THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND
My Lords, I do not suppose that the opening of Parliament has ever taken place at a time fraught with more momentous 10 issues both for this nation, and indeed for civilisation, nor has the King's Speech ever dealt with subjects of greater importance for the future of this country and of the whole world.
After a brief summary of recent military events and the situation which has arisen from them, the Speech goes on to express His Majesty's appreciation of the services of our soldiers and sailors. It is safe to say that there is no sentiment which will find a more cordial echo in the hearts, not only of this House, but of all His Majesty's subjects; but as another opportunity will be given your Lordships of according a formal expression of gratitude to the Army and Navy, there is no need for me to make any further comment on this subject.
Before dealing with such important matters as the Paris Conference, the inauguration of the League of Nations, and the maintenance of an adequate Army to secure the fruits of victory—to which I will presently revert—I feel that some reference is due to that passage in which His Majesty speaks of his recent visit to France, to the demonstration of affection which he received there, to his visit to the President of the French Republic, and his reception of the President of the United States, for it will give me an opportunity of expressing in the name of this House our gratitude, our deep and abiding sense of the debt we owe His Majesty for the manner in which he has throughout the past war identified himself with every phase of the national effort and has been the embodiment of the aspirations of his people. The King's untiring devotion to duty, his sympathy with every class and calling of his subjects, his frequent visits to his Fleets and to his Armies in France, his presence with the latter in the darkest days when defeat and disaster appeared to be staring us in the face—all this has gained the Crown a position in the hearts of this people which has seldom or never been attained by any previous Sovereign, and has recently been shown by such an outburst of enthusiastic loyalty as has not been accorded to any former occupant of the Throne.
To turn to the subjects to which I have already referred. The King's Speech informs us—and it says a great deal for the statesmanship displayed at the Paris Conference, and is full of hope for the future 11 of the world—that there has been no disagreement among the representatives of the assembled Powers at Paris, among whom are included, as we have all been rejoiced to learn, representatives of the Dominions, and that all have accepted the principle of a League of Nations, the road to which is described as the only means of salvation of this country and of the world from the horrors of war. There is, perhaps, no subject on which greater divergency of view exists than on this project, and although this is not the time for discussing a question of such magnitude and complexity, it may not be out of place to draw attention to certain aspects of the question which there is, perhaps, a tendency to overlook.
At such times as the present, when the world is emerging from a period of unexampled tension and strain, the natural effect of the reaction felt in lesser or greater degree by all is to induce the belief that we are on the threshold of a new era, when not only will war be eliminated, but the social evils which have afflicted humanity will be removed. There is an atmosphere of exaggeration over everything, fostered by the Press, by the literature of the hour, and by public speakers. We are seriously told by responsible people that the fate of this Government will be decided by its ability to create a new world, as if it were given to any body of human beings, however wise, courageous, high-minded, and farseeing, to introduce the millennium. Similarly, it is open to question whether there may not be a certain danger in the more exalted conceptions of the functions of a League of Nations, whether indeed they may not tend to blind us to facts on which our security and that of the world has always depended. Nor does a recognition of those facts involve any lack of appreciation or of support for the efforts of those who are trying to prepare a foundation for European unity. At the bottom of this conception of a League of Nations lies the haunting fear that another war between nations provided with even more efficacious means of destruction will destroy civilisation altogether, and that this prospect is so awful that some machinery must at all costs be provided to prevent a recurrence of war. This fear may be justified, and even if it were not, nothing could excuse any failure on the part of Governments and peoples to make the most of the present opportunity when the re- 12 presentatives of the Powers, supported by a public opinion more united and determined than ever before to remove the causes of war, are trying, with far greater honesty of purpose and disinterestedness than on any past occasion, to establish peace on the secure foundation of right and justice.
But it would be idle to deny that the first test of Allied statesmanship will not be the creation of the League of Nations, but the imposing of such terms on Germany as will secure a just and lasting peace. And this is not likely to prove an easy task. The present political leaders of Germany are hardly less guilty for the past war than the members of the late Imperial Government. Large German Armies have been raised, under the leadership of the same Commander-in-Chief who led the Imperial Armies, to prevent the incorporation in Poland of the provinces we are pledged to restore to that country; successive Allied demands have been contemptuously refused, and every effort is being made to arouse popular feeling against the Entente, to create the impression that Germany is still undefeated, and to keep alive the hope that she may yet re-assert her position in the world. There is not cause for astonishment at all this. There is no reason to suppose that Germany will tamely acquiesce in the payment of enormous indemnities and in a future in which she will exist only on the sufferance of the Entente Powers. In this connection the reference in the King's Speech to the necessity of maintaining an adequate Army comes as a timely warning. The possession of the bridgeheads over the Rhine are worthless if we have not sufficient men to hold them; nor is it by any means certain that Germany can be rendered harmless without the occupation of a further portion of her territory and the control of further German resources. We have also to maintain adequate garrisons in the occupied territories in the Near and Middle East, where their presence is the sole protection of those races whose cause we have espoused.
Nor should it be forgotten that our sincerity of purpose in the pursuit of the democratic ideals we have expressed may shortly be put to the test by our willingness to carry out our obligations, if necessary by military force, to Poland and Bohemia. It is essential, therefore, that our hopes for 13 the establishment of a League to enforce peace should not blind us to the actual facts of the military situation. And more than this, it is essential that they should not blind us to the lessons of the past. Our national security has always depended on three things—maritime supremacy, first; the integrity of the neighbouring territories of Holland, Belgium, and France, second; and the security of our Eastern possessions, third. When the League of Nations has been established and international armaments have been converted into international police these conditions may not hold good, but until then it is our duty as a nation to observe them, and there is every justification for thinking that if we do it honestly and fearlessly, if we tell the truth about the obligations it involves, we shall be preserved from those evils which have been the nightmare of this generation. There is indeed reason to draw this conclusion from past history.
With regard to the first of the conditions to which I have referred—maritime supremacy. During the late war we controlled every sea except two, the Baltic and the Black Sea. It would seem essential that in future we and our Allies should control both. Constantinople is the key to the Black Sea and Denmark holds the entry into the Baltic. It can hardly be doubted that Denmark should be made strong enough to hold it instead of being, as she now is, at the mercy of Germany, and that it should, therefore, be one of our first aims to restore at least North Schleswig to Denmark. This would enable her to control the Little Belt and thus maintain the communication between the islands and the mainland of Jutland, and would place her in a position to defend her territories againt sudden attack. This question is of supreme importance, for on it not only depends the Allied control of all seas, but our ability to influence the destinies of Poland and the Baltic Provinces of Russia.
The next and equally important condition of our future security and that of Europe will be, as it has been throughout our history, our ability to throw on to the Continent a sufficient force to give our Allies the support they require. Whatever Power may in the future prove a menace to Europe, it is certain that our security will depend on the maintenance of the present Alliance and on the closest co- 14 operation in measures of defence between them, and the standard of our armed strength should be fixed solely in the numbers required to defend the frontiers of the Western nations against an invasion by Germany.
I fear that these doctrines may be described as unimaginative and as reminiscent of an unenlightened age which believed in the principle of the Balance of Power. But what if the true reading of history be that the Balance of Power was not a defective or ignoble principle, but that it failed because Great Britain refused the obligations which it involved? For four centuries the British Navy and Army have stood between successive aggressive Empires and the domination of the world, but it is only When we have forgotten our historic mission in the world that these attempts at domination have been made; it is only when we have persuaded ourselves that the era of wars is over that war has come. If we remember these things there will be no danger in striving to attain the goal of a League of Nations, for there will be no risk that we shall forget our duty as a nation, or barter our security and that of Europe in the pursuit of an international ideal, the ultimate efficacy of which, however strenuously we may and should strive to attain it, is uncertain. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty as followeth—
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign,—We Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(The Duke of Northumberland.)
§ LORD COLWYN
My Lords, in seconding the Address to His gracious Majesty, may I be allowed to express the pleasure that we feel that the noble Duke who has so ably moved the Address has come back safely, and to utter the hope that he will still give to his country in other spheres those abilities which he has used so splendidly on the battlefield.
The latter part of the Speech deals with the industrial problem. In glowing words 15 the King speaks of the prospect of some change coming into the industrial life of our people. It is a very difficult thing to demobilise the industries of a great country. It is no wonder that there is some unrest when all the great industries of a country have been engaged in making munitions. Immense developments were necessary throughout the kingdom to change the whole character of our industrial world. After great efforts we at least got the munitions that were required to carry us successfully through the war, but the sudden stop of this manufacture has caused a great deal of anxiety, not only to the men working in these munition factories, but to the masters who own them. All these industries were formerly engaged in making exports from this country; now they revert to their original purpose, and there is no trade at hand. The great markets of the East seem all to be stopped; the home markets also seem to be stopped, and thus for the time being there is a complete lull in the industries of the country.
I think all that we want now is a little patience on both sides—patience from the masters and patience from the men; and I think it will all come right. We have been spending £8,000,000,000 on munitions. None of the articles manufactured with that money could be exchanged with other countries; it has been spent in the production of explosives, shells, and guns which have been absolutely thrown away. So that there is nothing to be got back for all that money. There has been some profit attached to the spending of it because the wages of our people have been greater during the last three or four years than they have ever been before, the comfort of the workers has been raised, and the masters have received a great deal more profit in the last three or four years than ever before. Some, I think, have had more profit than they ought to have received. But if we can just wait for a little time till we can get the trade coming back into its normal course we shall probably get employment. We want, if we can, to get a truce between the men and the masters. If we can do that it will give us time to look round and see what trade we can get and how we can develop the resources of our country.
The contention of some of the labour people now is for a great deal shorter hours of work, to be paid for at the same rate as the longer hours they had before. You 16 can do that with a trade which has a monopoly. Take the great trade represented by a noble Lord who sits in this House—a trade which you can control to such an extent that you buy the raw product away in Africa, bring it here, and manufacture the goods here; with such a trade you can easily make thirty hours a week, and pay very big wages at the same time. But that is a monopoly. You cannot do the same thing when you have to deal with the great textile industries, cotton, flax, jute, and hemp. All these are subject to competition by other countries.
Take cotton. Cotton is a great industry, and the operatives during this late trouble have acted splendidly. The cotton operatives and the flax operatives have been working short time, and they have borne the difficulties in a spirit which I think is magnificent. But America is there ready to touch every market that we are in now. Japan, with a population receiving wages which are only one-fifth of what we pay in this country, has carried her products right into India, Manchuria, the Argentine, and other parts of the world, competing with us at low wages and with long hours. I do not want the people of this country to work the hours that the Japanese work, and it would be a calamity if wages approached those which the Japanese receive. But those are the conditions which we have to face, and in those conditions, if we began now making very short hours in the cotton trade or the flax trade, our trade would go, and we should not be able to carry on the textile trade which has made this country rich.
I wish the men would just try to feel that as masters we do not want them to be everlastingly kept down to a low point—that it is no interest of a great trade to have poorly-paid labour, to have wages eternally low. The trade succeeds and the nation succeeds if the people become healthy and prosperous. It is no interest of a nation to have the conditions of life which prevail in a large number of working-class districts, where long streets are built, where the sunlight hardly ever comes. And therefore if we can follow out the closing words of His Majesty's Speech—words glowing with, a great and noble desire to change these things—I think we shall be doing a great service to humanity; we shall see that there is something more for us than the 17 mere value of our personal businesses—namely, the uplifting of the people who are concerned in our industries.
The secretaries of the trade unions seem to have some very big ideas. Most of them appear to be Irishmen. An Irishman is gifted in a marvellous way with the power of imagination, with the capacity for understanding a very easy job, and also a fatal proficiency of language which is dangerous. They seem to be nearly all Irishmen. We had an Irishman who came north, where our colliers were, and made a lot of speeches and finally got thrown out of work through making himself unpopular. A friend of mine gave him a place at his works, and happening to be passing in the middle of the day he found this man making an oration on the rights of humanity in the middle of all his people, and trying to disturb the whole arrangements of his place. If we can but get face to face with the men whom we meet in labour discussions and speak with them in the way that men can speak to each other, I dare say we shall produce something and carry out some of the objects expressed in the gracious Speech of His Majesty.
We shall retain our industry because we have a fine body of workers. The Government have done some splendid things with regard to the control of its raw products. Take the flax industry on which we depended for the linen fabric for our aeroplanes. We should not have had linen for our aeroplanes if the Government had not controlled the flax industry. The workers have been working half time but they have not made one complaint. So we want to take it into our consideration, as the King asks us, to see if we cannot get for the next four months an arrangement whereby we can tell the men frankly and fairly what we want in the best interests of the country, and in the best interests of the children who are growing up round about us. If we do that, we shall be carrying out the desire which His Majesty expressed so well in his Speech.
THE MARQUESS OF CRE E
My Lords, it is my first duty, and a very agreeable one, to express our sense of the manner in which the mover and seconder of the Address have performed their tasks this afternoon. The noble Duke has distinguished himself both as a practical and scientific soldier, and has done good 18 service at the Front and at home during the war; and we all listened with deep interest to the observations which he made upon the situation, on which I shall have a word to say later; and we feel confident that in future he will take, as I trust, a full and important part in our debates.
The seconder of the Address spoke to us with an experience of a different kind, but it was an experience of the widest possible scope. It is possible, of course, for a groove in business to be as narrow as a groove in politics, but the noble Lord has so extensive an experience of business of different sorts that all that fell from him on the industrial situation must be listened to not merely with great interest but with deep respect. I trust, therefore, that the noble Lord also will in the future play a prominent part in the debates of your Lordships' House.
If I may for a moment touch on a sadder subject, I desire to express the sympathy which we all feel with their Majesties in the loss they have so lately sustained. The late Prince John was but little known among His Majesty's subjects, but those who had known him in his childhood will agree that, had he been spared to grow up, he had all the qualities which would have made him fill in the regard of the country a position similar to that which his elder brothers have already achieved.
It will be a matter of common agreement, as the noble Duke said, that those paragraphs of the gracious Speech which deal with the conclusion of the war and its immediate results will obtain the hearty concurrence of every member of your Lordships' House without distinction. As the noble Duke told us, there will be opportunities later of more specific allusion to the services rendered by the Navy and the Army. Of the part played in the war by our Allies and Associates, as we all remember, we have already spoken, and the country spoke through the mouth of His Majesty himself in the Address which he gave to us in the Royal Gallery. We shall have, as I said, an opportunity of speaking of the Forces of our own Imperial Services. When that day comes there will, I hope, be a complete correction of some faults in perspective which may possibly have existed in the public mind during the long progress of the war. I will mention but one or two instances, and I mention them as a former Indian and 19 Colonial Secretary. The spirit with which India entered into the war was most fully recognised and acknowledged both here and in the country; but I am not quite certain that the continuing effort of India and the scale on which it has been conducted have been altogether observed throughout the progress of these months and years in the way which we should wish them to be.
Then, again, I am not entirely certain that the astonishing campaign in German South-West Africa, the audacity of its conception and the perfection of its execution—which has, perhaps, been only equalled in the whole course of the war by General Allenby's last feat in Palestine, to take a somewhat similar instance of warfare such as was not possible on the Western Front—I am not certain that, though that has been applauded, its magnitude has been entirely recognised here. Lastly, I have been told, by those who are in a position to know, that there has been some feeling among our Canadian fellow-subjects that the part that Canada has played in the war almost from the very first has not received so full a need of public recognition as it ought. As I said, I hope, if there has been any lack of perspective in these or in other cases, that when the time for the general thanks to the Navy and the other Services arrives it will be completely set right.
The noble Duke spoke of the work of the Conference, and I am certain that it is the desire of everybody in your Lordships' House, whatever his general views, to support to the utmost the exceedingly difficult work which His Majesty's Government are engaged in carrying through at the Conference. In most respects probably that support can best be given by maintaining silence on the subject and refraining from asking too many questions. But I will merely say this—that it will be a satisfaction, I am certain, both to Parliament and to the country, if His Majesty's Government find themselves in a position to give us a little more information about the position of affairs in Russia—we are very imperfectly informed of the situation there—and also what are the hopes and prospects of more stable government there. So far as it is possible for His Majesty's Government to enlighten us on this we shall, I am certain, be grateful.
The other matter which we all watch with keenness is that on which the noble 20 Duke made some observtions of great importance—that of the League of Nations. As he observed, this is not the moment to discuss the possibilities or to express either the hopes or the fears which may surround that policy. We were all, I am sure, interested in the noble Duke's observations, because with his military experience he spoke, I thought, almost frankly as a somewhat reluctant convert to the idea; but the adhesion of a reluctant convert is sometimes more valuable and more efficient than that of those who from the very first have been enthusiastic upon a matter; and although, I confess, some of us will be inclined to take a somewhat more hopeful view of the future of this policy than the noble Duke did, I do not in any way complain of the cautions—many of them, I venture to think, most necessary cautions—which he thought it his duty to utter.
Then, my Lords, we all heartily join in the congratulations expressed in the gracious Speech to our French Allies, upon their share in the victory and their share in the results. The regaining of the devastated departments, and the regaining, after a longer period of loss, of Alsace-Lorraine, are indeed subjects for our most hearty felicitations; and in expressing our share in these congratulations I cannot forbear from mentioning the name of that illustrious veteran, the French Prime Minister, whose figure in these last days of the war has been unquestionably the most conspicuous of any civil participator in it. We ought also, I think, to add a footnote to the gracious Speech by expressing our particular congratulations to Belgium, Serbia, and, by no means least, Rumania, upon the regaining of their outraged territory.
I listened with close attention to what fell from the noble Duke on the matter of maintaining what the Speech describes as an "adequate Army" in the field. I certainly have nothing to quarrel with in what he said of the present necessity of that policy, but I hope your Lordships will agree that the continued maintenance of so large an Army in the field must be regarded as a misfortune in itself—that, involving as it does, necessarily, as I quite admit, a departure from that policy of "No Conscription" which was so forcibly impressed upon us in the General Election as being the policy of His Majesty's Government, it requires closely watching in Parlia- 21 ment. I also am inclined to wonder whether quite sufficient attention has been paid to the part which, in this necessary temporary coercion of Germany, the Navy might play now, or could play with most overwhelming effect in the case of any necessity arising. Perhaps the noble Earl who leads the House will be able to tell us whether the part in the necessary restraint of Germany, which the noble Duke so fully describes, which might be taken by the Navy, could not be somewhat extended, with some possible reduction, as one would have thought, of the military force required for that purpose.
My Lords, I do not want to dwell upon the paragraph of the Speech relating to Indian Reform, a matter in which I naturally take a great deal of interest, but I would remind your Lordships of this—that India is on the tip-toe of expectation for something to be done. That, I am quite certain, is realised by His Majesty's Government, and I share their hope that it will be possible to introduce the Government's measure of legislation into Parliament before a very long period has elapsed.
The paragraph upon Ireland appears to me to be somewhat cryptic. His Majesty expresses the hope that conditions may "soon sufficiently improve." That, of course, is a hope which we all share. We hope also that next month and the following month will be favourable seed-time, and that next August will be a favourable harvest; but again, if one may venture to interrogate the noble Earl, one is inclined to ask whether it is possible to tell us any of the grounds upon which that hope of the Government as to Ireland is based. I do not know whether he is also in a position to enlighten us upon a subject which has been freely mooted in the newspapers—namely, with reference to the alleged intention to release the Sinn Fein prisoners. That has been freely discussed in the newspapers, so that I feel at liberty to ask the noble Earl whether he is in a position to give us any information about it.
I said just now that the paragraph upon Ireland was cryptic. I venture to describe the paragraph upon finance as not less jejune. We have been used in the past to see the expression in former gracious Speeches of the Sovereign that, in making the necessary Estimates and providing for the necessary expenditure, regard will be had to economy. I quite understand that on this occasion His Majesty's Government, 22 laudably anxious not to introduce a note of satire into the gracious Speech, refrained from using the word "economy." But I cannot help thinking that in speaking, as they do, of the new expenditure required for the purposes of reconstruction, some note of warning might have been added regarding the financial position in which the country now stands. After all, the financial state of the country is the central fact of the situation in which we find ourselves. How is this vast expenditure going to be met? We naturally do not expect to hear that categorically stated in the gracious Speech, but it is a question, involving a series of subsidiary questions, which is sure to be asked before long both in another place and also here.
During the progress of the General Election there seemed at certain periods to appear the hope that Germany was likely to pay, if not the whole, at any rate a very large part of the actual war expenditure. Some day I suppose we shall be favoured with further information as to how far anything of the kind is likely to happen. What I think the country will want to know is whether we are likely to get from Germany, from any German source whatever, anything more than possible compensation for the actual damage done in this country by raids from the air, by the bombardments of Scarborough and Hartlepool, and so on, and some return for the destruction of our merchant shipping, in itself no doubt a large item. When you go beyond that, when you come to the question of payment for the expenses to which we have been put, payment for the munitions that were made, payment for the transport which we were compelled to create and I repeat once more that during the General Election there were no doubt thousands, if not millions, of people in the country who firmly believed that the whole of that expenditure was going to be, for certain, recovered from Germany—before you can hope to receive any of that, there is a claim of priority advanced by Belgium for the laying waste of five-sixths of the country, by France for the utter destruction of six or seven of what were the most prosperous industrial departments, by Serbia for an amount of calculated and wicked destruction of which I have seen accounts that are barely credible, and by Rumania for a vast amount of destruction connected with her great natural resources in mineral wealth. Those claims seem in fairness to come 23 before claims for mere out-of-pocket expenditure, and we shall, I suppose—I do not expect the noble Earl to tell us to-day—some day be told what prospect there is of obtaining from Germany anything whatever towards expenses of the character which I have stated. These considerations make one look with some anxiety—a most unwilling anxiety it is—at what the gracious Speech describes as the "large number of measures" with which Parliament is going to be asked to deal.
There are, in the first instance, two new Ministries to be created, both designed to deal with matters of great national importance, and in themselves I have no doubt they will be welcomed. But I think the country will be disposed to say that new Ministries may be a very good thing, just as the drug cocaine may be a very good thing, but that if you acquire the habit of creating new Ministries at so many a month the effect upon the political health of the country may be almost of the nature of the drug habit. What I think is more important in considering all the proposals explained in the gracious Speech is the question of their cost. They all, it seems to me, hinge once more on finance. Housing! Absolutely necessary on an enormous scale by common agreement, but absolutely certain to mean an enormous cost, primarily perhaps front the funds of the nation generally, but also, to some extent, no doubt, from local funds as well. Then the settlement on the soil, particularly of those who have been in the fighting forces of the Crown, but also evidently, from the form of the sentence, of other persons as well—"providing suitable men with the necessary agricultural training and enabling them to stock and equip their holdings." Here we have before us a vista of millions to be expended and we once more ask how these funds are to be provided?
The only other legislative proposal on which I wish to say a word is that which deals with what is known as "dumping"—"the prevention of unfair competition by the sale of imported goods below their selling price in their country of origin." Those words, as one reads them, suggest quite a restricted meaning of the term "dumping," but I think we cannot disguise from ourselves that a greatly expanded meaning is, and will be when the Bill appears, desired to be given to it by some, and that there will be many who will desire to use this exclusion of dumped 24 goods to provide machinery for the exclusion of any cheap goods, if they can be more cheaply made abroad and cheaply imported into this country. I have been in a position to know something about this subject, because I was one of the representatives of the country at the Paris Conference, and I have often endeavoured to inform the House what happened there. That Paris Conference has very often been spoken of by those who were gratified with its conclusions, and those who disliked them, as though it had been a "Witches' Sabbath" of Protection. As a matter of fact, it was nothing whatever of the kind. The fiscal policy of each country was, by common consent, left entirely to that country, and no opinions were expressed there either in favour of a normal protective policy or a normal policy of free exchange. All that was said about "dumping" was simply this, that during the period of reconstruction—we must remember that then we did not know Germany would not be left in a far stronger financial and industrial position than she is actually left in at this moment—during that period the Allied countries should be saved from a certain class of competition, from the free import into the country of cheap goods designed to destroy a particular trade in the country of import. That was the limited and restricted sense in which it was understood. I merely mention the matter now to guard against its being supposed that a great many of us here are likely to accept a proposition for the exclusion of what are called "dumped goods" in the more expanded sense which some will try to put upon it.
One word on the industrial situation so capably dealt with by Lord Colwyn. Do not let us forget that the problems of the industrial situation also primarily depend upon the finances of the country. I will not attempt to develop that now, but it is clear to every one that questions of currency, of the real wage as distinct from the money wage, all hang upon the financial situation in which we find ourselves. On these questions of wages and hours I have always believed that in every industry and craft there is, as a matter of fact, a definite and reasonable period—very often differing greatly in many trades and industries—for work; and also a period for shifts, and a number of shifts which can profitably be used; that there is in every industry such a period which is so definitely the right one that it ought to be arrived at by free consultation and final agreement 25 between employers and employed. That, I think, is much in the sense of what the noble Lord opposite said. If that be so, if there really be a limit of hours which in a particular industry is the right one for the average man to be engaged in it, then it ought to be possible by consultation to arrive at a decision of what that number of hours really is. There may be, as the noble Lord says, industries which can be run at six hours a day, there may be others of seven, eight, and nine, and even more hours, but I firmly believe that in each industry there is a right time, and that it is possible to ascertain it. The most hopeful way of doing so is, I believe, by the institution of what are shortly spoken of as Whitley Councils—that is to say, the general method advocated in the Report of the Committee over which Mr. Whitley presided. If it is possible to go further and to devise something in the nature of an Industrial Parliament, a National Whitley Council, which may not be an idle dream by any means, it would, I believe, mark a substantial step further in advance. But I can assure the noble Earl the Leader of the House and His Majesty's Government that on these industrial questions we on this side shall endeavour to give them all the help we can when the proposals of the Government are brought before us.
Lastly, I would merely say this. It seems to me that since the General Election, Parliament being constituted as it is, the responsibility of your Lordships' House is almost greater than it ever was before. The measures which will come here are, as the gracious Speech indicates, certain to be of the first importance. They will no doubt have been examined, as far as possible, in another place with such time as is available there. Very often there appears to be not much time available there, judging by the condition in which measures sometimes reach us. It will be the duty of your Lordships' House to put them into the best and most reasonable shape that you can. Your Lordships' House is, as I have stated, in a strong position, because it seems, at any rate to me, hardly possible that the machinery of the Parliament Act, somewhat dilatory as it is, is likely to be put into operation against this House by His Majesty's Government as at present constituted. In the first place, many of these measures are obviously urgent, and they will practically have to become law in the shape in which 26 the two Houses can agree upon them in the course of a single session. By reason of that fact there is, of course, a deep responsibility upon your Lordships' House. In the second Place, it seems to me difficult to conceive the heads of His Majesty's Government invoking in any case the Parliament Act against your Lordships' House during the currency of the present Parliament. We are also in an exceptionally advantageous, or disadvantageous position, according as your Lordships may consider it to be, in the fact that we remain absolutely unreformed, and, I take it, are likely to do so for some little time to come. All these things throw a very serious responsibility upon your Lordships' House in the course of the present session—a responsibility which I am certain you will all recognise, and which you will exercise with the utmost conscientiousness in the course of the debates that will take place. I would merely say that, so far as I am entitled to speak for any noble Lords in the House, we shall endeavour to give our best support to his Majesty's Government in carrying those measures into law, reserving, of course, such action upon their details as we may think necessary, after serious consideration and in accordance with the principles which we profess.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON)
My Lords, the noble Duke behind me commenced his remarks by an apposite and well-phrased tribute to the services of the Sovereign during the period of the war, and those remarks, which were heartily cheered by the House, were followed by the sympathetic allusion of the noble Marquess who has just resumed his seat to the bereavement recently sustained by their Majesties. I desire respectfully to associate myself with both sentiments. In the loss of their son, whose short career has been somewhat overshadowed by illness, their Majesties have seen the first gap in a family circle which has hitherto been unscarred by sorrow and untouched by fate. The joys and sorrows of the Royal House are those of the nation, and the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition was speaking the sentiments not merely of this House but of every member of the community when he indulged in the observations to which I refer.
The gracious Speech from the Throne reminds us in its opening sentences that 27 there has been a considerable change in the situation since we last met on these benches. In the two and a-half months that have elapsed since then great events have occurred both in the internal and external world. Here, a General Election has taken place which has put the present Government in power by a majority almost unprecedented in its dimensions. I am not one of those who are disposed to attach an exaggerated interpretation to that fact. I take it to mean that the country on the whole desired that those who, perhaps much less by their own exertions than by the gallantry of our forces on land, on sea, and in the air, have brought the war to a successful conclusion, should also be charged with the negotiations that will lead to the conclusion of peace, and with the task of social and industrial reconstruction that will follow.
Many of us are in the habit of talking as though peace had already been concluded. Great as is the contrast between the circumstances of November last and to-day, it is not so sharp as any such belief would imply. I ask your Lordships to remember in the months that are ahead of us that we are still at war, that peace has not been concluded, that although large portions of our forces have been and are continuously being demobilised, there is still a call, most rightly laid stress upon by the noble Duke behind me, for the presence of large Armies in the field. Although many of the restrictions to which we have reluctantly submitted during the past four years have been removed, a number must still remain. The fact is, my Lords, we are in a transition period between the conditions of active war and of positive peace; and although we have, I hope, won the assurance, we have by no means yet reaped the spoils, of victory.
The change of which I spoke in the domestic life of the nation is visible in a new House of Commons, meeting for the first time for the discharge of business across the way this afternoon. It is also to some extent reflected in the personnel of your Lordships' House. We shall shortly welcome to this bench a number of newcomers, among whom your Lordships will, I am sure, specially welcome Mr. Prothero, now Lord Ernle, the most efficient representative of a Department in which your Lordships take a great interest, and in which I am sure, although you do not spare him your criticisms, he may for the 28 most part generally rely on your support. We shall in addition have upon these benches, also for the first time, a representative of the great Indian Empire. He, my Lords, is the first Indian to be created a Peer, and will be warmly welcomed in your Lordships' House. We see upon the Woolsack to-day my noble and learned friend who has been raised to that position at an exceptionally early period by abilities greatly above the common, and we expect from him in this House a continuation of those services which in the fields of the Law Courts and of the House of Commons have won for him already so great a fame.
But while we welcome the new occupant of the Woolsack; may I say that we do not contemplate for a moment being deprived in our every-day proceedings of the services of his predecessor in that position? In the two years in which my noble and learned friend Lord Finlay sat there, by his courtesy of manner and his acumen in debate he earned the respect, the confidence, and the affection of both sides of your Lordships' House. And I trust that I may say—I do not know if he is present, but I would equally say it in his presence or in his absence—that we hope still to profit by his erudition, his courtesy, and his example.
I am not certain whether I am justified in believing that there is any change in the bench opposite. Still do I see before me that formidable phalanx with which I cope at an admitted disadvantage, but I am not certain if it is blent in exactly the same proportions as it was a few months ago, because I noticed the other day that my noble friend Lord Crewe, having summoned a meeting of his special friends to discuss their attitude for the future, announced to an expectant world that he was about to create a loose organisation of which he was to be the head. I confess I was a little alarmed at the use of that phrase; it seemed to me to mark so sharp a departure from the standards of high but discriminating decorum which the noble Marquess ordinarily observes. I remember a few years ago that we used to be chaffed in the Press at having in this House a body of "wild men," one of the most conspicuous of whom I see before me—my noble friend Lord Willoughby de Broke. Then we had also, I remember, at one period a class of "backwoodsmen." And now I understand that we are to have a new category of "loose men," of whom the noble Marquess opposite is to be the 29 recognised leader. However, I must confess that any apprehensions which I felt upon this point have been very much mitigated by the speech to which we have just listened, because at its close my noble friend assured me of the general support of the Party which he leads, and really did not indicate any attitude more inconvenient than the necessity from time to time of asking questions.
In one respect, at any rate, there is no change in our traditional procedure, and that is in the welcome that has been accorded to the two speeches to which we have just listened from my noble friends behind me. The noble Marquess always pays his tributes on these occasions in singularly well-chosen terms. What he said this afternoon was, I am certain, no convention, but his sincere and deliberate conviction. Although I am very glad I have never done it, I have always myself looked upon the task of proposing and seconding the Address in reply to the King's Speech as one of an exceedingly delicate and difficult character, and year after year I await with some anxiety the manner in which it will be performed. But I can truthfully say that any apprehensions that I have felt have invariably been disappointed, and I conclude that this must be due not to the ease of the task so much as to the ability of the speakers. That certainly was the case this afternoon, and I only hope that my noble friends will bear in mind the words of encouragement which the noble Marquess gave them at the end. Too often we have heard in the debates on the Address speeches from noble Lords who have for the first time successfully couched a lance on these occasions and have never entered the field of tournament again. I earnestly hope that that will not be so in the case of my two noble friends. Both of them made somewhat unusual speeches—speeches which, not paying too close or meticulous attention to the document before us, gave us the benefit of their individual experience. My noble friend the Duke of Northumberland spoke with candour upon subjects on which he is an acknowledged authority. My noble friend Lord Colwyn, speaking on the labour questions which agitate us, spoke not merely with authority but in a sympathetic and conciliatory manner which impressed all those who heard him.
I would only like to say one word more about these two noble Lords. The noble 30 Duke comes to this House as the bearer of an historic name, upon which a long line of ancestors have shed lustre. We remember his father in this House: a man of great independence of character, a strong Conservative, a great landlord, a man of science, a remarkable man. Some of us remember with more than emotion his elder brother, whose life was cut short before he had reached his prime. We hope that the achievements of the father and the promise of the brother may be reproduced and fulfilled in the career of the noble Duke.
With regard to Lord Colwyn, I should like to say this. His selection for the office which he has filled with so much distinction to-night was largely an attempt on my part to recognise the services which that noble Lord has rendered to the country throughout the war. You have only to go to the Departments of Government, and more especially to the Treasury, to find out how great a value the State has attached to those services; and among those who in a private capacity and in an unostentatious manner have helped the country throughout the last four years, none occupies a more honourable place than my noble friend Lord Colwyn.
The noble Marquess said that he did not propose to ask any inconvenient questions about the Conference that is sitting in Paris, but he added that he would be grateful for any information that I could give. I think that a most reasonable and legitimate request, and inasmuch as this is the first occasion on which your Lordships will have had the opportunity of hearing from a member of the Government some information as to what has occurred, I will, with your Lordships' permission, attempt to give it. The gracious Speech from the Throne speaks with justice of the cordiality and good will which has characterised those proceedings. I am told by those who have been there throughout that the relations of the delegates with each other have been of the most amicable character, that at no time has there been any cloud upon the horizon; nor does there seem any prospect of a breach in this general harmony as long as the Conference continues in session.
But your Lordships will be much more interested to know what they have already done. The tale of work has not merely 31 been substantial, but to those who know the details has been almost astonishing. Remember that the Conference has been in session for only just a month. The first matter they had to get out of the way was that of procedure. The Congress of Vienna occupied months in discussing that aspect of the case, and never came to an agreement at all. Procedure was successfully settled by the Paris Conference in the first week of its proceedings. Then came the question of publicity. Every one, I think, was most anxious as far as possible to take the public into their confidence. There was no undue clinging to the old diplomacy of secret arrangements, and closed doors. But on the other hand your Lordships can realise perfectly well that undue, premature, or indiscreet revelations might hamper much rather than help; that if from day to day there were reported the actual stages and phases in which suggestions were made, criticisms offered, concessions indicated, the success of the whole affair might have been imperilled. I think the solution arrived at was a very happy mean. The debates in the main Conference itself are reported in full, verbatim, and are issued to the world; but the discussions that take place from day to day in the important meetings of the Prime Ministers of the various States are private, just as the discussions of a Cabinet Council are private. But a summary of those meetings is given to the Press; and I have noticed in the best English newspapers that they have correspondents in Paris who write articles from day to day which seem to me just as well informed as any Government publication could have been. I therefore do not hesitate to assure your Lordships that if you study the papers to which I allude you will know pretty well what is passing at the Conference from day to day.
One point to which I desire to call your attention and which was settled in the early stages of the discussion on procedure was the basis of representation. In other words, the Conference had to decide what States were to be admitted, the character of the representation, and the number of delegates. When you remember that there were between twenty and thirty States who had either declared war against or broken off relations with the enemy, you can imagine that this was no easy task. Susceptibilities had to be considered, you had to be careful not to wound the pride of the smaller States; and, as your Lordships can well believe, the sensitiveness of 32 a State is often in inverse ratio to its actual size. It was in the course of these proceedings that the representation to be accorded to the British Empire was laid down.
When the scheme of the Conference was first drawn up it was contemplated that the representation of Great Britain and also of the other Great Powers should be five in number, and it was assumed that the representatives from our Dominions would be included in that total. But when the proceedings were opened at Paris our representatives, led by the Prime Minister, made a valiant and successful fight for a different and a better arrangement. And when it was pointed out to the Conference that these Dominions are free States, that India is an Empire in itself, that they had raised more men, sent to Europe more troops, sent to the various theatres of war more troops, spent more money, endured greater sacrifices, had a longer list of killed and wounded, than some of the belligerent States of Europe, the case was unanswerable for a representation proportionate to their services and their importance. The result was a frank recognition of this claim. India, Canada, Australia, South Africa received each two representatives, and Newfoundland one. In other words, nine were added to the five whom I previously mentioned, making fourteen in all. I venture to say that this is a great step in the constitutional development of the British Empire. During the progress of this war the Prime Ministers from our Dominions have for the first time come here as members of the Cabinet, with all the rights, privileges, and prerogatives of Cabinet Ministers. They have now gone to Paris. For the first time they have been admitted to a World Congress, and their place in that Congress is an admission that they are henceforward regarded as separate States by themselves. This places our Dominions in a perspective in the world worthy of the part that they have played in the war.
Before the Conference could grapple with the main problem with which it had to deal, there were other questions that had to be taken in hand. There was the question of the successive renewals of the Armistice, rendered increasingly acute with the reviving spirit and the somewhat menacing attitude of the enemy—a temper 33 on his part upon which a very careful watch will have to be kept. There was the question of the condition of Poland, assailed on both its frontiers; the absorbing question of the condition of Russia—about which the noble Marquess asked me to say a word or two, and to which I will presently reply; then there was the future of the German Colonies and the Turkish possessions. I noticed in the speech of the noble Duke a reflection of an attitude which I have sometimes observed in the Press—namely, an interrogation as to why the Conference had begun with these preliminaries (so to speak) and had not settled down at once to the main problem, which I think he described as that of making peace with Germany and bringing an end of the war. The answer to the noble Duke is quite simple. These questions were not preliminaries at all; they are not the fringes of the question; they are a part of the warp and woof of the settlement at which we have to arrive.
Let me argue in this way with my noble friend behind me. If we are to conclude peace with Germany, the first question we have to put to ourselves is, What do we mean by Germany? What are the frontiers of Germany with whom we are to conclude peace? On the west it is a matter of little difficulty. The question of Alsace-Lorraine, the question of the left bank of the Rhine, does not require investigation by an Allied Commission. The facts are known. It is capable of being settled by the Allies themselves in conference. But when you go to the Eastern frontiers of Germany you are at once in an area of uncertainty and of flux. What are, what ought to be, the frontiers of the Germany with whom you are to conclude peace? What is to be the line between Germany and Poland? What is to be the future of Dantzig, Silesia, and Posen? The necessity of dealing with these matters before you can come to grips with the larger questions is of importance, although some may regard it as of minor importance. The same with Austria and Turkey. How can you conclude peace with Austria—or whatever remains of Austria—until you have determined what are to be the frontiers of the new Czecho-Slovak and the new YugoSlav States? How can you make peace with Turkey unless you have made up your minds about the future of Constantinople, of Armenia, of Syria, and of Palestine? Again, how could you make peace with Germany or Turkey until you had settled 34 what the future of the German Colonies and Turkish possessions, which have been captured by the Allied arms, was to be? The noble Marquess raised the question of indemnities. How can you impose peace terms upon Germany until you have settled what are to be the indemnities to be exacted from her? Again, the question of the punishment of the criminals who have been guilty of abominable acts is not a preliminary; it in a necessary condition of approaching the problem of peace.
Again, there is the question of disarmament. When you go to Germany and put the Peace Treaty before her and ask for her signature, you must have made up your mind in advance exactly what forces you are going to allow her to retain; and my noble friend Lord Crewe is quite right in calling attention to the naval aspect of the case. There are naval terms as well as military terms, and naval possibilities just as much as there are military possibilities in the enforcement of the Armistice Those naval terms are in the custody of the Admirals on the Commission at Spa, and the noble Marquess may be quite certain that that aspect of the case is being by no means forgotten. I hope I have shown in a sentence or two how necessary it is to deal with these so-called preliminaries before getting to the real difficulties.
Let us suppose for a moment that, acting upon the advice of my noble friend, we dismissed these points, summoned Germany to meet us at Paris or elsewhere, and commenced negotiations. Then let us suppose that owing to our not having made up our minds we had to adjourn in the middle. Could anything more undignified, unfruitful, or dangerous be imagined than that after such a Conference had been summoned the Allies should have to withdraw and consult with each other as to what to do The first essential is agreement by the various Allies as to what terms must be presented to, and so far as possible imposed upon, the enemy.
For the settlement of all these questions, and many others, Commissions have been set up at Paris. There are Commissions dealing with the cases of Rumania, Greece, the Czecho-Slovaks, and Poland, and there are other Commissions for dealing with breaches of the laws of war, reparations and indemnities, international control of ports, railways and water-ways, and such questions as the future of the Danube, the Scheldt, and the Dardanelles, economic 35 and labour questions, and the League of Nations. On all these questions Commissions have been set up representative not only of the greater but of the smaller States, and our own representatives have seats upon all of them. Your Lordships may have seen in the newspapers that President Wilson is going back to America next week, and our own Prime Minister is back in this country. No doubt it will be a few weeks before they are able to resume their labours; but meanwhile the Conference is in session, and by the time that full sittings are resumed the bulk of the Commissions will have reported, and the Conference will be able to move, I hope, towards its goal.
The noble Marquess asked me a question about indemnities. The matter being under examination by a Commission at Paris it would, of course, be improper for me to say anything upon it, but it will interest your Lordships to know that your Lordships' House is represented upon that Commission by two of its most respected and influential members—I allude to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Sumner, whom we often see upon the cross-benches, and to Lord Cunliffe. They are associated on that Commission with Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister of Australia, who has taken a strong line on this matter, and who, with Lord Cunliffe, was a member of the Commission which sat upon this question and advised the Government before they made the statement at the General Election to which the noble Marquess alluded. With what the noble Marquess said I do not at all disagree. It is clear that this Commission will have to report upon a great number of issues. They have, in the first place, to find out the amount claimed by the various belligerent countries who have suffered; secondly, the amount which the enemy is capable of paying; thirdly, the way in which payment is to be made; and, lastly, the methods by which payment is to be enforced. It may well be, as my noble friend suggested, that with all these hands dipped into the till there will be disappointment to those whose expectations have been pitched too high. I think that may very well be the case. Later I may be able to speak with greater knowledge on the subject; but in the constitution of the Commission I think your Lordships may find a guarantee of a thorough investigation of the matter.
I desire to say a word or two, if I may, about two decisions of the Conference, and 36 the second of these leads me up to the observations made by my noble friend the Duke of Northumberland in a spirit of friendly criticism about the League of Nations. One of the first questions that had to be decided by the Conference was the fate of the German colonies and Turkish possessions which had been taken by our arms. The decision was unanimously arrived at that they could not be allowed to revert either to Germany or to Turkey. The cases are not precisely similar but are analogous. The long record of barbarity and misrule, the indifference to the interests and development of the native peoples, the avowed objects with which Germany desires to recreate a colonial empire, and the certainty that if recreated it would be used as a menace to the peace of the world, were all incontrovertible reasons against allowing her to resume that possession. It was felt that a beaten Germany could not be allowed to become again a great Colonial Power, and also that a beaten Turkey ought not to be allowed to resume control over regions where she had left a smoking trail of massacre and misrule for centuries.
The second decision was that these territories could not be subjected to international control. I need hardly argue that here. Whatever may be said of the co-operation of nations, they are not good as directors of a Board, and I doubt if you can find a single case in history, past or recent, in which government by what is commonly called a condominium has been a successful experiment. Anyhow, it is not to be adopted again. It was then that the Conference found itself inevitably guided towards the mandatory system which has been adopted and about which I ask your Lordships' leave to say a word. Under a mandatory system countries are to be handed over to various mandatory Powers on conditions that will secure the well-being of the indigenous peoples and equal rights for other nations.
It must be apparent that the conditions of the mandate will vary in different cases. For instance, the functions of the mandatory Power in connection with African territories—inhabited, let us say, for the most part by Hottentots, Hereros, Bantus, or whatever it may be—must obviously be very different from the conditions that would exist in the case of more advanced and civilised communities. In such cases 37 the mandatory Powers will assume full responsibility of administration subject to certain obligations, as, for instance, to suppress the slave trade, the liquor traffic, and arms traffic, to prevent the raising of great native armies, and to keep the open door. Elsewhere, in more advanced communities, the mandatory functions will be in the main those of financial and economic and administrative assistance, and some of those communities no doubt will claim, and I daresay will receive, independence at a later stage.
I ask your Lordships to note that in substance the adoption of this principle is merely a recognition by the world of the principles of colonial administration that have been consistently acted upon by this country for the best part of half-a-century, and by the most advanced of the other great nations of the world. But the difference has been this—that whereas in the past there has been no body with authority to insist upon the proper observance of these conditions, other than the self-interest or the self-respect or the conscience of the Great Power concerned, you will now have in the League of Nations a body set up whose duty it will be to supervise those arrangements and to see that they are faithfully carried out. Thus, I truly believe that one of the first results of the mandatory system will be a distinct raising of the standard of colonial administration through the world.
Your Lordships can easily imagine another case where, owing to contiguity of position or remoteness from the centres of civilisation the mandatory Power must exercise a very close control. Take the case of German South-West Africa—to the campaign in which my noble friend alluded—vital to the existence and welfare of the South African Commonwealth. Take the case of New Guinea, standing in the same position in reference to Australia. In those cases the conditions will practically compel those countries to be treated as integral parties of the State that governs them. It was by the acceptance of this mandatory system that the Conference found itself moving much more quickly than it anticipated in the direction of a League of Nations.
When we discussed the League of Nations in your Lordships' House a few months ago, most of us spoke of it rather as an agency required for the prevention of war in the 38 future. Now it has developed. It is becoming under this scheme, as I describe it here, an arbiter for the future peaceful development of the world. Once you go in for the mandatory solution, the League of Nations becomes essential. If there is no League of Nations behind the mandatory solution, what happens? You fall back upon all the old international jealousies, rivalries, and competitions, the law of the stronger, the ambitions of the small States, only composed at great cost and sacrifice, even at the price of war. I do not say that all these dangers will be avoided, but it is quite clear that with a League of Nations issuing a mandate and responsible for its final discharge, you have a guarantee incomparably greater than any that exists at present. This is not to say, of course, that a League of Nations is going to exercise executive authority in the countries which are given out under its mandate, but in the last resort it will be there to check great abuses, if they occur, or to grapple with new conditions, should they arise. That is why (if I may answer my noble friend behind me) the Conference at Paris found itself so quickly dealing with the League of Nations. Many people say, Why not leave that to the end? Why put the cart before the horse? That was not really in the least the case. Until you got the general principles of a League of Nations accepted it was no good to proceed with the other cases. You might have endeavoured to set up a new Rumania, a new Poland, a larger Greece. Where would you have been if there had been no guarantee for their continued existence after you had set them up? Now you have the embattled might of the world, in respect of the League of Nations, behind them, and they will have a chance.
My noble friend Lord Crewe asked me to say something about the position in Russia. It is a very difficult and anxious situation. What was the position when the Conference assembled? You had in Russia a Government, or that which called itself a Government—I am speaking of the Bolsheviks—which by terrorism, by crimes, by an almost exclusive possession of the arms in the country, by the power that it is thus enabled to exercise over the ignorant and starving peasantry, by its complete control of food supplies, by the aid of mercenaries whom it has taken into its pay, has acquired a large army to which it has drawn many of the officers who served at an earlier date in the ranks of 39 the old Russian Army. It is the only really formidable force in Russia at this moment. It is pursuing with relentless ferocity its policy, which is to annihilate its enemies, to destroy the social order in Russia and to spread the tentacles of its poisonous influence throughout the world. It is becoming an aggressive military power. On the other hand, you have, around the skirts of Russia, a number of States—I give for illustration Esthonia, Courland, Livonia, Lithuania, Poland—all of whom are endeavouring, in circumstances of great difficulty, with few resources, small numbers of troops and insufficient arms, to build up their own independence. They do it with greater or less success. The Bolshevik menace with which they are threatened is growing from day to day. Simultaneously you have, in different parts of that great area of the old Russian Empire, groups or communities of Russians endeavouring to hold their own in this welter of anarchy and confusion, and to rebuild, in some form or another, the old Russian State. Their efforts excite our warmest sympathy. Where we can we have given them our support, but, scattered as they are over this vast area separated by thousands of miles, the position is difficult and sometimes precarious. But I hope your Lordships will see from this brief analysis of the situation, into which I have been tempted by my noble friend, why it is that the arrangements were proposed at Paris the other day which have met with so much criticism in the Press—I mean the suggestion of the Conference on Princes Island.
The situation being, roughly speaking, what I have described, what were the possible methods of dealing with it? Of course, one alternative was to declare war against the Bolsheviks, to proclaim them the enemies of Europe and mankind, to pursue them into their country and to smash their power. What did that involve? It involved, in the first place, the concentration of a large Army, a very large Army, for the purpose of the invasion of Russia, the capture of Petrograd, and the almost certain necessity of advancing to Moscow—it involved a new European war. Do you think, does the most ardent among you think that the temper or the resources of any of the Great Powers are adequate to meet the strain of a new war? You have only to know the attitude which is taken up about demobilisation in this 40 country to realise the storm which would have been raised in Parliament if it was proposed to enlist a conscript Army in order to march into the heart of Russia to smash the Bolsheviks. The answer is, I believe, more simple than that—nobody was prepared to do it. America declined to do it; the Dominion Governments declined to use their troops for the purpose; France was unwilling. Was the burden to be assumed by this country alone? Let us suppose that Armies had been forth-coming and that the policy had been decided upon. I ask you to consider what would have happened. When you had got to Petrograd, which you would have done with the utmost ease, you would have to go on to Moscow, which is the seat of Government of the Bolshevik party. Let us suppose that you had driven out the Bolsheviks there. Were you prepared to stay? And if you were unprepared to stay, what would have happened the moment your back was turned? The Bolsheviks would have come back and slaughtered those who had been left. It is too late in the day in the year 1919 to contemplate a repetition of the Napoleonic experiences in Russia in the depth of winter more than a century ago.
What was the other alternative? There was a second; and that was to leave Russia absolutely alone, to disinterest ourselves from everything that is happening there and let the conflagration burn itself out—a course that is feasible, but it would have been a heartless and cruel policy, because it would have meant the certain sacrifice of those in whose fortunes we were interested and whom we have been doing our best to help. In these circumstances you will, I think, follow my reasoning that there was no alternative left but to adopt the suggestion which emanated from Paris and in which the Allied Powers all agreed, to have this meeting at Prinkipo, a condition of which was to be the cessation of hostilities on both sides. If this Conference had taken place, or if it should take place now, the Peace Conference will be trying to do what is its real business. The noble Duke says, "Your business is to make peace." We want to make peace inside Russia just as much as outside it, and the object of meeting these people would be to stop their activities, give a chance to those Border States of which I am speaking, and bring peace again to that disordered part of the world.
41 It is said, "You are recognising the Bolsheviks." Such an idea is abhorrent to the mind of all the Allied Powers who agreed to this suggestion. We are not recognising the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks are persons whose ideas, doctrines, and deeds we all of us detest. But supposing a powerful brigand captures an innocent victim, carries him off into captivity and demands a large ransom for him, you do not because you enter into negotiations with him, because you consent to meet him, even because you consent to pay the price, recognise him as an honourable opponent or as a respectable man—and it is exactly the same in the case of the Bolsheviks. Whether they will come or not, whether the other States will be represented or not, it is not for me to say. I do not know whether the Conference will take place; it will be for the Powers, not for the Bolsheviks, to settle. But do let me bring back to your Lordships this point, that the object of this suggestion was to make peace. The business of the Peace Conference is to make peace. But to try and get peace with Germany and at the same time to have this raging whirlwind of anarchy and crime on the borders of Germany—a sure field for her machinations and plots in the future—would be to throw away half the sacrifices and fruits of the war and to spoil all you are contending for at Paris itself. I apologise for having said so much about foreign affairs, but it is a department in which at the moment I am interested, and I felt sure that your Lordships would really not refuse an opportunity, if it were afforded you, of hearing something about it.
The noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, asked a question about Ireland and the paragraph in the King's Speech relating to that distressful country, and also inquired whether the Government were in a position to make any announcement about the Sinn Fein prisoners. No, not to-day. The noble Viscount the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was coming over to London, and in fact did come over, for the special reason of consultation with the Government about the references to Ireland which would be made in the King's Speech and the policy of the Government in reference thereto, but you may have seen that he is unfortunately laid up and we have not had the advantage of the conference to which I have referred.
42 Another point to which the noble Marquess alluded was the question of "dumping." The noble Marquess was not so much afraid of the Bill as outlined in general in the gracious Speech as he was of the attitude which would be adopted by friends of the Bill and even by critics of the Bill. I do not think I need discuss that matter now. Let me reply to him in the historic language of his late chief—"Wait and see."
The only remaining topic about which I must say a word before I sit down is that part of the King's Speech which relates to the industrial position of the nation. I imagine that on no previous occasion has so large a portion of the Speech from the Throne been occupied with references to such a matter. It is true, of course, as has been pointed out in the debate, that we are confronted with conditions which are disquieting, but which I think, after all, are not at all surprising. The sudden suspension of hostilities, the relaxation of the strain under which we have all been living during the past four years, has meant a loosening of the bonds of discipline and self-restraint everywhere. It is not confined to the working classes; we see it in every stratum of society, even those among which we ourselves for the most part move. The fact is the war has ceased to act, as it has done for four years, as an astringent on the one hand, and as a deterrent on the other. All the centripetal influences, which resulted in that vast concentration of united effort which has carried us so successfully through the past four years, now cease to operate and are replaced by centrifugal tendencies which have resulted in universal sporadic disturbances and explosions. It was almost inevitable that this should happen. When you begin to talk about self-determination as the principle by which nations are to regulate their future, it is not altogether surprising that individuals begin to think that they can self-determine their own lot too, but in their case it involves often the use of very doubtful and unscrupulous methods. We must not minimise, but I hope we shall not exaggerate, these symptoms. I listened with great sympathy to what fell from my noble friend Lord Colwyn. I expect it is the case that in a good many instances the spirit of unrest to which I am referring springs from a revolt against conditions of life which are obsolete and harassing, perhaps in some cases indefensible, and 43 which stand in need of readjustment; and I do not think that we ought to be in too great a hurry to condemn every symptom of restlessness that we see. We have all got, in the years that are before us, to lie upon a new bed, and we must not be surprised if our slumbers are sometimes disturbed.
What I say in this respect does not, of course, apply to another aspect of this social unrest of which we have seen perhaps too many symptoms during the past few weeks. I allude to that aspect of it which is distinctly anti-social, revolutionary, and anarchical. There is no doubt that there is a Bolshevik element and tone of mind existing in this country. I expect that it is largely fostered by enemy propaganda. I expect that enemy influences are hard at work in this direction, and that it represents a deliberate—I wish it were an expiring—effort on the part of the enemy to cheat us of the spoils of the victory which we have won over him, and, if he perishes himself, to bring down the house of the Philistines about our head. I expect that is the cause of a good deal of it, and in so far as this unrest of which I am speaking is anarchical and revolutionary, of course it is directed not merely against the trade unions whose authority it repudiates; or against the Government whose duty it is, as far as possible, to keep order; it is a blow at the existence of the community, at the nation as a whole; and the Government who represent, or who are supposed to represent, the nation have no alternative but to decline to parley with movements of that description. When it comes to the attitude of "stand and deliver," destitute of any of the picturesque rascality of the hero of Blackheath, the Government can only resist and fight to the end.
I make this reservation in case it should be thought that what I have said about these symptoms of unrest involved any failure to realise the seriousness of the case or the duty of the Government with regard to it. My Lords, it is the duty of the Government carefully to consider this question and to deal with it. Many of the measures which are outlined in the King's Speech are intended to remove the sources and causes of the discontent of which I speak. I expect that a large addition and a bolder policy may possibly be required. The noble Marquess spoke about agencies which it might be possible to set in operation—councils and otherwise—in different 44 parts of the country for dealing with this question. The noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, said that there was no inherent or necessary fight between the employer and employed between Capital and labour. We must, my Lords, in the time that lays before us, not merely solve by efficient administration, or by legislation such as that described in this speech, the more acute evils that present themselves at this moment, but we must probe deeper and try and find more permanent solutions. Your Lordships will not expect me to go further into this aspect of the case to-day, but I should like to assure you that it is meeting with the earnest attention of His Majesty's Government.
There was one concluding remark of the noble Marquess with which I have every sympathy. He said that in the discussion of these matters a great responsibility would rest upon your Lordships' House. I agree. This House contains an exceptionally large number of men who have great administrative experience, who have an intimate knowledge of the conditions of our national life, and many of whom have been trained in the House of Commons. In wealth of experience and in administrative ability I doubt if this House has ever stood higher than it does now. At the same time you have a House of Commons across the way that is new, that is necessarily, to a large extent, at any rate for the present, unversed in Parliamentary experience. I agree with the noble Marquess that this does place great responsibility upon your Lordships' House. I believe that you are prepared to meet it. I believe that you will meet it in a broad, enlightened, and patriotic spirit. The King, in his Speech, uses a very striking phrase. He says that the task is incumbent upon us to "build a better Britain." In that phrase, it seems to me, is summed up a policy not merely for a session but for a Parliament. It is the only policy which, within our own shores, can really repay the nation for what it has lost and suffered, and I hope—indeed I am sure—that in the building of that greater Britain your Lordships will play a prominent part, and will see that the foundations are well laid, and that upon them is reared a super-structure which will not merely be fair to the eye but will endure.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships at any length at this hour of the evening, but 45 I should like to begin the few observations that I have to make by congratulating your Lordships and the noble Earl on the very interesting and most important speech which he has just delivered. I can assure him that as far as I am concerned, and I believe all those of your Lordships with whom I am associated, we do not grudge for a moment the time which has been taken and is being taken at Paris to arrange the preliminaries of peace. All of us who have watched public affairs are well aware that the vast interests which have to be studied and the deep issues which have to be solved require a very great deal of time, and that they will only be solved badly, and that our interests will only be studied at a disadvantage, if there is anything like undue haste. We shall watch with the greatest sympathy and the greatest support the efforts of our Plenipotentiaries to bring about a peace which shall be worthy of the great efforts that we have put forth in the war. I am also gratified to think that we are not to be left without some kind of information as to what takes place, because the noble Earl has been good enough to indicate that if we read a particular newspaper carefully we shall know exactly what is going on. My noble friend did not do what I hoped he would do, name the newspaper, because ever since he made that observation I have been going over the list of the prominent organs of opinion in this country to ascertain which of them is the recipient of the confidence of the Conference and of His Majesty's Government—
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I see that I must extend my reading a little so as to be sure that at any rate I do not miss these important items of information. I have not very much criticism to offer on the various remarks of my noble friend. There was one observation, however, upon which I should like to make a comment. He spoke—and spoke, I thought, with a very appropriate satisfaction—of the position which has been recognised for our great Dominions at the Conference table. That is undoubtedly a most remarkable and epoch-making recognition. But when my noble friend spoke of them as separate States, I think he did not intend for a moment to derogate from their position 46 as autonomous members of our own great Dominions. They are separate States in the sense of the autonomy under which their Governments are directed, but they are not separate in the fact that they owe the same allegiance as we do to one Sovereign and to one common Empire.
My noble friend went on—and I was very glad he did—to tell us something about the League of Nations. He did not speak of it, perhaps, with the same reserve as my noble friend the mover of the Address spoke. The noble Duke delivered, as we expected he would deliver, a most interesting speech—a speech, as the noble Earl truly said, largely drawn from his own expert knowledge and experience; and I think the noble Duke did well to warn us not to expect too much of the League of Nations. I am personally a great supporter of the League of Nations. I believe it to be, not only an inevitable policy, but a policy which we may all welcome with the greatest satisfaction, but I think it would be a pity if we cast our hopes too high. I am quite certain that the great thing, if we are to educate the democracy of this country, is not to deceive them as to the hopes in which they ought to indulge in respect of public affairs. Let them see everything truly, in true proportions, not exaggerating in the least what may be expected, and therefore not hereafter to be disappointed. The noble Earl told us in detail what is expected of the League of Nations. I shall not make any comment upon it. With a great deal of it, of course, we shall all most cordially agree, and with all of it perhaps. But the matter is too far-reaching for us to pronounce an opinion without due consideration.
I think the noble Earl—if I may say so with great respect—also held out rather too many hopes in respect to the remarkable Conference at the Island in the Sea of Marmora. I confess that although, like everybody else, I have every hope that it may be successful, I cannot honestly say that I anticipate very much from it. Why do I say that? I could not, of course, better the language which the noble Earl used with respect to the Bolshevik Government. He described quite fittingly what an awful form of Government it represents, and how terrible are the extremities to which it has descended: murder, cruelty, lust—every conceivable horror is perpetrated by this so-called 47 Government. The noble Earl said that even if we were dealing with a brigand we should not refuse to negotiate with him. Yes, if you could do nothing better, by all means negotiate with him and do the best you can, and we wish you success. But supposing you do not succeed? I speak only for myself, but I think the noble earl went rather far in absolutely excluding all possibility of intervention of any kind as an alternative. He and his Government may be driven to it. He must face it. I do not think we can allow this crying evil to go on unchecked in Europe. If he succeeds at Prinkipo well and good; but if he does not, he and his colleagues will have to reconsider the situation. I do not mean for a moment that I suggest that we should take conscript Armies into Russia. I agree with him that such a policy is absolutely out of the question. But intervention may take many forms, and I regret rather that the noble Earl, as it were, committed himself against the possibility of that alternative, if everything else failed.
Before I sit down I should like to say a word or two upon the other part of His Majesty's most gracious Speech—the part which was so ably dealt with by the noble Lord who seconded the Address. None of us can conceal from ourselves that the industrial situation gives rise to the greatest feeling of uneasiness throughout the country. It is not merely that the perpetual incidents which lead to strikes lead to nothing else. Some quasi-settlement is arrived at, only to see the strike break out a few months later, just as if nothing had been done. The country is impatient at the futility of the proceeding. And the truth is that it is not that this or that strike is well founded or ill-founded in its reason, but the attitude of antagonism between Capital and Labour is what is really at fault. The noble Lord dwelt upon that, I thought, very effectively. There is no reason why there should be antagonism between Capital and Labour, and if the policy of His Majesty's Government can compass it they ought to eliminate the reasons of antagonism. I do not think my noble friend spoke with much hope of the methods which have been hitherto proposed. The noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition pressed him, if I remember rightly, in favour of a system which was advocated in the celebrated Whitley Report. I believe in that system; I believe it is the only issue 48 to the difficulty. You must have consultation between the masters and the men. And may I not say to the Government this—is it not true that they are a little at fault that the Whitley system has not been more fully adopted already? What have they done themselves to help it forward? Is there a single Whitley Council started in a Government establishment? Where is the Whitley Council in the dockyards? Where is the Whitley Council in the Post Office? All these things, I know, have been under consideration, but, like so many things under consideration by successive Governments, nothing has come of it. I think that considering the enthusiasm with which that Report was greeted and the strong verbal support which it received from His Majesty's Government, they ought to have been the first instead of the last in their own case to adopt its conclusions.
There is another matter which I should like to put to the Government. I want to know how their system of administration approaches these great industrial crises. We have become familiar throughout the war—or at any rate towards its close—with the system of a War Cabinet. The War Cabinet consists of, I think, five or six gentlemen. Most of them are in Paris; very few are in this country. The Prime Minister, of course, pays fleeting visits to this country; but as a permanent arrangement very few of the War Cabinet are, if I may use a military expression, posted in this country. Yet upon them, according to the present form of our Constitution, rests the whole responsibility for every act of the Administration; not merely the making of the peace, not merely foreign and Colonial affairs, but in every operation of every office under the Government the responsibility for any decision rests upon the War Cabinet. I want to know in these industrial disputes who is, in fact, responsible for dealing with them. I do not know. I do not think your Lordships know. The country does not know. We know that technically the War Cabinet is responsible, but who is in fact responsible?
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
The answer to that is very simple; I can give it in a sentence. The disputes to which the noble Marquess alludes are never discussed by the Cabinet except in the presence of the whole of the Ministers concerned. They are not, of course, merely members of the War Cabinet 49 they will be the Minister of Labour, the. Home Secretary, the President of the Board of Trade, the Minister of Munitions, the Secretary for Scotland, or the Secretary for Ireland (if Ireland or Scotland are involved), the Secretary of State for War (if they have any question likely to arise affecting the movement of troops); indeed, every Minister who is concerned, and not only every Minister who is concerned but the Minister accompanied by the experts of his Department. So that during the last fortnight of the troubles of which we have been speaking the Cabinet, so far from being limited to the four or five persons to whom the noble Marquess alluded, has consisted of meetings of from fifteen to twenty.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am very much obliged to the noble Earl. I am grateful to hint for having interrupted me. It is important, I think, that the country should know that these Ministers of whom he has spoken are always present when a discussion takes place as to industrial disputes. I hope they always are present; I accept that, of course, from the noble Earl. But who is responsible for the decision? Supposing in a Cabinet of old times some matter arose upon which some permanent official's counsel would be very valuable, he might be asked to attend, or perhaps a junior member of the Government might be asked to come to the Cabinet; he might give his counsel with the others that are given at that table, but he would not be responsible for the decision. The decision would rest with His Majesty's Government, with the Cabinet of those days. I want to know what is the system now. I do not think that the Minister of Labour is a member of the War Cabinet, nor the President of the Board of Trade and the Home Secretary. When these high officials are present in the Cabinet are they expected to assent to the policy, or is the decision given by the two or three members of the War Cabinet who happen to remain in England?
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
The answer to that question is equally simple. I do not want to be involved in a discussion across the Table, but when those Ministers come to the Cabinet they come wish the full rights and functions of a Cabinet Minister, and as such they take part in, and are responsible for their share in, the decision.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That is so far satisfactory; and I may then understand that if upon a matter of vital policy of that kind the President of the Board of Trade or the Minister of Labour did not agree with his colleagues, he would resign the same as a Cabinet Minister in the old days would resign. I take that from the noble Earl. But surely these ad hoc Cabinets, summoned for a particular occasion and for a particular purpose, are liable to very great misuse. How can the particular Ministers who are summoned be privy to all the preliminary consultations, and circumstances, and Ministerial actions which have led up to the crisis? And the point to which I want to bring the noble Earl is this. Towards the middle of last session we were told that the Government had been so much impressed with the importance of proper counsel and continuity of action in matters which did not belong especially to military operations, that they had created a Home Committee of the Cabinet which would sit continuously whenever matters not involving military considerations were concerned, and would come to decisions upon them. The noble and learned Viscount who is now a member of your Lordships' House—Lord Cave—who was then Home Secretary, was the Chairman of that Committee. What has become of that system? Is it to go on? Is there a Home Affairs Committee? Does it sit?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am very glad to know it. But I think it would be better if the country were informed as to all these important circumstances so that they might know the system under which they are governed. I do not want to detain your Lordships longer to-night. I will say only a general word with regard to these trade disputes. The noble Earl, in the speech he has just made, spoke in a very proper manner of the remedial measures which it is hoped the Government may add to the Statute Book in fulfilment of what is announced in the gracious Speech. Most of those measures appear to me to be entirely and thoroughly judicious, but I am sorry for the rather vague aspirations added to them. I know that they are only aspirations, yet aspirations are very often taken by the public to he equivalent to promises; and 51 I cannot believe that any useful purpose is to he gained by leading the country to expect measures which it may afterwards turn out the Government are not only unable to pass, but possibly unable even to frame. For these reasons I rather regret those passages in the Speech. But what, after all, is most essential is that the country should trust the Government. That is what is really at the bottom of the industrial unrest. The wage-earning class have lost their trust. As I have had occasion to say in your Lordships' House before, they do not trust their employers; they do not trust even their trade union leaders; and least of all do they trust His Majesty's Government. The great thing is, if possible, to restore their confidence, and that confidence can be restored only by the utmost frankness and candour. I do not know whether my voice will reach them, but I would earnestly urge upon all the captains of industry, all the employers, to go every length in taking into their confidence their workmen—tell them everything they can tell them of their profits, their difficulties of competition, and every circumstance attaching to their trade—force them to believe that they know everything which they would wish to know in order to judge whether or not they are being properly treated. What I say to captains of industry I also say to the Government, and I earnestly hope that they will do everything they can to restore public confidence. Do not let them hold out hopes which cannot be fulfilled. Do not let them use exaggerated language. Let them do everything they possibly can to persuade the country that the old era of half-truths and less than half-truths that prevailed during the war has for ever passed away. I believe it is only under such conditions as those that we can hope to restore the confidence of the wage-earning classes and really get at the root of industrial unrest.
§ VISCOUNT BRYCE
My Lords, at this late hour of the evening I will not detain your Lordships for more than a few moments, but there is one subject touched upon in the Speech which has been adverted to by the noble Earl in the very interesting survey of the political situation which he has given, and which seems sufficiently urgent to make it necessary to say a few words upon it now. The gracious Speech refers to the numerous and varied problems which will require settlement in the terms 52 of peace. It is impossible, my Lords, to exaggerate the difficulty and intricacy of those problems. The Conference has hardly yet begun to grapple with many of the difficulties which it must face if a complete settlement such as we all desire is to be made at this historic opportunity.
The noble Earl spoke of the question of the representation of States, and the difficulties which arose in determining which States should be represented. He confined himself to the case of the belligerent States. But there is another class of cases which raises difficulties quite as great, and that class covers the States which are not technically belligerent but which will be affected by the decisions at which the Conference will arrive—States whose future fortunes will largely depend upon those decisions, and yet which have not so far, to the best of our knowledge, been admitted to a place at the Conference table. Of course I speak—I suppose most of us are obliged to speak—from information derived from the newspapers, which often do not deal with those details because they may not yet have been treated of in the full sittings of the Conference. I gather, however, that there are several States and several peoples which desire to be heard because the Conference will have to deal with the case which they make. They are interested in two ways—first as regards their boundaries, and also à propos, of the system of mandatories, if that system is to be introduced; and I am in cordial agreement with what was said by the noble Earl on this question. The mandatory system gives much greater promise of justice and permanent peace than an attempt to work by a Concert of Powers, a system of which we have had experience in past years, and with far from satisfactory results.
I will take the case of the minor States not admitted to the Conference so far. I understand that in all those cases there has not yet been made any proposal for admitting them to the full sittings of the Conference, or for a full hearing by all the representatives of the Great Powers of the cases which these States desire to make on their own behalf. I would mention in particular Albania, Armenia, and Finland, but there are others. I do not know how far the Letts and Esthonians have applied to have their cases heard, but I gather that that certainly is the case with regard to Esthonia and may be also 53 in regard to the Letts. I am not sure in what position the representatives of Poland stand, and I think the House would be glad if His Majesty's Government would give us some information as to the view which the Conference, takes, so far, of these cases. Particularly let me refer to the case of Finland. I understand that so far there has been no decision to admit, the representatives of Finland; yet it is a State of considerable importance, and its future, as I take it, is a matter with which the Conference will deal. The case of Albania is in some respects quite as difficult. The boundaries on the north and south are affected. There are two neighbouring States, both of which claim certain territories which the Albanians also claim, and there is another great State which is understood to have desired something approaching a protectorate over Albania. Is it not eminently desirable that the case of Albania should be fully heard? There should be no objection raised to letting the Albanian people, by such representatives as they may accredit, state their case to the Conference.
Similarly I take the case of Armenia. There is in existence an organised State—a small State, but still a de facto State—which has an army and holds certain territory round Erivan which it controls. There is also in Paris a delegation which represents the Armenian nation. These three races—Finns, Albanians, and Armenians—are not in the same position as the Czecho-Slovaks. It was an act of wise policy on the part of His Majesty's Government to recognise the Czecho-Slovaks during the war. They were rendering so valuable a service in Russia that public opinion accepted it as a wise decision. But in the case of these three other races, peoples, or nations, if they are not to be called States, it does become very desirable that there should be a feeling that all they have to say with regard to their national aspirations and desires has been fully stated. If the Conference is to make a clean piece of work and settle things on a permanent foundation, it is surely most desirable that the races and peoples whose fortunes it will have to determine should have their cases properly presented and duly heard by all the Powers that are represented at the Conference. It was once said by an eminent legal luminary that it is not only necessary in a Court of Justice that justice 54 should be done, but that everybody should know that justice has been done, that the fullest opportunity should be given to everybody concerned to feel that his case has had every proper consideration. That, I think, seems to apply to the present case.
It will be far better to spend a little more time in giving satisfaction to the nationalities whose fate is now concerned than to endeavour to hurry over these cases and to come to a decision, either as regards the countries to be assigned to them or as regards the mandatory to whose care they are to be committed. It will be a great deal better to do that now than to have trouble and disaffection afterwards. I hope, therefore, that His Majesty's Government will regard this as a point which is well worthy of their consideration, and that they will endeavour to impress it upon their colleagues representing the other States assembled at Paris. I do not say this with any desire to criticise. I have every reason to hope and believe that His Majesty's Government are sympathetic in all these cases. I only desire to convey to them that there is, I believe, a large body of British opinion which desires to be assured that full hearing will be accorded to the claims of every nationality.
Before sitting down, may I thank the noble Earl for the declaration—which, so far as I know, is the first one that has been officially made—that the desolating and murderous rule of the Turks is to be removed for ever front the countries which their tyranny has cursed. The vigorous language in which he has spoken with regard to the Bolsheviks is justified by the facts. It is a matter of considerable regret to many of us that there should be in this country some well-meaning people who, in the teeth of all the evidence—and the evidence is overwhelming—endeavour to make out a case for palliating the crimes of the Bolsheviks. I was glad the noble Earl expressed himself strongly. There was one point on which I would venture to confirm what the noble Earl said. He referred to the mercenaries employed by the Bolsheviks. It ought to be known that these mercenary troops whom the Bolsheviks employ in the work of slaughter which they carry out consist of Chinese—of foreigners, who cannot speak the language, who know nothing about the conditions of Russia, and who are, therefore, apt instruments for perpetrating acts of cruelty and horror which hardly any native 55 Russian could be induced to undertake. If facts like this were a little more known in this country we should have less of that misguided and sentimental tenderness for the Bolsheviks which I see expressed in some quarters.
May I say to His Majesty's Government—I will not trouble them with any question on the matter now—that I hope before long they will be able to give us some information on a subject which I ventured to raise in the last days of the last Parliament—namely, the present condition of the provinces of Asiatic Turkey? I hope to put down a Question, and I trust His Majesty's Government will be able to tell us that steps are now being taken to secure the safety of the unarmed population there, and to enable, the measures of relief which are being taken for the benefit of the suffering people to be carried out effectively at the earliest possible moment.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente, and Address ordered to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with white, Staves.