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I Labour and Forekn Policy,…

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Labour and Forekn Policy, I BY LEONARD. WOOLF In my last'article I left Mr. Smiiie- just settled in as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the Foreign Otfic». He had just shaken hands with Mr. Balfour and Lord Robert Cecil and wished them god-speed never to re- turn. and had then sat down in an arm-chair quietly 1'or a bit to think over what lay before him. There are two questions which will im- mediately confront Mr. Smillie. first the policy (-onfi-otit Nti-. Llif, to pursue in his dealings with foreign affairs and foreign countries, and secondly the instrument's through which he will have to ?or'?. the instru- ments which he will have to use in carrying out that policy Let ie for a moment consider first T,t,t it- f(,[, it illoill?lilt T!)? instruments which 'Mr. Smillie will have to us\ an' :IlIPIl. In tit" h:I'(.iL!J! ()rlii ¡Ii rlll'l 1)' ?l)lorliit aii(i in the Consular Service lie will find himself at the head of a large body of jyen. These men are the instruments of the Foreign Policy of this country. For all the in- formation as to what is taking place abroad, for the chief channel of communication with foreign governments, tor providing him with the < let ailed facts of each question which comes before hi))i for decision, and finally for trans- lating into action the policy which lie finally decides upon. Mr. Smillie will have to trust his staff in the Foreign Office, and in the Diplo- matic and Consular Service. Now ir may be true that a bad workman blames hi> tools, bin it is also true that a bad workman neglect* his tools. Ynll cannot cut -glass with a steam ham- mer or shave with a olunt razor, and you can- not conduct foreign policy efficiently unless the instruments of policy are suitable ior the work which you propose to ask of them. The first thing for Mr. Smillie ro do is to overhaul his instruments. his staff—an unpleasant task which will give him much pain and trouble, but which is an absolutely essential task it Labour is to succeed in ma k ing a better job of Foreign Policy than Lord Grey and Mr. Bailout. SMI LLI E'S STAFF. Mr. Smillie\s -laii' will I". II t'nn.(k';d, "II"I h •nyotic wishes to see exactly what it consist of and how ir. is organised he can do so at the (t'st ot sixpence. There is a small pamphlet re- cently published at that price by [he Canned -to) ihr Study of International Rctaci.x)?. and called The .Foreign Office and the ¡.11'1'0.11 Services .Abroad." wtnC? ?f\'<'s this information very shortly and clearly. Tn passing } may add that the pamphlet is written by an inmate of the F(t)'?i?n Office and by an officer in the For- "ign Services, and while thc!? are many I. ](*(Is. -i n (,I N%- ii 1(, t ii(? i-t, :I I ?, iiiaii :)ss?ni: of any reasonafilo man. allowance must be made ior the fact that the writer's outlook is strongly coloured by the traditions of tl" I Service to which he belongs. Thus. -,<» take an instance whi?h has bearing upon ?h:)) am discussing, the writer oi the pamphlet .u?))?? that "the Foreign Office is. more than any other Department, dependent npon, nor only its own Parliamentary head but d?' (a!nnct and the machinery ot Government as a whole nnd that means that it is dependent upon rht: Hi 'itish electorate." Now it is quite impossible to find arguments to support this statement as an alrstrtu t and theoretical truth. It is true that according to th., COlhêitntion the Foreign Office is Wilder the direct and close control of the Foreign Secretary, who (until 101 (5) was a member of the Cabinet, that the Cabinet, and Government are subject to the control "f a vote in the House 01 Commons, and that th" House of Commons is elected by the electorate. Theoretically, therefore, the actions ot rlie For- ,.i;n ()ffi. nd fit the Secretary of State ouglu to be subject to th" control of the electorate, •and the writer ot the pamphlet seeks to imply! that they are. But what t-he sentence implies j is absolutely contrary to fact. During the last j 't?'mty-hv? yM?. n;, Government Department i has been less dependent or less under dfc'on- tr(t! of th<* British electorate than the Foreign Odc'?': in faN, it is no exaggeration t(: ??y tI w t the Foreign Office had been before the war al-| most entirely, and during the war has been en- tireh'. withdrawn from the control both of the electorate and ot Parliament. Tt is north while pausing for a moment to consider how this has been achieved. It has come about in the main owing to three different causes. The first cause lias oeen the lack of interest ta ken by the elec- r<)rat?. by you and nie annd Ah. Smiliie. in forci?t! affairs. The ordinary man has 110 irnuh)edh!shfada))omf<'r(')?)!at!:)"?? he di<! not know and he did not care very much what Mr. Balfour or Lord Grey or Sir F.yre C'rowe were doing. Thus the very elements of any con-  H'oI of the Foreigng Office were lackiog. and this was so far the fault not of that (>!fiee or of the Government or governing class, but | of the elentora.ro. of yon and rnc and Mr. j Sniilllie. I shall ivini 11 to the question again. 1 hur fnrihc prcs?nr must leave if AUTOCRACY OF FOREIGN OFFICE. But the fjitilf was not only on the side of tm»j electorate. Foreign policy has been deliberate-! ly withdrawn in this country from the control of Parliament, am1 this has been done in two j different ways. I11 the time of Gladstone and Disraeli party politics turned to a very large j extent upon foreign policy. Gladstone himself, :in(? Bright, ami Cobden. and m later years Sir Charles Dilke never hesitated to eom j)? ) discis- sion in the House of any policy which they dis- j approved. But m the 'nineties ■; m-w system sprang up. Foreign policy was more ami more u ithdrawn from the arena o! party politics. The leading })olitician on both sides by a kind ") tacit agreement refrained from challenging or discussing foreign relations. Lord ;] I] Loid Larisdowne. Mr. Balfour and Mr. Asquith appeared always to be in such entire agreement" [ as to the policy of Britain that discussion was 111T)11{'('l'S"U' and impertinent. This was I'II'I'.I semted to be a very happy state of affairs. As a matter of lact it was disastrous. h meant that -our relations with foreign countries and .?(??')'n!u?nt?- were withdrawn t?m lilt' jJlI/¡lit'¡' h?'t:)')dhHfdt'nmt?)(' darkness of the Foreign Office. Moreover, when tiny private member had the courage to ask a question in Parliament or to start a .discussion about foreign policy, htf was either snubbed with a short and ambiguous answer or lie was told that it was against the public interest to give any information 011 the subject'. This fact constitutes an enormous difference between the Foreign Office and every other Government department. No other de- partment, for instance, the FTome Office or the Treasury, is ever allowed to refuse to answer a question or to give information as to what it is it would be agaillst. the public interest." And the iaN that the Foreign Office is allowed to do so. means that all effective control of Parliament over Foreign Policy is destroyed. There win never be any control over the Foreign Office and its .staff. 1"llll's, M]'. Sf)uHi?,md Labour see that full in- j formation is laid before Parliament and the public of everything cennee ed with foreign re- l?Li<?i?::nd unless ail secrecy under the plea of public interest is aboli-.hed. Ie is never in the public interest that the Secretary of State or tlie Foreign Ottir" should be engaged transactions which they cannot divulge to tin- nation. r SECRET TREATIES. 1 lie third method adopted of withdrawing! tiie Foreign Office from the control of Parlia- ment ami 1 t tt' til I I I di?ct).?e< f! ?y?fon of secret treaties. The Foreign O?c' can and does make the ni(*st important agree- I. ments and treaties with foreign countries whieli bind Parliament and the country, and which an- vehemently defended by Mr. Baltour. And yer never divulged. This system has recently been the Foreign Office official who writes this pam- )?h?t))i?thet.i(?[oi)))p!y that the Foreign ()mn' is. more than any other department, de- pemieii t upon the British electorate." No other Government department claims and exercise.- the right to sign contracts in ?,?,,?,,j.?j? I na tion t.he terms ot which are never even known to the nation. It is often pretended that these .,P('I'('t tn.;tri, ,)1'(' \1' 1';ll'l'ly ,ignl'd, \othin? ???t?n?n' untrue. Secret trf-;)t?? and agreements wen during the last o!i voais con- tinually being made by the T-'oreign Office, upon .d)??t't:?iUH) kinds o? subjects. Naturally it s j only a long time after rimy are signed that any- 1 one knows 01 their existeme. By that tiJJI" their e\-i| influence and .scuretl. I hits there were six or seven secret tit,. lin. In IHsS the I*orejgn Office signed a scorer treaty with .!• ranee about Abyssinia. In 1891 it signed a score? agrecmcii? with Jtalv about o\ ssjn ia III I: II q ¡ I signed a secret agi'ee- niont with France about Morocco. The.se art- iiistjuices take!) ar- random. But what possi- bility ot control can tlere be over a Govern- ment department allowed ro aci thli" It .,IIOldd be made a law by the first Labour Gov* crumen 1 that every agreement, understanding, and treaty duiuld be published nt Government t,ol-lif of a Government notifica- (ioll ill newspaper within seven davs of "ignature. It cannot ever be in the public in- terest that Mr. Smillie and his Foreign Office stafl should do things or enter into agreements and understandings which cannot, be revealed to the puhMc or bear the full light of public dis- cussion. At any rate, it k sheer nonsense to talk 01 there being any effective control Over the foreign Office and foreign affairs so long as policy is conducted in secret, and the Secre- tary ot State is at Iioerty to enter into secret agreements. However, this has led oie into a digression which wiil make it necessarv to return to Mr. Smillie s st-aff in a later article.

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