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r" IMPERIAL PARLIAMENT. HOUSE OF LORDS.—Mabch 13. The Transvaal Mortgage Loan and Finance Com- pany Bill and the Surrey Commercial Docks Bill were read a second time. Cathcart's Divorce Bill was read a third time. HOUSE OF COMMONS. CHINESE QUESTIONS. Mr. Pritchard Morgan obtained leave to move the adjournment of the House in order to call attention to a matter of urgent importance- namely, the support given by her Majesty's repre- sentative at Pekin to the demands of Italy for a sphere of interest in China and for a naval base in Sammun Bay. He maintained that the policy of the Government in this matter was in con- travention of the resolution passed by the House on March 1, 1898, which affirmed that it was of vital importance that the independence of Chinese terri- tory should be maintained. In his opinion the de- mands of Italy, if granted, would encourage other countries to ask for similar concessions, and he asked where this partition of China would stop. He feared that if the Powers of Europe were all to become next-door neighbours in China jealousies and irritation would be aroused and dangerous con- sequences would follow. The expansion of trade and commerce in China could be secured without effecting the partition of that Empire. Sir E. Ashmead-Bartlett pointed out that as three European Powers had already obtained naval stations on the Chinese coasts with spheres of influ- ence or interest it would have been very difficult to oppose the wishes of Italy, one of our oldest allies. Mr. Brodrick ridiculed the notion that it was the business of the Government to prevent any other Power from establishing any interest in China. As to the action of Italy, it had been taken on her own initiative; but the Government had shown a friendly disposition towards her and would welcome the appearance ot Italy in the East. Nothing was more unwise than to travel beyond one's proper province, and the proper province of the British Government in regard to China was to safeguard the interests of Great Britain. As long as those interests were not threatened it was not desirable to stand in the way of friendly Powers anxious to safeguard their own interests. The Government wished well to Italy's negotiations, and, as far as they were concerned, were willing to support them by diplomatic means. Mr. Courtney was disappointed with the right hon. gentleman's speech, for he had hoped to hear that the Government were maintaining an attitude of strict neutrality. He looked upon the action of Italy as mos*. unfortunate, for her energies ought not to be dissipated by ambitious ventures abroad. Our attitude, he maintained, ought to have been one of non-interference. If Italy was to obtain a naval base in China, why should not Austria-Hungary, Holland, and other countries attempt to obtain similar advantages ? Was it, he asked, to our interest that China should become the prey of con- tending greed ? He warned the Government that b) the course which they were taking they might be precipitating that very dissolution of China which they dreaded. Sir E. Grey, referring to the resolution passed in March, 1898, remarked that the Government's acceptance of it, contrasted with their present support of Italy's demand, undoubtedly laid them open to a charge of inconsistency. But he took himself no exception to their present policy. Since the resolution of 1898 several spheres of interest had developed in China, and in the circumstances he did not see how the Government could possibly have adopted towards Italy the attitude described by the right hon. member for Bodmin. The fact was that it was now impossible for us to stand aside and to have no inter-communication with other Powers. Such isolation was not possible, and what ought to be done was to keep in constant touch with the other countries interested in the Far East, for if that con- stant touch were not maintained the Powers, between whom friendly relations ought to be preserved, would run the risk of drifting apart. Captain Bethell doubted whether the Government were right in assisting Italy, even though that assist- ance had been exclusively diplomatic. It would have been better to stand aside and to allow Italy to fight her own battles, it being his view that it was an unsound policy to make any arrangements with other Powers which might pave the way for the partition of China. Mr. Gibson Bowles regretted that European countries should be gnawing coaling stations out of China, but recognised that the Government could not put difficulties in Italy's way. Mr. Bryn Roberts and Mr. Marks also spoke, and The motion was negatived without a division. ARMY ESTIMATES. Mr. Balfour moved a resolution giving Govern- ment business precedence on Tuesday, and took the opportunity to explain the circumstances under which the Army Estimates were not proceeded with on Friday of last week. He also stated as a reason for encroaching on private members' time that the first reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill must be obtained on the 21st inst. and read a third time on the 24th. It was therefore necessary to make sub- stantial progress with Supply. Sir R. Campbell-Bannerman characterised the right hon. gentleman's resolution as quite unjustifi- able, and reminded him that the first members' motion down for discussion to-day was one of great interest, being concerned with the reports of the Roval Commission on Tuberculosis. Mr. Channing complained that several hours were wasted on the preceding Friday, and after some con- versation. in which Sir W. Foster, Sir J. Lubbock, Mr. Hobhouse, and Mr. Courtney took part, Mr. Buchanan moved an amendment limiting the operation or Mr. Balfour's motion to Vote 1 for the army. Mr. Balfour could not accept the amendment, but undertook not to ask on Tuesday for more than Vote I and the three non-effective army votes. After some further discussion, the amendment was negatived without a division, and then the motion was carried by 222 votes to 118. NAVY ESTIMATES. The adjourned debate on the motion for going into Committee of Supply on the Navy Estimates was resumed by Sir U. Kay-Shuttleworth, who expressed the regret felt in all quarters of the House at the absence of the First Lord of the Admiralty. Alluding to the eolossal growth of the expenditure on the navy, he asked whether means might not be found to check it either by some change of policy and of administra- tion or by agreement with other Powers. Referring to the Czar's proposal for a conference, he said that if the Government should fail to offer every assistance in promoting the objects of the Emperor the country would be of opinion that a great opportunity had been lost. Criticising Mr. Goschen's speech on introducing the Estimates, he claimed that credit was due to more than one Board of Admiralty for the present efficient state of the Navy. It was very gratifying that in the autumn there was no need for a vote of credit or for any special efforts. It was right, however, to recognise that a great burden had been imposed upon the Admiralty, and to guard against any possible breakdown of administrative machinery in that growing and unwieldly department some attention should be paid to internal organisation. Examining the programme of new construction, and comparing it with that of France, he commented on the com- parative slowness of construction in that country, and pointed out that this gave us a great advantage. France was now building battleships with less vigour than formerly, having arrived at the conclusion that in the race of construction she could not profitably persevere. As far as battleships were concerned, he thought we had good reason to be satisfied with our strength, and he doubted whether there were adequate grounds to justify an increase in the number of these vessels. Sir J. Colomb hoped the Government would not base their action at the Peace Conference on the supposition that the only combination we might have to meet would be one of two Powers. If all the other Powers of the world were to agree to modify their naval programmes-then, but not till then, ought we to consent to modify ours. Referring to the contribution to the navy from the Cape, he expressed regret that the First Lord of the Admiralty had omitted to notice in his speech the very im- portant subject of the relations of the colonies to the navy. Mr. Kearley urged the Government to take measures to increase the numbers of the Naval Re- serve, and the discussion was continued by Mr. Gibson Bowles, Sir J. Baker, Admiral Field, and other members. Sir C. Dilke insisted that if any reduction of ex- penditure should ever become necessary there ought to be no economy at the expense of the navy; Mr. W. Allan said it had pained him to hear the late Secretary to the Admiralty practically condemn the ogramme of the Government; and Mr. Arnold- frogramme of the Government; and Mr. Arnold- Forster referred to the enormous improvement of the navy in recent years, and paid a sincere tribute to the present Board of Admiralty for its good work. Mr. Macartney expressed gratification at the J almost unanimous approval which had been extended to the naval programme, which, he assured the House, was based on grounds of necessity. To those who thought that the Estimates were too large he pointed out that it was not possible to regard" only the rate of naval construction in France. Other countries had to be borne in mind as well, and the proposals of the Government with regard to battle- ships were founded upon their knowledge of the intentions of other Powers. Explaining the references øf the First Lord to the disarmament conference, he Raid the right hon. gentleman, while he attached I great importance to that conference, would not lose ..ight of the fact that the conditions and responsi- bilities of the naval service of the country were very different from those which the navies of other countries were designed to meet. Having replied to questions which had been put to him with reference to the supply of armour, the appointments of lieu- tenants, the naval reserve, and other matters, he appealed to the House to consent to go into Com- mittee. Mr. Channing warned the Government that pro- vocation programmes were dangerous. The House then went into Committee, and on the vote fixing the number of men and boys for the navy at 110,640, rr. Labouchere. who was supported by Mr. Dillon. moved to reduce the vote by 4000 men as a protest against the growth of our naval expenditure. Mr. Balfour, replying to an observation made by Mr. Dillon to the effect that the intentions of the Government appeared to be to render the navy capable of meeting a combination of any six Powers, declared that no Government would ever commit itself to such an insane policy. The pro- gramme now before the country was in accordance with the accepted principle that the naval strength of Great Britain should be such as to enable her to meet a combination of two Powers. The amendment having been rejected by 147votesto 19. progress was reported. The report of the resolutions passed in Committee of Supply on March 10 was agreed to.





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