House Of Commons
Wednesday, 8th February, 1911.
The House met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.
Several other Members took and subscribed the Oath, and several other Members made and subscribed the Affirmation required by law.
Private Bills Lords
Mr. Speaker laid upon the Table Report from the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, That, in respect of the Bills comprised in the Report laid upon the Table by Mr. Speaker as intended to originate in the House of Lords, they have certified that the Standing Orders have been complied with in the following cases, namely:—
- Aberdare Urban District Council.
- Afon Lwyd Valley Sewerage Board.
- Alexandra (Newport and South Wales) Docks and Railway.
- Ashborne and District Gas.
- Brighton, Hove, and District Railless Traction.
- Cardiff Railway.
- Chapel-en-le-Frith, Chinley, and District Gas.
- Chesham and District Gas.
- Chester Water.
- City of London (Various Powers).
- Croydon and Southern District Rail-less Traction.
- Eastern Valley (Monmouthshire) Sewerage Board.
- Ely Rural District Water.
- Enfield Gas.
- Great Western Railway.
- Great Yarmouth Port and Haven.
- Harrogate Corporation.
- Hastings Corporation (Water and Finance).
- Kingston-upon-Hull Corporation.
- Local Authorities (Combined Drainage).
- London and South-Western Railway.
- London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway.
- London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway (Steam Vessels).
- London Cemetery Company.
- London, Tilbury, and Southend Railway.
- Luton Gas.
- Luton Water.
- Macclesfield and District Railless Traction and Electricity Supply.
- Malvern Electric Traction.
- Manchester Corporation.
- Manchester Ship Canal.
- Matlock District Railless Traction.
- Merthyr Tydfil Corporation Water.
- Metropolitan Water Board (Hertford Sewerage).
- Metropolitan Water Board (New-Works).
- Middlesbrough, Stockton - on - Tees, and Thornaby Tramways.
- Midland Railway.
- North Eastern Railway.
- Oldham and Saddleworth District Railless Traction.
- Oystermouth Urban District Council.
- Paddington Borough Council (Superannuation and Pensions).
- Penllwyn Railway.
- Poplar Borough Council (Superannuation and Pensions).
- Rhondda Urban District Council.
- Rhymney Railway.
- Rhymney Valley Water Board.
- Rochdale Market.
- Saint Mary Prestwich Rectory.
- Saint Mary Radcliffe Rectory.
- Shiel's Charity.
- Sidmouth Gas and Electricity.
- Slough Urban District Water.
- Star Life Assurance Society.
- Swinton Urban District Council.
- Thorney Drainage.
- Whaley Bridge Gas.
- Winchester Corporation (Electric Supply).
And they have certified that the Standing Orders have not been complied with in the following cases, namely:—
- Barry Railway.
- Bedwellty Urban District Council.
- Swansea Gas.
- Western Valleys (Monmouthshire) Railless Traction.
Private Bill Petitions
Mr. Speaker laid upon the Table Reports from one of the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, That, in the case of the petitions for the following Bills, originating in the Lords, the Standing Orders have not been complied with, namely:—
- Barry Railway [Lords].
- Bedwellty Urban District Council [Lords].
- Swansea Gas [Lords].
- Western Valleys (Monmouthshire) Railless Traction [Lords].
Ordered, That the Reports be referred to the Select Committee on Standing Orders.
Mr. Speaker laid upon the Table Reports from one of the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, That, in the case of the petitions for the following Bills, the Standing Orders have not been complied with, namely:—
- Halifax Corporation.
- Rhôs-on-Sea Pier.
Ordered, That the Reports be referred to the Select Committee on Standing Orders.
Bicester Urban District Gas Bill
"To confer upon the Urban District Council of Bicester powers in relation to the acquisition of the Bicester Gasworks and the supply of gas; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Blackburn Corporation Water Bill
"To sanction and confirm the construction of works and to authorise the construction of additional works in relation to their water undertaking by the Corporation of Blackburn; to amend and extend former Acts relating to the Borough of Blackburn; to confer further powers with respect to the supply of water; to authorise the Corporation to borrow money; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Bristol Corporation Rill
"To authorise the enlargement of certain cemeteries in the city of Bristol; to confer further powers upon the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of that city in relation to their dock undertaking; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Bristol Tramways Bill
"To revive and extend the powers for the acquisition of lands and to extend the time for the construction of certain authorised tramways of the. Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company, Limited; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Central London Railway Bill
"To empower the Central London Railway Company to construct new railways; to confer running powers on that company over certain portions of the railways of the Great Western Railway Company; to authorise agreements between the said companies; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Chasetown Gas Bill
"To dissolve and re-incorporate the Chasetown Gas Company, Limited; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Chesterfield Gas And Water Board Bill
"To authorise the Chesterfield Gas and Water Board to make new waterworks; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Chichester Gas Bill
"To extend the limits of supply of the City of Chichester Gas Company; to authorise that company to raise additional capital; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Chiswick Urban District Council Bill
"To authorise the Urban District Council of Chiswick to construct street improvements and a river wall and other works; to provide motor vehicles; to provide for the regulation of the commons and for the extension of the district and to make further and better provision for the improvement and local government of the district; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Corporation Of London (Bridges) Bill
"To empower the Corporation of London to construct a new bridge over the River Thames between Blackfriars and Southwark Bridges; to rebuild Southwark Bridge and to confer other powers upon them with respect to those and other Bridges; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Coventry Corporation Bill
"To authorise the Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of the city of Coventry to construct street works; to extend the limit of the library rate; and to make further provision with regard to the health, local government, and improvement of the city; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Dover Corporation Bill
"To further extend the period for taking lands and for the construction of street works and a tramway authorised by the Dover Corporation Act, 1901; and for other purposes," presented and read the first time.
Dover Graving Dock Bill
"To extend the periods for the compulsory purchase of lands for and for the construction and completion of the graving dock and works authorised by the Dover Graving Dock Act, 1908," presented and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Felixstowe And Walton Water Bill
"To confer further powers on the Felixstowe and Walton Waterworks Company; and for other purposes," presented and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Furrness Railway Bill
"To extend the time for the sale of certain lands," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitioners for Private Bills.
Gas Light And Coke Company Bill
"To authorise the acquisition by the Gas Light and Coke Company of the undertakings of the Barking Gas Company and the Chigwell, Loughton, and Woodford Gas Company; to confer further powers on the Gas Light and Coke Company; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Gloucester Corporation Bill
"To empower the Corporation of Gloucester to construct additional waterworks and street improvements; to confer further powers with respect to markets and the supply of electricity; and to make better provision for the health, local government, and improvement of the city; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Greater London Railway Bill
"For incorporating the Greater London Railway Company and to authorise them to make and maintain a railway from Feltham to Tilbury, with a branch to the Victoria and Albert Docks; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Great Northern Railway Bill
"To authorise the Great Northern Railway Company to construct new railways and works and to acquire lands, and to confer further powers upon that Company; to authorise the construction of works at Peterborough by the Great Northern Railway Company and the Midland Railway Company; to authorise the construction of widenings and other works and the acquisition of lands by the Great Northern Railway Company and the Great Central Railway Company; to confirm the purchase of certain lands by the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Committee; to authorise the acquisition by the Great Northern Railway Company of the undertaking of the Muswell Hill and Palace Railway Company; and for other purposes," presented and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Hebburn Urban District Council Bill
"To authorise the Hebburn Urban District Council to construct a new street in their district, and to make further provision in regard to the health, local government, and improvement of the district; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Hornsea Urban District Council Bill
"To confer upon the Hornsea Urban District Council powers in relation to the promenade gardens; and to make further provision for the water supply, local government, health, and improvement of the district," presented, and read the first time.
Ipswich Corporation Bill
"To authorise the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the borough of Ipswich to construct additional waterworks; and to make further provision in regard to their water undertaking and the health, local government, and improvement of the borough; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Kingston-Upon-Thames Bridge Bill
"To vest Kingston-upon-Thames Bridge together with the Bridge Estate Charity in the county councils of the administrative counties of Middlesex and Surrey; to empower those councils to widen the bridge and to widen and improve the approaches thereto at each end thereof; and to execute other works in connection therewith; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Liverpool Overhead Railway Bill
"To confer further powers upon the Liverpool Overhead Railway Company with respect to their loan capital; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
London County Council (General Powers) Bill
"To make provision with respect to the superannuation of certain members of the staff of the London County Council; to confer powers on the Council with reference to their White Hart Lane estate and the development thereof; to make provisions as to the regulation and control of certain lamps, structures, etc.; to extend the time limited for the construction of certain authorised works; to make further provisions with respect to matters of local government; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
London Electric Railway Bill
"To empower the London Electric Railway Company to construct new railways; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
London United Tramways Bill
"To extend the time limited for the compulsory purchase of certain lands and the construction of certain works by the London United Tramways, Limited; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Luton Corporation Bill
"To confirm and give effect to an agreement for the acquisition by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the borough of Luton of the franchises and rights of market and market tolls and right of holding fairs of the lord of the manor of Luton in the borough; to extend the area within which the same may be exercised to the whole of the borough; to authorise the removal of the existing market; to make further provision with regard to the health, local government, and improvement of the borough; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Manchester And Milford Railway Bill
"For amalgamating the undertaking of the Manchester and Milford Railway Company with the undertaking of the Great Western Railway Company; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Margam Urban District Council Bill
"To empower the Urban District Council of Margam to supply gas and to provide for the transfer to the Council of so much of the gas undertaking of the Aberavon Corporation as is situate within the urban district of Margam; and to make further and better provision with regard to the improvement, health, and local government of the district; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Marple Urban District Council Gas Bill
"To confer further powers on the Marple Urban District Council with regard to their gas undertaking; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Metropolitan District Railway Bill
"To incorporate a Joint Committee of the Metropolitan District Railway Company and the London Electric Railway Company, and to empower it to purchase the generating station of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, Limited, at Lots Road, Chelsea, and to raise money therefor, and to lease the same to the Metropolitan District Railway Company and the London Electric Railway Company, and to authorise the Metropolitan District Railway Company to construct new railways; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Metropolitan Electric Supply Company (Acton District Bill
"To authorise the transfer to the Metropolitan Electric Supply Company, Limited, of the electrical undertaking of the urban district council of Acton; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Metropolitan Railway Bill
"To authorise the Metropolitan Railway Company to construct a widening of their railway and a subway for foot passengers; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Milford Docks Bill
"To extend the time limited for the completion of certain works; to enable the Milford Docks Company to acquire lands compulsorily; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Corporation Bill
"To enable the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of the city and county of Newcastle-upon-Tyne to construct and work additional tramways in and adjacent to the city; to make new streets and to acquire lands; to authorise the use of trolley vehicles; to alter the style and title of the Corporation; to extend the operation of the Corporation superannuation fund in certain cases; to make provisions as to the town moor, the quays of the Corporation, and streets and buildings in the city; to enable the Corporation to raise further money; and to confer various further powers upon the Corporation in relation to the health and good government of the city; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Northampton Corporation Bill
"For conferring further powers upon the Corporation of Northampton with reference to their tramway undertaking; to authorise the construction of street widenings; and to make better provision for the health, local government, and finance of the borough of Northampton; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Paignton Urban District Council Bill
"To authorise the Paignton Urban District Council to construct additional waterworks; to make further provision with respect to the water supply and local government of the district; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Port Of London Authority Bill
"To authorise the Port of London Authority to acquire compulsorily lands in the City of London; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Rotherham Corporation Bill
"For conferring further powers upon the Corporation of Rotherham with reference to their tramway, water, gas, and other undertakings; to authorise the construction of street widenings and to make better provision for the health, local government, and finance of the borough of Rotherham; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Rotherham, Maltby And District Railless Traction
"For incorporating and conferring powers on the Rotherham, Maltby, and District Railless Electric Traction Company," presented, and read the first time.
Saint Helens Corporation Bill
"To confirm the constitution of the Mayor, Aldermen, and burgesses of the borough of St. Helens as the burial board of the borough of St. Helens and township of Windle; to make further provision in regard to the granting of superannuation allowances to officers of the Corporation; to make further provision in regard to their gas, water, and electricity undertakings and the health, local government, and improvement of the borough; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Seaforth And Sefton Junction Railway Bill
"To extend the time for the compulsory purchase of lands and for the completion of the railways and works of the Seaforth and Sefton Junction Railway Company; to provide for the leasing of the said railways to the Great Central and Great Northern Railway Companies jointly; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Sligo And Arigna Railway (Abandonment) Bill
"For the abandonment of the Sligo and Arigna Railway; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
"To confer further powers on the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of Sligo with regard to borrowing; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Southampton Corporation Tramways Bill
"To confer further powers upon the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the borough of Southampton in connection with their tramway undertaking; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Southampton Harbour Bul
"For conferring further powers upon the Southampton Harbour Board; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Tamworth Gas Bill
"To confer further powers upon the Tamworth Gaslight and Coke Company," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Thames Conservancy Bill
"To amend and consolidate the enactments relating to the abstraction of water from the River Thames by the Metropolitan Water Board and the payments made by that Board to the Conservators of the River Thames; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Western Valleys (Monmouthshire) Sewerage Board Bill
"To confer further powers on the Western Valleys (Monmouthshire) Sewerage Board," presented, and read the first time.
West Cheshire Water Bill
"To sanction and confirm the construction by the West Cheshire Water Company of existing works in the hundred of Wirral and county of Chester; to authorise that Company to raise additional capital; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Weston-Super-Mare Gas Bill
"For conferring further powers on the Weston-super-Mare Gaslight Company; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Widnes And Runcorn Bridge (Transfer) Bill
"To transfer to the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the borough of Widnes the undertaking of the Widnes and Runcorn Bridge Company; and to confer powers on them with respect thereto; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Wirral Water Bill
"To sanction and confirm the construction by the Wirral Waterworks Company of existing works; to authorise that Company to raise additional capital; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Woking Urban District Council (Basingstoke Canal) Bill
"To authorise the urban district council of Woking to exercise some of the powers contained in the Act 18 Geo. III., Cap. LXXV., as regards certain bridges vested in the Company of Proprietors of the Basingstoke Canal Navigation; and for other purposes," presented, and read the first time.
Irvine Burgh Order Confirmation Bill
"To confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, relating to Irvine Burgh," presented by the Lord Advocate; read the first time; and ordered (under Section 9 of the Act) to be read a second time upon Thursday, 16th February.
Paisley Corporation Order Confirmation Bill
"To confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, relating to Paisley Corporation," presented by the Lord Advocate; read the first time; and ordered (under Section 9 of the Act) to be read a second time upon Thursday, 16th February.
Ayrshire (Loch Bradan) Water Distribution Order Confirmation Bill
"To confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1899, relating to Ayrshire (Loch Bradan) Water Distribution," presented by the Lord Advocate; read the first time; and ordered (under Section 9 of the Act) to be read a second time upon Thursday. 16th February, and to be printed.
Public Accounts Committee
Ordered,—Copy of Epitome of the Reports from the Committees of Public Accounts, 1857 to 1910, and of the Treasury Minutes thereon, with an Index.—[ Mr. Hobhouse.]
Oral Answers To Questions
Risk Of Invasion (Admiralty Notes)
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether the document described as Notes containing the Admiralty View of the Risk of Invasion, and published as an appendix to the second edition of a book entitled, "Compulsory Service," written by General Sir Ian Hamilton, had been published in that form and manner with the consent of the Board of Admiralty, and whether it constituted an adequate and official expression of their views upon the possibilities of the invasion of these islands; whether that document would now be published in proper official form for the information of Parliament and the country; and whether full and early facilities would be afforded for the discussion by this House of a pronouncement of such vital importance?
The document referred to is correctly described in the footnote on page 209 of the book as notes supplied by the Admiralty for the use of the War Office in a debate which was to have taken place last November in the House of Lords, on a Motion by Lord Roberts. The notes were published with the consent of the Board of Admiralty. For the purpose indicated the form is considered adequate, and is official. It is not proposed to republish the document. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, if this decision is in accordance with precedent, he considers that Members of this House should be expected to go to the bookstalls in order to obtain copies of important documents issued by the Board of Admiralty, and stated by him to be official?
If the hon. Member will kindly give me notice, I will look up the precedents on the particular point.
Is there any reason why the paper should not be laid upon the Table of the House as a formal document?
As the document was not published by me, but by the Secretary of Stat" for War, I think I must have notice.
Did not the right hon. Gentleman say that the document was official and published with the consent of the Board of Admiralty?
So far as concerns the particular Notes supplied by us to the War Office, they were official. The pub lication of the document, however, was not made by the Board of Admiralty, but by the War Office.
If precedent is against issuing this document, does not the right hon. Gentleman think it is a precedent which might be departed from?
That is the very point which, in response to the hon. Member for Fareham, I propose to look up.
Is it usual for an official Admiralty document to be signed by one member of the Board?
Yes, Sir; documents are frequently sent to me signed by only one member of the Board.
They are not published like that, Sir"?
I have promised the hon. Member that if he puts a Question on the Paper I will look up the precedents on the point.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, if he would state at what date in the autumn of 1910 the four German Dreadnoughts of the 1908–9 programme, making a total of nine, were completed?
The four German Dreadnoughts referred to are not yet completed.
asked at what date in the current year the four German ships of the 1909–10 programme will be completed, making a total of thirteen; and how many, other than the "Oldenburg," had been launched?
It is not anticipated that any of the four German ships of the 1909–10 programme will be completed in the current year. The "Oldenburg" was launched on the 30th June, 1910. No other vessel of this programme has yet been launched.
May I ask the right bon. Gentleman whether the launching of these vessels is any test of their actual advance towards completion?
Some tests; it is not a decisive test.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, if he can state when the four German ships of the 1910–11 programme, making seventeen built and building, were ordered, commenced, or laid down, explaining the precise meaning to be attached to such terms as regards actual progress; and at what date in 1912 they may be expected to be complete, whether for trials or commission?
The date these vessels were ordered and commenced has not been communicated to the Admiralty, but it is expected they will be delivered from the shipyards in the spring of 1913?
asked whether he now expects twenty-one German Dreadnoughts to be completed in any part of 1913?
I do not expect twenty-one German "Dreadnoughts" to have been delivered from the shipyards in the calendar year 1913.
Will any of them be even ready for trial in 1913?
I am only in a position to give my hon. Friend an answer in the precise terms in which the communication has been officially made to me.
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us when these twenty-one ships are expected to be ready?
I have no official information, but judging from analogy, they will be delivered from the shipyards in the spring of 1914.
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean by "official communication," official communication from the German Government?
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether in March, 1909, thirteen German vessels of the Dreadnought type were under construction; whether the "Oldenburg" was, quite apart from the date of the official order in April, 1909, anticipated and effectively commenced in the latter months of 1908; whether it is correct to say that the time occupied in construction to the date of launch in July, 1910, was therefore about twenty months as compared with about nine months for contemporary British vessels; and what is the estimated date of completion for trials and for commission?
Assuming that the words "under construction" relate to the hulls, the answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The date on which the "Oldenburg" was effectively commenced prior to April, 1909, has not been communicated to the Admiralty. I am unable to reply to the third part of the question; and as to the fourth part, the "Oldenburg" is expected to be delivered from the shipyard in the spring of 1912.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Admiralty are for these purposes in the habit of considering only the effective strength of the German Navy?
In the circumstances, is it not invidious to ask questions only in regard to Germany?
That does not rest with me. I have to answer the questions put.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how many men were now employed at Rosyth; and how soon the works there would be completed?
The number of men now being employed at Rosyth is 1,866. The date for the completion of the contract is 30th September, 1916. I am not yet in a position to say what anticipation of this date may be expected.
Does the right hon. Gentleman expect that the date will be anticipated?
I do, Sir, certainly.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he will have to spend nearly £600,000 each years up to 1915, according to the sum put down by himself, to finish Rosyth by that date?
I think I ought to have notice with regard to any question as to the precise figures of expenditure, especially as it does not arise out of the question.
Are these 1,860 men the full complement the Admiralty anticipated would be employed by this time at the Rosyth works?
Yes, Sir; the work is progressing quite as fast as we expected; on the whole, I should think faster than expected.
Greenwich Hospital Age Pension Fund
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he would inform the House of the exact position of the Greenwich Hospital Age Pension Fund; what is the number of pensions given; how many applications from men eligible to receive the pension have been made to the Admiralty during the three years ending 31st December, 1910; how many of these applications could not be satisfied on the ground of want of funds; and how many of the applicants not satisfied had reached the age of sixty years; whether he is aware that the opinion prevails amongst a considerable number of naval life pensioners that they are entitled to receive an age pension of 5d. a day on reaching the age of fifty-five and 9d. a day at the age of 'sixty-five, and that the non-receipt of these pensions is occasioning hardship in many cases; and whether he will take steps to secure a further grant from naval funds as a contribution in aid, so that at any rate no naval life pensioner, on reaching the age of sixty years, if otherwise eligible, shall be without an age pension?
The amount available annually for Greenwich Hospital age pensions is £100,900, and pensions are granted so far as this sum will permit, the awards being made by selection from the oldest and most necessitous candidates. The approximate number of Age and Increased Age Pensions in force at the present time is 8,620. To give the detailed information asked for with regard to applications received during the three years ended 31st December, 1910, would involve a very considerable expenditure of clerical labour in analysing the records, but the approximate aggregate number of men who have applied for age pensions and to whom awards have not yet been made is 2,800. The Admiralty is aware that a considerable number of naval pensioners hold the opinion that they are entitled to age pensions. The whole subject has been fully investigated and reported upon by a Select Committee of the House of Commons (Command Paper, 7th April, 1892). The Board of Admiralty have never lost sight of the claims that can properly be made upon naval funds in respect of a further contribution to the Greenwich Hospital Age Pension Fund.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can tell us how many men over sixty during the last six months have applied to the Admiralty for their pensions and have been unable to obtain them?
I must have notice of that.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman——
The hon. Member has been invited to put down a question.
Colonial Emigration And Immigration
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether notice had been received from any of the dominions to raise the question of emigration and immigration; and, if so, in what terms?
The question of emigration will be raised at the Imperial Conference by the Commonwealth of Australia. Papers containing the text of this and other Resolutions proposed to be submitted to the Conference will shortly be laid before the House.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether his attention had been called to the fact that in the Falkland Islands the public lands were being alienated at the rate of about £8,000 worth every year; and whether this policy had the sanction and support of His Majesty's Government?
The figures at my disposal show that the average receipts from the sale of land are nearer £5,000 than £8,000 a year. As regards the policy involved, I would remind my hon. Friend of the answer which was given to him by the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies on 5th February, 1908.
Is the policy the same now as it was then?
Criminal Assaults On White Women (South Africa)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether the High Commissioner of South Africa acts on his own discretion or on the instruction of the Secretary of State in exercising the prerogative of the Crown in the Protectorates or other regions outside the self-governing territories of the South African Union?
I presume that the Noble Lord is referring to the prerogative of mercy. In the exercise of this prerogative of the Crown it is the practice for the High Commissioner to act on his own discretion, and not under instructions received through a Secretary of State.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the decision arrived at by the High Commissioner in the manner he has described can be subsequently reviewed or altered if thought advisable by the Home Government?
If the prerogative of the Crown is deliberately transmitted to the High Commissioner I do not see how the Secretary of State could revise any action taken in that respect.
Arising out of the previous answer, would the Secretary of State tell the House upon whose advice the High Commissioner relies for information in coming to these decisions?
I cannot tell the right hon. Gentleman that. I assume that the High Commissioner would depend upon the advice of Ministers, if there are Ministers available, and, of course, on that of the judge and counsel concerned in the case.
Is it not the fact that with regard to that part of South Africa where this deplorable incident occurred there are no responsible Ministers upon whom the High Commissioner could rely; is it not a fact that the Ministers who act for United South Africa have no jurisdiction in Rhodesia, and, consequently, the High Commissioner cannot rely upon their advice? What I desire to make clear is this: Whether the Secretary of State can tell us who is the official who acts as adviser to the High Commissioner in dealing with these questions outside the jurisdiction of the Government of United South Africa?
I thought the right hon. Gentleman was putting a question about the action of the Governor-General or High Commissioner. I answered the right hon. Gentleman in the saving words: "Ministers where they are available," in order to meet this case. I cannot tell him, of course, who advised the High Commissioner in this matter.
Do we understand that the High Commissioner of South Africa did not consult this Government before coming to his decision concerning the revision of the sentence upon the native concerned?
Are these answers intended to convey the impression that the Home Government have no comment to make upon such an exercise as this of the prerogative by the High Commissioner?
Let me say at once that the Home Government have complete confidence in the High Commissioner and have never once thought of commenting upon his exercise, as Governor-General or High Commissioner, of his discretion in regard to the Royal Prerogative which has been specifically handed to him.
Trade Agreement (Canada And United States)
asked whether, in view of the importance of the trade agreement between Canada and the United States and the importance of this agreement upon imperial interests generally, he would make representations to the Government of Canada with a view to the postponement of the ratification of the agreement until after the Imperial Conference?
No, Sir; I think that the question is founded upon a misapprehension. No formal treaty has been made, it being intended that the new arrangements should come into effect by concurrent legislation in Canada and the United States and no question of ratification therefore arises. I understand that there is in any case no possibility of immediate legislation and there is therefore ample time to consider the agreement. I may add that I have no reason to believe that Canada is desirous of submitting questions of her own internal affairs to the judgment of the other dominions attending the Imperial Conference.
Opium Traffic (China)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he would inform the House of the steps he was taking or was prepared to take to release China from treaty obliations to admit opium into that empire, seeing that the Chinese officials are anxious to be rid of the traffic?
As the hon. Member is no doubt aware, His Majesty's Government and the Government of India are prepared to reduce the export of Indian opium pari passu with the reduction of the local trade in China, and are in fact carrying out this reduction notwithstanding the fact that no proof has hitherto been furnished by the Chinese Government of a corresponding reduction in the cultivation of the poppy and the manufacture of native opium. Neotiations on the whole opium question are now proceeding at Peking with a view to meeting the wishes of the Chinese Government in a liberal spirit.
Germany, Russia And Persia
asked if he could make any statement concerning the reported agreement between Germany and Russia concerning Persia?
It is understood that no definite agreement between Germany and Russia concerning Persia has yet been reached. I am not in a position to make any statement regarding negotiations in progress between two foreign Powers.
Putumayo Valley (Labour On Rubber Plantations)
asked when a Report may be expected from Consul-General Casement upon the condition of affairs in the rubber plantations of the Putumayo Valley; whether there are employed in that part of the Amazon basin any British subjects, natives of Barbadoes; and, if so, whether these British subjects have been instrumental in carrying out acts of barbarity against the natives?
A report has just been received from Mr. Casement and is under consideration.
Will that report be published in due course for the full consideration of members?
I think in a day or so we shall be able to give full information to the House.
Is there to be any change made in the condition of affairs in the Putumayo valley?
I cannot answer that question. I think it would be better to defer it until we have the report.
No action has been taken at present.
I did not say that no action has been taken.
Has any representation been received from the company or from the commissioners sent out by the company.
The report upon which we shall rely is the report of our own agent.
Release Of Convict David Davies
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the police authorities have discovered the whereabouts of a Welsh shepherd, named David Davies, recently released from Dartmoor Prison by his order and stationed on a farm at Ruthin, Denbighshire; whether he has left the employment that was found for him; and under what conditions was he sent to Ruthin?
asked whether there was any information as to the where abouts of Davies, for whom, on his recent release from Dartmoor Prison, employment as a shepherd was found near Wrexham, in which employment he remained for one day; and what steps are being taken to find this man?
asked whether David Evans, the shepherd, who was released from Dartmoor and who disappeared after two days from the farm near Ruthin, is still at large; and whether, if he is found, he is to be detained?
asked whether the Secretary of State had any information as to the present whereabouts of David Evans, or Davies, who was released by his order from Dartmoor, and subsequently disappeared from the situation in which he was placed?
The licence granted to David Davies contained the following special conditions:—
Two days after his arrival at the farm he disappeared. Search has been made both by the local police and by an officer sent from London, but he has not yet been traced. By breaking the condition of his licence he has rendered himself liable either to summary conviction or to have his licence revoked, and any person who has aided him in breaking the condition is also liable to conviction. I shall decide what course is to be taken with regard to him when I have ascertained the circumstances in which he left the farm."He shall remain in the situation found for him by the Royal Society for the Assistance of Discharged Prisoners for not, less than six months, unless he obtains the permission of the Society to leave it or is dismissed by his employer."
As this man Davies was in my Constituency, may I ask was the judge who sentenced him consulted before he was liberated?
No; he was sentenced at Quarter Sessions, and I did not consult the judge who sentenced him.
As this man has descended from my hon. Friend's Constituency to mine, may I ask the Home Secretary if he is taking any steps to find him and what steps are being taken for bringing him to summary conviction?
I am not taking any special steps; but if either of the hon. Gentlemen or anybody upon the other side of the House can assist me in any way with any information I shall be very much obliged, as I am very anxious that this old man should be well looked after.
As this person is now on ticket-of-leave, will the right hon. Gentleman see that the ordinary process takes place by which a person who does not report himself is sought after by the police?
Certainly, with the fullest vigour that can be put into operation.
The next time this gentle shepherd is caught will he be kept in custody or released again?
I will deal with the case when I ascertain all the circumstances by which he left his employment.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the granting of freedom to this old man has done any harm to him?
It did a lot of good at the election time.
asked how many convicts under The Prevention of Crimes Act, 1908, have been released on licence since he began to look into its working in the early part of last year; on what conditions David Davies, known as the Dartmoor shepherd, was released; whether the police have been able to trace him since he left his last employment; whether, if recaptured, the sentence passed upon him will be carried out; what expenses have been caused by his release; and on what public funds they will fall?
I have already answered the greater part of this question. David Davies is the only convict sentenced to preventive detention who has yet been released on licence. The cost of sending him to Ruthin will be paid from the Prison Vote just as it would have been paid if he had been released on the expiry of his sentence.
Admission Of Aliens
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Deartment, whether he proposes to recommend legislation to prevent the landing of aliens in the United Kingdom unless they are provided with means of subsistence?
Section 1 (3) (a) of the Aliens Act,1905, already provides that an immigrant shall be considered an undesirable immigrant if he cannot show that he has in his possession or is in a position to obtain the means of decently supporting himself. I do not propose to recommend further legislation on this point.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of introducing a Bill which will insist that aliens coming into the country shall pay something on landing which shall be returned on their remaining twelve months in the country?
I understand there is an Amendment on the subject, and I think it would be wrong for me to discuss the general question now.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many aliens landed in the United Kingdom during the year 1910.
According to the returns received the number of aliens who entered the United Kingdom in 1910 was 610,776, the number who left the United Kingdom 597,506, and the difference between the two is 12,270. These figures include, of course, visitors, transmigrants, sailors, and many other persons who are not immigrants, and they are necessarily subject to numerous corrections and qualifications.
asked if the right hon. Gentleman would state whether, during the last half of last century, the proportion of criminals decreased, and during this century has seriously increased; whether this is traceable to the greater number of aliens who come into this country; and whether he proposes to make the law stricter concerning aliens, seeing that 53,000 more entered in 1910 than in 1909, and that the refusals to allow landing fell from 1,340 to 920 in those years?
I cannot deal with the first point within the limits of an answer, but whether crime has increased or diminished during the last few years it is clear that the number of aliens who come to this country does not sensibly affect the matter, if the point is tested by comparing the number of aliens received in prison on conviction with the number of all convicted prisoners in England and Wales. The highest proportion ever borne by the aliens to the total was no more than 2.22 per cent. That was in 1904. Since then the numbers of alien prisoners have decreased by more than a half, and their proportion to the total is for the year 1910 about 1.20 per cent. The figures given in the last paragraph afford in themselves no ground for making the law stricter. The number 53,000 includes an increase of 22,000 transmigrants who go straight through the country and takes no account of the numbers of other aliens who leave the country. The decrease as between 1909 and 1910 in refusals of leave to land is due to the fact that the total for 1909 was swollen by the rejection of large batches of Armenians and Syrians who were suffering from trachoma. A considerable traffic in these persons was developing, but it has now been checked if not wholly stopped.
Has the Home Secretary any information that deported aliens re-enter this country in any considerable number?
No. Sometimes they return, and it rests with the court to inflict adequate punishment upon them when they are apprehended.
Pretoria Mine Explosion
asked if the right hon. Gentleman would at once appoint a strong committee, including some of the hon. Members of this House who are experts in coal mining, to make careful inquiry as to the cause of the terrible explosion at the Pretoria mine in Lancashire, in which explosion over 300 men lost their lives?
I am most anxious that a thorough investigation should he made into the cause of this great disaster, but such a committee as is suggested would not possess the necessary powers of summoning witnesses, requiring production of documents, entering the mine, etc., unless special legislation were passed for the purpose. Under the Coal Mines Regulation Act, however, a competent person can be appointed by me to hold an investigation, with full powers, and I have accordingly appointed Mr. Redmayne, the Chief Inspector of Mines, to conduct a special inquiry. It will take place as soon as possible after the conclusion of the coroner's inquest, which is now proceeding.
Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the statement made by witnesses at the inquest that they have refrained from making complaints against the state of this mine because they fear their employment might thereby be endangered, and will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether he ought not to take steps to protect such witnesses at the forthcoming inquiry?
Every effort will be made by the Chief Inspector to get at the truth, and I cannot believe that there will be any difficulty in obtaining full evidence.
Will the court the right hon. Gentleman proposes to set up on this occasion have power to protect witnesses who give evidence before them?
I cannot believe that the witnesses will be in in any danger from stating the truth. I am certain that if any such case were brought to the notice of the Government or the House effective action would be taken.
South Wales Coal Strike (Metropolitan Police)
asked whether the whole force of the Metropolitan Police sent into the disturbed districts of Wales has now been withdrawn; if so, how long they were absent from the Metropolitan police area, what extra payment has been made, and whether the charges involved have been recovered from the Welsh counties affected; how many constables have been disabled by wounds, sickness, or accident, and what special pensions have been awarded; and whether any special grant will be asked for from the Imperial Exchequer to defray the expenses of transport or for other purposes?
The 850 Metropolitan police sent into the disturbed districts of South Wales on November 8th, 9th, and 12th last have been gradually returned by the Chief Constable of Glamorganshire, as he felt able from time to time to dispense with their services. There are still 143 in the Rhondda Valley and at Gilfach Goch, but these are to be withdrawn by the end of this week. All the Metropolitan police who have been employed in South Wales will receive, over and above the rate of remuneration sanctioned for Metropolitan police serving outside the Metropolitan police district, extra allowances, graded according to their ranks. These extra allowances will be defrayed from the Exchequer; the other charges involved are repayable by the county of Glamorgan. Nineteen constables were compelled to go on the sick list from the effects of wounds received, and twenty-seven owing to accidents or sickness—a considerable number received injuries less serious in character. No man has been returned unfit for further service, so that the question of pensions has not arisen.
What special allowance will be made to those constables who were wounded or returned sick?
I cannot say without notice.
Will those members of the Metropolitan Police Force who have been called upon to do special duty in the Metropolis during the absence of these men be given any extra pay?
No, sir. As I stated in the last Parliament, the difference in the percentage of sickness in the Metropolitan Police Force of 21,000 men at different periods of the year is so great that in this instance no undue strain has been put upon those who remained in London by the removal of this particular body of men who were sent away at that particular season of the year.
Is it not a fact that the members of the force in London have been called upon to do a considerable amount of extra work during the absence of their colleagues; and does he not think, as he says, the absence of these men has not entailed extra work——
I did not say that. I said no "undue strain."
Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that the time has arrived to give the Metropolitan police at once the one day's rest in seven which he said he could not give until the necessary recruits were obtained?
We are going steadily forward with the recruiting of the men necessary for the purpose of granting one day's rest in seven, and I have every hope that this will be achieved within the period originally promised to Parliament. I must remind the House that we have to consider this question also from the point of view of economy, as the cost falls upon the ratepayers, who are not consulted in the matter, and therefore I can only proceed on the lines which have been already promised.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the experience of the last two or three months does not confirm our contention from beginning to end that one day's rest in seven could be arranged at once with the present staff?
That is a matter for argument.
asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the recommendation of Mr. Shuter, factory inspector at Stoke-on-Trent, that when a pottery becomes untenanted it shall not be allowed to restart until the landlord has obtained a certificate to the effect that it is in every way a fit and proper place for the carrying on the manufacture of earthenware and china; whether the Home Office contemplates making some such regulation, seeing that the change would conduce alike to the health of the workpeople and the security of the short-term tenant, who is at present liable for all the alterations required by the Home Office?
I have seen the suggestion referred to. The Departmental Committee, however, who have been investigating the subject and who had the inspector's suggestion before them, did not recommend its adoption, and it could not in any case be given effect to without legislation. In the circumstances, I do not propose taking action in the matter. The recommendations of the Committee deal very fully with the structural conditions of pottery works, and will, I hope, be shortly brought into force.
Is it not a fact that the sanitary rules already give the Home Secretary ample powers to close any factory which he finds unsuitable for the work carried on?
I must ask for notice of that question.
Non-Payment Of Rates (Number Of Committals)
asked the Home Secretary whether he could state the number of persons committed to prison last year for non-payment of rates; and whether it was the practice of magistrates before making such committal orders to require evidence of means?
I cannot give figures for 1910, but for the last five months of 1909 the number of persons committed to prison in default of paying their rates was 1,216. In the case of general district rates and many other rates, evidence of means is a necessary preliminary to committal: in the case of poor rate and other rates enforceable like poor rate, this is not so, but I have no doubt that all the circumstances of the case are duly considered before a committal is ordered.
In view of the right hon. Gentleman's statement that a large number of poor people have been imprisoned for non-payment of rates who, obviously, were not able to pay on account of their poverty, will the Home Secretary use his office to represent to the justices that imprisonment for debt is supposed to be obsolete in this country?
The general question has been engaging my attention.
Labour Exchanges (Appointments)
asked the Home Secretary why former trades union officials had been selected both for the post of superintendent of Labour Exchanges and of Senior Labour Adviser to the Home Office, and whether he will take into consideration in making future appointments that there are 800,000 members of the National Free Labour Association and 10,000,000 male workers who are not members of any trade union, who are as much entitled to consideration as trades unionists?
My object in establishing the post of a Labour Adviser for the Home Office was to bring the Department into closer touch with, and to provide it with a readier means of ascertaining the views of, the organised workers of he country, in relation particularly to the numerous and important questions affecting our great industries, the legislation in regard to which the Home Office is called upon to administer. In dealing with such questions, the Home Office is necessarily brought constantly into contact with the workers' organisations, and has to give consideration to their views. It must be obvious that in the case of unorganised workers there is no one who could claim in the same way to represent them. The hon. Member may rest assured that in making these appointments I shall be guided solely by the desire to get men of the widest experience who will be best able to secure for the Department the information it requires for the efficient discharge of its duties. I followed the same principle at the Board of Trade for the same reasons when I made the appointment of a staff divisional officer in the Labour Exchange Department, to which I presume the hon. Member refers.
Arising out of that reply, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether I understand correctly that the policy of the Department in making these appointments is entirely dictated by and in the interests of trade unionists alone among all the labourers in the country?
May I ask whether it is not a fact that in making these appointments competence is the only qualification required, and that, provided competence was discovered in the Free Labour Association, the right hon. Gentleman would have no objection to using it?
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the statement in the question that there are 800,000 members of the National Free Labour Association?
I have to answer questions and am not responsible for their accuracy or value, but I certainly make no hard-and-fast rule that no one is eligible to enter for these appointments who is not a trade unionist. I think it would probably be found in most cases that trade unionists would be of more value to a public Department if it wishes to get intimate information on industrial subjects and to come in close touch with the representatives of organised labour.
Canada (Exports From The United Kingdom)
asked the President of the Board of Trade, if he will state the latest figures for a complete year's exports from the United Kingdom to Canada; and if the returns for 1910 are not yet complete, the amount of the first six months?
The total value of the exports from this country to Canada, exclusive of bullion and specie, in 1910, amounted to £22,626,000. Of this £19,682,000 represented exports of the produce and manufacture of the United Kingdom, and £2,944,000 re-exports of foreign and colonial merchandise.
May I ask whether this does not show a very considerable increase in the exports of Canada in this latter period compared with the figures given last year?
I am not able to answer that without verifying the figures.
Wrecks And Casualties At Sea (Coast Watching)
asked what progress had been made with the scheme for ensuring the more effective watching the coast with a view to prevent wreck and casualties at sea; and whether the co-operation of the Admiralty had been obtained in connection with this matter?
The investigation into the existing arrangements for watching our coasts for wrecks and signals of distress has been completed. The Board of Trade are in communication with the Treasury with regard to the steps to be taken, in co-operation with the Admiralty, to improve the existing arrangements.
Canadian Tariff (British Preference)
asked whether any report was received by the Board in 1910 upon the operation of the British preference in the Canadian tariff from the British Trade Commissioner in Canada; and, if so, whether it has been or will be published?
No detailed report devoted to this special subject has been received from His Majesty's Trade Commissioner in Canada, but a general report on the trade of Canada during recent years with special reference to British trade with the Dominion has been received and will shortly be published.
Will the hon. Gentleman say when it was received?
I think in the last few days.
Board Of Trade (Labour Department Appointments)
asked why four recent appointments to the Labour Department, Board of Trade, Messrs. Drummond, Burnett, Mitchell, and Cummings, at salaries of £1,950 per annum, have all been given to former officials of trades unions; and why the 800,000 men belonging to the National Free Labour Association have no representation in the Department, or the 10,000,000 workmen in this country who belong to no trades union?
The facts are not correctly stated in the question. Mr. Burnett was appointed twenty-five years ago, and retired in 1907; Mr. Drummond was appointed eighteen years ago; and Messrs. Mitchell and Cummings in 1907 and 1908, respectively. These officers were appointed because they were considered to be best fitted by reason of their experience and ability to perform the duties required of them. I may add that they have fully justified their selection. There is no question of the representation of any association in the Department.
Anthrax (Disinfection Of Ships And Trucks)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture whether, in view of a recent outbreak of anthrax in the North Biding of Yorkshire, resulting in four deaths, in which the animals affected were fed on foreign cakes, whilst other animals kept in the same byre, but fed on different cakes, were not affected, he will take the necessary steps to ensure the thorough disinfection of all ships or trucks which carry feeding stuffs for agricultural purposes?
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to his question on this subject on 18th July last. I may add that if the hon. Member is referring to the outbreak of anthrax which occurred near Helperby in December last, that a sample of the feeding stuff to which suspicion attached was tested by the veterinary officers of the Board, who failed to find in it the bacillus of anthrax.
Arising out of that, I should like to ask the hon. Baronet whether, in all these cases where anthrax is attributable to foreign cakes, there is a bacteriological examination conducted at the Government laboratory?
I cannot answer offhand, but personally I certainly think it desirable that there should be.
Coronation Procession (Mall Improvement Scheme)
asked the First Commissioner of Works whether he can hold out any hope that the bargaining on the part of the Office of Works with the London County Council and the Westminster Borough Council will be brought to a speedy end, so that the buildings which obstruct the archway which forms the Trafalgar Square end of the Mall may be removed in time to enable this route to be used by His Majesty at his Coronation?
It is hoped that the final stage of the negotiations has been reached, and that a satisfactory conclusion may be arrived at forthwith.
Arising out of that question, may I ask whether it is not a fact that the contribution of £75,000 offered by the London County Council was a larger sum than the London County Council would have been liable for under the scheme the Government were prepared to accept?
The hon. Member will please give notice of any question involving figures of that kind.
Central (Unemployed) Body For London
asked the President of the Local Government Board if he will state the total number of persons registered as unemployed by the Central (Unemployed) Body for London since October last; the number of dependents; how many of those registered have had their cases investigated by the appointed committees; how many have been certified as eligible for work under the Act; how many have been given work; the actual number of those passed as eligible for work for whom no work has been found, together with the number of their dependents; how many cases are there still to be investigated; and, in the cases of those persons classed as ineligible for work under the Act, will he state the causes of their ineligibility as recorded by the various classification committees and also state the total number of dependents, women and children, on those who are classed as ineligible for work?
I am informed by the Central (Unemployed) Body for London that the number of persons registered as unemployed up to the 31st ultimo was 22,554. Of these, 12,375 cases have been investigated and 4,409 were passed for work. The number of individuals provided with work between the opening of the registers and the date referred to was 2,627, and the number of cases awaiting investigation was 10,179. The foregoing figures include women for whom the registers were opened on 1st July last. I understand that the more detailed information asked for by the hon. Member is not in the possession of the Central (Unemployed) Body, and that some of it would be difficult to obtain.
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will endeavour to get the number of dependents. I understand the Central Body register the dependents, and there ought to be no difficulty at all in getting the information?
I shall be pleased within a day or two to get as much information in the direction the hon. Member has indicated as I possibly can.
Old Age Pensions Act
asked the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the hardships inflicted on certain married couples who have been in receipt of Poor Law relief when the husband is, but the wife is not, of sufficient age to obtain a pension; and whether His Majesty's Government propose to introduce an amending Bill this Session to put the matter right?
The question of introducing a Bill for this purpose must depend on whether time and opportunity allow.
May I ask whether a pledge has not been given by the President of the Local Government Board to deal with this matter?
I should be obliged if my bon. Friend will put that question on the paper. I shall be pleased to answer it.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that this a very real and widespread grievance and whether he will deal with it?
I am conscious, if it is a widespread grievance, it ought to be met; but the best way does not entirely depend upon my Department. The Treasury and the Local Government Board are jointly responsible, and I trust we may be able to see a way out.
May I ask whether the Government propose to deal with it if they have the time?
Oh, yes; that is so.
Development Fund (Cultivation Of Sugar Beet)
asked the Secretary to the Treasury, whether he has received an application from the National Sugar Beet Council for a grant out of the Development Fund for the purpose of conducting experiments in the cultivation of sugar beet over areas of not less than ten acres with a view of demonstrating the potentialities of the crop as a source of profit to land cultivators in Great Britain; whether such application has the sympathy of the Treasury; and whether it has been forwarded to the Development Commissioners?
An application has been received, and, as required by Section (4) of the Act, has been forwarded by the Treasury to the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries as the Government Department concerned. Until the Development Commissioners have considered the views of that Department and have reported upon the application, the Treasury have no further function in the matter.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, in connection with this matter, to also bear in mind the case of Ireland?
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he does not consider that the best way of encouraging this industry would be to get an assurance that British-grown sugar shall not be subject to an Excise Duty?
No, Sir, I do not think that.
Income Tax On Irish Government Officials' Salaries
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been directed to the last report of the Inland Revenue Commissioners, in which it is stated that the number of assessments under Schedule E of the Income Tax on salaries, etc., of Government officials in Ireland for 1908–9 was 4,397; whether these figures are inclusive of the taxed salaries and pensions of all officials and ex-officials paid in Ireland for whom provision was made by the Exchequer on the Consolidated Fund and Parliamentary Votes for the Civil Services (including the pensions paid to retired officers of the Colonial and Foreign Offices), as well as for the Customs and Excise, Inland Revenue, and Post Office services; and whether they also comprise taxed salaries and pensions paid in Ireland from Army and Navy Votes?
I am aware of the Report to which the hon. Member refers. The reply to the second and third parts of the question is in the negative.
asked if it is the recognised practice for Ministers to issue election addresses to their constituents from their offices on officially stamped stationery, and to have the postage defrayed at the public expense?
The answer is in the negative.
Is it not the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture stated that he had so used Treasury paper? By whose error were the letters sent out and franked, and was the cost included in the election expenses?
It is true——I understand from my hon. Friend—that by the error of the Private Secretary to the Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Agriculture Stationery Office paper was used, and a number of the communications were franked. But before this matter was brought in any way to public attention the error had been discovered by the Parliamentary Secretary, the cost both of the paper and of despatching the letters bad been repaid to the Departments concerned by my hon. Friend, and there I should have thought the matter ended.
Adjudication Of Deeds For Stamp Duty
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the increase in the number of cases in which it is necessary to have deeds adjudicated on for Stamp Duty, arising out of the provisions of the Finance (1909–10) Act, 1910, making voluntary conveyances liable to ad valorem duty, he will consider the advisability of having deeds accepted for adjudication at all Government stamp offices?
For administrative reasons I am unable to accept the hon. Member's proposal. I may, however, state that additional facilities for the presentation of documents for adjudication in Ireland will shortly be granted, in conformity with the arrangements in force in Great Britain. There will be no difficulty in giving the administrative reasons referred to if need be.
Small Holdings In Staffordshire (Marchington Woodlands)
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he was aware that the Duchy recently purchased eighteen and a half acres in Marchington Woodlands, Staffordshire, which land was required for a small holding by the Staffordshire County Council; that the Duchy officials asked the council not to compete at the auction, saying they would lease the land to the council or the council's tenant; and that, on obtaining the land, they have now refused to consider the application; and whether, under these circumstances, the Duchy will grant the council land elsewhere in that neighbourhood on reasonable terms to satisfy the demand for small holdings?
The Duchy recently purchased, with my authority, 18½ acres at Marchington Woodlands. After the purchase was effected the Staffordshire County Council asked that these 18½ acres might be let to a nominee of theirs as a small holding. The lessee, who has been in occupation of this small holding for thirty years, together with eighty acres more land, and was a satisfactory tenant, asked to be allowed to remain, and I acceded to his request, as no good object seemed to be served by turning out the existing tenant for a new one. I may add that the Duchy officials did not ask the County Council not to compete at the auction, and that no promise was given to lease the land to the council's tenant. We were asked if we would let the holding or other suitable land to a county council tenant, and we replied that if the county council liked to apply the application would be considered. The Duchy, being anxious to encourage small holdings, have offered the county council, elsewhere in the neighbourhood on reasonable terms, two farms, one of 255 acres and the other 322 acres for small holdings. These offers have been declined.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the first part of the answer is directly contrary to the statement made by the Small Holdings Committee of the Staffordshire County Council? Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the report of the County Council as to the unsatisfactory nature of these farms?
I have not seen any report as to the unsatisfactory nature of the farms, neither have I seen the other information referred to, but before answering the question I went through the whole correspondence, and I am satisfied that everything I have said is accurate.
There were personal interviews as well.
Irish Post Office Clerks (Loyal Toast)
asked the Postmaster-General whether he has made inquiry into the reasons for the omission of the toast of the King at the dinner recently held in Belfast in connection with the Association of Irish Post Office Clerks; whether this association is recognised by the Department; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?
A number of associations of members of the staff are recognised by the Department as channels through which representations may be made on matters affecting the conditions of service. The Association of Irish Post Office Clerks is one of these. Such recognition does not impose upon me the duty of intervening whenever action of which I disapprove is taken by an association, and, deplorable as was the occurrence which took place at a social gathering at Belfast, I do not propose to take any official action in the matter.
Murder Of Persian Finance Minister
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can confirm or otherwise the report that the Persian Minister of Finance was shot in the streets of Teheran on the 5th instant; whether the murderers were, as alleged, Russian subjects; whether the Russian Legation demanded their surrender; and whether the Government has any further communication to give to the House on the subject?
His Majesty's Minister at Teheran reported on the 4th instant that the Persian Minister of Finance was shot in Teheran by two Caucasians who are Russian subjects. The men were arrested, and the Minister subsequently died of his wounds. It is understood that the Russian Minister at Teheran will ask for the surrender of the men, who will, in accordance with the usual procedure, be sent to Russia for trial after joint investigation at Teheran.
Mr Justice Grantham
I beg to ask the Prime Minister a question of which I have given private notice—whether he has seen the report of the speech made by Mr. Justice Grantham at Liverpool yesterday, and whether the Government propose to take any steps in the matter?
I have read the report of what Mr. Justice Grantham said at Liverpool yesterday. This House is very scrupulous to discourage anything in the nature of censure, or even of comment, within these walls, upon the doings or sayings of His Majesty's judges. But there is a reciprocal obligation on the part of the judges not to take advantage of the immunities of their judicial position to reflect upon the proceedings of this House or of its Members. That obligation, usually so loyally recognised on the Bench, appears on this occasion to have been signally violated, and, while I should as at present advised, deprecate the matter being treated as one of privilege, I would ask the House to allow His Majesty's Government time to consider the best way of dealing with what is happily a unique situation.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether similar reciprocal obligations do not rest on the Coroners and Recorders who have in the last few weeks been making remarks about the Aliens Act?
That does not arise out of the question.
The following Bills were presented, and read the first time:—
Merchandise Marks Bill
"To amend section sixteen of the Merchandise Marks Act, 1887," presented by Mr. HOBHOUSE; to be read a second time upon Wednesday next.
House Letting And Rating (Scotland) Bill
"To amend the Law as to the Letting and Rating of small Dwelling Houses in Scotland; and for other purposes relating thereto," presented by the LORD ADVOCATE; to be read a second time upon Wednesday next.
Provisional Order Bills
Message from The Lords,—That they have passed a Bill, intituled "An Act to confirm a Provisional Order of the Secretary of State under the Military Lands Act, 1892." [Military Lands Provisional Order Confirmation Bill [ Lords.]
And, also, a Bill, intituled "An Act for conferring further powers upon the Urban District Council of Handsworth with reference to their tramway undertaking; to authorise the construction of new streets and widenings; and to make further provision with regard to the health, local government, and improvement of the district; and for other purposes." [Handsworth Urban District Council Bill [ Lords.]
Standing Orders of 22nd November, 1910, relating to Provisional Order Bills suspended in the last Session of Parliament, read:—
Military Lands Provisional Order Confirmation Bill [ Lords]—read the first and second time, and committed.
His Majesty's Gracious Speech
Debate On The Address—Third Day
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
"Most Gracious Sovereign,
"We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in
Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—[ Mr. Harold Baker.]
Canada And Imperial Preference
I beg to move as an Amendment to add at the end of the Address:—
The House will recognise that in rising to move the Motion which I have the honour to submit to it, on behalf of my colleagues and myself, I have a task of peculiar difficulty and delicacy. The Fiscal question covers multifarious issues, and we have from time to time laid different portions of the subject before the House. It is impossible in one speech, it is difficult in one amendment, to cover the whole ground, and I hope it will not be thought or alleged against me that if my Amendment is in some respects limited, I have abated a jot or tittle of the full programme of financial reform for which I have several times spoken in this House. Limited as it is, my Amendment still deals with questions of vast importance and of peculiar delicacy and difficulty, as must always be the case when this House has to consider matters in which they are not the prime movers—resolutions in which they have not the decisive voice and a policy which, whatever its effects upon the Mother Country or the Empire as a whole, is primarily the policy of one of the great Dominions and not the policy of the United Kingdom. I hope that in anything I may say to-day no words will escape me that can give rise to any misconception as to our attitude towards the great Dominion of Canada or the great friendly Republic of the United States. Nothing is farther from my thoughts than to criticise the action of their respective Governments, nothing is more removed from my purpose than to tender advice to Canadian citizens as to how they should act in a great national, even though it be also a great Imperial question. But I cannot conceal from myself that the subject which will be uppermost in the minds of all as we approach the consideration of this Amendment is the agreement which has been provisionally signed between the Governments of Canada and the United States, and it would be idle to suggest for a moment that in moving the Amendment I do not find an additional reason for the course which we have taken in recent proceedings between those two countries. Of course, they must settle their own affairs. For the moment we are spectators, and spectators only. No man in this House or out of it—no man in the United Kingdom desires to impinge upon the liberties of any of our great Dominions. We rejoice in their growth, we welcome every addition to their potency and influence. We hail with satisfaction everything which can be for the further development of their great resources and which can add to the strength and splendour of their nation, and indeed it has been the moving idea of all of us who have supported the policy of Tariff Reform that in that policy and by its means, we have found, not merely a method of bringing closer together the scattered portions of the Empire, but the surest means and the earliest way of developing to their fullest capacity the national strength of each of the great component parts of our Dominions. Far be it from me to criticise the action, much more to criticise the motives of Canadian statesmen. On the contrary, in the Fiscal policy which I and my friends advocate, we find ourselves in far greater communion of spirit with Canadian Ministers than we do with right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and our complaint—if complaint there is to be, as complaint there must be—is not of the action of the Dominion Ministers, but of the action, or rather inaction, of His Majesty's Government. I not only eschew all critcism on Canadian Ministers, but I am proud to rank myself in this question of Imperial Trade Policy as their disciple and follower. They were the first among the earlier exponents and the first to practise that policy of Imperial preference, to which my friends and myself stand committed for which we have fought, and will fight, in good times or in bad, in good repute or ill-repute. until we bring it to a triumphant conclusion. My amendment contains three proposals (1) "The persistent refusal of your Majesty's Government to modify the Fiscal system of the country is imperilling the advantages at present derived by British commerce from the Preference granted by your Majesty's Dominions overseas; (2) has deferred the closer commercial union of the Empire; and (3) has deprived the country of the most effective method of inducing foreign countries to grant fair treatment to British manufacturers." May I say a few words in the first place upon the last proposition, and here, at any rate, I can make an observation in which I think all can heartily agree, and which cannot but be acceptable to Canadians of any shade of opinion. Could you have a more signal instance of the value of commercial negotiations under a Tariff system than you have in the agreement provisionally signed between Canada and the United States? For years in the infancy of their development, it was the entreaty and the constant effort of Canadians to secure fair reciprocal treatment from their great neighbour across their southern frontier. 4.0 P.M. Their efforts were repulsed until they at last decided that they would so alter their system that, independently of any external power, they would build up a great national industry of their own, that they might secure their full and free national development, not for this or that single line, but on all lines on which national life can grow and prosper, and it was not until that policy had been practised with such success that the Prime Minister declared there would be no more pilgrimages to Washington, that the pilgrimage set out in the other direction, and that which had been refused to Canada when defenceless and weak is now offered and pressed on her because of the advantages she has derived from her protective system, and because of the growth of her resources which she has won under and through that system. That is not the only change in the commercial tariffs of the nations which is taking place at the present time. Japan has passed a new tariff and has given notice to terminate the former commercial treaty with this country, and our traders are not unnaturally extremely anxious as to the results which may befall British trade from the very heavy increases which are proposed in the new tariff of Japan. I understand the President of the Board of Trade is going to answer. I shall be grateful if he can give us a little more information upon the subject. We saw it reported that, I think about a year ago, Count Kamura had said that in mitigation of the general tariffs of Japan there would be conventional arrangements made on a reciprocal basis with other countries. It was further reported that he had said that owing to our special system we had not any special advantages to offer to Japan, and that therefore we could not share in those benefits. I hope that was a mis-report. I noticed with pleasure that the Foreign Secretary, receiving a deputation, said that there was certainly nothing in the action of the Japanese to confirm its accuracy, and that the Government had no confirmation of it. But what is our position? Does it not stand to reason that the Power which has given up all that it had to make a bargain stands to lose more and to gain less than the Power which keeps its full resources in negotiation in its own hands, and says, "in proportion as you treat me fairly I will treat you fairly"? It is an old story, but it is one which cannot be sufficiently insisted on, that, as the late Lord Salisbury, with his unrivalled experience of foreign affairs and of such negotiations, pointed out, those who go empty to market are apt to come empty away. When you have nothing to give you cannot expect to receive. Tariff negotiations are a matter of bargain, and as long as we have stripped ourselves of power before we go into the negotiations, and as long as it is understood by everyone that, however unfruitful the negotiations are for us, we shall never think of retaliation so long we shall cease to gain for our own traders and our own people the advantage which our vast trade and our important commercial position ought to secure to us first of all nations in the world. Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us anything of the progress of these negotiations? The representatives of the Government said the other day that they were hopeful about them. How far are they hopeful? Do they think they are going to retain for British exporters and manufacturers and for British trade the old rates of duty, or is their utmost hope that, thanks to the goodwill of the Japanese Government and to our most friendly relations of alliance with them, they may get some slight abatement off the new duties, which are raised in some cases as much, I think, as 100 per cent.? The question is of some importance. The Board of Trade not so very long ago bragged of its great success in the Roumanian Treaty, hut after all its success the trade of this country was much worse off than it was under the old Treaty arrangement, and the full measure of its success was not to secure for us such right of entry as we had before, but slightly to mitigate the exclusion which the original duties proposed would have inflicted upon us. In these two cases we see the deficiency of our present system as a defence against the exclusion of our trade. I have already alluded to the deputation which waited upon the Secretary for Foreign Affairs on the subject. It was a very influential and important deputation, and was received by the Secretary of State as such. But how singular it is that the deputation should have thought it worth while to call upon the Secretary of State or that the Secretary of State should not have once pointed out to them that they were merely wasting their time. What is the Free Trade argument? Duties are borne by the consumer. What does it matter to our manufacturer if Japan raises its duties 100 per cent.? The Secretary of State is a Free Trader. Why did he not tell the deputation that it was not his business to protect the Japanese consumers? His business was only to look after British interests, and British interests were not concerned, as the Japanese would have to pay the duties and the British manufacturers could raise their prices at their own sweet will. It is curious how the Free Trade theory breaks down the moment you come to examine it. I pass to the other clauses of my indictment, that the inaction of the Government imperils the advantages we have hitherto derived from Colonial Preference and delays the commercial union of our Empire, and I am bound at this point not to criticise but to examine the agreement which has been provisionally signed between the Dominion of Canada and the United States. I do not want the House to criticise it. That is not our duty. But I want the House and the representatives of this great commercial community, as representatives of the United Kingdom and as citizens of the Empire, to try and get a clear idea what this agreement means for all the interests which are in our charge, and to see how it affects the policy of our country, and the lessons which we ought to draw from it. The agreement itself is a very wide one, even as it stands, as between the Dominion and the United States. But the tariff system of the Dominion is a treaty system. They have at present treaties with some twenty different nations. Every one of those treaties contains a most-favoured nation clause, and accordingly, under the British interpretation, which is also the Canadian interpretation, and if I understand rightly, was so accepted by Mr. Fielding in his speech the other day, every one of those twenty nations must enjoy the same rates of duties as are now open to the United States. The agreement is, therefore, one directly affecting, not merely the treaty conditions between the United States and Canada, but between Canada and some twenty other nations as well. Whilst that is the British and Canadian interpretation of the most favoured nation clause, it is not the United States interpretation. We hold ourselves precluded under the most favoured nation clause from making specially favoured arrangements with any other foreign nation. The United States holds itself at liberty, in spite of that clause, and contends that it is no breach of that clause to make special arrangements with any Power, and not to share the advantages with any other Power with which they have treaties. It is rather a lop-sided agreement as between the British Empire and the United States of America, and one question I should like to ask the President of the Board of Trade is, what steps under these circumstances, the Government are taking to protect British trade with the United States of America. Are the Government making any representations to secure for British manufacturers and British exporters the same favoured rates of duties which are now to be given to British manufacturers and exporters in Canada, or are we to have an arrangement between one of the great dominions of the Crown and the United States which is not shared with other portions of the Empire, and more favourable to the Dominion than to the Mother land or to any other portion? Take a couple of individual illustrations. Take cutlery as an illustration. Cutlery entering the United States at present is charged with about 40 per cent. duty. Cutlery entering from Canada will be reduced by the agreement to 27½ per cent. Is the Government taking any steps to secure for our manufacturers equal advantages with those which the United States offers to Canadian manufacturers? An exactly similar case arises in regard to motor-cars. The present United States duty is 45 per cent. It is to be reduced to 30 per cent. in the case of Canadian cars. Are the Government taking any steps, and if so can they tell us with what prospect of success, to secure for our manufacturers the same right of entry into the United States market which Canadian Ministers are securing for Canadian manufacturers? I hope the President of the Board of Trade will deal with the point. For my part, I have to confess that as it stands I cannot but feel that this agreement has, and must have, the most far-reaching effects, not in the Dominion of Canada alone, but on the Empire at large, and in particular on the relations which have prevailed in the past between the Dominion and the United Kingdom. An agreement which gives the Canadian in the American market better terms than are accorded to our own manufacturers, which brings them into these close ties of business with the United States, far closer than our own, takes the Dominion of Canada out of the Imperial orbit, and draws her into the vortex of Continental politics and Continental interests. It touches our interests in other and more direct ways. It must mean a great diver-lion of trade in corn. Wheat, for which we have been the preferred market hitherto, which has travelled eastward over the vast railway and lake system of Canada to come to our markets and afford bountiful supplies to our food, will now be drawn southward across the American frontier. What is going to be the result of this? In the first place it will hasten and increase the process which has already begun in the United States of throwing land out of wheat cultivation and into other forms of cultivation. As Canadian wheat finds its way into America, less and less American land will be put under corn. Maize and other crops will take their place, and the American drain of Canadian supplies will yearly become greater. What is going to be the result upon us? What is going to be the result, in the first place, upon our consumers? Their food will cost them more. The men who have been told almost in one breath by hon. Gentlemen opposite that if we had Preference our farmers would be ruined by Canadian competition, and that if we had Preference the millions in our towns would be starved for want of bread, are now coming to find that for want of that Preference the supplies which they might have had, and of which they had the first call and the first offer, are turned from our shores, and in increasing quantities are taken to be consumed by the people of the United States. And the trucks which carry corn southward will not run northward empty. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Listen to the cheers of hon. Members. Do they know what they are cheering? I say that the trucks which carry wheat southward will not run back empty. They will carry back American manufactures in competition with our own, and by the new trade route which will be created by this agreement you do much to separate the west of Canada from the British market, to separate British producers from the markets of Western Canada, and to subsidise American competitors in fighting against us. I ask, does it not stand to reason that it will be worked in the interest of the American railway interest along this new route in order to do everything to stimulate the return trade. Do you not know that preference can be given as easily through railway rates as through a tariff system? Do you not see that you force a preference to be given for American manufactures in competition with our own in order that the railways may get the return trade and not have their trucks coming back empty? I confess I could have understood hon. Gentlemen saying that these were great disadvantages, but that they must be put up with, because of the triumph of the abstract doctrine of Free Trade. (Cheers.) I think that the hon. Gentlemen who cheer do not quite realise what that means. They seem to rejoice in the additional struggle put upon our own people with respect to the markets for their labour and the sale of their produce, and that is a thing I never expected to live to see. The wheat supply is going to be restricted, prices are going to be raised, because you did not take the offer which was open to you, and that which you refused is now eagerly sought by foreign nations. But that is not all. We shall be affected in another way. I do not know whether hon. Members read a very a very interesting article which appeared in "The Times" on Monday last upon the effects of this agreement upon English agriculture. It is going to give an enormous stimulus to stock-raising in America. It is going to throw the meat trade more and more into the hands of great American combinations. It is going to place our own producers of meat still further at the mercy of foreign trusts and foreign combinations. It is going to give and must give an enormous stimulus to the manufacturing and producing power of America, not merely because of the more favourable terms on which they secure entry to the great Dominion market, but because of the more favourable position in which they are placed to secure and to use the vast natural resources of the Dominion of Canada. The cumulative effect of these different changes must, in my opinion, be most serious for the trade of this country, and I do not see how it is possible for us to dissociate ourselves from all interest in the agreement now being discussed in Canada, though we must leave to the Canadians the responsibility and the right to settle their own policy without any interference from us. We must face the result of the situation. We must understand what it involves for us, and we must see whether, threatened with so great a loss, we cannot yet do something to restore the balance and keep the trade which a little time ago was offered so freely to us. One further observation I must make upon the direct effect of the agreement upon us. The preference which we enjoy in the Canadian market is sensibly diminished by this agreement It is obvious that where hitherto there have been duties against American produce, and where there are now to be no duties, the ground or opportunity for preference to British produce goes; and, on the other hand, where articles are not free on entering Canada and the American duties are reduced, there will accordingly be a reduction in the margin of preference to us. I desire to acknowledge and to recognise in the fullest possible manner the desire of Canadian Ministers to preserve as much preference as they can compatibly with their agreement. I am glad to see, and I have never doubted that it would be so, that they intend in no case the duties on American produce to be less than the duties on our produce. They desire also, what I am sorry to say hon. Gentlemen opposite do not desire, that wherever possible there should still he a preference to British produce, and they mean to keep it so. I heartily recognise and gratefully acknowledge the spirit in which Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Mr. Fielding, and their colleagues have treated this matter, and I note that they, at any rate, do not shout with hon. Gentlemen opposite that this agreement is the end of Preference and of commercial union of the Empire. On the contrary, they still desire to maintain it. They are maintaining it wherever possible, and they are still willing to go further and give us larger Preference whenever we are prepared to take the first step, which Sir Wilfrid Laurier said was ours now many years ago—to take the first step in creating on our side a mutual preference for Canadian goods in our market. But in the meantime, in spite of the desire of the Canadian Government to preserve Preference wherever possible, no one can examine this agreement without seeing that in some cases Preference is going to disappear, and that in other cases the margin will be greatly reduced. There is, in fact, a great change in the policy of Canada. Her policy for a generation has been a policy of international development, free from Continental influences and directed, as far as our Ministers could direct it, not merely to the growth of Canada as a nation, but to the greatness and union of the Empire of which Canada is a most distinguished portion. For that purpose they sought, wherever they could, to put us in a position of Preference. Now they seek that we, at any rate, shall not be in a position of disadvantage, but through our hesitation, through the persistent refusal of the Government to recognise facts or reciprocate the policy of the Canadian Government, the margin of advantage which we have had is diminished, and by every treaty Canada makes is still further decreasing. The French treaty made a hole in it, the German arrangement made another, and the American treaty makes a still bigger hole, and the advantages of these treaties are spread over twenty other nations in Europe. It is a profound change of policy in Canada. It is a profound change in our own position, the moral of which we had better draw quickly if we want to avert, so far as may be, its evil consequences to ourselves. What has been, not for a generation only, but for fifty years and more the policy of Canada? It has been a policy of preferential trade with this country. In the heyday of the adoption of Free Trade in this country, Canada asked for preference on the shilling duty on corn. She sought, year after year, the abolition of the treaties with Belgium and the Zollverein, which tied our hands against Preference, and at last, thanks to the late Lord Salisbury, she secured the denunciation of these treaties and established Preference with the United Kingdom. At conference after conference the representatives of Canada and of the other dominions have offered us reciprocal advantages, have pressed upon us the strength that they might give to the Empire as a whole, and the development which they might bring to each part of the Empire. We were told by a Liberal statesman that the United States could not enter into any such agreements, that they were sordid bargains which could bring nothing but discontent or disunion. Is that what is said to the Canadians—that any reciprocal arrangement between the United Kingdom and a sister State would have been a sordid bargain, breeding only discontent, but that it becomes a great triumph of civilisation and international friendship the moment it is contracted between Canada and the United States, and the United Kingdom is excluded from it? I think hon. Gentlemen opposite must revise some of their arguments. What is the defence of the Government for having done nothing? What is their defence for having allowed us to drift into the situation with which we are now confronted? I take it from the Prime Minister, who said the other night that he would make only two observations on this subject. "First," he says, "we should have done nothing to prevent the natural trend of events, and much that would have been fatally injurious to our own country if we had taxed foreign corn."' They could have done nothing to prevent the natural trend of events! Is that so? The Secretary of State for India (Lord Crewe), in another place, put the same defence, in slightly different words. "Lord Lansdowne," he said, "spoke of the agreement as having come about because Canada knocked in vain at our door; I wonder if that is an observation which could be maintained by historical evidence?" The contention of the Government is, in brief," nothing we could have done would have prevented this agreement being made." There is an even higher authority on that subject, and that is the Prime Minister of Canada. Instead of the Prime Minister of this country after the event let us have the Prime Minister of Canada speaking before the event. Speaking in the Canadian House of Commons, on the 22nd November, last year, Sir Wilfrid Laurier said:"This House humbly expresses its regret that the persistent refusal of your Majesty's Government to modify the Fiscal system of the country is imperilling the advantages at present derived by British commerce from the Preference granted by your Majesty's Dominions overseas; has deferred the closer commercial union of the Empire; and has deprived the country of the most effective method of inducing foreign countries to grant fair treatment to British manufacturers."
There is the historical evidence, and from the best and most authoritative source, for which Lord Crewe asks. There is the answer to the Prime Minister. If His Majesty's Government had been willing to make a reciprocal agreement, Canada would not have sought a reciprocal agreement with America. If we had accepted the offers that were open to us she would have continued the policy of national development on East and West lines, and she would not have turned Continental development along the lines of North and South. Let me repeat that if we had so strengthened the lines of trade East and West we should have done more to protect the food supplies of our people than by the simple maintenance of an attitude of indifference and inaction in face of these great changes. For not only will the United States absorb much of the food supplies that we might have attracted to our market, but we, in our turn, shall be thrown more and more upon foreign supplies grown outside the Empire, in countries happily friendly with the Empire now, but not always to be counted upon as the loyalty of fellow subjects in other great Dominions is to be counted on. And, in passing, let me say that the supplies of the particular classes of wheat that are required must come very largely from Russia. Have you drawn the attention of your Board of Admiralty to the obviously increasing importance of our commercial routes to Russia if this agreement goes through? I fancy they would tell you that they would sooner protect your food ships coming across the Atlantic to our shores than protect your food ships treading their way down the Baltic or coming from the Black Sea under the provisions of the Declaration of London. So much for the first of the Prime Minister's observations. I come to the second. His second was prophecy. In speaking of an event which had passed, and which we can bring to the test of fact, the House will have observed that he was not very successful. He took up the line that nothing we could have done could have prevented this. Sir Wilfrid Laurier said that if we had been ready to make a reciprocal arrangement, there was not much likelihood of a reciprocal deal with the United States. Now we come to the future where the Prime Minister is in the region of prophecy. "It is as certain," he said, "as the rising of the sun, that, as time went on, sooner or later the people of the United States would have been bound to bring down the tariff walls which separated them from countries close to their own borders." Is that certain? It is not what occurred. The United States did not go to Canada and say, "We are going to throw down our tariff walls because we must have your supplies of corn and your raw material, and this or that of your manufactured articles." They went to Canada and said, "If you will admit our goods on more favourable terms we will admit your goods on more favourable terms." It is not what did occur. It might have been years before it had occurred; it might not have occurred at all. And does the right hon. Gentleman suppose that time is not of the first importance in matters of this kind? Trade is no doubt fluid, and trade can be shifted. But an old-established trade, buttressed by great ways of communication which have developed great interests or lead to certain terminal points along certain lines, can resist for a long time and can resist for ever the contrary forces of geographical propinquity or natural circumstances. Test it by our own experience. Does anybody suppose that trade does not now come to some of our great ports, not because these are the spots which, if you had to start afresh, you would choose as the best points in this country for that trade, but because these old lines of trade tend to keep trade in the same places? With every cargo that comes the route is ploughed deeper and it becomes increasingly difficult to remove the trade out of it. If it were true that the United States would have had to throw down its barriers it was not true at this moment, and even if it were true in years to come it would have been everything for the fortunes of our traders and the interests of our commercial men that as long a period of time as possible should have intervened before that occurred in which to plough deeply and profoundly the routes of trade between ourselves and the Dominion. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that this agreement was merely the result of the inevitable tendency of irresistible economic forces which could not be neutralised or counteracted by any artificial agreement. I think the right hon. Gentleman has become so much the instrument of inevitable tendencies and irresistible forces exterior to himself, and even to the party with which he is immediately associated——"If the result of the British elections would prove to be a victory for Tariff Reform there would be little prospect of any large measure in favour of a reciprocal lowering of tariffs with the United States."
The electors of this country.
That he loses sight of what can be done by men of courage and resolution, who do not tell us that things are irresistible and forces are inevitable, and that he lends himself a ready victim to them. The building up of great States is not the result of natural forces or geographical circumstances. No, it is not. I challenge the Prime Minister. I perhaps put the phrase wrongly. The Prime Minister challenges me.
I challenge what you said, not what you meant.
The building up of great States has not been, and is not the result of geographical forces or of natural conditions. The greatest States have been built up in spite of vast natural difficulties by the persistent courage, resolution and initiative of Statesmen. Does the Prime Minister think that the United States are the creation of natural forces? Does he think that the Dominion of Canada is the creation of natural forces? If natural forces, as Sir Wilfrid Laurier has himself said, had been left to work there never would have been any national life in Canada: there never would have been any Dominion of Canada such as we are proud to recognise to-day, and they never could have negotiated on equal terms with the United States. They would have been swamped and absorbed in the power and influence of their mightier neighbour. Look at Europe. Is the German Empire the result of natural forces or geographical boundaries? It is the result of tariff arrangements. It is the result of the Zollverein weaving all kinds of interest so close and so profound that even in the midst of the war of 1866, even between warring States, these obligations were still recognised; and whilst the war was actually in progress accounts were kept on one side and the other of what would be due under these tariff arrangements on the return of peace. Could you have a more striking instance of the unifying power of a common commercial policy and common fiscal interest? Is it right that we, by our own laxity, by our want of readiness to respond to Colonial offers, should allow these reciprocal ties to grow up between the Dominion and strangers, while there are no such reciprocal ties between the Dominion and our- selves. I say a heavy responsibility rests upon His Majesty's Government for the inaction of the last few years, and they are relieved of none by the appeal made by the Prime Minister to the opinion of our countrymen. Who misled that opinion? Who on every occasion, excepting at the Colonial Conference itself, has belittled the advantages of our Colonial trade, has slighted advantages already conferred upon us by Preference, who has tried by every possible appeal to passion, ignorance, or greed, by every stimulant to private interest as opposed to national welfare, to discredit the adoption of a common commercial policy such as might have bound us by far closer ties—close as these ties may be—to Canada, which will now be drawn to America by bonds which might have been saved for our people, and for the mutual development of the different portions of the British Empire? These vast resources will now go to build up influence and power of a foreign State. But what is to be said of our policy at this time? Are we, because by our delay we have lost much, to lose more? That is not the course which I commend to the House. I have already noted that, unlike Ministers here and their followers, who rejoice in this agreement just because it does diminish Preference and lessen the ties, the commercial ties between the Dominion and ourselves, it is the avowed desire of Canadian Ministers still to make those ties as close as possible, still whenever they can, to preserve the Imperial Preference, and that they are still as ready now as they have been at any time for the last ten years and more, to enter into mutual and reciprocal relations by which both portions of the King's Dominions may be strengthened, and the common interests of both be bound closer together. If I have thought that in the lasting interests of our nation, in the interests of our Empire, in the individual interest of each of our Great Dominions, this policy was necessary and urgent during the last few years, I am here to-day to say that in my opinion the ratification of this agreement, if ratified it be, only makes it more urgently necessary that we should come to terms with the other Dominions before they are all beset by foreign suitors, and that in the case of Canada we should so alter our policy that we may do everything that can be done by statesmanship and financial wisdom to counterbalance the new strain which draws to the south, and make stronger and mightier and ever more profound the ties which unite Canadians to the Motherland, of which they are the greatest offspring.
May I be allowed first to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his presence here this afternoon, and I am very glad that he is here to take part in the discussion of matters in regard to which he has had a successful career. With reference to the last part of his speech, where he talked of the Tariff revolution, I suggest that he should look at home, there is plenty to be done. Where is their courage and resolution? What is the history of the right hon. Gentleman and his party in regard to the matter of a tax on corn? We do not call it Preference, we call it a tax on corn. What is the history of the hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to that? Have they shown courage in regard to that tax? What happened? They put the duty on one year and took it off the next, and, having taken it off, they thought they would put it on again. When they talk about courage and resolution, we have only to look to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who at all events has had various stages in regard to this matter, and has been subjected to constant pressure, which it has been necessary to put upon him to bring him up to the measure of Preference at all. As far as we are concerned on this side of the House we do not share the apprehension of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to this agreement, and certainly do not agree that his remedy of a 2s. tax on corn is going to get rid of all these evils, if evils there are. The right hon. Gentleman has set out to prove two things. In the first place great damage will be done to inter-Colonial trade and the Empire trade of this country by the agreement. Secondly, that the imposition of this Preference would avert that damage.What authority has he for saying either that our trade is likely to be damaged, or what authority has he for saying that if his proposal had been accepted it would have saved our trade and prevented this agreement between the United States and Canada from taking place. I think if hon. Members read this morning's papers containing a communication from Mr. Fielding, the Minister of Canada, who is responsible for this agreement, they will see that he answers almost all the serious arguments the right hon. Gentleman has advanced. What does Mr. Fielding say in his communication. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was a new policy, a new suggestion between Canada and America. Mr. Fielding says:—
The right hon. Gentleman says that this agreement will be against the interests of this country and Canada. What does Mr. Fielding say?—"Reciprocal trade relations with the United States have been the policy of all parties in Canada for generations."
5.0 P.M. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think, or he talked of our being responsible for the present position. Does he think we are going to stand here in a white sheet, with a candle, to confess our sins, plead for absolution, and be shriven by him? That is not at all our position. As far as we are concerned we are unrepentant; we have neither changed nor modified our view with reference to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. We have entertained the view throughout that his proposal would be injurious to this country and to the Empire as a whole. The right hon. Gentleman said perfectly truly that this matter was a very delicate one. It may be very difficult to say much about it without possibly being misunderstood on the other side of the Atlantic as saying something either for or against the agreement. The Leader of the Opposition, a few nights ago, and it was repeated by the right hon. Gentleman, said it was not our business here to state our views in regard to the merits of the matter as affecting Canada. I am quite sure that the last thing any hon. Member on either side of the House would desire would be that the fiscal matters of Canada should be made the shuttlecock between parties in this House in connection with our local and political disputes. It is a matter on which we can congratulate ourselves that the Canadians have a free hand in these negotiations and were able to come to terms with the United States quite apart from the question of our position in this matter. I take the opposite view with regard to this matter to that of the right hon. Gentleman. This very agreement is a very good object lesson in showing the evils and dangers of the fiscal relations which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to set up between us and the Colonies. If we had his Preference in force Canada would have had on this agreement to consult us in reference to it. We should have had various local interests in Canada arrayed against one another, as they are now, but antagonistic to our interests, so that instead of being an additional link to the chain of Empire, very likely Preference might have brought the chain to snapping point. Therefore, in what I say, I must not be held to be making any special reference to such an agreement as the right hon. Gentleman discussed at some length. The right hon. Gentleman said we were glad that Preference has got a setback, or an alleged setback. That is not our position. We recognise, I think, as much as the right hon. Gentleman, the advantages which we in this country receive from the preference which Canada has been good enough to give us with regard to the importation of British manufactures. But I would point out that Mr. Fielding and his colleagues always based that preference on the advantage that it would do to Canadian trade, and only to a minor degree on the advantage it might have as between the two countries. That is a preference which we are glad should exist, and do not desire should be diminished, and which we are glad the Canadians should give. But, holding the views we do, we cannot regret any arrangement or agreement which, on the other hand, might have the effect of weakening the opportunity of imposing the preference the right hon. Gentleman advocates, and of putting a tax on the imports of foreign corn into this country. We cannot regret any arrangement which makes a breach in protective tariffs. We certainly cannot regret any arrangement under which the trade of Canada itself will be, as they themselves think, largely increased. We believe the greater the trade of Canada the greater will be the trade of the Empire, and the greater the trade between England and Canada. We certainly feel very strongly that there is no question involved in reference to this agreement of the allegiance, or of the loyalty of the Canadians themselves. That is not touched by the matter at all. But the right hon. Gentleman said we were imperilling, in the words of the Amendment, the advantage which we at the present moment had in our trade with Canada. I think the right hon. Gentleman said, and that an hon. Gentleman said the other night, that as to the existing preference the agreement would reduce it to vanishing point. I am glad to be able to assure that hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman that the pessimistic views which they take in reference to the preference now given to us is very exaggerated. I think the right hon. Gentleman appreciated the attitude which the Canadian Government took in regard to this matter in the negotiations which took place with America. They did their best in their arrangements to affect as slightly as possible the preference which they have given to England. I think it may be well just to say that the alarm which seems to exist in some quarters in reference to this matter as to what will happen if the agreement goes through is really very much exaggerated. I will give the figures, which will be of interest as showing the actual effect of this agreement on Canadian preference, when that agreement is accepted by both sides. We send at the present moment nearly £20,000,000 of goods to Canada. Of those about £13,000,000 receive preference under the old system and the old agreement. Of that total, amounting to nearly £20,000,000, being the whole of our trade with Canada, a sum of £969,000 represents the goods dealt with under the agreement. Out of that sum we have £176,000 of goods already free to all nations, and therefore not really affected as far as preference is concerned. That leaves about £800,000 all told out of a trade of £20,000,000, which is affected by the agreement, as far as preference is concerned. Out of that amount £477,000 of British goods still retain a preference of a very substantial nature, equal to 20 to 30 per cent. of the duties on United States goods. That leaves a balance of £316,000, or only 1½ per cent. of British imports to Canada to which the duties in the future will be identical with those on American goods. Therefore, when the whole preference goes on trade that only amounts to £300,000, I think that we may say that the alarms of the right hon. Gentleman have been very much exaggerated. The right hon. Gentleman made one further point. He said that not only would this destroy to vanishing point the value of the preference now given by Canada, but that it would have a further effect, which he rather dwelt on at considerable length."In making such an arrangement as is now proposed we are realising the desires of our people for half it century, and also that in promoting friendly relations with the neighbouring republic we are doing the best possible service to the Empire. Would it not be ridiculous, in pursuit of such a policy, to refuse to avail herself of the markets of a great nation lying alongside? "
I did not say that.
The right hon. Gentleman said, I think, that it would seriously affect the preference. He went on at a considerable length to give us an economic discourse in regard to it, and said that one further result of this agreement will be that a lesser amount of Canadian corn will come to England, and that the result of that will be that the price of corn will go up here, because we shall get a smaller supply. That was the argument we ourselves have been using in reference to the question of Preference. But what the right hon. Gentleman said to that was that what would happen would be that you will have a greater demand for corn here, and that that will encourage more growth of corn, and that in the end we would get cheaper corn and not dearer corn. If that result is likely to take place in the case of Canadian corn, which is sent here without any advantage in price, is it not much more likely to occur when the Canadian farmer can get a better price in the American market, and will therefore have still greater encouragement to increase his produce, and which in the end will reduce the price. That, however, is rather speculative. The real answer is, America at the present moment is a country Which largely exports wheat and other forms of corn to this country. Indeed, a very large proportion of it comes to this country. When Canadian corn goes to America more American corn will come here than before, and I think probably in many cases at a lower rate. I think the right hon. Gentleman's fear of this proposal raising the price of corn over here is a matter which, even if it does occur, will certainly in a short time be affected at once, both by the increased imports of American corn and by the increased advantage of growing corn.The right hon. Gentleman's chief point against us, as I understood him, was that by our persistent refusal we have thrown away the opportunity of obtaining the whole of the trade of Canada and of preventing this agreement. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition practically said the other day that for thirty years we had the offer and had refused it. As a matter of fact, the actual preference has been in force for thirteen years. But if it is true that our persistent refusal had been such a serious matter, I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to remember that, after all, we have only had five years out of the thirteen, while the other side had eight years. The other day the Leader of the Opposition really, I think, gave the House the impression that he almost imbibed Colonial Preference with his mother's milk, whereas we know perfectly well that it was only just before the election of 1905 that he finally accepted the principle of this taxation of foreign corn. What did he say then? He said the matter was so important, and of so much moment, and was such a new departure, that it was necessary for the country to pronounce an opinion about it. And he said the country ought to have the opportunity of expressing an opinion upon it. The country since then has had three opportunities of expressing their opinion, and three times they have rejected that proposal. I think it is a little hard, therefore, that the Government, as such, should be blamed. The right hon. Gentleman had a longer opportunity of putting their particular policy in operation, and the country itself has three times rejected the proposal. The right hon. Gentleman referred once or twice to the proposals which he desired in order to meet the difficulties. He dealt with and objected very much to some observations made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House in reference to what I think I may call the natural causes which had so largely to do with the bringing about of the agreement. I noticed that although he mentioned the words "natural causes "as affecting this matter, that they seemed for some reason or other to irritate hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. We believe in these matters that it is really better for all purposes, from the point of view of the trade and commerce of the world and of this country, that as far as possible we should have natural causes rather than artificial barriers between various countries. At all events, we have it on the authority of Mr. Fielding himself that those natural causes, the natural economic position of the two great countries, America and Canada, was certain some time or other to bring about this agreement which we are now more or less discussing. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that if we had had in the last few years enforced here the scheme which they have more than once placed before the country, namely, a 2s. duty on foreign corn, that that proposal would have prevented those natural causes, would have prevented this agreement, and would have prevented any arrangement between America and Canada, and would have increased enormously the trade between England and Canada, and would have made England and Canada much more united and one than we are at present. I wish the right hon. Gentleman on some occasion, or perhaps some other right hon. Gentleman who is going to speak, would show us exactly what the advantage of their 2s. duty would be on Canadian corn. The proposal, as I understand it, is this: that we are to put a 2s. duty on foreign wheat. A little while ago we were to put 1s. duty on Colonial wheat, but that I believe has been dropped. The object is to keep out foreign wheat and to encourage the import of home wheat. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) first made his proposal we were asked to sacrifice something as this would raise the price of food and the price of corn. We were asked to make that sacrifice, and we were told that he proposed to make it up in other ways. That was the first proposal. We then had a General Election, and the effect of the, General Election was——
made an observation which was inaudible.
Surely he said the 2s. tax would be a tax on food. I do not know what other interpretation except that that means it would raise the price. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no."] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said he would have liked to have asked the people of this country to sacrifice something for the imperial interests, and he said it would cost something. I suppose he thought that we were not quite strong enough for the purpose, and, therefore, as against his tax on food; he proposed a reduction of other duties to compensate the working man. Surely that can have no other interpretation than that, in those days, it was admitted that the taxation of corn would raise the price of food. [Several HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] I quite admit that subsequently we had a General Election, the result of which brought about the development that the taxation of corn was not to raise the price of food. Then we had a further election, the result of which has been, as far as I can understand from the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition and others, that if you tax corn you will really get it at a lower price than before. There has been a process of evolution in this matter. We have always contended that if you tax corn you will raise the price. But we were told: "Oh, no; you can tax corn, and it will not raise the price." That, however, was not quite sufficient; and the Leader of the Opposition has told us on more than one occasion that if his proposal is accepted we shall get our corn and food cheaper than before. I am referring to this because I want to see how the Canadian wheat-grower comes in. The idea is that this is such a tremendous offer to the Canadian farmer that it will revolutionise the whole basis of the relations between Canada and Great Britain. We ought, therefore, to see exactly how the matter stands in regard to the position of the Canadian farmer.As I understand, the right hon. Gentleman now argues that a 2s. tax on foreign corn will not raise the price of corn or food here. Where, then, does the Canadian farmer come in? It is quite true that such a proposal will drive from our market a large amount of foreign corn, and we shall be worse off to that extent. But how is it to bring in this enormous amount of Canadian corn if the Canadian farmer is not only not to get any better price in the British market than at present, but, on the principle of the Leader of the Opposition, is to get a lower price? Is that likely to bring about this extraordinary revolution in the relations between Canada and the Mother Country? Is that really going to add to the links between the two countries? Before right hon. Gentlemen opposite lay it down as axiomatic that their proposed Preference will create this great revolution, and that, if it had been in existence two or three years ago, the present agreement between America and the Dominions would not have taken place, we would like to have worked out in detail as a practical measure what their proposal actually is, how it would affect the Canadian farmer, and what would give the Canadian farmer such a great inducement to sell his corn here. The present position, as I understand, is that if we had had Preference in existence at the present moment, we should have been offering nothing to the lumberman for his timber or pulp, because they are raw materials; nor should we have been offering anything to the fishermen; and we should have been saying to the Canadian farmer, "You shall not sell your corn where you can get the best price for it; you shall sell it here at a cheaper rate, in order that the British consumer may benefit from it." Such a policy as that, founded on the basis either of disadvantage to the Canadian wheat grower or of disadvantage to the British consumer, is not likely to strengthen the unity of the Empire. I do not intend to enter again into the reasons why we object in principle to the proposals of the Opposition in regard to Preference; but I desire to discriminate very clearly between the Preference given to us by Canada and the Preference which the party opposite propose to give to Canada in return. The Preference given to us by Canada we fully recognise and appreciate, although they themselves have said that they are giving it as much for their own benefit as from the point of view of the Empire. But what does it mean to them? I am not speaking in any sense ungratefully, but I must point out the difference between their position and ours. It means to them that they give a rebate on a certain quantity of goods going into the country. It is only a question of rather more or less revenue from their protective duties. We are grateful for it; but, after all, it is not a very great matter for them from the fiscal point of view. It is, however, a very different matter to us. What is the right hon. Gentleman really asking us to do? He is asking us to impose duties on articles of food and a vast-number of other articles in order to give a rebate to some of our Colonial fellow-subjects. That is a very different matter—to alter the whole foundation of our fiscal system for such a purpose, the result of which would be, we believe, to raise the price of food, to lead to discrimination between different Colonies, and to cause fiscal division between different parts of the Dominion. Much as we reciprocate the feeling expressed by the Dominion Government, much as we appreciate the fact that they have given us a preference, we do not see our way, with our present fiscal system, to make such an enormous and, as we believe, retrograde step, because we believe that the injury to our consumer and trader would be so great that it would actually re-act upon the interests of the Canadians themselves and on the interests of the Empire at large. I have endeavoured to refrain from expressing any view in reference to the proposed agreement. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to imply, in some of his excited periods, that we were practically the authors of the agreement. We deny it altogether. We contend that our policy is more likely to lead to the commercial advantage of Canada herself, and we deny that blame, if blame there be, for the agreement can be imputed to us; but it is not our business here to express our view in regard to the merits of the matter. The right hon. Gentleman put a specific question to me in reference to commercial treaties, and especially in reference to Japan As regards the general question, as it is not in my Department, I would rather not give an answer off-hand. I know the answer, but I would rather not give it myself.
I must accept that, if the right hon. Gentleman says that the matter is not in his Department; but I think we are at cross purposes. He must mean the interpretation of the most-favoured-nation clause.
What I mean is, are the Government taking any steps to secure for our goods the same rates of entry into America as Canadian goods will enjoy?
That really comes under the same heading. It is much more a Foreign Office than a Board of Trade question, and I would rather not answer it off-hand. As regards Japan, negotiations of a delicate character are still taking place. I cannot say at the present moment more than was stated in the King's Speech—namely, that we hope a satisfactory conclusion may be arrived at—a hope which I am sure will be shared by the right hon. Gentleman.In regard to his general criticism we had, I think, the old revolver trotted out again, we were told that various countries had put up their protective duties all round. That is perfectly true. We cannot prevent that as a Free Trade country, nor can protected countries. As a matter of fact, if the right hon. Gentleman will go through the various treaties which have been made within the last few years, he will find, taking Germany, Austria, and other countries of that kind, and comparing the trade of Great Britain with those countries and the trade of other protective countries with them, that we have come out, on the whole, better than the protected countries. The fact is, as the right hon. Gentleman knows quite well, when two protected countries are going to have a fight they start by putting up their tariffs higher than they were before. They have a great fight which sometimes drags on for years. During the whole of that time their commerce is being injured, and when at last a result is arrived at they find that the wall is higher than it was before. We have not to go through that process, and we come out as well as, or better than, protected countries after the negotiations have taken place. As regards the cases to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, I hope that good results will accrue, and that after our negotiations we may be able to make as satisfactory, or a more satisfactory, arrangement than protected countries. I must apologise for having spoken at such length in reference to the proposed agreement, but although I regret that we should have such a debate at all. I thought it necessary to answer the right hon. Gentleman in detail as far as I could. I trust I have said nothing that can be misunderstood by either America or Canada, because we disclaim, as the right hon. Gentleman disclaims, any desire to criticise their action. They must consider the matter from their own point of view. As far as we are concerned, we confine ourselves to watching and seeing what may be the result.
We have been appealed to by right hon. Gentlemen on the other side, by the Prime Minister at the commencement of this debate on the address, and by the President of the Board of Trade this evening to speak with caution in regard to the great question which is contained within the still larger question that is before the House on this Amendment. Following the example of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, I hope that nothing will fall from me that in any way will be improper for even a private Member of this House to utter in the present position of affairs in regard to Canada. But it seems to me that silence here would be just as liable as speech to misinterpretation. We cannot blind ourselves to the fact that, viewing it as we may, we must share in the responsibilities for what happens now in our American Colonies. It is true that at the moment there is a question of negotiation merely between the great Dominion of Canada and the United States. It is true that it is Canada which is primarily affected. It seems to me that if it is not foreign, at all events it is the external policy of Canada which is affected, and that external policy necessarily involves other great communities. The two great communities which necessarily have to be considered in this matter are the Home Country, which is in such intimate, happy Imperial relationship with Canada, and the great Republic of similar speech on the other side. Discussion has taken place in Canada. I see that already the Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian Parliament has said that Canada has recently been developing on west and east lines. Canada, he said, commanded the eastward opening, and commanded Canadian relationships. The United States commands the southward. If we have closed the eastward, or refused at any rate to open it, it cannot possibly be said that we have no responsibility. At any rate as a party, which, although in a minority at the present time, may—I think hon. Gentlemen opposite to me will allow—come to be a majority presently, and be responsible for the policy of this country, it seems to be essential that we should indicate to those who are in Canada, that our attitude has not been changed with the General Election which has taken place, or by the negotiations which are now in progress. I think it is our bounden duty to speak. Silence would be misinterpreted, or be liable to it. Misinterpretation would doubtless be put upon it, and in the circumstances the only course open to us is to follow the difficult path of cautious utterance. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken made much play with the successive stages in the presentation of Tariff Reform from this side. He twitted our party with the fact that while it was in office it did not carry through the policy which it now advocates. I do not think an appeal to that kind of argument has very much force in it. As a private Member I frankly state that I was a Free Trader. So were we all. So, at any rate, were the great majority—I will not say all on this side. Events have converted us. We have been converted at various rates, but we stand now practically solid, converted by facts. Apparently gentlemen on the other side are uninfluenced—we think so, at any rate—by the events which have taken place. As an individual I am not in the least ashamed at having been converted by a new situation.There was another point made by the right hon. Gentleman which I want to refer to. He said that possibly the effect of the export of Canadian wheat into the United States might be that there would be less wheat coming here; that since the United States is at present using more wheat than her population consumes there would naturally be more wheat coming from the United States to this country. That, I believe, not unfairly states the argument put by the right hon. Gentleman. But whether wheat comes from Canada or the United States, it has to be paid for. In the case of Canada I believe our exports per head of the population amount to several times more than our export per head of the population to the United States. Therefore, it is obvious that the tariffs of the United States would put some difficulty in the way of our manufactures sent to the United States to pay for a greater amount of wheat coming from the United States. The reply, no doubt, of the right hon. Gentleman would be that trade would follow the triangular path; that more wheat would go from Canada to the United States and more wheat from the United States to here, and that we can only strengthen our exports to Canada. I venture to think that there would be a growing agitation in the United States for a further reduction in the Canadian tariff. There would in all probability be an increasing demand for further revision, an increasing pressure against Canada which would become more and more difficult to resist. I want to turn from these matters to what seem to me to be very much larger questions. May I put this point? It seems to me that what is deeply the question of the present moment is a matter of internal Canadian politics. Hon. Gentlemen know well that there are at the present time two Canadas—Western Canada and Eastern Canada. These two Canadas are knitted together by a system of railways through what is for practical purposes almost a waste for a thousand of miles. The great problem for Canadian statesmen at the present time is to hold Western Canada to Eastern. Canadian policy has been proceeding in that connection for a long time past. Sir John MacDonald made the first railway and constructed the first tariff raised against the United States. After that time Preference was granted to this country—it has been freely said for the benefit of Canada—in order, that is to say, to add strength to the western and eastern parts. What was the first object? The object of putting up the tariff against the United States was to lead to this: that the new population growing in the West should buy its manufactured goods from Eastern Canada rather than from the United States. In other words, that the population manufacturing those goods should be located in Eastern Canada rather than in the United States; that the population of Eastern Canada might pari passu grow with the population of Western Canada. Then, with the growth of the West natural pressure Southwards increased. Canadian statesmen cast about them for some means to strengthen the East and West tendency. They found it in the preference granted to this country, in order that those things they could not make in Eastern Canada, and which could be most advantageously exported from this country, should be obtained from this country rather than from the United States—in other words, that the population manufacturing these goods should be situated in this country rather than in the United States. Then, when we did not reciprocate, Canada went one step further, and a short time ago made a treaty with France and went into the consideration of one with Germany. What was the effect of this? Still further to strengthen this East and West community of interests, and still further to tend to hold the West to the East. It is quite obvious that there must be certain pressure against this. There is the natural southward tendency, we admit it. This natural pressure, it is urged, must be overpowering. It is called in the Press of the other side "the influence of nature." We know perfectly well that the whole of Canadian policy was against nature. Gradually they have strengthened that policy, step by step as the southward tendency increased. No doubt hon. Members opposite will say that ultimately the growing population in the West would meet the growth of the interests eastward and must overpower it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that hon. Gentlemen admit that there is a fair statement of their views. It rests upon one thing—that this tendency of the West southward will continue indefinitely. Why does that pressure exist? Simply because the West is in a transition state. The West has not yet the industries which the West will inevitably develop. At the present time in the West you simply have, for practical purposes, an agricultural population with raw material to sell. There are incipient industries in Winnipeg, and it is obvious to everyone who goes through British Columbia that there are enormous potential forces available for industry in that country. You had only to hold on sufficiently long and you would have passed the dangerous epoch. Your agriculturists would have added to them, and balancing them, the industrial complement of their number, there would have been a relaxation of the pressure southward in the West, and your object and whole policy would have been achieved. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman all through his argument omitted the element of time, which is of the very essence of the whole situation. What is the present position? What is it that is in the minds of the statesmen of Eastern Cana