THE MARQUESS OF WINCHESTER
My Lords, I rise to move that an humble Address be presented to His Majesty in reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne. Happily, the paragraph which we always look forward to at the commencement of the gracious Speech appears again this year—"My relations with foreign Powers continue to be of a friendly description." However familiar that paragraph may be, it is nevertheless received by the people of this great Empire with heartfelt thankfulness. The recent visit of their Majesties the King and Queen of Portugal to this country has been another guarantee of the friendly relations which have long subsisted between that kingdom and the people of this country.
The great struggle which is now entering into its second year of existence in the Far East has occupied the attention of all. There was a time when the early successes of our ally Japan were described as being the results of a combination of fanaticism and civilisation. I think the recent history of the war has shown that there is nothing of fanaticism about it, and that it is the outcome of an altruistic spirit, possessed by the Japanese in a more than common degree. Their general treatment of the negotiations which preceded the war, and of those prisoners of war who have fallen into their hands, has been of such a nature as to commend itself to the civilised nations of the world. I think the alliance which this country made with Japan has been largely instrumental in keeping the peace of the world and in securing the integrity of the Chinese Empire during this great struggle. During the time that the war has been in operation the responsibility of a neutral Power has been the chief thing to occupy the attention of His Majesty's Ministers. At the commencement of the war, you will remember, Russia applied rather wide terms to articles contraband of war, especially in the case of coal, which were not strictly in accordance with the views held by His Majesty's Government, who preferred to accept the interpretations contained in the Treaty of Paris rather than the wider terms which 7 the Russian Government proposed. My Lords, there never can be any question of mediation by the Powers in this great struggle, however much we may deplore the sacrifice and loss of life, so long as it is not desired by either of the belligerents.
The condition of the Balkan Peninsula has so often occupied the attention of this House, and has been so ably dealt with on many occasions by noble Lords who have had peculiar facilities for becoming well versed in this question, that I feel I should weary your Lordships in traversing the ground again; but I should like to say a few words with reference to the recent Agreement made between Austria and Russia. Your Lordships may remember that in 1902 Count Lamsdorff visited Vienna, and as a result of that visit we had what was known as the Vienna Programme. This did not, however, produce the results that it was hoped it would produce, for in the spring of 1903 there was a serious rising of the insurgents and rather harsh treatment of them by the Turkish troops, which led to several debates in this Chamber. After that Russia and Austria came to an agreement which is known as the Mürzsteg Agreement. This has entailed the appointment of a Russian and an Austrian official, whose duty it is to accompany the Inspector-General where-ever he goes, and report upon the working of the reforms generally throughout the country. Although this scheme has not, perhaps, met with the entire success which the framers of it desired, there has been, owing to the division of the country into districts and the action of the officers of the gendarmerie, considerable amelioration in the treatment of these unhappy people. An especially satisfactory feature, so far as this country is concerned, is that the Province of Djama, which is under the able direction of Colonel Fairholme, late Military Attaché to the Court of Vienna, is in a much more satisfactory condition than it has been before.
I turn from this well-worn topic to the paragraph in the gracious Speech with reference to the establishment of a representative Constitution in the Transvaal. Your Lordships will agree with me that that is a very difficult question to solve, 8 and one which must be approached with the very greatest care. The immediate establishment of representative government is not the view held by His Majesty's Ministers. There are precedents for various forms of government in South Africa. There is the form of an elective majority subject to an executive veto, which existed in the Cape in the early fifties, and from then to 1872, and afterwards the same system existed in Natal. It may not be the easiest form of government, perhaps, but it has this great advantage, that it does bring the people forward to express their views, and thereby it enables those who are charged with the maintenance of the Government of the country to see both sides of the question.
I turn to what concerns the Government of India. It has always been the policy of His Majesty's Government to maintain friendly relations with neighbouring States on the Indian frontier, and in this connection I am sure it is a great satisfaction to see that the Amir of Afghanistan has sent his son, the Sirdah Inayatulla, to Calcutta, and that His Highness has permitted a visit to be paid him at Cabul by an experienced officer of the Government of India to discuss questions affecting the relations of the two Governments. We hope that this will result in a continuance of those neighbourly relations which have existed with the State of Afghanistan in the past.
The question of alien immigration will again occupy the attention of Parliament during the coming session. The question is a far-reaching one. As your Lordships know, it occupied the attention of a Special Committee as long ago as 1888, and that Committee reported in 1889. I think it will be within your Lordships' recollection that the late Marquess of Salisbury introduced legislation into this House, I think in 1894, dealing with the subject. That Bill, however, did not get very far. In 1898 the Unionist Government again introduced legislation on this subject, and in 1903 they appointed a Royal Commission, presided over by the noble and learned Lord who sits below me, to inquire into it. It may strike some noble Lords who can trace their lineage back to the landing of William the Conqueror as somewhat strange to find that they have been regarded by that 9 Commission as interloping aliens, for I find on the first page—The alien immigrant is no newcomer to this country. Following the Norman Conquest many foreigners sought a home here.Nevertheless, my Lords, those of us who are satisfied that our lineage carries us back to that far-off day, will derive some comfort from finding that we are not described as either criminal or undesirable. Those who represent constituencies in this country which are pressed in the fields of the lower forms of industry, find that the competition of alien immigrants does affect them very seriously. In districts in the East End of London, and in some of our larger cities, the alien immigrant is found in large and ever-increasing numbers. I know that this is a question which raises many issues, and it has raised the issue to which I have just referred, as to who are desirable immigrants and who are not. The proposals of the Government will be limited to that class of aliens who are refused admission into the United States because they are paupers, and are landed on the first piece of land at which the ship touches, and that is in all probability this country. We have the evidence of His Majesty's Judges and of police magistrates that the criminal alien is a thoroughly undesirable person, and I trust that the Bill which His Majesty's Government will introduce for the consideration of Parliament, and which will deal with this class of alien, will receive your earnest consideration.
The question of the unemployed must, I think, interest all. It is one which is not confined entirely to this country. Other countries—America and Germany especially—have their unemployed problem, and I believe they are carefully watching the working of the scheme which was started this year by the President of the Local Government Board with a view to ameliorating the position of those who, unfortunately, are unable to find employment. The position of the pauper is this. He is not born to pauperism. He becomes a pauper owing, possibly, to long periods of frost or trade depression, which make it impossible for him to obtain work. He gradually sinks lower and lower in the social scale until he becomes what may be called the flotsam and jetsam of a 10 great city, drifting here and there, but unable to obtain any work, and almost unable to do any when he obtains it. The great thing is to have some machinery by means of which these men can be prevented from falling into that deplorable position, and I think the constitution of a Central Committee in London, composed of representatives of the various boroughs together with representatives of certain charitable organisations, has done untold good for the case of the unemployed.
Perhaps it might interest your Lordships to hear my own personal experience of employing these unfortunate people. In order to relieve the great pressure which existed in Southampton among the unemployed, I took some twenty men from the Church Army for the purpose of afforestation and other estate work. These men, by the way in which they have attended to their work and the willingness with which they have carried it out, have more than recompensed me for the little I was able to do for them. Their condition immediately improved. They came in a ragged and shoeless condition, and although they have only been working there since the beginning of January, they look quite as well as any of the ordinary employees on my estate, who, I think, enjoy always regular work and good wages. Moreover, these men have done everything in their power to rehabilitate themselves as citizens. The money which they have earned has been spent in clothing themselves properly, and they have also, I am glad to say, so far as the drink question is concerned, behaved in a most exemplary manner. I have had no trouble at all with them. They have lodged in the cottages, and the cottagers themselves speak very highly of them. The unemployed question is a very difficult one, and I am afraid we shall frequently have to face it during severe winters. Therefore, I trust that the appointment by the President of the Local Government Board of a Central Committee will prove to be a permanent piece of machinery, inestimable in its advantages to this class.
A Bill to amend the Workmen's Compensation Act will be presented. The Act has been in force for some years now and has proved of great value to the 11 working classes, but owing to certain litigation which has arisen, it is necessary that various Amendments should be made, and this is the reason why a Bill is to be presented again this session dealing with this subject. Proposals for improving the status of the Local Government Board and the Board of Trade and for establishing a Minister of Commerce and Industry will be laid before you, but I do not intend to trouble your Lordships with any remarks upon these proposals. There will also be a Bill to amend the law with respect to valuation authorities and the procedure for making valuations. At the present time, as your Lordships are aware, there are various bodies dealing with assessments in this country. There is the borough council, the county council, and the board of guardians. The idea is that this work should be under one authority, so as to secure equality of assessments of property. The renewal of the Agricultural Rates Act is merely the renewal of a measure with which your Lordships are thoroughly acquainted, and which needs no words of explanation from me.
The proposal for the amendment of the law with regard to cases stated for the Court of Crown Cases Reserved is the result of an unfortunate case which attracted considerable attention recently and which was one of the saddest we have ever read. As a result of that case a Bill will be presented which will enable a Court to reverse the decisions of a Judge if he has refused to state a case. I could not commence my speech this evening with the plea for indulgence which is usual on these occasions on the ground of addressing your Lordships for the first time, for I had forfeited my "maiden allowance" by advocating a policy which I know does not meet with the approval of noble Lords opposite, but I am sure the House will accept my most sincere thanks for the reception which they have given to me, and for the indulgence with which my remarks have been listened to. I beg to move.
LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE
My Lords, I must preface my remarks by craving to the fullest extent that kind indulgence which your Lordships 12 invariably extend, on these occasions to those to whom has been entrusted the honourable but somewhat onerous task of moving and seconding the Address in reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne. Your Lordships will have observed with satisfaction that the Chinese Government have sent a Commissioner to Calcutta to negotiate a Convention of Adhesion on their part to the Agreement with Tibet, which was concluded at Lhasa in September. My Lords, it was only owing to the action of the Tibetans in disregarding their obligations under the Convention of 1890 and the Trade Regulations of 1893, in treating the Government of India with studied insolence by repeated delays, and in refusing to send Ambassadors of sufficient importance to treat with the Commissioner who had been appointed to regulate the matter, that His Majesty's Government determined towards the end of 1903 to send a Mission to Gyangtze, which Mission, as your Lordships are well aware, was forced eventually to proceed to Lhasa.
This expedition naturally created much interest in the public mind. It was felt that this was not a mere frontier war in which we were engaging to punish some marauding tribe. It was something much more serious and much more wonderful than that. It was a journey into an unknown land, into Tibet the Mystic, the Mysterious, of which strange travellers' tales were told, but of which little or nothing was known with certainty. It was a visit to be paid to the Grand Lama in his palace fortress to convince his ignorant and superstitious followers that not even a Buddha re-incarnate could resist the power of Britain. My Lords, we followed with intense interest the steps of our soldiers as they crossed the snow-clad passes of the forbidden land. We saw them attacked and attacked again, and, ever victorious, pursuing their way till the goal was reached, and Lhasa, the Unknown, the Holy City, lay before them.
The description, my Lords, reads like a page from some fairy tale. The hill, rising abruptly from the plain whereon stands the mighty Palace of the Potolah, a gigantic pile with its innumerable windows, its countless terraces, rising 13 tier above tier; its golden cupolas, gleaming in the Eastern sun, while its yellow-robed monks flit peacefully to and fro murmuring their ceaseless prayer. For six short weeks our newspapers teemed with accounts of the strange city, hitherto unknown to Europeans, and then, my Lords, His Majesty's Government decided that the curtain which they had raised must be dropped again, and Lhasa sank back into the darkness in which she has been enveloped for centuries. But in the meantime, my Lords, the objects of the expedition had been gained, and the Tibetans have learnt that England will not allow solemn obligations to be lightly disregarded, and that she has the power, as well as the will, if she deems it necessary, to take steps to enforce them. And, my Lords, the world at large has learnt that while England insists that others should be bound by their obligations, she is equally ready herself to abide by the undertaking she has given. She has not taken advantage of her unique position at Lhasa to alter by one jot or one title the conditions that were laid down when His Majesty's Government sanctioned the expedition in November, 1903, when it was said—As soon as reparation is obtained, the Mission will be withdrawn.''And this was further emphasised by the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, a few days later, for the benefit of the Russian Ambassador in these words—I had therefore wished that His Excellency should be able to explain that the measures we were taking did not denote any intention on our part to occupy or annex territory.And apart from all this, my Lords, we must not forget the new page of glory which has been added to the annals of the Army in India by the bravery and endurance shown by the gallant troops under the command of General Macdonald.
I cannot pass from this subject without rendering homage to the consummate skill with which the arduous work of concluding the Agreement with the Tibetans was conducted by Sir Frank Young-husband. The safety of the Mission depended on its departure from Lhasa in time to regain India before its way was blocked by the winter snows, and in the 14 short time at his disposal he had, in the absence of the Grand Lama, who had fled, to deal with disorganised and superstitious officials, who would only treat with him on certain propitious days, and whose views as to the best manner to raise the money required to pay the indemnity demanded were not such as would recommend themselves to the highest financial authorities in this country. Yet, in spite of these difficulties, he managed to remain on the best possible terms with Government and people of Tibet alike, and to conclude an Agreement whose only faultappears to be that it is too favourable to England. But, my Lords, if we heave a sigh of regret that His Majesty's Government have decided that Lhasa is still outside the sphere of British influence, and that the Chumbi Valley is not to remain permanently in our possession, let us be proud of the fact that inspite of all temptations to the contrary, they determined to abide by the pledges they had given. And, my Lords, do not let us forget that if we abstain from interference in the internal affairs of Tibet, it is only on the condition that similar abstention is practised by other Powers, and that, should occasion arise, where Englishmen have been once, there they can go again.
Let me now, my Lords, turn to another subject. I think nothing shows more clearly the progress which has been made in the acceptation of the principle of arbitration than the Commission which is now sitting in Paris to inquire into the question of the terrible event which took place last autumn during the passage of the Russian Baltic Fleet through the North Sea, and to apportion the blame for the slaughter of British seamen and the destruction of British property. Rarely have the people of this country been so deeply moved as when the news of the disaster reached them; seldom have they shown more calm or self restraint; and I think, my Lords, that His Majesty's Government will be the first to acknowledge that this calm and this self-restraint were of the greatest assistance to them in the very delicate negotiations which were so successfully carried on by the noble Marquess, and which fortunately resulted in a peaceful solution being found. And, my Lords, I think we may congratulate ourselves 15 especially that this Commission is holding its sittings in Paris, under the presidency of a distinguished French Admiral. We all rejoice at everything which tends to improve and cement the good relations which now so happily exist between this country and the French Republic, and I am sure, my Lords, that we are all much gratified to learn from the gracious Speech that the Convention entered into between His Majesty's Government and that of the French Republic for the amicable settlement of questions involving the interests of both counties has been approved by the French Legislature and duly ratified.
My Lords, reference is made in the Speech from the Throne to the Commission which has been appointed, under the Presidency of Lord Elgin, to inquire whether legislation is necessary, and, if so, what that legislation should be, in the unhappy dispute which has arisen between two branches of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. I think noble Lords from beyond the Tweed will bear me out when I say that it is difficult for noble Lords not connected with Scotland to realise the consternation and surprise caused by the decision of your Lordships' House in that historic case. When some years ago the Free Church, by 643 votes against twenty-seven, decided to amalgamate with the United Presbyterian Church, I think most people considered that both bodies were heartily to be congratulated on a union which must effect economy and tend to efficiency, and which they believed must further the advancement of religion by diminishing the number of those unhappy divisions which unfortunately divide Christians in this country; they quite overlooked, however, a small but resolute body of men, represented by the minority of twenty-seven, who strenuously affirmed that the Free Church had no power to unite with a body holding the doctrines of the United Presbyterian Church. I fear, my Lords, that the majority attempted to ride rough-shod over these men, and that no compromise was suggested which would have allowed them to retain a reasonable portion of the funds of the Church. The consequence was that legal proceedings were instituted which, by a decision of your Lordships' 16 House in a test case, proved that the minority was in the right, and that the whole funds of the Church belonged to them. We cannot but feel some sympathy and some admiration for these men who contended for what they held to be the faith delivered to their fathers, and who, with little money, fought an uphill battle from Court to Court, till at last it was crowned with success in your Lordships House. But the position so created was intolerable. On the one hand, a whole Church driven penniless into the wilderness; on the other twenty-four ministers with scanty flocks, principally in the Highlands, in possession of over £1,000,000 in money, besides property valued at several millions more, scattered throughout the length and breadth of Scotland, from John o' Groats to Solway Firth. They have manses without ministers, churches without congregations, academical chairs without professors, colleges without students, missions without directors.
It is evident that some way out of the impasse must be found, and this the Commission is trying to do, if in the meantime the "Wee Kirk," as it is lovingly called by its adherents, does not cut the Gordian knot by removing the money in dispute beyond the jurisdiction of the Courts. But, my Lords, let us hope that the good sense and good feeling for which Scotsmen are noted will aid the Commission in finding a solution of the difficulty which will be honourable and satisfactory to both parties; and, as I have Scotch blood in my veins, may I express the hope that out of evil good may come, and that in the end we may not only see reconciliation between the two conflicting parties, but that some effort may be made for the reunion of both with the Church of Scotland, from which they have both sprung, with which both hold so much in common, and to which they both owe the establishment of the Presbyterian form of Government in Scotland, for which their forefathers, the Covenanters, were ready to sacrifice both their goods and their lives.
Whilst I am on the subject of Scotland, I should like to refer very briefly to the Bill which is to be re-introduced dealing with education in that country. Your Lordships are aware that satisfactory progress was made with it 17 last year in another place, but time did not allow of its completion. It is really a complement to the Education Statute of 1902 for England and Wales, but fortunately in this Bill the odium theologicum, which played such a part in the discussion of that measure, will not be aroused, as Scotsmen, though they are keen theologians, are fortunately agreed as to the religious pabulum which it is desirable to give to their children. There is, therefore, every reason to hope that this measure, which will be of immense service to the cause of education in Scotland, may be passed into law this session.
Amongst the domestic legislation foreshadowed in the gracious Speech, I am glad to see that the place of honour is occupied by a Bill which is euphemistically termed "a proposal for diminishing the anomalies prevailing in the present arrangement of electoral areas, largely due to the growth and movement of population of late years." There is no Party in the country, my Lords, which ought not to rejoice at the announcement that this Bill is to be introduced, and, I trust, pressed forward till it is passed into law. It must appeal to noble Lords on this side of the House, because nearly every Unionist Member stands pledged to a measure which will, to a certain extent at least, remove the glaring anomalies which exist in our system of representation. I doubt not that it will appeal to noble Lords opposite, for it is an attempt to reduce into practice a catchword which is heard on every Liberal platform, "One vote, one value." I think it will appeal to them still more forcibly because they know that a Redistribution Bill is invariably postponed till a Parliament is well advanced in old age, and that if they assist the Government to the best of their ability to pass it into law, they may be hastening the day of that dissolution from which they expect so much. And, my Lords, if I may say a word for my native land, it appeals above all to every Irish Unionist. It would be in the highest degree unseemly were I, in the position I occupy to-night, to criticise the action of His Majesty's Government in that country; but this I may say, that the announcement of the 18 introduction of this measure will be glad tidings to every loyal man in the sister isle, and we shall feel that when Ireland's representation is reduced to what is her proper number on the basis of population, there will be less temptation for either Party to court the Nationalist vote, or to play the fatal game of killing Home Rule with kindness.
My Lords, there is no subject to which more attention has been directed during the last twelve months, on which more speeches have been made, on which more pamphlets have been written, than that of the condition of the commerce and industries of this kingdom. I do not wish this evening even to approach the question of the respective merits and demerits of free imports and Protection, but there is an announcement in the gracious Speech which must gratify all who are interested in this great question, whatever may be their political views. It is the proposal to create a Minister of Commerce and Industry. For some time it has been considered desirable that the status of the Local Government Board and the Board of Trade should be improved with a view to convert these offices into offices of the first class, which at present they are not. Last year a Departmental Committee inquired into and reported on the subject, and as legislation is required to carry out its recommendations, it is proposed to introduce a Bill dealing with the subject. I do not think I am wrong in saying that this will probably secure the approval of your Lordships on both sides of the House.
My Lords, I must not detain you longer. The duty of the proposer and seconder of the Address is, if I may paraphrase the words of Doctor Pangloss, to declare that the best of all possible measures are being introduced by the best of all possible Governments. But on the present occasion I think these measures speak for themselves, and that they will commend themselves, not only to your Lordships' House, but to the sober, good sense of the people of this country. It only remains for me, my Lords, to thank you very heartily for the patience with which you have listened to me, and formally to second the Address.
§ EARL SPENCER
My Lords, in commencing the somewhat difficult task that has always fallen to the person who stands in my position in this House, I will on this occasion follow precedent by referring to the speeches of the mover and seconder of the Address. The mover, if I may venture so to call him, is an old friend whom I have known in a very different sphere. If he has in this House the same valour, the same energy, the same independence which brought him always to the front where I knew him, your Lordships will find him a very interesting and useful fellow-member. The seconder of the Address not only used effectively his privilege as a representative of Ireland, but as one having some Scottish blood he has entered into one of the most difficult and intricate questions which have engaged the attention of the country for many years. I admired the noble Lord's courage; I admired the language and the grace of his speech, and I feel that he followed the traditions of many Irishmen in the way in which he put forward his views.
Coming to the King's Speech, I rejoice, like the noble Lord, in the customary first paragraph in which there has happily been only the trifling variation of one or two words for many years past. Nothing is more calculated to make us rejoice than the feeling that this country is in friendly relations with other nations. We all rejoice that the well-known hospitality of Their Majesties enabled a visit to be made to this country by the King and Queen of Portugal, a visit which will cement still further the ties between us and our ancient ally. The next paragraph of the gracious Speech refers to a subject of intensely painful interest. We have all watched for many months past the progress of the terrible war in the East, the losses at sea and the still greater losses occurring in collisions between mighty forces on land. I hardly know whether in the history of the world such enormous forces have ever been brought together. We lament that terrible war; we admire the courage, patriotism, and energy of those who have fought on both sides; but I am sure there is no more earnest desire among the people of this country at this moment than to see some prospect 20 of an end to this terrible combat. I am quite aware of the difficulty and delicacy of any intervention in such a matter; but I trust His Majesty's Government will not lose any fair and proper opportunity which may occur with other Powers of trying to bring this conflict to a peaceful termination.
Whenever a great war like this occurs each belligerent is apt to take his own view as to belligerent rights and neutral rights. This war was no exception, to that I rule. Russia and Japan alike claimed certain rights; and it became necessary for the Government to see that our rights as neutrals, which are of enormous importance to us, having regard to our extensive commerce and the way in which it might be affected in any future war in which we might ourselves be engaged, were respected. I believe His Majesty's Government, under the guidance of the noble Marquess opposite, dealt with these subjects with firmness and at the same time with great prudence and patience. I venture to think he was able to secure for us the recognition of the rights claimed and to conduct extremely difficult negotiations without any rupture with other Powers.
I have read the paragraph referring to Macedonia in the gracious Speech with some disappointment. It contains a confession that very little has been done; and it seems to me almost a scandal that after so many years the Turkish Government has still been blind to its own interests and has not consented to bring into force changes and reforms so absolutely necessary in order to remove the grievances existing among the populations under their control and to restore and establish peace and order amongthem. The noble Marquess said last February that if the schemes then before us should fail to produce the desired results, His Majesty's Government reserved to them selves entire liberty to take into consideration and propose alternative and more far-reaching measures. I hope the noble Marquess will confirm this assurance now, and, in concert with other Powers, will bring pressure to bear on the Turkish Government and try to bring about some prompt and thorough reform in the government of Macedonia.
It is satisfactory to learn, and I read with great pleasure, that the French 21 Government have ratified the Convention between France and England. I heartily rejoice in that; and I sincerely trust that the difficulties which have existed for so many years between us, and which might at any moment have given rise to serious disagreement between us, will now be satisfactorily arranged, and that we shall enjoy that friendship which ought to exist between two great countries geographically placed so near each other, having so many interests in common, and having so many liberal and other views in which they are agreed. I notice with satisfaction that terms of arbitration have been settled with four other European Powers. I regret that, according to the public Press, there appear to been have difficulties in regard to the Convention with the United States. I hope there may have been exaggeration in what we have seen, and that possibly even now some arrangement may be come to whereby we may get the advantage of a Convention with that country.
I would refer in a very few words to what is called the North Sea incident. I do not think it would be desirable or proper to go into this matter in detail, because the whole question is now sub judice; but I may be allowed to say that I believe the Government have used their powers with the same prudence and patience in this matter as they did with regard to the difficulties connected with contraband; and that they have found a peaceable, solution which may bring out all the facts and probably bring to a successful issue the whole matter.
Next I would refer to the passage in the Speech from the Throne relating to the Transvaal. I wish the Speech had given us more information, not only as to the proposals to which it refers as to the establishment of a representative constitution in the Transvaal, but also as to other matters of great importance in connection with South Africa. I think I am rightly representing the views of those with whom I generally act when I say that we attach enormous importance to getting, as soon as it can safely be done, that country under complete self-government. We do not know under the terms of the Speech what the Government proposals are, but we shall criticise them with care. The only curious thing I 22 notice in the Speech with regard to this matter is that it refers to giving self-government to the Transvaal only. No mention whatever is made of the Orange Free State. That may be an involuntary omission; but the difficulties with regard to self-government, as far as I know, are far less in the Orange Free State than they are in the Transvaal. We are also most anxious to know how the Government in S. Africa are getting oil in their work of putting back the people on to the farms. We further want to know the financial position in the Transvaal, and what is being done with regard to the large loans which were made during the time of the late Colonial Secretary. There is a certain £10,000,000 which was to be guaranteed or paid by the rich mine-owners of Johannesburg. We want to know what has been done about that, and when that sum is to be paid. These and other subjects, such as the number of troops that have been withdrawn from South Africa and the number of troops that remain there, are questions of great and material importance, which it will be necessary for Parliament to hear about before very long. On the question of Chinese labour, too, we shall certainly press for information as to how it has been carried out, and what has been the result of its introduction in the mines.
Now I come to the question of Tibet. I, of course, rejoice that the difficulties of our forces there have been overcome, and I join in admiration of the valour and perseverance of the soldiers who took part in the Mission. I also feel that the negotiations were carried out under enormous difficulties. Sir Frank Young-husband exceeded his instructions in many respects, but he did very fine work, and deserves our sincere thanks. In the despatches which have been submitted the Home Government blamed very seriously Sir Frank Younghusband in some particulars and praised him in others. Sir Frank Younghusband was placed in very great difficulties. He was directly instructed by the Government of India. We all know that that Government wanted to do a great deal more than the Secretary of State here did. I at once say that I believe it is of the utmost importance that any decision made by the Government and declared to be the policy 23 of the Government should be adhered to. Sir Ernest Satow, our Minister at Peking, and our Ambassador at St. Petersburg, gave most specific assurances to the Chinese and Russian Governments as to what His Majesty's Government intended to do with regard to Tibet. His Majesty's Government most distinctly repudiated any notion of having an agent at Lhasa or of occupying permanently any of the territory of Tibet. But under the actual terms that were signed at Lhasa we practically were to occupy an important part of the country for seventy-five years. That was at once contrary both to the spirit and the letter of what the noble Marquess opposite stated; and for the sake of the public honour of this country it is absolutely indispensable that it should be laid down that the Home Government could not agree.
I still think that Sir Frank Young-husband may have been somewhat hardly treated, considering the enormous difficulties with which he had to contend, and the manner in which he overcame them. Knowing as he did the views of the Government of India, which directly gave him his instructions, I think that if anybody is to blame, it is rather the Government of India, who differed from the Home Government, than Sir Frank Younghusband. On this subject I have one more question I should like to ask. In His Majesty's Speech it is said that the Chinese Government have sent a Commissioner to Calcutta to negotiate a Convention of Adhesion on their part to the Treaty with Tibet. We should very much like to know what has happened about that. It is not stated that the Commissioner has arrived. There is another matter of considerable importance—namely, the question of Afghanistan. We do not know what the negotiations which are going on are, but we know that they may be of very great importance; and I hope that at the earliest possible date we shall have full Papers with regard to them.
Turning to the Scottish ecclesiastical question, it would be very improper for me to impugn the judgment of the highest Court of Appeal, but I do recognise that that judgment has had the most profound effect in Scotland, and stirred feeling to an enormous degree. It is absolutely necessary 24 in someway to deal with the question, probably by an Act of Parliament; and t am glad that the Government have taken that view, and have appointed a Commission of Inquiry. I am afraid I must refer to other matters which are of considerable public importance. It is stated in His Majesty's Speech to another place that the Estimates "have been framed with the utmost economy which the circumstances of the present time admit." All I can say is that, whatever the circumstances have been, economy has not been the result. Moreover, we all know what "circumstances" mean, they mean the policy of the country, it is that which really influences and finally directs the financial requirements of the country. Of late years we have seen time after time a policy pursued which has led to gigantic expenditure, which has stopped many improvements, and has affected the country very greatly. It is curious that no allusion whatever is made in the Speech to the two branches of administration which have involved the greatest expense—the Navy and the Army.
With regard to the Navy we have had Papers showing us that very great changes have taken place, and the rumours go to show that it was hoped these changes will tend not only to greater efficiency, but also to greater economy. I sincerely trust that will be the case. The principles involved must be of supreme importance, and I am sure the noble Earl at the head of the Admiralty will fully answer questions hereafter.
The question of the Army is of even greater importance. Last year great changes in the Army were foreshadowed. Unfortunately, during the last few years we have had many changes in the Army, and schemes have been rushed into one after the other, several of which have been torn to ribbons. We know there has been enormous expenditure; and a great deal of this has been almost entirely thrown away owing to the change of principle on which the expenditures have been made. Some of the changes proposed last year were carried out, I believe, in the autumn. I refer to the proposal with regard to the term of enlistment, but we 25 do not know yet how that worked out, although it is important. We ought to know whether that change has been effectual. But there are other changes of still greater moment which have stirred feeling in the country to the utmost—I mean radical changes with regard to the Auxiliary Forces, the Militia and Volunteers, as to which we do not know what is the position of the Government. It seems somewhat strange that these subjects should have found no place in the Speech, and certainly when the proper time comes we shall have to raise these questions.
As to the measures of legislation proposed, if an attempt is to be made to carry them, we must complain that the Government has not called Parliament together at an earlier time, for I believe the programme put forward would fill up even a longer time than has been occupied during the longest session we have had in modern days. With regard to alien immigration, I believe the evils have been grossly exaggerated. I believe it is a fact that, with the exception of Spain, the percentage of foreign aliens entering this country to population is lower than in any other country. There may be some slight competition between some of the aliens and some of our population in the Metropolis, but I believe it is a very trifling thing indeed. The Opposition were accused last year of having thrown out the Bill, but I maintain it was not the Opposition, but the Government. In the first place, the Government took the most unusual course of sending this controversial measure to a Grand Committee; and, secondly, when a compromise was proposed—namely, that the clause with regard to criminal and diseased aliens should be maintained—the Government rejected it. If the new measure is only framed to deal with the criminal and diseased aliens, or perhaps for strengthening the measures against sweating and overcrowding, there will be practically no difficulty. But if it is proposed to abolish what we consider one of the most sacred principles in this country, the right of asylum for political aliens flying from persecution abroad, then the Party to which I belong will, I am sure, give the 26 most determined opposition to the proposal.
I am glad that the Government propose to deal with the very difficult subject of the unemployed. The increase in the number of unemployed in large towns and counties throughout the country is increasing, and unless this is dealt with by special means we may be face to face with a very grave question. I need hardly say that we in this House will give very careful attention, and, if necessary, assistance to the Government, in regard to any sound measure on this subject.
I notice one very curious measure. What is the meaning of the proposal to establish a Minister of Commerce and Industry? The Board of Trade, one of the most efficient and able of the Departments, deals with these two questions. Is the Board of Trade to be entirely suppressed or converted into a new Department? Will the new Minister take some of the work of the Local Government Board as well as that of the Board of Trade? The present Government are very fond of large Cabinets, although great authorities, I have always heard, rather denounce them; and the creation of a new office of great importance means that there will be a new Minister of Cabinet rank. On the subject of agricultural rating the views we hold are very well known; we feel that it ought to be dealt with in a broad and comprehensive spirit. I have always hoped that the subject might be dealt with somewhat on the lines laid down by the Commission presided over by Lord Balfour of Burleigh.
I now come to a very large subject—the proposals which the Government intend to make "for diminishing the anomalies in the present arrangement of electoral areas, which are largely due to the growth and movement of population in recent years." That, in Governmental language, is simply, as I understand it, what is popularly called a Redistribution Bill. No one will find the Party to which I belong in opposition to a just and comprehensive measure for this purpose. I quite agree that the great movement of population and other changes require legislation from time to time. But there are other matters—such 27 as the question of the plurality of votes, better registration, and certain other subjects connected with the question—which in our opinion ought to be dealt with in any great measure of what amounts to Parliamentary Reform. What is it the Government propose to do? Do they propose to follow the precedent of 1885, when, before the redistribution measure was acted upon, Commissions were appointed to carry out the details in each constituency of the principles laid down in the general measure? That is absolutely essential. As far as I am concerned I shall oppose, with all the power I possess, the introduction at this moment of a Redistribution Bill. And why? Because, if it were carried, it would postpone till next year that appeal to the country which I think is at this moment indispensable. The agitation which has now been carried on for nearly two years by a very distinguished and eminent statesman, the late Colonial Secretary, has disturbed all the relations of those engaged in trade and commerce. If the measures which he proposes with regard to fiscal reform were passed and a new tariff were established, every trade would be effected and in the present position no one in trade knows what his position would be two or three years hence, or when these measures are passed.
I therefore say, with regard to the proposals of Mr. Chamberlain, it is indispensable that this doubt and uncertainty should be set at rest, and the only way in which that can be done is by an appeal to the country. The Prime Minister claims to be a free-trader and says he is not a protectionist, but I cannot help thinking that his views and sentiments are very nearly allied to those of Mr. Chamberlain, and that, with a very little time—and we have been told that time should be given for opinion to ripen on this subject—we might find the Prime Minister proposing measures which we should oppose as being inconsistent with free trade. For these reasons, then, I should strongly, and with the utmost determination, oppose the introduction of a measure which must prolong the life of the present Parliament and postpone the appeal to the country on this momentous question.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of LANSDOWNE)
My Lords, my noble friends who moved and seconded the Address have received from the noble Earl opposite well-deserved congratulations with which we, on this side of the House, desire to associate ourselves. The noble mover, although he has been but a short time a Member of this House, has already addressed us on more than one occasion, and has got the ear of the House. The noble Lord who seconded belongs to that little phalanx of Irish Peers who contribute so much to the interest and animation of our debates, and to whom we always listen with pleasure even when we do not agree with them, and who have lately contributed to the Treasury Bench a recruit to whom no exception can possibly be taken. May I venture to repeat the often-expressed hope that neither of my noble friends, after their successful appearance this evening, will be content to resume that attitude of silence and self-effacement into which so many successful movers and seconders of the Address have, within my own recollection, relapsed?
We regard with deep feelings of compassion and concern the continuance of the war in the Far East. The noble Earl expressed the hope that His Majesty's Government would lose no opportunity of taking steps to bring that war to a close. I need not assure your Lordships that should that opportunity present itself we should avail ourselves of it with alacrity. On the other hand, I do not think your Lordships will differ from me when I say that ill-considered intervention is likely to be fraught with the worst possible results. It is not only that those who intervene run the risk of a rebuff—that is a comparatively small matter—but that such untimely interference may have the effect of retarding the very consummation which you desire to accelerate. Meanwhile it has been our duty, and we have endeavoured to observe it faithfully—to maintain for this country an attitude of the strictest and most impartial neutrality. I hope the Papers which we have lately laid on the Table of the House will convince 29 your Lordships that we have not been unsuccessful in that respect.
Let me say, with regard to the most difficult and embarrassing question of contraband of war, that we have endeavoured to uphold what I believe to be the wise and time-honoured policy of this country and to obtain the narrowest possible restrictions of the definition of those articles which are liable to seizure as contraband. That I believe to be the wisest, I might almost say the only policy which a great peace-loving and commercial country like this can pursue; and I believe it to be a policy consonant with considerations of common sense and of humanity. It is, I think, satisfactory that during the progress of a protracted and anxious controversy, the record of which your Lordships will find in these Papers, we have so far been able to find a reasonable modus vivendi with those concerned that since the month of July last not a single British vessel has been interfered with except where it has been clearly engaged in the practice of blockade-running. Once, and once only, we found ourselves apparently near to being drawn into the vortex of war. That occasion, I need not say, arose in connection with what we now speak of as the North Sea incident, and I refer to the matter merely because I desire to acknowledge the considerate and kindly character of the remarks that fell from the noble Earl, the Leader of the Opposition, in reference to the conduct of His Majesty's Government in connection with that incident. The question is still before the International Commission at Paris, and it would be clearly improper for me to make any further reference to it this evening.
The noble Lord spoke at some length on the question of Macedonia and expressed the disappointment with which he had read the paragraph in the gracious Speech from the Throne describing the condition of things in that part of South-Eastern Europe. My Lords, I share the disappointment which the noble Earl has expressed. I deplore as much as he do s the condition of things that prevails in many parts of Macedonia, and I am as deeply convinced as he can be that that condition of things will not be improved unless we can secure the 30 application of reforms of a much more thorough-going character than any which have yet been attempted. I can give the noble Earl one or two grains of comfort. I do not think it is fair to say that nothing has been accomplished since we last met in this Chamber. There has been, in the first place, no serious uprising of the kind which many people anticipated. There have been deplorable incidents of regrettable frequency, but there has been no general outbreak. Then I think it is fair to say that some progress has been made with the work of the repatriation of the refugees; and, last but not least, the gendarmerie scheme has been successfully launched. It is satisfactory to know that within the last few weeks the Turkish Government has given its consent to the appointment of a considerable number of additional European gendarmerie officers; and I wish to confirm what was said by my noble friend behind me as to the credit due to Colonel Fairholme and the British officers serving with him for the mark which they have made upon the particular district placed under their charge. But, after all, the reorganisation of the gendarmerie is a measure which is ancillary to other reforms rather than itself a reform of an administrative character; and I do not in the least object to being reminded, as I was by the noble Earl, of the statement which I made in this House last year to the effect that if the scheme put forward by the two Powers proved to disappoint the expectations of its framers, His Majesty's Government would be prepared to recommend the adoption of more radical and far-reaching measures. We have not forgotten that reservation, and I may be permitted to say that we have not allowed others to forget it. But I think the position is one in which it is fair to urge, that a certain amount of patience may be asked for.
What the Powers are dealing with in Macedonia is not a mere temporary outbreak or effervescence; it is an inveterate trouble. It is not merely, as we are sometimes told, a case of Turkish misgovernment which can be put an end to by a stroke of the pen. You have in Macedonia a state of things for which I think it would be probably vain to 31 search the rest of the civilised world. You have a condition of things in which men of the same race are ready to out one another's throats on account of religious differences, and men of the same religion are ready to cut one another's throats on account of racial differences. That is not a state of things which, with any amount of goodwill and energy, you can put an end to in a few months. It is, I think, satisfactory to know that at this moment there exists among the Powers an absolute consensus in favour of the introduction of wider and stronger reforms, and particularly of reforms of a financial character, because until the financial system of Macedonia is set in order, it is idle to expect that you will have decent administration or an untainted course of justice, or any of the advantages which one looks for in a well-administered community.
At this moment Russia and Austria, upon whom the other Powers conferred last year a kind of mandate to deal with the Macedonian problem, have put forward a new scheme of reform going very far beyond anything that they have yet propounded. That scheme is under discussion; it is a complicated one, and I am not in a position to pass a judgment upon it this evening. But I will say two things of it—in the first place, that it marks a considerable step in advance, and, in the second place, that we shall not hesitate to exercise our right of criticism and suggestion upon it, and that we have good reason for knowing that such criticisms and suggestions as we may put forward will not be taken amiss.
I will not pause to speak at length of the ratification of the Anglo-French Agreement, of which, again, the noble Earl spoke in commendatory terms. I agree with him that the ratification of that Convention is of the utmost importance; and I venture to say that the existence of that agreement at a moment like the present, when great tension exists in many parts of the world, has been of no little value in securing peace and good understanding among the Powers.
The noble Earl asked me several questions with regard to the paragraph in the Speech which deals with affairs in the 32 Transvaal. We have always made plain our intention of travelling by gradual stages in the case of these South African Colonies along the road leading to eventual self-government; and we are ready at the present time to take in the case of the Transvaal a very important step in that direction—I mean the step, not of giving it self-government in a complete form, but of giving it representative institutions. The noble Earl wished me to enlighten him as to the financial situation in South Africa, as to the number of troops that we intend to retain in the country, and as to the progress which is being made in the work of restoring the agriculturists to their homes. I am afraid I must leave these matters until some other occasion, when they will no doubt be dealt with by my colleagues who represent the departments concerned with these subjects.
THE MAEQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
The noble Earl commented on the omission of the Orange River Colony. I understand that, as these proposals are of a tentative character, they are to be introduced in the first instance in the case of the Transvaal, and not in the case of the other colony. On the question of Chinese labour, I will only say that such information as I possess leads me to believe that many, at all events, of the sinister prophecies which were made when this question was discussed last year have not been fulfilled, and are not likely to be fulfilled. Amongst other things, we know that the importation of a large number of Chinese labourers, instead of leading to any diminution in the number of white labourers employed, has actually led to an increase of the number of white labourers.
Then the noble Earl passed to the question of Tibet, and touched upon our policy in that country. My Lords, our policy towards Tibet has been absolutely consistent from the time that the question of sending a Mission into Tibet was first discussed. If your Lordships will carry in your minds the telegram which was sent to the Government of 33 India on 6th November, 1903—the telegram in which we announced that the Mission was to enter Tibet for the purpose of obtaining reparation, and that we had no intention of annexing the country or remaining there permanently—you will find that to that policy, thus clearly put before this country, and, indeed, before the whole world, we have scrupulously and strictly adhered.
The noble Earl referred to the instructions given to the Government of India and by them to Colonel Younghusband. Those instructions were founded upon the policy which I have just described. If your Lordships will look at the Blue-book which has lately been laid upon the Table, and if you will refer to the telegrams of July 6th and 27th, you will find that in the clearest possible language it was explained to the Government of India, and no doubt by them explained to Colonel Younghusband, that it was our desire that the terms which he was to demand from the Tibetans should be of a character which would enable the Mission to retire from the Chumbi Valley in three years. This was communicated by the Government of India to Colonel Younghusband; and it was because Colonel Younghusband, acting no doubt as he believed for the best, disregarded those instructions and made an arrangement which would have compelled us to remain in the Chumbi Valley, not for three years, but for seventy-five years, that we found it absolutely necessary, much as we regretted in any way to discourage so valuable and brilliant an officer, to point out to him that he had transgressed his instructions and that his action must be repudiated by His Majesty's Government.
There can be no mistake about the facts, because Colonel Younghusband himself, with a frankness which does him great credit, in his published defence admits that his action was not covered by his instructions, and the Government of India, defending, as I think they had a right to defend, Colonel Younghusband, and making the best case they possibly could for him, were constrained to admit that he had fallen into an error of judgment—and not only an error of judgment, but a serious one, for they said "it involved the occupation of the Chumbi 34 Valley for a period of seventy-five years in contravention of the undertaking of His Majesty's Government." There can be no doubt about it. Whatever differences there might have been in the first instance between His Majesty's Government and the Government of India, the Government of India at that time understood fully what our policy was, and faithfully, as we have every reason to believe, carried out the instructions which they had received from us. Before I leave this subject, let me say that I for one regard Colonel Younghusband's achievement as one of the most brilliant of the many brilliant achievements which have illustrated the history of the Indian frontier, and that, while I am obliged to admit that at this one point he placed himself in the wrong, I believe that the memory of the great feat of arms and diplomacy which he and those with him accomplished will live long after the censure we have been obliged to pass upon him has been forgotten.
The noble Earl desires information as to the progress of negotiations with Afghanistan, but I am afraid that it is not a request I can comply with at present. The negotiations are still in progress; they are extremely difficult and intricate in character, and it would be most undesirable at the present moment to lay on the Table Papers on the subject.
The noble Earl made some complaint because the Speech from the Throne did not contain more detailed reference to military and naval subjects. I do not know whether I can trust my recollection, but I am under the impression that it is not usual in the Speech to enter into detailed discussion of matters of this kind. I do not mean to say by that that they do not present a very natural and legitimate field for discussion, and no doubt they will be discussed in this House.
The noble Earl did not perhaps sufficiently realise how much has indeed been accomplished by my right hon. colleague the Secretary for War in the short time he has held that most difficult office. He has completely reorganised the War Office itself. I am in the recollection of the House, but I think it has always been assumed that reform of the War Office was a matter to be attacked first before the 35 wider problem of Army organisation could be profitably approached. Not a moment has been lost. The Committee presided over by Lord Esher reported in January last year, and within three months my right hon. friend had organised and brought his Army Council together, and set it to work on the duties devolving upon it. The noble Earl asked me a question as to the manner in which the recent change in the terms of enlistment has operated. I understand it is a temporary change, but I believe it has operated with great success, and that the number of men coming in under the nine years engagement continues to be in every way satisfactory.
The noble Earl reviewed some of the measures which are enumerated in the gracious Speech, and told us he believed that the case for the Aliens Bill had been grossly exaggerated. Now, my Lords, there may have been exaggeration in regard to statistics of immigration, but I am sure there has been no exaggeration in regard to the depth of feeling with which this question is regarded throughout the whole of the country. The subject has not been sprung on Parliament; it has been dealt with by Committees, by Royal Commissions, and learned Judges, and police magistrates have given valuable evidence as to the extent of the evil. The subject has been debated in the other House, and last year a Bill was carried by an enormous majority. It seems to us therefore that if there is any subject indicated as one with which we ought to deal thoroughly, it is this question of alien immigration. I hope we may be able to deal with it without interfering in any way with the free movement of those who desire for legitimate objects to resort to this country; and we certainly approach the subject with no desire whatever to exclude the legitimate competition of imported labour.
As to the question of the unemployed, I was glad to observe that the noble Earl welcomed the announcement that we propose to deal with the subject. It is impossible to withhold our sympathy from the many deserving persons who, through no fault of their own, have been suffering from the absence of employment. The 36 President of the Local Government Board has obtained very encouraging results from his action, results that justify us in dealing with the subject by means of legislation. At the same time we realise thoroughly the difficulties by which such a measure is attended; we realise the danger of finding ourselves compelled to create work where work is not wanted; and the danger of creating a class which will remain in a chronic state of expectation of such work; but we nevertheless hope it will be possible to devise permanent machinery for the purpose of bringing the men and the work together, and of doing it in a manner that will supersede the somewhat clumsy, inelastic arrangements which obtain under the operation of the present Poor Law.
The noble Earl ended his speech with some strong observations in reference to the question of redistribution. He admitted the anomalies with which we desire to deal, but he entered, as I understood, a very strong protest against any attempt to pass a Redistribution Bill during the present session of Parliament. I am under the impression that it is physically impossible to do anything of the kind. We shall no doubt act on the lines usually followed in similar circumstances, and which are, unless I misunderstand the case, the only lines upon which action is possible. Such a procedure, of course, presupposes the possibility of His Majesty"s Government passing a Redistribution Bill next year. That is an eventuality which the noble Earl regards with feelings of dismay. I am afraid we cannot allow the noble Earl to give us summary notice to quit. Is the noble Earl quite sure that, supposing we were to obey his command and to vacate these Benches immediately, he and his friends are ready to undertake the responsibilities of Government? We have had some enlightenment on this subject within the last few days. A rather remarkable document appeared in The Times three or four days ago, and for a few hours was known as the noble Earl's manifesto. We received it—I certainly did—with feelings of the utmost thankfulness and gratitude; for I regarded it as signifying two things, that the noble Earl had by those around him been placed in a position which I think we should all 37 like to see him occupy, that of head of a Party which has apparently of late been headless; and, in the next place, I rejoiced at the noble Earl's pronouncement because it seemed to afford us what we had so long desiderated, something like an authoritative exposition of the political doctrines held by that Government which we are so confidently told will before long take our place.
But our satisfaction was short-lived. Before the evening had come the noble Earl's pronouncement turned out to be not a Party manifesto, but a mere expression of his own opinions.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
We were reminded of those beautiful lilies which flower expansively in the early part of the day and fade at sundown. But I assure the noble Earl that I treat the pronouncement, though it comes from himself alone and does not commit others with whom he associates, with the utmost respect. I am bound, however, to say in frankness I look to it in vain for that precision of statement he desires from us, and that enlightenment as to the future conduct of the Liberal Party which we should be so glad to obtain from noble Lords opposite. When the noble Earl repudiates with abhorrence the idea that we shall possibly be found sitting on these Benches next year, I cannot help retorting to him that unless his trumpet sounds a somewhat clearer note the walls of Jericho may still stand for a considerable time, and that we may, after all, be able to proceed with those preliminary operations which, I believe, are usual in reference to a measure of redistribution, and even be able to give effect to them in another session of Parliament.
§ VISCOUNT GOSCHEN
My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships for more than two minutes, and the few remarks I shall make will be more in the nature of a notice than of comment. It is interesting to note that the gracious Speech from the Throne contains not the slightest allusion—perhaps it could not—to 38 the greatest of all the topics occupying the attention of the country. The noble Lord who seconded the Address ingeniously found some slight connection between the fiscal controversy and the appointment of a Minister of Commerce. With reference to this appointment let me say this, that I hope there will be no swopping of horses till the stream is crossed. The Board of Trade have been issuing admirable memoranda. They have facilitated the inquest of the nation to the best of their ability, and I trust that that great department will not be disorganised and no change will take place until after they have finished the work on which they are engaged. Although this question cannot be discussed on the present occasion, silence must not be misconstrued. It will certainly be the duty of some of us who take an interest in this question to embrace an early opportunity of complying with the request that has been made by the Government to continue the inquest of the nation in regard to it. The inquest of the nation should take place in this House and in the House of Commons, as well as on the platforms of the country. I say with all friendliness that there are certain points which we propose to bring before the Government in a friendly spirit, provided His Majesty's Government will continue to consider that free-trade Unionists are friendly and not brand them as disloyal. I hope that in this controversy, which we are bound to continue, the Government will treat Unionist free-traders with the same consideration as is extended to those who are called tariff reformers.
On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.