Empire Overseas Development.

– in the House of Commons on 26th April 1922.

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Photo of Sir Harry Brittain Sir Harry Brittain , Acton

I beg to move, That this House, whilst fully desirous of promoting the re-establishment of our relations with European countries on the basis of mutual advantage, urges His Majesty's Government to take immediate steps to bring about the fullest possible development of the resources under the Crown in co-operation with the authorities of the overseas portions of the Empire. I am afraid that in seven minutes it is a little difficult to put before this House any suggestions I may have on this subject. It was an entire coincidence, of course, that this Empire Resolution came up on the same day as the Debate to which we have listened on Empire migration, a Debate which I believe will form a memorable milestone in Empire history. I do not want to occupy the time or attention of the House at all, but I should like to say that the other side of the development of the Empire, the development of its resources and material, is one which should go side-by-side with the development of migration in the Empire, and I hope it may be found possible to secure time to have a Debate on the development of the material resources of the Empire, which I am sure hon. Members would find as fruitful and interesting as the Debate to which they have listened this afternoon. The subject is so large that it is hopeless at this time of the evening to attempt to discuss even the outside of it. Therefore I make the suggestion to the authorities that they might see their way in the not far distant future to give us a day upon which the development of the resources of the Empire can be discussed, for undoubtedly any development undertaken by the State of the great resources of the Empire would do something to bring about a reduction in the taxation which is throttling the industry of these islands. We have possessions overseas apart from the fact of the cooperation which we have with our great Dominions, the first and foremost of all the lands of the world. We have not been up-to-date in the development of those possessions compared with what has been done by the United States of America. The United States have increased their aggregate wealth since the Civil War from £300,000,000 to £40,000,000,000. We were far richer than the United States of America in the days of the Civil War, but they have passed us, and yet everyone knows that the possessions of the British Empire are a great deal richer in material wealth and potential resources than those of the United States. I do beg the Leader of the House or those who represent him to see if it is not possible to give us one day in the immediate future when the development of the resources of the Empire can be considered side by side with the migration of the man-power of this country.

Photo of Mr Alfred Bigland Mr Alfred Bigland , Birkenhead East

I beg to Second the Motion.

It would be a day well spent, now that the Second Reading of the Empire Settlement Bill has been taken, if we had a discussion on the development of the material resources of the Empire, such as timber, minerals, oil, fisheries. I trust the Motion will be accepted in that light.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

This is an extremely ambitious Motion. It says: whilst fully desirous of promoting the re-establishment of our relations with European countries on the basis of mutual advantage. That is one of the things to which we should agree if we passed this Motion. The difficulty of those words is to determine what is "mutual advantage" to the different people concerned. The mutual advantage of the Bolshevists, so far as I can make out from what is taking place at Genoa, is that they should put their hands into our pockets, and get us to recognise that the result of murder and robbery is conducive to the advantage of their own particular country. What has that to do with bringing about the fullest possible development of the resources under the Crown in co-operation with the authorities of the overseas portions of the Empire. unless the Prime Minister at Genoa is going to cut out Germany and include Russia in the overseas portions of the Empire? I hope he is not going to do that. I can only gather that something of that sort must be in the brain of the Mover of this Motion. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] We are not going to divide on an important matter of this sort after such a short discussion. The very last thing we are going to do is to divide.

It being Eleven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed To-morrow.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.