[MR. TURTON in the Chair.]
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £1,164,797 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the expenses in connection with His Majesty's Embassies, Missions, and Consular Establishments abroad, and other expenditure chargeable to the Consular Vote." [Note.—£600,000 has been voted on account.]
Major NEWMAN: The Committee will remember that some days ago we had a discussion here on Class II., 8a, of the estimates for Civil Services—that is to say, the estimate for the Department of Oversea Trade (Development and Intelligence). On that occasion, as perhaps the Committee will remember, I took the opportunity of asking the then Minister for the Department, Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland, certain questions in relation to this new Department. I inquired especially in what way it was intended to prevent overlapping between the Department of Oversea Trade and the services provided for in the Vote we are asked to discuss to-day. Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland did his best to give an explanation, but he told the Committee, perfectly frankly, that he was not able to tell us as much as he would like to do, because as a matter of fact his Department was a new Department. He suggested to us, or I gathered from his observations, that there was a great danger of overlapping and of these two services being to a certain extent redundant in respect of some branches of their work. Since then, unfortunately, Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland has resigned his position. From what has appeared in the newspapers, from what he told his constituents, and from a letter he wrote to Mr. Bonar Law, I gather that he had a difference of opinion, not with my hon. Friend opposite, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but with the Board of Trade. His complaint seemed to be that he was debarred from developing his Department on lines that he wanted to follow. He said that a man of push and go was wanted in—
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. and gallant Member must confine his remarks to the Vote for the Diplomatic and Consular Services. He cannot now go into the reasons 172 why Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland thought that he must resign. I would point out that the true test to apply is whether the Minister who is in attendance this afternoon can answer upon the questions the hon. and gallant Member is discussing. If he cannot, then, obviously, the hon. and gallant Member's observations are out of order. Questions relating to the Department over which Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland presided, obviously cannot be answered by the Minister present this afternoon.
Major NEWMAN: May I point out that Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland said it was because the Minister who is here this afternoon was not present on the occasion to which I have referred that he was unable to answer the question regarding overlapping between his Department and the Foreign Office. Now that we have the advantage of the presence of the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs it is my desire to ask him a few questions in connection with his Department in order to try and elicit from him how these two Departments work together. If the Under-Secretary looks at the estimates he will find in the Estimate for the Department of Oversea Trade under the sub-head "Commercial Counsellors and Secretaries" provision made for a Commercial Secretary for the Argentine with a salary of £1,050, a local allowance of £800 and an office allowance of £1,000, making a total of £2,850. Then if he turns to his own Vote for Consular Services he will find provision made in the case of the Argentine Republic for an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary with a salary of £2,500, and, as is quite proper, a further provision for the staff of that Minister. What I want to know is exactly what the Commercial Secretary does and what these other people do who are more directly under the administration of the Foreign Office—the Envoy Extraordinary, and so on. For instance, supposing I want to export half-a-dozen motor cars to Buenos Aires, and I wish to find out what are the duties levied before they are landed, what the facilities are for disposing of them, and so forth, do I address my questions to the Commercial Secretary or to somebody connected with the Minister at Buenos Aires? It is perfectly obvious that a Britisher trading with the Argentine would want to know such things. Apparently the Department of Oversea Trade was specially created to help him in matters of this kind. What I want to suggest, however, is that this means taking away from the Consular Service a good deal of work which 173 it formerly did, and that apparently it was necessary to have these two branches of representatives at Buenos Aires, or other Argentine ports. This is a question of great importance. I have been asked about it by a constituent and have been unable to give him a satisfactory answer. Turning more generally to the Diplomatic Service, I should like to ask the Under-Secretary one or two questions. The Committee will see that in the case of salaries and rent allowances there is an increase amounting to the big sum of £178,000; for journeys on the public service there is an increase of £8,600; incidental expenses also show a big increase; and for special missions and services there is a huge increase. There is one item in particular which strikes one as being a little peculiar. I refer to "Outfits." They cost £25,000 as against £12,000 in the previous year, or an increase of £13,000. Who wears these outfits? Did Mr. Balfour get an outfit when he went to Paris? Did the various people who went there to serve under him all get a set of clothes? Are those clothes charged for?
The CHAIRMAN: May I remind the hon. and gallant Member that it is not usual in this Committee to go over the same ground twice. He was not present, I think, on the last occasion we sat when the Minister answered these questions fully.
Major NEWMAN: I did not know that the matter had already been raised, and in that case I will merely ask the Under-Secretary to give an explanation in regard to the various duties of the Commercial Councillors and Secretaries, Trade Commissioners and Correspondents in the Department of Oversea Trade so far as they have a bearing upon the work of the Consular and other representatives for whom he is more directly responsible in the Diplomatic and Consular Services.
The UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Cecil Harmsworth): As I explained at the last meeting of the Committee, we were under a very great disadvantage, because Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland had then resigned the directorship of the Department of Oversea Trade and could only have been present, if he had been present at all, in an unofficial capacity. At that time his successor had not been appointed. I frankly confess that I am not in a position to give the Committee such an authoritative statement with regard to the Department of Oversea Trade as the Minister responsible would be able to do. Since I have been at the Foreign Office, I have been so overwhelmed 174 with the work that belongs immediately to my branch, together with the additional duties of Minister of Blockade, that I have not had time to familiarise myself fully with the work of the Department of Oversea Trade. The Committee will remember that that Department is in charge of the Assistant Under-Secretary to the Foreign Office, who is also an additional Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. I do not think there is any great difficulty about the point my hon. Friend raises. The Commercial Secretary acts under the Minister to whose Legation he is accredited. He is the principal commercial adviser, and on the other side of his work, or rather in regard to his commercial work, he would receive instructions from the Minister in charge of the Department of Oversea Trade. The channel of communication would in all cases be the actual Minister. I do not know whether there is anything further in regard to that point into which my hon. Friend would like me to go, but I cannot profess to the Committee that I am in a position to respond for a Department for which I am not in fact responsible. I do not know whether my hon. Friend, or the Committee, would like me to enter into those other matters which we discussed in a small Committee a few days ago. If the Chairman will permit me to do so, I shall be very pleased to answer any question with regard to my own Vote that Members may choose to put to me. It will be remembered, of course, that the amount of business we were able to do before it was found we had not a quorum has been reported in the OFFICIAL REPORT, but there may be matters in connection with my Vote about which Members would like further information.
Mr. MORRISON: I should like to ask my Honourable Friend if he can answer the question I put to him last week, when I asked how much of this vote was the ordinary current vote and how much of it was due to war purposes? I also raised a question I as to whether it was necessary to continue our Embassies in Turkey, Saxony, Bavaria, and other places. When the whole of the conditions have changed since the war, I cannot imagine that it is necessary to maintain the posts in the same way as before. Then I should like to ask whether, in view of the very high cost of living, he is satisfied that the salary of our Ambassador in the United States is sufficient? There seems to be great difficulty in filling that post. Everybody knows that Washington is one of the most expensive places in the world. Then with regard to our propaganda abroad, is that now entirely run by the Foreign 175 Office? Certainly at one time there seemed to be a great number of departments that ran it. Then I should also like to ask for explanation of the enormous increase in item "K.K." I see that the cost of telegrams has gone up by over £200,000 a year. It is a very large sum, and I should like to know whether it is really necessary, and whether some reduction could not be made on that very heavy item?
Mr. HARMSWORTH: It may be more convenient if I reply to the questions at once, as they are raised. On the last occasion that we met, the point was raised under Sub-head A., "Salaries and rent allowances," in the Diplomatic Services, as to how much of that increase was of a permanent character. I explained on that occasion that during the war our Diplomatic Service has been very largely increased as to its personnel—of course it is the junior and subordinate personnel—by the additional staff required particularly in connection with the blockade. I gave an instance illustrative of that. At the outset of the war the staff of the Embassy in Washington was, I think, not more than eight persons. At the present time, or at least quite recently, it was not less than 80 persons. If Members will look through the detailed tables, they will see that there are attached to Legations and Embassies a considerable number of persons in secretarial positions, typists and the like, who have been mainly required in connection with the blockade. They will observe that particularly in respect of those Legations in Northern neutral countries and in places like Holland, where it has been made necessary through the blockade. In addition to that the salaries of our diplomatic agents have been increased. Members are aware that quite recently no candidate for the Diplomatic Service was considered suitable unless he had a private income of £400 a year. Now that has been abolished, and our estimates have to take cognisance of that fact. In this particular item, the Committee will observe there is an increase of £178,000. That increase is made up as follows:—Temporary staff £67,000, war bonuses £29,000, and increase in salaries under the new scheme £82,000, so that it may be said that very nearly half of that increased estimate is due to the new scheme by which salaries of our diplomatic agents have been raised to what one might call a living wage. As regards the war-time increase for the temporary staff and war bonuses, we may well hope that from now on this will tend gradually to decrease, and indeed I hope that these items will not again appear on the estimates of the Foreign Office. Then there 176 was the question of Legations or Embassies in different enemy countries. My hon. Friend has referred to the fact that there is a Minister accredited to Bavaria, or again to Saxony, and again to Turkey. The Committee will recognise, I am sure, that under the existing conditions of things we do not know what the political position in some countries is going to be. It is necessary, nevertheless, that we should budget for diplomatic representation. I cannot tell the Committee what the future state of Turkey is going to be. I do not know what our diplomatic relations to Turkey are going to be. We are obliged to assume, in the absence of definite knowledge, that there will be again a British Ambassador accredited to the Porte. In that case I am sure the Committee will agree that we are wise to budget for that charge. If there is no Turkish Ambassador, then, of course, the money will not be spent. As regards the German States, I do not know whether there are going to be special Ministers accredited to them. If they are independent, such of them as are independent republics or separate states, will, no doubt, receive diplomatic representation from us in due course. Whether any are going to be absorbed in others I cannot say, but the Committee will be aware that the British Exchequer will not be put to any expense if Ministers are not accredited to these several places. My hon. Friend has referred to the United States Embassy. There is a difficulty about the United States Embassy, that is, it is the most expensive of all our diplomatic appointments. Mr. Bonar Law has said in the House to-day that the question of means has not stood in the way of the appointment of the right man. That is so, but it is quite possible that the Foreign Office might have to come to the House of Commons and to the Treasury for some sort of extra allowance for the Ambassador in the United States. It is, I think, in the opinion of all of us, the most important of all our diplomatic appointments, and should it happen—it has not ever happened—that the best man possibly could not take that appointment because the salary is not adequate, I should think it probable that the Treasury and the House of Commons would agree to some sort of extra allowance being made to meet this extra expense.
Major Sir B. FALLE: Can the hon. Gentleman tell us what is the salary of the United States Ambassador?
Mr. HARMSWORTH: £10,000 a year. Reference has also been made to the Propaganda Department. Here, again, if I may take the Committee into my confidence, 177 I have had what remains of the foreign activities of the Minister of Information thrown unexpectedly, and as far as I am concerned, most unwillingly, upon my shoulders. We are budgeting for a very modest estimate indeed. Altogether, foreign propaganda in various posts here is estimated to cost in the current year a little more than £80,000. That is a tremendous drop from the lavish expenditure that prevailed, and perhaps necessarily prevailed, during the war. The item we have to consider under "K" on page 9 is Propaganda Expenses abroad. Of course the Foreign Office is only responsible for such propaganda as is conducted abroad. I may explain to the Committee that this is really a matter for discussion at some other time, in the House itself. The central part of our propaganda scheme is the establishing of definite representatives in the most important countries who shall be in a position to advise the Minister of the trend of public opinion in that country and to suggest to him, supposing the current of opinion is going against the interests of this country, as to the proper steps which should be taken to meet those tendencies. Such people, of course, will need to be highly experienced with that particular flair for public affairs, which is not always to be found and which you cannot rely on finding through the ordinary channels of the Civil Service examination. It is proposed that there should be in France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland and Belgium, in Russia eventually, in the Scandinavian countries and in America, a definite representative attached, not too closely, but attached to the Ministers representing His Majesty in those several countries, and they will be in touch with corresponding officers in the Foreign Office. I think this is rather a matter for a second reading debate of some kind, but perhaps the Committee will pardon me for dwelling to that limited extent on the scope of the Propaganda Department. This item amounts altogether, as the Committee will see by reference to page 9, to £41,450, but that is not the whole of the expense, because, as I pointed out to the Committee, our total Estimate is for about £80,000. If hon. Members will look back to the Foreign Office Vote on page 31 of the Estimate, Class II., Vote 5, they will see that in connection with this Department there is an item of £15,000 odd for salaries, and another of £25,000 under the heading "Miscellaneous." I do not want to go into that now, but I think it is only fair to point out to the Committee that this item of 178 £41,000 is not the only item of expenditure connected with this new Department, as they might imagine to be the case from a glance at this present Estimate. However, I agree that I should be out of order in going into these other figures now. They amount in the aggregate to about £80,000, which is less than one-twentieth of the amount that was spent on propaganda towards the latter end of the war. Then reference has been made to telegrams. The item is "K.K." on page 4. There you get an enormous increase from £43,500 to an estimate of £250,000. I have not before me the figures for 1917 and 1918, but the Committee know that under the somewhat slipshod methods of accountancy which prevailed during the war, very large sums were put down to the Vote of Credit and did not appear in the ordinary way in our Estimate. This was the case with telegrams. Therefore, I do not think we are to assume that the sum of £45,000 only was spent on Foreign Office telegrams last year. I do not know what the figure was, but probably the sum actually spent, the greater part of it being taken from the Vote of Credit, was at least as much as that we are budgeting for this year. The cause of the increase is obvious. During the war and up to the present time the increase in the amount of cables and telegrams on account of Foreign Office business has been simply enormous. Someone said in the House that it has been excessive, but it must not be forgotten that many Post Office services have been interrupted, and in many cases that means of communication was much too dilatory for the business of the war. We may well hope, in regard to this item, as in regard to so many others in this Vote, that now that Peace with Germany has been achieved, we can look for a return to something like normal in the following year. I think those are the only points my Friend opposite has raised. I have dealt with them very briefly, especially in regard to propaganda, which I feel is rather a matter for a full-dress discussion than for a Committee, but I hope these brief explanations will be satisfactory to the Committee.
Lieut.-Colonel MALONE: May I ask if any of these propaganda officers have been appointed?
Mr. HARMSWORTH: Yes. Some of these representatives are the same as those appointed under the Ministry of Information. Some are actually working, and the system is working, not as satisfactorily as we would like, but still it is working at the present time.179
Captain S. WILSON: I wish to protest against the methods under which this Committee is carried on. This morning I received a Notice Paper stating that we were to take this Vote this afternoon. That was the first intimation that I or any Member of the Committee received.
The CHAIRMAN: If the honourable and gallant Member had been here at the last meeting he would have known that after getting as far as this Vote the Committee was adjourned because there was not a quorum present. If he had attended to his duties he would have known exactly the position of affairs.
Captain WILSON: I was here, but I went away before the close of the proceedings. It happens to be the same with regard to the subsequent Votes. We have to take these votes, and I do not think in regard to a vote of this character, it ought not to be taken here in this Committee, but in the House of Commons itself.
The CHAIRMAN: We are here by order of the House of Commons. We are not here to discuss the procedure of the House. The honourable and gallant Member must confine himself to the Vote.
Captain WILSON: I wish to make one or two remarks in regard to these "Special Missions and Services." First of all, I should like to ask what is included in regard to the Vote for the Peace Congress at Paris. £50,000. What items are included? Then we have the Special Missions.
The CHAIRMAN: I must call the hon. and gallant Member to order. The motto of this Committee is to go "Forward and not backward." The hon. and gallant Member cannot go back to discuss what was discussed at the last meeting. At the last meeting we went fully into the question of the Peace Congress at Versailles.
Captain WILSON: If there was not a quorum present I do not see how the Committee could go into it. The Minister could not answer.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. and gallant Member has been in the House long enough to know what the procedure is. If he thinks that anything irregular has been done, be can call Mr. Speaker's attention to the matter, and ask for the Vote to be re-committed. 180 But I must hold him to a consideration of the point under discussion and not allow him to go into other matters.
Captain WILSON: May I ask whether all these Special Missions and Services were discussed at the last meeting?
The CHAIRMAN: Yes. If the hon. and gallant Member had read the OFFICIAL REPORT he would be aware of what was done.
Captain WILSON: I really must protest, because I think a protest ought to be made, and I must say I think every Member of the Committee ought to receive a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT. I do not see how the Committee can go on unless each Member does receive a copy.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. and gallant Member knows perfectly well that it is possible for him to get a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT by going to the Vote Office if he is interested in the matter.
Major NEWMAN: I was not present at the last meeting and I want the hon. Gentleman to turn to page 9, Class 5, the Vote in regard to Special Missions and Services. I would like to ask whether the special missions to Russia and Siberia were fully discussed?
The CHAIRMAN: No, the hon. and gallant Member was talking about the Peace Mission.
Major NEWMAN: Was the Special Mission to Prague discussed?
The CHAIRMAN: No.
Major NEWMAN: Were the Peace Celebrations discussed?
The CHAIRMAN: No.
Major NEWMAN: Then I propose to ask the hon. Gentleman opposite a few questions about those Special Missions. The items are: Special Mission to Russia, £10,000; Special Mission to Siberia, £20,000; Special Mission to Poland, £7,000; Special Mission to Prague, £12,000. I suppose I am right in taking these Special Missions as really representing our Minister or our Ambassador as the case may be in normal peace times. That is to say, this Special Mission to Russia, £10,000—181
The CHAIRMAN: I am sorry to interrupt. The hon. and gallant Member has not seen the OFFICIAL REPORT. It contains these words: "I will tell the Committee, briefly, what these Missions are. The four Special Missions are: Russia, Siberia, Poland and Prague." Those were all dealt with at our last meeting.
Major NEWMAN: Was the Special Mission to the Vatican discussed?
The CHAIRMAN: No.
Major NEWMAN: Then I would like to ask a question about the Special Mission to the Vatican. We do keep a Representative at the Vatican—Count de Salles—at present. I want to know in regard to this Special Mission if this amount represents the salary of our Representative, or is there some Mission specially sent for some special purpose to His Holiness the Pope, and if that is the case I should like to know what that Special Mission was about? Has it come back, and what report has the hon. Gentleman opposite obtained from it? Again, in regard to the Peace Celebrations, there is a sum of £10,000. I should like to know how that money is to be spent. Is it for the Peace Celebrations in Paris, or in what part of the world? Of course, it is not for the Peace Celebrations in this country on Saturday next.
Captain WILSON: I think I can put one or two questions on which I shall be in order. With regard to the Washington Trade Department, that subject was not discussed at the last meeting, I believe, and I should like a full explanation as to what the Washington Trade Department is. It appears to be some new policy of the Government. I think the sum of £7,500 is being expended for this Trade Department, and I should like some explanation as to exactly what that means. Here we see an increase to £65,000 from the £15,500 we spent last year on "Unforeseen Missions and Services." That is nearly £50,000 increase. Of course, I cannot ask the hon. Gentleman what the word "Unforeseen" means here, because I conclude he has no idea. But I should like to ask what is the reason for this very large increase, seeing that we are already paying for Special Missions to Russia, Siberia, Poland and Prague? Why does he think it is necessary to allow for such a very big increase in this Vote as this?182
Mr. BENNETT: May I ask if Sir Maurice de Bunsen's mission to South America is included in any of these votes?
Mr. COOTE: I should like to ascertain under what heading our trade representatives in foreign countries are included. To which Department of State are they responsible? Are they appointed by the Department of Oversea Trade, or are they attached to and working under the Consular Service? I want to draw attention to this fact, because in my mind it is very important. We require to have the most efficient eyes and ears for our trade in countries abroad that are possible, and I want to draw attention to the fact that in same instances we have not received value for money in the past. We have probably not appointed the right type of man, or not the man who gave the necessary attention to his work. I know of a case which occurred a few months ago, where a representative of a large manufacturing concern in this country wished to find out some information regarding a firm situated in a city belonging to a neutral State. He went to the Consulate and was told that the Consul could not be bothered with the matter and suspected that the firm was friendly to the enemy, but enquiries would be made. The official concluded: "That will keep them away another month." This took place in another office, but a friend of mine was compelled to hear what was said, although he was present on other business. If our trade is in the hands of gentlemen of this type, who take no pains to find out the status of a firm with whom it is desired to deal, it is a very bad outlook for British trade, and it is not a wonder that in the past British trade was a vanishing quantity and the Germans were getting hold of it in every quarter of the globe where they competed with us. I wish also to make a protest in respect to the Special Mission to the Vatican. We understood at the time this mission was instituted that it was set on foot for war purposes only. It opened a relationship which had not been carried on for hundreds of years. There is a very strong feeling in the country about it. We have always been informed that when the war was over this mission would lapse. It is very unfair that an envoy should be kept at a purely religious court—it is an extraordinary anomaly in the twentieth century—and it is time it ceased to exist. It is unfair that we should pay something like £4,600 to a Minister there, when we do not pay anything like that salary to the greatest general at the head of the Army. It is an anomaly. The question will have to be raised in another place, but it is only right to raise the question here.183
The CHAIRMAN: Does the hon. Member move a reduction?
Mr. COOTE: Yes. I beg to move, "That Item K ['Special Missions and Services'] be reduced by £100."
The CHAIRMAN: By the hon Member's motion we have now reached Item K, Class V., No. 1. The question before the Committee is that the sum for the Special Mission to the Vatican be reduced by £100. We cannot go back to anything preceding Item K.
Sir B. FALLE: Can this motion be withheld until we reach this item?
The CHAIRMAN: We cannot go back to another matter preceding Item K.
Mr. COOTE: If I am in order, I shall be glad to withdraw the motion until later on.
Captain WILSON: Before the Motion is withdrawn, I should like to ask whether, when the proposed reduction is decided one way or the other, it will be possible to refer back to the whole vote?
The CHAIRMAN: The ruling is quite clear. If you have moved a reduction on any Vote, which, in this particular instance, is under item "K," you cannot refer to any item preceding that item.
Mr. COOTE: Assuming I withdraw, for the present, have I the right to move a reduction later on?
The CHAIRMAN: "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Do I understand the hon. Member to withdraw his motion?
Mr. COOTE: I will not withdraw unless I have a clear understanding that I can bring the matter up again later.
Captain WILSON: You can bring the matter up again later.
Mr. COOTE: I shall be delighted to withdraw, if the Chairman will allow me to refer to the question later.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question again proposed.
Mr. HARMSWORTH: My hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Coote) was referring to the Consular Service, and he related an instance 184 of lack of efficiency and courtesy in regard to one particular station in the Consular Service. I suppose we have all heard of occurrences of that kind. The whole question of the Consular Service, as the Committee is aware, has received an enormous amount of attention on the part of the Government and of the Foreign Office, so much so that the setting up of the Department of Oversea Trade had reference very largely to the one question of improving the Consular Service of this country. There are indications already—although this matter, as I have said, does not come within my province—that very great improvements are being introduced in connection with the personnel of the Service. I might, perhaps, give the Committee one instance. We have had many questions in the House about the Consul-Generalship of New York. The delay in making that appointment, which I understand will soon be announced, has been due to the extreme anxiety of the Foreign Office and the Department of Oversea Trade that an absolutely first-class man should be appointed to that place. I do not suppose even in the best regulated Consular Service we should be free from criticism. All I can say is that Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland rendered the very greatest service in his attention to this matter of the Consular Service, and I have no doubt his distinguished successor will labour to the same end. May I refer to the question of the Vatican?
The CHAIRMAN: Yes. Clearly that is in order.
Mr. HARMSWORTH: My hon. Friend opposite will observe that the sum allocated to this Service is not the salary of the Envoy. It includes the whole cost of the Mission. I would point out, perhaps with satisfaction, that the Estimate for the current financial year is less than the last one. I do not think I can go into detail as to the Mission, but the Committee will accept it as satisfactory if I say that the whole question of the continuance of the Mission to the Vatican is under review of the Government at the present time. Reference was made to the relatively small sum for Peace Celebrations. That is for the suitable decoration of His Majesty's Embassies and Legations throughout the world. The Committee will, I think, agree that it is only right that the premises which are specially identified with His Majesty's Government throughout the world should be in a position, without imposing great cost on the public service, to exhibit their gratification at the conclusion of Peace. In regard to Unforeseen Missions, arising out of the 185 conclusion of Peace, there have been, and probably will be, a large number of Missions of a partly diplomatic and partly commercial character. There are, of course, such Missions in existence at the present time. Some of them were referred to on the last occasion, such as the Special Missions to Russia, Siberia, Warsaw and Prague. Some of these Missions are in lieu of regular diplomatic arrangements. Other arrangements, however, will not be permanent; for instance, Sir Hubert Gough's Mission in the Baltic, where he is endeavouring to render assistance under conditions of the very greatest difficulty to the much-perplexed Baltic States. Then there is a great Commission, what is called the Rhineland Commission, which I think, working side by side with the Army of Occupation, will tend increasingly to assume more and more important functions as the Army of Occupation is reduced. This Rhineland Commission is already an exceedingly important body, and there are indications that it will become, so far as civil affairs are concerned and so far as the Allies are concerned, responsible for Allied interests in the whole of the occupied territory. Such Commissions we must expect and budget for, because I am sure the Committee will agree with me that in such matters as this, and indeed in regard to almost every item of expenditure, it is infinitely disadvantageous and troublesome to be put to the trouble of introducing Supplementary Estimates. The sum in itself, I should think, is a very modest Estimate indeed. Some of these Commissions will be, unhappily, very numerously manned. They are small at present. Sir Hubert Gough's Commission is exceedingly small, but that is simply because we have not yet been able to send many people out with him. I do not think the Committee will be able to complain of this sum of £65,000 for Unforeseen Missions. Reference was made to the Washington Trade Department. That was Sir Richard Crawford's Trade Commission at Washington, and had reference very largely to the operations of the blockade. That again, I trust, is an item that we may hope to see excluded from further Foreign Office Votes. I was asked about Sir Maurice de Bunsen's Mission to South America, but I cannot discover that that falls on our Estimates at all this year. I think it was disposed of in the Estimates of last year, so that it does not appear as an item on this Estimate at all.
Captain WILSON: I must thank the hon. Gentleman for his reply, with which I am quite satisfied, and I am glad to hear 186 him express a hope of some reduction in one or two of the items in future. But the more one studies this Vote the more one cannot help being impressed by the very large increases that are contained in it. I have been studying it, and it appears to me to contain an entirely new policy, and had this Vote been introduced in the House itself I have not the slightest doubt that the Minister who introduced it would have done so with a long explanatory statement of the new policy of the Government which is contained in it. I have only to call the attention of the Committee to pages 6, 7, and 8, from which they will see that in Norway, for instance, we have now got—
The CHAIRMAN: I am sorry again to have to call the hon. and gallant Member to order. It is distinctly laid down that if a Member has moved the reduction of a Vote we cannot go back on the preceding Votes, and the hon. and gallant Member is now discussing pages prior to page 9, with which we are now concerned. If he has any quarrel he will have to make it with the hon. Member who attempted to move the reduction.
Captain WILSON: It was not moved.
The CHAIRMAN: it was moved and withdrawn, and the mere fact that it was withdrawn makes no difference to the point of Order.
Mr. DENNIS: May I ask whether, it having been moved and not having been seconded, it was before the Committee?
The CHAIRMAN: Unquestionably.
Captain WILSON: Is it really your ruling that on the discussion of this Vote, when we have the whole Vote before the Committee, I cannot discuss any portion of it? I claim I have the right to raise any portion of this Vote when the whole Vote is before the Committee, the reduction having been moved and withdrawn immediately afterwards on the express understanding that we should not be deprived of the privilege of speaking on any portion of the Vote. It is always so in the House.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. Coote) made a Motion to reduce the Vote for the Special Mission to the Vatican by £100, and it is perfectly immaterial whether that Motion went to a Division or was withdrawn.187
Mr. DENNIS: If any Member chooses to move to reduce by any sum the last item on any Vote, can he thereby block any discussion whatever of the whole vote?
The CHAIRMAN: Unquestionably. That is the difference of this Committee. On the other Committee, of which I was Chairman, the Acquisition of Land Bill Committee, we could protect all subsequent Amendments, but it is not the duty of the Chairman here to protect any subsequent Votes; it is the duty of hon. Members to protect themselves against another hon. Member.
Captain WILSON: Are the Rules in Committee upstairs different from the Rules of Committee below?
The CHAIRMAN: I am guided by exactly the same Rules as would govern the Committee of the House downstairs.
Mr. COOTE: Am I correct in this, Mr. Chairman—that you stated that the discussion could not take place on these matters prior to the item on which I moved my Motion unless my Motion were withdrawn?
Colonel BOWLES: I think the Chairman's ruling has been in accordance with the Rules as I knew them for many years in this House, that where a Motion was made you could not talk on preceding Votes. I take some little exception, however, to the Chairman's suggestion that it was not his duty to protect the other Votes, because during the many years that I have been in this House I have over and over again seen the Chairman in the House of Commons decline to take a Motion in order to give other hon. Members an opportunity of speaking on some Vote preceding that Motion. I may point out to the Chairman that if we did not have protection of some kind, some malicious person who might desire to get through the work a little more speedily and stop all discussion might get up and move a Motion to reduce the last Vote in the Estimates. It is not until the Chairman accepts a Motion that it is really before us, but when a Motion is put, I agree with the Chairman that all preceding Votes are out of order.
Captain WILSON: I should like to remind you, Sir, that you yourself, I thought, were endeavouring to protect the rights of this Committee.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member is perfectly correct. I was doing my best to 188 protect the Committee in order that they might have a full discussion. If the hon. and gallant Member confined himself to asking the Minister certain questions, I should not stop him, but I understood he wanted to raise some question with regard to the reduction of preceding Votes. That would be out of order, but so far as any explanation is concerned in regard to any Vote, I should not stop that for a single moment.
Captain WILSON: The whole question I was raising was the question of the policy, which has not been discussed at all, of these Commercial Advisers abroad, which is entirely a new system. It is a question that is eminently fitted to be discussed here, and I was saying that there could not be the slightest doubt that had this Vote been submitted to the House of Commons itself the Minister would have most certainly made a full explanation of the new policy contained in this Vote. Therefore, I was only asking him if he could give us some slight sketch of the policy, because there is a large number of new appointments in the various Embassies abroad—in Sweden and Norway, for instance. We have a Commercial Adviser in one place, a Commercial Attaché in another, and a similar sort of thing in many countries throughout the world. I am not out for obstruction, but I think the hon. Gentleman ought to tell us something about this new policy, because I am certain that had this Vote been in the House he would not get it as easily as he is going to get it up here.
Mr. HARMSWORTH: I am not quite sure that I understand what my hon. and gallant Friend wants me to do. I have already made reference to the new scheme. It was not my business, and I could not regard myself in a position to expound the whole system to the Committee, as if I were the Minister responsible for it. What I think is really in his mind is, looking to this heading here, say, Norway, with its largely increased staff, I can help him there. Take the case of Norway. Here we find a shipping accountant, a shipping clerk, and again we have a very considerable figure for such a legation as that for shorthand-typists and so on. These are all people concerned with the blockade, which, as my hon. and gallant Friend knows, was operative until two or three days ago, through Sweden, Denmark. Norway, Spain, and Switzerland. I have not carefully examined all those items for every place, but I think he will find that the same provisions prevail in all those countries 189 which we call, for blockade purposes, the smaller neutrals. They will cease almost from to-day. With regard to these smaller departments—which I ought to say parenthetically have thrown an enormous amount of work in those countries upon those concerned—as soon as they have closed their books, and put away all the blockade documents in the archives, these charges will cease to fall upon our vote. I think that will be so in each one of those countries in which the blockade was operative. Again the Committee will understand, how, in the case of the United States, our trade relations and missions to the United States, and the work of Lord Reading at Washington, involved an addition to the diplomatic staff beyond anything we have ever known before, and which we do not think will occur again. There were thrust upon those Ministers duties which in past times were duties with which they were not concerned at all. I have no doubt that if the hon. and gallant Member looks into the United States figure he will find an enormous addition to the secretarial staff. That will not fall upon us again, at least I hope it will not fall again in the life-time of any of us.
Major NEWMAN: It is not often we have the opportunity of going through a big Vote like this, therefore I should like to ask a few questions about China, Japan and Siam, although I have never been to China or Japan. On page 26 we find that the total for salaries, allowances and wages for our Consuls and Consuls-General at Shanghai and other places in China comes to the fairly big sum of £109,000, as compared with £69,000 last year. That is not the sum total of the expenditure, because if hon. Members will cast their eyes further down that page they will see a certain sum in dollars for boat hire, coolie hire and so on. We have five and a half pages of that sort of thing connected with China, Japan and Siam. It appears to me that a Vote like this wants rather close looking into, and I cannot help thinking it would be a great deal better if these Consuls and Vice-Consuls were given a salary, an adequate salary, which would enable them to provide their own boatmen, coolies and so on, and not to have down here columns and columns of dollars. I have never seen these Votes before, and they seem most extraordinary. As I said before, I have no knowledge of China or Japan, and it might be that these matters are quite ordinary, but no Vote appears like this one in connection with any other countries. Therefore, I should like to get from the hon. Gentleman some ex- 190 planation of why it is put down in this very varied form.
Mr. COOTE: I wish to move my Motion at this stage lest I may be out of order—
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member cannot move it a second time.
Mr. COOTE: I understood from your ruling that I could move it.
The CHAIRMAN: My answer to the hon. Member was, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Mr. MORRISON: And he has "the evil thereof."
Mr. COOTE: It looks like it.
Mr. MORRISON: May I ask what steps the Foreign Office are taking in regard to the appointment of Consuls in Germany and Poland? A friend of mine tells me that the whole place is swarming with American and French commercial travellers, and that our authorities are putting every obstacle in the way of our commercial travellers. It is a very vital question, and I should like to know what the Foreign Office is doing.
Sir B. FALLE: Before the hon. Member answers that question, I should like to ask him a question about Abyssinia. I am aware it is not a large sum—the tendency is to cut down expenses—but I should like to know what kind of a doctor we can expect for Abyssinia for £300 a year. Is he a white man? For a white man to go there at that sum is, I should think, an impossibility. I see also that he is not pensionable.
Mr. COOTE: I should like to move, with your permission, that this special sum assigned to the Special Mission to the Vatican be wiped out altogether. This is a different Motion, and it is a Motion which I submit with great respect, you can accept as being in order.
The CHAIRMAN: Will the hon. Member allow the questions to be answered first?
Mr. COOTE: I do not object, but I hope you will not allow me to be bowled out again.
The CHAIRMAN: You shall not be bowled out.191
Mr. GREEN: In some of the Embassies there is a charge for a chaplain, and in some there is no charge. I should like an explanation as to why some places require a chaplain and some do not.
Mr. HARMSWORTH: I do not want to stand between my hon. Friend (Mr. Coote) and his Motion, but it will perhaps be convenient if I dispose of these items before I come to that. As regards the Vote for China and Japan, as a matter of fact that Vote, when my attention was first drawn to it, attracted my attention very much as it did that of my hon. and gallant Friend. In so far as that Vote is largely in excess of former expenditure, it is due entirely to trouble in connection with the exchanges. I cannot myself affect to be a master of the mysteries of the exchanges, but as a matter of fact the salaries of our representatives in China and Japan were very gravely affected by the depreciation in the value of our own currency, and that deficiency is needed to be made up to them. That, I am assured, is the main cause. That and the war bonuses are the main causes of our increases this year.
Major NEWMAN: They are not paid in dollars, I take it, but in our own currency?
Mr. HARMSWORTH: That is so, I think. As it happened in so many other cases, the sovereign has not been able to buy as many dollars in the East as it used, and it was thought by the Government that that loss should not fall on our officials in the East. As to the question of boat-hire, I will have that looked into, but I am told that it differs and varies so much from time to time that it is so much more economical to do it this way than to set aside a certain regular sum every year for our officers. The point was raised as to Consuls in Gemany. I think the Committee will find that we have made provision for a Consular service in Germany. It is, of course, quite true that no consuls have been appointed. The whole question of our diplomatic and consular representation in the enemy countries is, as the Committee will recognise, one of very great difficulty, and it is one that requires the most careful consideration of the Government. No doubt consular officers will be appointed without delay. So far as diplomatic representatives are concerned, that I think would be a matter for a good deal further consideration. It is one that involves some very serious questions, and the Government has not yet decided exactly what is to be done.192
Mr. MORRISON: Will the hon. Gentleman take every step to encourage British trade, otherwise we shall lose much to the Americans and the French?
Mr. HARMSWORTH: My advice to my hon. Friend is not to pay too much attention to rumours as to the activities of the Americans and other people and the slackness of our own people. Most of those statements are without substantial foundation. I have had opportunities of watching that talk through the blockade, and most of it is wrong. As regards the doctor in Abyssinia, I am in a position to say that this excellent practitioner's salary has been increased from £300 to at least £1,000 a year. I do not know on what terms he worked before, but I assume that under former conditions he was allowed to take private practice. At present he is a regular official of our legation in Abyssinia. I cannot profess to be an authority on the subject of this particular doctor, but if the Committee will desire me to do so I will go further into the matter. As regards chaplains, the sole reason why there is a chaplain attached to some legations and not to others is simply because that in some places there are far larger British colonies than in the others.
Mr. COOTE: I beg to move, "That Item K ["Special Missions and Services"] be reduced by £4,000." That is the sum for the Mission to the Vatican.
Colonel BOWLES: I beg to call attention to the fact that we are not a quorum, and cannot take this Vote.
The CHAIRMAN: It is very unfortunate. We have had the Minister here twice already.
Major NEWMAN: I think if the Minister will give my hon. Friend (Mr. Coote) one assurance, he will be willing to withdraw his amendment.
The CHAIRMAN: I understand, but the moment my attention has been called to the fact that there is not a quorum I am obliged to take notice of it.
Colonel BOWLES: I only called attention to that fact because a motion had been moved. I think that is the best procedure in regard to a large vote like this. Directly a motion is moved it stands to reason that one must 193 call attention to the fact that there is not a quorum.
The CHAIRMAN: I am quite prepared to take no notice of it.
Major NEWMAN: I want to ask the hon. Gentleman opposite, is it not a fact that this special mission is going to be withdrawn in the very near future?
Lieut.-Colonel MALONE: I do hope that this mission will not be withdrawn immediately. Everyone who has followed the course of events in that part of the world must realise that this is a very important appointment. We must remember how very insidious were the intrigues which led to that appointment. We are by no means out of the wood yet. A great many rumours are current in regard to the intrigues of Austria in Italy and the secret influences at work, and we must all realise the powerful 194 influence of the Vatican in regard to these matters. I hope, therefore, there is no question of withdrawing the Embassy for some time yet, anyhow.
The CHAIRMAN rose to put the question—
Mr. COOTE: In consequence of there not being a sufficient number of Members present, I submit, Sir, that you cannot put the Question.
Attention called to the fact that twenty Members were not present; Committee counted; and twenty Members not being found present—
The CHAIRMAN: Attention having been called to the fact that there is not a quorum present, the Committee stands adjourned until to-morrow.
Adjourned at twenty-five minutes before Six of the clock till Wednesday, 16th July, at Four o'clock.
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE.
Mr. Turton (Chairman)
Attorney-General for Ireland, Mr.
Coote, Mr. William
Davies, Mr. A. (Clitheroe)
Falle, Major Sir Bertram
Green, Mr. Joseph
Harmsworth, Mr. Cecil
Morrison, Mr. Hugh
Sykes, Colonel Sir Alan
White, Lieut.-Col. Dalrymple
Wilson, Captain Stanley