§ LORD ISLINGTON had given Notice to ask His Majesty's Government to what extent, if any, action has been taken by them in respect to responsibilities connected with territories administered by Great Britain under Mandate of the League of Nations prior to receiving the assent of Parliament; and to move for a Return stating the total military expenditure incurred in each of the territories administered since the acceptance of the Mandate of the League of Nations by Great Britain.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Question which stands in my name in regard to Mandates is necessarily one of a somewhat comprehensive character, and I drafted it in that sense, having in mind the somewhat stringent strictures under which I came at the hands of the noble Earl the Leader of the House on a previous occasion when I discussed this matter in your Lordships' House. I am not prepared to say that he was not justified in expressing that reproach' to ire, and I desire, if possible, to avoid a repetition of it. I have, therefore, put down the Question in a somewhat comprehensive manner. It does not specify any particular Mandated territory, and I realise that it is difficult, in dealing with this matter, to draft a Question which has embodied in it so many very technical and various topics. In view of this, I have done what my noble friend has done, and have given notice to the noble Duke as to the main Questions I propose to put. I am sure that it is of much greater 760 convenience for debate to do this, and I hope it may result in having cleared up certain ambiguities and uncertainties which at present exist in the public mind in regard to these Mandates.
§ As to the Mandates for Mesopotamia and Palestine, we have recently had a very full statement in another place by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and I propose now to make only very few observations in regard to the proposals of the Secretary of State. The discussion in t he House of Commons has been adjourned, and Parliament is, therefore, in the case of these two Mandates, accorded an opportunity to discuss the policy for those two Mandates, and will subsequently have an opportunity of expressing its opinion, if it so thinks fit. In his opening remarks, the Secretary of State for the Colonies laid stress on our obligations in the undertakings into which we had entered in the Middle East. He pointed out that our promises made it incumbent upon us honourably to fulfil them and not lightheartedly to repudiate them. He prefaced his very clear statement of policy by saving that it was no use spending time now in debating whether it was wise or unwise to have contracted these obligations. I think everybody must appreciate the situation in which the Secretary of State for the Colonies is placed in assuming the responsibility for those Mandates as they stand to-day, which have been recently transferred to the Office over which he presides.
§ It is not my intention to criticise the policy outlined by him, or the expenditure for which he finds it necessary to ask Parliament. Indeed, it is not possible for us in this House to criticise that expenditure effectively. That is a function which rests with the House of Commons, and it must be left to them to decide. At the same time, I cannot disguise from myself that whilst the expenditure which he asks the House of Commons to accept is materially reduced from that which has been expended in those countries in the previous year, still an enormous sum is involved. This expenditure, as the Secretary of State for the Colonies himself implied, is due to the policy that was initiated and developed in those countries during the past three years. It is that which makes it necessary for hint to-day, after all the ingenuity Ire has employed with his own advisers, to come to the House of Commons and ask 761 for £35,500,000 of British money as the irreducible minimum to meet, the necessities imposed by the previous obligations which have been undertaken. It is well that. the taxpayers of this country, who groan under the weight of overwhelming burdens, should realise that this sum of money represents in taxation, approximately, Is. in the£in Income Tax.
§ It must be left to the taxpayer to discover, as he will no doubt discover, what Imperial and national advantage is to be derived, directly or indirectly, from this enormous expenditure. It will also remain to be seen to what extent this expenditure, with its corresponding burdens, here and elsewhere, is going to stimulate the enthusiasm of the taxpayers of this country for this novel experiment of the Mandatory system as it has been developed under the auspices of His Majesty's Government during the past three years. He may come to realise that Rulers in some other countries, where apparently Parliamentary control is more effective than it is in our own country, were not unwise in insisting on the avoidance of this new form of burden with its countless obligations and overwhelming expense. The taxpayer may, at least, learn this lesson—and he is learning it in a hard and expensive school—that ideals, perfect though they are in theory, must not be adopted with quixotic precipitancy before practical examination has been given to them, before the cost and liabilities involved have been thoroughly investigated; more especially when the field selected for the promulgation of these ideals happen to be, as they are in some of these cases, the storm centres of the world.
§ One naturally asks how this has come about. How is it that we are to-day saddled with these expensive and troublesome responsibilities throughout the world? Undoubtedly, the official answer would be that they are the inevitable consequences of conquest, the inevitable penalties of victory on the part of. a Power which has world possessions. In part, that answer is true, and in some territories where the Mandatory system has been introduced I am not prepared to quarrel with it. Speaking unofficially, and in special regard to the two Mandated territories of Palestine and Mesopotamia, I should attribute it (and there are many who share my views) in a large measure to another reason which is specific and domestic in its character amongst ourselves, certainly in regard to the 762 shape and form in which these Mandates, and the expenditure attaching to them, have been developed. I attribute it to the absence, during the past three years, of effective Cabinet control and supervision, and to the withdrawal of Parliamentary control over the Executive.
§ It is common knowledge that these adverse tendencies in our constitutional system have been running positively rampant during the pa t three years, and it is almost inconceivable, had a constitutional system been properly working, through the Cabinet and Parliament during that time, that these additional and, in many respects, ill-considered commitments, would have been added to an Empire already immense, and one which by natural consequences is increasing daily in difficulty and responsibility. It cannot be conceived that these additional burdens would have been lightly undertaken under such a procedure at a time when our financial credit and our capital arc at a lower ebb than ever before; at a time when our shrunken resources are demanded to repair and reconstruct our industrial position, which was never more grave than it is to-day. Had Parliament and the Cabinet considered, as they should have considered, all the issues at stake, the inevitable consequences at home and abroad of this policy in all its details, it would at least have been initiated and developed on lines less prone to risk and with less heavy liabilities than those which are the outcome of the policy that was adopted.
§ However, the procedure I have suggested was not followed. In its place was substituted a secretive and bureaucratic form of machinery, partly almost individual in its character in the case of Palestine, partly Departmental, and partly composed of a loosely constituted Committee. I have no doubt seine of the individuals in the Executive would say that what has taken place is due to one of these causes; others, that it is due to another cause. I say that the real offenders in this matter are the. Executive Government who ought to have estimated tile cost, and, in consultation with Parliament throughout, should have framed and adopted a more prudent policy,. having regard to the financial capacity of the country.
§ There were two observations in the Secretary of State's speech, which I am sure everyone will endorse, having a close 763 bearing on our future in the East, especially as we have assumed these added responsibilities. The Secretary of State urged the supreme importance of working in close accord with France and the immense importance of concluding Peace with Turkey at the earliest possible date. I believe the latter realisation to be indispensable to the future conduct of our affairs, in a successful form, in the Middle and Far East. Good will and a clear understanding with Turkey must, in a large measure, be the basis of our continued good relations with the Moslem world throughout the East, and it is to be regretted that this was not realised two years ago. No effort should now be spared to conclude Peace with Turkey as soon as possible. It gives at least sonic assurance that we have a Minister in charge of the Colonial Office, and of these Mandates of the Middle East, who fully realises its importance, and I hope lie will exercise all the determination and persistency with which he is endowed to convert some of his colleagues to the same point of view.
§ There is only one Question I desire to ask the noble Duke in regard to Mesopotamia. The Secretary of State told us the expenditure that would be incurred and how it would be incurred, but he did not mention the expenditure involved in the civil administration of Trait and Kurdistan. I presume that the expense so incurred will be met by taxation within the country itself, and that there will not be an additional burden upon the taxpayers of this country. It is clear that for sonic time Kurdistan will have to be practically administered by the High Commissioner and a staff of capable officers, and, of course, for some time to come, the Arab Government will have to be assisted by competent British officers throughout Irak. Perhaps my noble friend will be ready to answer me on that point.
§ I turn for one moment to Africa. As regards au official statement as to the position of these Mandates, we have hitherto been singularly ill-informed. As my noble friend said, I do not think that we are in possession of any Report as to what is being done in regard to the administration of this country since the Armistice. First of all, I would take the two small Mandates which we have on the West, which are known as the British Cameroons and the British Togoland Mandates. I read the speech of the Governor 764 of Nigeria to his Legislative Council the other day, in which he informed them that the British Cameroons Mandate was to be brought. under his control as Governor of Nigeria. and further, that the deficit, which I believe amounts to £65.000 for the past year, was to be paid out of the funds of the existing Crown Colony of Nigeria. He went on to say that that additional burden was likely to continue for some years.
§ I should like to know if the same arrangement is to be made in regard to the Togo-land British Mandate; whether that, in its turn, is to be placed under the administration of the Governor of the Gold Coast; whether, in case there is a deficit there, the noble Duke will tell us what it is.and whether it is to be paid out of the funds of the Gold Coast. This is one of those point, which have considerable importance attached to them. A new liability is laid upon one of our existing Colonies, and I should have thought that it was one which, before being undertaken, should have received the assent of Parliament. It may be a right proposal or a Wrong proposal. From the view of administration it. is probably the best course. But Parliament, at least, ought to be fully informed and given an opportunity to express its views, because it is undoubtedly an embarrassment to one of our existing Colonies.
§ It must be remembered that the condition under which a Mandated country is to be administrated must vary in many important respects from the conditions at present prevailing under a Crown Colony or a Protectorate. If. therefore, a territory is, in future, to be composed partly of a Crown Colony and partly of a Mandated territory, and is to conic under one and the same Government, with the financial responsibility imposed upon the shoulders of that Government and that territory, there will, at least, need to be very careful consideration as to the mode by which the work can best be conducted, without. presenting what obviously might create anomalies in conditions as between one set. of native tribes and another, and so on, and thereby arousing material grievances within the area of jurisdiction.
§ As regards the administration of the Mandated area, a Report, as the noble Lord said, is to be made annually to the Council of the League of Nations. I hope the noble Duke will be able to assure us clearly, on 765 behalf of His Majesty's Government, that a Report will also be sent home and subjected to the consideration of Parliament, every year. It is obvious, or at any rate it is likely, that modification will be found necessary in the Mandate itself. If this joint form of administration is to prevail in the future, and we are to bear the whole responsibility, and the Colony is to have imposed upon it the financial liability, there should also, I think, be a precise assurance by His Majesty's Government that Parliament will be fully consulted in the matter before any change is made. Matters affecting materially the administration and financial position of Crown Colonies, such as those to which I have just alluded, really cannot. be relegated to the confirmation or approval of the League of Nations until they have been fully discussed and approved by our own Parliament.
§ In saying that I am not making any attack upon the League of Nations. I think they are quite innocent. victims. But I think other noble Lords will agree with me if I say that the Government have been very much too prone, in the last two years, to shield themselves and their unconstitutional conduct behind the shadowy form of the League of Nations. That is a point that we cannot emphasise ton much in insisting upon ill these questions being brought before the Parliament representing peoples upon whom these responsibilities are imposed. In that connection, Sir Eric Drummond. in a public statement the other day, said that neither the Council of the League of Nations nor the Permanent Mandates Commission can impose upon the Mandatory Power any alteration in the terms of tile Mandate; once they have been determined. This shows clearly that., in all these changes, it is to the Parliament of the country concerned that these matters should be referred.
§ Another question which I should like to ask the noble Duke is this. What attitude has been taken up towards the United States in regard to these Mandates? The Government of the United States, some months ago, put in a very strong claim, through their Secretary of State, that these Mandates should be communicated to them, upon what were, I think, the reasonable grounds that the Mandates had been offered by the Associated Powers, and that the United States were; therefore, participants in the offer. I have not heard whether these Mandates have been officially 766 communicated to the Government of the United States. When a Question was asked in another place some time ago, Mr. Bonar Law, who answered it, admitted that it was right and desirable that the Government of the United States should be communicated with officially in regard to these Mandates. I need not emphasise the importance of that. Although, for the time being, the United States stands outside the machinery of the League of Nations, it is of the utmost importance, having regard to commercial and fiscal questions, as well as social and native questions, that will arise in these territories, that we should move along the line of complete agreement with the United States.
§ I would say one word on the other Mandated territory, Tanganyika. I saw in the Press the report of a speech by the Secretary of State for the Colonies before the Imperial Conference, in which he informed them that he had asked for one and a half millions sterling from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to meet the deficit of that country, but that only £900,000 had been made available. I assume that this will be in the form of a loan, and I should like to ask 'whether that loan has yet received the sanction of Parliament. I should have thought that, if it had been done in accordance with proper precedent and. procedure, it would require an Act of Parliament. Perhaps my noble friend will tell me, on behalf of the Office which he represents, what. has been done in regard to that point. The Secretary of State, in that speech, proceeded to warn us that a large additional expenditure will be essential if Tanganyika is to be properly developed, as it was hitherto being developed under the German Government. There again we have an additional burden for this country, and I think it must be made clear to us that, whatever is done, whatever additional expenditure is incurred, should only be done after it has been fully discussed by the House of Commons, and has received its sanction.
I say this all the more because of another remark in that speech, which may have attracted the attention of some of your Lordships. The Secretary of State went on to say—
We have got very little money. The great expense of Palestine and Mesopotamia has thrown such burdens upon our shoulders that everything with regard to Crown Colonies has been very severely pruned.
§ There opens out a very serious question. We have to watch very carefully that our existing responsibilities in our own Crown Colonies and. Protectorates are not going to be prejudiced because of these new commitments that we have undertaken. It is a matter which I would refer to the most serious consideration of your Lordships, and, indeed, of His Majesty's Government.
§ One further word in regard to the whole situation in Central and East Africa. Our possessions in East and Central Africa, quite apart from Tanganyika, demand to-day the very earnest attention of the Government. There are many and most urgent problems requiring immediate adjustment. There is the question of the political and economic status of the Indian community in these countries. They are suffering unquestioned disabilities, and their grievances are being ventilated both in India and throughout these countries. There is also the question of the native communities, giving rise to serious apprehension among some responsible bodies of opinion, both as regards the conditions, to-day prevailing, of labour imposed upon 'native communities, and as regards the treatment meted out to them with respect to the reservation of their land. I mention the problems in our own Crown Colonies of Kenya, and in a less degree in Uganda, and in the country of Zanzibar, where we have responsibilities, because I venture to say it will be impossible now to separate them from similar problems which must prevail in Tanganyika. I am sure that it will be found, in dealing with these problems, that the whole area must be taken into account, whether Mandated country or Crown Colony, especially in that particular zone. This is a very important question upon which I shall not this evening do more than touch. All I desire to say is that the redress and adjustment of these grievances, and the permanent settlement of these problems, which really are a worldwide concern in our position as a great Empire, are, first and foremost, functions which the Imperial Parliament must deal with, and no other body outside.
§ I venture to ask the noble Duke whether he will convey to the Secretary of State an invitation from me that, before the end of this session, he should give a very full statement in another place of the present and future administration of these territories, which now conic under his control.768
§ I would further urge upon him, in the strongest tennis, that if these complex, and in many respects acutely controversial, problems are to find solutions at his hands, I am confident it will not be through the instrument of a mere Departmental conference in this country. I believe that it can only be done successfully, and to the actual acceptance of the contending parties in those countries, by the appointment of a strong and impartial Royal Commission, which should be sent out to those countries this winter, with a specific reference to inquire into, and report to Parliament on, the whole subject.
§ These are the main Questions which I desire to ask. I have added to my Question a Motion that a Return should be granted to Parliament of the military expenditure in those countries since they have come under the Mandate. The noble Duke may tell me that it is difficult for him to give a precise Return in that connection, but in view of the fact that we really know so little of what has been done in those countries, not since they became Mandated but since the Armistice, and in view of the fact that in some of them we know there have been military garrisons, I think it will be to the advantage of Parliament that we should be informed as to the precise expenditure in that connection that has been involved by our military occupation. I shall be very much obliged to the noble Duke if he will give me an answer. I beg to move.
§ VISCOUNT BRYCE
My Lords, before I say a very few words indeed with regard to the general question which Lord Islington has brought before your Lordships, may I refer to three or four particular points, upon each of which a sentence or two would be enough for my purpose? In the first place, let me thank the noble Duke for the information with which he supplied me, in answer to a Question which I put a short time ago, with regard to what was being done in Palestine in connection with a survey to ascertain what territory was suitable for immigration. Lord Islington referred to the case of Kurdistan. I think we should have a little more information with regard to the precise nature of the relations that we are going to undertake towards that extremely difficult country.
There is no part of the East which presents more difficulties, from the physical character of the country and the habits of 769 the people, and one of the things to be most carefully guarded is to secure full protection and safety for two ancient Christian communities, which have suffered terribly during the war—namely, the Nestorian or Chaldean and Assyrian Christians—small communities, one-half of whom have been destroyed by massacres which the Turks conducted in 1915. There was no excuse whatever for those massacres, because it: was never alleged, even by the Turks, that there was any dissatisfaction, or any threat to the. Turkish Government. It was a perfectly wanton destruction of Christian life, because it was Christian. In any steps taken to secure the welfare of that. part of the world, and to deal with the difficult problem of Kurdistan, the scheme might to include provision for the safety of the Nestorian and Assyrian Christians, and, if possible, their restoration to the territories from which they were expelled. and the giving to them of full protection there.
That leads me to make one remark upon an observation which fell from Lord Islington. He suggessted that; we should immediately endeavour to arrange Peace with Turkey. I do not know upon what terms that would be accomplished. I should say that our great mistake, ever since the end of the war, has been submission to Turkey; in not having dealt firmly enough with Turkey; in having; yielded to the friends of Turkey in other countries,I think she has no friends left in this country—and in having neglected to take steps for the protection of the Christian communities whom the Turks have endeavoured to destroy. lf, therefore, any Peace is to he made with Turkey, if any arrangement is to be made, either with the legitimate Government at Constantinople or with what I might call the rebel government under Mustapha Kemal at Angora, it ought to be an absolute condition that proper provision should be made for the safety of the Christian communities.
As your Lordships know, the Treaty of Sèvres did contain a provision that there should be an independent Christian State, and that Christian State signed the Treaty of Sevres. I will not trouble your Lordships with the complications which have supervened. It would take too long, and would lead us too far from the main subject which we are discussing. But I express the earnest hope that no representations 770 made by the friends of the Turks, no representations made by disloyal Moslems in India, no representations made by any other Power, will prevent this country from discharging the duty to which she is bound by the assurances she gave during the war, and which were practically renewed in the Treaty of Sevres, that the Christian population should be protected and should no longer be left at the mercy of their implacable enemies. So much for that.
With reference to the points which were raised with respect to South-East Africa by my noble friend, Lord Islington, and by my noble friend, Lord Parmoor, I should like to express the hope that very great attention will be given to what was said by Lord Pa rumor with regard to the absolute necessity of imposing a complete prohibition on the importation of arms and of liquor. As he said, restriction is no use; restriction will be evaded; there will be unscrupulous persons who will endeavour to bring these things in if there is any door left open by which they can enter. I think. therefore, that complete prohibition will he the only adequate remedy.
Lord Parmoor also raised a point of very great importance, but I am sure it is present to His Majesty's Government—the question of allowing any Mandatory Power to raise native troops, not merely for the preservation of order in the Mandated territory, but to be used as its soldiers elsewhere. That would be absolutely contrary to the plain language and meaning of the League of Nations Covenant. It would also be in the highest degree inexpedient, and would strike at the root of the whole theory of the Mandates. It would be a complete negation of the doctrine that the Mandate is a trust for the benefit of the people mandated, and not for t he benefit of the Mandatory country.
Coming now to the main subject which my noble friend brought before your Lordships, may I observe that a great many of the difficulties which have arisen in connection with the question of Mandates spring from the fact that the Covenant of the League is extremely vague on the subject. It gives the impression of not having been thought out properly, and, therefore, it has been quite easy and natural for His Majesty's Government to be somewhat vacillating and somewhat obscure in dealing with matters which the League Covenant left so vague. Certainly we are very much 771 in the dark in the matter. We have received in Parliament far less information than we are entitled to receive.
May I sum up four points in which, it seems to me, it is absolutely essential that the relations between Parliament and the League of Nations and His Majesty's Government—for there are these three parties to the matter—should be cleared up? In the first place, Parliament ought to know the terms of any Draft Mandate before it goes to the Council of the League. I understand that His Majesty's Government have already admitted that that is the proper course. In the second place, when the Council of the League has drafted a Mandate, it ought, before this country finally accepts it, to be again submitted to Parliament., in order that Parliament may know what we are accepting. It does not follow that the form in which it comes from the Council of the League will be the form which Parliament will prefer; but Parliament, on behalf of the nation, is accepting the responsibility. The nation accepts it, and Parliament is the body entitled to say what the wishes of the nation are.
In the third place, Parliament ought to be supplied with full information, from time to time, of what is being done under the Mandates. There ought to be some person in each House of Parliament who is kept perfectly informed of what is being done under a Mandate, and who is prepared to answer questions and satisfy us here, and satisfy another place, of the wisdom and propriety of the measures which are taken, and of the exactness with which the provisions of the Covenant regarding Mandated territories are being carried out. We have not yet reached that stage. I suppose we may expect it, and I think we are fully entitled to have it. I hope it will be given in a very full form, so as to enable the criticisms that Parliament may bring to bear to be effective and helpful.
In the next place, there is the very difficult question of the Mandates given to other countries. When we are parties to giving a Mandate to another country, and giving the sanction of this country to what another country does, we ought to know what will be done under that Mandate. In other words, we ought to know the form of the Mandate and the provisions it contains; because we are, so to speak, guarantors for Mandated countries. This is 772 a kind of General Alliance, in which all the Powers guarantee the Mandated territories to the Mandatory Power. Moreover, we are guarantors to the populations subject to the Mandate that they will be properly treated, in accordance with the provisions of the Mandate, and in accordance with the principles laid down in the Covenant of the League. In order to do that we ought to know upon what terms we assent to the Mandate which is to be given to some other country. And if that Mandate contains provisions which are openly at variance with the provisions of the Covenant, or which give an opening for evading those terms, and of enabling any other country to do what it ought not to do under the Mandate, then we ought to have an opportunity of knowing that and, if necessary, of remonstrating.
These four points may be summed up generally in saying that Parliament ought to be kept apprised at every stage of what is being done to create a Mandate and to administer it, and that we ought to have due opportunities of expressing our opinion thereupon. What the noble Lord, Lord Islington, said, in dwelling upon the difficulties which are involved in the whole Mandatory system, and in pointing out that we do not yet see how it would work out in the concrete, leads me to repeat a suggestion which I once made to your Lordships on the subject. That is that it may deserve to be considered whether there ought not to be some steps taken to determine more precisely what are the relations of the three parties in this matter —His Majesty's Government., the League of Nations, and Parliament—and whether it might not be a convenient method of investigating that question if a Joint Committee of your Lordships' House and of the House of Commons were set up to examine into it, and to report upon the best methods of administering the Mandatory system, compatible with the control and due opinion of Parliament. With deference to the House and to the opinion of His Majesty's Government, I submit that suggestion.
I feel that, after the many debates we have had here, we have not yet come into clear, open air. We are still rather in a mist as to how the Mandate system is going to work. The first step to dispel that mist is to have a clear grasp of the relations between the three parties I have mentioned and to put upon a permanent 773 footing the principles upon which the League of Nations is to work, bearing in mind that this country cannot shuffle off its responsibilities to the League of Nations but must be responsible in the face of the world for what it does as a Mandatory Power. I hope that His Majesty's Government will not think that I desire to pass any censure, because I fully recognise the extreme difficulty of the matter; the fact that we are still in the initial stage, and that it is not possible at first to see exactly how the thing will work out. But I think we have reached a point at which it is necessary to take a much clearer view of the whole system than we have yet done.
§ LORD SYDENHAM
My Lords, the questions which have been raised in regard to this matter this afternoon are of extreme importance. A limited financial explanation has been given in another place by the Secretary of State, and the other House has received a good deal of information which has reached this House only through the medium of the public Press. There has also been a debate of a somewhat inconclusive and not very searching character in another place, whereas it may be impossible to raise a similar debate in this House. My noble friend has spoken of the Mandates which have not yet received Parliamentary sanction but which now appear, as I understand the matter, to be under the consideration of the Council of the League of Nations. Those Mandates entail responsibilities and unknown expenditure upon this country. On the other hand, they may be said, in a certain sense, to destroy the sovereign rights of the Mandatory Power and to set up what may almost amount to international control over territories in which the responsibility for maintaining order will fall wholly upon this country.
I must not discuss the Mandates at length to-day, but there are one or two points to which I desire to draw the attention of your. Lordships, because I am not sure that they are realised even by the noble and learned Lord who has spoken this afternoon. In Mesopotamia, under Article 1, all is made to depend upon what is called "the Organic Law," which Organic Law, it is laid down, must contain provisions to facilitate the progressive development of Mesopotamia as an independent State. I suppose what is called the Organic Law is the Constitution which we are about to set up. We have seen the results of 774 attempts at constitutional government in Persia, and they have certainly not proved very hopeful hitherto, though the conditions there are not dissimilar from those in Mesopotamia. Whatever government is set up in Mesopotamia will tumble to pieces absolutely unless British forces stand behind it. Those forces must be paid for entirely by this country, and no one at this stage can estimate what the cost will be.
In Article 2 what is called the Mesopotamian Government may or may not, as it pleases, contribute to the cost of the forces necessary to defend the country. Are we going to control that Government in its financial character, or are we not? If not, the time may come when that Government will refuse to bear the expenditure for its own defence. Generally speaking, the Mandates are so drawn as to prevent a Mandatory Power from getting any special advantage to compensate for very heavy responsibilities, danger in some cases, and in all cases an unknown expenditure. Individual citizens of every Member State of the League of Nations and any company registered under the laws of such State have apparently just the same rights as citizens and corporations of the Mandatory Power. If I have read it aright, that seems to me to be intolerable, and it would be interesting to know whether the French Mandates have the same provision as that, or whether our friends across the Channel have given rather closer regard to their interests than we have given to ours.
The Secretary of State has said that the garrison of Mesopotamia is to be reduced after October 1 to what he calls the "twelve-battalion scale." But neither he nor anybody else can tell whether that scale will prove to be sufficient. His plan, as he outlined it, is that the river from Basra to Baghdad is to be held by troops, and from Baghdad to Mosul is apparently to be controlled by air forces, and the Kurds, as the noble Lord has said, because they will not submit to any form of Arab government, are to be governed direct by the High Commissioner. Then an Arab Army is to be created, which will take some time, and will require from us some of our best men, urgently needed at this time by India, who, unfortunately, are not going to India. I cannot attempt to deal with all these various plans, but surely, as previous speakers have said, they ought to be fully discussed in your Lordships' House.
775 Turning now to the Palestinian Mandate, it is laid down in the Preamble that the first duty of the Mandatory Power is to establish a national home for the Jews in Palestine, and the establishment of that national home is not to prejudice the civil and religious rights of the Palestinians. I think we can already see that the problem is not soluble. Under Article 4 a Zionist organisation is set up, which will be governed from foreign countries and which is given the dominant position in the economic development of the whole country of Palestine. By Article 22 we are forced by the Mandate to make Hebrew the official language of the whole country and also to put Hebrew upon the stamps and on the coinage. As I read the Mandate, we are even made responsible, in a sense, to the Hejaz, among other countries, for doing that with the Hebrew language.
This Mandate must evidently have been drafted with very capable Zionist assistance. No one has yet defined accurately what "a national home" means, but we have already taken some steps, as I pointed out the other day, in violation of our pledges to the Palestinians, and that is the reason of the serious situation which has now arisen. The Secretary of State for the Colonies has said that "there is really nothing for the Arabs to be frightened about." But he ignored the very strong feeling of the Christians of Palestine and elsewhere, to which the Pope very recently referred. Palestine is to cost only £2,500,000 next year, if all goes well, and, taking it in conjunction with Mesopotamia, the total expenditure is only to he £27,500,000—also if all goes well. I am afraid one cannot attach any great authority to those estimates. However, very little expenditure need have been applied to Palestine but for the Mandate and the very ill-advised action; as I think it, of the Zionists themselves. Mr. Churchill said that that was "the only cause of the unrest."
There is one more feature of the Mandatory system on which I must say one word. As my noble friend has pointed out, the Mandatory Power has to report every year to the Council of the League of Nations, and, as I read the Covenant, it seems open to any Member of the League of Nations to bring a railing accusation against some unhappy Mandatory who is really doing his very best in what may be exceedingly difficult circumstances. I would remind your Lordships that the following countries are original Members of the League of 776 Nations:—Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hayti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Uruguay. Those are all most estimable American States, but they really are not in the least concerned about the affairs of Irak, as I suppose we are now to call Mesopotamia, or the affairs of Palestine, and vet, in a sense, they seem to have received supervisory powers over both those countries.
This, again, seems to me to be quite an intolerable condition, and I see some dangers to the British Empire, and even to the harmony of the world, arising from what the noble Viscount has called, or intimated was, the ill-digested and illusory scheme of the League of Nations. An American writer the other clay, surveying the Members of the League of Nations, calculated that thirty-two of them would be adherents of Germany, sixteen might be pro-Ally, and two would be neutral. I do not know what value can be attached to that estimate, but it does not seem to me to be altogether improbable.
§ LORD SYDENHAM
The noble Viscount hinted that the Covenant was ill-digested. All these questions require rather more light than we have now got, and if the excellent suggestion of the noble Viscount could be carried out, and a Joint Committee set up, I think the confidence Parliament would have in what is going forward would be much greater than it is at the present moment. We seem to be involved in an abyss of heavy expenditure without any corresponding advantage to our overburdened taxpayers, some of whom are really now on the road to ruin. We ought to be enabled to understand whither we are being led by the League of Nations and its Covenant.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I desire to say very few words upon the general question, but there are one or two remarks that I should like to utter in endorsement of those already made by the three speakers to-night. In this matter we seem sometimes to be rather worrying and pestering the Government with Questions. I do not want to be worrying arid pestering, because I realise to the full the enormous difficulty 777 which accompanies the starting of a great new system of Mandates for the first time in the world's life. But it is of the most vital importance, the system being new, that we should. guard ourselves against precedents being set up which may afterwards be quoted as to the order of proceedings respecting information to Parliament, to our Allies and other Members of the League of Nations, and also, of course, to the countries themselves for which the Mandates are created.
The noble Duke has to-night answered with great lucidity Questions of a particular kind, and I have no doubt lie is going to answer others in what he will say in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Islington, and the noble Viscount, Lord Bryce. I hope we shall hear something to-night as to whether we are to expect operations to be made known, both before the Mandate is operative and when it has begun to work in the Mandated regions. If I am to judge from Questions that have been answered before in this House, and from conversations one has had, even the Government itself is finding a little difficulty in disentangling the complications as between the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office and, perhaps, the India Office, in regard to some of these particular matters. If it be difficult for those upon whom responsibility rests in the Government to do this, how much greater must the difficulty be for us outside.
In answering one Question to-night, the noble Duke said it was not one for the Colonial Office, as such, but one for the Foreign Office. I venture, with due respect, to say that that is not an answer which we expect. We are asking the Government as a whole and not one particular Department, and our object is to get matters cleared up. We realise the difficulties of the situation, but there is danger in unconsciously laying down rules and setting precedents, with regard to those Mandated territories, which might be quoted hereafter as representing the method by which the thing had come into operation. We ought at the time to realise fully to what we are committing ourselves, and how far we are supposed,to be parties to the transaction. It is a large and general question. I do not expect to have everything answered in a perfectly categorical way, but it would be an immense help if we knew better, in regard to some of the regions referred to, how we now stand.
778 The noble Viscount, Lord Bryce, mentioned—and I desire to endorse his remarks the extraordinarily difficult situation in Kurdistan. That region of Kurdistan is one of the most difficult in the world to know how to administer, with its rival races and creeds, and the wild character of many of its inhabitants. On the other hand, it is one of those regions whose inhabitants have distinctly acted, during the last five years, on undertakings given by us. There can be no question of that. I have abundant personal knowledge of the feelings entertained by some of those belonging to the Christian races in the Kurdistan mountains. They did enter, at a moment of extraordinary difficulty, upon what they believe to be a firm Alliance with us. They understood that they would have our firm protection, that we would see them through, and that everything would Le all right when it was over. I realise that circumstances have changed since then, and that we may not he able now to fulfil in the letter the expectations which we ourselves entertained, and which we encouraged them to entertain, regarding the future.
It would be of very great advantage if we could know now what are the steps that are being, taken, and how far we are supposed to parties to them. Or, are we merely to wait. until afterwards and then find that we have been too late, and that things have taken place in that extraordinarily difficult. region about which there is no use speaking any more? Everything will have been done in regard to the boundaries of territories, the resettlement of the people brought away from their homes, and the question of their protection. We have armed them, as they put it, and left them to themselves. What are -they to expect in the difficult. position in which they may be placed? It is exceedingly hard to formulate any detailed Questions which can elicit substantial replies upon this subject, because we know so very little about what is going on. I am not surprised that we do know little. The noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office may be able, perhaps, in a general way to give us some light upon the kind of difficulties to be encountered, the way in which they are now being faced, the degree of responsibility of Parliament for the initial stages, and the time at which it would he too late for us to say anything in the matter.
I apologise for tire rather general and perhaps discursive character of the sugges- 779 tions or requests that I make, but I cannot help thinking, if the noble Earl were able, with his unrivalled power of exposition of such a problem, to say something to us on the general aspect., that it would be of great advantage, and would help us to know how far we are compromised in laying down rules which may hereafter form a precedent.
THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND
My Lords, I shall take the opportunity, in the first place, of referring categorically to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Islington, though we have all listened with much interest to the remarks made to-night by other noble Lords, and by the most. rev. Primate. I will take the Questions in the order in which Lord Islington asked them. The first Question that was raised was in regard to the civil administration in Mesopotamia. The Vote for Middle Eastern Services, which was passed on Tuesday by the House of Commons, shows what is the estimated charge upon the British taxpayer for this year. The figures are given under sub-heads (f), (g), (h), (i) and (j), and a full explanation is given on the last page of the Estimate.
The charges represent—
The civil administration of Mesopotamia is expected to pay its way, although we may have to take a Vote for the accumulated deficit up to March 31 last; but that deficit will represent a clearing up of Imperial liabilities, many of them of a military character, and not really a deficit on the civil finances. This matter is being investigated and we have not yet got the figures.
- (1) The discharge of Imperial liabilities which do not really belong to Mesopotamia (sub-heads (i) and (j)).
- (2) The capital expenditure on the railways, which are the property of His Majesty's Government, and not of the Mesopotamian Government (sub-head (h)).
- (3) The maintenance of native levies which are being established as a means of reducing the cost of the Imperial garrison (sub-head (g)).
- (4) A contribution towards the cost of the High Commissioner and his staff, who have Imperial responsibilities which are not purely local (sub-head (f)).
The second Question was the number of civil officers that were being retained to 780 assist the Arab Government. The British officers employed in Mesopotamia will fall into two distinct categories. The first category is that of an Advisory staff, which will include the advisers attached to the Arab Ministers and to the Arab District officers, and also to the Arab Army. All the advisory staff will be servants of His Majesty's Government and not of the Mesopotamian Government. They will be seconded to Mesopotamia for a period of years, their pay being met from Mesopotamian revenues. It is difficult to give an accurate forecast of the numbers likely to be employed, but a provisional estimate has been given by the High Commissioner as follows: —Seven advisers to Ministers, eleven divisional advisers and twenty-one assistant divisional advisers. In addition to these it is anticipated that not more than half a dozen British officers will be attached to the Arab Army which is being raised in Mesopotamia.
The second category is that of officers of technical and scientific services, such as railways, posts, telegraphs, agriculture, etc. These will be servants of the Mesopotamian Government, and their number depends entirely on the wishes of that Government. Until the Constitution of Mesopotamia has been framed in the Organic Law, which the Mandatory has undertaken to draft within three years of the coining into force of the Mandate, the Mesopotamian Government must be regarded as purely provisional. At present it consists of a Council of State under the presidency of the Naqib of Baghdad, and the technical and scientific staffs hitherto employed by the British Administration are now working under this provisional Government.
With regard to Kurdistan, which has been mentioned by several noble Lords as a matter of great importance, the policy is to reduce the number of British officers to an absolute minimum. As the Secretary of State for the Colonies explained in the House of Commons, Kurdistan is to remain for the present in direct relations with the High Commissioner, and will not be placed under the Mesopotamian Government. Out of the thirty-two divisional and assistant divisional advisers contemplated by the High Commissioner it is proposed that six should be stationed at Kurdistan, three of whom will be at Kirkuk and three at Suliemaniah. With regard to the British 781 levies, the High Commissioner's scheme, which is under consideration, allows for one Inspector-General, one Deputy Inspector-General, six area commandants, three senior Staff officers and forty-one junior Staff officers and instructors, which allows for ten being on leave. As the Arab levies are gradually replaced by the Arab Army it is anticipated that these numbers will be considerably reduced.
As regards Togoland, our part consists of a strip adjoining the Gold Coast, and contains no ports, railways, or industries. It, follows that it cannot raise much revenue on its own as our revenues in the Gold Coast depend mainly on Customs and railway receipts. It has to be administered as part of the Gold Coast with which it is closely connected. The Anglo-German boundary was mostly an artificial one and was not satisfactory. The administration costs very little and is carried out by increasing slightly the staff of the Gold Coast. Until October, 1920, we held Lome and ran the railways, but have now retired to the part of the country which is to be assigned to us under Mandate. While we were in Lome the country paid for itself. It is not known whether it will now or not, but the deficit cannot be great. Any such deficit will be borne by Gold Coast funds. As to deficits it will probably not be worth while to attempt to frame a separate budget for our piece of Togoland, and the expense of so doing would hardly justify itself.
The boundary with the French was arranged to follow tribal and natural divisions as far as possible, and the Boundary Commission will adjust matters to the best of their ability in delimiting the boundary. The Togoland Mandate is also being printed. There is no military expenditure in the Togoland Mandated territory. It is policed by the Gold Coast police forces. Prior to 1920, a company of the Cold Coast regiment was stationed in Togoland but is now withdrawn.
That part of the Cameroons, for which Britain is to receive a Mandate, will be administered by the Nigerian Government. The Northern districts have been attached to the Nigerian provinces of Yola and Bornu and are under the supervision of the residents of those provinces. No separate accounts are kept of the finances of these districts. By far the greater part of the British sphere is administered as a separate Cameroons province and a self-contained budget is prepared for it. The 782 deficit on that budget in 1921–22 was approximately £21,500. In the current year the deficit is estimated at £78,900. The increase is due mainly to exceptionally heavy expenditure which is being undertaken on roads, bridges, buildings, and telegraph lines. The damage done in the war has to be repaired and communications improved.
An expansion of revenue, after the development of trading facilities, is looked to as the remedy for the deficit, but it is too early, especially in view of the present fall in value of many tropical products, to forecast the future trade prospects of the province. In 1920, however, the Customs receipts considerably exceeded the estimate and there was a tendency for new trading centres to be started in the interior. The deficit will be borne by Nigerian funds, as if the status of the territory was that of a backward Nigerian province. The Foreign Office is having the Mandates printed and they will be published at an early date. There is no truth in the statement that restrictions on British subjects in the territory are greater than they were under the Germans. The boundary between the British and French spheres has been based primarily on natural features, but it is an instruction to the Commissioners, who will eventually delimit the boundary on the spot, that they shall make all efforts possible to observe tribal limits.
With regard to the Tanganyika territory the noble Lord asked whether it was to be united to Kenya under one Governor. This is permissible under Article 10 of the Draft Mandate, provided that the provisions of the Mandate are in no way infringed. This is not, however, at present contemplated. It may be mentioned that there is now no separate civil administration and military administration as seems to be implied i n the Question. The finances of Tanganyika territory are managed on the same lines as an ordinary British Protectorate which is in receipt of a Grantin-Aid. The estimated deficit for 1920–21 is £164,000. This, together with the loan of £750,000, referred to, is to be provided from the British Exchequer, precisely as in the case of the loans to Nyasaland and Somaliland. In no case is an Act of Parliament required. The Indian Penal Code has been applied mutatis mutandis to Tanganyika territory, not by Order in Council but by a law of the territory, No. 7 of December 14, 1920.
783 The frontier, as described in the Draft Mandate, follows the natural features of the country and the existing recognised boundaries as far as possible. It will no doubt be an instruction to the Boundary Commissioners to adjust the line so as to avoid all unnecessary disturbance of tribal limits. The natives of the country will be treated with justice and consideration. It is laid down in the Draft Mandate that their rights and interests shall be respected and safeguarded. This would have been the natural duty of His Majesty's Government in assuming the administration, and no other policy would have been in accordance with British traditions.
As regards the Return of military expenditure since the date of the acceptance of the Mandate of the League of Nations by Great Britain—the point was raised by Lord Islington—I regret that it has not been possible to obtain the exact figure up to the present, but the matter will be gone into, in conjunction with the War Office, as soon as possible, and the information will be supplied as soon as that is done.
§ LORD ISLINGTON
I am very much obliged to the noble Duke for the very explicit answers he has given to my Questions and I ask leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON)
My Lords, I think that before the noble Lord withdraws his Motion, both he and the most rev. Primate may expect a few words to come from me. The noble Duke has answered with fulness and precision the Questions that have been addressed to him from different quarters of the House that mainly affect his Department. But it is quite true, as the most rev. Primate pointed out, that outside the frontiers of the Colonial Department, in its relation to Mandated territories, lies a somewhat undefined range of country which concerns the Government as a whole, and, in some respects, the Foreign Office in particular; and certainly, should be the last to complain on any occasion of this sort if questions were put to which the representative of the Colonial Office was unable, or felt it undesirable, to answer, but as to which a reply might legitimately be demanded from me.
When the most rev. Primate alluded to the fact that the Duke of Sutherland had, 784 in respect of one of these points, excused himself from replying, because it was a Foreign Office question, that was done with the deliberate object of finding an opening for myself, with the knowledge on his part that I was here ready to give the reply which he could not give. No one on this Bench could for a moment complain that any of these discussions on Mandates represented a worrying or pestering attitude —I quote the words of the most rev. Primate—on the part of this House. The House is entitled to seek for information on this subject.
As more than one speaker has said, we are moving in an area of considerable obscurity; but it is an obscurity for which the Government are not responsible, which they are not in every case able to dispel, and which arises from the nature of the problem we are discussing. Several noble Lords have alluded to certain of the conditions which explain that position. The first of these is the nature of the Covenant itself. Not even a trained lawyer could attach a clear meaning to many of its phrases. There are certain passages in Article 22 (I think) of the Covenant, which it is perfectly possible, with sincerity, to interpret in more than one way, and about which interpretation has constantly been sought, quite fairly, from the Government in this House.
I myself am not certain that it was not a. mistake in policy that when the Allied statesmen met in Paris, in their extreme anxiety to get the League of Nations put upon what one may call the International Statute Book, they rushed almost with precipitation to discuss questions which would, as we see now, have been much better solved if they had been postponed. I cannot help thinking that if, instead of drawing up these regulations for the better government of the world in the future, they had endeavoured to end the war and to secure the peace of the world as it then was, we should have been much further advanced in conditions of peace than we now are. We all know perfectly well the particular impulse under which that line was taken. We do not now want to utter reproaches to those who have passed away from the active scene of politics. But many of our difficulties in the sphere of international affairs do, in my judgment, arise front the wrong turn that was taken when the Conference first assembled in Paris.
785 With regard to those Questions put today which seemed to appertain rather to my Department than to the Colonial Office, they are in the main two in number. The first Question, put I think by Lord Islington, was whether the Draft Mandates had been communicated to the American Government before submission to the Council of the League of Nations; and, if not, why not? What happened was this. I think it was at the end of November, 1920, that, in the course of a communication from the American Secretary of State, an inquiry came to His Majesty's Government as to whether they would be disposed to communicate the Draft Mandates—I forget whether this referred to Category "A" or to the Draft Mandates ill general—to the American Government. Just at the moment that that letter arrived, the Draft Mandates had been sent to the Council of the League of Nations at Geneva, and had been officially handed to them by Mr. Balfour on our behalf. 1t was, therefore, impossible for us to do exactly what the American Government desired.
Almost immediately afterwards, we learned that the American Government, hearing that the Draft Mandates had passed into the hands of the Council of the League at Geneva, had addressed a letter to them, pointing out the request that they had directed to us, and asking the good offices of the Council of the League in reply to their question. I have here the reply which was sent by the Council of the League of Nations to the American Government. It is dated March, 1921. I may perhaps be permitted to read two or three paragraphs of that reply—The Council had already determined on February 21., before the receipt of the American Note, to postpone the consideration of the "A" Mandates fur former Turkish possessions, including Mesopotamia. No conclusion will, therefore, be reached with regard to "A" Mandates until the United States Government has had an opportunity to express its views. The Council had expected to approve finally, at the session now being held, the "B" Mandates for the former Central African colonies for Germany. In view of the desire expressed by the United States, the Council is, however, deferring its consideration of those Mandates until its next session. which will probably take place in May or June. It is hoped that the delay will not hamper the administrative progress of these territories.The Council invites the United States to take part in the discussions at its forthcoming meeting, when the final decisions as to the "A" and "B" Mandates will, it is hoped, be taken. A problem so intricate and involved as that of Mandates can hardly be handled by the inter- 786 change of formal Notes. It can only be satisfactorily solved by personal contact and by direct exchange of opinion.Your Lordships will see what the. reply of the League was. They pointed out to the American Government that there would be a considerable postponement before the discussion took place; they cordially invited the American Government to assume connection with the League and to take part in the discussions; and they felt confident that, by the ordinary channels of information—as was the case—the Draft Mandates would be in the hands of the American Government before that date. I think, therefore, that any charge of discourtesy on the part of anybody falls to the ground.
What is happening now is this. Not only has there been a postponement of the discussion of these Mandates until the meeting in the month of June—which, indeed, is taking place at this moment—but the Council of the League has, I believe, decided, or is likely to decide, for independent reasons, which I will name, to allow a further postponement. The further reason this; the American Government, under President Harding, as the House is aware, has resumed a more active interest in the affairs of the world. Certainly no one, and certainly no representative of His Majesty's Government, regards this resumed interest on their part with more cordial goodwill and satisfaction than myself. The more we get America, in the form best suited to her own feelings and desires, to resume with us in peace that co-operation to which we owed so much in war, the better it will be for the rapid recovery of the peace of the world. I merely say that in passing.
During the past few weeks, the head of the President's Administration in America, quite apart from the view that he may entertain concerning the League of Nations itself, with which your Lordships are familiar, has expressed a strong view that, as one of the Allied and Associated Powers, America is entitled to be consulted before the Mandates are finally settled. There is force and reason in that view, and I am not disposed to differ from. it; and I believe that the League of Nations are likely to reply that, holding those views themselves, they have decided again to postpone the consideration of the Mandates and that they trust that the Governments who are concerned will enter into com- 787 munication with the American Government in the interval. By the interval I mean before the meeting of the Assembly in September. We shall all agree that there must be a period to this uncertainty, and for my own part, if that invitation, if that suggestion, conies to me from the Council of the League of Nations, I shall be quite prepared to act upon it and to enter into discussions as suggested.
Now there remains the point about publicity, and about the right of Parliament to have a voice in these matters, and the stages at which that right may legitimately be claimed and exercised by Parliament. I think that, possibly owing to a certain lack of precision on my own part on the occasion of a former speech, I may have given some justification for the suspicions, which I believe were somewhat widely entertained, as to the views of the Government in this matter. My noble friend, Lord Islington, vented upon me a measured volume of wrath in the columns of the daily Press, and to-day, although he treated me with great amiability, when he talked about unconstitutional procedure I cannot help thinking that he directed a somewhat fiery eye upon myself. I had no desire, nor have the Government any desire, to suggest anything unconstitutional. Of course, these are matters which at some stage or other, and I dare say at more than one stage, Parliament must be allowed to discuss in both Houses.
Let us look at exactly what is happening. The Mandates were originally confirmed, in the exercise of rights conferred upon them by the Treaties, by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. They then proceeded to draw up Draft Mandates, and communicate them to the Council of the League of Nations. I explained on a previous occasion that as an act of courtesy we thought we should best be discharging our duty by handing over the Drafts to the Council of the League, and I said then that I did not see that there would by any advantage in having a discussion in Parliament at that stage. I think what has passed shows that I was right, because, supposing we had had a discussion in Parliament on the Drafts that were submitted in December last, how would that have advanced matters? I have not the slightest idea what views the Council of the League may take upon the Drafts. It is conceivable that they may suggest amendments to us in many particulars. The 788 successive postponements that have taken place, and the intervention of America, constitute another obstacle, and I can conceive that in a short time the Mandates may assume a form in which they are legitimately open for, discussion by Parliament, but in which they may differ considerably from the form which they presented some months ago.
Now let me take the matter to another stage. I think it was Lord Islington who alluded to the Articles of the Draft Mandate for Mesopotamia, providing for the creation of an Organic Law, and he stated, justly, that that Organic Law will really create the future Constitution of the country. Very true. And at the present moment this Organic Law for Mesopotamia, and a corresponding instrument defining the exact constitutional position in Palestine, are being carefully drawn up in consultation with the High Commissioners of both countries, and in close touch with local opinion. That, much more than the Mandate, will really be the form of government under which the administration of those countries, subject to the general supervision of the Mandatory Power, will be exercised in future. When that Organic Law and that Constitution are drawn up they will be submitted to the League of Nations.
I have not the slightest objection to their being submitted to both Houses of Parliament in advance, and to discussions taking place upon them then, or upon the Draft Mandates now. The noble Viscount, or anybody else, has only to put down a Motion for discussion of the Draft Mandates in the form in which they are laid before Parliament, and I and the noble Duke, acting for the Colonial Office, will be quite ready to meet him. I should have no objection myself if at each stage Parliament were brought into the matter—at the stage when the Organic Law is brought up, before it goes to the Council of the League, and when it comes back from the Council of the League, if you like. This House enjoys, as we all know, enormous advantages in the arrangement of its business, greater than those possessed, I believe, by any other legislative assembly in the world. Any noble Lord, taking advantage of our rather ample leisure, has only to put a Motion on the Paper. That step having been taken, he is at liberty to wander about over the whole face of the world. I have often admired these peri- 789 patetic rambles, awl I am always ready, having been a traveller myself, to take part in them. Therefore, I do not think that it lies in the mouth of anybody in this House to complain of lack of opportunity.
I have given a sort of tip as to the opportunities which may be taken advantage of, and I hope I have said enough to indicate, firstly, the difficulties, inherent in the situation itself, that are not yet solved, secondly, the desire of the Government to mitigate the difficulties for the convenience of Parliament, and, thirdly, our willingness to provide every reasonable opportunity, at every stage of these matters, so that this country may not find itself involved in responsibilities and obligations in the confirmation of which it has not had sufficient part before they cane into operation.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.