoured nation clause which have the effect of whittling away its meaning and importance. It is in these circumstances that we desire, instead of relying upon most-favoured-nation treatment—instead of being content with what I might call the by-products of arrangements entered into by other Powers—to bargain for ourselves. Having learned from experience that in such cases mere ex- 434 postulation and remonstrance are not enough, we desire to obtain from the country the authority to use arguments of another kind, to which we believe the countries with which we should have to deal will not be so ready to turn a deaf ear. When we reflect that this country takes from other countries imports valued at something over £400,000,000, we are led to the conclusion that we ought to be able to use arguments of the kind which I have indicated not without effect. Action of this kind has been characterised as "bluff." My Lords, I am under the impression that the word bluff is used without sufficient knowledge of its proper significance. That may perhaps be due to our innocence and unfamiliarity with the game from which I believe the expression originates, because I am assured that the word "bluff" can only be applied correctly when you make believe to hold in your hand good cards which you have, in fact, not got in it. I maintain that a country which draws £400,000,000 of imports from other countries cannot be made subject to the accusation that it is "bluffing," but that it has, on the contrary, a strong hand if it only knows how to play it.
Then I am asked—and I have been severely catechised on this point—how we propose to apply our policy of negotiation and retaliation; and constant efforts have been made by one speaker after another to lure us—I was almost going to say to goad us—into premature and indiscreet disclosures as to the manner in which such a policy may be applied. I think I am right in saying that my noble and learned friend Lord James cited the case of boots, and said—You will be asked when you go into your village, 'What are you going to do about boots?'Seriously, does the noble and learned Lord believe that we were coming to this House to tell your Lordships how two or three years hence the Government of the day is going to deal with the question of boots, or with German toys, or any of the other commodities which have been mentioned by different speakers this evening? I object to these revelations, not merely because of the tactical advantage which noble Lords opposite seek to derive from them, but because I venture to think 435 that on principle it would be absolutely wrong that any such announcement should be made.
I am going to make a personal appeal. I imagine that the audience which I have the honour of addressing probably contains in it the noble Lord who, when you have driven us from power, will replace me in the office which I now have the honour of filling. I do not know in what part of the House to look for him. But I will appeal to him to join me in protesting against the attempt to force the Foreign Office into indiscreet and improper disclosures of action which is at present remote from us. There is, however, one point upon which I will attempt to shed a ray of light with reference to a remark made by Lord Tweedmouth. He suggested that we should obviously begin by taking in hand those Powers whose tariffs were highest, and then he pointed out that those particular Powers were precisely the Powers from which we took foodstuffs and raw materials: and. therefore, the argument was, "You will be obliged to tax foodstuffs and raw materials." Now it does not in the least follow that because of two Powers one has a higher tariff than the other it is the higher tariff that is really most effectual for the purpose of excluding your commodities. Take two Powers, one with an ad valorem tariff of 100 per cent. and the other with an ad valorem tariff of 20 per cent. If the Power which has the higher tariff does not produce the commodities which you desire to export to it, those commodities will find their way into that country in spite of its high tariff. If, on the other hand, the Power which imposes the 20 per cent. duty does produce the commodities which you produce, and is therefore a competitor with you, the low rate of 20 per cent. will be effective for the purpose of keeping out your commodities. Therefore we must not run away with the assumption which has been more than once made, that it is necessarily with the Powers whose tariffs are highest that we shall be primarily concerned.
Then we have been asked what reason we have for believing that our policy will have the effects we desire from it. We were challenged last night to produce a 436 single case in which retaliation had been tried and found successful. We have just laid on the Table a Blue-book giving an account of certain tariff wars that have lately taken place, and I would call your Lordships' attention to this extract from the report on the conflict between Germany and Russia—A review of the conditions under which the struggle was conducted…makes it appear doubtful whether ordinary negotiations without the sanction of force would ever have led to a satisfactory compromise, or whether the protective policy of the two nations would ever have been modified except after the experience of the results of protection in its extremest form.I do not, however, for a moment suggest that you should leave out of account the injurious results of those tariff wars and their disturbing effects on the trade of the world. All wars are at best but clumsy and cruel contrivances, and a tariff war does not differ from a war of another kind. No one in his senses would embark with a light heart on such a war; nor do we desire for a moment to provoke hostilities of that kind all over the world. All that we contend is that unless we can contemplate as a last resort the use of measures of this sort it will be impossible for us to hold our own in commercial negotiations with the foreign Powers whose attacks upon our commerce we have so much reason to apprehend.
But there is another illustration of the success with which the policy of negotiation may be resorted to which is more conclusive and encouraging. I refer to the Cobden Treaty of 1860. When that treaty was negotiated we were able for very a very small sacrifice indeed to obtain considerable concessions from France. The result was that our exports to France rose from £32,000,000 in 1859 to £81,000,000 in 1874. But more than that, the example of that treaty and of our treaty also with Austria which followed it soon after was contagious. Commercial treaties were entered into between other Powers, something like fifty or sixty such agreements being concluded, with the result that there was a general and, to us, most advantageous lowering of tariffs throughout Europe. The time came when we returned to a much stricter view of those matters and when the policy of commercial treaties fell into disfavour. From that time, although we repeatedly reduced our 437 taxation, we did so without inviting any corresponding concessions in return. Nay, more. When overtures were made to us we allowed them to pass by unheeded, with the result that not only our trade sustained serious detriment, but that we came to be regarded, and, indeed, have been regarded until last year, as a negligible quantity in all transactions with regard to commercial matters between one Power and another. I say that, knowing what I am talking about, because in their candid moments the representatives of foreign commerce do not hesitate to tell us with the utmost frankness that in such matters as the conclusion of commercial treaties, or the classification of commodities, the opinion of this country has been regarded with complete indifference.
Then we are asked why it is that we require a mandate in order that we may carry out our policy of negotiation and retaliation. We are told that there is nothing whatever to prevent us negotiating, or for the matter of that, retaliating at the present moment. I daresay that is perfectly true, but I would remind noble Lords opposite of a very recent incident. We entered into a Sugar Convention; we did so, it is quite true, without a mandate; but what was the result? We were hauled over the coals by the noble Earl and the noble Lord who sits by him and by the President of the Cobden Club, because we were told that we were breaking all the rules of the game and taking upon ourselves to adopt a policy which was in direct opposition to the recognised policy and principles of this country. Well, we do not want to be exposed to those kind animadversions in the future; and, when the noble and learned Lord asks us what extra authority we want, I say we want the extra authority which will be derived from a clear and emphatic pronouncement of opinion by the constituencies of this country. But we have no intention—and I cannot conceive why noble Lords should be so uneasy upon that point—we have no intention whatever of endeavouring to withdraw these matters from the cognisance or control of Parliament. We could not do so if we wished—and that is the best answer we can give. Noble Lords talk about our asking for a blank cheque; I do not suppose for a moment that Parliament could give us a 438 blank cheque; but, if it were to give us a blank cheque, and we were to fill it up in an improper manner, do you imagine that Parliament would overlook it? We should have to answer to Parliament and submit to their authority. It is perfectly true that treaties are the prerogatives of the Crown, and that, strictly speaking, their confirmation by Parliament is not absolutely necessary; but the treaty and the law of the land must be in harmony, and if the law of the land does not harmonise with the treaty, then you must legislate, and you at once bring yourself under the control of Parliament, and that no doubt is why in all commercial treaties the formula usually employed is that the Sovereign undertakes, not to make such and such an arrangement, but to recommend the arrangement to Parliament.
I wish to say one word with regard to the statement that has been so often made—that our policy, which has been a good deal belittled by the critics, will inevitably lead us to the Birmingham policy. And I wish to answer a challenge which I think was thrown down by the noble and learned Lord, who asked us whether we adhered to the statement which was made by the Home Secretary in the House of Commons. My Lords, we do adhere to it. The statement was this—The Government have no intention of taxing raw materials, and their policy does not include the taxation of food; neither do the Government propose the imposition of any taxation for the purpose of fostering a home industry which is subjected only to natural and legitimate competition.
* LORD ROBERTSON
That is not what I referred to. I referred to a categorical Question put by Sir J. Stirling-Maxwell on the eve of the division, and the categorical answer was that the Government were opposed to any tax on food or raw materials.
* LORD ROBERTSON
They slightly differ—I desire a direct affirmation from the noble Lord to that, my reason being 439 the variance among Ministerialist statements during that debate.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I am afraid it would be absolutely impossible for me to say anything more distinct than that I accept Mr. Akers Douglas's statement to which the noble and learned Lord drew my attention; and I say categorically, that we, as a Government, and we cannot speak except as a Government, are opposed to a duty on raw materials or foodstuffs. Why is it that we are told that our policy leads inevitably down an inclined plane to the Birmingham abyss? I say, on the contrary, our policy is a self-contained policy. It is quite within our power to stop short at it. It is a policy which is intelligible without the assumption that it involves anything that it does not already comprise. And I say more; I say not only is it a self-contained policy, but I believe that instead of leading to Birmingham it leads if anything in the opposite direction. I was rather interested by an argument used by Lord Crewe on the first night, when he set himself to work to demolish another argument which had been used by the noble Duke below the gangway in regard to that point. The noble Earl was at pains to show that it would be possible to graft the Government policy on to the Birmingham policy. I think the noble Duke was perfectly right. As far as it goes our policy is inconsistent with the policy of colonial preference, and for this reason: If your policy of retaliation and negotiation succeeds, it means that you will have entered into agreements with foreign powers by which, in return for the facilities which you give to their trade, they will give you facilities for yours; and surely it is not unreasonable to argue that the more the ground is covered with treaties between this country and foreign Powers, treaties maintaining a permanent open door for our products in foreign countries, the less, and not the more, easy will it be to make preferential arrangements with the Colonies.
What I have to say with regard to this question of colonial preference—it is not before the House, and I shall not examine it at length—is that, although it forms no part of our policy, and if you were to propose it to us now, we should certainly 440 oppose it, we do not desire to be held bound that at no future time and under no circumstances will we any of us have anything to do with commercial arrangements between the mother country and the Colonies. We are not prepared to say that we are going, as soon as we are permitted to do so, to enter into mutually advantageous arrangements with foreign countries—but that, in no circumstances, and at no time, can we contemplate the possibility of such mutually advantageous arrangements being made between this country and the Colonies to which we owe so much. I therefore rejoice that this question, although it forms no part of our programme to-day, should be undergoing the greatest amount of free examination and discussion. If that discussion should bring to light hereafter the possibility of doing something which will draw the Colonies more closely towards us, I shall be the first to rejoice. If, on the other hand, the result is to show that nothing can be done, then I hope the attempt will be abandoned with the goodwill and concurrence of both sides. If this were to happen the project would at all events be decently and respectfully laid aside. But that is a widely different thing from throwing it still-born upon the dust-heap, which is the policy which noble Lords opposite recommend.
Having those feelings, I object altogether to the proposal of Lord Robertson that we should endeavour to impose upon our supporters what he called a superior limit in regard to this question. Let me state in half-a-dozen simple words how I understand that superior limit would work if we were to apply it. It would mean this, that we should prefer a candidate who differed from us upon nine points out of ten, and who, upon this fiscal question, agreed with us partially and reluctantly, to another candidate who agreed with us on nine points out of ten and who differed from us in regard to fiscal policy only because he wished to travel rather faster and rather further than we did. Holding those views, we shall not support the Motion of the noble Lord opposite. We may be wrong, but we regard its language as ambiguous and disengenuous. We prefer our own formula, in which we have put on record, in the most unequivocal terms, our desire that this question 441 should not be withdrawn from the control of Parliament and in which, because we respect the authority of Parliament, we refuse to be parties to an attempt to bind the discretion of a Parliament which is not yet in existence and of a Govern-
§ ment which, for all we know, may never have a being.
§ On Question, whether the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Motion, their Lordships divided.
§ Contents, 47; Not-Contents, 98.441
|Devonshire, D.||Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen.)||Lyvedon, L.|
|Hampden, V.||Monks well, L.|
|Northampton, M.||Monteagle of Brandon, L.|
|Ripon, M.||Aberdare, L.||Northbourne, L.|
|Balfour, L.||Reay, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Biddulph, L.||Ribblesdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Carrington, E.||Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)||Robertson, L.|
|Chesterfield, E. [Tetter.]||Brassey, L.||Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)|
|Crewe, E.||Burghclere, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Coleridge, L.||Somerhill, L. (M.Clanaicarde.)|
|Lichfield, E.||Denman, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)||Stanmore, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Russell, E.||Farrer, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Hamilton of Dalzell, L.||Wandsworth, L.|
|Stamford, E.||James, L.||Welby, L.|
|Temple, E.||Kinnaird, L.||Wimborne, L.|
|Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor.)||Grey, E.||Colchester, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) (Lord President.)||Hardwicke, E.||Cottesloe, L.|
|Harrowby, E.||Dawnay, L, (V. Downe.)|
|Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Jersey, E.||de Ros, L.|
|Lathom, E.||Douglas, L. (E. Home.)|
|Argyll, D.||Leven and Melville, E.||Dunboyne, L.|
|Beaufort, D.||Lindsey, E.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
|Grafton, D.||Morton, E.||Estcourt, L.|
|Marlborough, D.||Onslow, E.||Hampton, L.|
|Sutherland, D.||Radnor, E.||Herries, L.|
|Romney, E.||Hylton, L.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Scarbrough, E.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Abergavenny, M.||Selborne, E.||Kenyon, L.|
|Bath, M.||Stanhope, E.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)|
|Camden, M.||Stradbroke, E.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Verulam, E.||Lawrence, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]||Ludlow, L.|
|Winchester, M.||Wharncliffe, E.||Macnaghten, L.|
|Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward.)||Bangor, V.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Muncaster, L.|
|Clarendon, E. (L. Chamberlain.)||Colville of Culross, V.||North, L.|
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Brownlow, E.||Ormathwaite, L.|
|Cadogan, E.||Knutsford, V.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Llandaff, V.||Romilly, L.|
|Carnwath, E.||Rothschild, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Addington, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Coventry, E.||Allerton, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
|Dartrey, E.||Ashcombe, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Denbigh, E.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.|
|Derby, E.||Belper, L.||Trevor, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Calthorpe, L.||Windsor, L.|
|Chelmsford, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Cheylesmore, L.|
|Feversham, E.||Cloncurry, L.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ House Adjourned at Twelve o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Eleven o'clock.