§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
rose to ask His Majesty's Government if they would lay on the Table of the House Sir Alfred Bateman's deductions from 171 Consular Reports as to our trade and methods. 191 Blue-books 1898 and 1902. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I shall trouble your Lordships with very few words in support of the Notice which stands in my name. I have been asked whether I intended to raise a fiscal debate. On the contrary, I hope I shall say nothing which can by any possibility raise such a discussion. When the Duke of Devonshire brought the fiscal question before your Lordships and moved for a Return of trade during the last three years, I asked him to move also for this document, but I received an answer to the effect that, though the noble Duke thought it would be very useful to have Sir Alfred Bateman's deductions, he would rather not mix the two things together.
What I want is that you should know what was, up to a certain time before the fiscal controversy arose, the opinion of the experts at the Board of Trade as to the state of our trade, as to how far it was prospering, and the reasons why it did not progress as it ought to. Sir Alfred Bateman's Report would not occupy more than half a sheet of letter paper. I will not trouble your Lordships by reading the six reasons given by Sir Alfred Bateman for British trade not progressing as it ought to do, but I would lay special emphasis on one of those reasons. The sixth reason given by Sir Alfred Bateman is as follows—The development of technical education in Germany and the greater attention paid in schools to modern languages, added to the system of sending young Germans all over the world to acquire a practical knowledge of the languages, business habits, etc., of other countries, by means of which they are afterwards able to compete with those countries with a greater chance of success.This, my Lords, is confirmed by my own recent experience. My house was under repair, and I had to go to a London hotel. There was a very nice young German waiter there, and I entered into conversation with him. He spoke English perfectly. I said, "Do you speak French"? and he replied that he did. I then asked him if he spoke Italian, and he replied, "A little," adding that he was leaving London in a few months to go to Milan to learn Italian. I asked him how many waiters there were in the hotel, and he replied, "Eight." I then asked how 192 many of them were Germans, and his answer was "alle," "everyone." I said, although I knew better, that I assumed, of course, that in Berlin there was no end of Englishmen who were waiters, and he replied, "keine," "not one." To a further question, as to whether that was the case all over the world, his reply was, "Yes." That, my Lords, is an instance of the way our trade suffers. Young men in this country play football with their heads; they do not take the trouble to educate themselves properly.
I hold in my hand a little book, a reprint from an article that appeared in June in the National Review, which has vitriolic truth in every line of it. It is by a German resident in England, who is a great employer of labour. He confirms what I have just said as regards the action of Germany. As an employer of labour he found that in this country men he employed had not heard of Nelson, and when they were asked where Hong Kong was they replied that it was in the Mediterranean. I venture to think that is a state of things which it would be well to look into, and it is in that sense that I ask His Majesty's Government to lay this Report on the Table. Sir Alfred Bateman's Report contains deductions from 171 Consular Reports which he had to analyse and "boil down." The Report is one of great importance, and I hope His Majesty's Government will consent to lay it on the Table.
§ THE EARL OF GRANARD
My Lords, the noble Earl has asked His Majesty's Government whether they are prepared to publish as a separate Paper the Memorandum contained in Blue-book Cd. 9078 of 1898. I regret that it will not be in our power to do so. The Blue-book is still in circulation and can be obtained for the sum of 10½d.
§ THE EARL OF GRANARD
I cannot think that any useful purpose would be served by reprinting a part of it. The Blue-book referred to is now six years old, and the experience of the Department which I represent in this House is against publishing literature of the kind broadcast. It has been decided by the Department not to publish in 193 future Reports of the kind, as the suggestions contained therein become available for foreign competitors as well as for British traders, and may possibly damage the reputation of British goods. Instructions have consequently been issued to His Majesty's Consular officers to embody suggestions as to possible improvements in British trading methods in separate despatches, the contents of which are brought confidentially to the notice of large firms, and Chambers of Commerce, or published at the discretion of the Board of Trade.
§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
I may, perhaps, just say that the defects in our methods of trading are much better known abroad than in this country. As His Majesty's Government decline to publish the Paper I have asked for, I shall print and circulate it at my own expense, as I did in the case of the Duke of Wellington's letter, and I hope to have it in your Lordships' hands by the end of the week.