§ The King's Speech reported by the LORD CHANCELLOR.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
My Lords, I beg to move that an humble Address be presented to His Majesty in reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne. I need not tell your Lordships how deeply I feel the honour of being asked to do so. I approach my task in the hope that I shall be granted that generous hearing that your Lordships always accord to the more youthful and inexperienced members of your Lord- 5 ships' House. Your Lordships, I am sure, welcome the continued support given to the League of Nations by His Majesty's Government and will be the first to recognise that His Majesty's Government have discharged their obligations to the League by the great reductions that they have made in the armaments of this country since the War. In consequence of those reductions the armed forces of this country on land and in the air are now considerably weaker as compared with those of any of the other leading Powers, whilst on the sea they are weaker in comparison with those of any other Power, than they have been at any previous period in history. Speaking for myself, I am of opinion that the future of international peace can be assured only by considerable reductions in the armaments of the nations of the world, but the will to disarm and disarmament must proceed together, and I think that we cannot conceive of any real will to disarm unless and until the nations of the world renounce war as an instrument of national policy.
In this connection we shall all, I am sure, welcome the signing of the Treaty for the Renunciation of War mentioned in the gracious Speech. War is no longer to be looked upon as a normal continuation of national policy, and disputes—for disputes are bound to arise, however much we may deplore them—will in future be settled by pacific means and by arbitration. Personally I consider that the signing of this Pact marks a very great advance in the outlook of all the nations of the world. I may lay myself open to the accusation of being unduly optimistic, but I think that in the last few years public opinion abroad, and especially in this country, has been tending towards the idea of arbitration as opposed to war in the settlement of disputes; and I think that the signing by the great Powers of this Pact will do a great deal towards fostering that idea and removing the fear and hostility which are the main causes of the piling up of armaments. In the League of Nations we have machinery ready to hand for the settlement of disputes and, as your Lordships are aware, the ninth Assembly of the League has made great progress in codifying the means of arbitration and conciliation. Personally, I think that the very fact that the ninth Assembly of the League was otherwise rather uneventful may be taken as a real sign of progress, since it shows 6 that people have come to look upon the League as a normal means of the settlement of disputes.
Turning once more to the gracious Speech, your Lordships will I am sure be gratified to hear that negotiations are in progress with regard to a settlement of the problem of Reparations and especially to hear that negotiations will take place in regard to the evacuation of the Rhineland. I hope that during those negotiations those moneys that we are now receiving from Reparations will not be in any way jeopardised, since this country, which is more heavily taxed than any other country to pay for the War, receives under the (as I think) wise and generous terms of the Balfour Report no more from Reparations than is necessary to discharge our Debts to the United States. With regard to the evacuation of the Rhineland, we must, I think, move in co-operation with the other countries concerned, but I think that the future of international peace cannot be very much advanced while the forces of foreign powers are in occupation of a country with which we are at peace.
Coming now to home affairs, your Lordships will be interested to see that our antiquated system of rating is to be considerably modified. It dates, I think, from about the time of Queen Elizabeth, and it has been for many years felt to be antiquated, out of date and unsuited to modern conditions. The burden of rates falls upon all industries whether or not they are making any profit, and the greatest burden now falls upon those industries which are most depressed. Added to this, it is not only the burden of its own rates which each industry has to bear, but the effect is cumulative. For instance, the steel industry not only bears its rates on its own production, but also those of the iron and coal mines and of the railways, which are indirectly involved in its production. I think that everyone is agreed that the burden of rates is the main obstacle which prevents our manufacturers being able to compete on fair terms with foreign markets. While it is essential for the benefit of the industries of this country that the cost of production should be reduced, I think it, is unthinkable that such reduction should be effected by the lowering of wages or the lengthening of the hours of 7 work of the workers. I consider that the derating scheme of His Majesty's Government is the greatest attempt which has been made to cope with the unemployment problem since the War.
Another defect of the present system is that rates vary enormously in different districts and the extent of the post-War unemployment, combined with trade depression, has intensified the inequalities between one area and another. Accordingly, any scheme of rating reform must carry with it a comprehensive scheme of local government reform. In speaking of local government reform your Lordships will, I am sure, forgive me if I deal with this subject from a more or less local point of view, for as a London County Councillor I have more knowledge of the need for reform in London than in other parts of the country. The problem of Poor Law reform has been a burning question since the beginning of the century. The Royal Commission which sat under the late Lord George Hamilton, and issued its Report in 1909, suggested drastic alterations in Poor Law administration. Again, in 1917, a Committee sat with Sir Donald Maclean as President. Their Report, if adopted, also meant a complete remodelling of the Poor Law administration of the country and it is, I think, gratifying to find that after all these years, we have a Government with the courage to tackle this very difficult and thorny question. Obviously, the burden, falling on small areas as at present, involves extraordinary expenditure within those areas, with the inevitable result of high rates in places where industry is already depressed, for as each small area has to bear the burden of its own unemployed the cost falls on the local firms through the Poor Law, with the result that many of these firms are forced out of business altogether or else have to leave the district. Their former employees then have to go to the guardians for relief and the cost falls upon the firms which remain; and so the vicious circle goes on.
The proposal of His Majesty's Government, which entails considerable extension of these areas, will spread the burden more equally. For instance, in London, Poplar, which is very heavily rated indeed, will be able to spread the rates over the whole of the Administrative County of London. This will 8 enable manufacturers who might otherwise have been forced to leave London for other less highly-rated districts, to remain and play their part in that trade revival which I feel confident will follow this Act. By the proposed scheme not only will there be considerable benefit to industry by the stabilisation of rates, but also owing to the fact that all the Poor Law administration of London will be under one central body. Such overlapping as exists at the present moment will be abolished and greater efficiency and economy in administration will result. It appears that the financial proposals put forward in the White Paper were not definitely intended to apply to London as in that Paper it was stated that the position in London is very different from the rest of the country. From what I can gather, however, although the London County Council has not yet received a report, very satisfactory progress has followed the discussions which have taken place. I feel confident that by the time the Bill is ready to be presented to Parliament it will be seen that the proposals of His Majesty's Government will entail very considerable reductions in the cost of Poor Law administration in the County of London. Speaking generally, I think your Lordships will agree with me that these proposals of His Majesty's Government for the stabilisation of rates and the spreading of the cost of the Poor Law over many districts will do a great deal towards solving these problems which other Governments in the past have been unable to solve. I beg to move.
Moved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty as followeth—
Most Gracious Sovereign.—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual aad Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament. (The Earl of Cranbrook.)
§ VISCOUNT CHAPLIN
My Lords, I rise with the greatest diffidence on this occasion to second the Address in reply to the gracious Speech, and I should not have contemplated doing so for one moment but for the persuasive argu- 9 ments and kindness of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, as speaking on these lines is entirely out of my vocation. The noble Earl who has so ably moved the Address, if I may be allowed to say so, has very fully dealt with most of the subjects contained therein, and, I think happily, he has not left me very much to deal with. But I notice that in respect to our relations with foreign Powers no reference has been made to Japan or China.
The Coronation of His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Japan, is an event of historic importance, and one which your Lordships, and the whole country as well, will welcome. An event of such importance to that nation, which has always been on such friendly terms with us, is one which we cannot pass by without wishing His Imperial Majesty and the country over which he reigns every success and the greatest prosperity in the future. Affairs in China are a more difficult topic to deal with. As far as we can see, progress is being made towards the formation of a central government, and that is most earnestly to be hoped for. Our interests in that vast country are so great that undoubtedly His Majesty's Government will, as they have always done in the past, use every endeavour to protect them; and they will also, I should think, make every effort to promote the pacification of that great country.
To come to the paragraph in the gracious Speech relating to the relief of rates, which has already been dealt with so fully by my noble friend, I do not think it would be inappropriate if I were to mention the question of road maintenance and road rates. I refer especially to the question of the Highlands, and more particularly the northern Highlands. The question of the roads in the Highlands is becoming a very acute one, and it is a matter of great difficulty for the local road boards in those districts to maintain their roads. The National Road Board has always in the past treated the Highland counties with the greatest consideration and generosity, but where new work is required and new roads have to be made, I think that what is needed is a 100 per cent. grant, instead of the 75 per cent. which is generally allowed now. The rates in many of the northern counties, in particular 10 the County of Sutherland, are very high. The County of Sutherland is paying a rate of 4s. 4d. in the £, which I think is the second highest in the Kingdom; and if His Majesty's Government can see their way to giving a larger grant in the future it would be very beneficial to those districts.
I turn to the question of the situation in the mining areas and note with satisfaction that that is receiving the earnest consideration of the Government. It is much to be hoped that the scheme for industrial transference and migration will be a complete success, but, if I may be allowed to go outside the proposals outlined in the gracious Speech, I should like in this connection to say a few words about Safeguarding Duties. The Act under which those Duties are levied has had the most happy results in all the industries to which it has been applied. It has increased production, it has largely increased employment, and it has not raised prices to the consumer. It has also resulted in foreign competitors building factories over here, which have given great employment to British labour. I need only mention the Ford motor works or the Michelin works recently erected in Staffordshire. Why should we not carry the Act one step further, and include the iron and steel industries, thus giving employment to enormous numbers of men who are now out of work and on the "dole"? I think I am correct in saying that 200,000 men in the iron and the steel industries are now out of work, and of those employed probably only 20 per cent. are working full time.
The same thing applies to the coal industry, because your Lordships will know that the best customers of the coal industry are the iron and steel industries. Could we once get the iron and steel industries really going again, we should absorb enormous numbers of men in the coal industry. The proposal for extending the Export Credits Guarantee Scheme will be welcomed by everyone connected with trade, but we must go beyond that scheme in order to get the great basic industries of the country going again; and, therefore, I would urge as far as lies in my power, that, if it be possible, the iron and steel industries should be included in Safeguarding, in the hope that we may get industry on its feet 11 again, as it was ten or fifteen years ago. I beg to second the Address of thanks for the gracious Speech.
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, my first duty to-night, in accordance with precedent, as I understand, after consultation with the noble Marquess who leads the House, is to refer to the loss which this House and the country, and perhaps in a special manner those with whom I work in this House, have sustained in the death of Lord Haldane. For many years Lord Haldane had occupied a notable position in the public life of this country, and he himself held most important positions. He was endowed with great mental and intellectual powers, trained by him with untiring energy and by long contact with public life. I recollect that it was said of Lord Selborne that at the height of his professional life he sometimes sat up five nights without going to bed; but without saying so much of Lord Haldane, I believe there was no man of greater perseverance and industry and no man more anxious thoroughly to understand and appreciate the many great questions that came before him.
It seems a long retrospect to me when I say that it was fifty years ago that I first met him in the Law Courts. We were juniors in those days in a Chancery case. We took silk on the same occasion in 1890, and it is sufficient to add that in subsequent work at the Bar he held a unique position, his name appearing as a leader in a large number of difficult and important cases. He never occupied the position of a Law Officer, and on the formation of the Ministry of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman he became Secretary of State for War. This gave him a great opportunity of putting into force his special powers as a skilled organiser. The value of his work at the War Office has been consistently and universally recognised, and he won to the support of his new scheme a majority of the foremost generals and great military experts. It is not too much to say that in the drama of the War it was his work which played a decisive part in preventing the chances of an early disaster and bringing into operation the final victory of his country.
He passed from the War Office to the great office of Lord Chancellor, in succession to Lord Loreburn. Those who practised before him knew that not only 12 did he possess a great knowledge of legal principles, but that he had the power to detach his mind so as to give an impartial consideration to the arguments addressed to him—a power which, in my experience at least, has only been possessed by our greater Judges. From the beginning of 1914 I was again brought into contact with Lord Haldane as a colleague in your Lordships' House, as a Lord of Appeal and a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. I think that his great work as a Judge was done in the Privy Council. There he turned his mind not only to the great constitutional questions which came before him, but to a better organisation of our whole judicial system. He had not time to complete his work in this direction; but his influence is still seen in the proposal contained in His Majesty's gracious Speech where we are invited to pass a Bill authorising the appointment of two additional members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and one additional Lord of Appeal in Ordinary.
I feel especial regret that he is not here to hear that announcement, because on more than one occasion he explained to your Lordships' House how ardently he desired an appointment of that kind in order to put the judicial system of this country on what he considered the most complete and satisfactory basis. We must not forget that in the meantime he was engaged on Committees and Commissions to organise our University educational system, so as to enable all classes to have the benefit of a higher education. Throughout his life education was one of the chief subjects to which Lord Haldane gave special attention. He was also a constant student of philosophy and. science with a mind ever open to the end to new discoveries, determined at all costs to keep abreast of all that was best in our modern thought. No doubt he felt keenly the change which brought about his retirement from the Lord Chancellorship during the War period, but this never interfered with the activity of his public work or his desire to devote the whole strength of his ability to the public service. On the formation of Mr. Mac Donald's Government, Lord Haldane returned to the position of Lord Chancellor and placed his great experience and ability at the disposal of the Labour 13 Party. I need not dwell on more recent events, but we, on this Bench, will never forget the value of his unselfish and untiring guidance, carried on latterly under conditions of much pain and suffering. I think that the impartial historian will regard him as one of the great men of our time, and that this is the testimony which of all others he would himself value most.
I pass from this reference to past services to add, in no formal language, my congratulations to the proposer and the seconder of the Address, both of whom have made notable speeches on the present occasion. We recollect the character and reputation of the first Earl of Cranbrook in the spacious days of Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Disraeli. But having heard the speeches of a good many proposers of the Address in reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne in your Lordships' House, I find no difficulty in saying that I have heard none which I prefer to that of the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, this afternoon. I think all in this House will ardently hope that we shall hear him on frequent occasions in the future. I may add that I find myself in wonderful accord with a large number of the principles which he seemed to think right in our political and social life. It struck me that the difference between us was not so much on matters of principle as in the ways and means by which those principles could be brought into active operation.
I should like, too, to add a further note of admiration of the speech of the seconder. His father was perhaps the most lovable representative in the House of Commons, at any rate during my long period in that House, and when he came to this House we admired the same qualities at the same time as we admired his power of thought and expression. I might almost have thought, if the noble Lord will not mind me saying so, that I was listening to his father's voice when I heard him, not within the limits of the King's Speech but, as he said, from his own point of view, urging the value of Safeguarding, particularly for the great iron and steel industries. How often have I heard the eloquence of his father advocating the same policy for steel and iron and at another time extolling the mysterious qualities of the malting barley which came from Lincolnshire. I do not 14 think this is a time, nor do I propose to discuss such a question on the present occasion, but perhaps I may tell the noble Viscount, who seconded the Motion, one story on this question which illustrates the views of many who entirely differ from him upon the principles which he has put forward. My brother-in-law, Lord Courtney, was a sturdy, free-thinking Liberal. On one occasion, when he went to Cornwall, he was told that he could only retain his seat by advocating measures of Protection for the tin industry. He made no comment at the time, but when he came upon the platform in the evening he said the question had been asked him, and his answer was: "I will not; and I will tell you why. It may be that you here in Cornwall, or people interested in any particular industry, may get some advantage from Protection, but it, is obtained at the cost of the whole country's interest, and of our whole industrial future, and I, for my part, will not for one moment consider it." I was told by those present that not only did he receive loud cheers for his straightforward statement, but that, when the time came, he received a record majority.
I should like to say a few words now upon the Speech itself. The Speech naturally divides itself into two compartments—the compartment which deals with the relationships with other Powers and the compartment which deals with the terrible conditions of unemployment which now prevail in this country. There is no doubt a close connection between these two parts of the Speech, and I think that the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, will agree with me when I say that unless we can establish a world unity on the basis of international peace, we are little likely to recover within any reasonable time our former prosperity in industrial life. Now that I have made that statement, perhaps I may indicate how deeply our industrial life is affected at the present moment. I noticed the other day that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who on a point of this kind would only speak on certain information and after careful consideration, said, speaking to his constituents:The basic, heavy industries are in a state of collapse.That is a very serious statement for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make after the Government of which he is a 15 member has had unchallenged power for a period of four years. I do not think a more serious statement could be made, or one which requires more careful and constant consideration. That statement is unfortunately almost more than supported by the statistics of unemployment. Taking the statistics of October, 1922, and comparing them with the corresponding figures of a year ago, we find that the number of unemployed persons has increased by no fewer than 270,168. the aggregate number of unemployed being now 1,344,200. Those figures indicate a serious outlook for the future of industrial life in this country. When I come to the proposed remedies, I want to say a few words on the suggested rating scheme, having already said what I think of the evil results which would follow any extension of Safeguarding.
As regards the three last paragraphs of the King's Speech, which refer to foreign affairs, I find myself in agreement with the principles there enunciated, and the only question which arises is, how far they can be carried out to a practical issue. I want, and we all want, a complete and definite settlement of the problem of Reparations, but that cannot be obtained unless we approach the question in a generous and straightforward manner, realising that a settlement, to be permanent, must be one which will commend itself as far as possible to all parties. I need not refer again to the Coronation of the Emperor of Japan, but I do want to say one word about China. There can be doubt that the conditions in China have very seriously affected the industries of this country, and more particularly the cotton trade in Lancashire. I saw the other day a statement that there is a diminution of output from £200,000,000 to £150,000,000, and I should like to read a passage from the report of the Chamber of Shipping for the United Kingdom for 1927–8. I read it because it appears to me to express in adequate language the real question which is involved in China.
This is the quotation:—At a time when the prosperity of this country depends so largely on developing new markets, we should lose no opportunity to improve our relations with China, for her people constitute one-fourth of the world's population, they are great producers, they appreciate quality as consumers, and they enjoy a reputation for honourable dealing 16 which has survived all the hardships of years of unrest.I think that that quotation amply and properly states our interest in China. Our interest is a trading interest. Our interest is to have a maximum of peaceful international commerce, and for my part I beg to say this, that I think Sir Miles Lampson, appointed as he was by the present Government, has performed a notable feat in bringing the conditions of China under more prosperous and less difficult conditions.
§ LORD PARMOOR
Let me at any rate add my voice, having heard, as I have from all quarters in China and from a very large number of Chinese who from time to time have come to this country. As regards the first two paragraphs in the gracious Speech I must ask the noble Lord to give me his special attention. It says:—My Government have been happy to accept the Treaty for the Renunciation of War in the form proposed by the Government of the United States.Is that quite correct? I thought that when we accepted the proposal of the United States we accepted it with reservations and limitations—reservations and limitations which, in my opinion, went a long way to neutralise the effect of the simple statement contained in the proposed Pact, that never in the future would we approach a settlement of international disputes except by peaceful methods. I should like to know how the matter stands. I know there is a good deal of discussion, from the point of view of International Law, whether undertakings of this kind form part of a Treaty or not, but that is a minor matter for the moment. The wider matter is this: Do we really put weight on these restrictions or limitations, or do we regard ourselves as in the position of having accepted the Pact as it was put forward by Mr. Kellogg? That is a very important question in the whole of international polities.
As to the second paragraph there may be a difference, but we shall be able to discuss that on a subsequent occasion. I know the noble Lord, Lord Cushendun, will not answer this afternoon because that duty will be in the hands of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, but the matter may arise on a subsequent occasion and I would ask him to think 17 over this question: Does he think that we have fully discharged our obligations under Article 8 of the Covenant as regards disarmament? It seems to me that the fact that we have reduced our armaments since the War, or even that we have reduced armaments to a greater extent than other countries—about that there may be question—does not in any way solve, indeed it hardly approaches, the question whether we have fulfilled our obligations under Article 8 of the Covenant.
Not only have we obligations under Artiole 8 of the Covenant, but I may remind your Lordships of what was said at the time of the signature of the Treaty of Versailles and before the German Delegates signed that Treaty. These are the words:—The Allied and Associated Powers wish to make it clear that their requirements in regard to German armaments were not made solely with the object of rendering it impossible for Germany to resume her policy of military aggression. They are also—these are the important words—the first steps towards that general reduction and limitation of armaments which they seek to bring about as one of the most fruitful preventives of war, and which it will be one of the first duties of the League of Nations to promote.I want to ask the noble Marquess whether in his view that obligation has been carried out? It is of the utmost importance. Of course if it has been carried out to fulfilment, Preparatory Commissions or Commissions of Disarmament are no longer of value. I venture to suggest that not even a commencement has really been made as regards carrying out this great obligation, not only in the Covenant but towards the German people when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, and that it is time that we adopted a wholly different policy and a wholly different attitude towards the question of disarmament when we appear either before the Council or the Assembly at Geneva.
The other part of the Speech to which I want to refer is this. First of all there is a reference to the mining areas. The mining areas present an appalling tragedy at the present moment, a national tragedy. It is a national tragedy which the Government and the representatives of the country should use every effort to curtail and place on a more satisfactory 18 foundation. I see a reference to the scheme of industrial transference and migration. That is no good at the present time as a real remedy for the terrible conditions which exist in the mining areas. There are no open places in our industries at the present time to which transference and migration can be made. I want to know whether the Government are prepared, as I think they ought to be prepared, without delay and without running further risk, and not relying on private benevolence or private assistance—whether they are ready themselves, as the Government, supported by the resources of the country, to bring forward some scheme of their own, carefully thought out and considered, which may at least alleviate the appalling tragedies which are now in existence.
The other question to which the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, referred is what is called the Rating Bill. I call it anything but rating reform. It is a suggestion absolutely inconsistent with the first principle of rating. It is a system which will inevitably bring confusion. It is a system which will give assistance to the wrong persons and which gives no weight to the distinction between local and national charges which has been regarded as the foundation not only of the Reports of Royal Commissions but of all other Commissions, expert or otherwise, which have reported on this subject in recent years. It is quite impossible to put under one head local expenditure for the benefit of local interests and national and onerous expenditure in which the localities have no special or exceptional interest. Just one word to emphasise what I mean. It is not easy, I admit, to give exact details, but so far as I have examined them—and they have not been questioned—I should say that forty per cent. of the present rating charges are properly raised on rating principles, and that the other sixty per cent. ought to be provided and paid for from the national resources. In round figures—one does not want to be too particular in a matter of this kind—some fifty per cent. of what are called our rating burdens are raised from the wrong people and based on the wrong principles, and until you recognise that fact and start your reform from that standpoint you do nothing but bring greater confusion and, as its accompaniment, greater hardship in many cases.
19 We have heard from the noble Earl a reference to the poor districts. It is the poor districts that suffer beyond all others from having national charges placed upon the locality when they ought to be placed upon the taxation of the whole country, and I say without hesitation, after a careful inquiry into all the figures that I have had before me, that a far larger, more equitable and juster reform of our rating system would be brought about by recognising this great basic distinction between local and national charges and proceeding on that basis to bring in a measure of true rating reform. I have read the objections raised by various local authorities and most of them seem to me to be almost unanswerable. I have not at the present moment the experience that the noble Earl has, but I have served my time on a board of guardians and for twenty-five years I served as a member of a country county council.
What is the result of this absurd basis of rating reform that has been suggested by the Government? The amount to be paid to what are called derated industrial productive manufactories will be paid, as to at least half of the sum provided by the country, to such industries as those concerned with kodaks, gramophones and perfumery, and to breweries, distilleries and the makers of chemicals and other luxury products some of which are paying as much as fifty or sixty per cent. on the capital involved at the present time. What could be more monstrous and more unjust, in a country as poor as we are, in a country where every penny is of importance, than that at least half the rating subsidy, perhaps a little more, should be diverted to productive industries which are at present in a state of great prosperity and are paying large dividends to their owners and shareholders? Surely this cannot possibly be justified. In regard to what has been called the formula of distribution it is said that this was discovered or invented by a senior wrangler. In my humble way I was a mathematical first-class man at Oxford, but at Oxford, of course, we are far behind Cambridge in mathematics. It is fantastic and fanciful to suppose that any scheme of this kind or any formula can possibly deal with the great variety that exists in the incidence of rates and taxation in our various localities.
On one point I am not out of accord with the noble Earl. It may be that 20 advantage can be obtained by a reorganisation of local government. That is a very difficult point, and I will give no opinion upon it until I see the scheme in detail, but I do say that there are a number of charges and services that can be more adequately dealt with in their proper localities, though the county councils in the country districts are not in a position to deal with them, being already overburdened with far more business and far more obligations than they can reasonably carry out in an effective manner. But let us wait and see. So far as I can understand, the Government are still groping in the dark, although I believe that, in connection with the London County Council and the London districts that have their special features, some progress in the direction of an agreement is being made.
As for the burden of rates, it is a burden upon property and not upon industry, and it is a burden on property only in the sense that it demands a common contribution towards a common advantage. I should like to know what people obtain greater ultimate advantage in this country from properly considered rates for local improvements than the property-owners. I do not grudge it them. When our agricultural land becomes ripe for building this is of enormous advantage to the landowner, but it can be developed only when you have lighting, roads, drainage, and so on. I cannot understand the principle of derating. The other day I asked a great authority on this subject and he said that the derating proposed in the Government scheme was lunacy. I do not think that he was very wrong, if I understand the principle. Derating should mean that, whereas all property in a certain district must contribute t local expenditure properly so-called, some of it obtains greater advantage than others, and so we have the principle of classification, which is carried further in Scotland than in this country and is a principle of the greatest importance. But derating does not here depend upon this at all. It depends on the special purposes for which the manufactory is used, and not upon the real principle, the advantage that any manufactory must obtain from the results of local rates such as lighting, drainage and sanitation. This is not the occasion for further detail upon a matter of this 21 kind, but I must protest in the strongest possible way against the notion that this rating reform is in any way justified, and still more against the notion that, if our great basic industries are in a state of collapse, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, they will get from this scheme anything that will in any way really affect their financial position.
As regards export credits, I want to ask one question: Will the scheme apply to all countries, or will it exclude Russia? Your Lordships know that there is no difference between any of the Parties in this country with regard to keeping Russia from any interference with our internal constitutional life, but there is no field more likely to find employment for our unemployed than the great area of Russia, with its huge population. During the past year the imports from Germany into Russia have increased by over £9,000,000. During the last year the imports from America and France have made substantial advances. At the same time, as a necessary condition of our present attitude, ours have been withering away. Are we to give up this great field of enterprise to our competitors, if, as I believe, we are amply powerful and have ample means of protecting ourselves from what is called the unfair infiltration of Russian ideas? I think I have dealt, I hope at not too great a length, with the various projects mentioned in the King's Speech. We all hope, and have a common desire, for increased prosperity. We all want peace, enduring and settled peace, as the basis of our foreign policy and as a substitute for war. We all deplore the industrial conditions in the country at the present time, and if we cannot join together in common projects, let us at least sympathise with one another and not spend our time too much in criticism, but feeling that from one source or another—of course I believe from the policy with which I am personally connected—we may find our way out of our present discontent and present impoverished condition.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, I would like, as did the noble and learned Lord who has just sat down, to begin my remarks by some personal references. In the first place, I wish to join him in expressing our deep regret at the disappearance and death of the late Lord 22 Haldane. No one can view without emotion the death of an old colleague, and especially of a colleague with whom one has spent past anxious days of difficulty and danger, and of one who was a colleague in those days, one feels that, however much one may differ from his opinions in later life, the real ties of comradeship will never be wholly relaxed. Lord Haldane was a very great friend to many who did not agree with him, but to whom, throughout life, he showed many kindnesses, and it must have been a great satisfaction to his relatives to read the terms of the resolution which was passed by the Army Council. It is almost incredible that one whose chief interest was in abstract philosophy, should live after his death as one who has done such practical work, and work which was probably greater than that done by any other Minister in the Cabinets of Sir Henry Cambell-Bannerman and Lord Oxford and Asquith. It is a curious contrast, and one which is very remarkable, as showing the great range of powers of Lord Haldane.
We regret his disappearance and we note also some changes on the Government Bench. The noble Viscount, Lord Peel, returns to the India Office, which he has already administered for some time with conspicuous success. May I say, on behalf of my noble friends, that we shall never be lacking in giving him every assistance we possibly can in carrying out his duties, for we realise that a very difficult task lies before him. His old position has been filled by the noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry, whom I hope I may congratulate upon his appointment to Cabinet rank, and his appointment to an office which is one of the most interesting and pleasant in the Government of the day, as I am sure he will be told by his noble predecessor and as I, another predecessor, can testify. To both noble Lords I hope I may be allowed to say that, although I hope their tenure of office will be pleasant, I do not particularly wish that it shall be long.
There is another change impending. We shall very soon see the Archbishop of Canterbury sitting in another place in this House. I am sure that we all welcome the idea that we shall still enjoy the advantages of his sagacious advice on great occasions in this House. He has been a 23 member of this House, and has been attending our meetings regularly for more years than most of those who attend here to-day, and I have never listened without interest, although not always with agreement, but always, I think, with profit, to what he has had to say. Those of us who listened to the moving words which he spoke from the pulpit of Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday last will look forward with expectation of profit to the advice which I hope he will give on future occasions, and if the rank which he will have in this House is to be that of the most junior of the Barons, we may at any rate ascribe that new position to the modesty which refuses a higher rank in the Peerage. I am sure your Lordships will all join with me in the hope that for many years to come he will attend constantly the discussions in this House, and speak on the great questions of the day.
There are two other personal questions—the mover and seconder of the Address. I remember the Speech which was made by the first Lord Cranbrook in the Home Rule debate in 1893—one of the best and most vigorous speeches delivered in that debate—and I am glad to think that the noble Earl is likely to take part in the proceedings of this House. It is not the first occasion on which he has spoken. I remember an admirable little speech which he made last Session, and I hope that he will join in our discussions with the increased experience which he will gain as a member of that important body, the London County Council. Lord Chaplin, who seconded the Address, will not, I hope, carry out the expectation which he seemed to hold of not speaking often. I wish that, with his experience in the City of London, he would come down and tell us a little oftener how much economy is needed in administering the affairs of government, and I am sure that many of those with whom he works would give him constant support if he took that kind of action.
To turn from personal matters to those of wider importance: This is the last occasion on which during the present Parliament we shall hear a King's Speech, and I think we may make this prophecy with perfect certainty that the minority by which the Government hold office will certainly be a much greater minority when they go to the polls. Whether the 24 minority will be so large as to enable them still to hold office is a matter which lies in the lap of the gods, but at least I can say that it will be an increased minority when the time of the General Election comes, because every by-election shows with greater clearness that they have lost the confidence of the people of this country and I confess that I deplore the prospect of a minority Government of whatever Party it may be—whether a minority Government made up by noble Lords beside me or by noble Lords opposite, but representing a minority of the people of this country. Even at this late hour it is possible for His Majesty s Government, if they wished it, to alter and bring up to date the electoral system of this country. There is no mention of it in the Speech, and there are one or two other omissions to which I would venture to draw attention.
No reference is made to the reform of this House, and here I am speaking not so much on behalf of my noble friends as on behalf of noble Lords opposite who have so often pressed this matter upon the attention of the Government. On such an occasion as this noble Lords sitting behind the Government are silent, and have no criticisms to offer of the gracious Speech, and I have to speak on their behalf and to remind noble Lords of what was said by the Prime Minister to a deputation which waited upon him last year. To that deputation, according to the report in The Times, the Prime Minister, in reply, repeated the pledge which he had previously given that it was the intention of the Government to deal with this question in the lifetime of the present Parliament. It is evident that His Majesty's Government have no intention of carrying out the pledge which they made in regard to the reform of your Lordships' House.
Nor is there any mention in the gracious Speech of Safeguarding. That omission, indeed, was repaired by the noble Viscount who seconded the Motion for the Address, and I thought that the speech which he made demanded a reply from the noble Marquess who leads the House. It was almost an attack upon His Majesty's Government, and certainly a request that they should promise to introduce a tariff upon iron and steel. I should be very much interested to know exactly what is the position of the Government in this matter. Do they propose 25 after the next General Election, if they have a majority, to introduce a tariff upon iron and steel? Will they feel justified in doing it without further procedure? At the present moment, having regard to what happened at Yarmouth, when the Conservative Conference took place there, and a committee upon civil research refused to consider the idea of a tariff upon iron and steel, it does seem to me that His Majesty's Government is drifting very much into the position of Mr. Balfour's Government in the years 1903, 1904 and 1905. There is no reason why we on this side of the House should regret that position, because it is full of happy omens for us; but I do think that we are entitled, if not to-night on some future occasion, to know exactly where we stand on this matter.
I venture to encourage the noble Viscount who seconded the Address to pursue his investigations further. He made a series of allegations—allegations which are being made by his friends all over the country—but did not support them by a single fact or figure, and not even by the fraction of a statistic. I would invite he noble Viscount, I would even say that it is only respectful to your Lordships' House, to substantiate the statements which he made, by making a speech upon a future occasion, and giving us the grounds on which he made those statements. He owes it to this House, having made those statements, to speak further to your Lordships upon this question. It is perfectly obvious that the allegations he made are wholly without foundation. Let us take the question of unemployment. He told us that Safeguarding gave more employment. Why is it, then, that the figures of unemployment are 270,000 greater to-day than they were twelve months ago? Of course, the noble Viscount may say that Safeguarding has given employment this industry or the other industry; but the employment in those industries has thrown people out of work in other industries, and that is the invariable result of the policy which the noble Viscount recommended.
I would say more than that—that whether it is in regard to unemployment or whether it is in regard to output, he owes it to your Lordships to amplify and justify the statements which he made. After all—I speak from memory—the imports of manufactured iron and steel 26 are somewhere about ten millions a year, but our exports are sixty-nine millions a year. Is he going to jeopardise our exports of sixty-nine millions for the benefit of the imports of ten millions? Does he think that good business? Are those the principles of business which he has learned in the City of London? How does he think it possible to justify the policy of Safeguarding, if those are really the actual statistics which we get from the Board of Trade? And, lastly, I would say that with regard to prices I believe that what he has said is exactly on a par with what he told us with regard to unemployment and with regard to imports and exports. But, in any case, I venture to repeat my invitation to him to justify to your Lordships' House the allegations which he has made, and I also hope that he will try to extract from the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, if I am unable to do so, some indication of what is the policy of His Majesty's Government in this respect.
But I have another matter to which I wish to draw attention and about which no mention—and naturally—appears in the gracious Speech of His Majesty, and that is the matter of the dismissal of a man from Government employment for his political opinions. I had hoped we had passed the day when persecution of that kind would be allowed in this country. That a man holding private opinions which did not coincide with those of the Government of the day should be dismissed from his position seems to me a very unfortunate precedent to set. It happened in old days in regard to other matters, but I had hoped that it was no longer possible for it to happen again. It seems to me a dangerous precedent to set.
Now I turn to the question of the Derating Bill, which is the positive contribution of the Government to the settlement of the difficulties from which people suffer in this country to-day. I am sorry to say that I cannot help feeling that if they think there is to be any genuine relief of unemployment from the method by which they deal with the derating problem, the Government are likely to suffer a very real disappointment. The method of payment will be changed, but a great deal of the money will be paid in future in another way. There will be no total reduction, but an 27 increase; and I cannot see how the Government expect directly to see an improvement in the employment in this country. At this moment, unfortunately, it looks as if unemployment were likely to get worse and worse week after week, till it may even reach the dangerous pitch of the year 1920, when it was worse than it had ever been before in this country.
As the positive contribution to the solution of this question which the Government offer us is the Derating Bill, I will tell your Lordships what is the formula under which the rearranged grants are going to be made. If the number of persons per mile of public road is greater than, or equal to, 100, the weighted population which will be the ground of the grant will be the population of the country in the standard year, plus 50 or the number of children under five years of age per 1,000 of the population, whichever is the greater, less 50; and that figure, having been ascertained, has to be divided by 50, and then you have to add 10, minus 10 or the rateable value in the £ per head on October 1, 1929, whichever is the less, and you are to divide that by 10. Then—this is all part of the same formula—you are to take the figure 1, plus 1.5 or the percentage of unemployed men, whichever is the greater, minus 1.5; and, having divided that by 10, you are to add to the number 50, divided by the number of persons per mile of public road.
I do not know if anybody in your Lordships' House is able to understand that. But we will go further, because that only concerns occasions when the number of persons per mile of public road is greater than, or equal to, 100. If it is less than 100 then you arrive at your conclusion in a different way. You take, first of all, the population of a county in a standard year, and you add to that 50 or the number of children under five years of age per thousand of the population, whichever is the greater, from which you subtract 50. You then divide that by 50. You then add 10, from which you subtract 10 or the rateable value in the £ per head on October 1, 1929, whichever is the less. Having divided that by 10, you then take the figure 1, to which you add 1.5 or the percentage of unemployed men, whichever is the greater, from which 28 you subtract 1.5. You then divide by 10 and add no less than 200, and from 200 you subtract the number of persons per mile of public road. Then, having divided that by 200, you have a perfectly easy and simple result. I must congratulate His Majesty's Government upon possessing people of such arithmetical facility that they are able to understand a simple formula of that kind. I venture to say, as I said at the end of the last Session in your Lordships' House, that an easier and a more commonsense scheme would have been far preferable to such a method as this.
I turn now to matters of foreign affairs. I learn from the newspapers that the question of the Naval Pact is to be debated upon another occasion. That, I suppose, is the reason why it was not discussed by the noble and learned Lord who spoke last. I confess that I am divided in my mind as to whether we should speak upon this question or not. For my own part I believe in maintaining the customs and traditions of your Lordships' House, and it has always been the custom and the tradition to speak upon every and any subject upon the Address in reply to the gracious Speech, and I think it is very important that we should maintain that privilege and that right. On the other hand, of course, if we had discussed it upon this occasion the noble and learned Lord might have given us the forty or fifty minutes speech which he will no doubt deliver when the Naval Pact comes up for discussion by your Lordships. Therefore, I confess I am divided in my mind as to whether it is or is not a good thing that we should discuss it upon this occasion.
I shall venture to ask only one question in relation to this matter in order that we may elucidate points that will come to be discussed when the subject of the Naval Pact is introduced into your Lordships' House. I would ask His Majesty's Government whether the Pact is now dead, and whether the compromises to which both parties agreed are now entirely abolished? Are we or are we not back to where we were before these conversations began? Is the whole position now like a clean slate, or are there any obligations either on the one side or the other? That, I think, is all I wish to say upon the Naval Pact itself: but, with regard to the more general 29 question of foreign affairs I should like to ask His Majesty's Government whether they associate themselves with the thesis, which is much maintained in France, that the question of Reparations should be allied with that of evacuation, or whether, as is contemplated under the Treaty of Versailles, the two matters should be dealt with entirely separately and that the one has no connection with the other? The third question I would ask His Majesty's Government is in relation to the presence of British soldiers in the Rhineland manœuvres last summer—whether the participation of a regiment of Cavalry was in accordance with the directions or the promises of the Foreign Office, or whether it was merely an act on the part of the General Command? I hope that is not an improper question to ask, but it is a matter of no small importance to know whether it was the Foreign Office which sanctioned this action on the part of the Cavalry, or whether it was only done by their immediate military commanders.
Returning to the Pact for a moment, I confess that I am really not able to congratulate His Majesty's Government on the way in which they have treated this matter. I do not wish to be partisan on this occasion; still less do I wish to be partisan on matters of foreign affairs. I will content myself, therefore, with quoting from a leading article which appeared in The Times this morning. The Times, if not actually a Government journal, is so favourable to His Majesty's Government that we know that it would never say anything contrary to their action unless it felt obliged to do so. The Timesthis morning said:—It is impossible to praise the Government for its diplomatic handling of the episode; for its sudden spurt of activity in the matter of disarmament at a time when, after the failure of the Three Power Conference, a respite from discussions on naval disarmament was obviously desirable; for its failure to recognise that the currents and cross-currents in the Preparatory Commission are hardly intelligible to the world at large, and that agreements reached in the arcana of that institution may easily be misunderstood unless the circumstances are fully explained. All this would perhaps have mattered little if the first announcement of the compromise had been accompanied by a full exposition of its terms and purpose—if, in fact, the Government had remembered on this occasion that an essential part of successful diplomatic tactics is a wise publicity.30 I am glad to think that in one direction at any rate it has not done the harm which we might have expected. The people of the United States of America have realised that it was the act of His Majesty's Government and not in any way an act of the people of this country. Obviously, the secrecy with which it was conducted shows that the people of this country had nothing to do with it, and the almost unanimous disapproval with which it was met when its terms were made known must have satisfied the whole world that the people of this country disliked it when they knew what it contained.
Your Lordships may say, and it is said outside, that French militarism is no business of ours, and that it is not the business either of the United States of America, of the French, or of any other nation what may be the position of our Fleet, either as to its strength or its composition. As a matter of fact it is our business what may be the size of the French Army, just as it is the business of other countries what may be the size of our Fleet and our Army. What else is the meaning of the Treaty of Versailles and of the League of Nations? They mean that we have solemnly pledged ourselves to reduce our armed forces to the lowest point which is consistent with our national safety, and it is a matter which concerns us and which concerns them that our armaments and their armaments should be reduced to the lowest possible point.
I have very little hope of securing disarmament from His Majesty's Government. We have had Locarno; we have had the Kellogg Pact; but they have been followed up by too little action on the part of His Majesty's Government. I have very little hope that in the short time which it seems to me remains to them they will be able to carry out very much more in either direction. On this occasion, as I said before, of the last Address in answer to the gracious Speech from the Throne in this Parliament, we have great disappointment regarding the policy which has been carried out by His Majesty's Government not only in regard to disarmament but also in regard to economy, the way in which they have managed the financial affairs of this country and the total lack of success with which they have managed the unemployment problem in this country.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
My Lords, I should like to join the noble and learned Lord, the Leader of the Opposition, and the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, in the tributes they have paid to my old friend Lord Haldane. He was a man of singular intellectural gifts combined with great social charm, and he was a friend of many men and women who did not belong to his political way of thinking. In his public life, which of course was very distinguished, he was characterised by a great independence of judgment, great patriotism, great Parliamentary knowledge and skill, and great consideration for the difficulties of others. As the noble and learned Lord and the noble Earl have already said, he left a very special mark in his administration of the War Office and in the great work which he did there, and it was, perhaps, almost a tragedy that owing to circumstances which we need not recall he was unable himself to bear a prominent part in using the weapon which he had done so much to forge.
I have always looked back upon that period with great regret. I have never been happy as to the way Lord Haldane was treated in those days. I have said he was a friend, and so he was—a personal friend; but from a Parliamentary point of view he possessed that great spirit of comradeship which enabled him, quite independently of any Party consideration, to help any man, or any body of men who were responsible for affairs, in seeing that the business of the country was properly carried through. Personally, I can speak with great knowledge, for I received the utmost consideration at his hands. In many departments of public life he was altogether free from any Party feeling. He was a great Party man, of course, but, beyond his Party feelings, there was a large area of public life which he looked upon from an entirely impartial standpoint, and in which he was of the greatest assistance to any Government, whatever its political complexion. These were very great qualities, and I am sure all of us on this side of your Lordships' House will miss him from the Benches opposite.
I turn to the speeches which we have heard this evening. Like noble Lords who preceded me, I congratulate most warmly my two noble friends for their 32 speeches in moving and seconding the Address. I congratulate them not only upon their speeches but also because they bear names dear to all those who are fond of British Parliamentary traditions. Both the forefathers from whom they descend were close colleagues of my own father. One of them was my noble friend's great grandfather. I hardly dare to say it, because the fact that I remember him in the zenith of his power marks me as being very much down the hill. But undoubtedly the noble Lord has a great reputation to live up to in the tradition which still lingers in Parliament of the powers, eloquence and statesmanship of the first Lord Cranbrook. The father of my noble friend who seconded the Address was recently amongst us, and was a great personal friend of all of us, and we rejoice to hear one of his name again speaking in your Lordships' House.
I think the speeches themselves were both characteristic. The noble Earl showed a grasp of detail and a knowledge of his subject which might have warmed the heart, if he had heard it, of his great forefather, and my noble friend who seconded has evidently, as was suggested, the same fiscal enthusiasm which we remember so well. I earnestly hope that my two noble friends will be gratified, as they ought to be gratified, by the reception which their speeches have received in your Lordships' House, and that they will continue to attend our debates and join in our discussions and carry still further that tradition of statesmanship which their names entitled them to bear. My noble friend the mover of the Address showed a real knowledge of local government, and I certainly preferred his method of dealing with the rating proposals of His Majesty's Government to the tone which characterised the speech of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Beauchamp). It occurred to me that it was much more likely to be useful in results than the criticism of the noble Earl. There was nothing carping about my noble friend, and I venture to hope that when we come to discuss the Bill, he will help us in the discussions.
The noble Earl who has just sat down told your Lordships that every subject was open to discussion on the debate on the Address, and as I cast a melancholy eye over the notes which I have 33 scribbled upon the subjects that have been mentioned in the course of the speeches, I really began to think that the noble Earl must, on this occasion at any rate, be really accurate. I cannot hope to deal with all of them, but I must say one word about the noble Earl's sneer at His Majesty's Government for representing a minority of the electors. The noble Earl and his friends are authorities on minorities. I do not know any more than the noble Earl does what is going to happen at the next General Election, but I shall be very much surprised if the Conservative Party return in as small, may I say in as exiguous a minority as the Liberal Party is likely to do.
The noble Earl asked me a great many questions. One was about a certain Communist who has been dismissed at Woolwich. I do not pretend to know all the circumstances of that case, although the noble Earl was good enough to give me notice that he was going to ask me about it, but upon the principle of the matter, which is what the noble Earl dealt with, surely there are limits beyond which liberality in employment so far as political opinion is concerned ought not to be allowed to go. Why should you employ a Communist in one of your military establishments? Would you send a homicidal maniac out to look after your children? There must be a limit. However broad may be the views which you have upon the freedom of political opinion, there must be a limit beyond which you cannot go in employing persons who are really intent upon subverting the whole structure of the society in which they are operating. I need say no more upon that.
The noble Earl referred to matters which, he truly said, were not in the Speech. Among others, he asked me a question about the reform of the House of Lords. I do not desire for a moment to shirk the answer to that question. It is a failing, I am afraid, of all Governments to be over sanguine as to the time at their disposal, though I venture to think that this Government have, on the whole, not deserved ill of their country. Yet in the respect which I have indicated, they are no exception to the rule. My right hon. friend the Prime Minister does not deny the commitments into which he entered that the Government would deal with the subject of Lords' reform in the present Parliament, and, as your Lordships' House is aware, 34 the subject was attempted to be dealt with in the proposals which were put forward in the name of my noble friend who preceded the noble and learned Lord upon the Woolsack. These proposals were received very favourably by your Lordships but were not received very favourably in another place, and it was found impossible to proceed with them. Now we have come to the present year and my right hon. friend wishes me to say that since these discussions took place the great scheme for the reform of local government and the relief of rates, to which the noble Earl referred, necessarily very complex, has crystallised as the work immediately before us, and it has become evident that nothing else of importance can be attempted during the remainder of the present Parliament. I need not say with what extreme reluctance I make this announcement. It is true. I have only said what is true, but profoundly do I regret, speaking personally, that it has not been found possible to deal with Lords' reform in the present Parliament.
I turn to what is the most important matter in the gracious Speech from the, Throne, the matter which, I think, has occupied the greater part of the speeches of the noble Lord opposite and the noble Earl—namely, the condition of unemployment. It is, of course, deplorable. It is no good pretending that the figures are not very serious. There is, however, one circumstance which I would ask your Lordships to bear in mind. The figures of unemployment are higher, but so are the figures of employment. It is not the fact, that is to say, that corresponding to an increase in unemployment there is a decrease in employment. On the contrary, there is an increase in employment as compared, for instance, with the year 1924. The figures of employment are going up at the same time as the figures of unemployment. Of course it means that there is a greater population but the two things are going on simultaneously and though we recognise, as we must recognise, the gravity of the unemployment figures, it is well to bear in mind that the increase in them does not correspond to a reduction in the figures of men and women who are actually employed. On the contrary, there are more employed than there were. Of course one would like to account for it, and undoubtedly the friends of the noble Lord 35 are responsible in a great measure for it in the industrial struggles of 1926. It is the aftermath of the great industrial struggle which took place, I quite agree without their wish, but which they were entirely unable to control, amongst their friends. That is fundamentally the main reason for it.
I cannot pretend that I can give a full account of it. There is this to be said, that the unemployment disease is not spread over the whole country. It is concentrated in particular black spots or black industries, and though that does not solve the problem, yet it enables us to have a better view of what it really consists in. I do not say that it is all becoming worse even in those black spots, because unemployment in mining is a trifle better than it was, though that is not saying very much. I can only, try to take, like my noble friend the mover, an optimistic view. Trade, on the whole, seems to be a little better than it was. The volume of exports is up in the first nine months of 1928 as compared with the first nine months of 1927. On the whole, I think that your Lordships will agree with me that there is a better feeling in industry, that there is a more conciliatory atmosphere between employers and employed, that there is a greater energy in organisation, and I think probably greater energy in the work of the individual worker. At any rate, the work of the average man per hour is more productive than it was. That is a very good sign. Though unemployment continues, yet if that tendency continues also we may look for better results in the future.
But, of course, I agree that the demand which the noble Lord made for action by the Government is fully justified. We must do everything we can, and I can only assure him that the question is receiving at this very moment the most urgent attention of the Government to see how far they can mitigate—for it cannot be more than a mitigation—the serious situation which has taken place. The Industrial Transference Board is certainly operating. It is calculated that of the 200,000 men who are at this moment irregularly employed with whom they have dealt there have been men transferred per week up to the figure of 400, and the expectation is that they will transfer during the next six months some 15,000. There will probably be an equal 36 number transferred without Government assistance, making 30,000. Then if you add the normal wastage which exists, and which I am sorry to say in one sense gets rid of the unemployed, that will reduce the outstanding figure still further, say up to a total of some 45,000. We have, in addition to that, the effect of the migration efforts, migration overseas I mean. Your Lordships have no doubt seen with satisfaction the effort which has been made in the last few months to promote the migration of harvesters to Canada. They have not all remained, but a very large proportion of them have remained, and we have every hope that, as the system becomes settled, next year a still larger proportion will go and a much larger proportion will remain. All these are good signs which we hope will gratify your Lordships. I will not go into the other activities of the Transference Board, but I would call your Lordships' attention to the training establishments which have been set up both for men and for women and which are operating successfully in training men and women who are unemployed so that they can take up their work either in this country or elsewhere. All these things are mitigations of the seriousness which the problem shows, though I am sorry to say that they do not get rid of it.
What else could be done? My noble friend the seconder believes in Safeguarding, and the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, asked me to make a statement of the policy of the Government in reference to Safeguarding. My noble friend is a diligent reader of the newspapers and I am sure it has not escaped his notice that quite recently my right hon. friend the Prime Minister addressed a letter to the Chief Conservative Whip in which he set out the actual position which the Government occupy in the matter of Safeguarding. We are not at all dissatisfied with the results of Safeguarding, so far as it has gone, and I think my noble friend who seconded the Motion was fully justified in what he said in that respect. But when my noble friend suggests that we should carry it further and that I should tell your Lordships that we are prepared to safeguard iron and steel, I am afraid I cannot follow him. I am not sure that he has realised the reaction that the safeguarding of these basic industries would have 37 upon other commodities and other industries and trades. As my right hon. friend said in the letter to which I have referred, we are opposed to Protection and we are opposed especially to the taxation of food. Every industry is to have an equal chance before whatever tribunal is to consider its demand for Safeguarding. We are in exactly the same position as we were in formerly, and we are not prepared to accept a policy of Protection or a policy of the taxation of food.
I turn, therefore, from Safeguarding as a remedy to ask what else can be done. The noble Earl says that he does not think that our rating relief will be of any value. I really do not know why he said that. I should have thought that to remove from agriculture and industry the burden that they at present have to bear ought to do them good. The noble and learned Lord opposite criticised very severely our rating principle. This is not the first time that he has done so, may I say, almost in the same words, but of course we do not agree with him. We agree with some of his premisses, but we agree with hardly any of his conclusions. In the speech that he has just delivered he told us that it was very unfair that the ratepayers should have to bear the large part of a local burden which ought really to be put on the shoulders of the taxpayers. That, of course, is one of the principles of the Government's derating scheme. We propose, as the House knows very well, to derate industry to a large extent and agriculture altogether, in order that the burden shall be thrown upon the Exchequer instead of upon the ratepayer. The noble Lord said that we were derating property. We are not derating property, but we are derating industry. If we were derating property that would, of course, affect house property.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
We are derating the property which belongs to industry, if the noble Lord wishes it, but in effect we are derating industry. That is to say, we are removing from industry a burden that it has to bear—I do not think I have been inaccurate in the way in which I have described the process—and we believe that to be a 38 very great advantage to industry and that, so far as it goes, it will tend to mitigate unemployment. The noble Lord complained that part of our derating scheme would affect prosperous industries. Why not? What we want to do is to promote industry. By all means let us promote prosperous industries as well as those that are not prosperous. Indeed, from some points of view, the former is likely to be the more successful plan. What we want to do is to promote employment and for that purpose it would be very unwise to leave out the industries that are successful. We hope that the industries that are not now successful will become successful, or at least that some of them will do so, that those that are now successful will be more successful still and that in that way a larger body of labour will be employed and we shall diminish the black figures that we all agree ought to be deplored.
I turn for a moment to the part of the Speech that deals with foreign affairs. I was very glad that my noble friend the seconder expressed on the part of your Lordships our great satisfaction at the celebration in Japan and all the rejoicings of that country, which we have so long regarded with interest and regard. There is a curious similarity in many respects between the position of Japan in Asia and that of Great Britain in Europe. We are both island Powers, both deeply engaged in industry, both passionately anxious to maintain peace and order for the sake of our trade, and we have been, as your Lordships know, for many years closely connected in interest. It is a matter of the greatest satisfaction to His Majesty's Government and to the whole country that we are able to pay a compliment to Japan upon this interesting occasion. As regards China, I should like to join with the noble and learned Lord in saying on behalf of the Government how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Sir Miles Lampson for his conduct of affairs in very difficult circumstances. I think it is impossible to exaggerate either the difficulties with which he has been confronted or the great skill with which he has surmounted them.
The noble and learned Lord said a word or two about the Kellogg Pact. He wanted to know whether we had, in fact, accepted it unconditionally. We accepted the actual text as the American 39 Government submitted it to us. The noble Lord says that we have made certain reservations. I hate wearying your Lordships, and I really think it is almost a pity that the noble and learned Lord should say exactly the same thing as he said a few months ago, and that I should be compelled to make exactly the same reply. The point that the abandonment of war did not include defensive war did not originate in this country. It originated in America.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I must take them in order, at any rate. We were only accepting the view that Mr. Kellogg himself put forward in America in a famous speech and expressing our concurrence with it. As the noble Lord says, there were other reservations, but those had relation to parts of the world in which we had a very special interest and in regard to which it was right that we should explain that they stood upon a very different footing from other parts. That, if I may say so, is a point of view by no means foreign to the American frame of mind. The Americans quite understand that kind of explanation and have themselves adopted it on a famous occasion. I do not see any reason why the noble Lord should criticise the method in which we have received this very important step forward towards the abandonment of war as an instrument of policy.
I do not think, however, that the noble Earl said very much about the Kellogg Pact. He was interested in the naval arrangement with France. I confess, although I think the noble Earl was abundantly within his rights in asking his questions, there is a certain inconvenience in discussing this matter to-night, when we shall be engaged in discussing the same subject tomorrow. Therefore I am sure that the noble Earl will not think me disrespectful if I do not now go into the subject much in detail. In the first place, let me protest against the words "Naval Pact." It was an accord, a provisional accord, which we came to with the French Government, and communicated at once to the other Powers, upon the express condition that unless the other Powers agreed to it, it must at once fall to the ground. It is entirely wrongly described 40 as a Pact. It is merely a provisional understanding which we came to with France upon naval matters, and which we communicated at once to the United States Government and other interested Powers. Everybody knows that to be the case. Undoubtedly, that naval arrangement is at an end. We were confronted by a reception of our efforts which was not at all encouraging. I very much regret it, because I do not really know how this great disarmament problem—and it is a great problem—is to be solved unless there are preliminary understandings which are at once communicated to the other interested parties. I do not see upon what other principle you can proceed. It is no good your Lordships having any misconception of the matter. The solution of the disarmament question is profoundly difficult, and although we are properly very careful in what we say on both sides of this House, in discussing a matter of this kind, I think it is only fair to say that the difficulties do not always arise only in this country. When things go wrong we always talk as if it must be the fault of His Majesty's Government, but it must be remembered, if we all speak absolutely out, which I am the last man to desire to do, it would be found that the faults did not lie only with His Majesty's Government. I think I have said all that I need say upon this subject this evening.
As regards Reparations, I think the noble Earl asked whether Reparations were conditional upon the evacuation of the Rhineland. It is perfectly true that, as a matter of practical politics, there is a certain connection between the two; but so far as the Government are concerned, we have always been in favour of the evacuation of the Rhineland. We have always been very anxious to persuade the French Government to go forward in that direction, and we reserve to ourselves, of course, the right to push forward that policy, even independently of Reparations, if it seems to be the proper course to pursue. Lastly, there was a question as to the taking part by a certain Cavalry regiment in the manœuvres on the Rhine. The noble Earl was very anxious to find out which Department was responsible for it. His Majesty's present Government is one and indivisible, and it is not possible to say that one Department is more responsible than another. Of 41 course, in coming to a decision of this kind the War Office would consult the Foreign Office, or the Foreign Office the War Office, and the two Departments would act in strict union, but I should like to say that the reason for the proceedings was that this Cavalry regiment is the only Cavalry regiment with the British forces on the Rhine, and therefore if it is to have manœuvres at all it roust join with somebody else, and for that reason joined with the French forces. It is not unprecedented. Somewhat similar co-operation between British and French forces has taken place in previous years, although attention has not been called to it before. That is, I think, the simple straightforward explanation of what occurred.
On the whole, I do not think that the criticisms which have been made upon the Government have been very formidable to-night. At any rate I do not feel much disturbed by them, and I hope that when we get into details, as we shall begin to do to-morrow, the Government will be able as successfully to answer criticisms made upon them, as I hope I have been able to answer them to-night.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and Address to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.