H́nh ảnh trang
PDF
ePub

by Liberal members, who complained that it was a drain on the taxpayer, and that the competition of the beet-sugar factories was ruining the sugar refineries in Greenock. No protest, however, was raised by the Economy group in the Unionist Party, and the vote was duly agreed to.

The Labour Party supplemented its criticism of the Unemployment Insurance Bill by a motion on December 19 calling for "the adoption of a comprehensive national policy" to deal with the unemployment evil. Mr. Johnston, the mover, insisted that the Government policy of throwing the burden of unemployment on to the parish areas, though it might succeed to a certain extent, was fundamentally wrong. The most distressed areas were those in which the heavy industries were chiefly located, and if these industries were to be subjected to ever-increasing local rating, it would be impossible for them to recover, and there would be an expansion, instead of a diminution, of unemployment. Mr. Johnston made a number of suggestions for improving the situation, to which the Government proved even less responsive than usual. The Minister of Labour based considerable hopes on the continuance of peace in industry as a panacea for industrial evils, and pointed with satisfaction to the fact that there were actually more persons employed in Britain at that day than there had ever been before. The President of the Board of Trade added the further comforting information that the month of November had been the best month for British trade for many years. It was evident that the Government saw the problem in an entirely different perspective from the Labour Party, and was less than ever inclined to resort to heroic remedies.

A debate on the plight of agriculture initiated by the Liberals at the end of the session (December 20) gave the Minister of Agriculture an opportunity of telling the National Farmers' Union once more that it was out of the question for the Government to safeguard agriculture by imposing a tariff. Apart from that, he did not think the Government could do more than it was doing for the industry, and he spoke very slightingly of the Liberal plan for controlling cultivation. He agreed with Opposition speakers that the position was very serious, but he would not admit that there was waste and under-cultivation on a large scale, pointing out that, if the arable area had diminished since 1913, there was a corresponding increase in other branches of production, such as fruit-growing, market gardening, and rearing of live-stock. The depression in Great Britain did not seem to be worse than in France and the United States, and was certainly not to be put down to inefficiency on the part of the farmer.

Just before the end of the session the House of Commons passed an amendment to its Standing Orders which made an important alteration in the order of business. The new rule provided that one whole day, a Wednesday, should be set aside

in each week up to Easter for private members' motions, instead of two evenings and one evening between Easter and Whitsun, as at present, and two extra Fridays after Whitsun for the remaining stages of private members' Bills. The alteration was made in response to a memorial signed by a large number of members from all parties, with the object of securing fuller consideration for private members' Bills.

The House of Lords, before the end of the session, completed the passage of the Unemployment Insurance Bill, the Films Bill, the Landlord and Tenant Bill, and the Audit Bill, not without complaints of the inadequate time allowed to them for the discussion of such important measures. In the debate on the Unemployment Insurance Bill Lord Carson repeated Sir J. Simon's complaint against the drafting of the measure, which he described as "legislation by reference run mad." The Landlord and Tenant Bill was sent back to the House of Commons with one amendment of some importance, which the lower House duly accepted. The obnoxious Aliens Restriction Bill which the Lords had passed in the summer was one of the measures which had to be dropped owing to lack of time.

The session, which even supporters of the Government sadly admitted had been extremely dull, ended on December 22, when Parliament was prorogued till February 8. The King's Speech mentioned that a new Treaty had been signed between Britain and Iraq, to replace the existing treaties, also that in the course of the year Agreements had been concluded with the Greek and Serb-Croat-Slovene Governments for the settlement of their respective war debts to Great Britain. It was pointed out that funding Agreements had now been signed in respect of all the Allied War Debts to Great Britain, except that of Russia.

On December 21 a deputation of members of Parliament of all parties, headed by Mr. J. H. Thomas, waited on the Home Secretary to urge him to take steps for dealing with the evils attendant on the sport of greyhound racing. Introduced early in the year, this practice had soon become amazingly popular, and new tracks were continually being opened. The popularity of the entertainment was confessedly due, not to its merits as a sport, but to the facilities it afforded for gambling, and many people were afraid that it was developing into a social evil of the first magnitude. Mr. Thomas laid especial stress on the urgent need of preventing betting by children. The Home Secretary replied that he was already examining the question with a view to introducing legislation if necessary, and he warned those who thought of investing money in this form of sport that its extension might possibly be stopped in the near future. As a result of this statement, investors immediately became more careful.

In furtherance of the campaign for disarmament, Mr. Ponsonby, acting on behalf of the No More War Movement, had, on December 8,

presented to the Prime Minister a letter with about 128,000 signatures calling for the abolition by Great Britain of all her armed forces. Mr. Baldwin replied on December 20, pointing out that if Britain disarmed herself, she would be unable to carry out her obligations under the League of Nations Covenant, which required her to use armed force in certain contingencies. He stigmatised the proposal contained in the letter as tantamount to an incitement to war, and the most likely method of provoking the evil which it was desired to avoid.

The year did not close before an important move had been taken for promoting the cause of peace in industry, of which so much had been talked at its beginning. After the employers' organisations had declared themselves unable to adopt the suggestion for a joint meeting with trade union representatives made by the President of the T.U.C. in October (vide page 87), Sir Alfred Mond had taken the matter up, and had induced a number of representative employers to join with him in making approaches to the Trade Union Council. The group consisted of some twentyfour highly influential leaders of industry, representing at least 1,000,000,000l. of capital, and having seats on the boards of 159 public limited liability companies. Although, therefore, selfappointed, it was sufficiently representative of the employing class in virtue of its personnel. On November 23 a letter, signed by all the members of the group, was addressed to the General Council of the Trade Union Congress, inviting it to a meeting to consider questions relating to industrial reorganisation and industrial relations. Realising that industrial reconstruction could be undertaken only in conjunction with, and with the co-operation of, those entitled and empowered to speak for organised labour, the signatories pressed for the immediate co-operation of those who were as vitally interested in the subject as themselves. They therefore proposed direct negotiation with the twin objects of the restoration of industrial prosperity and the corresponding improvement of the standard of living of the population.

The Trade Union Council considered this letter on December 20. Mr. Cook declaimed against it as being an attempt to induce trade unionists to bolster up capitalist industry, but he found little sympathy in his audience. After a discussion lasting four hours, the Council passed a resolution accepting the invitation of the employers to discuss, "without prejudice," the industrial problems facing the country, and appointing a sub-committee to make the necessary arrangements for a full meeting of the General Council with those sending the invitation. Thus, by the end of 1927, the forces working for conciliation in industry had definitely gained the upper hand of those working for discord, and the new spirit" which had so long been held up as an ideal seemed to have become a reality.

66

FOREIGN AND IMPERIAL HISTORY.

CHAPTER I.

THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS.

THIS has been a quiet year, a year of consolidation and solid but inconspicuous progress. It was the first year of Germany's membership, and as such largely devoted to a mutual process of adaptation and getting acquainted between the new member and its colleagues. The lines of German League policy have been gradually growing clearer in this year and reveal, above all, a tendency to persistent activity in the questions of disarmament and the development of economic solidarity; 1927 also marked the first instances of wider co-operation by the Soviet Union through the League, a co-operation which has been artificially delayed by the quarrel between Switzerland and the Union, and which is still tentative and made difficult by suspicion and hostility, as well as by the abnormal relations between Great Britain and the Union.

American co-operation with the League has continued and increased in 1927, in spite of this year marking the abandonment of the American proposal to adhere to the statute of the Permanent Court. The United States were officially represented at the sessions of the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference and sent strong delegations to the Economic and Transit Conferences. They continue to be semi-officially represented on the Opium and Health Committees and the Committee on the Traffic in Women and Protection of Young Persons; a prominent American is on the Committee for the progressive codification of international law; and the American Press took an active part in the Press Conference. Mr. Jeremiah Smith, of Boston, formerly the League's High Commissioner in Budapest, was appointed to the League's Financial Committee. The American representative at the Transit Conference announced that "the entire American delegation is going home to recommend and urge, with all the power and influence that it possesses, that the United States, from now on, be represented at these commercial conferences of the League of Nations."

Turkey attended the Economic Conference of the League, and Mexico sent a delegation as observers. This was the first

appearance of Mexico at any League meeting; the co-operation of Turkey is gradually increasing.

Arbitration, Security, Disarmament.-There were no definite steps to a solution of the disarmament problem in 1927, but progress may be noted in three directions

(1) In the first place, the problem has become a living and first-class issue in the politics of the chief countries concerned, and a process of education and awakening of interest is at work that is bound to produce results, particularly under the pressure of financial necessities.

(2) The Soviet Union has taken its place as a member of the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference. The first result of this has been a Soviet proposal for complete disarmament, including the scrapping of chemical industries and air fleets, which, though generally looked upon as neither practicable nor sincere, has yet changed the tone of discussions about disarmament. Moreover, although the presence of Russia adds to the immediate difficulties of the work on disarmament, it also gives greater reality to the proceedings, since Russia is as capital a factor in the land armaments of Europe as are the United States in the naval armaments of the world. For the first time both these countries, which are not on speaking terms with each other, are meeting with the members of the League (including disarmed Germany, which has a point of view of her own for this reason) in the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference.

(3) Attempts to draw up a draft convention on the methods of disarmament by land, sea, and air, as well as on publicity and limitation for armament budgets and development on purely business, as distinguished from military, lines of chemical industries and civil aviation, while they have not succeeded, did at any rate reach agreement on some important points and reveal in a more precise and concrete manner than has been the case hitherto what are the remaining difficulties to be overcome.

Against this must be set the failure of the Three-Power Naval Conference, which has led to a certain amount of feeling in both the United States and Great Britain, and launched the former country on a vast naval programme the like of which has never been known since the famous Navy Bill introduced in Germany, and which it did not seem unreasonable to hope would have been impossible eight years after the World War. The Naval Conference, it may be said, contributed to the failure to reach agreement on naval armaments in the Preparatory Commission before it met, just as its failure has made the prospect of subsequent agreement in the League Commission more remote.

For the rest, as regards disarmament the increasing influence of Germany, Russia, and the United States has led to the official adoption by the League of the view that it is possible to tackle

« TrướcTiếp tục »