HL Deb 27 February 1946 vol 139 cc914-60

2.30 p.m.

LORD TWEEDSMUIR rose to call attention to the manner in which Commonwealth Affairs are administered; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Motion I have the honour of putting before your Lordships' House this afternoon is phrased in terms of rather wide application. Before calling attention to the manner in which Commonwealth affairs are now administered I will deal very briefly with the whole subject of empire. There have been many empires in the past; they have risen and flourished, dwindled and disappeared, but the British Empire has endured because it was dynamic where they were static. It has never tried to stem the steady progress of evolution, and, as the countries of the Empire have passed the various milestones of progress, so Britain has recognized that fact.

This Empire has been through many moods; from the days in the beginning of the century and the atmosphere of the Golden Jubilee and Kipling verse on to the atmosphere of the Statute of Westminster, and to the years between the wars when a strange revulsion set in, and the word "empire" was everywhere spoken with sneers and abuse. Wickedest of all was held to be the Government of our Colonial Dependencies, which, as time passed, came to be accepted by many as the unprincipled exploitation of backward peoples for our benefit. When Malaya fell critics rushed out in their hordes to demand why our colonial system had not worked better, that same system in which they had refused to interest themselves for over twenty years.

The impression gained currency throughout the world that Britannia ruled the waves purely because she was prepared when necessary to waive the rules. Small wonder that the Nazis rubbed their hands in glee and laid their hellish schemes for world domination. This Commonwealth, of whose relationship little is written but much is understood, is very baffling to an outside observer. To dictators empire meant only one thing—domination and force and the principle of divide and rule. They could not understand our system of encouraging the countries of the Empire to unite internally and then to rule themselves. It was a concept far above their degraded apprehension, and on the solid and united front of this Empire the schemes of the Nazis suffered total shipwreck. Those invisible ties of Empire, which our enemies and even many of our friends thought to be severed, were strong enough to bind the Empire into one solid fighting front, and for a second time in half a century to save the world. In spite of growing lack of apprehension among the nations of the Commonwealth, the threat to freedom and civilization and the way of life of every single English-speaking country was so patent that none could misread these signs.

In this recent war, for the first time in our long history, we faced not defeat but complete racial extinction and the extinction of these institutions which were nurtured in this island and which flourish throughout the Empire to-day. Now, after six years we are worn and weary victors. The evil growths of misunderstanding, grown from the seeds of pre-war enemy propaganda, and flourishing in the soil of apathy, have been uprooted. Tens of thousands of men from the Dominions have visited England and met English people and learned to understand them, and, just as important, each other. This warm feeling of comradeship which now exists has taken a world war to produce. It must not be allowed to grow cold.

Some study of history is necessary in the study of any current problem; if you do not know where you have come from you cannot tell where you are now, let alone whither you are going. At the beginning of this century the Empire basked in the strength of British sea power. British sea power was capable of giving backing to the then Empire organization, which was far more centralized than we would wish it now. Evolution proceeded steadily in the great territories of the Empire, past the milestones of internal federation and Dominion status. The Statute of Westminster did not give the Dominions their freedom. It defined a state of affairs that had long existed. Those countries achieved greatness and freedom and independence, and Britain recognized their achievements.

The preamble of that Statute is more widely quoted and more widely known than any Statute in the Book. The words of the Balfour Report that went with it are not so often quoted but, with your Lordships' permission, I would read you one paragraph from it. Speaking of the conduct of foreign affairs the report runs: It was frankly recognized that in this sphere, as in the sphere of defence, the major share of the responsibility rests now, and must for some time continue to rest, with His Majesty's Government in Great Britain. Britain is committed to war with any foreign Power which may attack one of our sovereign Dominions. That is not reciprocal. If a foreign Power attacks Britain the Dominions are not so bound.

In 1939 it became plain to the inhabitants of every English-speaking country that an aggressor had arisen whose hand was against free men and free institutions the world over, and all, save one, made common cause and performed such deeds as will never fade from the pages of history. All, save one; that one remained neutral, and her neutrality imperllled the whole Allied cause, but her right to remain neutral was respected. That proved finally the validity of our Commonwealth relationship.

I do not propose to embark on a discussion of Imperial defence or go deeply into foreign policy. There are those who say that we should first decide on what strength of armed forces we can maintain, and shape our foreign policy accordingly. There is another school that says we should decide on our foreign policy and then amass sufficient strength to back it up. This island is a very small one, but it is the heart, though not the centre, of an Empire where dwell nearly one-third of the human race. We have two choices of foreign policy—either a foreign policy which is based entirely on Britain and her Colonial Dependencies, or one based on agreement and on knowing exactly where we stand with the Dominions. In either case we must have complete understanding. There are very few noble Lords here who have not at one time or another been exercised in their minds by the gross ignorance that exists on all matters of Empire. It pervades countries within and without the Commonwealth, and not least of all this country itself. And in this country we have no excuse. I speak of honest ignorance expressed in honest criticism and taker no reck of that dreary section of our countrymen to whom Britain is always wrong and some other country is always right. In the words of Edmund Burke Great Empire and little minds are ill-associated. This ignorance is a form of laissez faire in which lie the seeds of great danger. The antithesis of all that is virile is apathy.

The great danger to our Commonwealth and nation is ignorance, leading with hideous momentum to apathy and then destruction. It is by no means confined to the uneducated. Mr. Harold Macmillan, introducing the Colonial Estimates in another place on one occasion, did so to an audience of only eight Members of Parliament. Politicians and writers commonly avoid these issues as not likely to appeal directly to their public. However, there are others who conceive it to be their duty to lead public opinion rather than to follow it, who have done great work. The basic facts of Empire are not taught in our schools except by a few wholly inadequate references.

I had the great honour of serving in the Infantry of the Canadian Corps. We served in the Eighth Army at different times with men not only from Canada but from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Newfoundland, and from India as well. I had many friends among them. I found that by far the majority held the opinion that we were unwilling to go further in our dealings with India on account of the supposedly great flow of gold which flowed from that country into the coffers of England. I am not surprised that they thought that. Three people out of five in this country know no better. This is a plea for understanding within the nations of the Commonwealth scattered throughout the globe. Travel has to some extent annihilated distance, but nations that dwell and develop their destinies thousands of miles apart must, by the law of nature, become strangers.

With your Lordships' permission, I will quote something which illustrates this, I consider very aptly. It is written by an Australian, and is taken from the Spectator of an issue in January. In his article he says: Outside official agencies, a few organizations exist which are concerned with the Imperial tie, but most of these are of Victorian origin and form, are primarily social in character, and are content with an occasional banquet. They are in no way comparable to such influential organizations as the Australian-American Co-operative Movement, supported by a number of powerful business houses, and Australian-Soviet House, with a large Left-Wing and Liberal support, and even to smaller organizations concerned with China and India. Likewise, while the cause of a small nation such as Chile is being vigorously put to Australians by its representative, the residence of the United Kingdom High Commissioner remains empty. Nor, for the most part, have those private individuals sent, or permitted to travel, to Australia by the British Government during the war years, impressed Australians as wholly suitable representatives of an heroic and embattled country, Representatives and partisans of almost every country concerned with Australia are busily engaged in telling Australia of the virtues of those countries—with the exception, save hitherto in a limited degree, of Britain. This is a matter both for Australian and United Kingdom concern. These things can no longer be taken for granted. The United Kingdom should have the most virile representatives, and the best information and film libraries in Australia, not only as good as anything the Americans can provide, but better. A reticent diplomatic obscurity in a limited official or social circle is not enough for a British High Commissioner to-day. There is nothing in the past or present of this Empire of which we need be ashamed, but we have a dangerous weakness in this country, wrongly accounted by some as strength; we consider the justice of our cause to be self-evident. In 1939 we assumed that all those nations not immediately embattled would see that we, and we alone, were in the right. It was by no means obvious to a great many nations who subsequently became our firm and trusted Allies, and only became apparent to them when the hideous intentions and methods of our enemy became plain for all to see.

The foulest slanders have been laid upon this Empire and allowed to pass without contradiction. Great strides have been made in the dissemination of news, by wireless, by papers and by films, so much so that it has to some extent atrophied the reasoning power of the individual. The man in the street is mesmerized by a barrage of slogans, catchwords, half-truths. In this smoky atmosphere, propaganda flourishes. Malicious propaganda is not buried in the grave of the dictators. Anyone who considers it is, deludes himself. The antidote to it is truth and understanding. That is no passive thing, but a positive force. Any attack that goes unanswered, goes, by default, to the attacker. If you do not present a case in these days, it is assumed you have no case to present. Nations and individuals are not so different, and you can learn to value a man's friendship only in times of crisis.

And what we have gained during the war we have lost to some extent in other ways. For the last six years the export of our culture in the form of books has been suspended. Books, and books alone, carry the true spirit of a free country. They portray the spirit of the times and the clash of ideas which turn the wheel of democratic evolution. If I may, I will quote very shortly from a speech made in this building not long ago by Mr. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada. This quotation was also used on the Motion of the Earl of Perth on January 23. Mr. Mackenzie King said: From time to time it is suggested that we should seek new methods of communication and consultation. I believe very strongly in close consultation, close co-operation and the effective co-ordination of policies. What more effective means of co-operation could have been found than those which, despite all the handicaps of war, have worked with such complete success? I will omit two paragraphs. Let us, by all means, seek to improve where we can, but in considering new methods of organization we cannot be too careful to see that to our own peoples the new methods will not appear as an attempt to limit their freedom of decision, or to people outside the Commonwealth as an attempt to establish a separate bloc. In this debate on the Motion of the Earl of Perth on January 23 the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack added these words of his own: … of course we want the closest possible co-operation with the Dominions; we want to have no secrets and no reserves from them at all. We want to bring them in in every way we can, and if we find any way of improving the present relationship, we shall not hesitate to adopt it, but we are not going to lose the substance for the form.

Those two statements, one from the representative of a great Dominion and one from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, present to my mind a very clear statement of Commonwealth relationship and some warnings; but I hold it to be self-evident that any measures which tend to promote understanding among the nations of the Commonwealth and redound to their mutual benefit are improvements that can only be acceptable. The Crown of England is the symbol of the free association of this Empire; Britain is not the centre of the Empire but rather the heart. It is not then unreasonable that Britain should form the cultural nucleus, but at the moment it is sadly lacking in adequate machinery, and I will give you some examples of this. There are certain things, such as science and Medicine, which are international, but there are certain things which are purely the concern of the Empire and of no one else. A case in point is law. The law of this country is hammered out over centuries and is then transplanted to grow up, under a slightly different course, in each of the Dominions. This Dominion law is the subject of frequent and interesting experiments and changes, but in this country there is no place where the Dominion law can be studied. In fact the only place in the world where it is studied is the Harvard Law School in the United States.

When the various Dominions have resettled their armed forces some or all of them will no doubt welcome emigrants from this country. Emigration between the wars was a most haphazard business: emigrants left this country with little aptitude for the professions they were going to follow and with the scantiest knowledge of what they would find when they got there. Many of them failed, and that failure caused great bitterness on both sides, but it could have been avoided. Then there is the matter of commerce. Pre-war British investment in the Dominions was only a fraction of the potential investment had the statistics and information been available to potential investors. When the currency situation is eased once more, young and growing countries will again be in need of British investment. I have called attention to Commonwealth affairs. Much of the machinery of their administration has proved durable and lasting, yet I maintain that if some adequate machinery for the maintenance of understanding is not set up that machine will break down.

I make these points, with which I have already acquainted the noble Viscount who will reply to this Motion. First, I ask His Majesty's Government to approach the Governments of the Dominions with a view to founding in England a permanent Council which will act as a great Imperial information centre, the sections of that Council, as they deal with each Dominion, to be staffed by representatives nominated and sent by that Dominion and responsible, not to the Parliament of Britain, but to their own Government. My second point—I have already laboured it at some length—concerns the question of ignorance of Empire affairs. There are some who say that perhaps in the past ignorance was our strength and had it not existed we might have become self-conscious and inflexible. Be that as it may, there is no excuse now, and the ordinary facts of Empire must in some way or another be made an integral part of the teaching in our schools. I know the difficulties; I know a vicious circle exists. Universities do not teach it because the schools do not, and the schools do not because the universities do not expect it. I do most earnestly beseech His Majesty's Government to give thought to this point.

My third point concerns our representation in the Dominions. If you count each British High Commissioner and Trade Commissioner as one representative, and treat the consular representatives of foreign Powers on the same basis, you find a striking anomaly. Britain has six representatives in Canada and Norway has seventeen; Britain has two representatives in New Zealand and Norway has seven. When opening my morning paper this morning I was very glad to see that a High Commissioner had been appointed to Australia. Since June, 1945, during a vital period, that High Commissioner's office has been empty. In Canada there is one British Trade Commissioner west of Ottawa. Before closing that point I would add my voice to those voices that have been raised so often in the past to urge the raising of the status of a High Commissioner to something approximating to that of an Ambassador. My fourth point concerns the British Council. The British Council has grown from small beginnings to having a budget of nearly £ 3,500,000. Its idea is excellent and its achievements undoubted. It has suffered over a long period under the unprofitable status of being officially unofficial; it has been in a state of suspended animation awaiting the Government's decision. I ask the noble Viscount for the assurance that in the work of the British Council the Dominions will come on the very highest priority, and if: they should not, to explain to us why not and what countries come higher.

My last point concerns the Colonial Service. I think I am right in saying that in January, 1939, for the first time a general invitation was issued to any member of the Dominions who wished to partake in the Colonial Service to do so. During the war the usual machinery for recruitment has necessarily been stopped and under the ad hoc method of recruiting I know the Dominions have been approached. A great keenness has grown up in the Dominions in the last six years to take part in this work, because a much fuller understanding of the meaning of our Colonial trusteeship has now come about. I ask His Majesty's Government for assurances that those invitations will remain. In coming to a close, perhaps I may say that this is a plea for understanding on an entirely non-Party issue. The present state of affairs, as I see it, is indefensible. We are at war again. The battle of arms against Fascism is over, but the battle against world starvation is just beginning, and if we lose this battle our casualties will be higher, for when the forces of nature are arraigned against mankind they know no mercy. The greater part of the resources of the world to fight this battle lie within the Empire. The Government are com- mitted to sweeping change, but let them carefully consider these issues, for the future of this Commonwealth is the future of more than a quarter of the human race, and while it remains united peace will cover one-third of the habitable globe. I beg to move for Papers.

3.8 p.m.


My Lords, you have listened to a speech worthy of a descendant of that great Imperialist John Buchan. It will be a matter of great regret to many of your Lordships that he was not here and could not himself have heard it. The Motion to which Lord Tweedsmuir has spoken is singularly appropriate in your Lordships' House, which has in recent times so frequently and appropriately discussed Colonial affairs but which has not lately or so frequently touched Imperial affairs as a whole. The Motion—obviously a non-Party one—is one which must appeal to all your Lordships here. I do not think anyone will venture to differ from anything the noble Lord has said, except possibly on its implication—if I am right in taking that implication—on the development and possible co-ordination of inter-Imperial relations.

These, in their present form, date from the Statute of Westminster, but the actual machinery has grown up, as so many things in the British Commonwealth have grown up—not necessarily logically, and certainly, from the point of view of any Latin observer, very untidily. There is very little rhyme or reason in any of the relations or the machinery for the relations between the various parts of this Empire, which has in common only the one thing, allegiance to the Crown. But I think many of your Lordships will agree that an attempt to bring more order and logic into those relations is one which is fraught with a great many difficulties and one which is liable to lead not only to divergencies of opinion but to different solutions commending themselves to different parts of the Empire. They have grown in the past to what they are now on a working basis, though perhaps one not wholly satisfactory. At any rate we must be conscious of what they produced during the last six years. What they produced was no mean result, even on the issue of consultations for a common purpose. That growth is obviously nowhere near an end, and I think one would prefer to see it taking its natural course, with no attempt in this or in any other part of the Empire to mould it into a tighter shape, or one which would bear setting out in black and white, as so many foreigners would like to see it, in order to understand it.

Inter-Imperial relations, which touch not only the self-governing Dominions and the United Kingdom, but also all the Colonies subject to the Crown, almost defy analysis. They are difficult even for us to understand, even for many of us who have been closely connected with them, and they are not the same between any two members of the six. To anyone who has not that close relation with them, to any foreigner, they are completely incomprehensible. If he sought to define them, he would, with all the respect that one must owe to the Episcopal Benches, probably define them in terms not dissimilar from those of Athanasius, with this difference: he only referred to three parts of the whole, whereas here we are referring to at least six, in addition to the Colonies. Without dealing with points raised by the noble Lord in the latter part of his speech in any detail, there is one of them in particular which I think considerable importance. It is, moreover, one which could be fairly readily dealt with without running into the danger of trying to bring order into a plant by training its branches in the directions in which they might in theory be considered to go, but where they do not in fact go. That particular point is one which deals with the Colonial territories.

Mathematicians and philosophers in this generation have said that the whole (strange as it may seem) is greater than the sum of all the parts of which it is composed. That is more obviously true of the British Empire, including the Colonies, than of almost any other form of human activity; but it follows from that that every part of that whole must he, as it obviously is, of interest to every part, and nowhere is that more true than of the Colonies under the government of the Crown, for which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom is directly responsible. It has become apparent—more obviously during the war perhaps than before the war—that no self-governing Dominion can dis- sociate itself or not be interested in the fate and the development of certain groups of Colonies which are either contiguous or have close economic trade relations and human relations.

It must be perfectly clear that in what happens in all the British Colonies in Africa, the Union of South Africa is interested and concerned, and rightly so. It is equally clear and well-known to everyone of your Lordships that Canada is deeply interested, if alone commercially, in the West Indies. It is equally obvious, if for no other reason than a military one, that Australia and New Zealand can have, and must have, the closest possible relations with the East Indies and Malaya. Does it not follow from that, that what happens in those Colonies is not only a concern of theirs but a concern in which they should, and ought, and may reasonably expect to play a part?

In the course of quite a number of debates in your Lordships' House on Colonial matters the creation of a Colonial Council has been frequently urged, to assist and advise the Secretary of State for the Colonies. That is a development which has not yet taken place. It is a development which I believe in the long run must take place in some form or another. Is it not on a Council of that sort that participation in the government of the Colonies could be given to the self-governing Dominions? Is it not on a central council of that sort that the Dominions ought to be represented continuously, either by representatives of their Governments appointed for the purpose in continuous session, or by their High Commissioners here? Have the Dominions not the right to be consulted in those matters? If they have, is it not for His Majesty's Government in this country to propose and create that machinery which will make that participation possible?

I believe such participation is not only appropriate but possibly overdue, if all the Dominions are to be able to express their opinions on the many administrative matters out of which policy is made when it comes to dealing with the affairs of the Colonies under the government of the Crown. That is the only point of value which I think I have to contribute to the discussion on the Motion that stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir. I would earnestly ask the noble Viscount who is going to reply to this debate whether His Majesty's Government contemplate the setting up of some more definite and clear machinery in London whereby the self-governing Dominions may play their part with us in bearing what must be a common responsibility for all Governments under the Crown.

3.11 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to make a very few observations in connexion with the Motion standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir. I should like to congratulate him upon the speech which he has delivered to this House, and, at the same time, perhaps, he will pardon me if I correct two or three misconceptions with respect to the situation that prevails between this country and the Dominions. In the first place, the Statute of Westminster did more than consolidate existing conditions, for under the Colonial Laws Validity Act, any Statute passed by the Parliament of Canada that was in conflict with a Statute of this country, was ultra vires, and in a case decided by the Privy Council, the Nadan case, it was held that a section of the criminal code of Canada that prohibited appeals to the Privy Council, was beyond the legislative jurisdiction of the Canadian Parliament. Under the Statute of Westminster, we did re-enact that section of the criminal code and it is now in force in Canada. There are other trifling subjects of which the same thing may be said.

On the question of establishing a Council, I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, that if he would take the trouble to read the reports of the Imperial Conferences, he will find that the fact of our not having a Council, a permanent Council, of some kind, is attributable to the action of the Dominions, and not to the action of this country. It will, perhaps, be recalled that the late Mr. Alfred Lyttelton suggested to the Dominions before an Imperial Conference, that there should be set up a permanent body in this city that would deal with matters connected with relations between the Governments of the Dominions and of this country between conferences. At that time these communities were not Dominions but Colonies, and Mr. Lyttelton, as Colonial Secretary, made that suggestion. It may be interesting to know that that was rejected by the Colonies, by Canada in particular—not by this country. Such a suggestion emanated from this country, and it was defeated by the action of the Dominions—or Colonies as they then were.

It will be further recalled, perhaps, that the late Lord Harcourt, when, as Mr. Harcourt, he was Colonial Secretary, wrote to the representatives of all the self-governing Dominions, before an Imperial Conference, suggesting that a Secretariat should be set up to maintain permanency of relations between the Mother Country and these Colonies. Again, the suggestion was defeated, not by the action of this country, which made it, but by the action of the Colonies themselves. The contention they put forward was that this would be an interference with responsible government. The late Sir Wilfrid Laurier voiced the sentiment of the Conference with respect to the suggestion of Mr. Lyttelton, while, on the second occasion, the rejection of the suggestion made by Lord Harcourt was practically unanimous.

Your Lordships will perhaps remember that the Prime Minister of New Zealand made a very valiant effort to establish a Council of the very kind that has been suggested here to-day. He made the effort, but he got no support, and that was the end of it. Then Sir Wilfrid Laurier, anxious to maintain closer relations, but, at the same time, to protect his position as formerly taken up, suggested that a survey of the British Empire should be made. A Royal Commission was appointed under the chairmanship of the late Lord D'Abernon, and that Commission made a Report suggesting that a Development Board be created, on which there should be representatives not only of this country but of all self-governing Colonies. The principles of representation which they suggested traversed the Empire. They had held meetings in every Dominion, and they had taken the evidence of hundreds of people. Yet, notwithstanding that unanimous Report, which was signed by representatives alike of the self-governing Colonies and of this country, no effect was given to it. In that Report, Lord D'Abernon, as Chairman, presented a reasoned argument as to why the failure of the suggestions of Mr. Lyttelton and Lord Harcourt should be overcome. Times had changed, he pointed out, new conditions existed, and it was time to set up this development board. That suggestion failed because no action was taken, not because this country voiced any objection to it, but because there was no unanimity for action.

These are instances in which this country has taken the initiative to provide for closer relations between the Dominions and the Motherland. But it did not end there. Before the Conference that resulted in the Statute of Westminster it will, perhaps, be recalled that Field-Marshal Smuts, Sir Robert Borden, and the representatives of Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland had, in terms exactly similar to the Balfour Declaration, contended that the action of these great communities in the war had made it necessary that they should have a voice in peace and war and in foreign affairs. They adopted a resolution, which was accepted by Mr. Lloyd George, who declared as early as 1921 that the Dominions were autonomous communities, in every way equal to this country in the exercise of every function that a Government could exercise. That was finally embodied in the Statute of Westminster, which was not a Statute which was prepared in this country but was a Statute which was prepared by the representatives of the Dominions and this country. I am bound to say that when it came to the question of the section which dealt with Canada, it was left entirely to us, and the section which was adopted finally and which now appears in the Statute was a section approved by representatives of every Province of Canada, for we called them together and got their approval with respect to it. Later Australia adopted somewhat the same principles.

These are the facts with respect to the efforts made to maintain continuous consultation with regard to every problem that concerned the Empire as a whole, and I feel quite certain that there is not a day on which cables are not being despatched to these Dominions, indicating that certain conditions prevailed in this community or that, or that some action was contemplated, and asking for advice and the views of the overseas Dominions with respect to the problems in question. The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, had to do with these matters for many years, and he saw the dispatches which came from the Dominions Office. In fact, the Dominions Office was set up by this country to form a Department to deal with relations between the overseas Dominions and the Motherland.

I think it was when the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, was at the Dominions Office that a special representative of the Foreign Office was allotted to deal with problems which related both to the Foreign Office and the Dominions Office. Therefore, so far as this country is concerned, it has always endeavoured, during the period since the Dominions became Dominions, to establish the closest relationships between them and this country. No high act of State has taken place since the passage of the Statute of Westminster which has not been communicated to the Dominions before action was taken by this country. There have been difficulties, because some of the Dominions are of the opinion—it has been inculcated into their minds by politicians and others—that danger lies in having too much power centralized here. That is what has always been talked about and that is the reason why I rise here today, having lived most of my life in Canada, to say that the fault is not attributable to this old land in connexion with the establishment of councils or bodies to deal with relations between the Dominions and Britain.

That, I think you will find, is supported by documents and anyone can satisfy himself by looking at the records of the Imperial Conferences held from time to time. Sir Wilfrid Laurier made an effort to bring about closer relationship based upon an accurate survey of the resources of the Dominions, believing, as I think correctly, that in that record you would have the evidence which would establish, if you so desired, a self-sustaining Empire. Some people talk about the establishment of a bloc. Well, if the British Empire is a bloc we have established one. That is all there is about it. So far as I can see, you can call it anything you please. We call it the British Empire, or the British Commonwealth and Empire. Some people call it a bloc because it comprises nations from all parts of the world, but that is no reason why it should not continue to exist.

There is going to be another Imperial Conference in this country before long, and an opportunity will again present itself for discussion of this question. We stand to-day just as we did before the offers were made by Mr. Alfred Lyttelton. It is quite impossible, as was pointed out from the extract read out by Lord Tweedsmuir, to do without conferences. Men must meet together in order that there may be the consultation that they desire so much. You cannot do it by correspondence or cables. Consider the differences in time in regard to wireless messages. Think of the difference of time between here and Canada or Australia. Sometimes it happens that in the great rush of events where decisions have to be taken at once, those who represent foreign affairs in the overseas Dominions have been content to say "Proceed as your judgment indicates." That is the reason why this old country, with sixty per cent. of the white population of the Empire, has exercised the power and authority it has by reason of its greatness. That was pointed out by the Earl of Balfour who said that while we have equality of status we by no means have equality of function. Here in England you have 45,000,000 people, we in Canada have twelve million, in Australia there are six or seven million, in New Zealand less than two million, and in South Africa the population, coloured and white, consists of a few millions of people.

All these problems cannot be dealt with merely by saying: "Let us set up a Council" because we have endeavoured to do it and we have failed. But we can proceed on the line that with transportation so rapid there could be monthly conferences. The Secretaries of State for External Affairs of all the Dominions could attend, sometimes here, sometimes in Canada and sometimes in Australia. I think that might be possible, but it rests with the representatives of the Dominions to say what their views are. It is wrong to say that this country can organize a Council of Empire. Nothing of that kind could be done except with the consent of the overseas Dominions. Upon that theory that the Governments of this country and of the Dominions have, to my knowledge, proceeded. Of course, there are times when the force of events is such that it is impossible to wait a week or even more than a single day to arrive at a con- clusion, and so long as this country occupies the position that it does naturally it must take the greater responsibility.

There is one other question to which I should like to draw Lord Tweedsmuir's attention, and on which I can speak from my own experience. To suggest that your High Commissioner should be an ambassador or have ambassadorial rank creates a technical difficulty. Since the Statute of Westminster the Governor-General is appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of the Dominion and he represents the King, not a Government. It would be a little difficult to have two representatives who were both representatives of the Crown and it might create a difficulty -in regard to some social matters which I have in mind. That is the position so far as the ambassadors are concerned. Grave questions have been raised with respect to that matter and legal opinions have been given which seem to me to make it difficult to contemplate that action. It is understandable that foreign countries should have more representatives in Canada than the British because as matters now stand we had a sheltered place which they did not have and that involves the whole question of commerce and similar matters to which I will not refer because they are so highly controversial. It has always been so. It has been taken for granted that in British countries the number of representatives of trade and commerce need not be so great as those of foreign countries. That has been the rule, and you can find evidence of it. My observation has been that there is no lack of enthusiasm in the Englishman in pushing the merits of his goods in Canada and I remember communications being received in which they were a little too strongly voiced. The competition became very keen, notably in South America. I recall one case very vividly. But that is a matter of detail which can easily he remedied.

I agree that there is lack of knowledge of the overseas Dominions, and I do not wish to challenge what has been said about our having no teaching establishments in which the history of the Dominions is taught, but I was under the impression that we had at Oxford a Professorship dealing with the problems of the Dominions, and that the Chair had been richly endowed by one who made a large fortune in South Africa. I think my noble friend will find that is correct. But the Harvard School is not a school that will be of very great help to a Britisher going there for the purpose of learning about his own Empire. The question with which they are largely concerned is the development of our forms of government and matters of that sort. A book has recently been written by a member of your Lordships' House that I suggest every member of the House should read. That is a book about the Commonwealth written by Lord Elton. If that book were in every school and history of the Empire were taught as a subject I think great results would follow. I commend it for its tolerance and for its historical accuracy, with respect to the attitude of this country. This country has never been an exploiter in the sense in which that term has been used and it will be found in many cases that we declined to accept more territory. You will find that in case after case where we have been asked to assume responsibilities which we have -declined to accept, and that is the reason I so strongly commend the book to which I have referred, because the author gives the dates, refers to documents and tells the story with great accuracy, so that he who runs may read and be convinced.

I apologize for trespassing upon your Lordships' time so long, but the fact is I am so accustomed to hearing this country blamed when I know that blame does not attach to it, and I have been so amazed at your modesty, that, if I may say so, I have come to believe that in this country tolerance is a disease. I mean that. As a stranger, looking it over, I cannot but think that long centuries have bred a type of tolerance that is nothing better than a very bad disease. We are so tolerant in our attitude towards every problem that affects our country that even so strong an imperialist as Sir John McDonald when he and Sir Stafford Northcote were Commissioners at Washington felt you were almost contemplating giving the whole of Canada to the United States, only the difficulty was that you could not deliver the goods! That is an instance of this attitude of tolerance. I think one of the things that has brought about our present difficulties with the United States has been this apologetic sort of attitude towards the problems that arise between us. My own observation is that if you make clear your position and stand by it people over there realize and appreciate the justice of your position, for after all, like ourselves, they are fair-minded people. They do not like the world to look upon them as being too critical of others.

3.35 p.m.


My Lords, this is the first occasion on which I have had the privilege of addressing your Lordships. I know that I shall be accorded the indulgence that is customary on these occasions. I am very glad indeed to have the opportunity of joining in this debate, and, if I may, I would congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, who initiated the debate. Since I have returned from Australia, about a year ago, I have been very much surprised and rather concerned not only to find how little real knowledge there is of Dominion affairs but how many really inaccurate views there are on Dominion questions. So I hope that this debate will go a long way to clear the air and give us perhaps a more true and accurate picture of Dominion affairs as a whole.

The sort of thing that has distressed me a good deal and given me a good deal of reason to think is the number of times I have been asked, and asked by people whom one would imagine were well informed, what is really the attitude of Australia towards this country to-day. It is almost inconceivable to me that anybody should want to ask that question, but the implication contained in that question is very disconcerting. However, if people have any doubts on that question it is just as well that they should ask, because it gives one the opportunity of supplying what one believes to be the correct answer. The answer which I give to that question is this. When I first went out to Australia as an A.D.C. as long ago as 1908, the thing that impressed me more than anything else was the tremendously strong sentimental feeling there was towards this country. Every Australian, whether he had been to this country or not—and very few of them had been to this country in those days—referred to this country as home; it was the wish and ambition of all Australians to come home to see this country for themselves, this country from which their forbears had sprung and with which they were so proud to be associated.

When I went back twenty years afterwards as Governor I wondered whether that sentimental feeling would still be very strong or whether as time went on it had weakened. On the contrary, I found that the sentimental feeling for this country was stronger in 1928 than it was in 1908, and it has gone from strength to strength ever since. There is no question whatever about that. And the two wars have had a great deal to do with it. So we need have no doubt whatever on the question of what the attitude of Australia is towards this country to-day. Of course we know our enemies have done their very best to cause dissension between the component parts of this Empire, but we know, too, how miserably they have failed. They failed altogether to appreciate the fact that we were fighting as one united nation; that we were pooling all our resources in men, in money, in ammunition, in ships and in all the weapons and implements of war; and that no important decision in strategy or policy was taken without full and frank discussion between the Mother Country and the self-governing Dominions. The distance that separated one from another in no way weakened the ties which bound us together.

There are a lot of ties that bind this Empire together. There are economic ties, social ties, material ties and so on, but without any doubt the sentimental tie is the strongest tie of all; and though, from time to time, we might have differences of opinion on economic or material questions, though we might even go so far as to have divergent views on absolutely vital and fundamental issues like body-line bowling and the leg theory at cricket, the sentimental factor will always be the dominating factor which in the end will turn the scale and decide the issue. Of course situations arise sometimes that do require rather delicate handling, but when we have gone into those questions we have found, on practically every occasion, it has not been a question of great difference of policy or principle, but a question of misunderstanding, of failing to appreciate each other's difficulties, each other's problems, and each other's point of view. So I think it is vitally important that we should avoid those misunderstand- ings in the future and rectify them as far as we possibly can.

I think we have all come to the conclusion that the real motive power of our Imperial machinery does not lie in official dispatches in public speeches, or even in formal round-table conferences. It really reties on personal contact, on personal interviews between individuals, between man and man, seeing into each other's minds, appreciating each other's difficulties and problems and points of view. Therefore it is vitally important to get those contacts as often as we possibly can, and have people visiting us from the Dominions and people visiting the Dominions from this country. In that regard I think the Parliamentary delegation that went to Australia a year or two ago was a very great success, and I am quite sure that the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who took a very active and effective part in that delegation, will agree with me that its members learnt the true facts of Australia as they could not have learnt them in any other way, and that they came back very much enlightened and inspired by all that they had seen and heard. So I hope these delegations will be, if possible, more frequent in the future, both from here and from the Dominions. Of course, in the past, time and distance were a great difficulty, but fortunately science has now overcome it, and we think of a journey from Australia to this country not in terms of days and weeks and months, but in terms of hours. So let us take full advantage of this scientific development, and have as much frequent going to and fro as we possibly can.

There is another important factor in our Imperial negotiations, and that is the question of hospitality. We, who have been to the Dominions, all know that the people there are the most hospitable, generous, warm-hearted people you could possibly find. They welcome you with open arms. They open their doors wide to you, and nothing is too much trouble for them to do to give you a good time and make your visit as happy as possible. It is very important indeed that that hospitality should be reciprocated when they come to this country. When those people from the Dominions come to this country, which they all call home, they should feel that they are in a "home from home," and not strangers in a strange land. Fortunately, we have some very valuable voluntary organizations that give that hospitality. We have the Royal Empire Society, the Victoria League, the Overseas League, the Empire Day organization, and the Lady Frances Ryder's excellent organization for hospitality. Those organizations are doing most valuable work, and possibly it is not easy really to appreciate the value and importance of that work until you have seen the reactions to it on the other side of the world. I hope that these organizations will be able to keep going, but the very patriotic and generous people who have run them in the past have not only worked hard for them but have subscribed generously as well, and I am afraid possibly in the future, owing to high taxation and so on, they may not be able to do so to the same extent. Therefore it is possible that these organizations may require some financial assistance; and if that financial assistance is really required to keep them going, it would be false economy indeed if it were not forthcoming. After all, could money be much better spent than in cementing these bonds between the Mother Country and the Dominions? I do not think it could. Although it might cost us a little money, though we might lose a little on the swings, we should get it all back on the round-abouts and with compound interest, over and over again.

I think the moment has arrived when we have to recognize the fact that we have reached a very important milestone on our Empire progress, and that on the attitude we adopt and on the steps that we take at this juncture will depend, to a very great extent, our Imperial relationships in the future. In their early days, these young Dominions were governed, guided and influenced very largely by the Mother Country. Now they have reached full maturity and complete independence, and automatically, and quite rightly, they are at liberty to shape the destinies of their country in any way they please. Of course, that entails great responsibility on the people of the Dominions, and great responsibility on the men and women who are chosen to represent the people and frame the laws of the land. But I think we are all agreed in saving that they are proving themselves equal to the task. Of course, they may occasionally suffer from the growing pains of youth, but personally I am not quite sure that those growing pains are altogether a disadvantage; I think perhaps the growing pains of youth may occasionally prove a very wholesome antidote to the possible creeping paralysis of our advancing years.

We have, in the past, bequeathed to these young Dominions the art of self-government by a free people, and they are now in process of demonstrating to the world that they are capable of dealing with the tremendous problems that face mankind today. In other words, the young Dominions are proving to the world that democracies can deliver the goods, and I think in that great effort which they are making, they should receive all the help and encouragement it is in our power to give. So this is a testing time. It is a testing time for the strength and unity of the British Commonwealth of Nations; it is a testing time for our Parliamentary institutions, and it is a testing time for the wisdom, the judgment and the foresight of the Governments and the people of this Empire—this Empire which recent events have proved, without any doubt, is the corner-stone on which the future of our civilization will depend. I can speak from first-hand knowledge only of one of our Dominions, but I have lived in Australia altogether for about eighteen years. I have worked with the Australian people in good times and in bad times, in fair weather and in foul, in peace and in war; and as the result of that experience, I am supremely confident that, however severe that test may be, Australia is never going to fail.

3.50 p.m.


My Lords, you will no doubt expect me to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, who has just spoken. I like to think of him as an old friend. He has spoken on the subject of the Commonwealth and Empire, a subject on which no man knows more than he. His life has been devoted to it. I am sure I am expressing the opinion of this House when I say that we hope he will often contribute to your Lordships' debates. He talked about the pains of the young and he thought they were better than the creeping paralysis—he did say it quite as plainly as that—of those of older years. I thoroughly agree. I think his speech supplied every justification for the great speech made by the noble Lord who introduced this motion. The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, like his father, is imbued with the same spirit as the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie—the spirit of Empire and Commonwealth.

We have heard in the debate this afternoon that this country in not to blame. Nobody in your Lordships' House ever thought it was, but that does not mean that we should sit back and say, "We are not to blame; it is all perfect." I feel that if Lord Tweedsmuir's speech meant anything, it meant that he wanted progress, he wanted further improvements in the relations between ourselves and the Empire. I have yet to learn that you cannot improve relations between all parts of the Empire and between nearly everything else in human life. This world lives by progress. Lord Tweedsmuir's speech was not a speech of criticism of what this country had done; it was merely that he wanted progress.

I will only detain your Lordships for a very few moments in dealing with the point I want to make. I am not going to deal—indeed I am not competent to do so, unlike noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon—with the great question of Empire. I want to raise the theme I am always pressing on your Lordships—namely, that it is the small things which lead to improvement in relations between peoples. All the great plans and the great schemes, even such things as the Statute of Westminster, are not half as important as the little things. Those big schemes can only come into operation when relationships strengthened by personal contact have made it possible to bring them into operation. In the past the Navy was often a means of contact, because its ships visited all ports of the Empire. Cannot we now look forward to the day when our air squadrons will also visit all parts of the Empire and when their squadrons will visit us, not on format invitations, but as a matter of practice on long distance flights, or even for a dance or sport, or for manœuvres? I hope the oil will be provided—I mean by that the money—and that the Government will look upon such visits as being most important, I hope they will not say "We cannot afford it," as they did in the past. In the past they cut down the amount of oil that was allowed to the ships to go to Australia and other places. I hope they will not do that in the case of the oil necessary to take aeroplanes to Canada, Australia and all parts of the Empire. I hope that such visits will be generously dealt with and encouraged. Another important thing is the interchange of officers. I feel that the Government are now doing, as they have for the last ten years to my knowledge, their utmost to extend the interchange that has been going on in the past. May it be still more improved. One handicap to interchanging the right types of officers is the question of money. If the Government are generous in seeing that officers who are uprooted from here to go for two years to Australia are paid generously over there it will enable the system to be improved.

3.55 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to support the Motion of my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir I wish to say a few words on a subject which is, I think, of the most profound importance to the Empire and certainly to the Colonies—namely, films. This is rather an auspicious occasion on which to speak of films because a week ago to-day, February 20, was the fiftieth anniversary of films. Now, after fifty years, we are living in an age of publicity and propaganda in which films rank high and in which they are certainly a powerful weapon for good or evil. The full use of films has perhaps never been exploited, -but they have vast possibilities for education, for influencing people for good or evil, for enlightening them and for making for closer understanding between races through abolishing ignorance, which is the begetter of hatred and fear.

Certain European types of film and American films manufactured in America and South Africa are being circulated in East and West Africa. These films were never intended for a simple Colonial audience; they were made for European audiences. They are misleading and a bad influence; they give a wrong impression of what white people are like and they should certainly not be circulated amongst people who are being educated and brought up on the right lines. These films have paid their way already—or a large number of them have at any rate—and they can be circulated at practically no cost. Therefore it will be readily seen that it is hard to compete with them. These films should certainly be checked because of the evil they are doing. However, competition is a very poor method of stopping them. There is only one other alternative, which is a stricter censorship and, if necessary, licensing of projectors: In that way a check could be kept on all who show films. However, if these films are stopped something else must be put in to fill the gap, and here, I think, some of the great potentialities of films for colonial development, cultural and physical, become apparent.

The main requirements of films in the Colonies are practical education and cultural education making for understanding of others—and that, I think, at the present time would help a number of situations in the Colonies—and also as a source of new ideas. In order to meet these requirements there are three main classes of film. The first one is the news film, world-wide, regional and local, and I think as a means of showing what neighbours are doing and what other people are doing overseas the good which can come from those films can be readily appreciated. The second kind of film is the feature film, and by a "feature film" I mean a long film with a fiction story in it. Those to be shown must be carefully selected because they are in the class which I attacked earlier on, but I do feel there are some films which could be readily shown in the Colonies and which would do a lot of good, such as those showing the exploits of British seamen during the war or some such topic.

Then there are documentary films, and when I talk about them I am thinking chiefly of the Colonial Film Unit. Before saying anything else I should just like to say a word in warm praise of this unit which started only a comparatively short time ago and which is doing such magnificent work. I saw an exhibition of their films. They were showing two types: those made in the Colonies by colonial peoples for colonial peoples, which comprise 80 per cent. of their production: an those made in England for colonial peoples, which make up the other 20 per cent. The first kind dealt with practical education, and the film I saw was an exceptionally fine one showing the building of a dam in a village. It taught lessons which, if they were taught in any other way, would have taken ten times the length of time and ten times the labour. These films should certainly be encouraged. The other kind of film is to show how English people live. I saw one film entitled "Mr. English," which was about an English family, and their very simple routine. I then saw another one, slightly more advanced, and finally one about English schools. However, this particular class of film only covers a very limited service. I think it would be of great assistance to show news films and the longer feature films. The Colonial Film Unit is young yet and its service is very limited indeed. I will not weary your Lordships with statistics, but there are only twenty-three cinema bands and they are all confined chiefly to Africa, with one or two in other Colonies. There are fifty-three projectors, a lot of them privately owned; there is one production unit; most of the cameras are privately owned, and the films are made by amateurs. I think it is really a fine achievement.

Finally, I would say (and this is just a deferential suggestion) that if the work of this unit could be extended to taking films of Colonies and showing them in England, I think it would be of great education to English people about their Empire, about which they could readily know more. This is a vast field for Government and private enterprise and the heads of the great producing companies in this country. It is a great opportunity for both to work hand in hand and achieve a great deal which is worth achieving. The prize is very great. I believe that films can be a tremendous instrument in gaining the confidence of colonial peoples; and we must gain their confidence because it eases situations and can help their progress and evolution immeasurably. I hope we shall make the fullest use of this new weapon—ever increasing in power—for the benefit of the 50,000,000 peoples in our Colonies for whom we are responsible.

4.15 p.m.


My Lords, as one of those fortunate sailors who have had the almost unique experience of serving with sea-girt Australia, snow-swept (at the present time) Canada, sun-kissed South Africa and beautiful New Zealand; I can assure your Lordships that what has been said in this House to-day will give the greatest satisfaction and pleasure to our self-governing Dominions. It is a sign of the times, and I hope we shall never go back to the time when, on one occasion, the wife of a Governor-General Designate at the farewell lunch said (with the High-Commissioner present): "I don't know very much about the Colonies." She blotted her copybook at the word "Go." When I see the noble and, if I may say so, valiant Viscount who for nearly twenty years served Australia, I think of another Governor-General, a recent Governor-General, who had the sense, I believe, to take a French wife to Canada and thereby get both sides of the Canadians. I listened also to the noble Lord whose father was Governor-General of Canada, that great distinguished man who did so much for our Commonwealth of Nations, and I can assure you that this discussion which he initiated will give satisfaction overseas as well as here where we have an ex-Prime Minister of Canada.

We have our faults. They are not great faults, but we have some faults in our selection. In this very House another sailor was sent to a Dominion command, a great sailor with a great record, but this gesture was spoiled by the Admiralty saying "This will only be a temporary appointment because this officer may possibly be required for more important work in the near future"; so they killed the gesture at once. In Australia those of us who know that man have suffered terribly from what our own countrymen have said. One, who was "A.D.C." on a Governor-General's staff, when asked how he liked Australia, replied: "Not at all. You have not got any old ruins like we have in our country"; and the sheep station owner's wife replied very quietly "We may not have any ruins, but in Australia we have got a good many ruined English men."

I want to emphasize the necessity, when selecting High Commissioners, Governor-General's Staffs or High Commissioner's Staffs, of picking people who are gifted with tact and also with the proper psychological appreciation of the Dominions to which they are going. In South Africa, that generous Dominion which sent through its successive High Commissioners great sums of money to be distributed to our bombed-out people, you should appreciate that the language of 60 per cent. of them is Afrikaans. I remember, with that great gentleman and greatest statesman in the Southern Hemisphere, Field-Marshal Smuts, as my chairman, having to speak on the work of the Navy in the I House of Assembly. Towards the end of my speech, Mr. Pilau, the then Minister for Defence, shouted out: "Why don't you speak Afrikaans? "For the honour of my Service I said I would, and as it was nearly the end of the speech, fortunately, I said: Nog ck nog my vrou sal'oit vergeet jousonnige land vat mense voortbring soe groot en soe edel en net soe verskilende as Suid Afrika's natur skoon. That, I may explain for the benefit of those who do not speak Afrikaans, means: Neither I nor my wife will ever forget your sun-kissed land, that produces men just as great and just as noble and yet just as diverse as South Africa's natural beauty. I looked at the Field-Marshal. He was extremely pleased, and I quoted him and General Louis Botha. I could not pick two finer South Africans.

The psychological study of the little tender spots in a Dominion's make-up means a great deal. The Dominions are tolerant; they tolerate a good deal from us, and they each have their own psychology. The Australian takes you as he finds you. The New Zealander takes you when he finds you. And I think that in Canada and South Africa they are more inclined to take you when you have proved yourself. I do earnestly beg—and I feel that I can be sure that it will be so—that the Dominions Office will, in future, consider these things and will realize, as has already been stressed, the great affection and love of the self-governing Dominions for ourselves. Of the Indian Empire I am not competent to speak, but I hope that somebody else will do so in the course of this debate. Of Eire I am very competent to speak, because my mother was a Sinn Feiner. Whatever may be said about Southern Ireland, you must remember that that neutral Dominion in the last war did produce men like Paddy Finucane and thousands of others to help fight for the cause of freedom.

4.12 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose to try your patience long this afternoon, because I have a Motion on the Order Paper concerning the Empire for next week, and I should not like to make too great a draught upon your indulgence now. But there are just two or three observations proper to this debate which I should like to ask leave to make. First and foremost, I cannot deny myself the pleasure of congratulating Lord Tweedsmuir, the son of my old friend, on the speech with which he opened this debate this afternoon. I entirely agree with what Lord Rennell has said—that Lord Tweedsmuir's father, if he had been here, would have been proud to have heard him speak. His father was an old friend of mine from the days when we were undergraduates together, and it is really a great happiness to know that he is now represented in this House by so worthy a son.

If it is not presumptuous, I should like to say how deeply touched and impressed I was by the first speech made in your Lordships' House by the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie. We expected it to be wise, and we expected it to be experienced. But—as I am sure your Lordships will agree—it was also inspired with a quiet, unassuming, yet most deeply-moving eloquence. I hope we shall often hear him speak, in the future, on the subject of the Commonwealth in this House.

Now I come to the argument which I would like to address to your Lordships this afternoon in support of the contention of my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir that we must not be complacent about the Commonwealth at the present time, or assume that a thing which is not growing is going to endure. Things either grow in this world or else they die, and it is dangerous to assume that things which are simply drifting are maintaining the life which is necessary to preserve them in a very difficult world. I also agree with the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Trenchard, in what he said about maintaining and developing this communal Commonwealth. It is very true that it is small things at the present moment that matter most. There are one or two matters in that connexion, not perhaps of vital importance, upon which I should like to say a word. I entirely agree with Lord Rennell that it is useless in an Empire based on freedom, built by freedom, devoted to freedom, to imagine that you can train members in a particular way. That is not what we exist in the World for at the present time. It would destroy us if we attempted anything of the kind. Artificial rigidity is the last thing which we want in our Commonwealth relations.

I concede that our ramshackle, go-as-you-please system has given great results. It has saved ourselves and the world twice over in the course of the present century. Therefore, after all, there is something to be said for it. But I am sure you will all agree that that is no ground for complacency, and for a very good reason. It is quite true that our power of holding together in desperate straits, in a great emergency, has never failed. But how much better it would have been if we had shown that unity in time to prevent ourselves getting into desperate straits, if we had shown it in such a way as to prevent the wars in which we found ourselves engaged. That, I suggest, is a vital consideration at the present time, because I think we are all agreed that the Commonwealth, stricken as it is by sufferings in this war, following so quickly after the first world war, cannot look forward to another struggle of the same kind without the gloomiest forebodings concerning its effects. I am sure, therefore, that, in this country and throughout the Commonwealth, we should realize that we are now facing the same danger that we faced after the first world war—exactly the same danger. It is a danger inherent in our mode of thought, in our natural reaction to events. What is that?

After the first war, we said: "Thank goodness, our unity has enabled us to win. We have now set up a League of Nations, and if we work for and take a practical interest in the League of Nations, it will do all that was done by Commonwealth unity, and we can rely upon it to prevent war." That sort of talk was widespread after the last war. It expressed a way of thought. I claim no prescience for this, but I ventured more than once in the years between the wars to assert that it was not the Commonwealth which would be found to depend upon the League, but that the ideal of the League would be found to depend, in the long run, on the unity of the Commonwealth. I think you will all agree that we should not be talking now of a United Nations Organization to replace the League if it had not been for the unity of the British Commonwealth. That is a fact we must keep in mind. Do not let us imagine for one moment that loyalty to the United Nations Organization, deep and sincere and profound as that should be, can replace loyalty to the conception of the Commonwealth and to that great British family to which we belong. I think that the unwisdom of the way which sentiment went in this country and throughout the Dominions after the last war was, after all, proved by the event. Let us beware of falling into that same danger now.

That is why I do not feel disposed to agree with the present Prime Minister of Canada when he talks about the danger of setting up blocs. After all, it was a bloc which saved the world and it was very fortunate for the world that there was such a bloc. What is the Soviet Union? It is a pretty large bloc. What is the United States but a bloc? Is it really to be said that the British peoples are not entitled to work together because it is feared that they will be constituting a menace to peace by establishing themselves into a bloc? That seems to me to be talk of a kind meant to evade the issue. I do not suggest anything of the kind in the case of the Prime Minister of Canada. I am sure that he thinks of the matter from a different point of view, but nevertheless I protest most strongly against the idea that unity of the British Commonwealth is not to be pursued because it would be constituting another bloc in a world which would otherwise be free from such blocs.

What steps can be taken to deal with this? I think that first and foremost we must recognise how much depends on the state of mind of this country. Throughout my life the real understanding of the Commonwealth relationship has been much greater in the Dominions than here. There has been a much greater loyalty to the Empire in the Dominions than here. It is not the fact now, thank Heaven. I think this country is now awake to what the Empire means, but that has been my experience for forty years. I was in Australia in the early years, as the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, has pointed out, and the warmth of feeling was not so great here. It was the same with other Dominions, each of which had an atmosphere of its own. After all, we are working out a new system and we must realize that we cannot build as the United States built, on the old federal idea. I am sure that that is not our line of development. Nor can we build an Empire based on an immense central authority like the Soviet Union.

We are trying to develop a new association of nations with a new technique. It is very difficult. I believe we are ahead of the rest of the world in trying to find this new technique. We have not done it yet—it is difficult to find—but I am sure it will be found to be something which has not been parallelled hitherto. We must pursue it by developing all the links and personal contacts which exist at the present time. Central institutions are certainly not enough. For those Dominions which want to have a Council, as Lord Tweedsmuir has suggested, I agree that that could be done. I believe that Australia and New Zealand have proposed the establishment of a Council and I ask the noble Viscount the Leader of the. House if he will let us know about that. Is it necessary that there should be complete uniformity on matters of this kind? If two Dominions want to come in and establish contact with us why cannot we do it for those two Dominions, even if the others do not wish to share in that form of development at all? It is not in the least in our tradition to insist upon it.

I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, that hospitality is of the greatest possible account, and it has been much greater, too, for those who visit the Dominions than for those who come here from the Dominions. One of the things which is most baffling at the present time is that hospitality is most difficult. What one's friends from the Dominions want far more than official lunches and Government banquets is to see us in our homes and our homes are pretty difficult places at the present time. I beg the noble Viscount, therefore, to see that the homes of England are restored for this admirable Imperial purpose and that he will not condemn them out of hand on ideological grounds.

While centralization is certainly to be followed where there are Dominions prepared to share in organization of that kind, the fact is that at the present time it is a mental effort at decentralization which is required of us. We have got to think like the Dominions and we have got to project our experience and knowledge into the Dominions if this system is to work. One hundred years ago, a famous member of your Lordships' House, Lord Durham, had the imagination, the creative statesmanship, to find a new basis for what has become the modern British Commonwealth which would have died without the inspiration he then gave. It is a remarkable fact that there is no statue to Lord Durham in Whitehall or even in the precincts of your Lordships' House. The only memorial connected with him that I have found is a bust of Lord Brougham in the library and it was he who did his best to defeat him at every turn! I hope that some day Lord Durham may be commemorated here. Certainly the need for decentralization is greater now that it has ever been and therefore I most strongly support, and I hope the noble Viscount will endorse, the argument which Lord Tweedsmuir made for building up the High Commissioners. The position of the Dominion High Commissioners is very high here. I think that the British High Commissioners in the Dominions should certainly be built up and that they should be equipped with greater facilities, more power of entertainment and a larger staff than they possess at the present time.

But we have got to go further than that. In these contacts which we are trying to build in the Service associations, as Lord Trenchard has said, through hospitality, through visits by Members of Parliament and in all the other ways, we have got to go further and do what Mr. Churchill suggested in his great broadcast on March 21, 1943. We must see if we cannot agree with the Dominions to set up a regional organization with a regional advisory council where that is required. I believe that is the main effort of decentralization required at the present time. In the Pacific it would be of the utmost value because it is very difficult to appreciate Pacific problems here, and in respect of part of the Empire which I know even better—Africa—certainly something in the nature of Commonwealth co-operation through an African Regional Council is going to prove vital for the peace of that country in the coming years.

You are facing a real danger in Africa. That is the old danger of creating a gulf between two systems of policy with regard to a coloured race. That is a danger which after all led to war, in the greatest union in history, in the United States; and we must I think strive to prevent anything of that kind from happening in Africa. By far the best way of doing so is by bringing the Union of South Africa into consultation with us over all the great questions that affect the future of the African peoples. I believe, therefore, that Regional Advisory Councils may prove more valuable at this stage than a Central Council, although I think a Central Council might well be set up for co-operation between us and any Dominions which wish a development of that kind.

Finally, there is just one thing I would like to say in respect of which I am sure your Lordships in every part of the House will agree. We have had a remarkable debate which I think has been marked throughout by the warmth of feeling towards the people of the Dominions in the sense of what we owe each other and how much depends on the closeness of our family feeling and relationship in the future. I am sure your Lordships will agree that that feeling is not confined to this House. It is now pretty deep throughout this country. In this House, using this language and expressing this spirit, we are really speaking for the British people as a whole. I hope that that understanding of how the British people now regard their brethren in the Commonwealth will go out, and will warm the hearts of our family overseas, and help, as all that sentimental feeling profoundly does, to keep us one, in a world in which it is going to be very difficult to steer a course towards real and abundant prosperity.

4.35 p.m.


My Lords, I only intervene for a moment or two, not to cover the wide field which was initiated in this debate, but to deal with two points which Lord Tweedsmuir made in the admirable speech with which he introduced this Motion. The noble Lord's father did his earliest work in building up what was to be a new Dominion in South Africa, and died in the service of the Dominion of Canada, and the son, following in his footsteps, has served both in the Colonial Service and in Canada. When he appealed for every man from the Dominions to be made welcome in the Colonial Service he was drawing on his own experience, and giving I think the most admirable advice. Really not only in name, but in reality, the Commonwealth and Empire are one. The Colonies are their trust as well as our trust. Men from the Dominions can often have just those qualities and experience and natural aptitude which make the most valuable administrators in a varied Colonial Service.

The relationships between the Dominions and these Colonies are very close, and there is nothing new in this. The noble Viscount, Lord Bennett, will remember very well how he negotiated a close trade agreement between Canada and the West Indies. There was a shipping agreement in which Canada played a great part, and there were the preferences which Canada gave to the West Indies. I think that was the earliest example of a Dominion giving preferences to a Crown Colony. After the Ottawa conference these preferences granted to the Colonies, which meant an enormous amount to them, became Empire-wide. There is that close relationship, and there is the new relationship of the air. It is not only that the air has made contact easy and possible, but these air services between this country and the Dominions, and between the Dominions, are inseparably linked with the Colonies on their routes and with the interests of those Colonies. I was delighted that at the South African Air Conference, the territories in East Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika, both Rhodesias, one a self-governing Colony, the other a Crown Colony, were all represented. It was an essentially combined interest, and on the South African Air Council, which has been set up, and which is in continuous being and in continuous session, these colonial territories are full members. That does seem to me to be all to the good and the kind of relationship which will bind the Colonies and the Dominions together.

If I am not misrepresenting either of them—I followed both the speech of Lord Rennell and the speech of Viscount Bennett with great interest—I thought Viscount Bennett attributed more to Lord Rennell than he really meant. As I followed Lord Rennell's speech, I thought it was not a plea to establish some new inter-Dominion or Dominion and United Kingdom organization; it was much more to make a practical reality of that interest which the Dominions should have, and indeed increasingly do have, in our Colonial Empire. In fact, if I may put it in this way, this Colonial Empire a trust. We are not the sole trustees of it. The Dominions can and should be co-trustees with us. That I understand is what he was pleading for, that is what Lord Tweedsmuir advocated, and that I would most heartily endorse, not caring very much about the precise machinery that is established. Somehow we work out the machinery in our Empire. It need not always be the same. I think that the difference between the way we run our Empire and the way the French run their Empire—and there are some very good things in their administration—is that they, and indeed other countries as well, always want to get some completely logical machine before they start the business. We do not do it that way. The organization grows by trial and error, by experiment, by seeing if it works, very much the way in which the Empire has grown up. Therefore, I am not greatly concerned with what form the machinery should take provided that in this policy of colonial administration, in which I believe we all want the same thing and in which continuity of policy and intention is so tremendously important, we work always having in mind the ideal that this is a trust in which we and the Dominions share and in which we should join together to discharge.

4.41 p.m.


My Lords, certainly we have had a discussion full of understanding, and we know that some of your Lordships who have contributed to it have a unique experience of the problems that are indicated in the Motion. I should like at the outset to associate myself with some other noble Lords in expressing our thanks to the Earl of Gowrie for his first contribution to our proceedings. Every one of us knows his reputation, and we understand, when we listen to him, what it is in him to which we can attribute his unique successes. I hope that afterwards those who are interested, particularly in the character of our Empire institutions and the way they have, or have not, been developed, will closely study the speeches of Viscount Bennett and the Earl of Gowrie, which were exceedingly informative. And I should like, if I may, to associate myself with many other of your Lordships in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, for introducing the Motion. Every one of us is conscious of what we owe to his father, and we are glad, I am sure, that he himself is taking a lively and active interest in the same great topics. Some of us envy him tone possession which he has today, namely, the lot of time which he 'has before him and therefore, we hope, the many opportunities.

I have before me a list of questions to which the noble Lord asked me to reply, and I will deal with them later. I should like, however, to say how true it is, as some of your Lordships have mentioned, that there is continuous consultation between the Dominion Governments and ourselves—daily consultations and nightly consultations. I myself, only this morning, occupied an hour in examining, in some detail, the cable department which is on the ground floor of my office and which was at that moment decoding and putting into code messages to and from our Dominions. As Viscount Bennett has said, that goes on day and night every day of the week, and there is a staff also on Sundays doing the same thing. They know what we are thinking about in regard to major problems and can inform the Dominions in that way every day and every night, and they also inform us of what the Dominions are thinking.

I think that the warnings some of your Lordships clearly gave as to the risk and difficulty of the organization of consultation being too stereotyped, or even stereotyped at all, were very well advised, because the circumstances of the different Dominions vary so much, and one cannot fail to recognize that we are dealing all the time with independent States who have their own views on how things should be approached and their own conveniences of time and incident to consider, and it is exceedingly difficult to organize that kind of comprehensive machinery of consultation which one or two noble Lords seemed to contemplate.

There is, however, a great development—well, I will not say a development, because it is long standing, but there is continual consultation, and particularly on specific subjects and in a regional sense. The illustration the noble Lord opposite just gave of the formation of the South African Council was an excellent example. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, for whom I have to deputize to the best of my ability to-morrow, is at this very moment, I hope, safely in Australia, where he will be participating in a regional conference on the subject of air-communications, which will include Australia, New Zealand and the Mother Country, and in certain matters, probably involve Canada as well. One of the subjects that will be raised to-morrow, I be- lieve, by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, relates to a conference that has only just concluded in Bermuda, where several of the Colonial Governments were represented. Canada was very much concerned—just as much as we were. Consultation is continually going on and developing very rapidly with the facilities of air travel, as more than one noble Lord has said.

The ignorance of people was talked about a great deal by many noble Lords, and I shall have a word to say in a minute on another aspect of it. I think it is true that there is ignorance. The lack of understanding of many people as to how the British Commonwealth has grown up is amazing. It is most disconcerting. I think myself it reflects very seriously upon many of our educational institutions. We have to hunt about to get a good book which will give a young person a sort of bird's-eye view as to how the British Empire has grown up I came across two myself this week-end. The noble Lord himself has made a useful contribution, and the book to which the noble Viscount referred stands almost in a class by itself, in my estimation. Still, the children of our own homeland—and I am talking about the homeland, for the moment—have been taught history far too much in terms of dates and battles, and that sort of thing, and far too little of the story of perhaps the greatest of all human ventures, the achievement of the British Commonwealth and all that it means in initiative, improvisation and so on. Therefore I think we certainly must look to ourselves in this matter, for we have a great measure of responsibility for the present state of mind of many people.

I can say this: that one of the first things to which this Government began to give attention after it came into office was the improvement of, shall I say, public relations—that is the common phrase—or the improvement in the presentation of the British case throughout the world. I am trying to put it in very general terms. I think the noble Viscount, Lord Bennett said our tolerance, had become a disease, or words to that effect. I think there is a great deal in it; we have been too modest. Therefore we are certainly determined to improve the organization not for bombast but effectively to present the British case throughout the world. That applies to the improvement of the organization in our own High Commissioners' offices and in other ways. I think that in regard to the Press Attachés attached to the Foreign Office service, and in some cases attached to our Dominion representation, there is room for considerable improvement in many parts of the world, and we are at the present time very much engaged in considering how that can be promoted.

The noble Lord, Lord Fairfax, referred in this respect to the development of films. I am afraid I was a little apprehensive when he recommended us to adopt a form of censorship. That is a dangerous weapon, but I quite agree that in some of the Dependencies, there have been, no doubt, some very inferior films displayed. I understand that some of the best which have been displayed lately have been films made by the Colonial Film Unit, to which the noble Lord referred, and by our own Ministry of Information. The British Newsreel Organization has also contributed some very valuable factual and other films, which have been, I believe, exceedingly interesting and much appreciated in some of the Colonies. I quite agree—from what I understand of it anyhow—that some very inferior stuff has been served up in these places. I think the noble Lord is right, but I think we have also to recognize that—I do not like to use the word "propaganda" because it is an objectionable term—presenting the facts in a sensible way, entirely free from partizanship (we have got to avoid that at any cost) does involve in these days of high technical development the use of films. There is a great opportunity for their development in this overseas service, and I think also at home, in presenting not only the facts of the homeland but also the facts of the Dominions with immense benefit to both parties. Anyhow I can tell the noble Lord that that, as a part of the general scheme, is one of the matters to which we are at this moment giving attention.

That leads me to mention one other matter to which attention was drawn, namely, the sphere of activity of the British Council, which is one of the subjects allied to those we have been discussing. I must say that I think in some respects the large expenditure upon which the British Council embarked quite recently covered services which the Council was not intended to provide and which might properly have been under- taken by other people. However, on the cultural and educational side it clearly has served a very great purpose and is still doing so. That is the side of its activity which I am quite sure we shall encourage and develop, but there are some others on which, I am bound to say, I think it has gone rather wide in its interpretation of its functions in connexion with the vast expenditure which has recently been incurred.

I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, also joined in, shall I say, the warning not to try and impose a stereotyped system on the Dominions and was particularly anxious not to "tidy up"—that was his expression. I entirely agree with him. I should think there is nothing more remarkable in political history than the present set-up of the British Commonwealth. It is changing its form and its disposition rapidly but it is quite clear that the experiences of the war—and I think it is fair to say also the experiences of the post-war months—have immensely consolidated the British Commonwealth. It is plain for men to see wherever they are that in the vital matters our interests are common. Therefore it is very necessary that we should develop machinery for ready consultation, for ascertaining one another's points of view, and, as far as possible, for acting in concert; but there is one thing upon which I am quite sure every experienced member of your Lordships' House will agree with me, namely, that it is quite out of the question to seek to impose a point of view upon the Dominions.

However, there is, for all that, on all matters that are vital, so far as I have been able to ascertain (and I have had very intimate opportunities during the last three months) a greater realization almost than ever before of the necessity for maintaining solidarity. The fact, for example, that in the near future the Prime Ministers of the Dominions will, we hope, be visiting us is an illustration of the way in which the machinery for consultation is developing, not so much on a designed and laid-out pattern but on matters of importance as they arise. It is obvious at the present moment that there are matters of world importance which present themselves to us. The forthcoming meetings of the Premiers, as well as what has continually been going on during the last three months, are consultations related to specific issues rather than parts of a planned scheme of operations. It is on the lines of intimate consultation in respect of things that matter that I am quite sure we shall see developments in the future.

I may say that even during the past week the community of consultation and the community of aim with regard to the world shortage of food has been demonstrated in an exceedingly striking way by the Empire countries, not always from the same point of view. For example, in the case of South Africa there has been a great shortage of cereals, which means the diversion, as a part of the common effort, of certain supplies to that country. In the case of Australia and Canada, and now in the case of New Zealand (as I read this morning in a dispatch only a few minutes before I left the office) there is a determination to concentrate on helping the Mother Country; and it is for us to develop the right machinery for making that desire effective, as no doubt we shall succeed in doing.

But the impression which is dominant in my own mind, my Lords, is that in regard to public relations, information, education, and in many other ways, there are presented to us a great series of opportunities which will make for that unconscious but rapidly growing solidarity between the different members of the Commonwealth which does not express itself in terms of machinery, but does express itself in community of action in things that matter. I may say that, taking, for instance, the Bermuda Conference now, and the Australian, South African and others, more and more the Dominions are becoming infinitely interested in the life and development of our Colonies. As we know, there is an almost imperceptible series of stages between the Colony which is governed more or less from here, or through its Governor, and one that has gradually acquired a greater and greater measure of self-government, coming finally to those which are completely self-governing; and it is inevitable for many reasons that the Dominions, as they develop their sense of nationhood, will become more and more interested in what happens in the other dependencies and colonies of our Empire.

I think I have replied to the first question of the noble Lord when I say that I think that a permanent Council in common stereotype form is not the line of advance. Some of the Dominions prefer their consultations to be in one form and some in another; but the development is not in the form of some stereotyped machinery, but rather by developing and making more and more intimate and confidential the conversations and consultations that are continually going on. I agree that there may be improvements in the machinery attached to the offices of some of our High Commissioners (I think some are better than others), and it is our duty that where we find that one is doing better than another we should try and improve the efforts, and that is what we are certainly anxious to do.

The noble Lord raised some question about teachers, and I have given some particular interest to that, as your Lordships will have expected, when I say I find there is a handbook for teachers containing suggestions as to teaching and matters affecting the development of the British Commonwealth, and there is a bibliography provided for schools. There are also a number of courses for teachers. But, in my view, so far as that side of our activities in the educational world is concerned, I think we have a great deal of progress still to make. I think that the facilities hitherto provided for the right kind of understanding of these matters have been quite inadequate. There are facilities for an interchange of teachers; that has been established for twenty years; and I find that between 1919 and 1939 five hundred teachers from this country under this scheme were enabled to spend a year in one or more of the Dominions; their places here were taken by Dominion teachers; and that is a thing clearly to be encouraged.

I have already referred to the question of the development of our Information offices, and I do not think, as the noble Lord said, that that requires any further comment. There is another development which I think is much to be encouraged and which has made considerable progress during the last few years, and that is the entry into the Dominion service or the Colonial service of men and women from the Dominions. I see that there have been, during the fifteen years before the war, some 300 candidates from the different Dominions who have entered the different branches of the Colonial Service, which is a very creditable number. We are taking steps to see, however, that that number is greatly increased. It began in a very little way and rose to be a fair number in later years. But still, there is a case in which I am quite sure great developments are possible. I have asked General Freyberg, who is returning to New Zealand (and I know that Field-Marshal Alexander, who is going to Canada, will) if he will particularly interest himself in this branch of recruitment, because I believe it is very necessary, just as it is for our people at home that our fellow, citizens in the Dominions should know a little bit more about us. I believe that there is an impression in some of our Dominions that we are rather a "stuck-up" people. I myself have told them so with friendly frankness on more than one occasion think there is a considerable lack of understanding in some of our Dominions as to what we are really like. I think it is a good deal our own fault. I think we are a bit too "stand-offish," too reticent, and so on. For all that, I think the machinery for spreading information must be two-sided. I am glad to be able to say that more than one of our Dominions are quite happy to work heartily with us in the development of this branch of our activities. It is necessary that we should know them better and that they should know us better; and that is, I am sure, appreciated everywhere.

Finally, I would like to say this, that I think the noble Lord who opened the debate, notwithstanding his youth, was a little too despondent. I did not find him quite as hopeful as I hoped he would be. For my part, my short experience in the Dominions Office, although I am very much older than he is, has made me much more sanguine than I would otherwise be. I think the developments which promised to be slow are much greater and exceedingly encouraging. I have no doubt at all that, recognizing as we do our faults, adopting our procedures rather, shall we say, illogically sometimes and empirically, dealing with things and difficulties as they come along, there are many reasons for the greatest possible encouragement in the relations between ourselves and our Dominions, and we are seeing the most wonderful experiment in political history. I think we have every reason to believe that it has certainly justified itself, and that it will go on to justify itself more and more in the future, and be an example of free association that will encourage men throughout history.

5.5 p.m.


My Lords, I feel somewhat more hopeful after hearing the reply of the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, and also some of the things which have been said in this debate by noble Lords of riper experience than my own and greater powers of oratory. Above all, I would like to congratulate, on his truly magnificent maiden speech, the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, who bears a name which is as much loved as it is honoured in Australia. As Lord Altrincham has said, there has been a warmth of feeling and sincerity in this debate, which I think has done good. I have to thank the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, for his very carefully considered and satisfactory reply. I would just comment on it very briefly by saying that I think we are all aware of the very close touch that exists between the Government of this country and the Governments of the Dominions, but we set out to put rather the case of the necessity of close touch between the people of this country and the peoples of the Dominions.

I was extremely reassured by the noble Viscount's statement that he thought there was considerable room for improvement in putting the British case, and that attempts to put the British case better were unceasing. I would suggest, if I might, with respect, that if the British case and the British Empire case were put to people here first, it would be a good place to start. I was also much reassured by what the noble Viscount told us of the machinery of consultation, and his frank admissions of faults in our present education under this head. I was also gratified by his reassurance that the question of entry of members of the Dominions' communities to the Colonial Service is under active advisement. I think that this debate has been of some value. We have heard speeches from some of the greatest experts in the world on problems of Empire, and I, for one, express myself as perfectly satisfied and ask leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.