§ LORD RENNELL rose to ask His Majesty's Government for information as to the distribution of activities and responsibilities between the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Minister in charge of relations with the League of Nations; whether those of the Minister are limited to issues which have been referred to the League at Geneva, and if not, what latitude he can exercise in his submissions to and exchanges of views with foreign Governments.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper was not prompted by any desire to provoke a discussion on the Ethiopian question which is occupying so much public attention at the present time. I, on the contrary, esteem it much more advantageous not to run the risk of prejudicing any new discussion which may be impending by the possibility of indiscreet utterances in either House of Parliament. But I cannot at the present time pretend that my Question is altogether unassociated with that issue, because it was the recent submission of certain tentative proposals for a settlement to the Chief of State at Rome which led me to ask for this information. The nature of these proposals has given me and, I gather, a very considerable number of other people, some reason to suppose that there may have been a lack of coordination between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Minister entrusted with negotiations which have encountered, as in my opinion they were foredoomed to do, an unwelcome negative reception.
§ Let me explain briefly my reasons for such a presumption, which I may, of course, be told is wholly erroneous. In the first place our Foreign Office could hardly fail to have been in possession of ample knowledge regarding the preparations for an African campaign on 708 a very extensive scale which had been in progress for many months before the particular frontier incident of December last and certain subsequent ones to the investigation of which the activities of the Conciliation Committee at The Hague have been restricted. That Ethiopia might be induced to contemplate cession in return for access to the sea of certain areas in the South which were not an integral portion of the old historic Ethiopian Kingdom was, in the actual circumstances, no doubt conceivable. What, however, was not conceivable to those who know something of the character of the Abyssinians was that the Emperor could make any concession which would satisfy demands as to the extent of which there has for some time past been no concealment; nor, as it seems to me, could our Foreign Office well ignore that the offer to Ethiopia of a rival landing place on the African coast only a few miles from Jibuti, which has for some fifty years enjoyed almost a monopoly of the export and import trade with the interior of Abyssinia, would hardly be welcomed by France any mole than by Italy, which has recently acquired an interest in the Jibuti railway.
§ The northern boundary of what is known as British Somaliland marches with the frontier of the French Colony, and this might seem to have suggested an additional reason for not proposing, without a previous understanding, the transfer to less accommodating neighbours of an area in which border incidents will be liable to arise. The sentiments of the fixed population at Zeila, would no doubt be regarded as a secondary condition. They number, I believe, only some seven thousand; and the hinterland towards Gildessa and Harrar is mainly waterless, and occupied by nomadic tribes. But news, often exaggerated and distorted, travels mysteriously fast down the African coast, and rumours of our intended withdrawal from areas of administration must involve a risk of fomenting unrest there. Transfers of native population may, of course, be necessary under certain special conditions, such as those which led to the transfer to Italy of Kismayu and a section of Jubaland. But the propositions presented by the cession of Juba and the proposed Zeila transfer are not analogous, and the latter presents, to my mind at any rate, other potential complications. 709 In making the cession of the Juba to Italy, we were clearly within our rights, and had only to think of ourselves. The old East African Protectorate along the coastal zone was, in 1920, annexed to the British Crown, and thereafter, except for a section which is held as a, Protectorate under lease from the Sultan of Zanzibar, became part of the Colony of Kenya.
§ The position with regard to Zeila, however, is different. There has recently been some correspondence on this subject in the Press in which its antecedent history has not always been quite accurately or, at any rate, completely stated. Harrar, which stands where the high lands begin, some one hundred miles from the coast, had been occupied by Egypt in the period of expansion under the Khedive Ismail. When, under the menace of bankruptcy, it became necessary to withdraw all the Egyptian garrisons from the Soudan, Harrar was evacuated. That was in 1882, and an independent Emir was established there as Ruler. He was, however, shortly after dispossessed by Ethiopia, and Ras Makunan, nephew of Menelek and father of the present Emperor, became Governor of Harrar, where there were not many Abyssinians established when I was there more than thirty-five years ago. The Somali coast zone, at that time valuable to Aden as a source of meat supplies, was then administered as a British Protectorate by the Government of India. The control was transferred in 1897, after the British Mission to Abyssinia, to the Foreign Office, and subsequently, in 1905, to the Colonial Office. Somaliland, however, always remained nominally a British Protectorate. If British protection were to be withdrawn from any part of it, the question might arise: To whom would that section revert? There is, I believe, no generally accepted definition of the status of Protectorates, and the question of their transfer by the withdrawal of the protecting Power might obviously lead to complications into which it would probably be more prudent not to enter. What, however, would be of interest would be to know if such issues had been carefully considered and studied before the proposal under discussion was contemplated.
§ For the reasons I have submitted, and perhaps others, your Lordships may wish to have some assurance that there has 710 not been lack of co-ordination among the various authorities now entrusted with the handling of foreign affairs. It is true that when, or if, these matters were deliberated, there had only recently been important administrative changes, and the new machine, it is quite possible, had not yet found itself. However that may be, it is difficult to refrain from asking why, if so delicate and, to my mind, so unpromising a proposition was to be advanced, resort should not have been had to the normal course of feeling the way tentatively through our Embassy at Rome rather than by the publicly advertised method of a Ministerial progress to the Italian Capital, with all the inevitable repercussions attending want of success.
§ One of the legacies of the Great War, at any rate in this country, has been the institution of what is known as the New Diplomacy. It means, as I understand it, that the discussion of issues which present themselves with foreign countries has been largely taken out of the hands of the experts, who have spent long years in studying the temperaments, susceptibilities, and aspirations of the various nations among whom they have been appointed to reside. The influence they might be able to acquire is necessarily diminished by so large a transfer of their former duties to Ministers, who may enter into office with little or no previous foreign experience, and who, moreover, having to advise His Majesty's Government on issues arising all over the world, can ill spare the time from the ever-increasing work of already overburdened Departments, supplemented by their Parliamentary duties. I have been told in explanation of these things that it has been found difficult in certain posts, especially what I may call dictatorial pests, for the Ambassadors to see a very great deal of the Head of the State, whereas, of course, a Minister going specially for the purpose has no difficulty. I cannot quite accept that as an adequate explanation. If there is a difficulty I think it could be managed; but it seems to me to create a vicious circle.
§ You send a special Minister out to see the Head of the State, and the man on the spot ceases to have any influence, and the Head of the State has less reason to see him. The publicity attend- 711 ing these journeys and the inevitable preliminary discussion of their object by critics of the Government do not always tend to create a more favourable atmosphere for deliberation, and the finality of pronouncements by a responsible Minister may easily enough prematurely close the door to reconsideration or revision. While I am not convinced that the position of Foreign Secretary is really strengthened by his being his own emissary and thus becoming responsible for errors of judgment in the methods of approach, I should be the last to contend that there may not be advantage in occacasional interviews of Ministers with those holding similar responsible positions in foreign countries. But I hold very definitely that such colloquies should be exceptional in exceptional circumstances and not, as they are tending to become, a general rule. Nor should I be disposed to dissent in principle from the appointment of a special Minister to deal with. issues at the League of Nations, so long as his attributions are clearly defined and understood.
§ The position may indeed before long become a very important one. For if the League is to survive its insuccesses and the withdrawal of several of the most important Members who dissent from collective decisions, if it is to free itself from the suspicion of becoming an instrument for the perpetuation of inhibitions imposed under exceptional circumstances, and if it is to regain the universal confidence we desire it to have, it is evident to me that it will have to be in certain respects considerably remodelled. In the meantime, as we are henceforth to have two Ministers and two Under-Secretaries dealing with foreign affairs, and as it is conceivable, if not in the present instance, that in future combinations there might well be a lack of co-ordination and unity, it therefore appeared to me to be legitimate to seek information as to their respective activities, responsibilities and limitations. Therefore, in no critical spirit but really with an honest desire for information, I have put down the Question which stands in my name.
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, the Question put down by my noble friend is a Question relating to the respective duties of the Foreign Minister and his new colleague, and he has taken the opportunity, which is often taken in this House, of 712 delivering a very interesting and instructive speech on foreign affairs generally. I do not propose to follow him in that direction, but to confine what few remarks I have to make to the Question which appears on the Paper. I should like to say at once without any hesitation that, with regard to this new appointment of envoy accredited to the League of Nations, I do not feel inclined to extend any welcome to it at all. To my mind, and I am rather reluctant to say so in the presence of my noble friend Lord Cecil, I think in the past, and at the present moment, we hear a great deal too much about the League of Nations. Personally, I am getting very tired of the constant protestations of Ministers and of public men of their entire devotion to the principles of the League of Nations and their firm determination always to act in consonance with that body. It almost seems to me that Ministers are afraid to admit that we possess any foreign policy of our own whatsoever.
That is not the only objection. The other objection which I have is that these statements about undying confidence and devotion to the League of Nations only give an opportunity to our critics to denounce what they are pleased to call our British hypocrisy. They say: "Is it not the fact that the League of Nations suits you admirably? You are a satiated Power. You have everything you want. Naturally you do not want to make war with any other nation. All that you desire is that peace should be kept somehow or other. Therefore, the League of Nations suits you admirably. But we are in a different position. We have not got all that we want; we should like to obtain a good deal more, and there are other nations who say they have not the smallest intention of allowing anything to be taken from them. Therefore you cannot expect us to look upon the League of Nations in the same light as you do." They might also add, if they are inclined to be ill-natured, that upon the whole there seems to be a certain amount of lip service about all these protestations "because," they might say, "when you have got any really serious business on hand you go straight to the parties concerned and you make arrangements with them quite independent of the League of Nations or anybody else." I quote, for 713 instance, the recent Agreement with Germany, and the attempt—the highly unsuccessful attempt—to come to an agreement with Italy. For that reason I do not welcome the appointment of this new Minister, or in fact the other appointments which have been made, but I dislike it also for another reason.
For a long time past there has been no more fertile subject of discussion than the continual growth of Ministries and the creation of fresh Ministers in this country. I do not know whether the fact is realised that since the War no less than sixteen different new Departments have been created. Two have gone. They went automatically. They were the two Irish Offices. That leaves a balance of fourteen. This outcry for the diminution of Departments and the stopping of the eternal creation of fresh posts and so forth had this effect, that some years ago the Prime Minister at that moment—I cannot remember now whether it was Mr. Ramsay MacDonald or Mr. Baldwin—actually made a definite promise that three Ministries should be abolished. Nothing of the kind has happened. Those three Ministries are still going and there is not the smallest prospect of their being abolished. If there is any change at all they will probably get larger.
But the mania for inflation starts, unfortunately, from the top. Look at the Cabinet. There must be noble Lords present who can remember, as I can remember well, the time when the Cabinet consisted of twelve. There are now, if I am not mistaken, twenty-two or twenty-three, and of these three or four Ministers have no definite duties to discharge. In the days when Cabinets were smaller the position of a Cabinet Minister was very different from what it is now. I remember the feeling of reverential awe with which I discharged those duties in the Foreign Office which drove the noble Lord opposite eventually from that office. They were distasteful to me. But I can still remember the feelings of reverence which I entertained for a Cabinet Minister. But who does entertain such feelings now? I do not like to appear disrespectful to noble Lords sitting upon the Front Bench, but I suggest that if they were to go out into the street and ask the first person they saw to name half-a-dozen members of the Cabinet, that person would be 714 perfectly unable to do so. He would probably say: "Oh, I suppose Lord Derby, or Lord Lonsdale, or Mr. Lloyd George or Mr. Baldwin." That is a question which does not interest him. The result of this multiplication of Cabinet Ministers is that their influence and their distinction have largely diminished.
The tendency to inflation has, unfortunately, now reached the Foreign Office, and I regret it very much, because the Foreign Office, contrary to general belief, is a highly efficient Department. I do not believe there is a more efficient Department. With a very small staff its duties were always admirably performed. But look what has happened now. The Foreign Office has been duplicated. Nobody has yet sucessfully defined the distinction between the Foreign Secretary and the gentleman who has just been accredited to the League of Nations. I should have thought myself that if it were necessary to do anything of the kind it would have been very much simpler to have appointed an Assistant Secretary, as was done during the War, when I think the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, acted in that capacity, and I fancy there was no friction at all. Of course it will be said: "Oh, these two Ministers are devoted to each other. They see eye to eye on every possible subject." Very likely they do, at all events for the time being, but I should be sorry to guarantee the future. I think it is quite conceivable that in a future Administration two gentleman with very different views might be called upon to work together.
Then there is to be still another instance of inflation in the appointment of another Under-Secretary. In former days when, as I say, the Foreign Office was just as efficient as it is now, the Foreign Office was represented by two men, one in your Lordships' House and the other in the House of Commons, and as long as there was a representative in each House things worked perfectly well. As a result of the new arrangement there will be no fewer than three representatives of the Foreign Office in the House of Commons. In addition to them there are Cabinet Ministers who have no definite work of their own and who are always on the spot to assist them, and there are other Departments also represented in Parliament which are closely allied to the Foreign Office and are in frequent communication with it.
715 I know we shall be told that these appointments are absolutely essential and that they are very small in number. That is what is always said, but the one thing of which you may be perfectly certain is that when such appointments are once made they become permanent whether they are required or not. It is almost impossible to dislodge a Department when once it has established itself. I was once head of a modest Department myself and there was considerable difficulty in get, ting rid of us. It is only in human nature. What I ask your Lordships to bear in mind is that every fresh Minister you create himself creates additional work, and it is not only a question of additional work but a question of additional staff and additional expense. In fact when appointments of this sort are being made it really seems to me that it is perfectly futile to talk about economy at all. As a matter of fact I do not believe that anybody here or in another place or outside cares a fig about economy. I did not rise, however, for the purpose of advocating economy. My main object in intervening in the debate was to express the hope that we shall get an assurance from my noble friend who replies for the Government that what I venture to call peripatetic diplomacy will now come to an end.
What I say is in no way meant to be hostile to Mr. Eden. I think if you want a gentleman of that kind he probably would fill the bill better than anybody else. He is already a sort of legendary figure, and in the Press and in the public imagination he appears as a sort of political Perseus who literally flies off to rescue incompetent British diplomatists from perfectly imaginary dangers. It is hardly necessary for me to point out that the ordinary British diplomatist is a competent man perfectly well able to look after himself and to discharge his duties if you give him a chance of doing so. I should like to ask anybody to tell me any single thing that Mr. Eden has done that could not be done equally well by the man on the spot. If the man on the spot is not capable then remove him, but for the life of me I cannot understand the frame of mind of people who think that a long-standing difficulty can suddenly be set right by sending a man out on a visit for twenty-four or forty-eight hours. It is about as sensible as to imagine that if you are 716 suffering from a serious internal disease you can cure yourself by putting on a new suit of clothes. There is nothing to be said for it at all.
Mr. Eden, as I have already remarked, is a man who has great qualifications, but what has been gained by sending him about in accordance with these new ideas? If you are going to have a peripatetic Minister you ought to ascertain before he goes anywhere that he is perfectly certain to succeed. If you are quite sure he will succeed you can pride yourself afterwards on what you have done, but if you are not sure and he fails then your failure is all the more clear, and we had an unfortunate instance of that in connection with what happened recently in Rome. What puzzles me is to know who is at the back of, and who originates, these ideas of sending these people abroad. It cannot be the Foreign Office. The Foreign Office is far too sensible a body to imagine that any good can be done by it. It cannot be the present Foreign Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, because he has announced that in the future lie intends to use the regular officials in connection with all questions that fall within the scope of their duties. Who is it? I can only imagine that there must be some person or persons in the Cabinet who have an insatiable appetite for sensationalism and for playing up to the so-called popular Press. I cannot account for it in any other way. By this time the idea must have been thoroughly exploded. I hope my noble friend will give me the assurance I ask. If he does I am perfectly certain that there will be many thousands of people in the country beside myself who will be only too thankful to hear that the present sensational method has been abandoned and that we shall relapse into our old methods.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My Lords, my noble friend who asked this Question based his inquiry chiefly on the offer made in connection with the Ethiopian question of the Zeila district. I am not going to discuss whether there was any prospect of that offer being successful, but I feel quite certain that however low you may rate the intelligence of Cabinet Ministers—and I am aware that my noble friend Lord Newton does not put it very high—
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
I cannot believe for a moment that they made any such offer without some ground for believing that it would be likely to produce an alleviation of the present very serious situation. I do not desire to express any opinion as to the wisdom or otherwise of that offer, because I do not think that, without knowing much more accurately than I can pretend to know the circumstances under which it was made, it is possible to form any judgment as to whether there was any prospect of success or not. But what I do say is that, if it had been successful, I have not the slightest doubt that my noble friends, both of them, would have welcomed it warmly—at least I hope they would—as an infinitely small price to pay for the liquidation of the extremely dangerous situation in which we now find ourselves. I hope that my noble friends will excuse me if I venture to say that, right through both of their speeches, it seemed to me that there was rather an inadequate appreciation of the very serious nature of the present situation. I am not going to say a word about it, for fear that even casual observations of mine might aggravate it, but I feel most strongly that the Government were fully justified and absolutely right in taking any steps they thought necessary, and I trust that they will continue to take any steps they think to be necessary, or to have any probability of success, to avoid the outbreak of war between Italy and Abyssinia.
I believe that war in itself will be a very serious matter, particularly for all those who have any possessions in Africa, but, quite apart from that, I hold that unless we can maintain the efforts we have made since the War to organise peace, the future for this country and for the world is very dark. Therefore I am prepared personally, for what little value my support may be, to give my whole support to any steps that the Government may think necessary in order to avert war between Italy and Abyssinia. I cannot believe for one moment that my noble friend Lord Rennell is right in his fear that there was a want of co-ordination between Mr. Eden and the Foreign Office. I cannot believe for one second that an offer of that importance was not made after full consideration by the Cabinet and with full Cabinet authority, and cer- 718 tainly with the full authority and support of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I quite agree with my noble friend that, if there is any doubt about that, it shows a most serious condition of the administration of this country, and one which would require the strongest possible condemnation by this House or the other House. But I cannot believe that there was any such want of coordination at all. The step was taken as a Government step; it has been supported and defended by all the members of the Government, and I have no doubt it was fully considered and authorised—I should think, before Mr. Eden left England, and certainly before he said anything to the Italian Government.
But my noble friend went on to complain of what he regards as the New Diplomacy. I am not quite sure whether I know what is meant by the New Diplomacy. I understand, of course, that the negotiations at the League of Nations itself are carried on under different conditions from the discussions and negotiations which have, before the existence of the League, been necessary for international affairs. In that sense there has been, no doubt, a New Diplomacy. But beyond that I know of no novelty in diplomacy except the practice which has no doubt grown, particularly in recent years, of sending Ministers—Foreign Ministers, usually—to various capitals to interview other Foreign Ministers. That practice both my noble friends deprecated in. the strongest way. I find myself much more in sympathy with them over that. I feel that there are grave objections to what my noble friend Lord Newton called the "peripatetic" action of Ministers. I see great difficulties about it. No doubt, to begin with, not the least difficulty, as. I shall show in a moment, is the immensely exhausting character of that work. Ministers of the Crown have, in my judgment, far too little leisure and far too little strength as it is; they want all the leisure and all the strength they can conserve in order to deal with the immense responsibilities which lie upon them, and particularly upon anyone connected with foreign affairs. I cannot think that it is a good preparation for those efforts that they should be sent, often under very difficult conditions, from one end of Europe to another to interview foreign Ministers in different capitals.
719 And there is this difficulty: that if you once begin it, you have to extend it. If you go and see the Foreign Minister in Paris, you will have to go and see the Foreign Minister in Rome, or there will unquestionably be a suggestion that you think more of French assistance and French opinion than you think of Italian assistance and Italian opinion. The same applies to Berlin, and the same applies ultimately to Moscow. Therefore, if you once begin this system, you are driven by the course of events to extend it first to one capital and then to another. That means a very great addition to the exhaustion of Ministers, and on that ground I hope that it will be confined to the narrowest practicable limits.
Then there is another difficulty about it. If a Minister goes from here to a foreign capital, it becomes "news" at once. Something is going to happen, some great move is impending, and the newspapers—very properly, from their point of view—treat it as a matter of great importance. Headlines are printed and all the rest of it, and a great anticipation is excited in the public mind that some new departure is going to take place which will have a great effect on international relations. If, as the result, nothing much happens—and that, after all, is the result which we must expect out of conversations of that character in most cases—the disappointment is extreme. You add to the depression which previously existed, you increase the impression that the difficulties are insoluble, and the situation is worse than it was before. In the same way I cannot exclude the fact that, owing to that very circumstance that the matter becomes a matter of great public interest, there is nearly always a considerable misunderstanding as to what has recently taken place. There are always the communiqués at the end, saying that much more cordial relations have been produced, and all the rest of it, which in fact means nothing at all; and definite understandings are sometimes arrived at, which are published. Those are clear enough, but in addition to those there is always a whole crop of rumours as to the assurances that have been conveyed, if not explicitly uttered, as to the attitude of this Minister or that Minister, and so on, all of which are exploited by the agencies of public information and, again, 720 usually cause considerable misunderstanding at the time and disappointment later on. Therefore—and I believe that every Minister of the Crown would agree with me in saying it—the fewer of these expeditions that can take place, the better.
At the same time, I recognise—as think everybody must recognise—that there are considerable advantages in the close contact of those great officials who are chiefly responsible in each country for foreign affairs. If I may venture on a personal recollection, I remember that when the late Lord Salisbury was going to the Conference at Constantinople, he broke his journey, if it can be called breaking it, by going round to the various capitals in order to see the responsible Ministers before he began his discussions at the Conference, and I have always understood that he found that a very useful and almost necessary preliminary to such a conference. That is only one of the examples when it is desirable for Ministers to see their opposite principals in foreign capitals. To my mind it is one of the advantages of the Geneva system that such meetings can take place within the ordinary routine of the Assembly of the League without exciting great anticipations or great movements of opinion, because they are just ordinary routine meetings, and I should have thought that, granted these opportunities of personal conversation, it was the less necessary to have special journeys and meetings on additional occasions. I feel quite sure, however, that both Mr. Eden and Sir Samuel Hoare would not desire—I cannot imagine anyone in his senses desiring—to make these journeys unless they felt them to be absolutely necessary, and I trust they will confine them to the narrowest limits in the future.
As to the main matter which is raised by this Question, namely, the creation of the League Minister as a separate Cabinet Minister, I find myself in considerable disagreement with both noble Lords who have addressed your Lordships. Lord Newton based his objection first upon his general dislike of the League. He did not, so far as I made out, desire to destroy the League, but he wished it to be kept in its proper place and to have very little said about it, and in any circumstances that the Government should express no desire for their policy to be framed in accordance 721 with the principles of the League. I do not agree with him. If the League exists it must exist as the sheet anchor of our policy, and it is certain that the more strength you give it the more probability there is that it will be able to discharge its duties. If your Lordships hold, as I do, that its efficiency is absolutely essential to the maintenance of peace, then I cannot agree that there is any undue attempt to exalt its position in the national sphere. I therefore cannot accept that as a good argument against the creation of a League Minister.
There is the other argument, that it is quite unnecessary, which my noble friend put forward. He said, in effect: "Why do you want a second Minister? We used to have fewer Ministers and got on very well." My Lords, the truth is that the work has increased enormously, particularly in the Foreign Office. I have not the figures, but the number of papers which go in and out of the Foreign Office is immensely greater than it was when I was young. I dare say my noble friend could give us the figures, and although I am a strong advocate of the League of Nations I do not deny that it must increase the work of the Foreign Minister, and must involve great additional exertion. Personally I have felt for a very long time that it would be desirable to have two Cabinet Ministers in the Foreign Office, in order to make it easier to discharge those duties.
May I just remind your Lordships of one fact, which seems to me of some importance? Since the War we have had a number of Foreign Ministers, and I think you will be shocked to recall how many of them have broken down in their health while they have been discharging those duties. In the case of Lord Grey unquestionably the serious evils to his health were largely due to overwork. Lord Balfour was continually ill while he was at the Foreign Office. I happen to know, because being in the Foreign Office I often had to take his place. When he was at Paris he was very seriously ill, and I have not the slightest doubt it was due to the very hard work which the Foreign Office involved. Then Lord Curzon died, undoubtedly, in a large degree as a consequence of the wear and tear of the Foreign Office, although he was not at the Foreign Office when he died. Then my old friend, Sir Austen 722 Chamberlain, while in the Foreign Office, had a very bad breakdown and had to be away for months. I do not want to deal with people who are now alive, but I think it is generally recognised, with regard to the Lord President of the Council, that the work at the Foreign Office—made much more severe by the fact that he was also Prime Minister—was one of the causes which led to the regrettable want of health from which, unfortunately, we are now told he suffers.
For all those reasons I think it is folly not to recognise that you must strengthen the staff of the Foreign Office if it is properly to discharge its duties. I believe strongly that you must have a second Cabinet Minister, not only because you want to send him to Geneva and elsewhere, where he ought to have the authority of a Cabinet Minister if he is to speak, as he must speak, in international councils, but also because if the Foreign Minister goes abroad it must be a great convenience and assistance to have another Cabinet Minister ready to take charge at home. I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I venture to remind you that during the War a somewhat similar circumstance occurred, when the Foreign Office had to discharge, beside dealing with its ordinary duties, the duties of dealing with the blockade, and it became necessary—I think Lord Grey demanded it—to have two Cabinet Ministers in the Foreign Office. Various experiments were tried. At first the new Cabinet Minister was simply called an Under-Secretary, then Minister of Blockade, and then he became Assistant Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
If I may venture to express an opinion—I do not think any of the plans worked badly—I think the last one worked best. It emphasised the fact that the second Minister was, as he ought to be, strictly under the Secretary of State—not a coordinate authority in the Foreign Office but distinctly subordinate to the Secretary of State. It emphasised also that the Secretary of State must be responsible for all the great decisions, whether in the Department of the Assistant Secretary or not, and Secretary of State had always the right to take over from the Assistant Secretary any matter which he thought sufficiently important for him to deal with as principal Secretary of State. I believe that the system worked well, and although I do not wish to make 723 any criticism about it, because it appears to me to be a matter of terminology, I confess that I a little regret that when the new appointment was made the new Minister was not called Assistant Secretary of State in charge of League of Nations Affairs, or something of that kind. I think that would have relieved the anxieties of my noble friend Lord Rennell to a large extent, and would have been an improvement of the actual organisation.
I am afraid I have detained your Lordships for too long, but I wish to say, both with reference to the recent conduct of affairs—even the Zeila incident—and with reference to the arrangement that the Government have made for the conduct of foreign affairs, I do not desire to express any criticism, but merely to express my earnest hope that they will not be discouraged by any criticism from going forward with a really vigorous and energetic foreign policy, for I am quite certain that, without that, we may be plunged into the most serious and dangerous difficulties that we have ever endured.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (THE EARL OF ONSLOW)
My Lords, may I express my general agreement with the noble Lords who have addressed your Lordships, on practically all the points which have been raised? I must say I deprecate the growing practice of journeys of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs abroad. I agree entirely with all the three noble Lords who have addressed your Lordships, but I agree also with what the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, said that there is an advantage in the Secretary of State getting in touch with his colleagues in other countries, not necessarily to negotiate agreements of the first importance, not necessarily for him to visit first Paris and then, in case it might be thought more polite, Rome, and—in case that gave offence—Moscow and Berlin; but that he should have an opportunity of meeting the Foreign Ministers of other States.
When I was in the Diplomatic Service I remember the gathering which used to take place at Marienbad. In those days his late Majesty King Edward VII used to visit Marienbad every year, and it became quite a general practice for the Foreign Secretaries and Prime Ministers of this country—Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was one—and others to go 724 to Marienbad. There they met one another and I remember perfectly well talking not only with members of our awn Foreign Office but also with my foreign colleagues, and hearing what advantages were obtained for the Prime Minister and other Ministers from the interchange of conversation which passed with Foreign Ministers of other States. That Marienbad intercourse, which was entirely informal and depended upon whether any particular Minister chose to go there or not, has become stereotyped in the Assembly of the League of Nations, which takes place every September. Possibly there may be too many of them there—that I do not know. But at any rate it has been very highly developed since that date. But I do most strongly deprecate the Foreign Secretary being his own Ambassador. I do not think any worse system could be devised.
The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, will correct me if I am wrong, but I remember reading in the most interesting Life of the late Lord Salisbury that Lord Salisbury said that there is only one really important Minister in this country, not excluding the Prime Minister. The Foreign Secretary is the Minister upon whom the real safety of the country depends, and therefore to get the right man to fill that post is the most important duty of any Prime Minister. Well, what are the duties of the Foreign Secretary? I conceive that they are primarily to keep in touch with the Cabinet, to keep in touch with your Lordships' House and another place, and to keep in touch with the country, to understand how they are willing to be led, what their desires are, and what their conception of foreign policy may be, and to lead it as his wisdom suggests. It is the duty of members of the Diplomatic Service to carry out his instructions and. to keep him informed as to the state of affairs in the foreign country to which they are accredited. Those seem to me to be the paramount duties of the Foreign Secretary, and to carry them out he must, be constantly here in this country at the Foreign Office and in touch with the Cabinet and Parliament and with the country at large. He cannot, therefore, conduct his own foreign policy and his own diplomacy by travelling abroad.
725 To turn to another subject, I would like to ask what the actual organisation of this new system is going to be? The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, has pointed out that the second Minister must be subordinate to the Foreign Secretary, even though he be in the Cabinet. If two men ride a horse one man must ride in front. That is obvious, and I hope that my noble friend will make that perfectly clear to your Lordships when he addresses you. But there is another point on which I should like to ask for information. How is the old Department to be reorganised? Is the Permanent Under-Secretary of State, who, as your Lordships know, ranks in the Foreign Office above the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, to be the Permanent Under-Secretary of State to two Departments, the League of Nations Department and the Foreign Office proper or is the Foreign Secretary to be the head of the whole thing and the Minister for League of Nations Affairs to be his Deputy-Foreign Secretary and Minister for League of Nations Affairs—I suppose deputy in that too if the Foreign Secretary is to direct the whole policy—and then the Permanent Under-Secretary to follow, and then the two Parliamentary Under-Secretaries to run behind in a couple? I wonder if that is the organisation which is contemplated. If not, perhaps my noble friend when he addresses your Lordships will tell us.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
My Lords, nobody could have been better qualified to raise the Question that is on the Paper than the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, whose distinguished career in the Diplomatic Service makes him an authority on these questions. I feel that it is very pertinent at the present time that the organisation of our diplomacy should be examined very closely, because undoubtedly it has been one of the weakest spots in the Government, and since the reconstruction of the Government we seem to have an entirely new system, which it is right that Parliament should examine very closely. It has produced a certain amount of bewilderment, both in this House and in another place, and we are asking questions to-day, as they asked questions the other day in another place, in order to try to understand how this organisation is to function and why it came about.
726 My reading of it is that the present Prime Minister—who, as Lord President of the Council, as your Lordships will remember, made a most moving and eloquent speech about two years ago on aerial warfare, what it meant to civilisation, and how there was no possible adequate defence against it, and then two years afterwards had to make another speech in which he advocated large additions to the Air Force as a defence of this country—felt that such a volte face on his part would condemn him as a bad guide and that he must see to it that the Foreign Office was overhauled. His first idea, apparently, was that it should have a qualitative change, and for that purpose he asked Sir Samuel Hoare, who had made a very great reputation for himself over his handling of the Government of India Bill, to take the reins at the Foreign Office. Nobody has a greater admiration than I have for Sir Samuel Hoare's abilities, but a Minister who has been devoting the last five or six years to the most careful day-in-day-out, year-in-year-out examination and study of the problem of Indian government is not necessarily somebody who can be pitch-forked into the Foreign Office to deal with the complications of foreign affairs which, unlike any Bill or Act of Parliament, unlike any domestic duties which have to be undertaken by the Ministers, is not a matter which can be "mugged up" in a week or a month or a year. It is a matter that has to be studied very closely, with a very close knowledge of foreign countries and foreign character. However that may be, the qualitative change was made, and then it occurred to the present Prime Minister that he should also make a quantitative change.
He proceeded to appoint Mr. Eden as Minister for League of Nations Affairs. I agree with What has been said by my noble friend Lord Cecil of Chelwood that the League of Nations, and the attention given to it, is a question of the very greatest importance, but I think it should be done by an assistant. This idea of coordinating two Foreign Secretaries really seems to be a sort of Spenlow and Jorkins arrangement, because it comes to this, that in the House of Commons, if you put down a Question to the Foreign Secretary, the Minister for League of Nations Affairs gets up and says: "This does not actually concern my Department, but I shall answer as best I can, 727 as the Foreign Secretary is not here." Then you put down a Question to the League of Nations Department, and the Foreign Secretary answers and says: "This is really not my concern, but as my right honourable friend is away, I shall do my best." It is a very convenient way of getting out of the difficulty of Questions in the House of Commons. I know how difficult they are. I happen to have gone through the three various processes—of drafting answers to Questions as a clerk in the Foreign Office, of asking Questions as a private member in the House of Commons, and of answering Questions as a Minister—and the last function was the least pleasant of the three.
But this quantitative method is to be carried a step further. Two Under-Secretaries are to be appointed. I do not know if they are going to be turned into "The Lords Commissioners of the Foreign Office," but there are now four of them, and I am uncertain how they rank. But it is not going to end there. The Foreign Secretary and the Minister for League of Nation Affairs are both going to fly to Geneva quite shortly. Who is going to be in charge? We could all wish that the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, would be in charge, but he will not be in charge, because, as was pointed out by the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, he ranks below the Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign Office for some mysterious reason, because in the Colonial Office that is not so. Therefore, the noble Earl cannot be in charge. The noble Lord, Lord Cranborne, who will shortly be appointed, will not be able to be in charge either. I am a little uncertain as to the respective ranks of Lord Cranborne and of the noble Earl who is Under-Secretary in your Lordships' House. I do not quite know who is the senior. It will be a very difficult problem for the noble Earl to settle whether he will get up from his seat and go into Lord Cranborne's room, or whether Lord Cranborne will get up and talk to him. That is a problem which is before him. But, however that may be, who is going to be in command of the Foreign Office?
There will be four Ministers, and yet no one will be in command unless it is the Permanent Under-Secretary. What is going to happen is that probably the Prime Minister will take over the Foreign Office in the absence of the two Foreign 728 Secretaries, so that there will be five in command of the Foreign Office. I do not believe for one moment that this method of multiplication in the Foreign Office makes for efficiency. I disagree with the noble Viscount when he thinks that the failure of the recent negotiations about Zeiler was not due to want of co-ordination. I am perfectly certain it was. I am perfectly certain that the matter was not fully discussed. I am convinced that if it had been more carefully gone into this impetuous flight would have been stopped. When you have got four or five Ministers who are going to arrange foreign affairs, what you lack is a central, personal, single authority, which is the one thing that is wanted in foreign affairs, the one thing that is respected by foreign Governments It makes a difference when a foreign Government thinks that not only is it going to have a call from our Ambassador and a telegram from our Foreign Office, but may see Mr. Eden arriving over their heads, and they are not sure that some other authorities are not going to come and interview them as well.
I am perfectly convinced that the ease with which we travel now, the ease with which we can communicate with one another, is tempting us to multiply offices, to produce a lack of co-ordination in the various duties, to get a duplication and overlapping and a consequent confusion. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Newton, when he wants to put an end to this spectacular and sensational form of diplomacy. I believe, with other noble Lords who have spoken, that our Diplomatic Service is quite efficient. The great tradition in the Diplomatic Service has always been that they have been self-effacing, they have kept themselves out of the newspapers, they have not been heard of, they have only been satisfied because the work was done. Now we get a series of headings in the evening newspapers, we get flights, we get failures, we get confusions. At a moment like this, when our attention must be drawn with the very greatest care to the intricate difficulties which beset Europe and the world, I feel it is of the very utmost importance that this country should feel assured that our diplomacy is being conducted in such a way as to inspire real confidence.
I do not want to pepper the noble Earl who will answer for the Government with 729 a lot of questions of detail. He knows better than I do how all these questions of detail will arise; not only questions of rank, but questions of rooms. It has always been a difficulty in the Foreign Office to find a room for anybody. How room is going to be found for all these people I do not know, unless the enormous rooms in the Foreign Office are going to be divided, not only perpendicularly but horizontally too. That might be a way out. However that may be, I do not want to question the noble Earl with regard to the smaller details, but I do hope he will give us some assurance that there is going to be a Head, a responsible Head, of the Foreign Office, and that whatever subordinates and assistants he desires shall be all subordinate and assistant to him; that this one individual is to be the responsible Foreign Secretary and that through him the negotiations with foreign countries are to be carried on; that these negotiations are to be carried on by Ambassadors, and that he is not to travel about the world doing what is the job of other people. If the noble Earl can give us that assurance, it will make us feel there is some system in all this change, and some determination on the part of the Government not to allow the confusion of offices to interfere with the successful conduct of our diplomacy.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (EARL STANHOPE)
My Lords, I confess that I attempted to get a member of the Cabinet to reply to this Question, because it seemed to me somewhat difficult that I, an Under-Secretary in the Foreign Office, should have to make remarks in regard to two Cabinet Ministers who are obviously my superiors in my own Depart-merit. However, I understood that the Question would concern itself a good deal with detail in the Department itself, and therefore I have to do my best to answer the questions which have been put. May I start by saying that there is no doubt whatever as to who controls the foreign policy of this country. It is the Cabinet and nobody else. I was amazed that the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, should have thought that on an occasion such as the recent visit of my right honourable friend Mr. Eden to Rome, he should have gone out without any instructions apparently from anybody. Of course he went not only after 730 full discussion with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but he went to carry out the instructions of the Cabinet. That always happens, at any rate it does under this Government, when any Minister is sent out or an Under-Secretary is sent out to deal with a matter abroad. In my own experience at Geneva I went out to carry out the instructions which I had been given.
In regard to Mr. Eden's visits in this particular case, I can at any rate say from my personal knowledge that we had a conference in the Secretary of State's room at which both Mr. Eden and I were present, with several of the officials of the Foreign Office whose names, obviously, I cannot mention. The matter was fully discussed before the visit was paid. As regards the visit itself, what originally happened, as I think your Lordships know, is that the signing of the Naval Agreement between this country and Germany led to a considerable amount of misunderstanding both in France and in Italy, and it was felt advisable that my right honourable friend Mr. Eden should go over to Paris and explain, he having been present here when these conversations were taking place leading up to the Agreement, knowing exactly what bad been done and why is was that the Agreement was signed. It is, I think, obvious that as a result of that visit a good deal of misunderstanding was removed. The French Government and the French people began to realise that we were acting not only in our own interests but in the interests of Europe and in the interests of peace as well. That would have been much less effective if it had had to be dealt with at second hand through an Ambassador, however able he might be. To have someone who was present at the discussions and knew what was going on, who had been in touch throughout at the Foreign Office, to be able to go over and explain personally was, obviously, a much more effective thing to do than to have had it done second hand through anybody else.
For the same reason he went on to Rome. It was decided that, as lie was going to Rome, it was a suitable moment to put forward this proposal with regard to Zeila. The noble Lord went into the question of Zeila at some length. I am bound to admit, as was said by the noble 731 Lord, Lord Newton, that it is a very long way outside the terms of the Question on the Paper, and I am certainly not prepared to go into it. I do know, however, that the matter was only put forward in a provisional way, and that if it had found any acceptance in Rome it would then have been discussed fully with the French in regard to Jibuti and in regard to the natives who inhabit that part. I believe the population is a good deal less than the noble Lord said. There is a maximum of some 7,000 in winter, but during the rest of the year it is much less than that. That, however, as I have said, is outside the Question on the Paper.
§ LORD MELCHETT
May I ask the noble Earl, could not Mr. Eden have mentioned this Abyssinian project when he passed through Paris?
§ EARL STANHOPE
I believe that it was not mentioned until he got to Rome because, obviously, the proposal had to begin to be made somewhere and it was of no use discussing it with anybody else until it was found whether it was likely to be acceptable to Italy. Perhaps I might also explain, though it really needs no explanation, that the Foreign Office is not in a position to give away sections of British territory, or even a British Protectorate. Quite obviously such a matter would have to have a very full discussion with the Department concerned. The Colonial Office, of course, knew all that was going to be done before the visit was paid. I am bound to say that I think the criticism that has been made should have been directed not so much against the Government or even against the Foreign Office as against the Press. What has really happened in this case, as the noble Lord has said, is due to the headlines and the publicity.
But the question of visits by Secretaries of State abroad is no new thing. I am not an historian, but I do happen to know something of the history of my own family. The first Lord Stanhope, when he was Secretary of State, visited, I think, most of the capitals of Europe during the seven years for which he held the position of either Secretary of State for the North or Secretary of State for the South, and he succeeded in making peace with most of those countries. Not only his biographer, but also a great historian like Professor Trevelyan, described him 732 as not the worst Foreign Secretary we have had but as one of the best, and as having laid the foundation of the peace of Europe on which, subsequently, Walpole was able to build the whole financial reorganisation of England and the subsequent prosperity of this country.
The same is equally true, I believe, of an ancestor of my noble friend who leads the House, the great Lord Castlereagh. I think I am right in saying that he also travelled abroad on various occasions with great success and with great advantage to this country. Then there was the mission of the father of the noble Viscount on the Cross Benches (Viscount Cecil of Chelwood) to Constantinople which your Lordships will remember. If we are to be asked to give a pledge that such a thing should come to an end for ever, that is something which I am not prepared to do. The Secretary of State made it quite clear in another place that the addition of a new Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office was not going to entail additional visits, and that he was very conservatively minded in that matter, and felt that those visits should be exceptional, as in fact they usually have been.
There is another point I should like to clear up. It seems to have been thought, not by your Lordships but by some of the public, that it is quite a new thing to have two Cabinet Ministers at the Foreign Office. It is nothing of the kind. My noble friend on the Cross Benches is too retiring in his disposition to explain, but he himself was working at the Foreign Office, and I think sitting in the same room as I now sit in, from 1924 to 1927 or 1928, and then, when he retired from that position, he was succeeded by the late Lord Cushendun. Therefore, for the whole period from 1924 to 1929, the Government had two Cabinet Ministers working in the Foreign Office.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My noble friend is not quite right. When I was in that position, though I was working for the Foreign Office, I was not, to my regret, allowed to sit in the Foreign Office. I Always thought it a great pity, because I was not really able to get in full touch with the Foreign Office, though working for the Foreign Office. I was a Cabinet Minister—my noble friend is right in saying—during the War. I sat in the Foreign Office as an Under-Secretary in 733 the Government, and secondly as Minister of Blockade in the Cabinet, and, thirdly, as Assistant Secretary in the Cabinet, and during that period, which extended—I am afraid I forget dates—from somewhere in 1915 to the end of the War, there were two Cabinet Ministers in the Foreign Office, but afterwards, though I was working for the Foreign Office as a Cabinet. Minister and doing very much the kind of work Mr. Eden is supposed to do now, yet I had not a. room in the Foreign Office. I always thought, with due respect to my chief, that that was a mistake. It hampered me and the Foreign Office in the work done.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I appear to be right except that the noble Viscount's poste de commandement was not in the Foreign Office. The work he did was connected with the Foreign Office.
§ EARL STANHOPE
The room is not of consequence. It is the work done that is of importance. Really in the previous Government my right honourable friend Mr. Eden was working there as Lord Privy Seal. He was not a member of the Cabinet, but he was at any rate going on with exactly the same kind of work as he is doing now. Therefore the only difference is that he has gone into the Cabinet instead of being outside it as he was before. I think your Lordships will agree that in view of the importance of the questions now arising in various parts of the world in relation to foreign affairs it is no disadvantage to the Cabinet that there should be two Ministers who have these matters at their fingers' ends and who can advise the Cabinet as to the situation and as to what should be done.
The Question on the Paper asks what would be the distribution of activities and responsibilities. The Minister for League of Nations Affairs will normally be the representative of His Majesty's Government at Geneva when the presence of a Minister is necessary. Of course that often is not necessary. As your Lordships know, we often have as representative there some member of the Diplomatic Service from the Foreign Office to represent His Majesty's Government on special questions. That does not mean, of course, that the Secretary of State himself will never go to Geneva. 734 In fact, as your Lordships know, it is proposed that he should go there in September. That is quite customary. The Secretary of State has usually gone to Geneva for the Assembly as well as some other Minister and usually two or three Under-Secretaries. The reason for that is that when the Assembly is sitting there is a large number of Committees also sitting and unless you have three or four Ministers there it is really impossible to have a representative of this country attending these various Committees which meet at the same time. Certainly I have found it, during the few times I have been in Geneva, an immense disadvantage when the meeting of a Committee had to be postponed because some other country had not a sufficient number of representatives. We have had to postpone a meeting of a Committee perhaps until the next afternoon so as to enable the representative of a country to finish one Committee before going to another. That has delayed procedure even longer than normally, and those who know Geneva know that the procedure is quite long enough.
The Minister for League of Nations Affairs when in London will normally concert with the Secretary of State in all matters that come before him, paying particular attention, of course, to anything that comes before the League, but keeping generally in touch with foreign affairs and indeed with home affairs also, because if the representative of this country at Geneva is to do his work adequately the more he knows about the general situation and about all matters necessary for a Secretary of State to know the better will be represent this country. I think there is no doubt as to who would control policy. My right honourable friend Mr. Eden has made that quite clear. He has said: "There are not two Kings in Brentford. The Secretary of State is King." Therefore, obviously there will be no question of lack of direction or lack of control, because the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will control policy and will get the very valuable assistance, as I think your Lordships will agree, of Mr. Eden to help him.
My noble friend Lord Newton referred to a statement made by Mr. Baldwin in regard to the abolition of Ministries. My recollection of what happened is that there was a tremendous outcry from 735 everybody because certain Ministries had been selected for abolition. Everybody agreed that the number should be reduced, but when it came to the point as to which Ministry should be abolished then at once everybody got up and said that that was the one Ministry which should be preserved. Eventually the agitation apparently was such that the abolition, certainly in one or two cases, could not be carried out. Then the noble Lord remarked that an appointment once made is liable to become permanent. The Prime Minister has said that he looks on this as a purely temporary arrangement, and I think it is obvious that it is likely to be so. The noble Lord said also that he thought that possibly hereafter there might be friction. If you get a Prime Minister who chooses his team badly and selects two incompatible personalities undoubtedly friction will occur. But at the present moment, with the two individuals he has selected, those who have seen them at work together realise that friction is quite out of the question and that they will definitely pull together. It may not be always easy in the realm of foreign affairs to find those who will have the same kind of personality and who will pull together, so for that reason only this is likely to be a temporary arrangement.
In any case the reason for it at the moment is obvious. Most difficult questions are coming up before the League of Nations very shortly and they really require that a Cabinet Minister should attend to represent this country. Everybody agrees that it is unfortunate if the Secretary of State himself is out of the country except on very rare occasions, and therefore the only alternative is to have a second Cabinet Minister. Normally, when questions are not of such complexity and difficulty as they are at this moment they will very likely be adequately dealt with by an Under-Secretary. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, talked as if the Secretary of State spent his whole time abroad.
§ EARL STANHOPE
The greater part of it. As a matter of fact since June, 1929, there have been only fifteen visits abroad by the Secretary of State or by the Under-Secretary of State, and during that time ten capitals have been visited, so that the visits abroad have not been 736 very many and still less have they been prolonged. It may comfort the noble Earl to know that five of those visits were paid during the time that the Labour Government was in office. Who will be the senior of the two Under-Secretaries I have not the slightest idea, but I think we shall probably run in couples. If horses are properly harnessed in pairs they run together and neither gets in front of the other. I can assure the noble Lord who leads the Opposition that there is not likely to be the slightest difficulty as to who visits which room, because we shall probably quite often be going into each other's room. The incident he had in mind did not occur under a National Government or a Conservative Government. I know the occasion to which he refers and I can tell him the names of the two Ministers afterwards if he would like to hear them. I know the case quite well.
As to who will answer Questions in the House of Commons, I do not know whether the arrangement has been finally settled, but I think that what is likely to be done is what happened during the term of office of the previous Government when the Secretary of State answered questions on Mondays and Wednesdays and the present Minister for League of Nations Affairs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That was what happened under the last Government, when Mr. Eden was Lord Privy Seal. I do not know whether that is going to be the future arrangement but I know it is being discussed. It is obviously an advantage that the Secretary of State himself should be present on certain days. It is customary in another place for Ministers to have definite days when questions relating to their Departments are directed to them. But with the Foreign Office the questions are so numerous that actually they have been directed to the Foreign Office at any rate four days a week, but Ministers have taken them on alternate days. I believe this is the policy which will probably happen again in the future.
I think I have nothing further that I can tell your Lordships on the matter. Certainly I can give one very definite assurance: that there will be no lack of co-ordination of any sort or description under the present arrangement. Visits are likely to be fewer rather than 737 more numerous. I entirely agree with those who say that the strain on those who hold the office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is a very heavy one indeed; and it is not likely that the Foreign Secretary's Cabinet colleagues or 738 anybody connected with him will allow him to expend himself unnecessarily by making visits overseas which can be done without.
§ House adjourned at twenty minutes before eight o'clock.