Captain Viscount EDNAM
I beg to move to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsthis House, whilst fully desirous of promoting the re-establishment of our relations with European countries on the basis of mutual advantage, urges His Majesty's Government to take immediate steps to bring about the fullest possible extension of trade within the Empire and the development of the resources of the Empire in close co-operation with the authorities of the overseas portions of the Empire.The fortune of the Ballot has given me au opportunity of raising a question, which, so far as I know, has not been discussed in this House for some considerable time. It is of interest to many hon. Members, to the commercial and industrial community throughout the world, and to the people of our Empire as a whole. The Prime Minister, in his election address, treated this subject of Imperial trade development as one of the utmost importance, and, in view of the Imperial Economic Conference, which is to assemble in London on the 1st October this year, it is wise that we should review our present Imperial trade position, and consider what further steps can be taken by the Imperial Government in the immediate future with a view to strengthening our trading relations with the component parts of the Empire on the basis of the Resolutions passed by the Imperial Conferences of 1917 and 1918. I hope, when the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade replies to the Debate, that he will be able to inform the House that the Government have a definite policy for the further development of our Imperial trade and of Imperial resources, and have in view practical schemes which can either be carried into 1084 effect at once or else put clown upon the Agenda for discussion at the forthcoming Conference. I hope also that he will be able to tell the House what are to be the Terms of Reference of this Conference and what subjects it is proposed to put down for discussion.
It appears to me, although there has been a great deal of talk about this question during the last two years, although frequent conferences have been assembled, although resolutions have been passed and although Committees have been set up, yet very little has been actually accomplished, and that the time has come when this question should be dealt with practicably rather than theoretically. We are up against a grave economic situation unparalleled in the history of the world, resulting in trade depression and serious want and unemployment. The measures which have been adopted so far, sound though they may be, are inadequate to cope successfully with this immediate crisis. Something wider and more definite is required. Moreover, we have not the time to delay in coming to a decision of policy. Immediate action is necessary, or it will be too late. It is of vital importance, for this reason, that generalities and further resolutions should be dropped and that the Government should adopt a concrete policy on a scale sufficient to lead to the rapid development of our Empire and the consequent solution of many of the acute problems with which we are faced, that the Imperial Government should decide what can be immediately done within the sphere of Government action, and that at this year's Conference the Government and the representatives of the overseas portions of the Empire should mutually agree upon further schemse of organisation which can be put in hand later.
There are other reasons why delay in coming to a decision of policy and delay in acting upon the Resolutions of past Conferences is having a harmful effect. Firstly, as I understand it, schemes which have been outlined by Colonial and Dominion Governments in connection with the Empire Settlement Act and the development of Imperial resources, shipping, communications, and so on, are being held up in the absence of a settled policy by the Imperial Government. Secondly, the interests of the Empire as a 1085 whole are being gravely threatened by the economic development of foreign countries. For instance, the United States of America are making a determined and so far extremely successful attempt to capture Canadian trade. Some figures recently published by the Guaranty Trust Company of New York show that out of 652,000,000 dollars of new capital sent abroad by the United States in1922, 156,000,000 were sent to Canada and Newfoundland. The bulk of Canadian financial requirements is being supplied by America. The result of this was that in 1922 our share of the Canadian import trade was only 16 per cent., as compared with America's share of 72 per cent.; although we take over 51 per cent. of the Canadian exports, while America takes only 30 per cent. In the same way, though on a smaller scale, American capital is finding its way into Australia and South Africa. The third reason is that the fact of passing unanimous resolutions at. Imperial Conferences and then not giving effect to those resolutions damages Imperial unity. It tends to make such an important event as an Imperial Conference meaningless and leads toward Empire disintegration. We have passed the era of mere pious resolutions at such conferences. Far better for the Imperial Government to refuse to accept these resolutions than, having accepted them, to neglect to act upon them because it is politically inconvenient to do so. An obligation of honour should rest upon all Governments of the Empire, who, having accepted such resolutions, through their representatives, should give legislative or administrative effect to them in their countries, even in face of possible hostile opinion from organisations of vested interests. That especially applies to the Imperial Government. They should give, a bold lead in this respect. They have done much as regards Empire settlement and migration, but that is only a beginning.
This ideal of Imperial development is in no way opposed to every practical and possible assistance being given simultaneously to the development of foreign markets, to the reconstruction of our European markets, and to the development of foreign countries themselves. In the resolutions of former Imperial Conferences clauses were inserted safeguarding the interests of foreign countries, and. particularly the interests of our Allies.
1086 But increased productivity is the panacea for the post-War burdens of the whole world. And surely there is a far more fertile field of productivity within the boundaries of the Empire than in the devastated countries of Europe. That was true before the War in the full prosperity of Europe. How much truer is it to-day under existing economic conditions? The loss of our Russian markets, the collapse of our European markets, and the decrease of our Eastern markets make it imperative that we should develop this field in order to find fresh markets for our manufactures. Therefore, not only will it pay us from an Imperial point of view far more to concentrate upon the development of Imperial trade and 'Imperial resources rather than to concentrate upon foreign trade and foreign resources, but increased prosperity will come also to foreign countries with whom trading relations will inevitably be opened up.
Even before the War our foreign trade was declining in value year by year as compared with our Empire trade, as figures clearly show. This was due to the increasing protective policy pursued by many of these countries. Since the War these tariff walls have grown higher and even yet more numerous, and there are a larger number of economic areas in the world than formerly. I will not weary the House by quoting quantities of figures, but, as proof of my argument, I would like just to give some of our export percentages to the Empire in 1913 and in 1922. In 1913, 37.2 per cent. of our total exports went to the British Empire, and in 1922, 40 per cent. In 1913, the four Dominions imported goods from the United Kingdom to the value of £6 per head of population, whereas our four principal foreign customers imported goods to the value of only £1 per head of population. In 1922, these figures rose to £7 10s. per head in the case of the four Dominions and to only £I 17s. per head in the case of the same four foreign customers. In 1913, 47 per cent. of the total export tonnage of iron and steel went to the British Empire, and in 1922 this figure rose to 52 per cent. One of the most important resolutions that was passed at the 1918 Conference was as follows:The time has arrived when all encouragement should he given to the development of Imperial resources, and especially 1087 to making the Empire independent of other countries in respect of food supplies, raw materials, and essential industries. With these objects in view, this Conference expresses itself in favour of (1) the principle that each part of the Empire, having due regard to the interests of our Allies, shall give specially favourable treatment to the produce and manufactures of other parts of the Empire; and (2) arrangements by which intending emigrants from the United Kingdom may be induced to settle in countries under the British flag.As regards the second part of that Resolution dealing with Empire migration, the primary step has been taken by the Imperial Government under the Empire Settlement Act and the organisation under that Act administered by the Overseas Settlement Committee. That in itself is not enough. Development requires material capital as well as human capital. Every encouragement, if necessary by financial and legislation assistance, should be given by the Imperial Government to the development of railways, harbours, shipping, communications, and air transport, medical improvements, scientific experiments, and so on in every part of the Empire where increased productivity is most likely to result. Statistics show the immense value of these undeveloped resources and how with proper organisation the Empire could be made entirely self-sufficing both in foodstuffs and in raw material—and yet have enough of both these commodities left over to supply a large portion of the rest of the world. I maintain that the lesson of modern history is self sufficiency. The War found the Empire unprepared in that respect, and we suffered in consequence, and it would be criminal if we did not ensure for future safety by taking every advantage of that lesson. Self sufficiency, as far as certain existing commodities produced within the Empire are concerned, is not so much a matter of stimulating the production of those commodities as of directing a portion of those commodities to British markets which at present are sent to foreign markets, and of ourselves importing from within the Empire those same commodities which at present we import from abroad. Another argument in favour of developing the resources and particularly the resources in raw materials of the Empire is that the more raw material we buy from the peoples of the overseas portions of the Empire, the more we shall 1088 increase the volume of our import trade from within the Empire, the more credits they will pile up in this country and the more manufactured goods they will buy from us.
With regard to the first part of the Amendment, dealing with Imperial Preference, effect has been given to the principle of preferential tariffs in each succeeding Budget since 1919. The effect of this can be seen in the increased volume of Empire trade since that year. It seems to me that this principle could well be extended on the basis of existing tariffs, and as additional commodities are normally made subject to customs duty, with beneficent results both to ourselves and to the overseas portion of the Empire. I gather that the general feeling in the Dominions and the Colonies is that we do not reciprocate sufficiently from this country, and there seems to be some justification for that feeling. For instance, Australia gives us preferences, which in the year 1991 were valued at nearly £9,000,000. The total value of British preferences to Australia in the same year was only £257,000, of which £239,000 was on wines and only £18,000 on other products. Before the War it used to be argued that the protective benefit of the British Navy was an adequate compensating advantage for the lack of reciprocity in preferential tariffs. But, in consideration of the magnificent part which the Dominions and Colonies played in finding assistance during the War, I must say I feel that this argument is no longer as strong as formerly.
With regard to administrative preferences, the Conference of 1918 reaffirmed the resolution of the Conference of 1902, that, in all Government contracts, whether in the case of the Colonial or the Imperial Government, it is desirable that, as far as practicable, the products of the Empire should be preferred to those of foreign countries. I submit that since the War the terms of that Resolution have not been as closely adhered to as is desirable, and I suggest that a better understanding between Governments and Trade Commissioners might lead to more Governmental contracts being placed within the Empire and less with foreign countries than is at present the case. This, in itself, will greatly increase our Imperial trade and strengthen Imperial unity
1089 I hope I have not given the impression that in pushing forward a wide policy of Imperial trade development I desire to see the Imperial Government or the Government of any other portion of the Empire, attempting to control that trade by means of intricate legislation or bureaucratic interference. I am as much opposed to State interference in trade and industry as any Member of the House. The future success of inter-Empire trade will depend, in the main, upon the energy and enterprise of the private individuals and private concerns engaged in it, and also on the toughness and grit of future settlers. Nor do I wish, even if it were possible in any way, that the autonomous powers of any portion of the Empire should be decreased. Rather as time goes on will they necessarily be increased, but it is for the Imperial Government, in the closest possible co-operation and agreement with the authorities of all portions of the Empire, to make a start, and point out the way in regard to trade development. It is their duty to organise; it is their duty to frame schemes, and. to see that the utmost publicity is given to those schemes. It is their duty to give the widest possible scope to private enterprise. It is their duty to legislate where legislation is required, and to give financial assistance where such is possible and wise.
Before the War about £150,000,000 of public issues of capital, apart from private investments, was sent abroad every year from these shores. Of that amount, over one-half went to foreign countries, while under one-half went to the Dominions, and only 5 per cent. went to the Crown Colonies. A large part of this capital will always, of course, find its way to foreign countries to assist in their development, but I submit too much capital is being invested from this country abroad, and an insufficient amount is being invested within the Empire. I believe that every pound invested from this country in some Imperial development scheme is equal in its value to future trade and future prosperity to £3 invested abroad, and I hope the Government will devise some means of directing more and more capital every 'year from this country towards the development of our Imperial heritage. We are not worthy possessors of that heritage unless we do everything in our power to develop it. I do not underrate 1090 the magnitude of the task, but this country and the Empire has never flinched from undertaking great tasks, and this task is no greater than that which together we undertook during the War. The close of the American Civil War found America exhausted, maimed, depressed and impoverished. She realised that the whole of her future prosperity depended upon concentrating the whole of her national energies on the development of those vast potential resources which Nature had placed at her disposal. During the next. 40 years she developed and expanded to a greater extent than during the whole previous period of her history. We find ourselves in much the same position at the close of the European War. If we emulate her example, we shall find that within the confines of our own Empire lies the key to those great post-War problems which at present appear to us to be almost beyond solution. The Empire is a worldwide force, and the neglect of Imperial resources is equal to the neglect of the world's interests. It is our bounden duty to take all measures to develop those resources. It is our duty not only to ourselves, not only to all those who reside within and without the Empire's boundaries, but it is our duty also to our children and to our children's children, and to those grand old pioneers who bequeathed to us these incomparable possessions.
§ Sir HARRY BRITTAIN
I beg to second the Amendment.
I rise with great diffidence at any time to address this honourable House. I do so to-day with even greater diffidence than usual, because I am aware that I am surrounded by hon. Friends who have made a life study of this, one of the outstanding questions of the day. My sole qualification, for what it is worth—and that.I fear is not very much— is that it has been my good fortune to have visited very many parts of this great Empire of ours, and for the last 20 years to have been associated in some degree with the various institutions in this country which are doing their best to link up the constituent parts of our mighty Empire. Love of Empire, thank Heaven, is not a party question, and all parts of this House are united in doing all they can to assist in the development of British Imperial resources. Naturally we occasionally approach the subject from 1091 different angles, but I cannot help thinking that by frank and straightforward statements we may endeavour to agree upon as many points as we possibly can and then proceed to put those points into action without undue delay. The steady growth of our Imperial trade was for a long time taken for granted. It worked smoothly, for we did not realise its complexities until the War dislocated its machinery. There has been much introspection since.
To realise something of Empire development and incidentally to gain considerable encouragement to-day, we can look back to the termination in 1815 of the last great struggle before the world War. We found ourselves then in the same troubles as we are in to-day, and with almost the same burden of debt in relation to our national income. At that period Great Britain ceased to be an exporter of grain and became an importer, and, as we know now to our cost, three-quarters of our people rely upon imports of that all-important material. England and Wales in those days had merely 150 individuals to the square mile, whereas at the beginning of this century they had no less than 550. We undertook the development of our home resources, and for over 50 years easily led the world. In 1870 came a reaction, and for 30 years our exports of wholly or partly manufactured goods remained practically stationary. Of these goods in 1870 we exported £136,000,000 in value, and in 1900 £138,000,000, so that our exports were only up £2,000,000, but at the same time our export of manufactured goods to the Empire rose from £44,000,000 in 1870 to £81,000,000 in 1900, so that we can say that at this very difficult period of time the Empire market undoubtedly saved this country. If we had realised this fact then, and taken full advantage of it, with all the energy of which our race is capable, a very different story might have been written to-day, for although the aggregate amount of our exports to the Dominions has increased since then, the proportion to the total amount has considerably diminished.
From the beginning of this century up to the period of the War, as we all know, our exports to our Dominions and to India increased, and in many cases increased enormously. The Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey (Viscount Ednam) has given 1092 one or two interesting figures in reference to the export of British manufactured goods to the Dominions in 1913. From the point of view of the value of the amount exported in proportion to population, it is interesting to note that, comparing the export to our own Dominions with that to Europe and North and South America, 21,000,000 whites as against 500,000,000 whites, we find that from the point of view of trade one white Briton overseas is equal to 11 white foreigners, which, from the point of view of employment here, I think underlines very seriously the enormous importance of doing all we can to keep our migrants under the Union Jack. The same trade to the Crown Colonies with a population of 37,000,000 equals 13s. 6d. per head, as compared with the trade to China and Japan, with 480,000,000, at 1s. 4d. a head, showing that the average coloured Briton from the point of view of trade is worth as much as 12 Chinese and Japanese. Lastly, in that same year, the last year before the War, our export of manufactured goods to British India was equal to the export of our manufactured goods to Germany, France, and the United States of America combined. Although these increases seem satisfactory, we must remember that relatively we have been dropping behind, and there is therefore a very great scope for intensive effort to maintain and increase our trade with our kinsmen overseas. We have many keen and acute commercial rivals abroad, who are doing all they possibly can to take this trade away from us, and we can afford to leave nothing to chance, for by our overseas trade this country sinks or swims.
As far as concerns the subject of the Empire products themselves, they are absolutely limitless, as anyone who has had the opportunity of going round this great Empire will agree. I read the other day a most interesting article by one who was for many a long year a very respected Member of this House, and in due course Colonial Secretary, the present Lord Long, upon the development. of Empire trade, and in that article there was contained an approximate list of the products of the British Empire, a perfectly amazing list. I would that that list could be placarded throughout the length and breadth of this land, so that the people in every section of this community could realise what this wonderful 1093 old Empire of ours does possess. We know to a certain extent. We remember well how very many of these raw materials poured into us in the dark days of August, 1914, from every end of the Empire, from every one of our great Dominions, and every island from Mauritius to the Caribbees. We can, I think, congratulate those who are responsible for the Department of Overseas Trade upon the excellent work which that Department has clone since its initiation, and we know that equally excellent work is being done in the Dominions by analogous Departments. That we were correct in creating his Department I think is shown by that great trading community, the United States, which has paid us the compliment of copying it as closely as can be done.
The Noble Lord, in moving this Amendment referred, to administrative preference. As far as my humble voice can carry, I wish to support what he suggested, namely, that every loan which is raised in this City of London—this wonderful city which has not only endless wealth but endless experience with which to assist our communities overseas—that every pound, as far as possible, raised in every loan in the City of London for the Dominions overseas is spent in this country or in the Empire. Just a word upon the very important subjects of transportation and communication. A Shipping Committee was formed in June, 1920, which has dealt, as we know, with various useful points, and others are under consideration. Whether or not the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply for the Government can tell us of any other points which are likely to be settled by this Committee, I do not know, but there is no belittling the need for the closest form of communication by sea in an Empire such as is ours. The same statement holds good with reference to our cable service and the, newer form of wireless. I do not think there is any community on earth which is more liable than ours to be affected by a cheapening of these services or by a greater facility to the members of the community in the use of them. We are a community scattered over the whole of the Seven Seas, and we ought to do all we can to reduce, in every way, our rates both for cables and for wireless, as well as to 1094 develop the facilities not only for the Press, but for business houses and private individuals.
I look forward to the day—and I do not think it will be in the very distant future—when every Briton at home is able to speak to any of his kinsmen in the Dominions for a trifling sum. Three years ago I was in the middle of the Atlantic, and within the course of about five minutes was enabled to speak with friends in Essex and also with friends on the American Continent. That was, as I say, three years ago, and this science has advanced very rapidly. I do not see that it should be at all impossible, particularly under a Postmaster-General who has always proved himself to be a pioneer, to develop this wonderful science enormously within the next two or three years. The same thing holds good with regard to broadcasting, another new development of science, which I believe can be of enormous use to the British Empire, and particularly to the scattered communities. I cannot think of anything more useful, for instance, for the many small islands of the West Indies, which are hardly connected at all, than that Empire news and Empire trade information should be broadcasted, as received, once or twice a day.
It is impossible, of course, for the Government to do everything. It is a very good thing, perhaps, that that is the case, but both officially and unofficially we want to do all we possibly can to develop our Empire trade, and in this connection I do not know that any institution has done better work than an institution to which I am proud to belong, which has enabled Members of this House to meet Ministers and members from every other Parliament overseas, and to discuss with them in probably the best of all ways, the informal way, such questions as the development of overseas trade; I refer to the Empire Parliamentary Association, which has been so well and ably carried on during the last 11 years. We all heard with the greatest possible pleasure, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday, the all-important news that at last the Economic Conference has been definitely arranged and that we shall have the opportunity of giving a "Welcome home "—and long may those words ring true—to the Prime Ministers of our great Dominions, and of thrashing out with 1095 them this all-important subject. I do not know whether it is possible for the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply to give us any suggestion as to the proposals which are to be made by this country, but, if so, I am sure they will be listened to with the greatest possible interest by this House.
May I also support what the Noble Lord said concerning resolutions which are unanimously passed at these Conferences? It seems to me that unless these resolutions are put into action, after being unanimously passed, it is small compliment to those who come tens of thousands of miles to assemble here and discuss them, and small inducement to them to come over again. May I also hope that, following this Conference, there will again be an opportunity for Members of this House to meet private Members of the Dominions Parliaments in London. Such a meeting has taken place before, to the very great benefit of those who have much to learn from one another. There was a suggestion made some years ago, in a wonderfully interesting speech by Lord Rosebery, at the First Imperial Press Conference, that the time had arrived to put the Members of the House of Commons on one of our warships, and, after the Vote of Supplies in any one year, to send them round to see the Empire. I cannot imagine anything, if it were only practicable, which would be of more use, for no one can appreciate this great Empire of ours to the full unless he has had the opportunity of seeing some of its component parts.
The second Section of this Amendment deals with the huge field of Empire resources. Seven years ago a Committee, of which I had the privilege of being a member, was formed, which was known as the Empire Resources Development Committee, the first Chairman of which was Lord Milner, who was followed afterwards by the late Lord Grey. Many most interesting subjects were thrashed out by that Committee, the material of all of which is available, should it at any time be required. If any of these great schemes are ever put into working order, I should like to suggest that, if possible, w hen large profits are made, which I believe would be the case, some form of ultimate profit might be extracted to 1096 relieve the taxpayer of this community, who after all is the individual who guarantees British loans. The Noble Lord has laid some stress on the wonderful recovery by the United States after the Civil War. It was one of the most amazing recoveries in the history of the world, from the point of view of trade, a recovery in which assets of £300,000,000 were put up to assets worth to-day £40,000,000,000. But, great as are the resources of that wonderful country of 48 independent States, they are as nothing compared with the resources of the great British Empire.
In the meantime, what I feel is the best suggestion that one can venture to make to the President of the Board of Trade is that he should go ahead at once with utility schemes, particularly in the Crown Colonies, for if that be done trade will immediately follow on the opening up of those wonderfully rich sections of the Crown. And let us, in that respect, do all that we possibly can to encourage private enterprise. We have seen, not only in the Crown Colonies, but in the great Dominions, what private enterprise can do. I do not suppose there is any more classic example—and those who have been over it will endorse everything I say—than that wonderful railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, which is one of the greatest business institutions in the world. We have recollections of the wonderful work in the creation of the Assouan Dam, which cost, I think, something like £5,000,000, and is computed to have increased the wealth of Egypt by no less than £100,000,000. In the Sudan we have done much to increase the output of cotton for Lancashire. We have irrigated lands there, connected the area of the Red Sea by rail, and built a port, with the result that a good deal of cash has flown into the Sudan from that effort.
A good friend of mine on the Benches opposite, in the debate on Empire migration the other day, said, "Go ahead and develop these islands." I quite agree with my hon. Friend. Let us go ahead and develop these islands, but let us also go ahead and develop our great Empire. I am perfectly convinced we possess in this country sufficient men of power and capacity to do both, and let me say to the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean), who made that suggestion, that when I have been in different 1097 parts of the Empire, I have found many men from that great race which he so ably represents, the first part of whose names so often begins with Mac, taking a leading part in those over seas developments. Every Department has facts and figures galore on this subject. What we want at the present moment is action. We want it now, and I believe, if we can only take that requisite action, this House and this country will give full support to the Government to go full steam ahead. Twenty years ago, it was my privilege to serve in a very humble capacity under a great statesman who made the Colonial Office a living force, the late Joseph Chamberlain. May I conclude with a statement made by him which is as true to-day as it was when he made it in 1903?We have an Empire which, with decent organisation and consolidation, might be absolutely self-sustaining. There is no article of your food, no raw material of your trade, no necessity of your lives, no luxury of your existence, which cannot be produced somewhere or other in the British Empire, if the British Empire holds together, and if we who have inherited it are worthy of our opportunities.It is our duty and privilege to prove ourselves worthy of this task.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Sir Philip Lloyd-Greame)
My Noble Friend who moved the Amendment, said that he had been fortunate in the Ballot. I think all those who have heard his speech will feel that the House has been fortunate also—fortunate not only in hearing his admirable speech, but fortunate that, having got, the coveted place, in the Ballot, he has put down for consideration an Amendment which raises a question of policy of such vital interest to all the people of this country, as well as to our fellow-subjects overseas. I think in all quarters of the House it will be agreed that the policy which is set out in the Amendment is a sound and a, wise policy. It is a policy which appeals at once to our instincts and to our common sense, and the speeches which have been delivered this afternoon, both by my Noble Friend and by my hon. Friend, who has not only often spoken on this subject, but has given many years of his life in working for the policy enshrined in the:Motion, have supplied ample reasons both to justify our sentiments and to justify our common sense. The Amend- 1098 ment sets out what is the whole purpose of the Economic Conference, which is going to assemble in this country next October, and I think in all quarters of the House the announcement made yesterday by my right hon. Friend, that, in spite of many difficulties, all the Dominions will be represented at the Economic Conference, and that, with one unfortunate exception—and no one can but regret the absence of the Prime Minister of New Zealand—they will all be represented at the Imperial Conference which will take place at the same time, has been received with general satisfaction. I agree at once—and I am sure I shall be expressing, not only the sentiments of those who go into this Conference on behalf of His Majesty's Government here, but of all those who represent the Dominions—that this should be a Conference not devoted to pious resolutions, but conducted on business lines. That is certainly the purpose and spirit with which we shall enter it.
I say that this Motion, and the policy it sets out, appeal to our instincts and our common sense. The sentiment needs no justification. Surely it is natural that we should want to do more business with our own people. They are our beet customers, to put it on the most sordid ground. Per head they do pounds of trade with us where other people do shillings. They have given our markets a preference, and, even if that were not the case, the natural instincts of our people would be to develop the land of our own Empire. Not only does this policy appeal to our sentiments, but consideration of the economic facts as they exist to-day justifies to the full the wisdom of the policy as a practical policy. To-day there is a serious deficit in our export trade. At the beginning of 1922, there was a deficit of 35 per cent. in our export trade. By the end of 1922, we had reduced that deficit to 25 per cent., and in the first month of this year it was reduced to the neighbourhood of 20 per cent. But if we are to cure unemployment, there is only one way to do it, and that is to wipe out all that deficit of trade, and to do something more, because even if you were to restore the complete volume of trade which we did before the War, the efficiency of production to-day is so much greater than it was 10 years ago—the efficiency of plant, as well as human efficiency—that 1099 to get the same volume of trade, we will not employ the same volume of people. This efficiency is essential—and these are economic facts from which you cannot get away—because if we arc to keep markets at all, we have got to produce in the most efficient and economical way possible.
It means you have got to restore as much as you can the old countries, and as that is going to be a very long process in many countries which have been impoverished and brought into chaos through the War, you have to find new markets, and nowhere will you find them half so quickly or so well as in our Dominions. You will give at the same time to your people opportunities, which no one who considers the position seriously can talk about as a form of exile, which are the best opportunities that can be given to people of every class. It is a commonplace, I think, on both sides that, as time goes on, this country becomes over-industrialised, that the balance of population is not only economically unsound, but absolutely dangerous. Given the best development of agriculture in this country, you are not going to solve that problem of the right redistribution of population. The redistribution and the balance between industrial and agricultural production must lie in the whole field of the Empire, and in the development of those Imperial agricultural resources can give the complimentary opportunity for the full development of the industrial resources in this country. My hon. Friend who seconded this Motion gave a very interesting illustration drawn from the past. He was profoundly right. It is a fact that from 1850 to 1875 the country had a period of easy prosperity, when we only had to produce in order to be able to sell, when a manufacturer had the world at his feet. Then there came, after the Franco-German War, a long period of unexampled depression, and in that period of depression, when our population increased by 8,000,000, when our exports to foreign countries remained absolutely stationary, one thing, and one thing alone, saved this country, and that was that within 15 years our exports of manufactures within the Empire almost doubled. That example of history is surely at once the best lesson and the best hope that we can have in deciding our policy to-day.
1100 5.0 P.M.
Let me put another fact to the House. I think it was my Noble Friend who moved the Amendment who drew attention to the fact that in 1913 our exports to the Empire represented something like 37 or 38 per cent. of our total export trade. Last year the proportion was about the same. That is true. It is also true to say, as has often been said, that, the fact that, in spite of the general upheaval there has been, in spite of the vicissitudes and changes, the general course of trade while it diminished tended to go so much through the same channel, is a great instance of the inter-dependence of trade, and a great reason for trying to restore stable conditions where ever you can. While it is true, does it not teach us something else? We know that the building up of stable conditions in some of the countries of Europe must be a long and slow process. We know that in those countries you have got industrial production built up in the course of the War by those who were belligerents in order to supply their own needs, and by those who were neutrals to supply the inexhaustible demands which the belligerent countries made during the War. Those two facts—the fact that the complete restoration of economic conditions in Europe must be slow and the fact that, even if you restore those conditions, you will always have keen competitive production—point to this, that, if we are to wipe out our deficit, we cannot be content merely to let trade take its own course, but we must make new channels for trade and develop new trade and new markets by our own initiative. The study of the conditions here alone may do a good deal. One of my hon. Friends drew attention to the fact that, whereas our volume of trade with the different Dominions had increased, our actual proportion of the total imports into those Dominions was relatively smaller to-day than it was compared to their total importation 10 or 20 years ago. I am certain that with a closer study of the conditions of the Dominion markets, we can greatly increase the amount of trade we are doing with them.
My hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Sir H. Brittain) paid a sincere and well-deserved tribute to the Trade Commissioners. Time after time men engaged in commerce have said to me that they have 1101 been able to do business where they did not do business before, and to find new business owing to the initiative of our Trade Commissioners. We mean to go on and develop that work. In Canada we shall open a new office in Vancouver and. we shall keep open the office in Winnipeg. We also propose to develop that work in India. We are to establish two Trade Commissioners more in India—a wise course and one which the United States of America have already decided to take. My hon. Friend referred to another fact which I think he was inclined to regard as a serious disadvantage more than I should. He said there was a larger investment of American capital in Canada. I am not sorry to see that. It does not follow that, because American capital is invested in Canada, Canada is to deal exclusively with the United States and in United States products. About 50 or 60 years ago there was a tremendous influx of British capital into the United States. That was good for this country, but it was good also in the long run for the United States themselves. I am sure that to-day we have a great opportunity as against the United States, owing to the economic conditions which prevail. A country cannot adopt a policy of exclusive protection and at the same time do a great export trade. The United States are bound to find that; they cannot have it both ways. If, in addition to having a very high and exclusive tariff, you are the fortunate recipient of the gold and the debt payments which other countries send you, there can be no possible doubt that a country in that position is in the worst possible position to do a large export trade, and that is the vital moment when manufacturers and merchants of this country should make their way in the markets where American competition was keenest before.
Let me take another point. The fact that we are paying our American debt makes it of greater importance than ever that we should grow our raw materials as far as possible within the Empire itself and as little as possible in the country to which we have to make these large payments. Within the Dominions and the Crown Colonies there are resources which can supply practically all the raw materials that we draw from 1102 America to-day. The wheat position has often been referred to, but take what is next in importance to food—cotton. You have a dangerous position in the cotton industry to-day. You have got an industry relying to a preponderating extent upon American sources of supply. That, in the economic relation in which we stand to America to-day, is a bad thing in itself. But, in addition to that-, you have a source of supply in America which is diminishing, while at the same time home consumption in America is increasing. Within the Colonies for which we are trustees and of which we are the responsible administrators, we have ready to our hand the soil on which that cotton can be grown. We shall discuss on Friday a Bill which will enable the great cotton industry to join in the work which the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation is carrying on. But while that scientific work is being done, that work is useless unless at the same time we develop the transport, the irrigation arid the whole of the natural resources on which that cotton can be grown. I would say at once that this is a policy which we propose to pursue actively.
As regards the development of the Crown Colonies, there is no need to wait; we know their resources and we know what is needed to develop those resources; we know the mutual trade which will flow from their development. The programme of development is ready, but what is the position? You have a programme of development which, if these Crown Colonies are left to carry it out by the resources which they can draw from within their own territory, must take them 10, or 15 or 20 years. If, on the other hand, we, by a wise use of our credit, are able to tide them over the initial period which they cannot afford to face at once, we are anticipating a development which might take 10 to 15 years to come. We will be placing immediate orders in this country, and we will be spending the money, not in unnecessary relief work in this country, which would only be undertaken on account of very great unemployment. We are anticipating a revenue-producing work; we are anticipating the creation of wealth and the production of raw material in these Colonies, and we arc placing orders in this country and creating mutual trade for generations to I come. That policy will be actively pur- 1103 sued by the Colonial Office. I think no legislation is required for it; but it will require a Vote by this House in order to authorise a contribution being made by the Imperial Government.
Lieut. - Colonel Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS
Will the right hon. Gentleman indicate when the Government intend to ask the House for the necessary Vote in regard to any of the money required for the development of the Crown Colonies?
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
No doubt it will be done this Session. The plans of a number of these schemes are ready, and they can be put with reasonable speed into force, and certainly there will be no delay on the part of the Colonial Office in the holding up any scheme. The Government will certainly come to ask the authority of the House to make the necessary advances as soon as the schemes are ready for which these advances are required.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
No, Sir. But the Government will come to the House for the authority and I am convinced that this House will give the Government that authority. With regard to the Dominions, the Whole policy of the Government will be to co-operate with them in schemes which will accelerate trade. I am not sure whether my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment realises how wide are the powers the House has already given to the Colonial Office. There are many schemes which can be dealt with under' the Empire Settlement Act. Powers are given to spend up to £3,000,000 in each financial year on any approved scheme. These schemes may be either development or land settlement schemes or schemes for facilitating settlement or emigration to any part of His Majesty's Dominions overseas by advances for passages and allowances for training or otherwise. These may be made by way of grant or by way of loan or otherwise.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
Can the right hon. Gentleman say if there is any restriction upon the manner in which the £3,000,000 yearly mentioned may be used? 1104 For instance, can it be used to guarantee interest on capital. Take a project that requires £10,000,000 capital. The interest on this at 5 per cent. is £500,000 a year. Could that be guaranteed out of this fund? If so, it is a point of great importance as it greatly increases the possibility of the fund.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Yes, most certainly it could, and that is exactly the point. I am much obliged to the hon. and gallant Gentleman for his interruption, for I wanted to bring that out. It is not a case of dealing piece-meal with this matter, of settling half-a-dozen settlers here and half-a-dozen there. That is not going to solve the problem of emigation. What we want is a big scheme which will absorb large numbers of our people, and that must le dealt with on a wholesale scale, if I may put it so, by the development of large territories and the consequent laying down of railways and making of roads to serve them. All that follows in the way of natural development, and the whole of what I have in mind can be brought within the terms of this Act, and was so intended by the House when it passed this Act. I make no doubt at all that this should be dealt with as a broad business effort, and that is the way in which my hon. Friends who have been so active in this matter are administering the Act, and will, I believe, continue to do it.
Much, therefore, can be done within the Act, and these powers will be used to the full. But we certainly shall not stop there. We shall take up at the Imperial Conference the whole question of co-operation with the Dominions and with the State Governments of the Dominions as to the development of their resources. We shall certainly consider communications to which my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Sir H. Brittain) referred. I would join with him in the tribute which he paid to Sir Holford Mackinder, the Chairman of the Committee, for the admirable work he and the Committee have already done. We shall also consider the question of Preference, and the possibilities of expansion which surely there are, and I agree entirely with the hon. Member when he said that a conference of this kind was no use unless everybody who went into it could go in and say quite frankly how far they were able to go and what were their difficul- 1105 ties, their powers, and their limitations. Certainly I know that all those who enter into that conference will go into it with the intention so far as the circumstances of the individual State permit, with the common object, whether it be by preference or whether it be by financial cooperation, to develop their mutual resources to the best advantage.
There are many ways in which that may be done. There are, I know, difficulties in the way of almost any scheme which may be put forward. One may say in one case this will have certain reactions upon credit. I am, however, convinced that a frank discussion between the Government of this country and the Governments of the Dominions with the intention, so far as practicable, of using the credit of this country for the promotion of big schemes of development within the Empire, for promoting big schemes of emigration which must be for the ultimate advantage of both sides will be to the good. We are not going into this Conference to get something out of it merely for ourselves, and for our people at the expense of others. Both and all are equally interested. It means for the Dominions an accretion of population, and it means also, we hope, immediate orders for goods in this country and opportunities for our people. The link which is needed for that development, the link which we shall go into the Imperial Conference with the intention of forging is the link of how we can best use our credit in order that we and the Dominions may co-operate in schemes to our common advantage.
This is no dream of theorists. It is practical politics of a. most practical kind. My right hon. Friend the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury) has reproved me on many occasions for my outlook on these matters. I am going to quote to him an authority on finance as practical, as wise, almost as conservative, though perhaps a little more imaginative than is the right hon. Baronet. I refer to the chairman of Barclay's Bank, Mr. Goodenough. In his annual speech to the shareholders of the bank this year Mr. Goodenough said this:The effect of the Fordney Tariff, however, must be to compel us to seek new sources of supply of foodstuffs and raw materials, and to develop markets in other parts of the world for our trade.1106Moreover, in this way, we shall still use the products of our industry, we shall reap the fruit of the policy of Empire development upon which so much of British resource and enterprise has been spent in the past. It is a re-assuring prospect in the face of what could otherwise not fail to be a paralysing blow. It is a prospect worthy of our energies and our ambitions, and of the great traditions of our race. It is a policy of consolidation, but coupled with expansion and progress. In the development of this great policy we shall lighten and relieve the losses that we have suffered in the War, and in its aftermath. It will afford great opportunities for employment and advancement both for men and for women who are ready to take advantage of them. It will afford our people an outlet to satisfy the natural desire for progress and for betterment which is perhaps one of the fundamental causes of much of the unrest of the present time.May I draw the attention of the right hon. Baronet to this:There are many ways by which such a policy may be encouraged and matured The Dominions and Colonies of the Empire can invite our would-lm settlers there, If they are experiencing a wave of depression to-day it is partly for want of population which is the first essential to trade, and we on our part, can and should provide the funds for fresh development.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
Yes, Sir, I have, and if the British Trade Corporation had traded more within the British Empire, the result probably would have been different. I continue:The London market can make loans, but besides this direct advances might be made by the British Government to promote schemes of development in their initial stages until such a period as they are ripe for the attention of the permanent investor.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
You must take some risk, and that would be better than embracing the fantastic schemes which the hon. and gallant Member and his friends put forward. In those there is no possible risk in the sense that there is no possible prospect of success.
§ Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
All schemes of the kind. The chairman of one of our greatest banks was prepared to advocate 1107 our policy of development, the using of our credit, and of co-operation as has been outlined. But the right hon. Baronet deals with the position in which we now are placed on the plane that you can do nothing at all. That is not the position to take up. You cannot face the question of unemployment or questions of development in that way. This House is not prepared to face these questions in the way of the right hon. Baronet. He knows quite well that the matter does not lie between doing nothing and the development of our Empire; it lies between this perpetual procession of outdoor relief and the chance of developing the resources which will give an opportunity to our men. These are practical contributions to the problem. I believe that in this country our people are as anxious to cooperate with the Dominions as the Dominions and the Colonies are anxious to co-operate with us. I believe that if we pursue a policy such as I have adumbrated fearlessly, firmly, boldly, we shall find, within the Empire there will be as great a strength in peace as ever there was during the War. By the development of the resources of the Empire we shall once again save ourselves by our exertions, and save other nations by our example.
§ Mr. SHORT
I gather from the statement of the President of the Board of Trade that the Government on this occasion and on this subject intends to do something very great and bold. The boldness of their policy is to be supported by the pockets of the taxpayer of the country. I am wondering to what extent and to what limit the pockets of the taxpayer are to be taxed in this further venture which the right hon. Gentleman has submitted. As far as the purposes and object of the Resolution are concerned, we on this side of the House can offer general support. We are interested no less than hon. Gentlemen opposite in the progress and development of the British Empire. We are concerned with the growth and the development of trade. We are concerned with the provision of employment at remunerative rates and under sound and proper conditions for the people of our country. While I can offer general support to the Amendment, it will not prevent me from calling attention to one 1108 or two aspects of the matter which indicate the difficulty of considering the question of Imperial unity and Empire trade, without relation to our foreign trade or neutral trade.
The Amendment makes reference in the first place to the state of trade in Europe and the Empire. It then refers to the urgent necessity of the re-establishment of trade relations with European countries, and, thirdly, it urges the Government to take immediate steps to secure an extension of trade with the Overseas portions of the Empire. No one who observes the economic breakdown of Europe, and recognises the evil consequences and the effect of the breakdown on our people, can ignore the necessity and the desirability of this House devoting its attention to a consideration of what means might reasonably be employed to further the trade interests of our country, and, indeed, of the world. It is not competent for me to discuss the causes of the economic breakdown of Europe, or to foreshadow a possible solution, hut I am of opinion that the sooner we can find a solution for the outstanding differences that exist between the nations of the world the sooner we can supersede hostility and conflict by goodwill, the sooner shall we obtain those conditions which will lead to a. restoration of the economic life of Europe.
It is interesting to note that foreign trade with this country is bound up, and seriously bound up, with the trade of our Dominions and the Colonies. They appear to me to be supplemental to one another and difficult to separate. My hon. Friend opposite (Sir P. Lloyd-Greame) rightly urges the necessity of developing the resources of our country and of our Empire, and the Seconder of this Amendment made some reference to India. I fear that in approaching the consideration of this great subject of Empire trade we are inclined to think that the trade arises directly between ourselves and our Dominions or our Colonies, without any relation whatsoever to the trade that neutral or foreign countries are doing with our Colonies or our Dominions.
This is a very important fact. It is what I believe Mr. McKenna in a recent speech delivered to the shareholders of the London City and Midland Bank in the latter days of the month of January this year referred to as "triangular 1109 trade." Mr. McKenna pointed out how dependent our trade with India was upon the trade of Germany with India. He stated that in 1913, India's exports to Germany were £27,000,000, and her imports from that country were only £7,000,000, showing that India had an excess of exports to Germany of £20,000,000, and the surplus she thus obtained provided her with the means of paying for British goods. I call attention to that aspect of the matter because if the trade of Germany with India has ceased, if it is being jeopardised because of the economic break down of German trade life and economic interests, that of itself seriously jeopardises the trade that India has hitherto done with ourselves. Therefore it is impossible in my judgment to simply view our trade relations with the Empire without regard to what is happening in connection with the trade of foreign and neutral countries with our Colonies and Dominions.
Mr. McKenna also pointed out that our exports during 1922 to Central and Eastern Europe fell by 62 per cent.; to other countries outside those by 30 per cent., and to British possessions by 29 per cent. It would appear to me, that the triangular trade in the illustration which I have quoted from Mr. McKenna's speech indicates the reason for the decline of 29 per cent. of our exports to British possessions. I would like to call attention to the imperative necessary that, whatever we may do in developing our internal resources within the Empire, we should try to secure a recovery of our foreign trade wherever it was done before. A census of production taken in 1907 indicates that the cotton trade to the extent of four-fifths, the machinery trade to the extent of three-fifths, and the woollen trade to the extent of one-half, were working for the foreign markets. That means that one worker out of every three was practically being employed probably for a whole lifetime upon the production of goods for foreign countries. Therefore it is imperative that we should realise and appreciate the importance, and, indeed, the value, of maintaining or recovering our foreign trade in the interests of the labouring population of this country.
I pass now to the second point, which refers to the re-establishment of trade 1110 relations with European countries. Briefly, I should like to say that I welcome the words in the Amendment, and I trust that the Government will take note of them. I hope they will express a willingness and a readiness to immediately re-open full and complete diplomatic relations with Russia. I believe that is essential. I do not suggest that the reopening of trade with Russia would in itself solve our unemployed problem, but I cannot think the cutting off of 130,000,000 of people, whether directly or indirectly, by some act of ours can be of any mutual advantage either to them or to ourselves. I cannot believe either that because we dislike the form of government in Russia that that in itself is a justification for pursuing the present policy of failing to acknowledge or to extend to Russia full diplomatic relations.
In this connection I would point out that Germany some time ago extended these full diplomatic relationships to Russia, and it is noticeable that since that date there has been an increase, and a fairly large increase, in proportion to the trade she was doing with Russia in the trade between Germany and Russia. I cannot help thinking that an increase in the trade and commerce between the two countries has something to do with the giving of full and complete diplomatic recognition to the Government of Russia and her people. At any rate, I hope unless these words were inserted merely as a bit of window dressing, that the representative of the Government will not overlook their importance, and will seek at the earliest possible moment to put them into effect.
Now I come to the third and really the most important part of the Amendment, which deals with the extension of the trade between this country and the Dominions and the Colonies. From an economic point of view, I welcome such progress and such developments, although I would prefer that the bond of Empire and Imperial unity should be based upon foundations less shifty and less doubtful than purely commercial relationships. I believe that the manifestation of unity spoken of by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and which indicated itself during the period of the War, was largely the product of an appreciation of the fact that our political ideals and our love of liberty and freedom, and our great belief 1111 in democratic institutions were recognised and held in common by those inside the British Empire, and I cannot believe that the permanency of this Empire can rest upon a purely cash basis, or upon the basis of a profit and loss account. Therefore I urge a broader and a bigger view of our relationship with our Dominions and Colonies than that of a pure extension of trade, or an extension upon the basis of trade and commerce.
I am afraid that behind this Amendment there is the idea and the belief that the Empire can of itself become self-supporting. I observe that the Mover of the Amendment quoted the wordsmaking the Empire independent of other countries.That may he a very laudable aim and ambition, but I doubt if it could be realised, and if all the facts and conditions were with us to enable us to realise it, whether the realisation would be good for us or for our friends across the seas. Is it possible for an ideal of this character to be realised? Is it possible for the British Empire to become self-supporting, self-sustaining and independent of all other countries in the world? Judging from the evidence I have gathered, and from the slight study I have made of this matter, I am inclined to think that it will be many a long day before we reach the realisation of such an ideal, even if it were possible. I think that the resources of the Empire might reasonably be developed in the interests, not merely of ourselves, but I hope in the interests of the peoples of the world. I am inclined to take something more than a narrow parochial view of this problem. I would rather like to think in terms of internationalism. I would like to see the efforts of our Empire being directed to the promotion of the interests not merely of our own communities, but of all the communities of the world.
I have asked the question whether we can become self-supporting, and on this subject I have extracted a few figures for the year 1913. I have no particular reason for taking that year except that it is the latest normal year, and I am justified in quoting the figures for that period. I find, in connection with a number of articles, the following results. As regards butter, the imports from all foreign countries into 1112 the United Kingdom for 1913 were of the value of £19,513,000, and the exports from our Empire abroad to all foreign countries, including the United Kingdom, in 1913, amounted to £382,000.
§ Mr. H. H. SPENCER
Does the hon. Member really mean that the value of the total exports of butter from all parts of the Empire in 1913, including Australian butter, was only £382,000? I think he must be wrong.
§ Mr. SHORT
I will leave my hon. Friend to show that I am wrong later, if he can. Similar results might be found in connection with meat, wheat and flour, raw cotton, and wood and timber. These figures demonstrate, to me, at any rate, the difficulty of satisfying from within the Empire all the needs and requirements of the people within the Empire, having regard to the large volume of imports of these articles that we get from foreign countries outside the Empire itself. It suggests to me that it would he a very long time indeed before the resources of the Empire could be developed to such an extent as to free us from dependence upon other countries outside the Empire.
Finally, I should like to say a word in connection with tariffs and preference. I do not propose to go into that matter very extensively. I do not want to make this Amendment what I should call a really controversial matter, because I am going to give it general support, but I believe, having regard to our trade interests with other countries outside the Empire, that it would be fatal to us if we sought to develop trade within the Empire by any system of tariffs or highly developed protective duties. I believe that what the world ought to aim at, and what we as a great country ought to aim at, is the encouragement of a free flow of trade and commerce between the peoples of the world. And I cannot help thinking that if we encourage the erection of the barriers referred to by the Mover of the Amendment—he indicated that they were growing higher and more numerous—and they are more numerous because the imposition of a tariff wall obviously invites retaliation and resistance from some other countries whose interests are affected—I trust that in the promotion of the ideals embodied in this Amendment, in attempting to secure a larger measure 1113 of trade within the Empire, we shall not fail to notice the importance of our foreign trade relations and to realise the importance of escaping the dangers arising from tariff walls and from preference of one kind and another, but shall direct our aims to the creation, even in our commercial relations, of an atmosphere of peace, because I believe that upon the foundations of peace you can erect the monument of prosperity.
§ Captain WALLACE
In rising to address the House for the first time, I should like to claim that generous measure of indulgence which, I know, is never refused to anyone. The very interesting speech of the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr Short), who promised this Amendment, general support, seemed to me to have an undercurrent running through it in which emphasis was laid upon the great importance of our trade with foreign countries as compared with our Empire trade. That is a point of view which we have frequently heard expressed from the Benches opposite, and, although I was totally ignorant of what the hon. Member was going to say this afternoon, I had anticipated that this point would probably be brought up. I think it is best illustrated by a quotation from a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) on the 30th November last, during the Debate on Unemployment. The right hon. Gentleman said:At best, by developing our trade with the white part of our population within the Empire, we cannot hope to do business with more than between 15 and 20 million people. You must set against that the wisdom of trying to do business, not with 15 or 20 million people, but with between 300 and 400 million."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th November, 1922; col. 947, Vol. 159.]The question which rises in my mind is, is the actual number of one's customers the only criterion of the value of foreign trade? I would most respectfully submit to the House that there are at any rate two other considerations which are relevant. One of them is the amount of purchase per head, and the second, which I think is the more important of the two, is the method of payment, or, in other words, what they are going to send us in exchange. As regards the first consideration, the amount of purchase per head, this point has been very ably dealt with by my Noble and Gallant Friend 1114 who moved this Amendment. Perhaps I may be allowed to repeat the figures. In 1922, the four Dominions averaged £7 per head in their purchases, while the four biggest European countries only averaged £1 17s. These figures speak for themselves. As regards the second point, the method of payment, which it is very essential to consider, I should like, if I may, to quote a few words from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), who may be taken as being a very sound Free Trade authority on the question we arc discussing to-day. In this House, on the 19th October, 1921, he said:"After all, the things which Germany sends us‥‥ are things which we really do not want or which we can make ourselves. But the British Dominions send us things that we cannot make ourselves. things which are essential to us in the shape of food, material, or half-finished products." —[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 19th October, 1921: col. 119, Vol. 147.]He went on to say that he saw no reason why we should not establish a healthy and progressive trade between the Dominions and ourselves, which would overtop altogether the European trade with this country. I think that on both those points we may be allowed to come to the conclusion that there is fair reason to hope that the restoration of Europe is not absolutely essential to the recovery of our foreign trade. Naturally, the chaotic conditions prevailing in Europe must have an adverse effect upon that trade, and in regard to that I am sure no one would venture to disagree with the last speaker in emphasising the necessity of doing more than merely trying to cement the bonds of Empire trade; but I do wish to submit to the House that Empire trade has a value quite disproportionate to the figures given in the Board of Trade Returns. If we wish to consider the real value of our trade with any particular country, we must get back to certain basic facts. The first is that the resources of this country in foodstuffs and raw materials are not enough to support, and certainly not enough to give full employment to, a population of 50,000,000 people. We are, therefore, absolutely dependent upon our export trade to secure the credits abroad which are vitally necessary to us for buying the food and raw materials we require to support and employ our population. The only way in which it is. 1115 possible to secure those credits is by exports of coal and manufactured goods. Coal is the only raw material in this country, I believe, of which we have a sufficient surplus to be exportable. We must, therefore, consider, in measuring the value of our trade, its value from that particular point of view of securing credits abroad to buy food and raw materials.
The spending of our money, or the using up of our credits, on the import of competitive manufactures, is, in my humble opinion, to a certain extent wasting it. Of course, it is quite obvious that the import of manufactured goods from any foreign country, even if they are competitive, has a certain value in establishing credits over here, which that foreign country must take out in buying from us; but if the imports of manufactured goods are strictly competitive, in the sense that if we did not import them we should make them ourselves, it does seem to me that the gain is really a very small one, representing only employment in transport and a certain amount of profit to the middleman. Without wishing to cast any reflection on the valuable figures supplied by the Board of Trade, I should like to give one very simple example of how they can mislead one. If we import £1,000,000 worth of manufactured goods and export £1,000,000 manufactured goods of an almost similar nature, that is recorded as £2.000,000 of foreign trade; but the actual gain to this country in employment is very little, with the exception of the employment given in moving the goods and of profit to the merchants and middlemen. If, on the other hand, we import £1,000,000 worth of raw material, and by our skill and work can turn it into £5,000,000 worth of manufactured goods, of which we export £1,000,000 to pay for the raw material and, say, another £1,000,000 to pay for the food which the people eat while they are making up the goods, that does really leave us with a net gain of £3,000,000 to the community, either in the material manufactured from the point of view of the consumer, or in wages, profits and from the point of view of the producer. If, therefore, I may be allowed to assume that the import of manufactured articles is of such comparatively small value to this particular argument, it does give us a basis upon which 1116 we can get the net export value of our trade with any given country. If we deduct the imports of manufactured goods which we receive from that country from our exports of manufactured goods and coal to that country, the difference should give us the real net export value of cur trade, that is to say, the amount made available for securing those very necessary credits abroad. Taking, as the hon. Member for Wednesbury has done, the year 1913 as the last normal year the figures on this basis are extremely striking. In 1913 the net export value of our trade with Europe was £32,000,000; with other foreign countries outside Europe it was £98,000,000; the export value of our trade with the Empire in that same year was no less than £164,000,000. So that our Empire trade, from this, to my mind, very essential point of view of securing credits, was worth 25 per cent. more than our trade with the whole of the rest of the world. I think that is a consideration which, in estimating the value of our trade with the Empire, or considering the question of the advisability of spending money on developing it or spending money on developing our trade with foreign countries, should be borne in mind.
The conditions under which we are living at present as the result of the War, and as the result of our post-War financial policy, make it more than ever essential that we should try to deal with the, Empire rather than with foreign countries, and especially Europe. Before the War it was estimated that we held foreign investments which brought us in an annual revenue of something like £200,000,000. We now have £120,000,000 instead of £200,000,000. In our National Budget, therefore, we are £80,000,000 a year poorer from that point of view. Secondly, we have now to think of the amount of money we must export annually to pay our foreign debts, and that seems to be between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000 a year, which must be added on to the £80,000,000 we have lost during the War. The third point which arises very acutely at present is the result of our financial policy of deflation since the War. It is not for me to discuss whether that was a good or a bad policy, but the fact remains that it has caused a very considerable appreciation in the value of the £ sterling as compared with the currency of practically the whole of Europe. This 1117 difference in the value of currencies has the effect of putting a very heavy export tax on all the goods which we send out to European countries, and, similarly, of presenting those European countries with depreciated exchanges with a handsome and substantial import bonus on anything they like to send us. Empire trade is conducted mainly either in sterling or in dollars, and for that reason it is almost entirely free from those two serious disadvantages. We have also to compete with the restriction of our exports to foreign countries for two reasons. First of they are restricted because of the Economic weakness of these foreign countries, and, secondly, they are restricted in almost every case by the deliberate policy of those countries. It is a curious thing that under so many different circumstances there is such unanimity in the way with which almost every country except ourselves has seen fit since the War to establish a heavy and almost prohibitive tariff. In a maiden speech I should like to follow the last speaker in not wishing to make this Motion a controversial one. I would only say about this question of tariffs that it makes one almost think, whatever one's opinion on the subject was before, that there must be something in it, because everyone else has done it. For all these reasons, I submit that there never was a time when it was more essential that this country should conserve its national purchasing power and build up the largest export surplus it possibly can, because it is on that surplus that we can pay our debts, develop the Empire or invest our money in foreign countries. As I feel that that surplus can best be built up by devoting ourselves to trade within the Empire rather than trade with foreign countries, I would appeal to hon. Members of all shades of opinion to support the Motion.
I should like to congratulate the hon. and gallant Gentleman upon his maiden effort in our Debates. He has paid the House the compliment of carefully preparing his facts and figures he has stated them lucidly and moderately, and I am sure his intervention in our Debates in the future will always be welcomed. I 1118 should like to congratulate the President of the Board of Trade on the enthusiasm with which he introduced his subject. If the future reveals that one result of the War has been to turn the attention of our country to the possibilities of developing trade with our Dominions, I am sure we shall consider that one of the best results of the War. The hon. Member who spoke from the Labour Benches was very pessimistic and gloomy about the prospects of the Empire being self-supporting, and I am not surprised, because he was basing his conclusion upon the fact that the Dominions abroad had only exported £300,000 worth of goods to this and other countries.
That is not as I understood the hon. Member, but I am very glad I have given him the opportunity of correcting me. The President of the Board of Trade said we were on the eve of great schemes. I should like to know exactly what he means by that. If he means by big schemes that we are to finance big undertakings in our Dominions and directly finance them, I think we ought all to utter a warning. We are not competent to keep in touch with big schemes abroad and to control them effectively. If on the other hand he means that this country is going to place credits at the disposal of Dominion Governments, and that those Governments will be responsible for schemes in their own country, I think we ought to welcome that. We may talk as we like about emigrating men from this country, but our whole efforts at emigration will be futile unless we also emigrate capital. You can flood any one of our Dominions to-day with men, and you will only lead to disaster, because those men cannot find work in those Dominions unless there is capital for the development of the natural resources of the Dominions which will necessarily bring about the employment of the men whom we emigrate. Therefore, it is essential that credit should be made available for these Dominions, and these Governments are quite competent to use that capital and control it and direct it effectively for development. purposes.[Interruption.] I shall be very glad if 1119 the hon. and gallant Gentleman will make an interruption that is audible and intelligible, but it is neither.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I was saying the argument that we should give everyone all round would be admirable for trade purposes, but unfortunately they would be our pounds.
I thought the hon. and gallant Gentleman was not listening to me intelligently. Of course, I cannot blame him for that. I can just note the fact. The Noble Lord who introduced the Debate said it was time capital was made available for our Dominions and that investments by capitalists in this country should be directed to these Dominions. I think it is a great misfortune that so much Capital in the past has been invested in foreign countries. When I think of the amount of money which was invested in Mexico and lost, in Russia and lost, in Turkey and lost, in China and lost, and how little money has been invested in the Dominions and lost, I think it is about time that the Noble Lord and others on that side of the House realised that the best investments in the world are to be found under the Flag and that there is not only room but there is sufficient attraction to suit every taste. If one wants to invest in the tropics, the tropics are under the Flag, if in the frozen zone the frozen zone is under the Flag. There is hardly an industry and hardly a. natural resource anywhere in the world which cannot be found attractive under Flag. If we are going to direct our attention and the attention of capitalists to the Dominions, we want to show that in the Dominions there are prospects for capital and there are prospects for men. The advantages of investment in the Dominions are first of all that you have stable government—a very essential thing —you have people with the same ideas of commercial morality and honour as we have ourselves—also a very important thing—and we are not only dealing with our own kith and kin, but we are dealing with people whose methods of business we understand, and whose methods of business are as honest and honourable as our Own.
New features have arisen which make Empire investment and Empire develop- 1120 ment much more simple and attractive. Take the question of transport alone. It is cheaper to convey mutton from Australia and New Zealand to London than to convey it from some parts of Scotland to London. It is cheaper to convey woollen goods from Liverpool to Bombay than it is from Bradford to Liverpool. It is cheaper to convey, agricultural machinery from Toronto to Melbourne than it is from Toronto to the Western Provinces of Canada. Shipping transport has become so cheap and so abundant that the Dominions have all been brought together and distance has practically been annihilated. Not only have you cheap freight and abundant accommodation of shipping, but you have safety. When one contrasts the dangers of going to the Antipodes 20 years ago with the safety now, one can see that the sea journey has become attractive. Take wireless alone. I have been in a ship half-way between the Cape of Good Hope and Australia when the engines stopped and we rolled in the storm almost to death. The danger in these days compared with the danger in those days is practically nil, for a wireless message now, wherever you are on the ocean, will bring assistance. The ships have become so large, they travel so economically—one captain will take a ship of 15 to 20 thousand tons to the Antipodes, the economy in working, the speed at which they travel, the safety with which they travel and with which they convey our goods and passengers, are such that practically we have brought the Empire into one organic whole.
I sometimes begin to dread emigration when I hear that we are simply developing schemes for the emigration of people who are only labourers without money. What we want to do also is to emigrate people who have money. Unless we send out a definite proportion of men with capital we shall get into a very grave and serious difficulty, because there is only a certain number of workmen without money that any one of these Dominions can absorb. With money, and even small amounts of money, all things are possible. May I give one or two instances from my own experience of the Dominions. I have travelled six times round the world. I know the Dominions well, and New Zealand best of all. May I give a few indications of how labour can be absorbed in New Zealand, and how capital can be 1121 effectively, safely and properly invested, provided that the definite proportion of labour and capital, to which I have referred, be exported from this country. In the first place, we have to remember that New Zealand is 16,000 square miles larger than Great Britain, but it only has a population not much greater than Glasgow. The second thing that we have to remember about New Zealand as a field for investment is that its central degree of latitude in the north island corresponds with the South of Spain, so that you get sunshine all the year round, you get an adequate rainfall, and an enormous fertility of the soil. Therefore, people who go there are going to a country which is attractive in itself. In the last month of winter in New Zealand I have picked ripe oranges from the, trees in the open; I have been surrounded by passion fruit on the vine and with growing flowers and grass. That was in the north island of New Zealand in the last month of winter. I have received a letter which reached me by the last mail from a leading banker in New Zealand, who is a General Inspector for the Dominion, and I can confirm his letter by my own personal experience. This letter gees to show what can be done by people who emigrate from this country, and who take out a sufficient amount of capital in order to acquire land and develop it. He says in his letter, which is dated 10th February of this year:"Just now, large areas of undeveloped land can be obtained at from £2 to £3 an acre freehold. That land is capable with the judicial expenditure of £5 per acre thereon of being made into pasture land saleable for £25 an acre.I know the area of land to which he refers. It is 50,000 acres of land, something like the Brighton Downs in contour. It is virgin land, that has never been touched, and is covered with light scrub and fern. When treated with Narau Island phosphate, from the German island of Nauru in the Pacific, which has been made available for New Zealand and is being sent to New Zealand in large quantities, that land, with an expenditure of 10s. an acre on it in phosphate, could be converted into land which would carry half a cow per acre for dairying purposes.New Zealand is exporting £20,000,000 worth of dairy produce annually,"—Nearly £20 per head of men, women and children in New Zealand is being exported 1122 this year in dairy produce alone, so that hon. Members can see the enormous fertility of the soil—and I am satisfied that there is room to export ten times as much in the near future if capital and good labour sufficient for the purpose are available. As you know, with our climate we shall always be able to turn out butter and cheese that can be surpassed by no other country in the world, and we shall become shortly the main dairy for the British Empire.I give that as an illustration of the prospects existing in an overseas Dominion, which is only one of many, if capital and labour are available. Then you have a paternal Government in New Zealand, which watches the interests not only of the emigrants but also the interests of all who arc developing the country. In the first place they put the railways almost entirely at the disposal of the developers of the land. There, manurial lime is carried over 100 miles upon the railways for nothing. Any farmer can send a shilling telegram to the general manager of the railways, to say, for instance, that he requires 20 tons of lime at a certain station. Trucks are put at his disposal, and that lime is carried for nothing. The reason is that New Zealand looks upon its land as a national asset, and that the man working the land will be there for a short time only and will disappear. The Government looks upon the land as a national asset which must be preserved for the nation, and it says that if a man is permitted to exhaust the land it will soon he non-productive, the nation will suffer, the exports of the Dominion will suffer. Consequently, if the man is willing to scatter the lime about on his soil and to preserve the soil eternally for the nation, they say that they will provide him with railway facilities and carry the lime for nothing.
Not only do they do that, but they carry all agricultural products at nominal rates. A box of agricultural products, 3 feet long, 2 feet 6 inches wide and 18 inches deep, is carried anywhere over the New Zealand railways for sixpence, and the empty box is carried back for nothing, provided that it had conveyed agricultural products. When you have a paternal Government like that, you can advise your friends who are used to the land to emigrate to New Zealand, because the interests of those who produce—it is an agricultural and pastoral country—are 1123 conserved by the Government. I could give a number of similar illustrations which would suffice to show that all the Dominions offer facilities in this way. In South Africa, agricultural products from the farm are carried at half freight rates. In Victoria and other Dominions it is the same. Consequently, when we are considering the development of the Empire and the emigration of our people to occupy these vast spaces, and when we are considering the necessity for capital, we must bear in mind that it is worth our while to concentrate our attention upon Empire development.
Let me say a few words about an island adjacent to New Zealand. I travelled in Fiji quite recently, and there I was amazed to discover in the little island of Suva land richer and more productive than any land I have ever seen in any part of the world. It is a chocolate soil of great depth, and turned over year after year, where sugar is produced, and grows mast luxuriantly. The growth is so luxurious as to be almost a danger to itself. There is an amazing climate, with an abundant rainfall; the most beautiful mountains and rivers I have ever seen in the world are to be found in that little island, which has only a population of 2,500 white people. There are 85,000 natives, many of whom arc available for labour, and there is a population of about 60,000 Indians. There you have large spaces of pastoral land, hill land for cattle, and with no tropical diseases. Tropical diseases are unknown in Fiji. Malaria and yellow fever are, unknown, and the whites who go there and who are bred there are as healthy as we are ourselves.
There are such wide open spaces and such wonderful attractions in our overseas Dominions and our Crown Colonies that the Government could concentrate its attention on nothing better than to develop the trade of the Empire and to emigrate people who are willing to go. There is no compulsion about it. The Labour party seem to think that when we are talking about emigration that we are seizing somebody in his happy home and taking him away and deporting him. I always feel impatient when I hear members of the Labour party talking like that. We are doing nothing of the sort. 1124 We are simply going to a home where, perhaps, there is an idle son, and we are saying, "Has that boy anything to do? Has he any prospects?" If they say, "No, he has none," we say, "Would you like him to go to the Dominions—to Canada, South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand? If so, we will give him every facility for going there." What harm arc you doing to that boy; what sentiments in the mother's heart are you outraging? The mother is most anxious that he should have a chance. The letters that come every five weeks from our boys in the Dominions are a delight to their homes. You can do no greater benefit to the homes of this country than to make it easy for young men and young women to emigrate to our Dominions. The Empire is now so compact by facilities of transport, the rapidity of transport and the safety of transport that to-day we are one.
Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS
My hon. Friend who has just sat down is as competent as anyone in this House to venture an opinion on any matters relating to Empire development. I know that he has travelled extensively. I have had many talks with him over his extensive travels, not only in New Zealand, but in other parts of the Empire. In passing, I would say that it would give great joy to many of us if the Overseas Committee had gentlemen sitting on it of the experience of my hon. Friend. To hear him speak on this subject is a matter of great interest to me. It was also a matter of pleasure to listen to the Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey (Viscount Ednam), supported by such a great Empire worker as the hon. Member for Acton (Sir H. Brittain) who, as we all know, has done great work in originating the Imperial Press Conference, and working in other ways connected with the development of the British Empire. I also listened with great joy to the hon. Member who now sits for my old constituency of Wednesbury (Mr. Short), because I know that he is becoming quite an Empire builder himself. He raises no objection to Empire development schemes. What he is concerned about is that while we are doing this work we shall not neglect the possibilities of trade in other directions and the development of our own interests and industries. I am perfectly certain that if he went to Wednesbury to-morrow 1125 and said that he was all out for an Empire policy coupled with protection, they would give him another 10,000 votes, and more than double his majority at the next Election. Wednesbury is a typical working man's constituency, if ever there was one in this country.
In the last issue of the "Star" there was something in the nature of an unfair attack in connection with those who interest themselves in emigration and migration, and it was suggested that there was ample scope for our energies in the development of this country with- out considering the possibilities oversea. Those who arc interested, in this matter attach the greatest importance to doing good work in this country, and to the development of our trade with other parts of the world as well as the Empire. I, among others, have taken a keen interest in the expansion of British trade interests in South America and other places, and shall continue to do so, but I put first the development of all our resources within the British Empire. Then, again, we have heard it said that there is any amount of land in this country for development. I agree that we should have as much development as possible, but it would be absurd to assume that there is enough land in this country to satisfy all the requirements which are necessary for those who want to go on the land.
Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS
Possibly, but if you have Imperial Preference there will be a much larger amount under cultivation at once. The sooner hon. Members opposite go to the country and forget the words "tariff reform" and "free trade" and say that they are out to protect the interests of the country and to protect the workers themselves the sooner they will come on the Treasury Bench. The Debate, so far, has been most interesting and instructive. I was particularly interested by the statement of the President of the Board of Trade that we need have no delay whatever in going ahead with matters affecting the development of our Crown Colonies. Some of us wore rather frightened that this might be postponed until the Imperial Conference in October, and I was pleased to hear that there need be no delay on 1126 that score. I interrupted to ask whether it was the intention of the Government to go ahead at once without further delay, coming if necessary to this House for a Vote for the necessary funds with which to carry out any approved scheme. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) seemed rather opposed to the granting of credits, but if any scheme is sound then credits, whether by a nation, a private firm, or a hank, have never impaired the credit of those who gave them. They rather strengthen credit, even if it is given by a, private firm which is venturing a credit beyond its capital, because people realise that it has the common sense to recognise a good investment. This is the answer to many criticisms which will he levelled in relation to guarantees.
The intention of this Government is to grant facilities by the use of the credit which the Government has in obtaining funds for general Empire development, much ahead of the resources of the country or the Crown Colony in question. The Crown Colony cannot bear in its annual budget, the standing charges which would have to be included, if it had to raise money, as has been done in the past, but by grants-in-aid it can develop without this burden on its budget. Some people have the idea that we have got to pay interest on this money. That is not the case. If it is so arranged that the interest and redemption can be provided for on the capital sum it is perfectly good finance for the first five or six years, until the country has been so developed that it is producing revenue. If, on the other hand, you were to endeavour to develop a barren country, ultimately it would hit everybody, but that is not the intention. There are vast tracts of country in our Empire, as rich as any other places in the world, which, when properly developed, will yield handsome returns to those who participate in the development.
Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS
Private enterprise is going on continuously. It is responsible for developing the British Empire.
Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS
No, only credit. I put to the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department the question of families whose heads wished to go overseas but cannot do so, though they could make a home there, because they have no way of maintaining their family until they can make arrangements for the families to join them, and my hon. and gallant Friend in his reply said that the question was a difficult one, but that he was giving this particular aspect his special consideration. I beg him to try to push the matter through as quickly as possible, not only because of a particular case which I have in mind, but also for the many other families who are anxious to go if provision can be made. These men will have good wages and conditions if they can only get away. Is there not some way in which the dole, which is given at present, can be utilised so as to keep the wife and family going while the father is away? There was something in a speech by the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) to which reference has been made which would lead the man in the street to suppose that we were only trying to develop trade with 20,000,000 of our own people in the British Empire as against the hundreds of millions of people in Europe. I think it is only right to check this wrong impression by giving a general statement as to the development in 1913 in the British Empire.
The area of the Empire in round figures then was 12,000,000 square miles, its population was 439,000,000 and it, had only 134,000 miles of railways. The United States contained 3,000,000 square miles and had a population of 97,000,000 with 251,000 miles of railway. It is obvious to anyone who examines those figures that there are enormous possibilities awaiting development by the hand of man, and by this country in particular, in connection with our Dominions. We have had a series of answers to questions of my own, by different Members of the Government, and statement after statement in this House, and also to those who have spoken to Members of the Government, to the effect that they were as keen as any of us in trying to push ahead matters in relation to Empire development and migration, but there seems to be some hitch. The First Lord of the Admiralty has been one of the 1128 leaders in this school of thought for years, as has been my hon. and gallant Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and I would ask him and every Member on the Front Bench, as progress in this great work seems to be hung up if the cause is the Treasury.
If it be the Treasury, I beg the Government to let this House know, and I am sure that the House will give the Treasury a shock if it does not come to its senses and grant facilities. If the Government are as united in their desire to develop the Empire as they claim to be, are they strong enough to force the Treasury to grant the money that is wanted? If not, I want them to go on strike against the Treasury. I want to see the whole Cabinet get the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Parliamentary Secretary together in a room outside the Cabinet room, and to tell them individually and collectively what they think about the matter. If they do that they will get the money. Seriously, it is in the minds of many hon. Members that the delay is mainly due to indecision, or to the refusal to grant the necessary financial facilities to carry out one scheme or another. As far as I am personally concerned, I shall continue to get my families away from this country. They are going one by one. I am getting them out quietly, with the assistance of the various Dominion authorities, and I shall continue to help those who want to go. But we ought to have in this matter co-operation between all Members of the House, and I appeal to hon. Members opposite to join with us in pressing the Government to move quickly in this matter.
§ Mr. BARKER
This subject has been a hardy annual for many years. It seems to represent the Utopia of the Imperialist, who, when he gets on the subject of Empire emigration, exclaims, "Eureka! I have found it." It seems to be his staple asset at every election. I am in a difficulty in the matter. How is it that the Government does not deal with the question? There is no opposition. I have not heard a solitary speech to-day in opposition to this Motion. I am at a loss to understand how it is, if this be the panacea for all the ills of the Empire, that the Government does not apply it as a remedy for unemployment. Reference has been made by an hon. Member 1129 to South Africa. He said that people were longing to go there. He did not say that there was anyone in South Africa longing to receive them when they got there. Only last week there was an article in the "Times" on South Africa. It was stated in the article that unemployment was terrible in South Africa. Yet South Africa is an empty Dominion, as far as white men are concerned.
I did not say that people were dying to go to South Africa. I simply quoted South Africa as an illustration of what was done for agriculture and the people there making it attractive to emigrants. I also said that capital was necessary in all those countries as well as men, and that if men went without capital there would necessarily be unemployment.
§ Mr. BARKER
In South Africa there is plenty of territory. The article in the "Times" stated that General Smuts's great trouble was to find money to assist emigration from South Africa to Australia. That information is not from a Bolshevik source; I am not quoting from a Communist paper, but from the "Times." What is the position in Australia? I will take as a source of information the "Labour Gazette," which is familiar to every Member of this House. It states that there have been 10 per cent. unemployed in Australia in the last 18 months. These facts make me feel that there is something hollow and unsubstantial in this Resolution. The poor attendance in the House during the Debate shows that it is nothing but a pious Resolution. I regard it as an innocuous Resolution, except that it diverts the attention of the House from the question of developing the resources of this country. We are told frequently that these islands are over-populated. There was the same complaint in 1823; they were saying then that these islands were overpopulated. To-day there is far more than double the population that there was in 1823. In 2023 there will probably be some 80,000,000 to 100,000,000 living in the United Kingdom. Area has really no relationship to population or to unemployment. The great sources of production have been so multiplied by scientific application that they have completely put out of court the narrow view that population depends entirely on area.
1130 There is a great deal of unreality and sham in this Debate. It is all right for hon. Members to speak about the Empire and the flag. We have been annexing territory to the Empire for a century, and to-day we dominate nearly one-third of the globe. Yet we have over a million unemployed in this country. That shows that the Empire and unemployment have no relation whatever to each other. We know, too, that the Dominions will not allow our men to enter because unemployment is rife in the Dominions. If there were any serious emigration from this country the capitalists of this country would very soon be up in arms to stop it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No! "] I am absolutely certain that if there were a scarcity of labour in this country steps would be taken, surreptitiously if not openly, to discourage emigration from this country. We must get down to the real facts of the situation; we must develop the resources of these islands. When we mention the land question we are treated with derision. But there is not the slightest doubt that the land question is at the root of unemployment in this country. We have land going out of cultivation, and our agricultural people are unable to live. Yet we talk about emigration to the Dominions. Why cannot our agricultural labourers live in this country? Because we have the most obsolete land system in the world. It is a system which compels the land to yield three increments. It is very doubtful whether it can yield two increments. Our agricultural labourers to-day are the slaves of the country.
If the Government believe in this principle of emigration, if hon. Members, instead of getting on platforms at by-elections and general elections with a great Union Jack behind the chairman, and when tackled with unemployment and its evils referring to the Union Jack and to the Empire—if they believe in what they say, why do they not apply their principle? There is no one stopping them. The answer is that they know in their own hearts that emigration is not a remedy; they know very well that the opposition with which they would meet in the Dominions would bring to naught any scheme that they devised. There is the question of trade with the Dominions. The Dominions will not allow our goods to enter without payment of a big tariff. We have a sham preference. What is the 1131 use of saying that our goods can go in at 33 per cent. less than any other goods if the tariff wall is high enough to keep out our goods and everybody else's goods. It is a sham preference that we have. The Empire is more an Empire in name than in reality.
Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS
Has my hon. Friend any relatives, friends or connections in any part of the Empire?
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BARKER
I do not want to intrude my own personality into this Debate. I spent 17 years abroad; I have lived in South Africa and travelled Canada from one end to the other. I have lived in the Straits Settlements, and I think I know something about. this question. I was surprised when I heard the hon. Member for Acton (Sir H. Brittain) say that the Members of the House of Commons ought to get into a big ship, and sail round the Empire. I suppose he was assuming that no one in the House knew anything about the Empire except himself. I believe that most of hon. Members have been over the British Empire. That does not alter the facts which I have stated that you have unemployment in every part of the British Empire almost, almost without exception. This ideal of emigrating our people from this country to the Dominions seems to me very hollow and very unreal, and the House would be better occupied if it got down to developing the resources of this country instead of keeping on with this red herring.
§ Mr. H. H. SPENCER
I hardly think I should have intervened had it not been that the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Barker) said that the Empire was more of a sham than a reality. Whatever may be the opinion of the Labour Benches, that is not the opinion of my Friends around me. I also, like my hon. Friend, have had the privilege of travelling in the Empire; in fact, I emigrated in the early days of my youth.
§ Mr. SPENCER
Yes, I came back. I have always regretted that when I had got married, I did not go out again, because the delight of life in those parts of the Empire is much greater than in 1132 England, mainly owing to the climate. I should like to take up a point made by the hon. Member for Dumfries (Dr. Chapple) as to the paternal Government in New Zealand. The Government in New Zealand undoubtedly does develop the land of New Zealand, looking upon it as a national asset. That Government, however, when it has developed the land, by cheap railway freights, free land, and such thing's, takes the value which it. makes itself by the taxation of land values. I lived in Australia when Australian unemployment was far worse than it, is in England to-day. I have been in New Zealand when people were fleeing away from New Zealand at a greater rate than that at which they are trying to flee from England to-day. [HON. MEMBERS: "Britain," and "That is your Empire! "] I am an Empire man, because I see that these outlying parts of the Empire have developed their prosperity by realising that it is on the land question that their prosperity depends.
I am rather puzzled by the two points of view which my hon. Friends on the two sides of the House seem to take. On the Conservative side we have people expressing the greatest distrust of Government interference with trade—I think they are right—yet we have them advocating all sorts of expenditure on Empire development. We have our Socialist friends, who believe that the State can do everything better than private enterprise and we have them objecting to this scheme. I am inclined to suspect that Socialism and Toryism are very near akin. They both believe in Government interference. Protection for trade is the Tory panacea, and interference with trade is the Socialist panacea. I suspect them both, equally. I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Attorney-General is not here, to take part in the Debate, because I think only 36 hours ago he said the wisest thing about trade that has been said by any Member of the Conservative party this Session. He said:Traders want protection against Governments,and I hope that our hon. and right hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench will remember this. I want to take up a point made by the hon. Member for Abertillery, who stated that 100 years ago this country was said to have been overpopulated. Everyone in this House will agree that there never was a man 1133 with a greater love for the poor and the under-dog than Charles Kingsley. In one of his books, written, I suppose, about 59 or 60 years ago, you will find the statement—I am only quoting from memory, and probably I am not quoting correctly —that if only the money that had been wasted on the hapless Preston weavers' strike had been used to emigrate them from this country how much better it would have been. Ever since then, until 1896, at any rate, the condition of the overpopulated working men in this country was continuously improving, although the population was increasing very rapidly at that time.
§ Mr. SPENCER
Subsequently to 1896 the condition of the working classes has not been improving. It would not be in Order to discuss that at length, but since 1896—it may be a coincidence, or something to do with it—we have had a great extension of the sloppy, semi-Socialistic measures so advocated from the Labour Benches. [HON. MEMBERS: "Free trade."] Yes, we have had free trade. It would take too long to discuss the whole effect of the Boer War, and other things like the rise in prices, but we know that after Charles Kingsley spoke the condition of the poor did improve, although the population was very rapidly increasing.
There have been two points of view put forward from the Benches opposite. One is the development by Empire means of our Crown Colonies. That may be, and probably is extremely praiseworthy and good, but it will not relieve the problem of unemployment in this country. So far as emigration is concerned, we cannot emigrate our own white folk to tropical countries, and I take it we do not propose to do so. The other point is the relief of unemployment by emigration. That is an extremely costly thing. I have helped to develop, farming land in Australia, with my own hands—if I may say so, in a very humble way. I have been out with a survey party, which was surveying forests, such as we know nothing about here—I did the cooking, as a matter of fact. My point is that the cost in labour of making that land fit for production was something prodigious. On the land I am now thinking of, a farm was 1134 actually hewn out of the virgin forest. It was ploughed and sown, and is now producing butter for the English market. Is there anything so absurd as to tell us that that land can compete with our own land in this country to-day? As I come every week from my home in the North, I see what, to my mind, is the saddest industrial sight in this country. I see thousands and thousands of acres of grass land. It is incredible that in little Denmark alone, since the War, they have increased the number of pigs by a total greater than the whole number, of pigs in this country.
§ Mr. SPENCER
No. Under the most virile, individualistic system of farming. If my hon. Friend will allow me to say this, it is that the Denmark farmer keeps all he makes. That is not Socialism, if I know anything about Socialism. The Denmark farmer is the occupying owner, with the full ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. That is not Socialism, if I know anything about Socialism. More than that, the Denmark farmer scoops all the profits of the middlemen, from buying his fertilisers wholesale in South America to selling his butter to the Manchester or Bradford shopkeeper. He has it all. I will say to the Treasury Bench—if I may, as a young Member, but as a very old student of these affairs that in that direction their eyes should be turned. The development of our own part of the Empire is the service they should render to the country, in the old, catch-phrase, by putting the landless man on to the manless land. We have this manless land in our own country, and in that method of developing the Empire I trust our Government will meet us.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The Debate, up till recently, has been indeed an imperialistic night out. We have had the Empire Development Syndicate in full cry and, as the last speaker so aptly pointed out, the people who have been crying most loudly have been the Conservatives, crying for State aid. I think the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Spencer) did not observe the crucial difference between the demand for State aid on that, side of the, House and the demand for State aid on this side. There 1135 is this difference—a profound difference—between the two. In the case of hon. Members opposite, we have heard demands for State aid which were interested in character, whereas the demands for State aid that are sometimes heard from this side of the House are not motived by self-interest in any way whatever. We have had the hon. and gallant Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir J. Norton-Griffiths), whose name is associated, more than anybody else's, with the Empire. We have had from him the most earnest and moving appeals to the Under-Secretaries on the Government Bench, begging them even to go on strike to force the hands of the wicked Treasury; to force the Treasury to lend money to the various Crown Colonies throughout the Empire in order to develop the Empire. Yes, but was that the only question involved? After all, we know that the lion and gallant Member for Central Wandsworth is connected with perhaps the biggest firm of contractors in the British Empire. Naturally, when the British Treasury comes forward and lends money to the Gold Coast Colony, or to Kenya Colony, or, possibly, to the Sudan—they have done all, more or less, some with more guarantee than others—when they come forward with these loans, the people who are going to benefit first are the people who are going to contract to do the jobs. So I think we may look with a certain amount of suspicion—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]. It is a perfectly justifiable statement. It is a perfectly natural thing. People who are interested in the expenditure of public money, whether landlords or contractors, are, perfectly rightly, subject to criticism —not to any criticism of their private motives—because they naturally look upon the expenditure of public money as something that will help them in their particular trade or interest.
We have heard claims from the coal trade for assistance. We have had over whelming claims from agriculture for assistance, and now we naturally have claims from those who wish to take part in the development of the Empire. That is one thing. They may think their claims justified or not, but it is not fair to compare demands of that sort with demands made from this side of the House for assistance from the State in the develop- 1136 ment of industry, which are not made in any particular interest, but in the interest of the community as a whole. Unfortunately we have to-day a regular orgy of demands for Empire migration. That is where we on this side of the House join issue with hon. Members opposite. We do not believe you can solve the unemployment problem by emigrating people from this country to any other country on earth. We think the solution of the unemployment problem lies in England, and speech after speech from these benches have shown that we believe, that if you want to spend money on solving the unemployment problem by giving people jobs you can find opportunities for doing so in this country without spending more money either in the Sudan or in Kenya or Nigeria or elsewhere. If you can get the people back to the land in this country it will provide opportunities and that, it seems to me, is what this House should be debating and not the possibility of emigrating to the other end of the world people who would prefer to stop in this country.
This Debate was to deal not so much with Empire migration as with Empire trade. If you are going to develop Empire trade, you must see that the relations between the various parts of the Empire and ourselves are good and not bad. I am sorry the Noble Lord the Under-Secretary for India has just left the House. The dependency for which his Department is responsible is, I suppose, our biggest customer. Yet our relations with the people of India are allowed to grow worse and worse. We do not realise that as those relations grow worse and worse so, inevitably, British trade suffers. It may not be very obvious, but I have no doubt whatever that the whole Gandhi movement, the boycott of European wares and so forth, has enormously affected Manchester's trade with India. That trade would undoubtedly he far bigger to-day if it were not for that ill-feeling in India. If we arc going to develop inter-Empire trade, lei us lay the foundations of that trade fairly and squarely by securing the best possible relations with the peoples with whom we propose to trade. We should do far more for inter-Empire trade by genuinely co-operating with the Indian people in the establishment of self-government in that great Dependency than by advancing 1137 money, guaranteeing loans and guaranteeing credits to the various dependencies, Crown Colonies and Dominions. That method is open to the Government at once. Will they take that line? It will cost us nothing the Treasury will not be called upon, and the taxpayers of this country will not be asked to contribute £3,000,000 a year. All we are asking is that, India should be given a chance of developing, and that the relations between Indian people and the British people should be allowed to develop on friendly lines, instead of, as at present, allowing those peoples to be driven permanently asunder by a futile policy of repression in India. What applies to India unfortunately applies to other parts of the world as well, and to our trade, particularly with the Levant. There, too, the policy of the Government has created bad trade, and our people are unemployed in increasing numbers owing to the policy of His Majesty's Government. Trade depends upon friendship, and just as our trade is suffering in India and the Levant, so it is suffering in Europe to-day as a result, not so much of our hostility to Europe, as of the hostilities which arc tearing Europe to pieces. Trade depends not upon spending public money abroad when that public money might be spent in this country, but upon breaking down the artificial barriers of hatred between peoples, and thereby enabling peoples to exchange on the best possible terms, in a friendly mariner, and to the profit of all parties.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)
I understand it is desired to raise another question before we get on to the Votes, anti I hope the House will allow this discussion to terminate. I have very little to add to what the President of the Board of Trade said in reply to the first two or three speeches, but I wish to correct some of the ideas which have been put before the House in subsequent speeches. No Member of the Government is suggesting that we have any panacea. I profoundly distrust all panaceas, including that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down. His panacea is the taxation of land values which is apparently going to make the land of England and the climate of England more productive than those of the Valley of the Nile. We are going to 1138 have a most marvellously contented and prosperous agricultural community, according to others, not by means of the panacea of the taxation of land values, but by developing the deer forests of Scotland; by that means, we were told, we are going to have valleys of corn growing and wine and oil flowing in this very trying climate. Panaceas of all kinds, however, are to be distrusted.
I think that hon. Members opposite have got the idea that His Majesty's Government regard the Empire Settlement Act and Empire development proposals generally as a solution of our unemployment problem here. Nothing of the kind. We never pretended that was the case. The Empire Settlement Act arose out of the last Imperial Conference when Australia and the other Dominions said to us, "We want more population to develop our undeveloped lands. If your people are willing to go as their forefathers did, will the two Governments come together and see that they go out under the best possible conditions?" It arose out of the desire to ensure that those who wished to do what the British race have done all over the world, in the United States of America as well as in the Empire, namely, go out as pioneers, should do so under the most humane conditions and with the best possible chances of success. That was the Government's policy, and that is why we have the Empire Settlement Act.
The object of this Debate, however, as I take it, was to ascertain what the Government proposed to do more particularly in the development of Empire trade and Empire resources. I would point out first that the Imperial Economic Conference is summoned primarly to discuss how far communications can be improved and how far various forms of assistance can be given, through Trade Commissioners and the like, to trade with the Dominions. Anyone of the Dominions or the British Government is entitled to bring up at that Conference anything affecting economic relations within the Empire. With regard to the Crown Colonies, the President of the Board of Trade has told the House that, though the development of the Crown Colonies in the interests of the Empire will be considered by that Conference, the Colonial Office do not propose to wait until the Conference, but are going to make an effort to accelerate, if possible, the de- 1139 velopment of our trust in Africa and elsewhere. Probably the most striking book recently published on our Crown Colonies is that by Sir Frederick Lugard, entitled, "The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa." That is the point—we have a dual mandate. The first duty we have in a country like Nigeria is to give the Nigerian native a chance to advance in the scale of civilisation, in moral and material prosperity, and the second duty we have is to make available to the whole civilised world those tropical raw materials on which people in temperate climes all round the globe depend so largely for their comfort under modern civilisation. These two duties are laid upon us. I quite agree that education and all that sort of thing has got to go pari passu. We cannot sit down and worship the god of economics alone. Our task is a moral and political task as well as an economic task, but we have great economic duties. I believe there are something like 4,000,000 square miles in Africa either in British Dominions, British Crown Colonies, or British Protectorates, or in some way within our responsibility. In that portion of this vast area directly administered by the Colonial Office there are at present 4,000 miles of railway. That is grossly inadequate to enable these populations to develop their consuming power, their producing power, and their trade, and it is absolutely essential, if we are to carry out our heritage and the trust imposed upon us, that we should, step by step, do what we can to open up a continent like Africa by means of better communications. The better the communications the cheaper the raw materials and all that is necessary for the interests of this country, and the whole civilised world benefits from cheaper raw materials.
Thus, the first duty, and, I would say, the main duty, we have in regard to the Crown Colonies, is to deal with the problem of transport and open up these countries. It so happens that for the last 20 years this has been a State enterprise. With the exception of Nyasaland, all the railways in tropical Africa, West, and East, are Government constructed and Government run, and the mere fact that it is a Socialistic enterprise makes is absolutely the duty of successive Colonial administrations to ensure that we do not sit down and do nothing, but 1140 that we see that the railway problem, railway extensions, harbour improvements, and the like, in these Crown Colonies—for which we are responsible, whose Budget we control, whose Legislative Councils we control—that that is wisely, sanely, and progressively considered. If the Labour party came in they would have the same task, and what we propose to do, in the interests of the world and of the Empire as a whole, is to consider how far we can assist and accelerate the development of these Crown Colonies.
We are, it is true, not going to be content with the progress of State enterprise in opening up these countries, but we are going to set up a Committee to, see how far we can bring in private enterprise as well. I think a body like the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation—bodies of that kind—would be of immense value in doing the subordinate work, but I am confident that for some time to come, at any rate, the main monopoly articles of a country like Nigeria must be at any rate controlled by the Government. My Noble Friend the Secretary of State proposes at an early date to set up a competent Committee to explore how far, in the building possibly of spur lines, it may be possible to interest private enterprise for the development of some of those raw materials of which the Empire is most in need, such as flax, cotton, and the like. The world is greatly in need of certain raw materials, and they can be grown and produced in the British Empire. I quite agree with the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. H. Spencer) that, when it comes to trade, the trader is best left to do the trading, and that the State cannot go into the actual work of trading, but the State, in addition to providing these transport services, has a very important duty to perform in connection with scientific research and scientific education.
The Crown Colonies have lacked our help in this matter all too much in the past, but we are making a beginning. In the West Indies, Trinidad has opened an agricultural college this year, which we hope will be an agricultural training centre for the whole tropical agriculture of the Empire, as well as of the West Indies, because research work in connection with almost every tropical product can be done at that college in Trinidad.
1141 All that sort of work can be done. More ought to be done, and can be done, in West Africa and in Egypt. On all this sort of thing there is a tremendous scope of work to be done for Empire development, and I ask the House to set aside partisanship, not to have the sort of speech we listened to from the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Barker), who said that the Empire is a sham and not a reality.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I am in the recollection of the House. I took the hon. Member's words down, and he said the Empire was a sham and not a reality. Well, we want to make it a reality.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I said I am in the recollection of the House, and that the hon. Member definitely said that the Empire was a sham.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
If the hon. Member withdraws, I accept it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I said I am in the recollection of the House as to what he said. It is absolutely essential, if we are to be free from a charge of that kind, that we should do our duty by the Empire that we, should do our duty by these Crown Colonies, and that when the Dominions seek our co-operation, whether financially, whether in the development of their territory, we should not always give them the answer that we are only concerned with Great Britain, that we are only concerned with our interests inside our island. We are not. We are, as a people, for good or ill, inheritors of a great destiny, which has taken our people into every continent in the world, into every climate in the world, and we cannot turn round now and say, "We are not going to care twopience what happens to you, what happens to those responsible; we are only going to consider what is in this country; we are only going to spend money on the development of our little island." If that is going to be the creed, if that is going to be the outlook, then we have every right to perish as a nation, and I do believe that no section of the House, 1142 except one small and narrow section of the party opposite, and by no means all that party, stands for anything but the carrying out of our sane, sober, Imperial duty, coupled with Imperial development.
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down desired, in his opening remarks, to make it clear that in this Amendment the Government had no remedy for the solution of the problem of unemployment. There is no Member on this side of the House who would have charged the Government with having any solution of that problem. To solve the unemployment problem would require the incorporation of ideas. The President of the Board of Trade, in a long and somewhat interesting, though perhaps rather flippant, address to the House this afternoon, laid a good deal of stress upon the fact that European trade, as compared with 1914, had materially declined, whilst there had been a relative increase in our trade with our Colonial and Overseas possessions. I should have imagined that that situation would have been a source of regret to members of the Treasury Bench, for surely the unsettlement of Europe is more the work of the late Government, of which those Members are the lineal descendants and in many cases the actual participants, in that tragedy. It is a mournful commentary on the ideas which animate the Government that a scheme of this sort should require the argument that Europe will be many years unsettled and that therefore we must rely upon the relatively small trade with our Colonial and overseas possessions.
We, on this side of the House, are convinced that, while it is desirable that there should be the normal development of the Empire, the function of the Government is to turn their attention to home affairs first. If there is to ho an expenditure of three or four millions in credits, then this expenditure can be utilised at home in a more efficient manner, and we say, in addition, that the difficulties under which we are labouring to-day are difficulties which are capable of removal. The land monopoly has been alluded to in this discussion. A land monopoly unquestionably exists. I travelled from the North with a farmer this week who is meeting in conference this afternoon with the Minister of Agriculture upon the recent Agricultural Report, and I asked him a 1143 question on land monopoly. He said, "Unquestionably, when I have effected improvements in my farm, or if I am, producing a greater proportion of crops to the acre than I did, say, seven or eight years ago, the landlord proposes to increase my rent. The result of that," he said, "is that when the agent comes to me and asks what I think that stack of hay contains, I am bound to be deceptive, for otherwise I should have my rent forced up." If that be the attitude of the land monopolist to a good tenant, we can imagine what occurs in other parts of the country where conditions are worse. Land monopoly, we assert, is capable of legislative removal.
There is another monopoly, the greatest monopoly, in my opinion, the greatest cause of unemployment, in this country, and that is the railway monopoly. When Parliament took from the Board of Trade the power which it possessed for controlling railway rates and fares, and placed it in the hands of that nominated and non-elected, absolute body, the Railway Rates Advisory Committee, they committed the greatest act of treachery to the traders and to the travelling public of this country. Throughout Britain there is no section of the commercial community that will deny that one of the greatest stumbling blocks to the expansion of home trade are the railway rates, which are of the most oppressive character. It is cheaper to import from the farthest parts of the Continent, with so much rail and sea service, goods for consumption in this country than it is to send, say, goods from the West of Scotland to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It is more costly to send a ton of goods from Newcastle to Manchester than it is to carry them from New Orleans, 3,500 miles overseas. Those who know the statistics in regard to the small industries in our country, such as paper making and kindred trades, where it is necessary for works situated inland to utilise a good deal of rail traffic, will advise you that many of these mills, with the power which the railway companies now possess, have closed, and that others are engaged in most restricted services, and until rail rates are reduced to a reasonable figure it is impossible for our home trade to develop as it was in pre-War days. The railway monopoly must sooner 1144 or later be dealt with by this House, and the powers which the Board of Trade possessed before the passing—
Mr. DEPUTY - SPEAKER (Captain FitzRoy)
I must remind the hon. Member that the question under discussion is the co-operation of this country with the Dominions in Empire development, and not that of railways in England.
I was desirous of indicating in what way the heart of the Empire could be more adequately developed than it is at the present time. While hon. and right hon. Members are advocating that our industrial workers should be emigrated, I believe that with adequate development here that would be entirely unnecessary. Our export trade, it is true, is in ruins, and will continue to be so, so long as we allow the various monopolies to continue in our midst. We are advised that credits for our Overseas Dominions or Crown Colonies are necessary for Empire development. Private enterprise, we are continually advised, here is the secret of the success of the world as at present conducted. Why, then, should it be necessary to call upon the taxpayers of this country to supplement private enterprise in different parts of the world? Surely if these are competent, as we are repeatedly told, it ought not to be the business of the Government to call upon the taxpayers in this way. The trouble is that we are governed to-day by a body of pessimists. They are obsessed—and I think it is true to say that without being offensive—with the idea that this country would be better off if it were to be trading practically exclusively with our Overseas possessions. They do not possess the large view, which sees that the customer that the Britisher requires is anyone, no matter what his race or colour may be, so long as he is prepared to take our goods and supply us with goods in exchange. When the Prime Minister lays it down that his conviction is that, even if Germany could be once more restored, that would not be of benefit to the British Empire, because that country was more of a competitor than a client in pre-War days, that gives us the key to the narrow obsession which possesses the Treasury Bench. We on these benches are in favour of the normal development of the Empire, but we say that the heart of the Empire requires the attention of the Government first.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ The Clerk at the Table informed the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. SPEAKERfrom the remainder of this day's Sitting.
§ Whereupon Mr. JAMES HOPE, the Chairman of Ways and Means, took the Chair as Deputy Speaker, pursuant to the Standing Order.