House Of Commons
Monday, 12th June, 1922.
The House—after the Adjournment on 31st May for the Whitsuntide Recess—met at a Quarter before Three of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair.
Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Tramways Bill,
Lords Amendments considered, and agreed to.
Bradford Canal (Abandonment) Bill [ Lords],
Read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.
Exeter Corporation Bill,
London county Council (General Powers) Bill,
River Cam Conservancy Bill,
As amended, considered; to be read the Third time.
Croydon Gas Bill [ Lords],
Dartmouth Harbour Commissioners (Reconstitution) Bill [ Lords],
Read a Second time, and committed.
London county Council (Money) Bill (by Order),
Consideration, as amended, deferred till To-morrow.
Railways (West Scottish Group) Bill (by Order),
Second Reading deferred till Monday next.
Land Drainage Provisional Order (No. 2) Bill,
Tramway Provisional Order Bill,
Read the Third time, and passed.
Ministry of Health Provisional Order (No. 1) Bill (by Order),
Third Reading deferred till Thursday.
Oral Answers To Questions
Budapest (British Loans)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will ascertain from the British representative in Budapest whether delegates are coming to London to negotiate a settlement of the pre-War British loans to the Budapest municipality; and, if such is a fact, will he intimate to the Budapest authorities that the British Government will regard with disfavour any terms of settlement which do not provide for the maintenance in cash of the sinking fund contracts under which the Budapest municipality obtained its pre-War loans from the British public?
With regard to the first part of the question, it has been ascertained that delegates of the Municipality of Budapest are now in Paris, and are expected to visit London shortly, to discuss a settlement of the pre-War British loans to Budapest. With regard to the second part, this is a matter for arrangement between the parties concerned.
Safeguarding Of Industries Act
Binoculars And Opera Glasses
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the considerable loss to trade, especially that of re-export, in low-priced binoculars and opera glasses since the introduction of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, which has imposed a duty of 33⅓ per cont. on such imported articles and, seeing that these low-priced articles are not manufactured in Great Britain, although the Safeguarding of Industries Act was passed into Law nearly a year ago, is he prepared to consider the advisability of bringing in an amending Bill to remove from the list of dutiable commodities such articles which were not made in Great Britain previous to the Safeguarding of Industries Act and have not been made since?
My attention has not been called to any trade effects of the kind mentioned by the hon. Member, and, in view of the provisions of Sections 12 and 13 of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, I am unable to agree that the Act is responsible for any falling-off which there may have been in re-exports of this particular kind. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative; and in this connection I would remind the hon. Member of the Amendment which I moved during the Committee stage of the Bill on the 20th July of last year, but which was not accepted by the House.
If I supply the right hon. Gentleman with information, will he have investigation made so as to prevent any unnecessary loss of trade to this country?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether a duty of 33⅓ per cent. is being levied upon imported gas mantles, or parts thereof, under Part 1 of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, as ordered by the referee; and, if nut., whether he will state why the finding of the referee has not been acted upon?
Duty is being levied upon certain ingredients of gas mantles, in accordance with the decision of the referee.
Research Apparatus And Chemicals
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the statement by Sir J. J. Thomson, O.M., F.R.S., in his recent presidential address to the Institute of Physics, to the effect that the Safeguarding of Industries Act had increased the difficulties of research in this country; that he had lost more time since the War by the use of imperfect materials than in the previous 40 years he had been working; that over and over again apparatus which had taken a fortnight or three weeks to construct had cracked during the next night with the result that the whole thing had to be repeated; and whether he will consider Sir J. J. Thomson's suggestion that a system of licences under the Act for research institutions should be set up?
I have not seen the precise statement quoted by the hon. and gallant Member, but I am aware of Sir J. J. Thomson's general attitude on this matter, and that he did refer to difficulties alleged to he caused by the Safeguarding of Industries Act. I would point out, however, that the inferiority of apparatus and materials cannot be ascribed to that Act, since there is no prohibition of importation and the duty is not of sufficient magnitude to deter an investigator from obtaining foreign goods if their quality is appreciably higher than that of the domestic products; and I may add that there is conclusive evidence that Germany is far from maintaining her pre-War standard of quality. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to a statement by the director of the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, that certain organic chemicals obtained from British firms in this country have been found impure and useless for research and experiment; and whether he can take steps to secure to such scientific institutions the necessary materials with which to carry on their work?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the secretary of the Royal Holloway College states that, as a result of the passing of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, practically all research is greatly hindered by the necessity of preparing compounds which formerly one could buy, and that at the present time research students at the college spend from one-third to one-half of their time in preparing compounds which formerly could be bought; and whether the Government can do anything to assist those students in this matter?
I am aware that statements of the kind quoted have been made. I would point out that imports are not prohibited, and I suggest that it would be a useful course for research workers and others concerned to place themselves in direct communication with the British makers of fine chemicals, who will, I am confident, welcome any detailed criticism and co-operation in the development of the British industry, to their mutual advantage.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that they have put themselves in direct communication with British makers? Does he not think that the use, of these articles is rendered prohibitive by the increase in prices, and does that not prevent research being carried out in a proper way in this country?
These men have no time to go to the laboratories to tell them how proper materials can be got from Germany. Is not the present arrangement hampering research?
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the chemistry department of the University College, Dundee, has stated that the Safeguarding of Industries Act has put an additional tax on the department, particularly in the provision of materials for research; that research work is undoubtedly hampered by the Act; that they have had to abandon certain work which they would have undertaken had the cost of materials been less; and whether he will consider raising the public grants to such institutions by the amount of the tax imposed on them by the Act;
I have not seen the statement to which the hon. Member refers. I doubt, however, if the increased cost of research can be properly ascribed except to a very limited extent to the operation of the Safeguarding of Industries Act in view of the great increase in cost of all kinds in recent years, and I hope that the stimulus given by the Act to scientific work in industry in this country will more than off-set any disadvantages. The distribution of Exchequer grants to universities and colleges is made after a very careful consideration of their individual needs, and I cannot undertake to direct a specific increase as suggested in the question.
As the President of the Board of Trade told the House that it was the right hon. Gentleman who "left this foundling upon his doorstep," does he not feel morally bound to compensate for the harm he has done?
I am afraid that is a matter of controversy.
asked the President of the. Board of Trade why, since under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, Section 2 (1) (a), it is not possible for an Order to be made imposing a duty on glass bottles imported from Holland so long as the existing commercial treaty between Great Britain and Holland remains in force, he has referred to a commit lee of inquiry a complaint and application in this conection?
The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. As I stated, in answer to the hon. Member for Whitechapel on the 29th May, the Treaty of 1837 between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands would prevent the imposition of a duty on Dutch goods under Section 2 (1) (b) of the Safeguarding, of industries Act., but not of a duty under Section 2 (1) (a) of that Act, to which the application now before the Committee relates, so far as imports from the Netherlands are concerned.
British Dyestuffs Corporation
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that negotiations are in progress for a working arrangement regarding production, distribution, and prices between the British Dyestuffs Corporation and the principal dyemakers in Germany; and whether the Government have expressed their approval or disapproval of such a working agreement?
I am aware that certain discussions have taken place between the interests mentioned by the hon. Member. The views of His Majesty's Government must obviously depend upon the terms of the agreement, if and when one is reached, but I understand that the discussions have so far been only of a preliminary and non-committal character.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether Mr. Vernon Clay has resigned his directorship or managership of the British Dyestuffs Corporation; if so, whether he can state the reason for Mr. Clay's action; whether several of the principal technical experts have recently left the service of the corporation; and whether, in view of the further fact that Dr. Levenstein has also resigned his directorship on the ground that, from absence of practical technical direction, the corporation was failing to achieve its object, he will appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the whole subject?
Changes in the directorate or staff of the British Dyestuffs Corporation are not required to be reported to the Board of Trade, but I understand that Mr. Vernon Clay has not resigned his directorship. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Stafford on 29th May.
Has Mr. Clay resigned any appointment he holds in connection with this organisation?
I am not aware of that.
asked the President of the Board of Trade what have been the values of imports and exports from the United Kingdom to and from Russia for the first five months of this year; and briefly what are the principal goods imported and exported and how the figures compare with the like period of 1921?
As the answer is rather long, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, have it circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the answer:
Particulars of the trade between the United Kingdom and Russia for the periods specified in the question are not available. For the first three months, however, of 1922 and of 1921 the aggregate value of the merchandise imported to or exported from the United Kingdom, which was registered as consigned from or to Russia, was as follows:
|—||3 months ended 31st March, 1922.||3 months ended 31st March, 1921.|
|United Kingdom Produce and Manufactures.||713,590||42,569|
|Foreign and Colonial Merchandise.||123,197||13,984|
The imports for the first three months of the current year included not less than £208,000 in respect of timber, compared with £17,000 in the corresponding period of 1921, and the exports of United Kingdom goods in January-March, 1922, included £57,000 in respect, of jute sacks, £53,000 in respect of coal, and £16,000 in respect of textile machinery, compared with nothing in the like period of 1921.
Owing to the fact that the separation of imports and exports from and to Finland, Esthonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from those from and to Russia was only carried out as from 1st January, 1921, the figures for the first quarter of 1921 unavoidably include as imports from or exports to Russia some trade which, had the change been made earlier, would have been registered as from or to one or more of the other States named above.
asked the Prime Minister whether he has any information that, as a result of the Pact of Peace at Genoa, there has been either a partial or complete demobilisation of the forces of the Russian Soviet Government?
As the forces of the Russian Soviet Government were not mobilised, the question does not arise.
Did not the Prime Minister urge, as one of the reasons for not taking action quite recently on a certain event, that there were great forces massed on the frontier, the House of Commons being ignorant of that fact? Were those forces there?
That is a different question. This is a question of mobilisation.
There must be mobilisation before there can be demobilisation.
Then there never was any mobilisation?
There was no mobilisation of forces, because that would mean five millions, but there were forces on that frontier.
Have any of the forces that were on the frontier, known to the Prime Minister, been demobilised?
It is not a question of demobilisation.
Have they been removed?
That is another question. If the hon. Gentleman will put that down, I will answer it.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received the terms of the commercial accord concluded between the Italian Government and the Soviet Government of Russia; whether the terms can be laid upon the Table; what progress has been made in the commercial negotiations between the Soviet Government and the Governments of Norway and Czecho-Slovakia, respectively; and whether the Soviet Government is negotiating agreements with any other Governments?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; the second part, therefore, does not arise. A draft commercial agreement between the Soviet Government and the Czecho-Slovak Government has, I understand, been initialled, but I have not received a copy of it I have no information about negotiations for commercial agreements between the Soviet Government and the Norwegian or other foreign Governments.
Japanese Troops, Siberia
asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that an official Russian Government organ published a statement on 24th May to the effect that the remnants of Semenoff's Army are arriving in Vladivostok with the aid of the Japanese; whether, in view of the uneasiness which this development will cause to the Russian Government., His Majesty's Government will make representations to Japan to withdraw her troops from Siberia; and whether His Majesty's Government regards the action of the Japanese Government as a violation of the pledge given both at the Washington and Genoa Conference?
I have not seen the statement referred to by my right hon. Friend, nor have I any information to show that the Japanese Government are introducing remnants of General Semenoff's Army into Vladivostok. The remainder of the question, therefore, does not arise.
Railway Construction (Torrington And Portmadoc)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport what is the nature of the industries served by the railways now in course of construction between Torrington and Halwill, and between Portmadoc and Dinas; the respective length of these lines; and the estimated amount of the Government's contribution to each?
The line from Torrington to Halwill will be about 20¼ miles in length, and will mainly serve the china clay industry and agriculture. The line from Portmadoc to Dinas will he about 25 miles in length, of which 12½, miles are already constructed, and will mainly serve the slate industry and agriculture. In each case the Government contribution is based upon half the estimated costs of construction, subject to the maximum amounts of £125,000 and £37,500 respectively.
Suburban Railways (Electrification)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether, seeing that the Government have undertaken to guarantee capital expenditure of six and a half millions by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Companies for the electrification of their suburban lines; that it is a condition of the guarantee that the work shall be started at an early date and be carried out within three years, and that the generation of the necessary power shall be done at cost price; that the formal application of the railways to the Electricity Commissioners for consent to erect a generating station for the working of the lines is opposed by the West Kent Company; that this company are themselves promoting a scheme for putting up a station at Erith, and are pressing to have the railway load in order to improve the financial position of what is in the nature of a speculative enterprise; that practically all the shares in the West Kent Company are owned by the South Metropolitan Company, who have recently joined a large group of London electricity supply companies; that the opposition of the West Kent Company, if successful, is likely to delay the electrification of these railway lines, and to increase the cost of power supply for the working of the lines; that any uncertainty of supply or inflated cost will have to be borne by the railway passengers; and that the erection of a non-purchaseable capital station at Erith will seriously affect the purchase rights of the London County Council, he will state whether the Advisory Committee under the Trade Facilities Act were aware, when they came to the agreement to assist the railway companies, that the consent of the Commissioners would be necessary for putting up the station; and whether there was any consultation between the Treasury and the Ministry of Transport on the subject?
The answer to both parts of the question is in the affirmative. I must not, however, be taken to concur in all the statements of the preamble, many of which are matters for argument.
Is there any hope, in view of the large amount of unemployment in the area, that consent will be given at an early date?
That is not the question I am asked.
I think it is.
asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of trawlers and other fishing vessels laid up in British ports, exclusive of those undergoing refit and repairs?
In round figures, the number of vessels laid up, otherwise than for refit or repairs, at the principal ports in Great Britain on the 10th instant was: 345 steam trawlers and steam liners, 70 motor trawlers, 4 sailing trawlers, and 468 steam and motor drifters. I shall be happy to give my hon. Friend details if he requires them.
Agriculture (Government Policy)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the Government have decided to substitute the protection of cattle breeding for the subsidising of corn growing as their agricultural policy?
The answer is in the negative. The policy of the Govern- ment is not one of protection or of subsidies. In view of the varied conditions of soil and climate in this country it is considered best to leave to the occupiers of land full discretion to use their land for whatever purpose is in their opinion the most profitable.
Does that same policy apply to the production of sugar beet?
That is quite a different matter.
That question does not arise here. This is a question of cattle and corn.
Electric Lighting Companies (Charges)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, seeing that the electric lighting companies have increased their charges since 1914 in some cases by as much as 60 per cent., partly to keep up the dividends of their shareholders, and now only propose a reduction of 5 per cent., in spite of the fall in the price of material, he will appoint an expert Committee to go into the question of the costs and staffing of the companies in the interests of the general public?
I have been asked to reply. The increases in the maximum charges authorised to be made by electricity authorities, to which my Noble Friend refers, have sometimes been made under the terms of their Provisional Orders incorporating Section 32 of the Schedule of the Electric Lighting Clauses Act, 1899, but in a majority of cases under the Statutory Undertakings (Temporary Increase of Charges) Act, 1918, and in each case after the Minister has considered a Report by the Electricity Commissioners. Under these circumstances, I do not think that the appointment of a Committee would be useful. I shall be glad to look into any particular case to which the Noble Lord calls my attention.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the view is that the Ministry must have authorised increased charges, not merely of 60 per cent., but of as much as 120 per cent. in some cases?
I cannot deal with the general question, but if the Noble Lord will draw my attention to particular figures, I will consider them.
Is it not the fact that, while the cost of living during the War period rose 176 per cent. above pre-War figures, the cost. of electricity rose only 50 per cent.?
I cannot go into the figures, but under the Temporary Increase of Charges Act, no increase can be authorised which would secure a dividend larger than three-fourths of the pre-War dividend.
Canadian Cattle Embargo
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the finding of the Royal Commission on the Importation of Store Cattle that any imports of store cattle from Canada would not represent a net addition to home supplies, he can state what number of cattle Canada has guaranteed to supply annually, in the event of the repeal of the so-called embargo, in order to make good the deficiency that would be caused in home production, and for how many years such guarantee would hold good?
The Canadian Government has given no guarantee as to the number of store cattle that could he sent to this country from Canada. On the contrary, Dr. Tolmie, who was at that time Minister of Agriculture for the Dominion of Canada, stated in his evidence before the Royal Commission on the Importation of Store Cattle that Canadians would cease to send cattle here if there was a better market in the United States.
Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been directed to Conclusion No. 6 of the Royal Commission, which is entirely opposed to the suggestion made in this question.?
Yes, Sir; my attention has been directed very often to all the conclusions.
Is it the desire of the Government to keep this trade in America?
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state the date on which the discussion on the Canadian cattle embargo will be taken?
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he can now announce the date fixed for the discussion of the Canadian cattle embargo question?
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is in a position to state when it is proposed to proceed with the discussion of the Canadian cattle embargo question?
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he can now give a definite date when a discussion may take place on the removal of the embargo on Canadian store cattle?
I will endeavour to find an occasion between the Committee and Report stages of the Finance Bill.
Alexandra Park (Government Occupation)
asked the hon. Member for the Pollok Division of Glasgow, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, what is the reason for the delay in the settlement of the claim which the Alexandra Park trustees formulated in 1919 in respect of the War-time occupation of this public property by the Government; and when the matter will be closed, so that the palace may be restored to the public use?
As the answer to this question is of considerable length, I propose, with the hon. Member's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
The answer is as follows:
I am not aware that any formal claim in respect of reinstatement was put forward by the Alexandra Palace trustees in 1919. When the War Office vacated the premises in that year, a schedule of dilapidations was drawn up, but as the Office of Works had in the meantime taken possession of the building, it was agreed to defer consideration of the question until their occupation should have ceased. The palace was vacated in portions on various dates, starting on the 30th July, 1921, and ending the first week in February of this year. The claim for reinstatement was made on the 18th October, 1921, and advances totalling £11,000 were made on the 21st October and the 2nd February last. These advances were made with the object of enabling the trustees to proceed at once with the reinstatement of their property, but I gather from the report of their last annual meeting that of this amount £9,000 still remains on deposit with their bankers. The larger part of the claim, which is a very extensive and complicated one, has been agreed in principle, but there are still some items on which it has not yet been possible to reach agreement.
asked the Minister of Labour the present policy of the Government on the question of unemployment whether he is aware that 90,000 children over 16 are idle; and what steps are contemplated to deal with this continual deterioration of character during the critical period of adolescence?
The policy of the Government on the question of unemployment has been fully stated and discussed on several occasions during the present Session. The number of boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 18 registered as unemployed on the 22nd May was 83,807. A number of those over 16 years of age are drawing unemployment benefit, but in the main we must look to a revival of trade for a solution of this problem.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, if that he the only step that is contemplated by the Government, this is an extremely dangerous state of affairs to allow to go on without any improvement, because from 14 to 18, the period of adolescence, is the most critical period in the formation of character?
As I have already indicated, a large number—I think the majority—of these people over the age of 16 are receiving benefit as the result of arrangements made under the Act.
May I respectfully repeat that the question is not one of benefit, but one of children at a very critical period—
The hon. Member is giving his own opinion, and not asking a question.
On a point of Order. May I respectfully point out that my question asks what steps are contemplated for dealing with the question of children during the critical period of adolescence, and that the hon. Gentleman replies that it is merely a question of benefit, which, I submit, is not meeting the problem?
The answer is not satisfactory to the hon. Member.
asked the Minister of Labour the total number of men and women unemployed for the last week for which returns are available, and the amount paid in benefit?
On the 29th May there were on the live registers of Employment Exchanges in Great Britain 1,204,300 men and 188,200 women, compared with 1,293,575 men and 231,724 women on 1st May. Some part of this decrease, though probably not a large part, arises from the temporary exhaustion of benefit. The total amount paid in unemployment benefit during the week ended the 27th May was about £690,000.
Capital Export, Germany
asked the Prime Minister what reply the German Government has made to the demand of the Reparation Commission of 21st March, that it should produce a scheme to prevent the undue export of capital from Germany and to secure the return of capital already exported; and whether His Majesty's Government will refuse its assent to any postponement of payments by Germany until such a scheme is produced?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the Note addressed by the German Government on the 28th May to the Reparation Commission, and to the Reparation Commission's reply, dated 31st May, both of which have been published in the Press. My hon. Friend will have observed that the German Government states that it attaches very special importance to the return of exported capital, and is prepared to discuss in detail with the Committee of Guarantees the steps to be taken against the flight of capital, and, on the basis of such discussion, to adopt any measures that may be deemed useful for the purpose. The German Government will, before 30th June, 1922, submit to the Reparation Commission a programme setting forth the measures referred to above.
asked the Prime Minister whether the French Government are in any way pledged not to take extended sanctions in the Ruhr or at Frankfort without first consulting or getting the consent of the Allied and/or Associated Powers; and whether, if the Germans do not meet their liabilities, the French after giving a fortnight's interval intend to advance into the Ruhr on 15th June?
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the statement made by the Leader of the House in reply to a question put to him by the hon. and gallant Member for Central thin (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) on the 18th May. In view of the recent Notes exchanged between the German Government and the Reparation Commission, the second part of the question does not at the moment arise.
Are we to understand that the statement made by the Leader of the House still holds the field, in spite of the statement to a different effect made in Paris?
I am not aware of any statement made in Paris, but the statement made by the Leader of the House certainly represents the view of His Majesty's Government.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will lay upon the Table the instructions given to the British representatives on the Reparation Commission of the Paris Conference; and, if there were no instructions, whether he will lay upon the Table the official reports of the speeches of the British representatives on that Commission?
No written instructions were given to the British representatives on the Commission referred to, and no official reports exist of the speeches made by the members of the Commission during the course of their deliberations. Accordingly neither part of the question arises.
Will the right hon. Gentleman lay upon the Table the decisions of the various Committees—whether British, inter-Allied, or French Committees—appointed to report upon the question of reparation, because the House has had no chance of seeing them?
I am afraid the hon. and gallant Gentleman requires to put a question on the Paper. It does not arise out of the question which has been asked.
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state the terms of the agreement reached as to German reparation, and how far they modify the terms of the London agreement of last year?
The German Government's Note of 28th May and the Reparation Commission's reply of 31st May were published in the Press. Under the Schedule of Payments dated 6th May, 1921, Germany was required, in addition to meeting the costs of occupation, to pay in respect of reparation a fixed annuity of two milliard gold marks and a variable annuity equivalent to 26 per cent. of German exports. By the Note of 31st May Germany is required to pay during 1922, in respect of reparation and of the costs of occupation 720 million gold marks in cash and to make deliveries in kind up to the value of 1,450 million gold marks. The remainder of Germany's obligations under the Schedule of Payments in respect of the year 1922 are postponed, subject to the conditions laid down by the Reparation Commission.
Is there any truth in the report in this morning's papers that the German Government has declared, in view of the failure of the bankers to find an international loan, that they do not regard themselves as bound by any of their undertakings?
I have no information at all to that effect.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will lay upon the Table the Reports of the Cunliffe Committee of 1918 on Reparation and of the Treasury Committee on the same subject?
There was no Treasury Committee on Reparation and this part of the question therefore does not arise. As regards the remainder of the question I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to a question on the same subject asked by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh on the 13th February last, of which I am sending him a copy.
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state the amount payable by Germany, under the London agreement, up to and including 31st May; and what amount has actually been paid?
I am informed that the total amount which would have been payable by Germany for the period 1st May, 1921, up to 30th April, 1922, under the Schedule of Payments of 5th May, 1921, had the operation of that Schedule not been modified by the Reparation Commission, would have been approximately 2,670 million gold marks; and that the total amount actually paid by Germany during the same period was 1,878 million gold marks. The former figure is, however, exclusive of Germany's liability for costs of Armies of Occupation, whereas the latter includes 213 million gold marks applied towards meeting such costs.
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state the effect of the Genoa Pact of Peace on the disarmament discussions of the League of Nations?
So far as I can see, any agreement having for it objects the preservation of peace in Europe or elsewhere cannot but have a favourable effect upon the efforts of the League of Nations to secure a universal reduction of armaments.
Greece And Turkey
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the manifesto issued by the Turkish Congress at Lausanne setting out the claims of the Turkish nation and alleging Greek atrocities on Turkish populations, and in view of the repeated charges of cruelty made against the Turkish Government by the American relief organisations in Pontus and Anatolia, he can now reconsider his decision not to publish the Report of the Inter-Allied Commission on Creek atrocities, having regard to the great and long-continued interest taken by the people of this country in Near-Eastern relations?
In the answer which I gave on 22nd March, 1920. I fully explained the reasons why the Allied Governments thought it undesirable to publish this Report, and I have nothing to add to that explanation.
asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made in arranging peace between Turkey and Greece?
asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made with the negotiations to bring about peace between Greece and Turkey; and what is the present position of the negotiations?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies which I gave to the hon. Members for the Wrekin (Sir C. Townshend), for Yeovil (Mr. Aubrey Herbert), and for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) on 25th May. Since that date, His Majesty's Government have continued to make every effort to bring about an early peace, but the difficulty of this task has been much increased by the continued refusal of the Grand National Assembly of Angora to accept the proposals put forward in Paris for an armistice and for a general settlement.
Germany And Russia
asked the Prime Minister whether the Government has now any information as to the alleged military alliance or convention between Germany and Russia?
Both the German and Russian Governments have categorically denied the existence of any such convention.
Foreign States (Military Preparations)
asked the Prime Minister which Department of the Government is charged with the duty of ascertaining the facts as to the military preparations of foreign States and any reciprocal agreements into which such States may enter; whether this duty is discharged by the Foreign Office, the War Office, or the Cabinet secretariat; and whether, when the responsible Department receives any information, that information is made available to the Cabinet?
The War Office deals with military intelligence regarding foreign Powers and the Foreign Office is responsible so far as agreements are concerned. All information in the possession of these Departments is at the disposal of His Majesty's Government as required, and, if deemed of sufficient importance, would be brought before the Cabinet.
Austria (Financial Re-Organisation)
asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made with the financial re-organisation of Austria?
The Austrian Government have taken steps to obtain a considerable increase of revenue by the revision of taxation, and are proposing various measures for the reduction of expenditure by the dismissal of superfluous personnel and the reorganisation of State industrial concerns. The following interim loans have been promised to Austria, in order to enable her to tide over the period before she has at her disposal the market credits, at present under the consideration of financial houses in London and New York:
Great Britain, £2,250,000.
Czecho-Slovakia, 500,000,000 Czech crowns.
France 55,000,000 francs.
Italy, about 70,000,000 lire.
The British credit was advanced in February last, and made it possible to arrest the fall in the value of the kroner for a considerable period. I understand that the French and Italian credits are not yet available.
Are we to understand that we are the only country so far that has lent money to Vienna, and that the other countries have not implemented their bargain?
What is the security against this loan?
There are certain securities in the shape of Austrian possessions, of which my hon. Friend knows, because he asked me a question before—certain art treasures and others. With regard to the question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), I understand that the offer of help has not been fully implemented by other Powers to the same extent as by this country.
If the principle and interest are not paid, are you going to take the property?
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the state of the negotiations for what he called, I think, the "market advance"?
I have not spoken of any market advance.
I understood that there was a temporary loan—I may have misheard the answer—of £2,000,000, and other promises, in order to give time for the permanent advance to be made.
There is no question of negotiations in the matter. The loan has been granted, and Austria has been dealing with it.
Has the money been spent?
Have the Governmen taken any steps to try to secure freer trade between Austria and the neighbouring countries?
We are constantly exercising every possible pressure in that direction.
Is this money raised by loan, and guaranteed by the Government?
It was part of an amount the House of Commons voted for the aid of Austria—the last amount which has been advanced.
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say this loan was granted by the British Government as a temporary measure in order to tide over the period intervening before a permanent advance could be made—a market advance. What is the condition of the negotiations as to that permanent advance?
I thought the Noble Lord had taken a very considerable interest in the matter, and I do not understand his misapprehension. The loan we have granted is a loan, not with a view to a permanent advance by someone else, but a loan by the British Government to Austria as against certain securities. It may be hoped that in the future, when Austria becomes better established again, she will be able to realise advances for herself from the market.
Is it not a fact that this loan was made pending a settlement by America which should empower Austria to pledge her Customs and other property in order to secure a general international loan? Has there been any progress made in the direction of getting that general loan properly secured, and, if not, what is our security at present, and how much longer are we going to go on with tapestries as a security?
I am afraid the hon. and gallant Gentleman has asked me a very long series of questions by way of supplementaries. I will answer to the best of my power. Undoubtedly the position of Austria became acute because of the fact that she was not able to get rid of the lien which existed over the whole*of her securities, and, taking special consideration of that fact, we agreed to make an advance which otherwise we should not have promised to make at all. We gave that advance because of the difficulty in which she then found herself, and because of her inability to get herself right. It was accordingly, pending the possibility of her obtaining such relief, that we gave that loan. It was because of the condition in which she found herself. It was not in any sense contingent upon her finding relief otherwise. Up to the present she has not been able to be put in a position in which she could get rid of the lien on her assets. Sufficient advance has not been made with that, question in America.
Is there any time limit in respect to loans promised by other Powers?
I do not think there is any time limit attached.
We must not enter upon a Debate.
Poland And Rumania (Troops, Eastern Frontiers)
asked the Prime Minister whether the Governments of Poland and Rumania have been able to withdraw or diminish their troops on their eastern frontiers by reason of the pact of peace made at Genoa?
I have no information as to any such reduction or withdrawal.
Civil Service Board Of Arbitration
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he is now in a position to state the decision of the Government as to the retention or reintroduction of the Civil Service Board of Arbitration set up as a result of the Report of the Whitley Commission?
I beg to refer to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for Leith on the 24th May, to which I have nothing to add.
Trade Facilities Act (London Tube Railways)
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he can now state the terms of the loan granted to the underground railways of London under the Trade Facilities Act for the purpose of extending and improving some of the tube railways of London; whether any conditions have been made for a sinking fund in order to repay the capital; and whether any condition has been made as to the number of men to be employed and as to the date when the work shall be commenced?
There is no question of a capital advance by His Majesty's Government to the London Underground Railway Company. The Treasury has agreed to guarantee principle and interest of issues of debentures to be made by the London Electric Railway Company and the City and South London Railway Company up to a combined total of £6,000,000. The terms of the issues will be subject to the approval of the Treasury and are not yet finally determined. No condition has been imposed as to a sinking fund, but the company in the Bill now before the House are seeking power to create a fund for redemption purposes. No specific conditions have been made as to the number of men to be employed, but it has been stipulated that work shall be started as soon as possible, and, in fact, the inauguration of the Edgware extension takes place, I understand, to-day.
Will the same facilities he given to local authorities who are owners of their own municipal tramways?
I do not think that arises. This is a special case. If the hon. Member will put a question down, I will answer it.
Housing (Government Policy)
asked the Minister of Health what is the present policy of the Government regarding the housing shortage; what is the normal rate of building required yearly; and how many houses have been built yearly since the Armistice by local, urban, county, or district authorities, and how many have been built by private enterprise since the cancellation of the Government subsidy?
As regards the first, and second parts of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the replies which I gave on the 24th May and 20th March last, copies of which I am sending to him. The number of houses completed yearly since the Armistice by local authorities and public utility societies is as follows:
|1922 (to 1st May)||…||…||30,135|
and in addition 33,308 houses had been completed up to 31st May by private builders under the Government subsidy. Information is not available as to the number of houses built or building by private enterprise outside the Government subsidy, but I may point out that subsidy to private builders continues to be payable in respect of qualified houses completed by the 23rd instant.
Will the right hon. Baronet answer the second part of the question. What is the normal rate of building required yearly?
I think the hon. Member will find that is covered in the answer.
Northern Ireland (Republican Army Raids)
asked the Prime Minister whether any portion of Northern Ireland is now in the occupation of the Irish Republican Army; and what action is being taken by the Government?
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, and the second part does not arise.
Free State Constitution Bill
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House an assurance that the amendment by the House of the terms and conditions contained in the Free State Constitution Bill, on which public servants in Ireland will retire or be discharged and pensioned, will not of itself involve the rejection of the Bill?
I regret that the hon. and learned Member should be dissatisfied with the replies which have already been given to this question; but it must be obvious to the House that, it is impossible to give a categorical reply as to the effect of a hypothetical Amendment to a hypothetical provision in the Constitution or in the Bill for ratifying the Constitution. No reply, other than what has already been stated, can be given to the hon. and learned Member's question except upon a consideration both of the provision to be amended and of the Amendment proposed.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that he has been asked several times for a definite answer to a definite, question, whether this House will have an opportunity of considering, and, if necessary, amending the terms and conditions referred to in this question, on the Free State Constitution Bill, or upon any other occasion?
As I have repeatedly said, nothing can possibly fetter the entire power and discretion of the House to act as it may think fit in regard to any Measure or legislation brought before it. The question is what advice the Government will tender to the House, and the view the House will take of that advice.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question on the Paper? If the House decides on consideration of the Free State Constitution Pill to amend these terms and conditions, will that, of itself, destroy the Bill?
How can I forecast what the, consequences will be of a hypothetical Amendment to a Bill which has not yet been introduced?
Does the right, hon. Gentleman recollect that in the case of the Treaty Bill, when it was before the House, the House was told that they could either take the Bill or leave it? Will the same procedure be followed in the case of the Bill to confirm the Constitution?
In the case of the Treaty Bill the Government took the view that it was vital to their position that the Treaty provisions should be given effect to without Amendment. As to whether the Government will take that view in connection with the forthcoming legislation, I cannot, at this juncture, say. At any rate, some considerable interval will elapse before it is brought before the House.
Is it not a fact that, during the discussion on the Treaty Bill it was said that the greatest latitude would be left to the House to amend the Bill dealing with the Constitution?
I could not have made such a suggestion as that. Clearly, if a definite agreement has been reached on both sides, that agreement cannot be altered here without involving a consequential alteration on the other side, and the House, before taking such a step, will have to weigh very carefully, with the perfect power to which I have referred, the consequences of such step.
Is it not clear, from the right hon. Gentleman's last answer, that the Government is going to make an agreement without consulting this House?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are literally hundreds of questions which it is impossible for the Government or the representatives of the Free State Government to have discussed during the last few days which must arise on this Bill and which are of the greatest importance to the Northern Government? Therefore, I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he cannot make a statement that we shall be allowed to discuss these questions and, if necessary, amend the Bill?
Can the right hon. Gentleman say why an agreement between two parties in the South of Ireland should not be as binding as an agreement between the Northern Government and this Government in their desire to conquer a portion of the population in the North-East corner of Ulster?
This is not a question of any agreement between parties in the South of Ireland, but a question of how this House and how the Government responsible to this House should discharge their duties in safeguarding certain important interests in Ireland in the process of transferring the powers of government,. I would ask not to be called upon at this stage to define the attitude which the Government will adopt when the final Bill is brought before the House. It may well be that there are classes of subjects contained in the Bill which it would be very proper for the House to deal with without impinging upon the main structure of the Bill or of the agreement between the two parties. I cannot say at this stage. At any rate, a considerable number of weeks, possibly months, will intervene before the stage is reached when the House will be asked to consider this Measure and when the questions which hon. Members have in view will have to be thrashed out in detail.
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the rights of this House are safeguarded?
It will be for the House to consider whether or not it will take any advice given by the Government.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can make a statement as to the present situation in Ireland?
I had hoped that it would be possible to make a short further statement to the House this afternoon, with the permission of the House, but I think that it would be more convenient in the general interest if I defer that statement until to-morrow, or, perhaps, until Thursday. I hope by Thursday to be in a position to make a brief statement.
Local Authorities, London (Expenditure)
asked the Minister of Health what is the amount of money expended on unemployment relief works, and on maternity and child welfare and sanitary services, by each city and borough council in the administrative county of London, in respect of the several years covered by the Ministry of Health Return of 10th November, 1921, on London Local Authorities (Expenditure); whether the amounts given in the said Return as total expenditure for each local authority take into account amounts received or paid as equalisation grants or payments under the Act of 1894; whether salaries and wages, or other expenditure, in respect of revenue-producing undertakings, e.g., electricity, is included in the amounts stated in the said Return, and in what way have surpluses or deficits in connection with revenue-producing undertakings been treated for the purposes of the said Return; and what treatment was accorded in the compilation of the Return to surplus or deficit balances brought forward or carried forward?
As the answer is necessarily somewhat detailed and lengthy, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the answer:
I will send the hon. Member a statement including such information as is available in regard to the first part of the question. As to the second part, the return referred to is a return of expenditure and not of receipts. Contributions by a Council under the London (Equalisation of Rates) Act, which are paid under precept, were not included in the expenditure of the Council, but expenditure met out of grants received under the Act was, of course, included in the expenditure of the spending authority. The total expenditure out of revenue in respect of revenue-producing undertakings, including salaries and wages, was included in the return, irrespective of whether there was a profit or loss. Similarly the total expenditure of each Council on all services combined was included in the return irrespective of whether the total receipts during any one year were greater or less than the expenditure.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can give a list of the undertakings in which the money of the taxpayer has been invested, showing the amount of money which has been invested; what return has been received; and what is the value of the investment to-day in each case?
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to House of Commons Paper 250 of 1921 and House of Commons Paper 60 of 1922.
House Of Lords
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state when the Resolutions on the Reform of the House of Lords are to be submitted?
No, Sir. I cannot name a day.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he has said that rather frequently, and that the last time he replied to the question he said that on account of the continued illness of the Foreign Secretary some new steps must he taken to bring those Resolutions forward. What steps is it proposed to take?
If my hon. Friend will refer to my answer, he will find that he has not quoted me correctly. I said that if my Noble Friend (Lord Curzon) remained for a prolonged period unable to introduce the matter, we must take other steps. I have reason to think that it is the desire in the other place that these Resolutions should, if possible, be introduced by my Noble Friend who, as the Leader of the House, is the natural person to introduce them. My Noble Friend himself hopes to be able to do so.
Does the recent addition of five peers to the House of Lords fulfil the Government's idea of reform of that Chamber?
No. These were meant to strengthen the Lords.
asked the Prime Minister whether he can state which nations have now accepted invitations to The Hague Conference; and whether he can state the names of the British expert advisers and economists attending the Conference?
I am not aware what Powers besides His Majesty's Government have yet accepted the invitation to The Hague Commission. In answer to the second part of the question, I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given to him by the Lord Privy Seal on the 30th ultimo. The other British advisers attending the Commission will be Sir Sydney Chapman for the Board of Trade, Mr. H. E. Fass for the Treasury, Mr. J. D. Gregory for the Foreign Office, and Mr. Leslie Urquhart.
Internees, Ruhleben (Relief)
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to state how many of the internees of the camp at Ruhleben during the period of the War have applied for relief from funds collected by the Government for such pur- poses; and how many have been successful in such application?
I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the sums (up to a total of £5,000,000) provided in the Estimates in 1921–22 and 1922–23 for Grants for Compensation for Damage by Enemy Action. On this assumption, the answer to the first part of the question is 1797, and to the second part of the question (up to the present) 11.
Sugar Beet Companies
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what change has taken place, if any, in the value of the shares in the British Sugar Beet Company since the announcement that the Excise duty on home-grown sugar would be removed?
There is no company of this name. Of the two companies, Home Grown Sugar, Limited, and the English Beet Sugar Corporation, Limited, I am informed that the alteration in the average price of the shares of the first named company since 30th March last is negligible. I have no information as to the second.
Norman Fairfowl (Reforma-Tory School Detention)
(by Private Notice)
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he has received representations from a public meeting held in Edinbane, Isle of Skye, and presided over by Dr. Farquhar MacRae, protesting against the character and severity of a sentence of four years' detention in a reformatory, passed in the Sheriff's Courts at Portree, upon a school-boy named Norman Fairfowl, 15 years of age, on his pleading guilty to having "lifted" from a shop counter, when no one was present, a pocket book, which he afterwards discovered contained a sum of money, and which he delivered up intact to the policeman the following morning; whether he is aware that the boy bore an excellent character in the community and in the school, and that the local people do not believe there was any intention to steal; whether he has made inquiries into this case; and whether he proposes to have the sentence reviewed?
I have received representations of the nature referred to in the first part of the question. I have made full inquiry into the circumstances of the case. The youth in question pleaded guilty to a charge of stealing a pocket book containing £15 10s. in money and a postal order for 9s. 1d. The father was present during the Court proceedings. When charged by the police with the theft Fairfowl at first denied it, but later he admitted it, and produced the pocket book, postal order and money with the exception of £1. This sum, I understand, his father offered to repay. Representations regarding the boy's previous good character have been made to me, but after careful consideration, and having regard to the power of the managers of the reformatory school to release him on licence should his conduct in the school justify this course, I do not feel justified in advising any interference with the order of the Court. I may add, that the case was fully investigated on the representation of my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire, in whose constituency Fairfowl resides.
Has the right hon. Gentleman asked the schoolmistress in whose school the boy was receiving his education as to his character, and has fie made independent inquiries of independent persons in the community as to the character of this boy, and is he aware that, on behalf of the boy, it was said that the reason why he did not at once go back with the pocket-book was that he was frightened, and is he not aware that to anyone who understands boys' psychology that is a reasonable explanation?
I do not know what my hon. Friend means by independent inquiry. I have made the inquiry which is always made in cases of this kind, when representations are made to the responsible Minister, and it was only after inquiry of that kind, and being satisfied that all the relevant circumstances were before the Court, that I declined to take the unusual course of interfering with the decision of an experienced judge, who had decided the case after all the circumstances had been laid before him.
I beg to give notice that I will call attention to this scandal on the Adjournment to-night.
Had the judge his attention called to the provisions of the First Offenders Act, dealing specifically with these cases?
I have not the least doubt that the judge had that Act before him and decided in the exercise of his discretion that this case was more suitable for reformatory treatment than for the application of the First Offenders Act.
Ronald True (Reprieve)
(by Private Notice)
asked the Home Secretary whether he has any statement to make with regard to his action in ordering the detention in a criminal lunatic asylum of Ronald True?
My right hon. Friend has done his level best to be back, in order to answer this question, of which notice was received. He only managed to get away for the week-end, to visit at Ypres the grave of his son, who fell in action. He is coming back as rapidly as he can. I am afraid that he is only just arriving in London. In view of the nature of the visit, I hope that the House will be satisfied. In his absence, perhaps, the House will allow me to make on the subject a detailed statement which is rather long.
May I postpone my question until to-morrow?
I think that perhaps that would be the best course to take in the circumstances.
May I put a question on the Rules of the House? If I put the question, and the Home Secretary replies to-morrow, and I then ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House on a definite matter of urgent public importance, and you are able to accept the Motion, shall I be ruled out of order, on the ground that I should have moved that Motion to-day, instead of to-morrow?
In these circumstances I shall not take objection on the ground of time, but keep my mind entirely clear as to any other questions.
Business Of The House
May I ask the Leader of the House what business he proposes to take to-day? Before he answers, may I, on behalf of those who sit beside me and behind me, offer to the Joint Patronage Secretary to the Treasury (Colonel Leslie Wilson) our very hearty congratulations upon the merited dignity which the King has conferred upon him?
(rising at Mr. Chamberlain's wish, that he might personally acknowledge the cheers which greeted his appearance as a member of the Privy Council)
I beg to thank my right hon. Friend and the House for the congratulations which have been so kindly extended to me.In view of representations made by hon. Members, it is not proposed to take the Law of Property Bill to-day, but we shall put it down as first Order on Wednesday next, to be followed by the Summer Time [Lords] Bill and the Criminal Law Amendment Bill. To-day, after the Burma Rules, we shall proceed with the Allotments Bill [Lords]—Second Reading—and, if time permit, the Naval Discipline Bill [Lords]—Second Reading—and the Report stage of the Post Office (Pneumatic Tubes Acquisition [Expenses]) Resolution. On Friday, we propose to take the Third Reading of the Law of Property Bill, as the first Order, and other Measures, but it is difficult to say which until we see what progress is made today and on Wednesday.
Is my right hon. Friend correct? Can the Government take the first Friday after Whitsuntide? Does it not belong to Private Members?
If the hon. Member will look at the Standing Orders, he will see it is the second and third Fridays that belong to Private Members.
New Member Sworn
Sir MALCOLM MARTIN MACNAGHTEN, K.B.E., K.C., commonly called the hon. Sir Malcolm Macnaghten, for the County of Londonderry (North Derry Division).
Railways (North Western Midland Group) Bill
Reported [Parties do not proceed]
Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed.
Leave given to the Committee on Group F of Private Bills to make a Special Report.
Special Report brought up, and read; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed.
Orders Of The Day
Government Of India Act, 1919 (Draft Rules)
I beg to move:
"That the Draft Rules under the Government of India Act required to give effect to the notification of the Governor-General in Council constituting Burma a Governor's Province under the Act, namely, the Burma Electoral Boles, amendments to the Council of State and Legislative Assembly Electoral Rides, the Burma Legislative Council Rules, and amendments to the Devolution Rules, which were presented to Parliament on the 25th day of May, 1922, be approved, subject, however, to the following modification in the Draft Burma Electoral Rules, namely:—
Page 4, Rule 4, first proviso, leave out 'of the following constituencies, namely:—
The Rangoon General Constituency;
The Rangoon Indian Constituency;
The Mandalay Urban General Constituency,'
and insert 'plural - member constituency.'"
Rule 4, leave out the second proviso.
My task, in moving this Motion, is, first of all, to recapitulate in the briefest possible fashion (because it is already known to all those hon. Members who take an interest. in Indian and Burmese affairs) the history of the application of the Government of India, 1919, Act to Burma, and, secondly, to explain the reasons why the Rules differ, with the approval of the Standing Joint Committee, from similar Rules in force in India. On my own behalf, and on behalf of the House, may I say, in passing, how sorry we are that one who was interested in Burma and would have taken a part in this Debate—the late Member for East Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees)—is not with us to-day? As those who have studied the Government of India Act, 1919, know, Rules under that Act are made by the Governor-General in Council, with the sanction of the Secretary of State in Council, subject to the approval of Parliament. The Rules can be approved in two ways—either by being laid on the Table of the House, after having been made, in which case, in order to alter them, an Address has to be presented by either House; or they can be dealt with by means of what I may call an affirmative Resolution, by laying them in draft upon the Table before they have the force of law, and by obtaining the consent of this House and of another place to them. It is the second of these two methods that my Noble Friend the Secretary of State has chosen to adopt, I am sure with the approval of the House as a whole. For any alteration of the Rules to be made, each House must agree to the Amendments made by the other House. As is known, the Government of India Act, 1919, which reformed the constitution of the Central Government of India and of eight provincial Governments, was based upon the Montagu-Chelmsford Report. That Report, while recognising that constitutional reform was as necessary in Burma as in other provinces, did not profess to deal with Burma. As the authors had not time to visit that province, and considered that Burma., as its inhabitants were racially distinct and geographically separated from those of India proper, would require different treatment. Burma was, therefore, left out of the Act of 1919 on the understanding that its Government would consult public opinion and frame a plan of reforms to suit the peculiar needs of the province. But the Act of 1919 contained a Section which enables its provisions to he applied by notification, with or without modification, to any province. The history of the decision to apply the Act of 1919 without change to Burma is briefly as follows: The Montagu-Chelmsford Report was published in 1918. In accordance with the invitation in it, the Lieutenant-Governor of Burma framed and published for criticism a provisional plan of constitutional reform, and in June, 1919, submitted to the Government of India officially a revised plan, based on his original plan, with modifications suggested by the criticism it received. This scheme was further modified by the Government of India, and as so modified was forwarded to the Secretary of State for his acceptance. The Government of India's plan, like that originally propounded by the Lieutenant-Governor, differed materially from the plan of the Act of 1919, and did not profess to provide, as the Act of 1919 attempted to do, any element of responsible Government. The Secretary of State in Council, after prolonged consideration, decided that this was an insuperable objection to the Government of India's plan. It was further decided that no plan could be devised other than that of the Act of 1919 which would afford a satisfactory solution of the problem in view of the fact that although Burma is, as I have said, racially and geographically distinct from India, constitutional problems there have more or less the same aspect as those of the provinces of India. The result was an announcement was made by the right hon. Member for Cambridge in 1920 to apply the Act to Burma. The history of the steps taken to carry out that proposal is, briefly, as follows. A short Bill was introduced in the House of Lords last year, and was referred to the Standing Joint Committee on Indian affairs. The Committee reported in favour of the scheme of the Bill as the only satisfactory solution, and recommended the appointment of a Committee to inquire locally in Burma and report on the details necessary to be included under the rules. The Bill was not proceeded with, as it was thought best to appoint the Committee to inquire into the conditions in Burma, and then eventually apply the Act by means of the notification to which I have already referred, through these rules, by a Resolution in this House. The House will realise that my Noble Friend, the Secretary of State, instead of adopting, as he could have adopted, the plan of merely laying the rules on the Table, has adopted the plan of an affirmative Resolution by which they can be debated in the House. I will now deal shortly with the the differences between these rules and the rules in other provinces. The House in the first place will realise that the Standing Joint Committee before which I gave evidence the other day on behalf of these rules, has accepted them and has published a report recommending their adoption to this House. Speaking generally, the rules follow very closely the model of the corresponding rules framed in 1920, but there are differences with regard to the composition of the Council and with regard to the scheme of the franchise. In addition there are one or two other important differences. In other provinces, in the case of India, women are debarred entirely from being eligible for candidature for the Provincial Council. They are also disqualified in other provinces from having a vote, though that disqualification may be removed by the Legislative Council of the particular province, carrying a resolution to that effect. My hon. Friend proposes in these rules to impose no sex disqualification, as regards voters, from the outset. Women will have the vote under these rules on the same basis as men. There is an Amendment dealing with this matter, and when we reach it I shall explain the reasons which led my Noble Friend to adopt that course. I will only remark here that women in Burma, with regard to the influence which they can exercise on public life, are in a very different position from the women of India. There is practically no purdah in Burma. Without meaning any reflection whatever on the women of India I may say that the Burmese women occupy a more advanced position than that of their sisters in India. There are other reasons with which I will deal more fully later on for removing, in the case of Burma, the disqualification which applies in the case of India. Then in respect of transferred subjects, it is proposed to make "transferred subjects," in Burma, certain subjects which elsewhere are "reserved." The two important additions to "transferred subjects" are European Education and Forests. I do not think it is necessary at this stage to give the reasons why the Secretary of State has thought fit, with the entire approval of all the authorities who have been consulted, to make European Education and Forests transferred subjects. Those reasons will be found in the Whyte Committee's Report (paragraphs 34–36), in paragraph 7 of the Burma Government's letter and also in the Government of India despatch (page 35 of Command Paper No. 1671). Further, the Joint Committee has dealt with the subject, and commends this alteration to the House. An important difference between these rules and similar rules in India concerns the basis of the franchise and the size of the electorate—also the question of special representation, a point on which several Amendments have been put down. First with regard to the franchise. In India the payment of land revenues is the basis of the rural franchise. I believe the reason which led the right hon. Member for the County of Cambridge the late Secretary of State (Mr. E. Montagu) to adopt that was a desire that the electorate should not be unmanageably large. The Whyte Committee, which was appointed to inquire into conditions in Burma, went fully into the question there and heard a great deal of evidence, and they decided, owing to the radical difference between the land revenue systems in India and Burma, that the scheme which had been adopted in India was impracticable in Burma, and they recommended the adoption as a basis in Burma of the payment of the capitation tax in Lower Burma and the thathameda tax in Upper Burma. The effect of adopting this basis of qualification for the franchise means that practically all heads of households are enfranchised. As far as we can estimate, the rural electorate will be two and two-fifths millions which together with the urban electorate will make roughly an electorate of three millions of whom some 200,000 at the outset will be women. I believe that is a larger proportion than obtains in the electorates in other parts. In con- sequence of the proposal to make the payment of capitation tax and thathameda tax the basis for the franchise we propose to fix a minimum age for electors of 18 instead of 21 which is the minimum age in the provinces of India, the reason being that persons become liable to the payment of these taxes at the earlier age and are entered on the tax rolls accordingly. It is not necessary for me to call attention to the fact that both in Burma and in India these ages correspond to considerably higher ages in this country. 4.0 p.m. I now come to the vexed question of special representation concerning which I understand several hon. Members feel very strongly. I propose to say very little about it now, but will deal with it in more detail when we come to the Amendment. Broadly speaking, to my mind the arguments for special representation—for community representation—under these rules are overwhelming. It is the only way by which the very considerable "foreign" communities, so to speak, in Burma will get fair representation in this new Council. We therefore propose to provide eight special communal electorates in five towns for Indians—four in Rangoon and one in each of four other towns—and in one seat in each of five rural areas for Karens, in addition to the representation which we give to Europeans and Anglo-Indians. The House will see from the Paper that I am asking it to approve of the Draft Rules, subject, however, to certain modifications. The first alteration is to carry out a proposal of which the Standing Joint Committee was in favour, and which, I believe, the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite supported. The rules, as originally drafted, gave power to split up four plural-member constituencies into single-member constituencies. It was suggested in the Committee that that should be made a general power and should refer to all plural-member constituencies. Accordingly, on the suggestion of the chairman of the Committee, and after being especially pressed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Wedgwood), I agreed, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, to this alteration being made. The second alteration is merely a drafting Amendment which carries out the first, and the third alteration corrects a mistake in the, Schedule. We discovered, after the rules had been printed, that there was a separate Tavoy urban constituency, and it was therefore necessary, when constituting the Tavoy rural constituency, to exclude the town of Tavoy. The details of any constitution are generally dull, and I do not pretend that by my exposition of a very dull subject I have made it less so this afternoon. It should, however, be realised that the House is being asked to implement the new constituency of Burma, and that we are, therefore, taking another important step in the progressive development of self-governing institutions in those parts of the Empire which are mainly inhabited by races other than our own. I may say that, Tory as I have always been, and still claim to he, though a Member of a Coalition Government, I am convinced that our history for the last 100 years does prove up to the hilt both the possibility of the constant devolution of functions from the Imperial Government to other representative Governments within the Empire without affecting in the long run the strength or the cohesion of the Empire as a whole and the impossibility in the end of maintaining an Empire such as ours by any other method.Schedule 1, page 24, column 3, against the entry 'Tavoy,' in column 1, after 'Tavoy District,' insert 'excluding Tavoy Municipality.'"
On a point of Order. Does the fact that the Noble Lord is moving this Resolution with the Amend- ments on the Paper in any way rule out the Amendments which I have put down? Would it not be better if the Resolution were moved and then, as in ordinary legislation, the Amendments were taken in their proper place as we came to them? It seems to me that in that way we should be dealing with the matter more simply. For instance, the Government Amendments about single-member constituencies conflicts with one of my own Amendments and comes after it in point of place. I was just wondering whether we shall not complicate matters unduly by taking the Resolution and the Government Amendments simultaneously.
We are bound to take the Motion as it stands upon the Paper, and of which notice has been given to the House, but I do not think it will hamper the hon. and gallant Member in moving any of his Amendments. Perhaps he will assist me, and see that I take them at the right place. I think it will be possible in that way to deal with them seriatim if desired.
This Constitution which we are debating to-day is a matter of no very great importance to the people of this country, but it is a matter of intense importance to the people of Burma. Indeed, the Burmese people constitute the Gallery to-day, and I hope that hon. Members will realise that what is said in Debate to-day, although it will not be read by one in a million of the population in this country, will be read by at least half-a-million in Burma some four weeks hence. There is in Burma an intense agitation for self-government such as we have not seen in this country for the last 200 years. The Burmese people have come late into this struggle for self-government. Five years ago there was hardly any trace of a movement in Burma for responsible government, or even for representative government, and already we see that this Constitution which we are proposing to-day is regarded by the Burmese people as being far too reactionary for them to accept. That is the pace at which things move in the East. It is absolutely essential that this Constitution should be passed and that the Burmese people should understand that the Constitution which is now being pro posed by the Government is in reality an advance upon similar legislation that has been passed for the other major provinces of India. There are nine of these major provinces of India. Each has a Legislative Council of its own which deals with a vast variety of subjects, some of which are now transferred entirely to the management of Indians or Burmans and some of which are reserved still for treatment by the Anglo-Indian bureaucracy in India. In addition to each of these local councils, there is at present a Council of State and an Assembly, both meeting at Delhi. Up till now Burma has been represented on the Council of State and the Assembly at Delhi in a very ineffective way, being represented by indirect election. The Burmese people have boycotted the election, so that there is no proper representation at Burma on the Council of State or the Legislative Assembly at Delhi. They have been waiting for the real grant of self-government to Burma.I want to show that, although we have down upon the Paper a. number of Amendments which we believe would make this constitution far better than the Draft before us, and while we urge the Government to make these Amendments now and while, if we had the power, we should make them, yet, even if these Amendments are not accepted, this constitution which is before us to-day is an improvement on the constitutions given to Bombay, Madras, or Bengal and is deserving of acceptance by the Burmese people, not as the final goal, but as a step forward in constitutional, responsible, and representative Government. It is far better than any constitution granted to the other major provinces of India. First and foremost, it gives a real live electorate. Out of 13 million people in Burma, two million or thereabouts will secure the vote under this scheme. That is as large a proportion as we had in this country before the last Reform Bill.
Well, I am not certain, but I should be very glad if it were three millions. Whether it be two or three millions, it is an enormous advance on any other province. The best province hitherto has been the United Provinces. There is a population there of 44,000,000 and an electorate of 400.000. Here we have two or three million electors for 13,000,000 people. You can see at a glance that this is a real, demo- cratic constitution so far as the franchise is concerned. Nor is that all. The Indian constitutions have been marred over and over again by stupid, impertinent restrictions upon the rights of the electorate. In many cases they are not allowed to elect any man to represent them unless he be a voter resident in the constituency which he wants to represent. I cannot think where our new constitutionalists get their knowledge of the British Constitution. One of the elementary principles of the British Constitution is that a constituency has the right to select its member where it likes. In spite of that, many of these Indian provinces have these absurd restrictions upon the people whom they are entitled to elect.
Is the hon. and gallant Member aware that in the United States, which is the greatest democracy in the world, a man must live in his constituency?
Of course I am perfectly aware of it, but, if the hon. and gallant Member had ever been there, and had studied politics there—
—he would know that every politician there who really understands democracy desires to see that restriction abolished and the same right conferred as we have in this country. At any rate, the British Constitution is a trifle older than the American Constitution, and a trifle better too. That residential qualification has been wiped out so far as Burma is concerned. They are entitled to choose their candidates where they like. That is another improvement. Then in the Indian constitutions, over and over again we had the deliberate gerrymandering of the constituencies. Even quite small towns were separated from the rural constituencies, so that the rural districts might be dominated by the landlord class in effect. The town people with their horrid radicalism were excluded and kept to their own constituency. That was most ably carried out in the Punjab, where no less than 50 towns were kept out. In the first scheme put forward by the local government, exactly the same segregation of urban from rural interests was attempted. That also has been wiped out. Finally, we have under the Burma rules a much larger number of transferred powers, powers transferred from the bureaucracy to the Ministers and administration of the Legislative Council. That, too, is a great advantage. Forestry, which in all the other provinces except Bombay has been reserved for the bureaucracy, and which of course means far more in Burma than in other Indian provinces, has been transferred, and quite rightly transferred. As a matter of fact, a great deal of the complaint against the Administration in Burma hitherto has been in connection with the exploitation of the forests. I am not at all certain—and I think several hon. Members will rub that in—that you will get more efficient administration of the forests by putting them in charge of Burmese Ministers instead of in the hands of the Anglo-Indian bureaucracy, but, at any rate, if they make mistakes, it will be their own fault, and we shall not have it always thrown in our face that the bureaucracy administer the forests in the interests of the Europeans instead of in the interests of the inhabitants of the country.All questions dealing with gaming and questions of cruelty to animals are transferred, and quite rightly transferred, because there is no more kindly people than the Burmese, no people more imbued with the spirit of kindness to animals than the Buddhist inhabitants of Burma at the present time. These things are transferred, you have got greater powers, a much more democratic franchise, you have got an honest Constitution so far as constituencies are concerned, and for those reasons I put this Constitution far in advance of all those granted to the Indian provinces. At the present moment, in Burma the question of whether they are to boycott this Constitution, or whether they are to accept it, is trembling in the balance. The Congress met about six weeks ago and decided, by a very small majority, to non-co-operate, to boycott the Councils, not to go to the poll if the Constitution was passed, and, as I think, to throw away their chances just as they have thrown them away in the other provinces of India. The question is just at the turning point, and if we could get embodied in the Constitution some of these other Amendments that I have put on the Paper, I believe we should have a very good chance of persuading the Burmans to take their place in really building up this new Dominion in the Commonwealth, building up a Dominion which in time would compare with all the other great Dominions of the Crown. We have got here a people who are very like ourselves. They are absolutely free from any of the servile faith which is so often thrown at the people of the East. They are an upstanding people, rather too fond of drink. They have many of our vices, but they have our virtues too, and one of our principal virtues which we share with them is a detestation of injustice and a real love of liberty, and I believe that, if these people are treated as they ought to be treated, as people just starting out on the road for real Dominion Home Rule, we should get from Burma perhaps the brightest example to the rest of India, and to the rest of our developing parts of the Empire in the East. One feature about Burma which is quite distinct from India is the position taken up by the women. The Noble Lord knows very well that the boycott of the Whyte Committee and the Government, the fight which the Burmese people have been putting up for the last two years against their Governor—because it has come to be now a dog fight between the Governor and the Burmese—has been really run by the women of Burma. They have organised the boycott of the universities and the boycott of the schools, and they have managed to steel the efforts of the Burmese people, an easy-going people, to make them carry out this constitutional fight in a way perhaps finer than has been seen in any of these other constitutional fights. The women form a big element in the Burmese constitutional question, and I hope the House, when we come to those Amendments dealing with the women's franchise, will see whether n e cannot do something to show the Burmese that we really mean honestly by them, and give them a sufficient inducement to come over and accept the Constitution, instead of hanging hack, resenting a half measure, and waiting for the possibility of getting a whole measure later on. I want us to make our offer as generous as possible, in order to secure its acceptance, because the House is perfectly aware that at the present time, both in India and in Burma, you have the nation just at the dividing point. Either they may go off, as Ireland has gone, getting daily more hostile, more Sinn Fein, more anti-British, or you may get a genuine development on Dominion lines, turning that country into a prosperous pillar of the Commonwealth instead of into a running sore. It seems to me that, in the case of Burma, that decision has got to be taken directly this Motion is passed, and therefore we should make it a Measure which they will be tempted to accept., and not a Measure grudgingly given, which they may think has been extorted from the British Government by their strength and our weakness. In dealing with this subject, I think we ought to mention too the gratitude that all of us, both on this side and, I hope, on that side of the House, owe to Sir A. F. Whyte, formerly Member for Perth. The democratic features in his Report—which, I may say in passing, is far more liberal than the Rules framed by the India Office—all that is democratic in this Report is really due to the late Member for Perth, and I think those of us who were his colleagues in the old days ought to pay our tribute to him for what he has done. He did it tinder great difficulties. He was boycotted from the moment he set foot in Burma; no Burmese nationalist came before his Committee to give evidence; and yet, in spite of that, he put forward a Report which is ever so much more liberal than the Constitutions turned out by that Joint Standing Committee of Lords and Commons which produced the Rules and Regulations under the Government of India Act. I will not say anything more at present, except this. I suppose I am the only Member of this House who has been in Burma or who knows the Burmese people. In speaking on this Measure, I am not merely speaking as an Englishman or as representing an English constituency. I am speaking for the Bur-mans, because I love the Burmese people. [Interruption.] It is true I was only there three or four days, but I have a great many friends in Burma, I have letters from them every week, and I am the only Member of this House who reads regularly the Burmese newspapers. Therefore I know their feelings, and I am certain I have their affection, as they have mine. The action one takes in this House is bound to be a compound. It is compounded in this case of love of the real development, as I believe, of the British Empire on the lines laid down by that stout, solid Tory constitutionalist opposite, and love of the Burmese people, whom I do want to see free, self-respecting, taking part in that great new Burman future. These people are at present helpless. They are undergoing a perpetual struggle with the Governor. The Governor does not like them, and they do not like the Governor, and they are always at war with each other We want to see peace made there, and we want to see the Burmese people with an implement in their hands which they can use for honest political struggling, instead of this perpetual non-co-operation that is going on, and has been going on for the last two years. That is the chance before them, if they accept this Constitution, and if we can improve the Constitution so that they can accept it, then we shall not only have done something for England and for Burma, but something to end the stupid, very largely ignorant, struggle that is going on between the local Government of Burma and the Burmese people to-day. They are the people for whom we are legislating. They are the future citizens of the British Commonwealth. For both those reasons I commend this Constitution to them and to this House. I believe that it could be improved, but, even unimproved, it is a step forward that is worth taking.
Hon. Members generally will agree with what has fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) in regard to the constitution which is proposed for Burma, but I think it is the duty of Members of this House to point out what is laid down in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report in regard to subjects which could be properly transferred and subjects which should be reserved. That Report states that subjects which could be transferred are those
The forests of Burma are really the lifeblood of Burma, and if there be mismanagement of the forests through inefficiency, which the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme seems to expect, a very serious financial position will be created, which will have its effect upon the prosperity of the Burmese people. Those people connected with Burma with whom I have had an opportunity of speaking tell me it is only amongst a very small section that it is desired to take over the responsibility of administering these large forest tracts. The sale of timber in Burma is not a local question at all. Timber, if it is to be sold with advantage, must be sold in those markets where the best prices can be obtained, and since teak is the chief wood found in the forests of Burma, it follows that it requires great commercial skill and great financial knowledge in arranging contracts and in ensuring that the shipments of the timber, when ordered, will be delivered up-to-date. The Noble Lord the Under-Secretary of State for India, when he spoke just now, said he would deal with this subject later, and I hope he will. I fully appreciate the fact that everybody except the people in a responsible position in Burma have said they think it is necessary to transfer the forests to a Burmese Minister, but that is not what is said by the Lieut.-Governor and by his Council. He has pointed out in a letter which was addressed to the. India Office on, I think, 23rd December, 1921, that, in the opinion of his Council and himself, to transfer the forests to a Burmese Minister would be fraught with great danger. I am quite fully aware—"which afford most opportunity for local knowledge and social service, those in which Indians have shown themselves to he keenly interested, those in which mistakes which may occur, though serious, would not he irremediable, and those which stand most in need of development."
This is a very important point, and the hon. and gallant Member must not forget what the Lieut.-Governor said in his last communication. He is not entitled to say that he has not agreed to the transfer. He has agreed.
If the Noble Lord will allow me, I am coming to that, but the Lieut.-Governor pointed out further on that there is a chance of revision by a Statutory Commission in the year 1929, and then no doubt, if there had been damage, it could be put right; but what I desire to point out particularly is that it is far easier then to give the power to the Burmans than it is to take away that power, and it seems to me that from now to 1929, as even my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme will recognise, a considerable amount of harm may be done to the finances of Burma. Other questions affect Burma very much in this proposed legislation, and I hope their attention will be fully occupied in questions of franchise, and so on, and it seems rather unnecessary to run this great risk of transferring the forests to a Burmese Minister in spite of the recommendation and the safeguards which, I quite admit, have been put forward with great ability by the Whyte Committee and the letter of the Government of India. I think it is right to mention this, because personally I am convinced that it will be found by 1929 that the revenues of Burma have fallen considerably as regards the safe of timber, and then it will be deplored that this step was taken which possibly might be reserved for a later decision. Personally, I think the Burmese people will be able to run their forests extremely well after they have had a larger amount of interest in running the forests than they now have, which can perfectly well be given them under the new Constitution. I think it is a matter of very great importance that before this great national wealth, the only national wealth of Burma which is marketable to-day, is transferred to Burmese Ministers, the House should realise the great risk which is being run.
I should like to join with the Noble Lord in what he said, and to express my regret that the late Member for East Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees) is not with us to-day to join in our Debates. As regards the Draft Rules which the Noble Lord has put before us, I must confess that I am sorry no opportunity has been taken to do away with that very pernicious system of diarchy that has been extended to the rest of India. Diarchy there, as we know, was not the original pronouncement of the Government of the 20th August, 1917. It was a system brought in by the late Secretary of State on his own personal responsibility, and has been proved to be unworkable in India. All the Lieutenant-Governors of India at the time said it would be unworkable, but they were not allowed to come over here to give evidence to that effect. Sir Valentine Chirol, in his letter describing the working of the Constitution in India, has drawn attention to the fact that in the Provincial Councils diarchy has been "skipped"—that is the expression he used. I think this system of divided government would be one of the greatest curses to inflict on Burma. It is a system which has never been tried in the world before, and cannot possibly go on. It has been proved to be unsuccessful in India. I ask the Noble Lord to "skip" diarchy. It is an impossible thing to divide a Government. If you have 12 men in the Council—
My hon. and gallant Friend is dealing with a subject which is really out of order on this Resolution. This Resolution applies the 1919 Act to Burma.
I am now asking the Noble Lord to put before the Secretary of State the inadvisability of becoming responsible for applying it to Burma so far as diarchy is concerned. That is the point between the Noble Lord and me. I should like to join with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Major Glyn) in his remarks as to the great injury that may be done to Burma on this question of forests. I would refer to the Report of the Standing Joint Committee. The question is one of the greatest importance to Burma, and I do not think it ought to be allowed to rest as it is. As the Report says:
Why should the Noble Lord go out of his way to risk the general prosperity of the Province? It is a very great risk. We know that the whole prosperity of Burma depends on forests. It is true there are ruby mines and other things, such as oil and paddy, but forestry is the most important industry, and I do say the Noble Lord is absolutely risking the prosperity of the Province if he agrees to this. We cannot have a greater argument in favour of the abolition of diarchy than this proposed transfer of the forests. I say, put one unified Government in charge of Burma, and let that unified Government deal with this question; but to transfer it to Burmese Ministers, in opposition to official Ministers, is sure to create trouble. If diarchy were abolished, it would settle the question at once, but if it be not abolished, I say that the question of forests should be a reserved subject, and not a transferred subject. There is another point, and that is the question of the European franchise. The Joint Committee says:"The Whyte Committee recommended the transfer to the jurisdiction of Ministers in Burma of the subject of forests. The Committee do not oppose a recommendation so supported, but they accept it with some misgiving, and they wish to record their sense of the heavy responsibility thereby laid upon Ministers in view of the extreme importance of the forests of Burma to the general prosperity of the Province,"
The Committee, however, preferred to accept the recommendations of the Whyte Committee and the Burma Government. Why should the Special Committee accept the opinion of these Committees in preference to that of the Government of India? I think the Government of India are perfectly right. In the correspondence we have before us, the question is dealt with, and there it says that there is a larger proportion of Europeans in Burma than in Bengal, or any of the other Provinces. In giving a new constitution to a set of people who have never had a constitution before, is it not of the utmost importance that you should have as many men in the Council who have been born and bred and brought up to understand constitutional Government? Here you are having a Council of men entirely new to anything of the sort. The Report says:"As regards the representation of Europeans and Anglo-Indians, the Whyte Committee and the Burma Government both recommended one seat each for these communities. The Government of India were of opinion that one seat was insufficient for these communities, and proposed to raise the number to three."
That is the opinion of the Government of India. I ask the Noble Lord to reconsider this. It is a most important point. You want as many experienced men in starting a new Council like this as you can possibly have. Why, then, should the Noble Lord cut down the proposal of the Government of India, and only give one seat, when the Government of India say that there ought to be four or five seats? I ask the Noble Lord to put that point before the Secretary of State. As to the age of 18 for the franchise, I think it is a ridiculous age. Personally, I was not qualified for a vote under 21. Before that I did not know the difference between the Lord Chancellor and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and how could a boy of 18 in Burma know anything about the constitution? If you had made it 25, it would have been a different matter. There is another question which, I hope, will be considered, and that is the absolute necessity, to my mind, of candidates for election giving a deposit, which should be forfeited if a proper number of votes were not recorded for that candidate, the same as in this country. We have just given a new Constitution to Malta, and that provision is inserted There We see that air sorts of what, I think, the Noble Lord calls "freak candidates" have been brought forward in India. I want to stop freak candidates. I want to see every candidate who comes forward put down his deposit, and if he does not get a. certain number of votes, that deposit should be forfeited. It is the only safeguard that well-supported and reliable men will be brought forward as candidates. There is another point which I should like to see in these new Draft Rules. As the Noble Lord may, perhaps, remember when the Government of India Act was passed, it was moved in the House of Lords that retired Indian Officers of the Indian Army should have a, vote for the legislative assembly and the Council of State. Lord Sinha, then Under-Secretary of State for India, gave a promise in the House of Lords that on the first change in the Rules, that should be inserted. There is a chance now to insert it here, and I ask the Noble Lord to insert it. A native officer who has served his country should have this vote. I ask the Noble Lord to bring these points before the Secretary of State, and to have them considered by the Council of India and by the Government of India."The proportion of Europeans in Burma to the rest of the population is, in fact, more than twice that in Bengal, and there is, in fact, little doubt that on these figures, as compared with Bengal, there should be at least four, if not five. European seats in Burma."
I hope I shall be in order in assuring my hon. and gallant Friend that diarchy is by no means dead in India. I admit that it exists with various degrees of vitality, those degrees of vitality being dependent, more or less, upon the co-operation of the executive side and the Ministry, but, apart from that, diarchy is not yet dead, and I think it is rather premature to say it is going to die. As regards the conferring of a Council status upon Burma, it is a great experiment. We all admit that, even those of us who are entirely in favour of the natives' claims. There is a great deal to be said against it, I willingly admit. First of all, there has been very little political train- ing in Burma. Whether that be the fault of the Government or not, I will not say now, but it is a fact that Burma has had much less experience in the working of local self-government than any other part of British India. Further, the higher education of the country is far behind what it ought to be. As regards elementary education, it is widespread and efficient; but as regards secondary and higher education, it has been very deficient. So much so, that I believe not a single Burman has been able to enter the Indian Civil Service through competition. These are reasons which dispose one at first sight to be against conferring Parliamentary institutions upon the Burmese.There is another side to the question, and I am impressed more by that side than the other. It is this: A wide-spread prevalence of fairly-efficient elementary education. Then there is the absence of caste, and of those caste difficulties which exist in India; though they have been for political purposes enormously exaggerated. There is the higher position of women in Burma which is a point to be taken into consideration as an added qualification for self-government. Again, there is the higher standard of living and comfort amongst the people. So that, on the whole, I think we can go so far in giving self-governing powers to the Burmese as we have gone in India. In fact, one Lieutenant-Governor of Burma, who is not credited—though I sometimes think an injustice is done to him—with being a liberal-minded administrator, has said that on the whole he thinks that Burma has a better chance of making progress in the ways of self-government than even India has. These are points to be considered. I was rather alarmed at one aspect of this scheme. I hope the Noble Lord was incorrect—he is not often—in speaking of 3,000,000 as the number of people who would be enfranchised under this scheme. If I remember rightly there will be a million-and-a-half rural voters, and an indeterminate number of municipal voters. Something like 2,000,000, rather than 3,000,000, is likely to be the number enfranchised. The liberality and generosity with which the vote is to be conferred upon the people of Burma has been largely determined, unconsciously, perhaps, by considerations of convenience. The question of the franchise is in all reform schemes a question of great difficulty. I believe that Lord Morley, when he was working out what are known as the Morley-Minto scheme of reforms, told a member of the present Government that the question of the electoral franchise was what troubled and puzzled him more than anything else. He said: "I keep awake at nights trying to solve this problem of the franchise." We have here the franchise ready to hand. It will make the thing easy. And that accounts for the enormous number we propose to enfranchise. Both in Upper and Lower Burma the Capitation Tax and the Income Tax provide us with a ready-made roll of electors, and we shall not have to have registration courts in Burma or anything of the kind. That is a great recommendation. I hope we shall not find that we have yielded too easily to considerations of convenience, and that we have got over-swamped by an electorate which will he difficult to manage, for 2,000,000 is a large number out of a population of something like 12,000,000. There are features in the franchise which arrest attention. I am glad—and I am sure the majority of Members of this House will be glad—to find that means of enfranchising, at all events, a certain number of the women of Burma has been found. Female householders and female contributors to the Income Tax have, ipso facto, the right to vote. We have been rather holder on this occasion than in passing the India Bill. Then—against the feelings of the Noble Lord himself—we left it to the various provincial councils to decide whether or not they would give the vote to women. We are deciding it already, and have not left it to Burma. We have been justified, I think, by the decision we have taken in regard to India because of the varied feeling in regard to the female franchise in the provincial councils. We have in effect said to the people, "If you want it, have it, and if you do not you can do without it." The consequence is that Madras and Bombay have accepted the franchise, and Bengal has declined it. But we know something of the women of Burma. I wish I had as much knowledge of their merits as my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wedgwood) opposite—
I have not had three days, or three hours even. However, from all we have been told of the qualities of the women of Burma, we may hope that they will properly exercise the franchise. The hon. and gallant Gentleman in the opening of his remarks spoke of the people of Burma in four weeks hearing all that has been said in this House on the subject of their enfranchisement. I wish he had been a little more impressive in advising his Burmese friends cheerfully and thankfully to accept this scheme. One of the worst features in the discussion on the Indian Bill was that some hon. Members encouraged and helped the opposition in India by saying that the Bill was a trumpery one, and that they ought not to be satisfied with it, so encouraging them to agitate. If we have an opportunity here of telling the people of Burma that certain politicians in Burma might mend their ways, and that it was discreditable to them that the proceedings of a liberal-minded Committee like that conducted by Sir Frederick Whyte should be boycotted, we should do it. Such men do not deserve the franchise. If, I say, my hon. and gallant Friend opposite would tell his Burmese friends that, if they do not give up their boycotting and practises of that kind, they will deserve nothing that we can give them, so much the better.We had from two hon. Members some very proper comments upon the proposals to make forests a transferred subject. I am not disposed to go so far as to oppose the decision and recommendations of the Whyte Committee. I let it pass. But I wish to say that I have great misgivings on the way in which the Burmese Ministry will exercise the powers conferred upon them in regard to the forests. My recollection of forest policy in India is that we had long and sometimes bitter controversies in the Bombay Presidency as to the forest problem and the forest policy of the Bombay Government. The attitude of popular politicians in regard to the question of forestry is not a conservative attitude, and I trust hon. Members on the opposite side will not misunderstand me when I say that a policy in regard to the forests which is not conservative is a wasteful and may be a disastrous policy. It is immediate benefit that the people ask for. They do not look to the larger and later results. There is a passage in one of the printed Papers (Whyte Report, page 41), in connection with this matter which I think expresses fairly well the risks that will be run and the way in which the forests might be managed under a popular administration:
As I say, I am not going so far as to oppose that suggestion, but I do say that it will be an advantage if in Burma it is known that in this House grave doubts have been expressed as to the wisdom of this proposed transfer, and if we urge upon Ministers to be careful in dealing with so valuable an asset, and not to give in to popular clamour and make wasteful and hazardous concessions. We are asked, as regards the future, how the Burmese are likely to exercise the privileges and rights we are about to impose upon them. Some have said that you will not get in Burma a, political class; you will not get anything equivalent to the Moderates or the Liberals of India. In the Council of State last year there was a Debate upon the Burmese question, and the European representative of Rangoon, Sir E. Holberton, said:"Scientific conservation of an asset of this nature, in favouring future generations, is naturally not, popular, and it would not be wise to place the responsibility for it in the hands of a Minister who will be responsible to, and naturally largely influenced by, the wishes of an electorate which is as yet completely untrained and incapable of appreciating the importance of a policy of scientific and far-sighted development."
We may be told we are running risks in passing these regulations and in introducing Burma to the privileges of the Diarchy. We run risks. But we shall run greater risks if we allow Burma to remain outside the Indian Constitution. I for one—and I am sure the Noble Lord will say the same thing—would hesitate and fear to pass by the claims of Burma at this moment. They are recent, but they are growing, and are very strong, and though the people of Burma are a mild and gentle, and on the whole, a reasonable people, they would not stand without something more than a mere protest much longer the withholding of their rights. Therefore, we may, I think, look forward with confidence to the future. We have got good advice on the various points, and we will look forward to the Burmese accepting the privileges which are being bestowed upon them, and using them wisely. I am altogether with the Noble Lord in his belief that the development of representative institutions and constitutional liberties in outlying parts of the Empire does greatly tend to strengthen the Empire, otherwise I should not support this Resolution."Provided the Government meet them on two points, reform and education, young Burmans will remain on the right side, and will develop into a most useful political organisation whose services will be of a permanent utility to the local governments."
I am one of those who have always regretted that Burma was in any way connected with India, and I look forward to the day when Burma will be regarded, not as part of the Indian conception of nationality, but as a separate nation altogether from India. If I thought that the constitution which is now proposed was in any way likely to make that policy more difficult in the future, and less likely to be realised, I should hesitate to support this scheme. I do feel that we have in Burma and the Burmese people a very distinct nationality of its own, with a distinctive culture and race and, above all, a distinctive religion which has permeated the whole social outlook of the Burmese people, and whatever may be the destiny of India and the Indian peninsular proper, the evolution of Burma will be different and on quite different lines, producing an entirely different civilisation.It is, perhaps, unfortunate that the one part of the world under the jurisdiction of the India Office which has been the last to receive a Constitution of this kind is the one part of that territory which stands out as being more pre-eminently suited to this new Constitution and, indeed, for more suited than some of the other Indian provinces. I rejoice with the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) that in Burma the non-Indian view has been taken at last with regard to the franchise, and I do think it is possible, in view of the condition of Burma, to have an extremely low general franchise, because there you have no caste traditions and there are not a large number of very rich or poor people. You have a wide distribution of property and elementary education, and taking the Burmese as a whole they are much of a muchness, a very attractive and simple people with extremely attractive virtues and very few vices. I believe, on the whole, that Burma of all Asiatic people, together with the Siamese and people of kindred racial conditions, are people who can most readily absorb what we call democratic ways of doing things, and I believe they can absorb those ideas even more readily than India, where there is a great Mahommedan ascendancy through the Sultans and the Princes, and where there is a caste system stratifying the whole of society. Therefore in granting Burma a democratic Constitution, I regard it as much more likely to be the real permanent foundation of the ultimate Constitution which will be worked out by the Burmese in the course of time. With what has been said about the diarchy I quite agree. I hope that from the very start, as was the case in Madras, there will be an effort made to work the thing more or less as a united Government. After all, a diarchy is simply a stepping stone to something else—not a thing in itself to be preserved at all costs, but only a thing to work through in, order to obtain another thing. What is the object of it? Simply to make it perfectly clear that the responsibility for a very considerable field no longer rests with the British Government and the British Raj. Considering the difficult time those Officers are having at the present moment and the difficulties with which they are faced, I think they have been very unfairly treated and criticised. After all, they are the agents of Parliament who are responsible to us, and if there is anybody responsible for any mistakes they commit, then it is the British Minister sitting on the Treasury Bench and the Members of this House who are equally responsible for not bringing the Ministers to account who are at fault. This idea of bureaucracy. I think, is a little hard at this stage, and, surely, we want to get away from those rather trite and easy phrases into the newer atmosphere. Personally I believe that this Constitution for Burma is overdue by nearly five years, since the historic declaration of 20th August, 1917. I think there has been a most unfortunate delay in bringing this matter to a final con- clusion. In the beginning there certainly seemed to be a considerable lack of vision, not as to how opinion was likely to move in Burma, but as to how it was moving throughout Asia, because this movement has been synchronous throughout the whole Continent. I think a little more vision ought to have been shown in this matter, and I regret very much that. Burma was not given this new Constitution at the time when the other provinces were dealt with. I would like to say a word or two about the forests. I notice there is no Amendment on the Paper dealing with forests, and I am rather surprised at this, because it rather implies that the matter is not going to be dealt with any further. The people who will suffer first from any mismanagement of the forests are the Burmese people themselves through the revenues of Burma, and this will be brought home to them extremely soon if any unscientific management of the forests is undertaken. In view of the evidence which we have had before us, I am rather inclined to take the view that we should not anticipate that the Burmese Minister and the Burmese Council will act in a manner so contrary to the true and proper scientific interests of their country as has been indicated. On the whole, I should think that it is more likely to be exactly the other way, and that a Burmese Minister, in dealing with scientific matters, will be inclined to lean even more than the ordinary European official to purely scientific advice. Therefore I do not think we need have any fear on that ground. There is one point in connection with the forest service and the development of that service, and that is the control of the forest officers. The relations between the forest officers and the Minister depend very largely upon the personal sympathy of the Minister and the readiness of that Minister to enter into the life of the man who is engaged in forest work. That is one of the difficulties which we have to face. If one may be allowed on this occasion to say things which may be reported in Burma, I hope that when this transfer is made that, whatever Government becomes responsible for that great trust of the nation, the forests, they will enter fully into the difficulties and the hardships which faced the forest officers who have served the Minister and the country so well, and who have during the last 20 or 30 years made the forest administration of Burma admittedly one of the finest and best administered forestry districts of the world. I know that scientific men who are well known all over the world are ready to pay that tribute to the forest management of Burma. With regard to the other questions which have been raised, I must confess that I have considerable sympathy with the object of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme in seeking to limit in Burma, as far as possible, the application of what is to my mind the unfortunate Indian system of communal representation. We had to apply communal representation in India, but I understand from what I have heard this afternoon that there is to be laid on the Table of the House a report of the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies on the West Indies, in which, I understand, there is a new constitution suggested for Trinidad. I remember that there we were asked for communal representation, and I am glad to say that we turned it down very decisively. Where-ever it can be avoided, I think communal representation should be avoided, because it has a tendency to stereotype racial and religious differences and prevents the cohesion of different classes of the community. Therefore I venture to express the hope that even yet it may be possible to minimise the grant of communal representation which is proposed. I know I am saying this rather against the Indians in Burma, but there is in Burma a large floating population who have really no permanent interests in Burma and, in fact, have no real connection with its interests, and therefore I think to stereotype their representation for all time in the Burmese Council would be most unfortunate. In a country like Burma, which is overwhelmingly populated by men of one race, one language, and one religion, we want to do everything we can to make that community one, and not allow it to be split up into fragments, factions and small divisions. I notice that my right hon. Friend opposite says, "No Home Rule." But obviously, unless you have something of this kind, the government of Burma will become impossible. It is perfectly clear that not only in the British Empire, but all over the world, there is a movement in the direction of devolution, and, as education spreads, men of different races and different traditions become more and more keenly interested in public affair