HL Deb 08 May 1918 vol 29 cc1009-51

The EARL of DENBIGH rose to call attention to pacifist activities in the country, and the general ignorance regarding German war aims and the causes of the war; and to move a Resolution.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, for several months I have been addressing large meetings in the country, and giving, with the aid of maps, a general and elementary account of the events leading up to the war and the general military situation, more especially that connected with the Near East. I may say that I began quite accidentally through being invited to address a large meeting of working men in my own part of the country. I had some large maps made specially for the purpose, and in case it should interest your Lordships I may mention that one of the maps is in the Library at the present moment so that any noble Lord may see it if he desires to do so. I find that the audiences are very much impressed on having the situation pointed out to them on the map. I was encouraged to go on by what occurred. Many working man came to me and said that the whole situation was an absolute revelation to them, and that they had never understood it before. These words have been repeated to me many times. The other day at Salford a large number of working men were waiting for me in the street in order to shake hands, and they told me that they Lad never understood the situation in the Eastern part of the world before. I am quite certain that the general holy of the British public—what you might call the "man in the street"—does not understand the situation as it ought to he understood.

I have addressed a large number of members of the House of Commons and also the Chambers of Commerce of London, Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow, and large public audiences in those places as well as at Leeds, Sheffield, Salford, Northampton, Hull, and all over the country, including about 2,000 Canadian officers and about 1,000 Americans at Winchester, and, in addition, many military audiences. In all I think I have addressed meetings in about ninety-two towns since I began in November. The general lines that I go upon are very elementary. I remind the audiences of how Germany has been made by war, and has always found war to be a very paying business, and especially that modern Germany has been made by three short wars—those in 1864, 1866, and 1870. The whole outlook and mentality of Germany has been gradually changed since 1870 owing to the infection of the country by the imperious, domineering, arrogant, and intolerant Prussian spirit which culminates in the doctrine that Might is Right. The result, I have pointed out, is that we have come steadily to the conclusion that with the Germans a Treaty is really only an instrument for the purpose of keeping things quiet until it is convenient and possible for Germany to break out.

I have also traced the growth of Germany's ambition to rule the whole world, and I have shown how gradually they have come to the opinion that the only obstacle to their domination of the whole world was the British Empire and that that Empire could be most successfully threatened and dismembered by attacks in the East. If only Germany could once be installed in a strong position in Asia Minor—I point out this on a rough map—she believes that she could succeed in her ambitions. I have shown how this could be brought about first by means of possession of the Baghdad Railway and by filling the Eastern Mediterranean with submarines. If that occurred she would be able to attack us in the future and take Egypt practically whenever she liked; that is, of course, if the aggressive military party remains in the ascendancy in Germany. If that occurred, naturally we could only get to India and the East by the leave of Germany, which would be in control of Egypt. That accomplished, it would be only one step for Germany towards the domination of the Old World, and ultimately of the New World. That is really the reason for America being in the war.

Germany's desire to acquire the route to the East was the reason for the crushing of Serbia, and practically for the outbreak of this war. I have maintained this very strongly, and I believe that I am supported in this view by everybody who has studied the question. Unfortunately it seems to be almost entirely ignored in the country, and apparently there are far too many people still going about of the opinion that we have practically nothing to consider except the question of the neutrality of Belgium. I have a speech here made by the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, not very long ago at a meeting where he was presiding, and he reminded the meeting that the reason of the outbreak of war was the violation of the neutrality of Belgium. That may have been the reason winch rallied united England. But then he went on to say that that was the chief interest of this country. That I entirely dispute, and I maintain that it shows that the noble Earl has paid very little attention to this aspect of the question.

The country does not realise this question, and, reading the White Paper that has been issued ham the Foreign Office, it looks almost as if the Foreign Office at one time did not realise it; otherwise it is hard to understand why the Foreign Secretary should have said that England has no direct interest in Serbia. And when we see from Prince Lichnowsky's revelations how the whole situation appears gradually to have been given away in handfuls, it looks as if the situation would have become extremely grave if Germany had only been content to exercise a little more patience; if she had been able to keep away from war a little longer it looks as if the whole British Empire would have fallen into her lap like a sort of rotten pear.

I maintain that the whole reason for the country failing to appreciate these large questions has been our parochial and party politics at home. And even now, after three and a-half years of war, in spite of all the propaganda that has been carried on, the public does not realise the situation. The British public, unfortunately, will not read sufficiently. The result is that the ignorance which prevails is one of the chief dangers that we have to face. Unfortunately it has been steadily exploited by the various pacifist agencies which are about, actively helping the enemy. The Hun has to he fought at home as strenuously as in the field, and it is because of this that I have ventured to bring forward this Resolution to-day.

I only wish that noble Lords would come out and help. There is certainly plenty of oratorical talent in the House, and a great many Peers would be rendering very useful service to the country if they would come out and do some of this strenuous work, in endeavouring to bring these matters home to the public, and give them what virtually amounts to an elementary lesson in geography. I think, perhaps, the Episcopal Bench might be doing better work if they were to devote themselves to organising education of this kind in the country villages and towns; it would he of far greater value than the denunciation of reprisals, practically the only policy which the Hun understands at present.

There are various kinds of pacifists going about, and I would recommend the study of a very interesting article which appeared in the Nineteenth Century and After for last April by Sir George Makgill. The particulars which he supplied entirely confirm everything which I have heard elsewhere. What we have to remember is that Germany conducts war in many other fields than that of mere fighting. She pulls many wires political, social, financial and religious; and, as Sir George Makgill states, Germany's best and most efficient agents are those who are unconscious, and the most guileless persons form the most dangerous of all Germany's weapons.

Until the recent German offensive started in France it was well-known that many people in this country were getting what you might call very restive. Far too many people were going about asking how long the war was going to last and what it was we were fighting for. Why did they do that? Simply because after three and a half years of war, owing to their never having been taught the real causes of the war, they began to listen to the suggestions of premature peace which had been cunningly put forward by Germany's agents and then taken up by the guileless individuals to whom I have referred. I would include in that category ex-Ministers of the Crown, ex-Lord Chancellors, Wardens of the Cinque Ports, members of the "Episcopal Bench—all without a suspicion of guile, naturally; all most excellent patriots, and I do not suppose they would be where they were unless they were guileless. These were immediately exploited by the active friends of Germany, whose one object is to misrepresent the war and to bring about a peace which can only serve Germany's ends and be another name for a German victory. Many of those active pacifists may be described as nothing short of pure Bolshevists. The only effect of their activities would be to produce the same disastrous results as were produced in Russia and Rumania as the result of their activities and those of their friends, amply supplied with German gold.

And all these guileless disclaimers against reprisals and the support of conscientious objectors which we have in this House are unconsciously aiding the German machine. Reprisals are the one thing that Germany fears, whether it is in the air or whether it is to produce better treatment of prisoners; and what she most fears is anything in the nature of economic reprisals after the war, which would bring home to the German people in a very forcible way the truth that war does not pay, as it had paid them in the past. I maintain that we cannot fight the Hun with the policy of the Episcopal Bench. I infinitely prefer Havelock Wilson and the Seamen's Union, if I may say so without disrespect.

Meanwhile every organisation of the enemy, both conscious and unconscious, is getting to work. Here is a speech which was made the other day by Mr. Lansbury: I take it from the Herald. He says— The present struggle in France and elsewhere will soon spend itself, and once more the world will be talking of peace, and we must be ready to use all our powers to compel the British Government and its Allies to renounce all Imperialism, to tear up the secret treaties, and join in an effort to establish a peace based on disarmament, freedom of the seas, economic freedom, and a League of Nations. Another way of climbing down, wiping the British Empire off the earth, and establishing the supremacy of the Hun. And all based upon a total misconception of what the war is about, and all part of a system by which the country at the present moment is being utterly misled as to what it is we are fighting for.

Then you have the religious pacifists. You have a certain number of the Quakers joining hands with the Salvationists and the Socialists, and you have the Seventh Day Adventists allied with the Plymouth Brethren, and the Christadelphians fraternising with the Christian Scientists and the Red Republicians, all combining for the purpose of preaching immediate peace by the simple process of surrender. Then we have the Peace by Negotiation coalition—such strange bedfellows as the guileless party I have mentioned, supported by Messrs. Lansbury, Morel, Macdonald, Snowden, and others; the latter-mentioned exploiting the former and trading on their support; and the whole party seem to ignore the result of peace by negotiation in Russia and Rumania with a Germany that holds the trumps at the time, a Germany whose military party is in the ascendant to get that for which they went to war, and which they have not the smallest intention, if they can avoid it, of giving up by negotiation.

I do not want to be misunderstood. There are plenty of patriotic Quakers, Salvationists, and Socialists, whose last idea is to do anything for the purpose of weakening this country, and who are rendering most valued help at the present moment. But there are others. You have Mr. Morel, a very dubious Frenchman, who dearly loves the Hun, and who I suggest ought to be denaturalised without any delay. His is the hand directing many things, intimately associated with the Union of Democratic Control and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, which, if its policy were successful, would merely prove to the Germans that they could be as brutal in war as they liked with the certainty of being forgiven afterwards, and probably not even mulcted in damages; and they would be more than ever convinced that war was a very paying business for them. Naturally the Hun laughs at us and at all such ideas as Fellowships of Reconciliation, and he makes use of them to serve his own purposes. I remember a friend of mine telling me how he met some years ago the well-known Prince Hohenlohe in Germany. Prince Holtenlohe said to him, "You people think that we admire you on account of your principles of humanity, and the rest of it. We do not. We look upon you as a lot of damned fools."

Then we have the Workers' Peace Comittee, and the Women's Peace Crusade headed by a few thoughtless and mischievous self-advertising females. I see that there is a procession of theirs advertised in one of the big Lancashire towns, the programme of which procession has been sent to me. Then you have the Independent Labour Party which met not so very long ago under Mr. Snowdon, the Member for Blackburn, who announced his intention of voting against the Government on every issue connected with the prosecution of the war; and a prominent man at this meeting was Mr. Smillie, who figured very conspicuously at the meeting at which the noble Earl below the gangway, Lord Beauchamp, presided On the occasion to which I have previously referred, and Mr. Smillie no doubt went there with the added halo of respectability which he gathered at that meeting. I noticed that they passed many resolutions, but I saw that one newspaper called attention to the fact that they omitted to pass a resolution thanking the British Army for the desperate resistance which it was then putting up against the onslaught of their "German friends." Then you have the No-Conscription Fellowship, whose chief occupation is the manufacture of conscientious objectors, and I believe they give instructions and every possible encouragement to conscientious objectors, whom, I look upon as being a disgrace to the country and of whom the country at large, I am perfectly certain, is sick to death.

Then it is advisable not to lose sight of various alien organisations which are actively at work. When the Anglo-German Friendship Society faded away, the Emergency Committee for the Assistance of Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians in Distress came forward and took its place. About the same time another organisation appeared on the scene, a new body called the Council of Loyal Subjects of German, Austrian, and Hungarian birth; and it is rather remarkable and interesting to notice that amongst the names figuring in that society—many of them, no doubt, are perfectly genuine British subjects, or loyal British subjects, at the present time—are those of a considerable number who two years previously were subscribing to the Kaiser's Jubilee Fund and professing their abiding loyalty to him in much the same words as they now profess loyalty to King George V. Then we have the Sinn Fein organisation which has done so much mischief across the Irish Channel; and there is not the smallest doubt that the directing powers of that movement—no matter what the dupes of that organisation may be—have been actively and traiterously working with the enemy. He had ample evidence of that when the attempted landing of arms by Sir Roger Casement took place.

Therefore you have these various agencies, and. others, all of them at the present time exploiting the ignorance of the nation as to the real cause of the war; all of them absolutely ignoring any question of Germany's intention to dominate the world. When do you ever hear them refer to the favourite German motto, Weitmacht oder niedergang—world domination or downfall? When do you hear them referring to the speeches of Germans in which they openly state that the one thing they are out for now is the supremacy of the world and for nothing else? The whole intention of Germany with regard to this war is completely ignored by all these agencies, and they never refer to Germany's attempt to manœuvre herself into a position for threatening and for dismembering the British Empire both in the Far East and in the Near East as a preliminary to getting the domination of the world.

Some of these agencies go about saying that this is a capitalist's war. Some will tell you that it is being pursued simply and solely with Imperialistic and annexationist aims. Others will tell you that the poor are being exploited—anything and everything to camouflage the one point at issue. For the failure to bring all this home to the nation, as I maintain it should have been brought home, I consider that the present Government and the late Government and Parliament in general are very much to blame. I am convinced that half the labour troubles and much of the support which is given to pacifists would vanish if the people were better instructed in the military dangers attaching to the making of peace with an unbeaten Germany in the field.

I have here another article which was written the other day by Mr. Lansbury. It is rather interesting because he actually says— However much attached we may be to a peace of reasoned negotiation, if that were finally and utterly out of the question, if we had to choose between beating and being beaten, is there a single Englishman, no matter how pacifist, who would not prefer that we should do the beating? We believe there is not one. I am very glad indeed to get that admission from him. I believe that does represent the fact, that there is no Englishman who, if he really understood the question, would not much prefer to do the beating instead of being the beaten. There is not much difference between being beaten now and putting yourselves in a position in which you would be absolutely beaten in the near future, when you cannot help it. Therefore I maintain that the one thing wanted is for the British public to be made more conversant with the situation than it is at the present moment. The country must not think that peace can he made on the question of the Western Front alone. I saw a statement in the Daily News the other day, and I think it was repeated once or twice in the same article, that we must take our stand on Belgium. Either that shows deplorable ignorance on the part of those who direct that paper, which I do not believe, as to the real situation, or else there was some extraordinary reason for putting forward that particular article.

Finally, my Lords, we want the country guarded against these mischievous organisations, and I ask, Why should their Press be provided with large supplies of paper in these days of paper shortage when Government propaganda work has to go short? I can assure your Lordships that this gospel meets with very scant sympathy in the Army and the Navy when the men really understand the situation. There has been a certain amount of mischievous and bad spirit caused in some of our camps by pacifists, but it is entirely through misrepresentation of the situation. I have been to a good many camps, and I have heard afterwards of the effect produced by a simple explanation of what we were fighting for. I have heard most encouraging reports not only from military camps but from munition factories, where a great deal of trouble has been experienced from certain individuals. Only yesterday I had a letter from the managing director of large works where I was speaking not long ago, and he said that since the matter was explained to them the men seemed to regard the war from an entirely different aspect. I can only say that this is very encouraging and it is very satisfactory, because there is no doubt about it that it is what you would call somewhat hard work. I am perfectly certain that when they do understand this question there is really very little sympathy with these pacifists, and that the heart of the country is sound.

I heard a story the other day of one of the parties of labour representatives who were taken to the Front. With the party went a couple of pacifists, who gave the guardian of the party the slip when they got down near the trenches and vanished for a time. When the party reassembled the two pacifists were found to be missing. Search was made for them, and they were presently discovered running for their lives, pursued by a large crowd of angry soldiers, who had not at all appreciated their intentions. All we ask, my Lords, is this, in all seriousness, that men who bear honoured names in this country should realise how much harm is done to the country's cause by heartening the friends of Germany and weakening the morale of our people; no matter how guileless these people may be. We ask also that the country may be properly awakened to the geographical dangers of the war; and I think we may also suggest that His Majesty's Government should do a little more governing, as France is governed by M. Clemenceau and the United States by President Wilson. I do not think democracy loses anything, by an exhibition of strength and determination such as we see there, and I only hope that the Government will do more than it does at present to prevent the Army in the field being let down by the people at home through what I consider is weak government and the dissemination of bad information, thus tending to make the terrible sacrifices which this country has incurred absolutely vain. I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, "That this House regrets that stronger measures have not been taken to combat the various agencies in this country who are serving the cause of the enemy."—(The Earl of Denbigh.)


I desire, my Lords, to second the Resolution that my noble friend has just moved. There is nobody who knows the opinion of the working man more than my noble friend. He has been to countless meetings and has described to them the danger we are in from pacifist work in this country; and I can testify that there is no sentence that can be delivered when speaking to working men that is received with more applause that the one which proposes that pacifist efforts should be curtailed.

I should like to divide the pacifists into two categories. There are first of all the people who are just as honest and patriotic as I hope I am myself, but who regard the war in quite a different way from what many of us do. They regard the war as horrible, and horrible with its carnage, with its terrible effect on humanity, with the general disasters that have occurred to humanity all over the world, and they wish to stop it, and they desire to enter into negotiations with the enemy with a view of stopping it. I do not believe that they know the harm they do. This war has got to end in our life or our death. That is my humble opinion. We have got to go through with it to the very end, and if either ourselves or our Allies show the slightest sign of wavering we are beaten. Therefore I disagree with those of my friends, and they are many, who think that we ought to enter into negotiations with Germany before victory is assured by our arms.

There is a very grave time coming in the near future. That is my humble opinion. I may be wrong, but we shall presently, I think, get into the old trench warfare. It will be long and wearisome, as before. We shall have to wait until the Americans come in effective force to help us to win the war. During that period these pacifists will get to work—I am not talking of the honest and patriotic pacifists, but of the others and they will do their level best to end the war by pointing out to the working man that it is a capitalist war. They will use every method to try and end the war now. That will be a very serious time; and I regard the position as most grave if in the future the pacifists are allowed to continue the propaganda which they have carried on up till now.

There is another class of pacifists. I should like to see a large number of these tried for their lives by Court- Martial. They associate with spies, traitors, and sedition-mongers. They associate also with aliens and with those conscientious objectors who are shirkers and funkers, and do not want to join the Army. There are a few conscientious objectors, such as the Quakers, for whom I have nothing but admiration. They go out to the Front and do their level best with the ambulances, and so on. But the others represent the lowest class of individual that we have in the country. All these people—the pacifists who want to stop the war and are working for Germany, aliens and conscientious objectors—are all combined together to stop the war in favour of Germany. Why are they doing this when our gallant men in the trenches and on the sea are being killed by thousands in the effort to preserve our safety and honour? In the grave crisis of the war which we are now facing the pacifists are continuing their mischievous activities as far as they can. They never mention the cruel, barbarous, and bestial record of Germany during this war. They forget or ignore that long record of treachery and assassination, and the Government do not take sufficient action in regard to them. The proposed meeting at Finsbury Park would not have been stopped had it not been for outside agitation.

Throughout this war I have complained often enough that the Government do not govern, that they do not take any action at all until the public make them take it. That does not help us to win the war. What pacifist has ever got up and called attention to the atrocities which are being committed on British seamen? Fourteen thousand men, women, and children have been done to death, murdered on the high seas by the Hun. I have never heard a pacifist say a word of reprobation of these inhuman acts. Has any pacifist ever spoken of the eighty-seven vessels that have gone down, leaving no trace? We know perfectly well how these vessels were lost. They were either lost by internal explosion or sunk by the enemy, who murdered the crews with machine guns when they took to the boats. These pacifists talk of peace by negotiation. How can you negotiate with liars and assassins, who have broken every pledge and besmirched every bit of honour to which they ever had claim? How can you think of negotiations with such people as these after looking at Russia and Rumania? There can be no negotiations with the Germans until after victory, and then they have got to be at the point of the bayonet and the machine gun. The Germans have got to obey the orders which the Allies give them.

I want to know where the pacifists get their money. We know perfectly well where the Sinn Feiners get their money. It has come from Germany. That has been proved. An enormous lot of gold, made up of English sovereigns, that was paid to Germany by France in 1871 has been found in Ireland. Where do the pacifists get their money? I should think from the same source. These pacifists do not represent labour. They do not represent any class in this country. As a matter of fact, they are now putting forward a Large number of their order to fight labour constituencies, where I have been satisfied they will be handsomely beaten. I wish to speak to your Lordships as one of the men of the sea. We shall never forget how Germany has prostituted the chivalry of the sea. Since ships floated on the sea, whether in time of peace or in time of war, the effort of every seaman was to save life. Even when he had sunk a ship lie always sent out his boat to save life. That practice has been deserted by the German seamen, and we shall never forget it. More than that, we are not going to let Germany down lightly after this war. We are going to punish her. We seamen do not think it is a Kaiser's war or a Junkerdom war. We think the whole German nation are concerned in this brutality, and we intend to punish them and make them understand that they cannot murder our seamen as they have been doing up to the present. Have the pacifists ever said a word about this? Not at all. They are working all they know to bring about a German peace to our disadvantage after we have lost all these men ashore and afloat. So far as the seamen go, your Lordships know their pledges. No Government can make seamen go to sea if they say they will not go to sea, and if in that case the Government want to get ships to sea they had better use pacifists, conscientious objectors, and aliens. I have heard no pacifist speak about the 2,000 British seamen who were actually arrested some days before war was declared and put into Ruhleben, where they were treated with the utmost barbarity. There are many of them there now over forty-five years of age, some of them aged sixty.

Then I find fault with the pacifists again. No doubt they tried to foment strikes. They have been in the coal mines and among the miners. I was at one of the mining stations in Wales, where the miners told me themselves that they had had the pacifists there and had driven them out. The pacifists go to the workshops and they go to the shipyards. Of all the industrials in this country the seamen are the only men who as a class have not struck once during the war, whatever the pacifists have tried to make them do. They have always signed on when they came back, no matter how many times they had been torpedoed. The seamen have proved their power. Your Lordships will remember that they would not convey the pacifists, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald and others, to Stockholm, although the Government gave permits. They would not go to sea at the Cape when they found some Germans on board. They have got the power and they intend to use it. No Government can do what the seamen intend to do, and no Government can stop the seamen from doing what they intend to do when the war is over.

The pacifists are always holding anti-patriotic meetings. Why are not these meetings stopped? Why are the pacifists allowed to make use of all the disloyal and mischievous agitation which they employ at these meetings? If they go down to the docks I am satisfied they will get very short shrift. What are they working against? They are working against conscription. They are working to stop the war. They are working for Bolshevism and in the aid of Germany, and they are trying to create unrest wherever they go. They have tried in Ireland; they have tried on the Clyde, and at Newcastle-on-Tyne and Barrow-in-Furness; and they were very successful until this last big push of the Germans which commenced on March 21. Many of your Lordships will know that last December and January there was very great unrest in this country, and agitation in the direction of peace. That was principally brought about by pacifists, and what I am afraid of is that when the lull comes which I think will occur in the near future we shall have all their mischievous energies working again for peace.

I consider that the pacifists are a real danger to the State. They are undermining the Government and are treacherous to our fighting men ashore and afloat. I hope the Minister of Information will use propaganda in every way he can to let the people of this country know the tremendous danger the pacifists are in our midst. The enemy in our midst is really more dangerous than the enemy on our Front. We can meet and attack him, but this is an insidious and wicked propaganda, instituted by Germany for German aims and against this country. I hope the Minister of Information will be able to tell us that he has some scheme for letting our people know the real truth regarding the pacifist influence in this country, and how he intends to defeat it.


My Lords, with the remarks made by the noble Earl, and also by the noble Lord who has just spoken, I find myself very much in agreement so far as they complain against the pacifist activities in this country. I am in complete agreement with the noble Lord when he said that pacifist activities up to March 21, when the offensive began, were assuming very considerable proportions. It is quite true, and it is to he expected, that there will be very considerable pacifist activity in the future, and the Government, of course, must take steps to cope with it. So far the pacifists' activities in this country have been dealt with by the War Aims Committee, and indeed at this time the Minister of Information is not responsible for propaganda in this country. He is responsible only for propaganda in foreign countries, neutral, and allied.

Propaganda in England is under the direction of the War Aims Committee, which is drawn from three political Parties the Unionist Party, the Liberal Party, and the Labour Party. The Chairman of the Committee is the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a member, and Mr. Asquith is a Vice-Chairman. Some time ago the Committee applied to Parliament for a grant, and on that occasion the other House was informed that the objects of the Committee were limited to anti-pacifist propaganda. In the nature of things I believe all political Parties insist that propaganda in England should be limited to anti-pacifist propaganda. The objects of the Committee were defined in the other House as follows— First, to assist the country during the ensuing months of strain, and resist insidious influences of an unpatriotic character. Secondly, to keep the country informed of the war aims of the British Empire and its Allies. Thirdly, to support the Government in its responsible task of carrying on the war. The Committee has made very considerable efforts to carry out this work. It has prepared and circulated a great many pamphlets, and speakers have been engaged and meetings held throughout the country, in industrial centres and elsewhere.

In particular the objects defined by the noble Earl in his speech to-day have been given considerable attention. A leaflet was prepared some time ago outlining the scheme of the lecture which the noble Earl delivers with such extraordinary effect in various parts of the country. The Committee has taken advantage of the noble Earl's assistance, and meetings have been specially arranged for him which I am glad to say have met with extraordinary success. If he will allow me to say so, the noble Earl is a born propagandist. He carries on his work with extraordinary effect, and although I have never heard him speak until I listened to him in your Lordships' House to-day, I realise that his success is due to the sincerity and earnest effort which he evidently makes in dealing with his subject. The War Aims Committee is now preparing a body of lecturers who will be instructed in the particular objects which the noble Earl brought to the attention of the House. The maps which the noble Earl is in the habit of using in order to illustrate his subjects are being reproduced, and in a short time they will he displayed in public places.

In addition to these activities the Committee has recently published a cheap edition of the Memoirs of Lichnowskv, and the circulation has been perfectly enormous. Already I think the demand exceeds 4,000,000 copies, and it is a remarkable fact that the Memoirs are studied closely by the population in the North and in the industrial centres, without doubt with very considerable effect. The Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Munitions report that at the present time there is very little industrial unrest. To a considerable extent that condition is due to the offensive on the Western Front, but it is believed by the Ministry of Labour that the Lichnowsky Memoirs have also had some effect. The noble Earl referred to the Press, and to the supply of paper to the Press. Without doubt the Press is most effective in home propaganda. It is not controlled in this respect by the Government, and without any control the Press can be trusted, and has been trusted, to explain our war aims and the objects of our enemies. The Press have been remarkably successful, labouring under considerable difficulties.


Does the noble Lord include the pacifist Press?


I am coming to that. The noble Earl suggested that the Government ought to limit the supply of paper to what he terms the pacifist Press. The supply of paper before the war amounted to as much as 8,000 tons of news print per week. Owing to shipping difficulties the supply of manufactured paper has fallen to 2,000 tons of news print a week, so that there has been an extraordinary restriction in the supply of news print to the Press. Undoubtedly on that account the Press has not been in a position to give as much attention to our war aims as might have been the case if there had not been this limitation. The Minister of Information will never cease to press on the Government the necessity for increasing the supply of paper. Of course, the acquiescence of the Government must depend on the necessities in tonnage, as the noble Lord, Lord Beresford, well knows.

The Ministry of Information has already invited the Government to consider the question of some increase in the supply of paper. If anything can be done in that direction it is hoped that the newspapers will make use of the additional supply for the purpose of bringing to the knowledge of the country our war aims. The noble Earl has pointed out that pacifist papers receive a supply of news print. The terms under which newspapers are supplied amount to an equitable distribution according to the requirements of those papers before the period of the war. The Government can only intervene when newspapers of pacifist tendency have actually broken the law. The Home Office has so far carried out a number of prosecutions. The Home Office, indeed, is charged with all responsibility for intervention against the pacifists when a breach of the law has taken place. I think the noble Earl will agree with me that any interference with paper supplied can only take place when there is a breach of the law.

Since the beginning of the war the policy followed by the Government has not been to interfere with the freedom of speech and of writing so far as it is compatible with the state of war—that is to say, that there should be no interference with the expression of political opinion so long as it is expressed in a constitutional and legal way. It is no offence against the law for any one to express an opinion as to the origin of the war or the war aims of the Allies or the best methods of securing peace. Such views may be and often are profoundly opposed to the views of the great majority of people in this country, and not unnaturally are bitterly resented. But it has always been held that the best way of countering such views is that the true gospel should be freely disseminated by public speakers and by other forms of propaganda. In that respect we are greatly indebted to the noble Earl for his activities. The right of freedom of speech involves a duty on the part of writers and speakers to take care that their arguments are not bolstered up by false statements, or by statements calculated to cause disaffection or defeat in any way. The Regulations made under the Defence of the Realm Act prohibit and impose penalties in respect to such statements.

The principal Regulation which the Home Office is concerned to enforce in this connection is No. 27, which provides that no person shall by word of mouth or in writing or in any newspaper, periodical, book, circular, or other printed publication spread false reports or make false statements, or spread reports or make statements intended or likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty, or to interfere with the success of His Majesty's Forces, or of the Forces of any of His Majesty's Allies by land or sea, or to prejudice His Majesty's relations with foreign Powers, or spread reports or make statements intended or likely to prejudice the recruiting of persons to serve in any of His Majesty's Forces. Under that section a large number of prosecutions have taken place, and persons who have offended against these Regulations in public speeches and in writings have been in some cases prosecuted by the local police and in others by the Director of Public Prosecutions. In many cases substantial terms of imprisonment have been given, and several well-known pacifist writers have been convicted.

There is another Regulation, No. 42, which provides that if any person attempts or does any act calculated or likely to cause mutiny, sedition, or disaffection among any of His Majesty's Forces or any of the Forces of any of his Majesty's Allies,oramong the civilian population, or to impede, delay, or restrict the production, repair, or transport of war material, or any other work necessary for the successful prosecution of the war, he shall be guilty of an offence against these regulations. Another Regulation, No. 27c, made in December last, deals with the printing and distribution of leaflets intended or likely to be used for propaganda purposes in relation to the present war or to the making of peace. This Regulation is no doubt within the recollection of your Lordships' House. Since it was passed energetic action has been taken by the civil authorities, and prosecutions have taken place under it. Special powers are given to the police under Regulation 51 which provides that the competent naval or military authority, or any person duly authorised by him, or any police constable may, if he has reason to suspect that a report or statement in contravention of Regulation 27 has appeared, or is about to appear, in any newspaper or other printed publication, seize the newspaper or publication, and may also seize any type or other plant used or capable of being used for the printing or production of the newspaper. The same procedure applies to leaflets published in contravention of Regulation 27c. This power has been freely used, and whenever the attention of the authorities has been drawn to offences against the Regulation on the part of printers or publishers, leaflets have, been seized and destroyed.

As to the Ministry of Information, in some respects it is able to assist and support propaganda at home, although the care of propaganda in England is entirely in charge of the War Aims Committee. The Ministry has made an agreement with the War Aims Committee providing for the taking over of the kinematographic and photographic exhibitions in licensed places of every sort and character. In consenting to place in charge of the Ministry the photographic and kinematographic exhibitions, I have no doubt that the War Aims Committee determined that kinematography and photography could not be used for purposes of which the War Aims Committee would not approve. Recently the Ministry arranged an exhibition of photographs at the Grafton Galleries. The exhibition has been visited by a great many persons, and that particular form of propaganda has been made to pay in net return. The net receipts amount to as much as £7,000. I mention this to your Lordships to show that it is really effective propaganda, because the sort of propaganda which the public is willing to pay for is the kind of propaganda which fastens itself upon their minds.

The Ministry has also made arrangements to attach to the semi-weekly notes service of the kinematograph companies a semiweekly addition of 150 feet. This semiweekly publication is actually in effect during the present week, and will be seen by as many as 6,000,000 persons, and in a short time it is expected that the Ministry will be able to reach 12,000,000 persons every week. In addition, the Ministry co-operates with the War Aims Committee to some extent by means of the visits to the Front to which the noble Earl referred. The plan has been in operation only for a very short time, and during the six weeks before the offensive the Ministry, co-operating with the War Office and with the Ministry of Labour, sent out to the Front about 1,000 workmen. The visits were arranged by the Ministry, and facilities were given by the Ministry of Labour and by the War Office. The results were entirely satisfactory, and after the present offensive is over it is hoped that the situation will permit of a resumption of this means of instruction to the populations in the industrial centres. It is the object of the Ministry, so far as possible and so far as is consistent with its authority from Parliament, to develop on every occasion and at every opportunity propaganda in England. The limitations, of course, are defined by the voting in the other House. So far as the Ministry can conform to the instructions of Parliament. I can assure your Lordships that every effort will be made to cope with the situation, and if it is possible for the organisation that has been built up round the Ministry of Information to do something or take steps in the direction of allaying the difficulties which the noble Earl and the noble Lord brought to the attention of your Lordships' House to-day, I can assure you that we will be untiring in our efforts.


My Lords, as my name has been mentioned in the course of the debate, I trust your Lordships will allow me to say a few words in answer to what fell from the noble Earl. I confess that until I heard my name mentioned I had no idea that anything of the kind would take place. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will forgive me if what I have to say is not, perhaps, so complete as the noble Earl himself would desire. The noble Earl distributed his criticism with a lavish hand. He blamed His Majesty's present Government for not doing more; he blamed the late Government, and he even blamed the Government before, including my noble friend Viscount Grey, then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I am proud to find myself in such company, and I am quite sure that I can leave my noble friend to take care of himself.

The noble Earl referred to a meeting which I attended some two or three months ago in London, and he quoted with accuracy what I said on that occasion, and what I repeat here to your Lordships this evening. As a matter of historical fact it was the invasion of Belgium and the tearing up of the "scrap of paper" which rallied so many thousands of our young men to the cause of the Allies at the beginning of the war. That I believe to be a matter of perfectly uncontrovertible, historical fact. It is quite true that since then there has been another meeting to which the noble Earl might also have referred. It was a meeting to which he himself had received an invitation, and on the subject of which there was some correspondence in the Press. It was a private meeting held in Birmingham. I will tell your Lordships why it was a private meeting. It was held in Easter week at the time when the German Armies were advancing. I used all my influence to see that it was a private meeting, because at that moment of crisis it seemed to me that it would be highly unpatriotic to do anything that would give any sign or appearance of disunion in our ranks at home. And those reasons seem to me somewhat to apply to our discussion here this evening. I am most unwilling myself to say anything which would in any way give any appearance of disunion in our ranks at this moment. It is quite true, a discussion on this question may be necessary at a later date. Bigger questions are involved than those which were mentioned by the noble Earl, but the time for that is not in my opinion yet, and I hope to avoid saying anything which can justly give rise to criticism of that kind.

Two remarks, however, I should like to make. One is with regard to the question of the men who are now fighting in our Army. We have got now, as there has never been before in the history of the world, an Army of educated men, men who can read, who have read the history of the causes which led to the war and who may road in their daily newspaper fur the first time in the history of the world exactly what is going on—what statesmen are doing, what statesmen have been thinking, and what they have been saying to one another. With an educated Army of that kind I do not believe that anything could make them more determined to go on fighting than the knowledge that it is inevitable that they should go on fighting for the honour of their country, and it is an admirable thing to remove from them any impression that the continuance of the war is unnecessary.


Hear, hear.


I am glad to have received some applause from that quarter. May I make one further suggestion? It seems to me that in these days people are unnecessarily pessimistic. We hear talk of Prussian militarism. I venture to say that with hardly any exception in the course of this war, and only with the help of treachery, has Prussian militarism been successful. Your Lordships will almost have forgotten the solitary exception when Prussian militarism was successful at the battle of Tannenberg in East Prussia at the beginning of the war. Let us compare for a moment what were the aims of Prussian militarism when the war broke out with the which it has obtained, and let me ask you whether the disappointment of the Prussian soldier must not be very bitter indeed, and whether he must not know how serious is the gulf which separates his attainments from those which he set out to achieve at the beginning of the war.

Let us briefly review what has been the course of events. In spite of the treachery of the attack through Belgium, Germany failed to reach Paris. In spite of her attempts to surround the Russian Army in the following year and to make it no longer a useful force, the Russians retreated and retreated, and, although the Prussians gained ground, the Russian Army still remained in front of them as a force. It is true that the Prussians over-ran Rumania, but we know of the treachery which assisted them on that occasion. The same thing happened in their attack upon Italy. Once more they failed to accomplish the objects with which they set out. And as it has been in the past in this war, so I believe it will be in the months before us. Prussian militarism will again fail to attain those objects which it once hoped to attain.

May I say one word to the noble Lord who has just spoken with regard to one of his items of propaganda which I think deserves the very highest commendation. It is a translation of Prince Lichnowsky's Memoirs, which is now being circulated, and to which he referred. I have tried more than once to get a copy myself, but it has always been sold out at the places to which I have been, and that is the only complaint I have to make to the noble Lord in this connection. May I suggest to the noble Earl who raised the question this evening whether the existence of these Memoirs does not prove that there is in Germany a class of mind and a set of opinions which are not deserving of the whole of the condemnation which he poured upon the German nation; and may I suggest to the noble Lord who spoke last that I hope he may in the course of his propaganda issue some document which will appeal to them, and which will be calculated to win them over and make them see the justice of the Allies' cause.

Finally, I would say one last word to the noble Earl who raised the question. I am glad to think that I am not alone amongst those over whom he scattered his condemnation. There is yet another person, a very eminent and distinguished person, who has gone much further in that direction than I have, and who has said things which would earn the condemnation of the noble Earl far more than anything I have said. He is a person of great eminence and authority for whom the noble Earl himself has the very highest respect. I could only wish that the noble Earl would study his writings with somewhat more care, and that he could be convinced by what this eminent person has said. The noble Earl no doubt realises that I refer to the Pope and to the Allocution of the Encyclical which he issued in the course of last year. The discussion has turned rather from the point at which it started to the question of what is being done by the Ministry of Public Information and the Ministry for Propaganda. On that I am sure that your Lordships have heard with the very greatest interest what was said by the noble Lord who is in charge of that Department.


My Lords, nobody who knows as well as I do my noble friend who has just spoken can doubt his whole-heartedness in the cause of his country and the sincerity of his utterances; and I think that those utterances have been very much misrepresented and wrongly criticised. There are points on which I have shades of difference from him, and one of them is in the somewhat sanguine attitude which he adopted about Prussian militarism. I think this whole Motion is very unimportant just now, because I am sure that if ever the nation was awakened it is awakened now to the gravity of the situation with which we are confronted. It may be that this is the last and final struggle. It may be that the war has come to the determining point. But of this I feel pretty sure—that if there is conflict, and if a conflict is inevitable down the battle line in France, it will be a conflict the intensity of which and the seriousness of which we have not witnessed before. All the strength, all the power of organisation of Prussian militarism will be thrown into it, and Prussian militarism is a formidable thing. Therefore, while I maintain my faith in the military capacity of ourselves and of our Allies, I do not for a moment disguise from myself that the occasion is perhaps the most critical that we have had to confront in the whole course of the war, and that we must not be misled by the success we have had in the early stages of the conflict into feeling over-confident that the same success must attend us in the later stages.

I refer to this not only to differentiate myself by a shade from the optimism of my noble friend, but for another reason. It seems to me to cast into comparative unimportance the controversies raised by this Motion. No doubt pacifists when they carry their propositions to extreme points are always a source of difficulty and embarrassment to the Government of the day. The Government wants to get the whole fighting force out of the nation when it is engaged in a great conflict, and when there is pacifism in any large quantities it paralyses that activity. But the very gravity of the present crisis has caused pacifism at the present moment to assume very insignificant proportions. There is something more that I dread very much, and that is the raising of unnecessary controversies either by other people about the Government or by the Government about themselves. Those who wield the weapon of the State must be careful not only lest others wound them but lest they wound themselves. Speaking for myself, I should go a very long way before I would interfere in the least or do anything which would weaken the Government just now, however much I might think they deserve to be weakened for anything they have done. As I say, we are at the most critical point in our history, and it astonishes me in the controversies of which I read in the papers that nobody addresses much attention to the question of what would be the effect upon our Allies and upon the situation as a whole of precipitating the downthrow of the Government. For that reason I should regard it as a public misfortune if the controversies about these matters swell up and become much more serious than any controversies which the pacifists are likely to raise at the present time.

Having said so much I turn to the subject of the Motion, and to the grounds on which the noble and gallant Earl has based that Motion. The noble mid gallant Earl has rendered excellent service in the past in military affairs as I myself can testify from personal experience, and he has taken up recently a great interest in the questions of the Near East and of Middle Europe. It is a very great subject, and I am glad that Lord Denbigh has taken it up. But he has not half taken it up. He has not touched more than a fringe of his subject. I entirely agree with him that far too much attention has been directed to the immediate operations at the commencement of the war, to Belgium and to other matters, which, however serious, are not the whole of that for which we are fighting.

For what are we fighting? For what ought we to have been fighting long before there was any talk of war? I will tell the noble and gallant Earl. If, in addition to taking his maps and studying these questions, he had gone and looked at German peaceful penetration in those parts of the world to which he refers—the parts of the world which lie himself said were threatening us with great danger to our possessions in the East—he would have found this.

He would have found at every turn consular agents and merchants of a capacity which gave them every hope of overtaking our own consular agents and our own merchants by reason of their superior equipment. The German nation trained and equipped them for that work of penetration. You find the Germans in command of every language, you find them possessing an acquaintance with the customs of the country in advance of any other nation. That was in the East. Then at home the noble and gallant Earl has meritoriously taken up a great campaign for awakening his countrymen. But some of us have been trying to awaken our countrymen for more than twenty years on that wider subject of which he spoke. It is a very difficult task. This is a very slow and conservative nation to take up new ideas. What Germany was doing she was doing perfectly legitimately. She was training and organising her people for peaceful penetration. What other nations could do, and ought to have done, was to have made the necessary preparations to meet the attack that was being made upon their own possessions in order to hold their own. However, it was not done. But I am glad to think that this war has brought an awakening in many other things than in military matters. It has brought about an awakening in social and industrial matters; it has brought about an awakening with regard to the necessity of knowledge; it has brought about an awakening in almost very direction. Yet we are only at the beginning; and if the noble Earl will continue his propaganda on an even wider basis and point out the German danger, he will have done a great deal.

The noble Lord opposite made an interesting speech, and one of the most interesting parts of that speech was the way he brought out first of all the limitations of the powers of the Government. It is obvious that the policy of the Government is not to interfere with people who speak and write peacefully, so long as they do not do anything which contravenes the law. What the law says is a very dubious question at present; it is contained in so many Regulations that nobody can be sure whether he is infringing it or not. But in the main I think I see the purpose of the noble Lord, which is to tell us that it is not the policy of the Government to interfere with free speech. I congratulate him on that, because it might raise another controversy which at this crucial moment when use are on the eve of the greatest events of the war, would embarrass the Government still more than anything that has taken place in the past.

The noble Lord referred to Prince Lichnowsky's Memorandum, a most interesting pamphlet, and to my mind the most interesting part of it is the last page and a half. Prince Lichnowsky tells what was his prediction to the Germans—namely, that if they embarked upon this war they probably would find us more united than they imagined and better prepared, and that if they lost, as they probably would; they would find themselves with an enfeebled Austria as a kind of vassal and nothing left except their science and their commerce. I think a good many Germans would reply, "Leave us our science and our commerce, and even if we are beaten we shall get ahead of these other people." The noble Earl referred to a German statesman who had in strong language expressed his contempt for people over here before the war. A great many Germans did that. There was an article which appeared in the Quarterly Review for October and which was obviously written by a person of great knowledge. At the end of the article the writer quoted a German, obviously a statesman of high authority, as having said to him before the war that Germany did not want war and it was not necessary; that in ten years from 1914 the fruit would have fallen into her lap; and that she was progressing, expanding, and going ahead by peaceful methods, and nothing could have withstood her. Germany was in too great a hurry. I used to think her peace preparations were infinitely more dangerous than her war preparations. I have said that before, and I am glad to have an opportunity of repeating it. I believe it to be true that if they had gone on without war they would have put us in a most difficult position, and I believe now that the one way to meet the future is to combine with our war preparations those preparations in organisation, in knowledge, and in the power of combatting German methods by superior British methods which I believe to be within our compass, but which depend upon our being serious and in earnest. It is because we are not serious and not sufficiently in earnest that I have risen to take part in this debate. I rejoice that the noble and gallant Earl has undertaken propaganda, and if he will listen to me he will enlarge that propaganda.


I have done it.


Yes; but not enough. If the noble Earl will take large maps and show the difference in Universities and technical schools, in general education, in training and industrial organisation, and fifty other matters, for which he can get ample material in the publications of the Education Department and the Ministry of Reconstruction, then he will greatly add to the services which he has already rendered to his country.

I do not myself think that we are in much danger from pacifism at this moment. I agree with my noble friend below the gangway that it is far better there should be difference of opinion and freedom in expressing it. Let us remember above everything the tremendous crisis that is about to occur, probably in the next ten days, and the necessity for concentrating the nation and concentrating the will of the nation, and the necessity for the Government giving its whole and unbroken consideration to measures which will have to be taken to support the Army and possibly the Navy in that struggle. With regard to the immediate subject of the Motion, let us put out of our minds that we are really in any great danger at this moment on account of the agitation which has given rise to the Motion, and let us rather remember that larger and constructive work of which I have spoken—a work which is absolutely essential if we are not only to safeguard our position after the war but recover the ground which we must recover before we can stand on a safe and sound basis.


My Lords, I think the House must have noticed that the Motion put upon the Paper by the noble Earl has been considerably altered during the last two days. His original Notice was one to call attention to pacifist activities in this country. He has added to that words calling attention to the great ignorance of the public with regard to these matters, and he addressed a considerable part of his speech to that part of the question. He explained to us that he has been engaged upon an educational movement of very considerable dimensions. He has been enlightening the working men of this country; he has lectured to the Chambers of Commerce; he has delivered an address to the members of the House of Commons; and this is, as it were, the climax. I do not know whether he regards your Lordships' House as the highest or lowest level, but the climax of his efforts is to be the illumination of your Lordships in regard to this question.

Now I gladly admit that the noble Earl has done excellent service in calling attention throughout rite country to the origin of the war and to German methods and German aims. I have nothing but commendation to offer him in regard to what he has done in that direction. But I think the House will not have failed to observe that the real object of the noble Earl was to censure all those whom he included in his long catalogue of what he described as mischievous organisations, which he said had shown themselves in favour of simple peace by the process of surrender. My Lords, there may be organisations that have used language of that kind. I am not aware of them, but I wish respectfully to press upon the noble Earl that it is scarcely fair to include in an indiscriminate condemnation of that kind all those who in one way or another have spoken or acted throughout the country in favour of what is commonly called peace by negotiation.


I do not want the noble Marquess to misunderstand me. I certainly did not intend to convey that. Some of the organisations certainly advocated peace by surrender, and others peace by negotiation.


The noble Earl gave the House a long enumeration of all these bodies, which certainly seemed to be included in a general and pretty violent condemnation. I do not know whether I am included among the defendants in this action which the noble Earl is bringing. I think I am. I caught one sentence in his speech which I am quite sure was aimed at me. The noble Earl does not contradict me. May I say half a dozen words for the defence.

In the first place, let me clear the ground upon one point. I have had no part in the meetings, or as they have sometimes been called the secret conferences, which have lately taken place in connection with this question. I have not been present at them, I have not helped to convene them, I have not authorised the use of my name in connection with them; but I hope the noble Earl will not think, because I say this as a matter of fact, that I desire to dissociate myself from what has been said, for example, by my noble friend Lord Beauchamp, who has already addressed the House. It seems to me that he and some of those who have been acting with him have shown much common sense and much appreciation of the realities of the case, and I am certainly not going to disavow anything that he has said. I go rather further. I think the noble Earl and his friends deserve very considerable credit in all these matters for the manner in which they have exercised self-restraint over themselves. I am quite sure that it would have been easy for them, if they had desired it, to collect very large audiences, to fill very large buildings and to produce a much greater effect of publicity than they actually did produce; but, my Lords, I think they were perfectly right. I think my noble friend felt, particularly during the last few weeks while this great offensive was in progress, that it would be most unfortunate if anything were done in the way of platform organisation likely to create the impression that the country was divided at this moment and thereby to weaken either our Government here or the Armies who are fighting so gallantly for us at the Front.

Let me then add that my own participation, so far as there has been any, has been strictly limited to the letters which I wrote to the public Press, of which your Lordships are aware. I have nothing to withdraw, nothing to apologise for so far as those letters are concerned, and if the noble Earl chooses to challenge any statement which they contain I should be very glad to meet him here or anywhere else. My creed is to be found in those letters. I ask myself what is the creed of the noble Earl, and I own I am a little bit puzzled with regard to it. The noble Earl, in a letter which he wrote not very long ago to The Times newspaper, said— This is still a free country, and I suppose people are allowed to hold and associate themselves with what views they like. That is a very admirable sentiment, but I cannot help thinking that the noble Earl's idea of freedom of speech is rather a one-sided one. He thinks that he and his friends are to have a monopoly of free speech, that he may talk as loudly and as provocatively as he pleases, but that my noble friend Lord Beauchamp is not to be even permitted to hold a private meeting with closed doors. That is not quite what seems to me to be fair play.

Then I come back to what appears to be the principal article of the faith which the noble Earl professes. There is to be no "peace by negotiation." That is the catchword in all the documents and speeches which are delivered in this connection. If there is to he no peace by negotiation, how does the noble Earl expect peace ever to come to us? Does he expect it to drop from the clouds? No; the noble Earl does not leave us in the dark. He thinks there is only one way of obtaining peace. It is by the process generally- described as the "knock-out blow." He and his friends never tell us how the "knock-out blow" is to be delivered, when it is to be delivered, how soon it is to he delivered, and at what cost it is to be delivered; and meanwhile the war, which the noble Earl himself has described as a ghastly war which he would not himself prolong for an hour beyond the hour at which it could be honourably ended, goes on taking its toll—


Honourably and safely ended.


Yes, I think I have the words here. "Safely ended." I agree with him. I accept that unreservedly. Meanwhile, the war goes on taking its toll of the resources of this country, of the manhood of this country, adding to the number of those maimed and pathetic figures whom we meet at very turn of the road, adding to the number of those men and women who, all over the British Empire, have had their hearts broken by the loss of those whom they most love. Not only does the noble Earl disbelieve in peace by negotiation, but he and those who think with him positively go the length of warning negotiators or those who desire to negotiate off the political field. The moment there is any talk of negotiation we are told that this is what is called a "peace offensive" or a "peace trap." The overture is turned down before it is made. I must say that those tactics are to me quite unintelligible. I should have thought that if you were afraid of an insincere overture the best thing to be done was to exhibit its insincerity, and you cannot do that until it has been made and scrutinised.

I find another article of faith in the creed of the noble Earl. He will not have any peace with what he calls an "unchastened Germany." The noble Earl, I am sure, recognises the phrase. I should like to ask the noble Earl what he has in his mind when he talks of an "unchastened Germany." Supposing, for the sake of argument, that a safe peace had been arrived at by negotiation last autumn, what would have been the position of Germany? Her original plan, under which she hoped to get to Paris—was it in six weeks or six months?—would have been ignominiously frustrated. Instead of six months she would have had over three years of war with all its privations, all its sacrifices; she would have found her finances in disorder; and site would probably have been able to count up a little matter of some 5,000,000 casualties. I do not know whether that figure is accurate, but it is one which I have seen given. Belgium and France would have been evacuated, and other outstanding territorial questions would have been referred, in accordance with the proposal which I understand His Majesty's Government favour, to a Peace Conference, intended to ripen gradually into an International Pact for the adjustment of future differences. Would it be possible to say that a peace arrived at under conditions like those, or anything like them, would have been a peace with an unchastened Germany? Let me at any rate assure the noble Earl that I have never said, or thought, or written, anything that could reasonably be interpreted as desiring a peace with an unchastened Germany.

There is one other tenet of the noble Earl which I should like to examine for a moment. He objects to any discussion of these questions because he says such discussion cannot fail to give encouragement to the enemy. He regards any talk of that kind as involving the exhibition of signals of distress. Does the noble Earl suggest for a moment that nothing is ever to be said by any of us, by anybody in this country, which can possibly give encouragement to the enemy? I can recall a great many Ministerial utterances which ought never to have been made if that principle were allowed to prevail. I can recall a statement be a Minister that the Germans were building submarines faster than we could sink them. I do not think it is so now, but the statement was certainly made a year ago. I can recall a statement that the Germans were sinking our tonnage faster than we could replace it. I remember a statement, made not very long ago, to the effect that the measures which we were taking to make further calls for recruits were going to spell death and disaster to our industries. I remember a statement made by the Prime Minister at Paris, when to every one's consternation he spoke of the incredible blunders of our strategy—a statement which, by the way, he made with his own comment that be spoke at the risk of giving temporary encouragement to the enemy. Now, I think it is perfectly right to say these things. I am entirely in favour of facing the realities of the situation, and speaking quite frankly about them. And one of the realities of the situation I believe it this, that in this country there is a great body of Opinion, an increasing body of opinion, perfectly respectable opinion, which earnestly desires that no effort should be spared to bring about a safe and honourable peace by negotiation.

Just one word more about the question of encouragement. Ought we not to bear in mind that there are other people in the Central Powers whom we have to think of besides those who, whenever anything of this kind is said, welcome it as a signal of distress? Is it not the case, both in Anstria and in Germany, that there is a growing body of people who are sick of the sufferings they are undergoing, weary of the butchery of this war, and who are beginning to discover (I am sure they have discovered it) that they have been grossly misled, both as to the facts and circumstances which led to the outbreak of the war and as to the reasons and objects for which we are prolonging it. That is a body which I frankly say I want to encourage, and I welcome anything that can be said in this country to give them encouragement. It is a body which has been no doubt greatly encouraged by the appearance of the Lichnowsky Memoirs, which I was very glad to hear the noble Lord say were being printed and distributed by millions in this country. I think it is through people of that kind, in Germany and Austria, that we shall in time find our way to the kind of peace which I believe the noble Earl and I alike desire.

May I make one other observation with regard to the question of peace by negotiation? We are very often reminded of the wise things which are said from time to time by the President of the United States, and on this question of peace by negotiation I should like to quote from his last message a sentence which I think even the noble Earl will not be disposed to brush aside as of no importance. President Wilson discriminates. He discriminates between the statesmen and the civilians and the military party which at this moment is in the ascendancy in Germany. But he says that— For myself, I am ready, ready still, ready even now, to discuss a just honest peace at any time that it is sincerely purposed. Will any one question the soundness and the justice of that intimation? I should like to ask, How are we to discover whether peace terms are honestly and sincerely purposed unless we are able to test them in the usual manner by scrutiny and discussion? There is one reservation. I admit that for the moment, while this titanic struggle is proceeding on the Western Front, it is idle to look for opportunities, or indeed to make any suggestions, for a discussion of peace terms.

I feel, however, impelled to beg the noble Earl to think twice before he attempts to drive the people of this country into what I venture to call a very dangerous mood. If reasonable people are not to be allowed to open their lips without being told that their opinions are revolting, if when Germany talks about peace we are to say "all this is mere squealing," if when people on this side talk about peace we are to be told that they are untrue to our country and ready to sacrifice its honour in order to bring the war to a premature close, and if a hearing is to be denied, as I think the noble Earl would rather like to deny it, to all those who try to look where they are going and to count the cost, then I should indeed despair of this country. I know that there are moments when, stung by a just indignation, our people see red. It is, perhaps, as well that they should sometimes do so, but I hope that they will never see so red as to become blind to the dictates of common prudence, of common humanity, and common sense.


My Lords, I think that it would be ratter a cowardly thing on my part if I did not say a few words, because the noble Earl referral, to ex-Chancellors, of whom I am one, and some- what pointedly addressed his observations to those who took part in the meeting over which my noble friend Lord Beauchamp presided. I shall not at any time be afraid of stating my own true opinion. I think that the noble Earl, if he will allow me to say so, has looked at this subject a little in half lights, and has seen only one side of the frame of mind which he distrusts and dislikes.

Will he let me assure him that so far as my knowledge goes there are great multitudes of people in this country who have two particular aims at this time. One of them is to help the young men in the field—whom we who are old men are painfully obliged to require to fight the battle of the country—in every way that we can, and to encourage them by finding money, which is a small thing, and in trying to help also those who belong to them. We are as much attached to the view of helping our country as is the noble Earl, and of trying to help in the frightful struggle into which we have been brought. And we do so with the knowledge, whatever you may say about the prudence or courage or the can-dour of previous proceedings, that every one in this country believes that the Government of 1914 desired to preserve peace if they could. We all know that. A great many men for whom I am afraid the noble Earl does not testify very much respect hold that view, notwithstanding the fact that they have another point of view also, and it is this.

If anybody looks at the past history of humanity and realises what frightful mischiefs are done even by small wars and by their prolongation—by their prolongation almost as much as by their undue commencement—he will at least, I think, understand how men should hold the view that I expressed repeatedly at an early stage of this war, and shall continue to express until the last moment of it. It is the view that I conceived at the first moment that it began. I foretold and foresaw the frightful nature of it, and the disasters that might ensue from it to humanity and to civilisation itself. Civilisation may, indeed, be almost obliterated by it. I have this feeling, and I would be ashamed not to say that as soon as an honourable peace can be obtained I think that every man ought to try his best in order to secure that peace. That is my opinion, and it is what I have said on the very few occasions on which I have had an opportunity of addressing anybody. An honourable and a lasting peace is the only thing that we ought to want—




Yes, a lasting peace. It may be that the noble Earl and I would not agree as to what would constitute a lasting peace, but I do not think we would differ as to what would be an honourable peace. Is it then, if I may say so to him, really worth his while starting a debate at a moment when every one is anxious in the last degree about the condition of affairs on the Western Front for the purpose of stigmatising opinions which I think he hardly appreciates? I do not think the noble Earl knows or has realised the extent of feeling that there is among men who would do anything to serve their country at this moment. If lie will reflect a little upon that he will contribute to another purpose at this moment, and that is to the avoidance of an artificial appearance of a difference of opinion when at heart we all want what we believe is to the interest of our country.


My Lords, if it had not been for certain observations that fell from my noble friend Lord Lansdowne, I do not think that it would have been necessary for me to intervene in this debate. The debate has not been, in any speech to which I have listened—and I have heard them all—in any sense an attack upon the Government. There is nothing which, as representing the Government in this House, I am therefore called upon to answer. It has rather been a series of expressions of individual opinion upon certain aspects of the war, and a vindication on the part of noble Lords, who thought that their attitude or convictions were challenged, of their personal position or conduct. Nevertheless it is, perhaps, open to one who happens to occupy my position to draw together the threads of a discussion which I think on the whole has been a very useful and illuminating one, and which none of your Lordships need regret.

No one had a better right to bring this subject before us than the noble and gallant Earl who put the Motion down on the Paper. We know that, in common with other noble Lords, he has suffered in his heart and in his home, and no greater proof of the depths of his Own patriotism can he given than the active part, which he lots taken in the propaganda to which he referred this afternoon. In one respect I think the noble Earl is rendering a great service, and that is in the attention which I understand that in his platform propaganda lie continually draws to the designs and ambitions of Germany in the East. That is a matter that has been too frequently minimised, if not ignored, in this country. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane, alluded to the Baghdad Railway scheme of Germany before the war, and to the singular skill with which, by the activity of carefully selected agents, she has pushed her policy and propaganda in the Eastern parts of the world. All that is no doubt true. But I cannot help reminding the noble Viscount hat there were persons, of whom I was one, who not infrequently called the attention of your Lordships' House to the matter. I remember on many occasions making speeches about the Baghdad Railway and the menace which it involved, and I cannot recall that I ever received anything but a very chill response from those noble Lords, the colleagues of my noble and learned friend, who at that time were seated upon this bench.

However that may be, let me assure the noble Earl, Lord Denbigh, that the matter is one which is under close and constant survey by the present Government. We have a War Cabinet, Committee, of which I happen to be the chairman, which deals exclusively with the question of Eastern policy. Upon that Committee the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Secretary of State for India, and the Chief of the General Staff have seats, and weekly every aspect and ramification of this Eastern question come under survey, and the policy of His Majesty's Government is directed with as close an attention to the facts and as frequent a reference to expert authority as can be managed.

There was one other passage in Lord Denbigh's speech which I thought might have been somewhat differently expressed. I hardly think that he was fair in what he said about the Episcopal Bench. There was only one right rev. Prelate in the House at the moment, and I observed that he did rise at an earlier stage to take up the cudgels for his absent brethren. In his failure to have caught the attention of the House, may I break a lance on their behalf? I thought that the noble Earl was unfair both on general and on specific grounds. I believe he was alluding more particularly to views which the Bishops expressed, or several of them expressed, some time ago in a debate in this House about reprisals; bit I think that the criticism was unfair because it was made at a moment when many of us were reading, very likely in the paper this morning, the account of the wonderfully successful and patriotic tour of the Archbishop of York in America. There, we are told, he addressed something like 100 audiences, I think many scores of thousands, perhaps even a larger number, of men of all classes, preaching to them the cause of the War, preaching to them the higher moral and spiritual issues involved, and awakening an absolute frenzy of patriotic fervour in that country. That was a great service. Then among the other occupants of the Episcopal Benches surely none of us can forget the service that is being rendered day after day to the country by the Bishop of London. I single him out only because his activities come very frequently under our notice. I am quite certain that the noble Earl, in making the remarks that he did, did not wish to convey any general imputation as to the conduct of the right rev. Prelates to whom I have referred.

Then I pass to the speech of the noble Lord who answered for the Government as the representative of the Ministry of Information. I think I may congratulate my noble friend on having shown successfully to the House the steps that are being taken, partly by the Ministry of which he is in charge, and partly by the War Aims Committee, not merely for the dissemination of sound information in this country, but for the checking of all those hostile agencies, whether they take the form of literature, or meetings, or speeches, or otherwise, which were condemned by the noble Earl. But when the noble Earl condemned in such pointed language the activities of the various associations to which he referred, I thought all the while that there was another side of the picture upon which he might have laid rather greater stress, for it is one which gives very great encouragement to all of us, and that is that although there are these papers—in many cases rags of the most contemptible description—disseminating dangerous and unpatriotic doctrines, and although there are these speeches made and these clandestine influences at work, yet, broadly speaking, the heart of this country is absolutely sound—


I said so.


—and the vast majority of newspapers of every description are on the right side. We seldom take up a newspaper without reading that if a pacifist meeting of a dangerous or insidious character is attempted to be held it is broken up, and only this morning I was looking in my illustrated paper at a picture of a prominent person being escorted from one of these meetings by a policeman in order to save his skin from the attentions of the crowd. Therefore I think that it is possible to exaggerate the work which is being done and the influence which is being exercised by these pacifist agencies, and that we may take heart from the fact that the spirit of our population, the spirit of the labouring classes, of every class, men and women, is right.


Pacifism was very bad last December.


I am speaking of the position of affairs now.


Since the offensive began there has been a great change.


I have no doubt the offensive has had a great deal to do with stimulating the spirit of the people, and I do not think there is much to be complained of at the present moment.

Then I come to the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne. No one could have listened without deep sympathy to the reference that he made to the losses that have been sustained in the course of this war by many of those for whom he speaks and the terrible impression that is produced upon them and upon the public at large by all the miseries and sorrows that it has entailed. It has, I dare say, coloured his view of the war—I do not mean to say at all unfairly, but at any rate we know how from the depths of the heart the lips speak, and we realise how sincere and deep are the emotions which lie underneath his utterance. I wish I could feel that there was more ground than he seemed to think there is for the existence of similar feelings as regards the horrors and the butchery of the war in the enemy countries to which he referred. He said, Ought we not continually to be looking to people who are taking the same view of the case as he does in Germany and Austria; ought we not to give them a chance of allowing their voices to be heard? Yes, by all means. But I confess that when those voices ever are heard, if they are heard at all, they are almost drowned in the blare of the military trumpet; and I must say I have seen little or no evidence that that class of opinion to which the noble Marquess referred, even if it exists, as no doubt it does, is sufficiently powerful to make itself seriously felt at the present time. Take, for instance, the famous case of the late German Ambassador here, Prince Lichnowsky. It would seem almost incredible that the divulgation of those reminiscences, obviously true, written for private circulation, instinct with sincerity and genuineness, should be made the subject of prosecution. And yet we are told that that is the case, and, so far as we know, no voice among the classes to which the noble Marquess referred is raised in protest against an indignity of that description.

I am not concerned, of course, on the present occasion with the particular view that is taken by the noble Marquess (Lord Lansdowne) about peace; nor was I at all aware that out of this discussion on pacifism would arise even collaterally an examination of the famous letter of the noble Marquess. As he knows very well, I was not in agreement with that letter, and quite apart from the terms of it—with a great deal of which, no doubt, many noble Lords would be in accord—it was to the moment of its production even more than to the substance that I myself took exception at the time. But that question does not arise this afternoon. The noble Marquess went on to put the question, and it is a very serious one, How are you aide to obtain peace unless peace by negotiation is allowed I In a sense, I think that is a truism. It is clear that for peace there must as a prelude he negotiations; and when the noble Marquess went on to speak of overtures being turned down before they were made, I confess that I do not, in my recollection of the events of the last few years, find any historical founddation for that suggestion. On the contrary, ever since the war began the Allied Powers have always had in view, as, indeed, any combatant in a great struggle must have in view, the possibility of an honourable and successful termination to the war by negotiation; and at no time has the attitude been taken up by this Government, or by any one of the Allied Governments, of turning down proposals before they have been made. Indeed, it was an understanding among the Allies that if overtures were made at any time to any of them—overtures coming from responsible quarters, overtures which seemed to be of a bona fide character—the Ally concerned would be at liberty to investigate the matter, to pursue the case, always, of course, on the understanding that if anything came Of it the remainder of the Allies should he taken into consultation and common action should ensue. That has been a common and admitted principle of action throughout the war, and, as everybody knows very well, occasions have arisen when there have been movements and overtures of than description; and, as everybody knows very well also, they have broken down only because they were either desisted from by those who put them forward, or because they were found to be insincere, or because they turned out to be of a character which did not admit of their being pursued with due regard to honour and safety.

Those are the broad facts of the case, and I do not think there is anything in the attitude of the Government in that respect to which the noble Marquess has any right to take exception; and as regards the position now, I do not really think that there is any substantial disagreement in any quarter of the House about it. Peace by negotiation is, as everybody admits, in one sense utterly impossible at this moment. This country is confronted with the gravest crisis that has ever occurred in its history. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane, was perfectly right when he said that these discussions are at this moment academic. We are Out to save the life of the world, including our own, and any idea at the present moment that out of negotiations of any sort peace would be likely to ensue is, I imagine, almost chimerical. Further, we do not derive any great encouragement from the spectacle of peace by negotiation in so far as it has been exhibited at Brest Litovsk in one case, and with Rumania in the other case. There you have had peace by negotiation—peace imposed by the military arm, by a victorious enemy, upon an impotent and defeated foe. I do not say that these circumstances are likely to arise—God forbid that they should arise!—in our case, but the situation is this, that until the military spirit of Germany is abated—and it can be abated only in the process of this conflict—I am afraid that the idea of pursuing negotiations with any hope of attaining an honourable and lasting peace, which the noble and. learned Earl, Lord Loreburn, had in view, is at the present moment one which we cannot regard with any very great hopes of success.

I think that I have stated the position fairly accurately as it now exists, and I hope that there is nothing in the circumstances of this debate or in what. I have said that will lead your Lordships to think it necessary to proceed to a Division upon the matter. The noble Earl, it is true, gave notice of the terms of a Resolution which he proposed to move, but I would suggest to him that he should not persist in that attitude for two reasons. In the first place, it seems to me a rather undesirable thing to give encouragement to the practice of putting a Resolution down on the Paper without notice of the terms, and then coming to the House and, at the end of a speech, reading the terms and asking the House to vote upon it. I will not say that this is art innovation, but it is a practice which I, at any rate, should be very reluctant to ask the House to endorse Secondly, the noble Earl in the Motion which he read out, the terms of which I have here, expressed regret that further steps have not been taken in the direction of checking the pacifist tendencies of which he complained. That regret involves necessarily a censure upon somebody. I do not know whom the noble Earl censures, but I think the speech of my noble friend behind me, Lord Beaverbrook, shows that there is nobody deserving of censure in this case. Therefore for the noble Earl to ask the House to pass a Resolution of this description would, quite apart from the precedent it would set up, be unfair. In these circumstances I hope that my noble friend will be satisfied with the discussion which has taken place upon his most interesting Motion, and that he will not ask your Lordships to divide.


My Lards, I respond at once to what the noble Earl has said, and with the leave of the House will withdraw the Resolution which I put down. I was somewhat disappointed, however, to note in. the speeches which have been made such an utter want of appreciation from almost every one who spoke—except the noble Earl, and a reference from Lord Haldane—with regard to the main points which I desired to bring before the House. The noble Earl said that the question in the East was receiving great attention from a Committee of the Cabinet, from the Chief of Staff, and from others. I have not the smallest doubt about that. My complaint is that the country knows and has been told so little about it; that it has not been brought prominently before their notice; with the result that the country is still of the opinion that the main issues before us are the questions of Belgium and the West. That was the main object of my bringing forward this debate.

When the present offensive is over, everybody expects to have a renewal of what is called the peace offensive. Then you will be faced with the country being called upon to give a decision, very likely from the sentimental point of view which was put forward by the noble Marquess, deploring further losses and quite oblivious of the nature of the Germans and of the original objects and aims which they had in view—namely, of securing the domination of the world by getting into a position of predominance over England. The question which the noble Marquess raised with regard to what he said was an article of faith of mine, that I was against any peace by negotiation at any time, was aptly answered by the noble Earl the Leader of the House. I have never said anything against peace by negotiation at some time or other; but what I maintain is that it is utterly useless to talk of peace by negotiation so long as the German people have faith in the military party, and that the only way to have a peace by negotiation which could possibly be safe for the future of this country is to teach the German people by a very unpleasant lesson that war is not the paying business that it has been to them in the past.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.