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an equitable basis were still in progress at Peking and Hankow.

On January 24 the marines left Portsmouth amid scenes of great popular enthusiasm, and on the same day it was announced that four battalions had been put under orders to proceed from England to China. Yet while grasping the sword with one hand the Government continued with the other to hold out the olive branch. On January 27 it laid before the Chinese authorities, both in the North and the South, a statement setting forth the steps which it proposed to take without revision of treaties to meet the aspirations of the Chinese people. They included among other things the transfer to Chinese authority of the British Concessions at various Chinese ports, and were described by the Foreign Secretary as implying "an immediate and radical modification of the old Treaty position," and as being an earnest of further modifications as soon as circumstances would permit.' Further, in a speech delivered at Birmingham on January 29, Sir A. Chamberlain again insisted that the sending of troops to China was purely a precautionary measure, intended to safeguard the British population of Shanghai against the possibility of military or mob violence; that the sentiments of the British Government to Chinese national aspirations remained unaltered, and that Britain was only waiting to give effect to those sentiments in negotiations with a Government which could speak for the whole of China.


In spite of the assurances of the Foreign Secretary, the magnitude of the forces set in motion and the parade and circumstance which had accompanied the despatch of the first contingent aroused in the Labour Party the suspicion that the Government was embarking on, or at least drifting into, a policy of war. This was a prospect which it could not view with indifference, and both on national and party grounds it felt bound to intervene. The question was considered by a meeting of the National Joint Council-representing the Trade Union Council and the Executives of the National and the Parliamentary Labour Partiesheld on January 26, as a result of which a deputation, led by Mr. George Hicks, the President of the Trade Union Congress, waited on the same day on the Foreign Secretary to obtain more precise information on the Government's intentions. After hearing his explanation, the National Council published a manifesto which amounted to a strong condemnation of the Government's action. The Labour movement, it said, deplored the flaunted military demonstration against the Canton Government, as being likely to make inevitable the misfortunes which it pretended to prevent, and to thwart the policy of negotiation and amicable settlement which the Foreign Office had appeared to pursue so far, and to substitute for it one of threats and defiance. The movement therefore called for a patient and honest pursuit of negotiations

with China, free from the menace of armed force, for the ultimate abrogation of inequitable treaties, and it also sent to the Chinese workers its most sincere sympathies and support in their endeavours to improve their economic conditions. The Council further telegraphed the terms of its resolution to Mr. Chen, the Chinese Nationalist Foreign Minister, with a covering letter in which it stated that it would do everything to procure such a settlement as would place China on a footing of national independence in the fullest sense of the term.

On the need for preventing war and for securing fair treatment for China there were no two minds in the Labour Party. But on the question of the despatch of troops to Shanghai, viewed purely as a defensive measure, opinion within the party was acutely divided. One section, of which the chief spokesman was Mr. J. H. Thomas, whole-heartedly supported the Government's action. Another section, in which Mr. Wheatley was conspicuous, as strongly condemned it. Mr. MacDonald showed some vacillation on the matter. At first, in an article in the Forward, he had commended the Government's action. But in a speech delivered at Daventry on January 29, he took up the standpoint of the Labour memorandum, and condemned the despatch of troops on the ground that it would foster anti-British feeling in China and render less secure the lives and property of British residents in the interior of the country.

On February 1 the Foreign Office at Peking formally protested against the despatch of British troops to China as being, in view of the friendly relations between China and Great Britain, a "most extraordinary action," and further as contrary to the Washington Agreement and the spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The Government, of course, paid no attention to the protest, nor was it moved from its purpose by representations made by the Joint Labour Council in an interview with the Foreign Secretary on February 3. The Council received from Mr. Chen a message stating that its telegram of January 26 had alone rendered possible the continuance of negotiations, and it sent him a further telegram on February 4 assuring him that the British Labour Party stood firmly by its previous attitude. On the next day Mr. Chen delivered a speech in Hankow in which he declared that Sir A. Chamberlain's Birmingham speech was fundamentally unacceptable because it placed the feudal regime of Peking on a par with the Nationalist movement of Canton-a step which the latter could not tolerate.

Labour opposition to the Government's policy culminated in a great demonstration held in the Albert Hall on February 6 to demand the maintenance of peace with China. The Chairman, Mr. Hicks, expressed apprehensions that there was a war party in the Cabinet, supporting his view with a reference to a fighting speech made the day before by Mr. Churchill in which he had

said: "Last year we had Mr. Cook, this year we have Mr. Chen." The principal speaker was Mr. MacDonald, who again deplored the sending of the troops as a mistake and urged that they should be turned back before landing.

On January 21, eight months after the conclusion of the general strike, members of the Executives of the trade unions of the country to the number of twelve hundred met at the Central Hall, Westminster, to hold the "inquest" over that event which had been originally fixed for the preceding June 25 (vide ANNUAL REGISTER, 1926, p. 78) and postponed till the coal stoppage should be over. Passions had in the interval cooled down, and though there was some plain speaking at the Conference, tempers were kept well under control, and the breach between the Miners' Federation and the Trade Union Council, if it was not healed, was at least not widened. The Conference had before it two reports drawn up by the General Council and the Miners' Federation respectively, setting forth the motives and ideas under which each party had acted both before and during the strike. The Council maintained that its conduct had throughout been consistent, and that the Miners' Federation, after delegating it to full authority, had refused in the end to accept its decisions, and had adopted a line of its own which it knew beforehand the Council could not approve. The Federation retorted that the Council had gone back on certain pledges which it originally gave to the miners, and so left the latter no alternative except to take their own course. Between these two views the Conference had to decide. It endorsed that of the General Council by accepting its report on a card vote by 2,840,000 votes against 1,095,000— a majority of 1,745,000. Of the minority, nearly four-fifths (800,000) was made up by the votes of the Miners' Federation. Their chief supporters were the Woodworkers' Society, the Furnishing Trades Association, and the Distributive Workers' Union; all the great unions were against them. The Chairman, Mr. Hicks, in closing the Conference, urged the delegates, on returning to their unions, to pay heed to the eloquent appeals of various speakers to put the past away and to address themselves to the task of building up the strength of the movement in order to resist all attacks upon it. The appeal was taken to heart, and with this meeting the strike finally became a matter of history.

In the trade union world itself the disposition to fraternise with Russia had not been entirely exorcised by the provocations of Mr. Tomsky on the occasion of the Congress in September (vide ANNUAL REGISTER, 1926, p. 104). The decision taken at that Congress to make another attempt to reconcile the second and the third Labour Internationals was not allowed to remain a dead letter. At the meeting of the Council of the International Federation of Trade Unions held in Amsterdam on January 13, Mr. Hicks, on behalf of the British Trades Union Congress, moved

that the Council should agree to convene an unconditional Conference between representatives of the I.F.T.U. and the Russian Council of Trade Unions. He supported the motion with the familiar arguments and apparently in all sincerity; but when the Council once more rejected it without so much as discussing it, no protest was raised by the Trade Union Council in England.

During this vacation Mr. Lloyd George succeeded in securing for himself a dominant position within the Liberal Party and making his opponents appear in the light of secessionists. Finding himself more favourably placed than he had been for a long time owing to the failure of the attack upon him and the popularity he had won by his speeches during the coal strike, he now followed up his advantage by making an offer to the Liberal Administrative Committee to finance a large number of candidates at the next General Election out of the fund which was still at his disposal from Coalition days. Mr. George's opponents on the Committee were averse to accepting any financial assistance from him, more especially as he attached to his offer certain conditions which would have given him a measure of control over the choice of candidates. However, on January 20, Mr. Lloyd George, at a meeting of the Committee, offered to place a very substantial sum in its hands for purposes of the next election without any conditions, and this offer was finally accepted by 17 votes to 8.

This step brought the schism in the Liberal Party to a head. The decision of the Committee was immediately followed by the resignation of Mr. Vivian Phillips from his post of Chairman of the Organisation Committee, and of Lord Grey, Sir W. Plender, and Lady Violet Bonham-Carter (Lord Oxford's daughter), the trustees of the Liberal Million Fund; also by the formation of a new body to be known as the Liberal Council, with Lord Grey as Chairman, which should be entirely independent of the party funds to which Mr. Lloyd George had promised to contribute.

The new body was formed under the impression that it would rally to itself all that was most sound in the Liberal Party, and that it would be the representative Liberal organ. This calculation proved to be mistaken. The bulk of the party in the country continued to regard the Liberal Party Organisation as its legitimate headquarters, and cold-shouldered the new body, which was practically still-born. The Party Organisation remained faithful to Mr. Lloyd George, and it was to that statesman rather than to the others that the Liberal rank and file looked for an authoritative statement of Liberal policy. The secessionist movement of Lord Grey and his supporters seemed at first to strike the death-knell of the Liberal Party, especially as it was followed at no long interval by the defection of Captain Benn -the most stalwart Radical on the Liberal benches-to the Labour Party. In the end, however, the separation of the two sections proved a benefit to the party. It gave the supporters

of Mr. Lloyd George an opportunity to reorganise themselves more efficiently and to build up the party on a new foundation, with results which soon became strikingly apparent.

The new session of Parliament-the third of the present Government-opened on February 9. The King's Speech gave prominence to the announcement that at the end of the previous month Allied military control in Germany had ceased, and questions affecting the military clauses in the Treaty of Versailles had been handed over to the League of Nations. It described the international position as satisfactory except in China. The legislative programme outlined by the Speech was unusually meagre. It contained only two definite measures of any importance-one, which had been more or less expected, for amending the law with regard to industrial disputes, and one, which was quite unexpected, for amending the law of leasehold. It was announced that the King's title would be brought into conformity with the new status of Ireland; and vague references were made to agriculture, unemployment insurance, and British films.

The debate on the Address turned chiefly on the subjects of trade union legislation and China. The example was set by the mover and seconder, who did their best to disarm in advance criticism of the Government's policy in these two matters. Opposition speakers-not without support from one or two of the more progressive Conservatives-made great play with the glaring omissions in the Government's legislative programmethe absence of a Factory Bill, which had been definitely promised for this session by the Home Secretary in the previous March, of a Women's Franchise Bill, to which the Government was almost equally pledged, of Bills for Poor Law and rating reform, and of comprehensive schemes for dealing with agriculture and unemployment. The Prime Minister met these strictures with an ingenious, if unconvincing explanation. He had, he said, long felt that the best way of dividing the Parliamentary year would be to begin the new session in the autumn. In order to give the House an opportunity of trying that experiment, they had put into the Speech only such legislation as they thought there was a reasonable prospect of passing by August 1. For this reason the Government would deal neither with factory legislation nor with Poor Law reform, a subject in which it was equally interested and which was equally intricate, in the present session, but would leave them for the next, which would probably commence in October. As for agriculture, though each of the Bills introduced by the Government was small in itself, yet taken together he thought they made a solid contribution to the improvement of the industry.

In regard to China, most of the Opposition speakers warmly commended the Memorandum of December 18 and the Foreign

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