HL Deb 17 February 1937 vol 104 cc172-222

LORD NOEL-BUXTON rose to move to resolve, That this House, realising the dangers that may arise in applying to Colonial possessions a policy which excludes other States from participation on equal terms in the advantages of Colonial development and trade, calls upon His Majesty's Government to consult with the Governments of the Dominions and of other Colonial Powers, with a view to the application of the Mandate system in suitable cases to British and other Colonies, and to the revision of the Convention of St. Germain (1919) in accordance with the 15th Article of that Convention, in such a way as to extend its operation.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name. A Government which believes in the League of Nations must, I think, have many points of agreement with the Motion that I have put down. It embodies a policy which has very wide support among the supporters of the Government, and, though I move in my private capacity, the policy of mandation is definitely adopted by the Labour Party and is advocated by a very much wider circle than that. The policy of the Government, as we understand it, is defined as a preparation for war with a serious attempt to secure peace. I submit that this policy of extended mandation is part of that attempt to secure peace. Without it the attempt is not complete. Very often we hear from Ministers of their desire for freer trade and their intention to promote it as one way towards better international relations. Mandation would be an earnest of that intention. To define briefly the proposal that I make, it is to invite other Colonial Powers and the Dominions to join with us in placing suitable Colonies under Mandate; and secondly, to associate this with the revision of the Convention of St. Germain of 1919, which revised the Act of Berlin of 1885 and the Declaration of Brussels of 1890. The Convention of St. Germain provides for revision in ten years, and that meeting is overdue. Germany was a party to the original Treaty; in 1919 she was excluded, and now is an opportunity to bring her back.

Let me justify the phrase in my Motion which refers to the existence of danger. It is not an exaggeration, because there does exist a grievance, and it is a grievance which contributes to German talk of an explosion. Frankly I submit that if we keep the Colonies as a closed preserve we are heading for war. Sir Samuel Hoare told us at Geneva that the problem of the dissatisfied Powers is mainly an economic one and urgently demands solution. In proposing the inquiry into access to raw materials he used the words "an essential contribution to peace." In other words, to take no action would tend towards war. Mandation would be such a contribution. Can any contribution be neglected? The plain fact is that we are dealing with one side of the problem which may involve war, with the sacrifice of another generation. If there were no other grounds for extending mandation, here is the commonsense ground of expediency.

Let us ask ourselves whether we can conceive of the present situation as a permanent one. Can we imagine that in fifty or a hundred years we shall still be treating our Dependencies as countries from which other States are partially excluded from buying and selling? Is that possible while the world is becoming more and more economically developed and more and more dependent upon the interchange of goods? If we cannot imagine that, it means that we do expect a protest from the excluded States, and that protest may end in the use of force. I venture to quote an authority which is generally recognised, the authority of Sir Arthur Salter. He said the other day: To reserve the markets and resources of a non-self-governing Colony for the benefit of the industrialists and merchants of the metropolitan country is…felt by the world to be very different from the reservation of the domestic market. It evokes resentment and envy; it leads to extravagant ideas as to the extent of the economic consequences involved; it gives a powerful incentive to the acquisition of sea power, and with it to claims for a redistribution of colonial possessions.

The German claim at the moment is rather different. It is a claim for the return of her Colonies, but we are not now discussing that. The need of markets is an important part of the German claim, and Herr von Ribbentrop in his speech in London two months ago dwelt on what he called a reasonable solution, meaning a wider market. The degree of injury to Germany and the other dissatisfied States from the preference system adopted by the Colonial Powers is of course a serious one. It meant the imposition in many cases of a higher tariff. The dissatisfied Powers say they cannot buy as freely as they wish. The satisfied Powers reply that the markets are open, but the dissatisfied have a reason that they cannot buy in the fact that they cannot sell freely and get currency with which to buy. Herr Hitler the other day expressed the view which I myself have found widespread in Germany in these words: To-day Germany lives in a time of fierce battle for food stuffs and raw materials. It is only conceivable that her imports will be sufficient if there is a continued increase of our exports. Therefore, the demand for Colonies will ever and again be raised by our so densely populated country, as a matter of course.

Closing the markets has of course helped to arouse in Germany and in the other hungry States a demand for territories. It was partly that which led Japan to seize Manchuria. There was a very interesting article three days ago from the Tokyo correspondent of The Times in which he said: The problems can only be solved by a world authority. A liberal development of a Mandate system giving the 'have-nots' the certainty of access to Colonial materials and markets, might open the road back to Geneva.

I think those words very significant from The Times correspondent in Tokyo. Of course where no preferential tariffs exist, as for instance in Tanganyika, the dissatisfied States sell freely, and their grievance is that they cannot sell on similar terms in other Dependencies. One must admit that the economic crisis in Germany is partly due to other causes than the one I am dealing with. You cannot solve the German economic crisis, which means hunger for very large masses of people, by Colonial changes alone, but Colonial trade is a large factor in the German situation, not to speak of Italy and of Japan. And it is not enough to say that Germany has only herself to blame and must get herself out of the mess. Germany suffers also no doubt from currency policy and armament policy, but it is no less our duty to act in the sphere where we are responsible.

I should like to say that I am not now raising the question of the Ottawa policy in general, because I hope we shall concentrate on the particular problem of mandation, and, moreover, the Ottawa policy was discussed in your Lordships' House not long ago. In addition the figures of trade are obscured by the general fall in recent years and by the abnormal variations which have occurred; but my point is that to ease the trade situation would be a step towards peace. Everyone is agreed upon that. I need not labour that point, but perhaps I might quote General Smuts, who was one of the prime authors of the Mandate system. General Smuts said the other day: Why not try economic solutions pari passu with political solutions? International trade and commerce may prove the way out where the way is blocked to purely political solutions … That has largely been the British way … The combined initiative of the British Commonwealth and the United States may go far to assist our political diplomacy to ease and improve the situation which now appears increasingly menacing.

Apart from the question of danger, is there not a question of justice? Let us look for a moment at the Empire as it appears to foreigners. Here are 45,000,000 of British people—about 70,000,000 if you take the Dominions—owning one-quarter of the world's surface, representing one-quarter of the world's population and more than a quarter of the world's wealth. Then take it from the point of view of ownership of main materials. There are some twenty-five chief commodities essential to human life. Of these, the British Empire has adequate supplies of eighteen; Germany of only four. To say to other countries, "You shall not have Colonies and you shall not even trade freely with ours," conflicts with the principle, to put it mildly, of noblesse oblige. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, lately urged in this House that the cause of friction was not mainly economic but moral. I agree strongly with him that good will is the essential factor and that the spread of re al Christianity would secure peace; but good will is hampered by economic injustice, and I submit that to monopolise the trade of Dependencies conflicts with moral ideas. Countries inhabited by weaker peoples are essentially different from sections of the home country and from the Dominions. A white population attains self-government and imposes taxes on itself, but the duties and preferences imposed on subject peoples are not at ranged for the benefit of the native inhabitants of that land; they are arranged for the benefit of the governing State. To do this is to treat such Colonies as private possessions. That conflicts with the true sense of international order. It is admitted that former conceptions have changed. It was precisely on account of this change that public opinion condemned Italy for invading Abyssinia. If it were not for the acknowledged fact that a new régime has come into force we should have recognised that the Italian action conformed to standards previously followed by ourselves and by others.

Again, the policy of mandation is good on its merits, in the sense that it offers an advantage to the unsatisfied Powers while it does not represent a special concession to Germany since it affects the world in general. Other States are equally aggrieved by our exclusive policy. Perhaps I may be allowed to remind your Lordships of a saying, not infrequently quoted, of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain's which embodied the essence of the problem in memorable words. He said: We English, in our Colonial policy, as fast as we acquire new territory and develop it, develop it as trustees of civilisation for the commerce of the world. We offer, in all these markets over which our flag floats, the same opportunities, the same open field to foreigners, that we offer to our own subjects and upon the same terms. In that policy we stand alone, because all other nations, as fast as they acquire any new territory—acting, I dear, most mistakenly in their own interests, and above all in the interests of the countries they administer—all other nations seek at once to secure the monopoly for their own products by preferential and artificial methods.

May I now make it clear that the proposal I make is a limited one? It covers only a part of the Colonial problem. Out of the vast number of our Colonies many are unsuited to mandation. I am not proposing a change in the Mandate system itself, nor am I proposing unilateral action or the mandation of Colonies of a strategic nature. Again, there are Colonies of old British connection where local feeling would be strongly opposed to mandation. That applies, for instance, to Jamaica, which we took from the Spaniards in 1665. It applies to Ceylon, where I myself have met leading Sinhalese who feel their British connection so closely that they would resent a change. In particular I am not proposing to transfer to Germany any territory at all. It is on this point that discussion generally turns, and I hope to-day we may confine ourselves to the relevant question, otherwise we may lose the value of a discussion on mandation without transfer to any other Power, which is a great subject in itself.

A word about the Mandate system. I submit that the system has worked well. It has not been found embarrassing to the Mandatory Powers. No one will say that our prestige has suffered through the practice of submitting reports to Geneva and entering into the discussions of the Mandates Commission. The Reports of the Commission show that very valuable information has been made public and sometimes suggestions arising from the discussions have been accepted. Lord Lugard, who was, until recently, the British member of the Commission, has been prominent in consultations which have been most useful. The questionnaire in use by the Mandates Commission indicates the value of the system. The Mandatory Power, for instance, is asked to describe the measures adopted for the welfare of the natives. It is asked to give the amount of the revenue derived from the natives and the amount spent on their welfare. It is asked for details of slavery, and whether the native can move freely about, and, if not, what regulations there are to control his movements. Some Governments can easily answer these questions, but in certain Colonies they would produce a marked disturbance. In practice the administration of British Mandates has been no different from that of our Colonies in general. The British flag flies at Dar-es-Salaam as much as at Mombasa. The only difference is that a report in the case of the mandated territory goes to Geneva and a representative of the Colonial Government gives information as he is requested.

The system we know was mainly a British invention and it is one to be proud of. We are familiar with the fact that there are three classes of Mandates known as "A," "B," and "C." The so-called "A" Mandates are applied to a country approaching the stage of self-government. British Colonies which have reached this stage are mainly semi-British in outlook, and these are unsuitable I think for mandation. The Colonies I contemplate by this Motion are of the kind for which the "B" Mandates were designed—namely, those inhabited by populations of primitive culture. I may be excused for dwelling for a moment on this aspect of the native interest. A first-class reason for applying Mandates where possible lies in the interests of the native populations. Successive Colonial Secretaries have declared that trusteeships for the natives is the principle that we follow. At meetings of the Mandates Commission native questions are constantly discussed. For instance, when the Commission has dealt with Togoland or Kamerun, medical services; such as treatment of sleeping sickness have occupied a large place; slavery conditions have been brought to light; the evil arising from the free movement of prospectors in New Guinea is another example. Suggestions have often arisen which have been adopted by the Mandatory Power.

I may be asked, what benefit would this bring to the natives in a Colony which is British? Naturally there is nothing to improve in a Colony like Nigeria. The noble Lord, Lord Lugard, who, I hope, will be heard to-day, set a model in that part of the world. But we are not the only Colonial Power. There are backward conditions elsewhere, some of which have been the subject of great public agitations in this country. The Congo scandals have not been the only cases. Unquestionably backward Colonies would gain by mandation. Perhaps it may even be true that in one or two British Colonies or Protectorates there would have been a gain in the past if they had been under Mandate. The Colonial Office is dealing at the moment with a report of emigration from Nyassaland which does suggest that mistakes have been made which might have been avoided had there been more discussion and deliberation. In 1919 the Powers introduced the principle—I quote the Covenant—that the wellbeing and development of populations unable to stand alone in the strenuous conditions of the modern world…should form a sacred trust of civilisation.

If that is a sound principle at all, it is sound everywhere, and the way to extend its application seems to lie through the Mandate system.

We ought not to forget the view of the natives who have suffered from the rise of prices consequent on the preferential system. The main native welfare problem on which our Colonial administration has worked is health, and health is affected by access to imported goods. May I give an illustration from Africa? Both Governments and Christian missions (which nowadays are largely medical) are grappling with the fact that African populations are handicapped by disease. Experts hold that the level of health is lowered by over 50 per cent. among very large populations by the prevalence of parasitic infection, largely owing to the contact of bare feet with the soil. For decades doctors have worked, for instance, at the prevention of the horrible disease known as hookworm, but even greater progress to this end has resulted from the importation of cheap rubber shoes. In Tanganyika the Government, through the schools, and even through the wireless, carries on a propaganda urging the wearing of shoes for this reason. Supposing that a preferential duty were imposed on these shoes in Tanganyika—it cannot he done because of the Congo Basin Convention—but suppose it were imposed as it has been in other Colonies, how could the Government urge the use of shoes by impoverished children while at the same time making the shoes expensive? The slogan, "Wear shoes but you shan't get them," would be worthy of "Alice in Wonderland." Compare Tanganyika, where the open door prevails, with Colonies under the system of preference. In Sierra Leone, for example, the duty on a pair of rubber shoes is 6d. or 20 per cent. ad valorem if they are British, but if foreign it is 2s. or 80 per cent. ad valorem—four times as much. In Tanganyika the duty is at the low rate of 20 per cent. ad valorem.

I dare say we shall hear from the noble Earl, Lord Plymouth, of Japanese competition. Of course Japanese competition is a problem, and we all feel the incentive to protect our own trade, but we are in the position of trustees for these native consumers, and artificially raised prices are in direct conflict with our trusteeship. The Government have got to make the choice, and I do not believe that they wish to subordinate trusteeship to the interests of a section however noisy. We must face the question: "Can native interests be safeguarded by means short of mandation, by treaty agreement?" I think the answer is that native conditions guaranteed by a Mandate whose terms include supervision are far better secured than they would be by a declaration of pious intentions, by treaties which may be denounced. Beyond these considerations the greatest interest of all to the natives is peace. War and the fear of war mean taxation, and the greatest handicap to progressive administration in Colonies is the need for money. Recruiting for war is a curse in some parts of Africa, and any contribution to peace is a benefit to the native.

Perhaps I ought to anticipate one or two objections that may be raised. The Government, no doubt, have to reckon with opposition from one or two quarters, particularly from fanatics of economic nationalism. This is not the time to discuss Free Trade or the open door in general, but I submit that with regard to the section of Colonial trade with which we are dealing the gain from the adoption of preferential tariffs has been very questionable. Even if the gain were fully established, to suggest that an increase of trade comparatively small can outweigh an increased risk to international peace is laughable. I might add that those who claim a great gain from the preferences are answered by those who argue that Germany would not gain by possession of Colonies of her own and by the preferences which she would establish there. No doubt the objections to mandation on grounds of Empire trade need not be laboured. The Government have constantly stated their desire for greater trade freedom. Nor should we forget that if mandation is extended we shall gain by securing an open door for our own trade in the Colonies of other States where the door is now closed.

There is another objection to my proposal winch I sometimes feel myself—namely, that the gain can be achieved without mandation, by making agreements by treaty, and such agreements certainly are desirable for those Colonies that are not suited to mandation. But the answer to this objection is that the extension of mandation is a better guarantee than the permanence of the open door and, therefore, of more international value. But chiefly it is desirable as a recognition of trusteeship—a gesture promoting international order. It has a psychological value. It is a contribution to the advancement of international harmony. It promotes the interests of the League of Nations and it does this without introducing any novel system at all. If something has got to be clone, here we have an instrument with which we are familiar ready to hand. In fact, any opposition that arises in the public mind is really a matter of sentiment connected with out-of-late ideas of prestige. Those who do not believe in the League—unlike His Majesty's Government—very naturally use exaggerated terms and talk about "giving Colonies to the League." A truer description of what is proposed would be "recognising new conditions and international principles."

Those people ought to remember how ideas of prestige have altered in recent times. Thirty years ago naval parity with the United States would have been unthinkable; but now our sense of prestige is not injured by that great change. We might go back further and recall Mr. Gladstone's cession of the Island of Corfu. He was violently attacked for injuring prestige, but history shows that our prestige gained rather than lost from the cession. We who are old enough to remember the scramble for Africa were brought up in the spirit of "Rule Britannia." We were thrilled when we heard stories of British Admirals outwitting French Admirals, and planting the flag on the islands of the ocean. But those ideas belong to the atmosphere of power politics; the Government be- lieves in the League of Nations. The change-over to a Mandate does not involve dislocation. The terms of the Mandate itself, although they are authorised by the League, are in the first instance drawn up by the Mandatory Power itself, and the administration has continued as before.

Let me now in a word explain why I connect with the Mandate system a reference to the Convention of St. Germain. Here we have the names of Lord Balfour, Lord Milner and Mr. Bonar Law. They found it necessary to deal with the provisions of the Berlin Act of 1885, and a Convention was signed which renewed the Berlin provisions regarding the Conventional Basin of the Congo, much larger than the actual basin of the Congo River, meaning in fact most of equatorial Africa. Article 15 of that new Convention provided that revision should take place after ten years. It is this Convention which guarantees the open door and consequently prevents the imposition of preferential duties, for instance, in Kenya. It also guarantees native rights, deals with the liquor traffic and with armed forces. Germany was a party to the Berlin arrangement. Indeed, Prince Bismarck was the leading author of the conference which led to it. Germany having been excluded in 1919, it seems natural that the overdue conference should furnish an excellent opportunity for bringing her back. Since Germany was the principal author of the Berlin Treaty which created the Congo basin system, it is only her due that she should be re-admitted to it, now that the war-time bitterness which led to her exclusion is happily a thing of the past. It would be a graceful act to make use of this specifically German contribution as a channel by which she can be assured of equal treatment of her trade, which is not assured to her now in Central Africa.

After all, Africa is the main Colonial field. Germany is vitally interested in the trade of such a vast part of that Continent, an area stretching from the Nile to the Zambesi and from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. It is a field of unlimited development in the future. Moreover, the area of the new Congo Conventional Basin might be extended. Not only could West Africa, now the subject of an Anglo-French Convention, be included, it is even conceivable that the Sudan and Abyssinia might by mutual arrangement be brought in. The open door provision could also be widened so as to include equality of opportunity, for instance, in dealing with contracts, loans and enterprises. German industry and science are needed in Africa, and here they would have a vast field. The original Berlin Act also contemplated international administration, and that was provided for in the Congo Association. Officials of many countries were employed, but King Leopold succeeded in transforming the Association into a Belgian body. I am not now proposing international government, but the employment of some officials from other countries might well he embodied in the system. Lord Lugard himself has stated that such officials, especially in the scientific departments, might very well be introduced.

Let us hope that the Government will use this opportunity which occurs in the normal course of business afforded by the forthcoming conference to bring back Germany into the African Colonial system. Germany may at the moment prefer to put her Colonial demand in another form, but it is, of course, clear that apart from bargaining considerations her real need would be largely met by extending mandation and enlarging the Congo Conventional basin. I submit that such a policy is a practical policy. It would be a moderate advance in the right direction with continuity of administration. It does not represent the ideal of a Golden Age, but it would be a gesture which would strengthen our position. Mandation was a British invention, embodying British genius. It has the merit that it works. It would be a characteristically British contribution to the cause of international progress. We might remember that several Colonial Empires have preceded ours. They treated their Colonies as private estates, and they passed away. We contemplate for our Empire stability and permanence. Perhaps the road to permanence lies in applying the principle of mandation. I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That this House, realising the dangers that may arise in applying to Colonial possessions a policy which excludes other States from participation on equal terms in the advantages of Colonial development and trade, calls upon His Majesty's Government to consult with the Governments of the Dominions and of other Colonial Powers, with a view to the application of the Mandate system in suitable cases to British and other Colonies, and to the revision of the Convention of St. Germain (1919) in accordance with the 15th Article of that Convention, in such a way as to extend its operation.—(Lord Noel-Buxton.)

LORD LUGARD had given Notice of an Amendment to the Motion—namely, to leave out "the Mandate system in suitable cases to British and other Colonies, and," and to insert "this policy, and if need be." The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the Amendment which stands in my name but I would ask the leave of the House to alter slightly the terms of that Amendment by substituting the words, "a policy of equal opportunity, and if need be" instead of the words "this policy, and if need be." In brief the effect of this Amendment would be to eliminate the proposal to place certain Colonies under Mandate, while supporting the principle of equal participation in economic advantages, in consultation with other Powers, and also with the Dominions, whose Mandates, as you are aware, do not contain the clause enforcing equal commercial opportunity. I much regret to find myself in this one particular opposed to the Resolution submitted by my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton, with which I am otherwise in cordial agreement. Generally speaking, the proposals in the Motion before your Lordships are very similar to those of the "National Memorial on Peace and Economic Co-operation" submitted to the Prime Minister last week, of which the noble Lord was a signatory. That Memorial, as reported in The Times last Thursday, was signed by nearly 400 persons, including many whose opinions carry the greatest possible weight. I fear, however, that its final clause and the similar words which I propose should be deleted from the Resolution to which your Lordships are asked to subscribe, will not only be ineffective in promoting the cause we all have at heart, but may probably be even harmful to it, and it is for this reason that I have the temerity to raise a dissentient voice.

I hope that I am not too sanguine in thinking that I detect some hesitation in this Motion on the part of its promoters. The Memorial proposed to place "all" Colonies under Mandate, the noble Lord's Motion as it first appeared on the Order Paper proposed only a "majority." It has since been changed to certain "suitable cases." Probably mast of your Lordships are in sympathy with the popular demand for British initiative in the attempts to solve the difficult and dangerous conditions prevailing in Europe, but recent events have surely taught us that in giving a lead we should have a reasonable hope of finding a following. The Motion is, indeed, limited to consulting with other nations, and presumably there is no intention of taking separate initiative which would embarrass them unless they were prepared to adopt the same course. But is it sound diplomacy to propose even a consultation to which a negative reply is a foregone conclusion? I am assuming that the Colonial Powers would themselves become the Mandatories of their Colonies, if they were placed under the Mandate system. So far as Great Britain is concerned, we were told only the day before yesterday by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that His Majesty's Government had not considered and were not considering a transfer of Colonies or Protectorates to Germany.

What is the precise meaning of the words, "the application of the Mandates system"? Does the noble Lord propose that in the Colonies which would be placed under Mandate the raising of troops in Europe in the event of war should, as in the British Mandates, be prohibited? If so, France, we know, could not accept, for she depends on her African troops to strengthen her defence against aggression, and we are told on high authority that she employed nearly two million coloured troops, of whom 680,000 were combatants, in the Great War. Would not such a proposal coming from Great Britain in such circumstances be thought to savour of insincerity, and be resented—and would it not therefore be harmful? I cart hardly think, on the other hand, that the intention would be to authorise the conscription of troops in mandated territories for service in Europe. In any case, such a reservation could not possibly be regarded as "an appeasement offering a way of escape from the threat of war," which are the words used in the Memorial.

Germany wishes to acquire Colonies in full sovereignty, and it would be a matter of complete indifference to her whether the Colonial Powers administer under Mandate or otherwise. She would, however, appreciate the grant of commercial equality in them. The application of that principle to those Colonies in Africa to which it does not already apply, either under the Congo Treaties or the Mandates, is covered by the words of the Motion in which I have proposed no change. If the proposed consultation with other Powers as to the adoption of the open door should prove unfruitful of results, it would still be open to His Majesty's Government to give a lead by adopting the policy in British Colonies. The Motion proposes a revision of the Convention of St. Germain (to which Germany agreed by Article 126 of the Versailles Treaty) "in such a way as to extend its operation." The object, as the noble Lord explained to us, would be to enlarge the area known as the Conventional Basin of the Congo to which the principle of the open door applies. To that extension there would, in my view, be no objection if it was thought desirable, but I would remind your Lordships that the weak point in the Berlin Act of 1885 (which the St. Germain Convention replaced) was that it provided no supervising authority to see that the treaty obligations were carried out. The result was the maladministration which gave rise to the Congo reform agitation in this country and the action taken by Sir Edward Grey in this country until the system was reversed when Belgium annexed the Colony in 1908. The Mandates Commission was set up to remedy this defect as far as possible. If any such extension of the Conventional basin were contemplated, it is, in my opinion, essential that there should be some supervising authority.

Incidentally, I may point out, the placing of Colonies under Mandates would involve the Colonial Powers in very considerable expense, in preparing in the first place, the bulky reports which are submitted for each Colony to the Mandates Commission, in hearing and replying to the numerous petitions and memorials, submitted either by the inhabitants of the territory or on their behalf by someone else, and the sending of an accredited representative to Geneva on behalf of each Colony. Moreover, the present Commission would need to be duplicated or triplicated to deal with any large, fresh access of Colonies under its supervision.

The noble Lord expressed a fear lest the pledge to grant equal economic advantages to all, unless introduced as a clause in the Mandate, might take the form of a treaty which might at any time be denounced. I see no reason whatever why this obligation should not be brought into force by whatever procedure he has in mind for placing the territories under Mandate, and with at any rate the same stability. The sovereignty of a Colonial Power over its Colonies is to some extent impaired if its administrative acts are placed under international supervision, arid the right is conferred upon the inhabitants—or others on their behalf—to appeal over its head to the League. I do not think that the British people are prepared to surrender their sovereignty over Colonies which in some cases they have exercised for generations or even centuries. I feel certain that France and other Colonial Powers are not.

The proposed Amendment demands the minimum diminution of sovereignty. Of its own volition the Colonial Power undertakes steps to grant the same economic advantages to all other nations as are enjoyed by its own nationals, and it agrees to submit to international decision any alleged infringement of this pledge. In all other respects it continues to exercise full and unfettered sovereignty. The juridical status of the present mandated territories, on the other hand, as I understand it, is that of territory acquired by conquest which the victors have agreed to internationalise, and to assign to the guardianship of certain Mandatories under the close supervision of the League. A Mandatory exercises no sovereignty other than that temporarily devolving upon it by virtue of the trusteeship until such time as the inhabitants can stand alone.

I do not propose to weary your Lordships by repeating the arguments which I advanced when speaking to the Motion of the noble Lords Lord Arnold, last March, in favour of reversion to the policy of the open door in our Colonies, which is proposed in the Motion as amended. I would, however, wish to emphasise the necessity of a clear understanding as to the meaning of the term "equal commercial opportunity" in order to minimise differences of opinion which may arise hereafter. The term, while connoting every kind of advantage or facility enjoyed by the nationals of the Sovereign State, would reserve such rights as are necessary for administrative purposes or conditions imposed solely in the interests of the natives, such, for instance, as the obligation upon an importer to purchase a reasonable equivalent of the produce of the country.

I will not now go into details which the working of the economic equality clause has brought to the attention of the Mandates Commission. But there are one or two points to which I should like to allude. There is the necessity of an arbitral authority under the auspices of the League to investigate any complaint of infringement. That authority might be the Mandates Commission or, preferably, some smaller body. The adoption of such a régime should be of real benefit to countries like Germany and Poland which need access to sources of raw material, and it does not ask more in my view than can reasonably be asked from the Colonial Powers. The signatories to the Memorial to the Prime Minister are of opinion that in the interests of peace … the remedy is to be found along lines of general economic policy rather than in any administrative changes affecting the undeveloped areas of the world.

But surely their proposal to place all dependent territories under the Mandate system is an administrative change of the first importance, while the proposal before your Lordships is strictly on the "lines of general economic policy."

Since the debate of March last one or two changes have taken place to which I would wish to direct your Lordships' attention. At that time the quota system had only been enforced against Japanese imports of cotton and artificial silk piece pods. It has now been extended in Nigeria for 18 months from January 1 to all countries, including Germany. This was rendered possible by the termination by France of Article 9 of the Anglo-French Convention of 1898. In that debate I referred to the International studies Conference, in which 28 nations are already engaged in a comprehensive study of this subject. The noble Lord, Lord Meston, who is Chairman of the British Co-ordinating Committee, has recently addressed a letter to The Times describing the objects of that organisation. I will leave it to him, if he should care to do so, to inform your Lordships of the progress made during the past year.

Even more important is the fact that the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs stated in another place last week that the final arrangements for summoning a Committee of Inquiry into the question of raw materials is now in the hands of the Secretariat of the League, on the basis of the Polish report which is now available in London. We are assured that the British representatives will take a leading part in these discussions, and I hope that the opinions expressed by your Lordships to-day will strengthen their hands in doing so. I beg to submit the Amendment which I have proposed and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, will be able to accept it. The placing of Colonies under the Mandate system is in no way essential to the main object of his Motion. If he remains unconvinced by what I have said, he can raise that question as a separate issue at any time and so leave those of your Lordships who share my view free to support his Motion without the corollary of placing Colonies under Mandate. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Leave out ("the Mandate system in suitable cases to British and other Colonies, and") and insert ("a policy of equal opportunity, and if need be").—(Lord Lugard.)


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, in moving his Amendment has widened the area of the discussion, but I do not think that exception can be taken to that course. It is most desirable that there should be a full opportunity for the consideration of all aspects of these very important issues. For my part, while I give general support to the principles enunciated by the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, I do not bind myself to the Mandate system, and I can conceive of alternatives which might perhaps be better for the purposes in view. But, what I do urge is that something must be done.

The noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, in the opening part of his remarks stated the general case for the Motion and the need for action. He spoke, in effect, of the dangers—indeed, his Motion uses that word—of the present state of things. I should like, my Lords, to supplement this part of the subject to some extent. It is no exaggeration to say that upon the right determination of these matters of Colonial policy, Mandates and equal trading opportunity the future wellbeing of the British Empire, and not only that but also the supreme issues of peace and war, may very well depend. For a long time I have felt that it is regrettable that no more attention is given to this problem, and I feel that, whatever differences of opinion there may be, there will be general agreement that the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, has rendered a service in bringing up the matter in such a very comprehensive speech.

The noble Lord, Lord Lugard, referred to the debate which took place in your Lordships' House last year on the Ottawa Agreements. These Agreements are a clear violation of the Mandate principle and also of the principles of equal trading urged by the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, and those Agreements have aroused great antagonism among what are now called the have-not Powers, chiefly Germany, Italy and Japan. In the debate last year, I am sorry to say—but I do say—there seemed to be small appreciation by the Government of what was at stake, and little understanding of the legitimate grievances of the have-not Powers against this policy, which has been intensified by Ottawa, of hedging the British Empire round with tariff barriers. British statesmen have many virtues, but they do not excel at seeing things from the point of view of other nations. For instance, I notice again and again that members of the Government assert in regard to the so-called rearmament which is going on, that Great Britain is most wishful for peace, that we have no aggressive intentions. I should think not! But what is rather surprising is that the Ministers and others who make these statements do not realise how irritating they must be to the have-not Powers.

Just let us consider the position in relation to them, because all this is very germane to the case for this Motion, and also to the case for the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Lugard. The British Empire comprises about a quarter of the territory of the world and about a quarter of the world's population, and distinctly more than a quarter of the world's wealth. It is in fact the greatest and mightiest Empire in the world. Germany has no empire at all, and Japan and Italy, although they have some overseas possessions, have not much which is valuable to them. Now it has been estimated that of the twenty-five minerals and commodities essential for modern life the British Empire has adequate supplies of eighteen, Germany has adequate supplies of only four, Italy has adequate supplies of only four, and Japan of only three. Is it surprising in these circumstances that the British Empire has no aggressive designs? To my mind it is like a man with £20,000 a year saying to the man with £500 a year: "I do not want any of your money; I am content, I am not complaining"; and suggesting that he should be satisfied with his position. I do not think that is materially overstating the matter.

Look at the populations—because this is very vital to the whole of the problem. The population of Great Britain at the present time is about 45,000,000, the population of Germany is 67,000,000, the population of Japan is about 70,000,000 and the population of Italy is 44,000,000. In the case of Germany, Japan and Italy the populations are increasing—in the case of Japan very rapidly. In the case of Great Britain the population has practically reached its peak point; it will soon begin to decline, and competent judges estimate that it is quite probable that within less than forty years the population of this country will have declined to less than 35,000,000. Indeed, looking further ahead, a very noted authority a few days ago said that, unless present tendencies were very materially altered, it might be that in a hundred years the population of these Islands would be below 10,000,000. I am not saying that that will happen, but it might happen. The white population of the British Empire outside Great Britain is about 25,000,000, and it is growing very slowly indeed. The population of Canada in the last ten years has only increased by about 1,500,000, and the population of Australia in the last ten years has only increased by about 1, 000,000; and The Times remarked very truly not long ago that the emptiness of the Dominions was a problem of the first importance.

Well, it is not surprising obviously that the have-nots, Germany, Japan and Italy, look with jealous eyes at the enormous advantages which the British Empire has, and they demand better trading opportunities. It is surprising that the Government have not, as it seems to me, more appreciation of their position and also—it is not putting it too strong to say—of the dangers of the present position. But unhappily their policy recently has been in precisely the other direction. The noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, said he would not this afternoon discuss the Ottawa Agreements, and I do not propose to discuss them in any detail, but they are very germane to this Motion because they are a distinct violation of this Motion and of equal trading opportunities. It is impossible to over-estimate the harm which has been done to international relations by the Ottawa Agreements. I will not bother your Lordships with quotations, but I have many that I could give. I gave several in the debate last year, particularly from the Japanese point of view. We hold that it is time that a halt was called in this policy, and indeed that it was reversed. The Motion of my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton will do something to help in that direction so far as the Colonies are concerned—not so far is the Dominions are concerned, because they are outside the scope of the Motion.

Now if the Motion of the noble Lord or the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, were adopted, I believe the psychological effect—to use that over-worked word—on international relations, and particularly in regard to Germany, would be enormous; but the material loss to Great Britain, if the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, were tarried out to the fullest possible extent, would be quite small. Let us consider the figures, let us look at it as a matter of pounds, shillings and pence. The total exports of Great Britain to the Colonies are somewhere about £40,000,000 a year. If we assume that those exports were not going to the Colonies and that the trade with the Colonies were in the same proportion as the present share which Great Britain has of the total export trade of the world, the figure, instead of being £40,000,000, would be somewhere about £18,000,000. Looking at the matter in that way, therefore, there is an advantage to Great Britain of somewhere about £22,000,000 in the Colonial trade through the Colonial connection and through the system of preferences, and now of quotas.

But if the figures are gone into I think it will be found—I am not binding myself to this but, as I calculate, it will be found—that somewhere about half of this £22,000,000 is due to the British connection, quite apart from tariffs or quotas; it is due to the fact that these Colonies have been part of the British Empire, some of them for a very long time, and the trading connection has been built up—naturally, most of the white people there preferred British goods. And therefore you have that advantage, quite apart from tariffs and quotas. It may be that the advantage due to tariffs and quotas is about £10,000,000 or £11,000,000, to which should be added the advantage of shipping and insurance which no doubt goes to this country. Let me observe in passing that the actual profit would be a good deal less than that, but, anyhow, take the figure at about £10,000,000. On the other hand Great Britain's total exports were £444,000,000 in 1936, and our imports last year were £844,000,000 making a total oversea trade of £1,288,000,000. Thus the trading advantages of this connection are, in proportion to our overseas trade, extremely small.

And just consider it for a moment from the point of view of Japan, because equal trading opportunities would make a difference to Japan. The anti-Japanese quotas which have been put on, beginning in 1934, are very strongly resented. The Oriental Economist said: England blundered badly by implementing the Ottawa Agreements at the expense of Japan. That that is so there can be no shadow of doubt. There was no justification for the action of introducing anti-Japanese quotas into the Crown Colonies. So far as textiles are concerned—and they are the chief export—probably the advantage which has come to British manufacturers through these anti-Japanese quotas has been somewhere about £2,000,000 a year. I do not bind myself to that figure, but I think it is somewhere about right. I ask, is it worth it—is it a business proposition—to antagonise Japan, to exacerbate the feelings which had already been created by the Ottawa policy for such a sum as that? Is it business?

Look at the other side. When you have the Colonies as part of the Empire huge armaments have to be maintained, partly, at any rate, for their defence, and according to the Government's programme we shall be spending in the next five years on armaments no less than £1,400,000,000. It is not surprising that Colonel Roosevelt, in a speech a few days ago, said that the average nation, particularly in modern times, had got little benefit out of Colonial possessions. I may be told that that works both ways and that if that is so what advantage will they be to Germany from the economic point of view. But I am not going into that now. A great deal of argument can be made of the economic advantages of Colonies, but they are greatly over-estimated. There are, of course, other considerations which come in such as prestige and so forth, and I believe the psychological effect of the policy outlined this afternoon would, if adopted, be very great indeed.

The noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, pointed out that the policy which is being followed in taking away these equal trading opportunities is also very unfair to the natives because they are deprived, in many cases, of the possibility of buying cheap things which they can afford and which in many cases they have to go without. Mr. Charles Roden Buxton, in his powerful book recently published called "The Alternative to War," argues this whole matter out, shows conclusively that unless something is done there is likely to be war sooner or later as the result of the present policy, and points out that the exclusion of foreign goods, especially Japanese, has meant great hardship for the natives. The Times, about two years ago, said: The medical officers declare that the purchase of cheap Japanese footwear has done more to prevent hookworm disease than all the efforts of the Health Department. We profess to have a great solicitude for the welfare of the natives. In fact one of the reasons why Germany can have no Colonies is that we cannot trust her to treat the natives well. Are we treating the natives in the best possible way when we are depriving them of the advantage of buying these things which they were having before and which they would have in some of the Colonies if the present trade policy were altered?

The whole policy is one which is open to the gravest possible objection. Take Ceylon. These Agreements were only implemented by Ceylon by order of Whitehall. Ceylon refused because they did not wish to lose the benefit of cheap Japanese goods; they did not wish to implement these Agreements, but they were forced to do so. A Despatch was sent saying: "If you do not do this we shall have to consider revising the preference given to you in our market." And we are told that that is the policy which is binding the Empire more closely together! But I pass on. What I wish to say in conclusion is this: if Lord Noel-Buxton's Motion were adopted and acted upon it should also be remembered that as against any small loss of trade to British manufacturers in our own Colonies might be put the gain which may be expected from the application of the Mandate system or some similar system of equal trading opportunities in Colonies owned by other countries. I quite agree that this is assuming—and it is a very large assumption—that France, which has a large Colonial Empire, might be prepared to do anything for anybody, which I am afraid is not likely to happen; but in theory the possibility is there that the loss may be to some extent made good by increased trading in other directions.

I shall not detain your Lordships longer. All I wish to say in conclusion is that this is a very opportune Motion, because the Ottawa Agreements come up for revision this year. An Imperial Conference is to be held this year. Therefore it is most desirable that the country should be thinking about these things and that the various aspects of the policy should be taken into account. I contend that the policy of equal trading opportunities, as outlined by the noble Lord—also supported to that extent by the noble Lord, Lord Lugard—is one which is politically and morally right, and that unless something is done along these lines the present position, particularly having regard to the population factor, cannot be permanently maintained. There can be no dispute on that point. It is far better to recognise that and to make, as it were, a graceful concession now, for in the event of another war it is very doubtful if the whole of the British Empire can be defended, and it is far better that we should meet the position now than to have some part of the Empire taken away from us later on by force. My own view is that unless something is done it is not indulging in the language of hyperbole to say that the historian of the future may well record that the Ottawa Agreements were the beginning of the end of the British Empire.


My Lords, I cordially welcome the discussion in your Lordships' House of this important subject not only for its own intrinsic interest but from the names of those associated with its introduction here. The noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, carries on a fine family tradition of interest in native races in all the backward parts of the world, and my noble friend Lord Lugard is, I think, by common consent, the most conspicuous and distinguished figure among all those who have done service in the British Colonies. The noble Lord who has just sat down has made a powerful contribution to one aspect of the subject, supported by many facts and figures, and it is an aspect of the subject which certainly ought not to be ignored.

It is possible to approach the consideration of this matter in two ways. It may be approached as a matter of principle on the general grounds that the system of Mandates ought to be extended a3 far as possible and that the further that line can be taken the better. Probably a good many of your Lordships would think that Lord Noel-Buxton goes somewhat further in his abstract consideration of the problem than many of you would go. But there is the other line of approach, that of finding some expedient which can be applied promptly to deal with the difficult international situation, and on that Lord Noel-Buxton has guarded himself, because he only desires to apply the Mandate system "in suitable cases to British and other Colonies." The words "suitable cases" leave a large loophole of escape. If we consider the Mandates that might be applied to our Colonial Empire, Lord Noel-Buxton himself pointed out that there were certain necessary exceptions where it was impossible to apply the system. He mentioned Jamaica; he might have added Barbadoes; and indeed all the Colonies of the West Indies and on the mainland of South America would probably turn out to be unsuitable cases. Perhaps the same might be said of the Straits Settle- ments and the Far East. The result is that not very much is left except Africa, and it was, I think, to Africa that the noble Lord mainly directed the attention of the House.

Leaving that, except to say that there are certainly some parts of Africa to which it would be very difficult to apply the rule, I will turn for a moment to what other countries might be approached. The noble Lord who has just sat down mentioned France. We all know that the French Colonial system is founded on an entirely different basis from ours. It is founded, so far as their principal overseas possessions are concerned, on the system of representation in the French Senate and the French Chamber of Deputies. That was a system which, I have no doubt some of your Lordships will remember, was in the past seriously advocated for application to this country, but it was found then not to be possible; and it is quite obvious that with the growth and the present extension of the British Empire an attempt to initiate either an Upper or a Lower House representing the whole of the British Empire would probably require the occupation of Olympia or of some area of equal size in which to carry on the debates. When you come to other countries the possessors of large Colonies—the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal—I do not know how far the Governments of those countries would be prepared to adopt the Mandate principle in relation to any of their possessions. They conceivably might, and the noble Earl who is going to speak on behalf of the Government will no doubt be able to express an opinion as to how far any approach of that kind can be hopefully regarded. But what looms at the back of the whole of this discussion is no doubt the German claim to consideration for overseas possessions.

I have never concealed my opinion— I have stated it in this House and often elsewhere—that the complete stripping of Germany of her Colonial Empire by the Treaty of Versailles was a political blunder, and I know I am not by any means alone in that belief. I am inclined to think that not a few members of the Party sitting behind the noble Earl on the Front Bench hold a somewhat similar view. But it does not follow from that by any means that it would be possible to restore those possessions to Germany. It was, as I say, in my view a blunder to take them from her, and if those who were responsible for the Treaty of Versailles had been thinking a little less of revenge and rather more of the future of the world I do not believe it would have been done. But when the word "injustice" is used, as it is by German representatives in relation to this matter, there, I think, we cannot admit the charge. What happened at the end of the last War is what happened at the end of all previous wars—that is to say, that the conquered country lost a certain part of its possessions. It is a rule of conquest which, I think, might very well have been departed from in that instance, but it was not, and I think we all know very well that if success had gone in the other direction the German Government would not with tears in their eyes have spoken of the injustice of depriving this country or France of a considerable part of their Colonial possessions.

Therefore it seems to me that anything like a general redistribution is a thing that cannot offer any comfort, but, on the lines which have been developed by the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, and which, as we know, have been considered by other public men, it surely is possible that some advance could be made on the economic side in giving to Germany what she evidently thinks she has not got, that is, an equal chance of obtaining the primary products of which she stands in need. I am not going now to argue the difficult question of currency and other questions which arise in relation to this matter, but so far as it is possible to satisfy these demands I trust that His Majesty's Government will give their minds to the question. From my point of view the more the system of the open door can be extended the better. There are some, I know, who would prefer that a system of mutual preferences on the lines of the Ottawa Agreements and other agreements could be adopted. I myself trust that that will not be done, because I feel that in mutual preferences of that kind there exist the seeds of future discontent and possibly future quarrels.

With one observation made by the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, I cordially agree. Without attempting to go into the whole question of the adoption of the protective system in this country, it cannot, I think, be disputed that the manner in which the existence of the British Empire is regarded by foreign countries has been, I would go so far as to say, dangerously modified by the adoption of the protective system in this country. When all the ports were open and all goods could pass freely the mere fact that we possess in their view far too large a part of the world was, if not applauded, at any rate not condemned. Now I fear it is not so, and I thought it a most telling quotation from a speech by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain that was made by the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton.

As between the Motion of the noble Lord and the Amendment of my noble friend opposite I would merely say this. I should be well content to support the request to His Majesty's Government to consult with the Governments of the Dominions and of other Colonial Powers with a view to the application of the Mandate system, on the understanding that there is a good hope that at any rate some of the Dominions and some foreign Powers would be prepared to enter into real consultation on the subject and that there was some hope of a favourable reply. If, however—and about this His Majesty's Government must know much more than we can—every suggestion of the kind is almost certain to meet with a blank negative, it would be in my opinion a pity to make the request. In fact I can hardly think that if the noble Lord regards it as possible that that may be the case he would wish to press his Motion. On the other hand, there is a way out through the Amendment moved by my noble friend opposite, and although, as I say, if there was a chance of a favourable issue to such a request I should desire to support the noble Lord, in the absence of any such assurance I should find it difficult to do so.


My Lords, in spite of the especially interesting speech made by the noble Marquess who has just sat down, I confess that I rather regret that this debate has had to take place, because I think that whatever happens it can only tend to mislead public opinion abroad and will do little good. If the noble Lord, Lord Arnold, will forgive me, I must say that I also regret a particular remark he made about a friendly country, France, which I think is calcu- lated to do actual harm. In respect to that I think it is due to the French people to remember that if it had not been for their self-sacrifice and their stead-fastness all through the past ten years, when they almost alone kept the peace of Europe by their sacrifices, things might he even worse than they are in Europe to-day. But apart from that, Ministers have given definite assurances already that neither the question of Colonial rendition or any important modification of our relations to the Colonies has been under discussion or is at present under discussion. Therefore I think it is a pity that we have to discuss it and raise any further hopes or doubts in the minds of foreign nations.

My noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton, more than once in his speech, emphasised his desire that we should keep as strictly as possible to what he called "mandation"—I am afraid that is a new word that has horribly crept into the English language—and that we should not stray into the hackneyed path of discussion of the question of the rendition of Colonies to Germany or another country. I would have been very glad to do so if the noble Lord had not devoted a very large part of his interesting speech to emphasising the terrible "injustice" to Germany under the present system and the real "grievances" from which Germany is suffering at the present time. I confess that I was much surprised when he suggested, amongst those grievances, that we attempted to keep what he termed a "monopoly of trade" in our dependent Empire or to keep our Colonies—another phrase used—as a "closed preserve," and that the injury to Germany was very serious because she could not sell as freely as she would like. As if any of these statements were really very approximate to accuracy! I was still more surprised when he called in aid a statement made by the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. He forgot to quote the date when that speech was made! It was before Mr. Joseph Chamberlain had seen the light, and certainly before he had travelled round the Empire and gained the inspiration, learning and knowledge which caused him to modify his earlier opinions. Some of us used to wish in the days of the tariff controversy that some among your Lordships could have taken a similar journey, and had the same light shed on them, too.

What are the facts? Herr Hitler, in an important speech as recently as January 30, made it clear that it was not a question of prestige or anything else, it was exclusively economic grievances that formed the basis of his claim for Colonies. It seems therefore necessary to stress the feebleness of the economic claim, although I think your Lordships know it well. The noble Lord talked as if the export and import trade between Germany and her old Colonial system was a great item in Germany's economic life. Of course it was nothing of the sort. Before the War she exported a one-hundred-and-eightieth part of her exports to the whole of her Colonial Empire and she bought even less, a two-hundredth part of the whole of her imports and raw materials, from her Colonial Empire. [t was a fractional piece of her great world trade, and when we are talking about the importance of assisting Germany to get raw materials to-day, I think we ought to bear in mind the speeches made recently in Germany, showing that the raw materials they particularly need from tropical Africa to-day are for the satisfaction of their armament policy. Others have stressed. although Herr Hitler did not make the point, that overcrowding was a serious feature in their case. Well, of course, that too is absolutely untrue. Germany has a much smaller population to the square mile than even we have in this Island. There was, I think, a great case in respect of Italian overcrowding. I am not saying the remedy she took was a right one, but I think there was a definite case when South America became "shut" to Italy. I do not think Germany, however, has any claim. In the last few years before the War, Germany sent an average of thirty to forty people to her Colonies out of a total man export of twenty-five thousand a year.

If you come to the question of the open door, the point is urged that if we made this change it would throw a barely open door far wider and make an enormous difference to Germany and other dissatisfied countries. That is entirely remote from the facts. Only 10 per cent. of the raw materials of the world come from the Colonial Empire and a very large proportion of that Empire is entirely "open door" now. The whole of the East African Colonies, the Congo Conventional Basin, the whole of the Dutch East Indies and for all I know other parts of the Colonial Empire, are already entirely "open door". In fact, if the change the noble Lord advocates were made, it would make an infinitesimal difference. The thing becomes scarcely worth discussing. As the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, with a lifetime of experience and knowledge, has told us, the noble Lord's suggestion would not interest a single person in Germany. They want a sheltered market, one they can shut to everyone except themselves. What they want in fact is to buy our good raw material with their debased currency. That is not business. It is not our fault that their currency is debased. These are the reasons why she cannot buy her raw materials. They have nothing whatever to do with the territorial system in vogue at all.

No doubt the noble Lord has read an interesting publication of the League of Nations' Union which I was reading this morning, where are expressed the gravest doubts as to whether it would be wise to reduce the tariffs in Crown Colonies for fear of giving a great advantage to nations of a lower civilised economic standard to compete against the workers in these countries. I am sorry Lord Arnold has left the House, but if we must come down to footwear and shoes, of which a grievance has been made in this debate—and it is not such a large part of African equipment as some people suppose—they are getting their footwear from Singapore, from within the Empire, and getting it just as cheaply as from outside the Empire in Japan, and therefore the present system is doing the natives no harm at all. That information had not, no doubt, yet reached him. I will not attempt to weary your Lordships with a case you know so well, but it is obviously necessary that the economic case should be stated and restated.

Take the case now as put forward by other eminent people. I was reading of a debate in this House in which Lord Lugard quoted Dr. Freytagh Lohringen, who did not take the same view as the FÜhrer. He took the view that economics were only a secondary consideration. That is the view I think I should take. Prestige was of the first importance to him. But there is a reply to that too. It is an entirely new doctrine that overseas possessions are essential to a great country's prestige, still less a great Continental country's prestige. It would be truer to say that overseas possessions have been considered necessary for an insular Power, but it is an entirely new doctrine to suppose it had anything to do with the prestige of a Continental Power. Austria, one of the greatest Powers, never had Colonies; nor did Russia. The United States of America, although perhaps that is not a fair comparison, until recently never had Colonies. Germany herself was one of the greatest countries in Europe and perhaps at her greatest period had no Colonies.

If once we are going to consider modifying our own system and damaging our own prestige—for our prestige must be considered too, and we have made great promises and have made great commitments—on the question of equality and status, we are going to get into a morass of difficulty from which there can be no exit except war. If you say one country more than another must have equality of status, you have got to define what it means, and each of these countries has got to apply it. Why should Germany be given Colonial power more than Poland or Russia or Czechoslovakia? Where are we going to stop once we begin? If we are to proceed on the basis of equality of status and prestige, why should it be limited to mere tropical possessions? Why should not it be applicable also in respect of Dominions and indeed of anything we have got which Germany has not? I would, moreover, remind the noble Lord who initiated this debate that he himself recognised in the last debate that when Germany had a great Colonial Empire she was entirely unsatisfied. She was more unsatisfied then than she is to-day, because, unless I am misinformed, the mass of people in Germany until this recent Colonial propaganda began, were very much less interested in the Colonies than they were before the War. Yet when the whole of the German Empire was deeply interested in the question before the War, they were entirely unsatisfied, and I remember that in the last debate the noble Lord stated that Germany's desire for Colonies on the ground of prestige was undoubtedly one of the causes of unrest which led to the Great War. Why, then, does the noble Lord think to-day that he can satisfy the Germans by giving them, not even a Colony to themselves, but only a Mandate? They might possibly have one small Colony, but I gather that he excludes from the purview of his plan any Colonies which would have any strategic effect on this country, and that restriction must certainly exclude all the East African Colonies and also, probably, anything in Australasia.


I am very sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but I particularly stated that we were not raising to-day the question of transfer of territory in any form at all.


I quite understand that the noble Lord said that, but I am raising it because I consider that the case is one. It is the same case; it is the grievance of Germany. I understood the noble Lord to say, and he must correct me if I am wrong, that what he desired as his main objective was peace. He believes that if we go on as we are going now, leaving Germany's desires unsatisfied, we shall end in war; therefore, obviously, he is trying to satisfy them. I am trying to point out to him—and I have the great support here of the noble Lord, Lord Lugard—that this proposal of his would not satisfy them, and would not begin to satisfy them. We know that perfectly well. It is very natural that it should not, and I am therefore pointing out what their grievance is and what would satisfy them. I think that is a perfectly logical sequitur.

I do not, however, propose to follow that argument, because I have already spoken too long. May I conclude with this consideration? Condominiums—here I come back to "mandation" for a moment, as mandation is a form of condominium—have in our experience been extremely unsatisfactory. I was glad to hear the noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, point out too that loss of territory in war does not necessarily constitute injustice, unless we are to a adopt a thesis, entirely new in history, that no vanquished nation is ever to forfeit anything because she made war. Was it really the large army of Belgium which invaded Germany? Ought we not to ask ourselves the question to-day: Is it any injustice that a nation which made the Great War, and plunged us into enormous expense, losses and tribulations, should lose something? My Lords, we forget history too quickly. I desire to satisfy Germany and to be on friendly terms with a great nation, but this is not necessarily the method which will do it. After all, we have to remember, in justice to ourselves, that we have some claims in the matter.

Germany acquired her great Colonial Empire entirely by our good will before the War, when we had undisputed command of all the seas and could have prevented her acquisition of that Empire. Our good will did not do much to satisfy her. The moment she got that Empire there came the story of the Boer War. There was not much sign of gratitude from Germany at that time. Then came the Madeira incident. Then there were more claims for expansion at our expense. The whole of the Persian Gulf story, the whole Madeira incident, the whole question of the Portuguese Colonies, all pointed to the aim of Germany at that time of acquiring a still greater Colonial Empire at our expense. I think that in this matter our primary duty, though by no means our only duty, is to our own people, to our own wage-earners, to our own needs, to our own protection. It was for our strategic needs and for our sheer security, and for no other reason at all, that we made the arrangements that we did after the War. It was not for the acquisition of territory; we had plenty. Our desire was to prevent another war and to prevent submarines from congregating near our coasts and separating us from our own people on any future occasion.

As regards the Amendment and the original proposal, I do not find myself entirely in agreement with either of them. I should be very glad to see the St. Germain-en-Laye Convention and the whole of the Congo Basin Treaty modified in certain aspects, but not necessarily on the principle of the open door entirely. I believe there are ether means of satisfying Germany, in the realm of commercial and economic affairs. This is not the day to discuss them, though I think we should put that subject down for discussion in the near future. I do not believe in the Motion put forward by the noble Lord. I believe that it would give no satisfaction to Germany but would bring bitterness and disappointment to masses of our own people.


My Lords, I listened with the greatest interest, as I am aware that the rest of your Lordships did, to the persuasive arguments and eloquent speech of the mover of this Motion, but I venture to hope that His Majesty's Government will not accede to his suggestion. I do so with some confidence; indeed, I do not think the mover himself can have any great optimism in this matter, seeing that when the National Government were elected to office two of the planks on which they were elected were the binding closer to us of our Colonial Empire and the protection and the livelihood of our own people. I had the privilege or the misfortune, or perhaps both, of serving in a humble capacity throughout the campaign in German East Africa. That campaign is estimated to have cost, roughly speaking, three times as many lives on our side as we lost in the whole of the South African War, and it took two years to conclude that contest. I have asked myself, not once nor twice, whether that contest would ever have been completed if the people who had been fighting had known that the territory which they were to conquer was going to be formed into mandated States, a form of administration which still seems to me to be neither flesh nor fowl nor good red herring, a form of administration through which we cannot even invite our own nationals to come in, cannot help them when they get there, and cannot even help them at home.

I heard to-day for the first time that we had invented the Mandate. I had always hoped that we had not, and I gather that someone was pleased that we had done it. I am glad someone at least is pleased, because there are a great many people who are very disappointed with that invention, and among them is certainly Germany. I am quite certain of this: that Germany would just as soon that we had Tanganyika as a Colony as that A should be a mandated territory. So deeply did I feel this at one time that I thought, and I said, that it would be a better solution if the southern part of that territory were handed back to Germany and the northern part were included in our own East African Colonial Empire. I have changed that opinion in the last two years, and two causes have contributed to this change. The first is that it seems to me, though I regret to say it, that Germany still maintains her worship of the sword as opposed to love of peace; and the other is the conquest of Abyssinia by Italy.

Abyssinia contains some millions—at all events one enormous tribe—of first-rate fighting men. It will be easy for Italy—and I have no doubt that she will accomplish it—to raise a first-rate fighting army of 50,000 to 100,000 men. The same thing applies in German East Africa or Tanganyika. There are millions of men there than whom there is no better fighting material in the world, as Germany has proved, and she also would find no difficulty in raising an army of the same size. The native inhabitants of our territories which lie between the two, Kenya and Uganda, are not fighting men; they are almost entirely peaceful agricultural tribes, and we could never raise an army from them of any great size or strength. It seems to me that, if we were ever in danger of coming into conflict with those two Fascist Powers, our Colonies there would stand to be crushed between the upper and the nether millstones. While that is so, I agree now with those who say that we should never give back one single acre of that country, and that it would be an act of treachery to those thousands of men who have gone and settled in North and South Tanganyika.

As your Lordships have heard to-day, our East African Colonies are largely governed by the Congo Basin Treaties. Those treaties were, I believe, ripe for denunciation in 1932 but they have not been denounced—perhaps they will be some day. And what has been the result during the last few years? We have seen gradually a quicker annual decrease in the percentage of trade which has gone from this country to those territories. It has left us and gone to Japan, and while the looms of Japan work overtime those in Lancashire have been standing idle. And why? Because the Japanese operative gets somewhere about one shilling a day, and our people, I am glad to say, get a great deal more. And we cannot even say in this case that it is sweated labour and will some day right itself, because I believe it to be a fact that in material necessities, and even in the luxuries of life, the Japanese operative on a shilling a day is better off than the men in Lancashire, with perhaps ten times his wage.

I think this Motion is clearly an echo of the old Free Trade doctrine on which I was brought up, and it seems to me now that sometimes those who press it are a little bit unmindful of what is the main object of Protection. It is not to get bigger dividends for private individuals or companies, it is not even to fill the pockets of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is not even only to find more employment for our own people. It seems to me that the main object of Protection is to maintain the standard of life of those people who work in this country—a standard of life which, I am happy to say, is the highest in the world, and can be made higher, but it is attacked almost daily by standards of living in other countries which are in many cases lower, and in some cases—which is more difficult still, as in Japan to-day—are different. It may be, as has been suggested to-day by the noble Lord, Lord Arnold, that a time will come, perhaps in a thousand years, when this world will be internationalised, and when al its commodities will be produced for those who want them where they can be produced best and most economically. By that time it is presumed that the population of these Islands will be something under half a million, who will presumably be engaged in breeding pedigree stock and preserving grouse. But that time is not yet, and I venture to hope that His Majesty's Government in their reply will indicate that they propose to go on administering our Empire in a way which has, after all, brought the grudging but nevertheless sincere admiration of the whole of the civilised world, and that that method of administration will include fair play for every race, every colour and every creed within the Empire, but it will not be unmindful of the livelihood of the poorer people in this country.


My Lords, during the course of this debate we have listened to speeches from those who speak with great authority on the subject we have been discussing. Furthermore, the subject is such an important one, and is so complicated in character, that I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I reply on behalf of the Government at some considerable length and at the same time adhere somewhat closely to my full notes. If I have correctly understood the noble Lord who initiated this debate, his proposal is that we should ourselves place, and invite the Governments of the Dominions and of foreign countries holding Colonial Dependencies to place, selected parts of all existing Colonial Empires under League Mandates, presumably similar to the "B" Mandates as at present held by various Powers. If this is what is intended, then I feel I must say at the outset that any proposal actually to abandon full sovereignty in favour of a mandatory status must evidently present many difficulties in territories which are British territories, and whose inhabitants are His Majesty's subjects in exactly the same way in which the noble Lord and myself are His Majesty's subjects.

And I can speak from some personal experience. I had the privilege of visiting the West African territories some two years ago, and I can bear testimony to the loyal, the fervent devotion, I might almost say, of the inhabitants of those territories to the Crown and the Empire. I can say with confidence that any proposal to alter their national status in any way would he very strongly resented indeed. I do not want to make too much of this argument, but there is an obvious difficulty about the proposal in this exact form, quite apart from anything else. On the other hand, if all the noble Lord was really advocating was some declaration by ourselves, the Dominions and foreign Governments regarding the desirability of placing Colonial Empires under a régime in many ways equivalent to the Mandates régime, the particular objection to which I have referred obviously would not apply. However, that is not, I think, the argument which the noble Lord has adopted this afternoon, and I can therefore assume that my first interpretation of the noble Lord's Motion is the correct one, and proceed to base my arguments on that definition.

I shall also assume that the noble Lord would not he in favour of His Majesty's Government taking any unilateral action in the sense advocated in the event of the other Governments concerned refusing to entertain any proposals which might be made to them on the lines suggested by him. So far as the attitude of Dominion and foreign Governments is concerned, I do not think I can say more than that His Majesty's Government would expect great difficulty in inducing them to accept the proposals made in this Motion. I cannot, of course, say whether their objection would be exactly the same objection, but in any case I think it would he agreed that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom could not even invite other Governments to consider such proposals unless they were themselves convinced that they would be both useful and practicable at the present time. Consequently, this is the consideration on which I propose to concentrate mainly this afternoon.

If I have correctly interpreted the noble Lord's intentions in bringing forward this Motion, they are twofold. The first is to demonstrate beyond all question that His Majesty's Government fully accept the doctrine of trusteeship as applied to Colonial Dependencies as well as to mandated territories. The second is to assist certain foreign countries to expand their trade and so to obtain larger quantities of the raw materials which they need. I need hardly say that His Majesty's Government are fully in sympathy with, and indeed share, the noble Lord's ideals. Where we differ from the noble Lord is in our estimate of the value of the specific proposals which he has put forward for attaining these ideals.

Let me turn first to the doctrine of trusteeship. I think it is true to say that the doctrine of trusteeship in regard to Colonial Dependencies, while it may undoubtedly be held by other nations, is essentially a British doctrine; and I do not think it is necessary for His Majesty's Government to take any further steps to prove their devotion to that ideal. The position of this country in this matter is fully understood by the Colonial Empire, and even by the least advanced native peoples. There were no more cordial messages to His Majesty on his Accession than the messages of loyalty and devotion which came from every part of the Colonial Empire. Many of the Colonial peoples are very simple people. They look first to the Governor of their particular Colony as the custodian of their interests, and beyond him to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and beyond him to the Crown. It would greatly confuse the minds of these simple peoples to superimpose upon, or indeed to substitute for, this loyalty an alternative loyalty to a body at Geneva of which they would necessarily have very little knowledge or understanding. Nor do I think that Parliament, which is now responsible for watching the proceedings of the various Colonial Governments and keeping them in the narrow and straight path, would appreciate the devolution of this responsibility.

Furthermore, there is the position of the Colonial Legislatures themselves to be considered. Your Lordships are no doubt aware that His Majesty's Government consider that it is one of their most important tasks in the Colonial field to educate the Colonial peoples to self-government and to entrust them by degrees with such responsibility as they are in a position to assume. This is historically the method by which the Dominions and Southern Rhodesia have evolved self-governing institutions, and the process is still continuing. In fact, some of the tropical Colonies have already, as has been pointed out during the debate, advanced some way along this road. In particular, responsibility for fiscal matters is one of the first responsibilities to be transferred. One of the principal parts of the noble Lord's proposals is that an open door policy should be imposed upon the Colonial Empire. I intend to return to that subject later. All I wish to say now is that if effect were given to that proposal it would be impossible, for all time, to give full fiscal autonomy to any Colonial Dependency. This would clearly be a grievous obstacle to the evolution of self-governing institutions.

Nor do I think that the noble Lord has fully considered the effect of his proposal on the machinery of the Permanent Mandates Commission at Geneva. This proposal is, in fact, one not only for a complete reorganisation of the Colonial system in this and other countries, but also for a complete reorganisation of the system of supervising the operation of the Mandates at Geneva. Instead of the work being done by a few distinguished gentlemen of long Colonial experience, such as my noble friend Lord Lugard and his successor, Lord Hailey, who are prepared to devote a few weeks during each year, it would, as I think the noble Lord himself has pointed out, require the organisation of a large international staff in constant employment throughout the year.

I said a short while ago that the principles on which we govern the Colonial Empire are those of trusteeship. The Dependencies are administered in such a way as best to serve the interests of those Dependencies and their inhabitants, and I am sure the noble Lord will agree with me that the criterion by which his proposals must ultimately be judged is whether they would be advantageous to these Dependencies and their inhabitants or not. I have already pointed out certain objections to these proposals of a quasi-constitutional nature, but it will, I think, be agreed that one of the principal differences between the régime of the ordinary Colony and that of a "B" mandated territory is that in the latter the open-door policy prevails. Indeed, I think I am right in saying that this is one of the principal considerations which was in the noble Lord's mind in bringing forward this Resolution. His Majesty's Government are in full accord with the noble Lord's desire to see an increase in international trade. If the policy of the open door in Colonial territories would really result in such an increase—for I take it that the noble Lord would not be in favour of a scheme the only object of which would be to increase the trade of certain foreign countries at the expense of our own—then there would undoubtedly be something, and possibly a very great deal, to be said in its favour. But there are unfortunately many reasons why it would be unlikely to do anything of the sort, and it would, at any rate in present circumstances, have certain very unfavourable results for the territories in which it was introduced.

The essential characteristic of the open door policy is that it is a permanent restraint imposed from outside on the freedom of the Government of the territory concerned. It prevents the Government from doing certain things which the Government of an ordinary Colony can do—that is to say, give tariff preference and discriminate in its treatment of the trade of other countries. In this it differs entirely from the limitations imposed by a commercial treaty which has been voluntarily contracted and which is subject to termination. The privilege of giving preference is by itself, I admit, of no direct advantage to the territory concerned. It does, however—and this is very important—give that territory the great indirect advantage of being able to give preferences to secure preferences in return. So far as trade matters are concerned, the British Colonial system as we know it to-day is essentially one of interchange of preferences for effective mutual benefit. It is perfectly true that those few territories in the Colonial Empire which are prohibited by international instruments from giving preference do in fact receive it in Empire markets, though they are not in a position to give it; but they are only a small part of the whole. It would be an entirely different thing if the whole Colonial Empire was prohibited from giving preference. It is too much to expect that it could hope to continue indefinitely receiving preference when it gives nothing in return, and the receipt of preference in this and in Dominions; and other Empire markets is a vital necessity to many British Colonial Dependencies.

I come now to the question of the right of discrimination. This naturally is a right which no country desires to use if it can possibly avoid it, and no doubt in an ideal world there would be no such thing as discrimination, but, unfortunately, this is far from being an ideal world, and the power to discriminate is the only weapon which can be used to secure its possessor against widespread discrimination obtaining in other countries. In fact it was this power that His Majesty's Government found it necessary to ask Parliament to give them in the Import Duties Act. The noble Lord said that the mandatory system had worked and had not been an embarrassment to the Mandatory Power. I agree to this extent. It is perfectly true that it has not been an embarrassment in the sense that His Majesty s Government have found its provisions unworkable, but from the point of view of interests of the inhabitants it has proved in certain respects a very serious embarrassment indeed.

I will take, if I may, the instance of Palestine. Last April a petition was presented by the Jewish Farmers' Federation of Palestine and the Jaffa Citrus Exchange through His Majesty's Government to the Permanent Mandates Commission. I should be glad to make a copy of this petition available to your Lordships if you so desire. The object of this petition was to induce the Palestine Government to exercise discrimination against certain foreign countries who, in the opinion of the petitioners, were tot treating Palestine exports fairly. The petition points out that the principle of the open door was embodied in the Mandate, and it goes on as follows: The open-door principle imposed on Mandates, while all other nations were free to surround themselves with well-nigh impenetrable trade barriers, has resulted in an open door for the products of countries trading with the Mandates and a closed door in the face of the mandated country's own products. Without reciprocity there can be no such thing as economic equality. Your Lordships will perhaps allow me to quote a brief passage from the observations with which His Majesty's Government accompanied this petition when they forwarded it to the League of Nations: His Majesty's Government do not propose to discuss in detail the particular proposals put forward at the end of the memorandum, but they do not feel that they can support them in their present form, because they are not satisfied that they would not infringe the non-discriminatory provisions of the Mandate. On the other hand, if they were so modified as to bring them within those provisions, they would not, in the opinion of His Majesty's Government be of such a nature as to be likely to afford any net benefit to Palestine trade. His Majesty's Government have, in short, been unable to devise measures of economic defence for Palestine which are likely to be effective and at the same time compatible with the terms of the Mandate, and in the circumstances they are not able to offer any advice upon the petition. I feel certain that the noble Lord will agree that these documents afford evidence that the mandatory system does not necessarily operate for the benefit of the population of a mandated territory in all commercial matters.

There are also certain other objections to the noble Lord's proposals. In the first place the noble Lord will recall that under the terms of the existing Mandates the no discrimination clause theoretically applies only to Members of the League; consequently, if the Mandate system were extended to-morrow to all Colonial Empires, there is no guarantee that, and indeed no particular reason why, if the preferential system were abolished in the Colonial Empire, it should not be replaced by some other tariff system which would in fact discriminate against imports from Germany, Japan and other countries which are not Members of the League. Then, in the second place, it is clear that the abolition of preferences in the Colonial Empires would not by itself do much to solve the payment difficulties experienced by many Powers at the present day, and in particular by Germany. These difficulties are real, but they are caused essentially by very different considerations from those of trade facilities with Colonial territories and they involve currency questions of great complexity. I may mention here that the question of difficulties of payments will fall within the scope of the Committee on Raw Materials which is just about to meet at Geneva.

Thirdly, it is I think quite clear that whatever the noble Lord may think regarding the advantage accruing to Germany if his proposals were adopted, the German Government themselves have no illusions on this score. It is clear from the public pronouncements of German statesmen and the German Press that there is in Germany no particular desire to see the principle of equal access extended throughout the world. What they may be assumed to want on the economic side, as the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, pointed out, is some arrangement by which some Colonial territory might be included within the German currency area and in present circumstances within the area of the German exchange restrictions. In face of those restrictions the open door would become entirely meaningless. For these reasons alone it is difficult to believe that the noble Lord's proposals would be very desirable in themselves, or that they would result in any appreciable lessening of political tension in the world as a whole.

I turn now to the point raised by the noble Lord regarding the revision of the Convention of St. Germain in such a way as to extend its operations. By this I take it that the noble Lord means that other territories, over and above those in the Congo Basin, shall be placed under a similar régime to that imposed by the Convention of St. Germain which, as your Lordships know, implies absolutely complete freedom of trade. This is a point which was also made by the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs in his speech to the Imperial Diet on January 21 last. I must be frank about it. It is not one which commends itself to His Majesty's Government. While the gradual freeing of trade is the goal of their policy His Majesty's Government would not be in favour of such violent uprooting of established connections, and possible diversion of the currents of trade, as would be caused by the immediate application of the principle of complete freedom of trade in all Colonial territories. Moreover, even if such a proposal were likely to be in the short-term interest of Japan, it is, for reasons already stated, very difficult to see how the mere displacement of United Kingdom and German exports by Japanese exports would do much to promote a better political feeling in Europe. If, on the other hand, the noble Lord merely wishes to bring Germany back—as I think he said—into the circle of participants in Colonial economic opportunity by inviting her to rejoin the Consortium of Congo Basin Powers, then I really must point out that his desire is to a large extent irrelevant. Germany is, and always has been, except for the immediate post-War period, treated within the Congo Basin as if she were a party to the Convention of St. Germain. There can therefore be no grievance on her part in this particular respect.

I now come to the trade relations between Germany and the Colonial Empire generally to which the noble Lord has referred. In the first place, it is quite wrong to suppose that Germany is unable to export goods to the British Colonial Empire. The latest complete figures which are available are those for 1935, but I think it would be found that the figures for 1936 would be even more favourable to Germany than those of the previous year. I have had the figures taken out, and the position is that in 1935 goods imported from Germany were valued at about £5,600,000 and goods exported to Germany were valued at about £6,400,000. After making the necessary allowances for the fact that the former figures are c.i.f. and the latter f.o.b., I think it would be safe to conclude that Germany's unfavourable balance of trade with the Colonial Empire in 1935 did not exceed more than about £1,250,000 to £1,500,000, if indeed it reached so large a figure. This is not in any case a serious figure when compared with the figures relating to the balance of trade between the United Kingdom and Germany. Your Lordships will perhaps bear with me while I give the exact figures in this case as well. In 1934 Germany exported goods to the value of £30,600,000 to the United Kingdom, while the United Kingdom domestic exports to Germany were only £14,000,000. In 1935 the figures were £30,000,000 and nearly £19,000,000 respectively, and in 1936 they were nearly £33,000,000 and nearly £19,000,000 respectively. Therefore I think it is fair to say that the United Kingdom has nothing to be ashamed of regarding its commercial policy towards Germany, and indeed the United Kingdom is the principal source of Germany's supplies of free exchange for the purchase of raw materials which she requires.

If you look in further detail at the figures relating to trade between Germany and individual Colonial Dependencies you cannot find any close relation between the balance of trade and the existence of Imperial Preference. Let me take the figures for 1935, and first of all those returns in which there is no Imperial Preference. In the case of Tanganyika Territory imports from Germany were valued at £318,000 and exports to Germany at £220,000, the balance being in Germany's favour. In the case of Nigeria the imports from Germany were £750,000 and the exports to Germany about £1,690,000. On the other hand, where there are régimes of Imperial Preference you also get the same diverse results. Ceylon imported goods to the value of just over £350,000 and exported goods valued at rather more than £450,000. Jamaica imported goods valued at nearly £96,000 and exported goods to the value of less than £30,000. Trinidad imported goods to the value of £104,000 and exported goods to the value of under £70,000.

Your Lordships may also be interested to know what were the principal Colonial exports to Germany in this year. The largest individual export was cocoa from the Gold Coast, Nigeria and Trinidad to a total value of a little less than £1,400,000. Then there was copper from Northern Rhodesia to the value of a little short of £1,150,000. This, as a matter of fact, ought to be taken with copper pyrites from Cyprus valued at about £50,000. Other large items were palm kernels from Nigeria and Sierra Leone valued at about £900,000, and rubber from Ceylon and Malaya valued at about £750,000. No other items are nearly as large as any of those I have enumerated, but there are quite substantial quantities of such things as ground nuts, copra, cotton, sisal and other raw materials. There can be no question that in spite of the difficulties which are alleged to exist the Colonial Empire is a very important customer of Germany and a very important supplier to her of raw materials of all sorts. I think it is clear from what I have said, both that Germany is doing a very considerable trade with the British Colonial Empire, and that she would not be likely to benefit very greatly from any abolition of Imperial Preference, or indeed from any modification of the Colonial quota system, though it is true that her powerful barter system of foreign trade might in these circumstances enable her exports to make some progress as compared with those from the United Kingdom.

It very naturally, however, would not be the same in the case of Japan. Where the open door policy exists the increase in Japan's trade has been very striking. In Tanganyika Territory, which is both a mandated territory and within the Congo Basin, total imports in 1931 were just under £2,500,000 of which the United Kingdom supplied just over £900,000, Germany just over £150,000, and Japan rather over £250,000. In 1935 total imports were just under £3,000,000, of which the United Kingdom supplied rather over £850,000, a drop of 5 per cent., Germany rather over £300,000, a rise of 100 per cent., and Japan over £650,000, a rise of 150 per cent. In Kenya and Uganda, British Dependencies in the Congo Basin, imports from Japan increased from £500,000 out of £5,150,000 in 1931 to over £1,000,000 out of £6,650,000 in 1935. In Palestine, another mandated territory, imports from Japan rose from £19,000 out of £6,000,000 in 1931 to nearly £650,000 out of £17,750,000 in 1935. The same tendencies would naturally have been observable in other parts of the British Colonial Empire had it not there been possible to curb Japanese imports both by quotas and by Imperial Preference.

Here I would like to say that there is no desire on the part of His Majesty's Government to impoverish the natives by a rigorous exclusion of all cheap goods. That is a ridiculous suggestion. On the contrary, His Majesty's Government recognise that in the case, for instance, of rubber shoes, which were referred to by several noble Lords, there is a definite advantage in as cheap a product as possible being placed on the market. Happily such shoes are now being produced almost as cheaply by Hong Kong. If the noble Lord can supply me with any authenticated instances of hardship owing to the absence of Japanese products I shall be very willing to consider them.

To revert to the general question of Japanese exports to the Colonial Empire, it may be said that the only serious effect of a completely open-door policy would be to favour trade with those countries which have an exceptionally low level of labour costs. However much this might be in keeping with the teachings of the classical economists, it is impossible, in the present conditions of the world, for His Majesty's Government to admit that the play of blind economic forces should be allowed to work havoc with the established industrial and political systems. The effect of such forces must be gradual if the world is ever to undergo the process which has come to be known as "peaceful change." In other words, and to put the case in a nutshell, the immediate application of mandatory provisions and of an open-door policy throughout all tropical Colonies, of whatever nationality, far from helping Germany or any European country with high labour standards, could only result in great advantage being given to the products of the industrialised East, and notably Japan.

I have said enough, I think, to show that on several points we are in agreement with the noble Lord. We can see that there would be considerable advantage if a joint and general declaration were made by the Colonial Powers, expressing their willingness to be guided in the administration of their Colonial territories by the spirit of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League. Though this would be unlikely, in the view of His Majesty's Government, to do much of itself to lessen existing tensions, it might still have a certain value if it formed part of a general political settlement. But for the reasons I have given, His Majesty's Government regret that they are unable to accept the noble Lord's Motion or the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Lugard. They believe that a more fruitful line of approach than the one suggested, to the solution of the economic difficulties to which the noble Lord has referred, is to be sought in the deliberations of the Committee on Raw Materials shortly to be meeting at Geneva. I am certain that Lord Lloyd will forgive me if I have not followed him in the situation which he himself referred to during the course of his speech, but I think the policy of the Government on that point has been repeatedly stated and I am not myself in a position to add anything further to it.


My Lords, if I might say a word in response to the noble Earl's speech on behalf of my friend Lord Snell, who has been called away to an engagement in connection with the London County Council, we are much disappointed in what the noble Lord has had to say, not so much with the substance, as with the complete absence of constructive proposals, with the one exception of a reliance on this Committee at Geneva. While congratulating my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton upon initiating this valuable discussion, the only other observation I desire to make is this: I hope it will be the policy, in the future, of the Colonial Office to discourage the formation of artificial price rings in certain raw materials. I refer particularly to the defunct rubber price-fixing ring, to the most unfortunate tin production limitation cartel, and others of the same nature. This tendency of private interests, British, Dutch and others, to get together and create an artificial scarcity of raw materials, encouraged by the Governments themselves, is, I suggest, most unjust, at any rate to the Colonial producers, and is adding to the grievance of those who do not possess Colonial territory. My own Party look on the whole matter with the greatest disquiet, and I hope it will be the policy of the Colonial Office in the future to discourage these rings. I am going to quote one particular case and I car, do so with some confidence to the noble Earl, as I know of the great work he does. The attempt to hold up the price of radium by a commercial price-fixing ring has been a great embarrassment to medical science. That is one example of the sort of thing that we object to very strongly.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl for the very full reply he has given, and for his items of interesting information. At this late hour your Lordships would not visa for further arguments, but perhaps the noble Earl would let me allude for one moment to his argument that autonomy is the goal, and that fiscal autonomy would be endangered by mandation. Is it not the case that man- dation avowedly is aiming at complete autonomy and independence? It has already been achieved in the case of Iraq, and surely the answer to the noble Earl's argument is that in the end independence with fiscal autonomy would be achieved by any Colony so fortunate as to develop with that speed. It seemed to me that the noble Earl would have us believe that the system of preferential tariffs was urged by the Colonies on the Home Government, and imposed on us, rather than imposed by us on them. That seems to me not perhaps the most accurate way of describing it, and I need only remind him of the reference of my noble friend Lord Arnold to the case of Ceylon, where local opinion was certainly not forcing on the Home Government, on the Colonial Office, a preferential tariff system.

In regard to what he said about the Congo Convention question, I must confess to disappointment that he was not able to go farther than to say that Germany had no grievance. I trust it is in his mind and that of the Colonial Secretary that in point of fact, though it cannot be promised now, it is the intention to take the opportunity of the Congo Convention Conference to bring back Germany as a signatory, and not only a beneficiary, of equal status with the rest of us. The difficulty of cheap labour that he very naturally alluded to is one that we ought to recognise, but perhaps it would be fair in that connection to suggest that it may to a great extent be met by making it a condition of entry rights that the State concerned should conform to and ratify the Conventions of the International Labour Office, establishing standards which are for the benefit of the Oriental and also, by eliminating competition, of the more advanced States. But, while disappointed with his answer on concrete points, I should like to thank him cordially for the sympathetic tone in which he has spoken of the aims of the Motion. Let us hope they will take concrete form when an opportune moment comes for His Majesty's Government to make and announce definite decisions. I am not really surprised that he was unwilling to accept the proposal either of my Motion or of the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Lugard. That would be too much to expect from a Government which had introduced great measures of protection.

If I may say a word in regard to Lord Lugard's objections to the proposal of mandation, I cannot but feel that he has made overmuch of the arguments that a certain expense would accrue to the Government of the Colony concerned and that the Commission at Geneva would have to be larger. He has, I know, immense experience of the labour involved in attending the Commission; but surely, if it is a matter of great international interest, he would not allow those considerations to weigh against the argument which is connected with the maintenance of international peace. When he thinks of expense of that kind and then thinks of what would be the expense either of warlike relations or, far more, of ultimate war, he will not, I am sure, admit any comparison between the two. I was most surprised that, in his reason for objecting to the Mandates proposal—while I cordially support everything that he said in favour of what he considers a more feasible system for establishing the open door—he omitted from his category the question of the interests of the natives. That seems to me the main practical difference between the full proposals of the Motion and his modified proposal. He spoke of the absence from the African Conventions of supervisory commissions. Surely, if we are turning our attention to the native question, it is the presence of the supervision which is above all valuable and which would not be given by a treaty system including the open door but, as far as I understand, would only be given by a system of Mandates of the League of Nations.

I venture to think that the debate, which has produced so many very interesting speeches, has fortified in many respects the case for the Motion which I have ventured to bring before your Lordships. I cannot but think that in the course of time public opinion and all Parties will feel that mandation, as has already been declared by the Labour Party, is the best means of following the path which the Government have taken in adhering to the policy of the League of Nations. Again thanking the noble Earl, I should not like to press the Motion to a Division, and I therefore beg leave to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Motion, by leave, withdrawn.