The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72
Mr. J. F. Hogan, M.P.: In perusing Lord Onslow's very interesting and informing Paper I marked two or three passages in relation to which I thought I might possibly be able to add a few supplementary observations based on my own personal knowledge and experience of the Labour movement in the Colony of Victoria. During the years that I was connected with the Melbourne Argus I was brought a good deal into contact with the organised labour associations of that city, where, as you are probably aware, the page 33 trades are more highly and extensively organised than in any other city on the face of the earth. The Melbourne Trades Hall is a large and imposing pile of buildings situated in the heart of the metropolis, and erected on land that was a free gift for the purpose from the Government of the Colony. The associated trades to the number of nearly a hundred have each their prescribed night of meeting in this commodious structure, and on every Friday evening there is a meeting of the Trades Hall Council or governing body of the whole institution, a sort of Labour Parliament composed of elected delegates from each and all of the associated trades. I have been present at a good many meetings of this Labour Parliament, and I have been particularly struck by the short-sighted policy, the unenlightened selfishness, of the vast majority of these working-men delegates in doing all they possibly could to prevent and discourage immigration from the Mother Country or any other country. Lord Onslow says that the New Zealand working man "checks at every point the introduction of workmen from home." I can say the same of the Victorian working man from personal know-ledge and observation. In point of fact the statement is true of the working classes in all our Australasian Colonies, and the pressure they have been able to bring to bear on the various Legislatures has been so irresistible that now there is practically no recognised system of immigration between the Mother Country and the Austral-asian Colonies. This I hold to be, and have long considered, a most regrettable, unprogressive, and almost suicidal state of things. It is the exact reversal of the sagacious, enlightened, and states-I manlike policy that has built up the United States into one of the [greatest, most intelligent, and most prosperous English-speaking communities on the face of the globe. If Australia is to be opened hp and profitably developed as America has been, it can only be done by imitating the wise example of the Americans and welcoming, not barring out, the plenteous supply of good, colonising material that can find no scope or outlet for its energies in the overerowded motherland. As a distinguished Imperial statesman of half-a century ago, Charles Buller, very pertinently inquired in the course of a speech delivered in the House of Commons, "When I ask you to colonise, what do I ask you to do but to carry the superfluity of one part of our country to repair the deficiency of the other, to cultivate the desert by applying to it the means that lie idle here, to convey the plough to the field, the workman to his work, the hungry to his food?" By obstinately persisting in an anti-immigration policy, and by terrorising the Australian Legislatures into page 34 the adoption of that policy, the Colonial working men have for years been pursuing, not only an unpatriotic, but also a most unwise line of conduct, even when viewed from the standpoint of their own material interests. They set their heel upon immigration because they fancied that any considerable influx of possible competitors from the Mother Country would interfere with the fictitiously high standard of wages that prevailed in Melbourne and the other principal Colonial centres before the late financial catastrophe. Now that wages have come down to their normal and legitimate level, the working men of Australia are beginning to realise that it would have been better after all if they had promoted and encouraged the development of their continent on the successful lines adopted by the Americans. They see that their dog-in-the-manger policy—neither opening up the country themselves nor allowing others to do it—has recoiled on its authors, and brought grievous and wholly unsuspected results in its train. It is notorious that one of the principal causes of the late lamentable financial crisis was the comparative paucity of population, commercial enterprise far outstripping the growth of the people, with the result that there were banks enough for a population of forty millions, with only four millions to keep them going. I do hope and believe that the Australian Colonies will learn at least one great lesson from then recent financial misfortunes, and revert to their old sound and successful policy of helping and encouraging immigration to their shores. Instead of cutting down the schemes and weakening the staffs of their Agents-General in London—surely a penny-wise-and-pound-foolish policy—let them rather strengthen the hands of their English ambassadors in this direction. My hon, friend, Sir Saul Samuel, who has so long and so ably represented the parent Australian Colony in London, has in former years done splendid Imperial service in this respect, and I feel confident he only awaits the authorisation of his Government to resume and continue the good work. The other Agents-General, I have no doubt, are animated by the same sentiments. Indeed, I cannot conceive a more useful and congenial office that an Agent-General could discharge than that of organising and despatching periodical batches of healthy, hopeful, sturdy, industrious, and desirable recruits to the Colony he represents. The future of the Labour movement, both in the Colonies and the Mother Country, is unquestionably a deeply interesting subject of speculation. Few of us will be disposed to deny that the claims and requirements of labour have not hitherto received that measure of attention and satisfaction from the Imperial page 35 and Colonial Parliaments which they have a right to expect, and most of us would be very happy to assist in the adoption of remedial legislation on the broad lines indicated by the more thoughtful and sagacious leaders of the Labour party. But it is devoutly to be wished that the legitimate aims and objects of the Labour party will be pursued in the future by less wild, reckless, and undisciplined methods of action than have occasionally been conspicuous in recent years. The Parliamentary suffrage is now so general both at home and in the Colonies that the working classes, as they are conventionally called, can, by uniting their forces and organising their collective strength, practically secure any and every legitimate reform they may desire in the regular and ordinary course of constitutional procedure. Lord Onslow has referred to the recent adoption of female suffrage in New Zealand as "the most interesting experiment yet attempted in any community under the Crown." Personally I do not believe that female suffrage is destined to become a permanent institution in New Zealand. Five thousand faddists diligently and unceasingly promoting their fad will triumph eventually, but only temporarily, against fifty thousand opponents who do not trouble themselves in the matter. With the opposition it is a case of everybody's business being nobody's, and so the persistent and aggressive little army of faddists conquer for the moment. But the result of the experiment, I have not the slightest doubt, will be the early repeal of the Female Suffrage Act in New Zealand. The vast majority of Colonial ladies know and recognise that they will derive no added charms from coming down into the rough-and-tumble, noisy, and dusty arena of party politics. We have, I think, to thank Lord Onslow for a very interesting and suggestive Paper, and to express the hope that other representatives of Her Majesty may follow his example and give us the benefit of their impressions and experiences when they return from the Colonies.
Mr. Matthew Macfie: We owe it to the wisdom of the Council of this Institute, and to the courage and skill of the reader of the Paper, that we have deviated to-night from the course which has generally been prescribed for us on previous occasions, and that not altogether to the disadvantage of ourselves or of the Colonies that have been referred to. We have had most valuable Papers in the past bearing on the history, resources, and prospects, the flora and fauna, and the geography of these Colonies, and by way of variation we have listened to interesting discourses on Imperial Federation and to accounts of personal adventure in different parts of Her page 36 Majesty's dominions. But it seems to me that to-night we have made an interesting departure, and one that, I think, with benefit perhaps to all concerned might have been made at an earlier period. We have touched a vital point with regard to the future progress of the Australian Colonies. With reference to the general question of State Socialism and labour government, I am bound to say that Lord Onslow has so skilfully navigated his ship between Scylla and Charybdis, between absolute condemnation of the system and unqualified praise, that it would be extremely difficult for any body but an expert reading between the lines to know precisely the private views of his Lordship on the question. In this respect I admire his prudence, because so far, at all events, the meeting has succeeded in preserving its equanimity, and I have not the least doubt we shall all be able to look forward to the happy prospect of retiring peacefully from this room without feeling any disturbance of the electrical conditions of the atmosphere. At the same time the reader of history cannot for one moment be surprised at anything that is occurring in these Colonies in the State Socialistic direction. In point of fact, one of the greatest absurdities is for an individual to look to any particular form of government or administration as a universal and an infallible panacea for the ills, social and political, of those who are governed. It is simply preposterous to suppose in the first instance that we can transfer bodily the governing apparatus of the old country to any of the Colonies, and make the garment which was worn by the parent suit the child, and the principle applies vice versâ. In point of fact, as Mackintosh says, "Constitutions are not made, but grow. They are not constructed by the plumb-line or the foot-rule; they are more in the nature of an organism which adapts itself to the requirements and specific circumstances of the country governed, and I see nothing surprising in new countries, particularly those coming from the Anglo-Saxon stock, adopting those particular methods expounded to-night. What is all history, from the time of Greece downwards, but a record of the swinging of the pendulum from one extreme to another? We have in the time of Pericles a successful and almost brilliant republic, and the republic dies under the influence of Philip of Macedon, and in Roman history you have analogous incidents of oligarchical domination in one period and democratic domination in another. It is simply a law of nature on the principle taught to us in our school days; the action and reaction in natural philosophy are equal and contrary. We must not forget that now, in our day, page 37 we have no cause to complain that we have not freedom at home. We must remember, however, that at the founding of America, and in the early part of the development of the Australian Colonies, England was not so pleasant to live in as it is now. Liberty of speech and of opinion which we enjoy were by no means so universal, and it was not to be expected that emigrants could go in those days, at all events, with that happy confidence in the régime they had left behind, or that they would imitate it to the letter in the land of their adoption. The consequence is that, like children who are beginning to feel their feet, they tumble, and to a man of culture going out there, and a man not ignorant altogether of political history, it is one of the most trying circumstances of life to witness the insufferable management which goes on in the Parliament and general administration of those Colonies. In point of fact, by way of parody of the Darwinian maxim, I have heard government in some of the Australian Colonies represented as "government by the unfittest." The backbone of the Colonial population is thoroughly sound, but it seems as though individuals that come forward to represent constituencies in some of the Parliaments of Australasia need only have a certain amount of fatal fluency—no matter if their intelligence and judgment be in an inverse ratio—to be received with open arms, although in many instances they have shown that, whether they be in the Government or only in Parliament, gross incapacity in dealing with the problems that come before them. It is most advantageous, I think, that they should know our opinion on this question. Take, for example, the finances, the fiscal arrangements, or the administration of railways. All I contend for is that you have there a magnificent heritage for the descendants of those who leave this country and make that land their home, and all that one desires in making these painful remarks is that the people who govern should be worthy of the glorious country they govern. It is foolish on the part of the abettors of the present Parliamentary and Governmental inefficiency in Australasia, when taken to task by the Press on this side of the world for their blunders, to put down as a detractor of the Colonies every man who writes honest criticisms of their financial and fiscal administration. Competent critics for the most part write with a feeling of genuine patriotism and a desire that the great resources of the Colonies should be prosperously developed and the children of the "grave mother" here become worthy of her.
Mr. William Knox: The noble Lord has given us a most interesting account of the progress of State Socialism in New Zealand. As we do not possess so much knowledge of these page 38 matters in Victoria I would not presume to take up your time, except that I wish to express regret that the last speaker should hold such a very low opinion of our Parliamentary institutions in the Colonics. I object that such strong statements should be made—statements not supported by past history or present conditions. I contend that in the Colonies they have truly endeavoured, with the newer knowledge they possess, to do their best for the good of the people, and, although they may have made mistakes, they have built up in Greater Britain most important institutions which have taught you here many valuable lessons. Of course the measures adopted in New Zealand are to a large extent in an experimental stage, and in reciting them the noble Lord has very adroitly steered his course, and deferred judgment until matters are much more developed.
The Right Hon. the Earl of Jersey, G.C.M.G.: It had not been my intention to take any part in this discussion about Socialism, but I feel I cannot sit silent after what has fallen from the last speaker but one. Having just returned from Australia, and having been associated very closely with a Parliament and a Government in that country, I must enter my most emphatic protest against many of the expressions which fell from him. No doubt, Parliaments and Governments in Australia have made mistakes, as some people sometimes think they do elsewhere, but what we have to look at is not any particular mistake, but at the general result, and it is impossible in my opinion for anyone who has been out there for any time not to feel convinced that, in spite of what may be considered some errors, the result—the whole result—of government in the different Colonies of Australia has been for the good of the people there. Reference has been made to the fact that there have been financial difficulties; but there are few countries which could face their financial difficulties with the same amount of courage, and with the same hope of future prosperity, as Victoria and New South Wales are showing at the present time; and we may feel quite sure that the efforts which are being made to restore confidence and prosperity will not be in any way counteracted either by Parliament or by the Government. I would also say that the public men, at any rate of New South Wales, with whom I am most particularly acquainted—the public men of all parties—whether they belong to the Free Trade, or the Protectionist, or the Labour party—and I have had many opportunities of mixing with most of them—have never shown themselves unworthy of the position in which they were placed. Of course people holding different views will page 39 find themselves clashing with each other, but I think I may say with truth, with absolute truth, that Parliament in New South Wales is trying to do its best, and that the members are not actuated by unworthy motives. As to the subject we are met I particularly to discuss, I cannot say very much about it. Socialism has not advanced so far in New South Wales as it appears to have advanced in New Zealand. If, therefore, I were to take any decided line on this subject I cannot be accused of pitting one Colony against another; but with reference to the Labour party I should like to observe that that party gained undoubtedly a great victory at the polls in 1891. They divided not upon social questions but upon a question upon which they did not intend to divide when elected. They were elected in the hope they would be able to sink fiscal issues, which are very difficult to sink. Though they have not, perhaps, as a party, carried any measure in Parliament, yet they have influenced Parliament to a certain extent. They have generally been defeated upon those points where perhaps—I may now say—they were not exactly right. I think they were really not true friends of labour when they seemed to think that the preservation of law was not essential to labour. But they have exercised a good influence upon retrenchment and matters of a kindred nature, and I have no doubt whatever that Parliament has been strengthened by their admission within its walls. It was unfortunate for Labour Members that they did not succeed in finding a leader who could direct them in a more consistent manner perhaps, but I expect they will learn by experience, and that the electors will learn also, and only elect those men to represent them who have shown themselves the fittest amongst the Labour Members. There is one point on which the reader of the Paper was a little bit hard—I mean the baiting of Chinamen by Colonial larrikins. Now if there is one point on which the Government and Parliament are determined to act sternly, it is the repression of larrikinism, and we can only look on such acts as those mentioned in the Paper as mere excrescences. You will find in the cities of Australia as much good order and respect for the property of other people as in any part of the British Empire. I will only add my meed of thanks to Lord Onslow for his Paper. It is certainly very instructive, bringing before us very clearly and ably what has been done in New Zealand. I hope New Zealand will continue to flourish, and I hope also that the other Colonies will flourish though not under exactly the same system.
Mr. Westby B. Perceval: I was told on entering the room page 40 to-night that, in consequence of my official position as Agent General of the Colony, I should be expected to say a few words, It seems to me this is rather a reason why I should be silent, because, as you know, an Agent-General has to steer clear of all party politics, whether Colonial or Imperial—not a very easy thing to do when discussing such a subject. But, perhaps, even for such a political invertebrate as I am compelled to be, it will not be out of place if I endeavour to emphasise one or two facts—I will not attempt to draw any deductions. First of all, I think Lord Onslow has not made it sufficiently clear that what he calls State Socialism of New Zealand has been a gradual development from quite an early period of the Colony's history. It cannot be claimed that any one party or section of the community has produced the State Socialism we now have in the Colony, The State ownership of railways, the Government Insurance Department, the Public Trust Office, and many other matters Lord Onslow mentioned were earned out long before the Labour party had an existence as a party. Even the last product of the present Government—women's franchise—can hardly be said to be the result of the efforts of the Labour party. The great champion of women's franchise was one of the largest landowners in the Colony, and he regards it, I believe, as a Conservative measure, while the Liberal party regard it as one which will tend to increase the power of the Radical party. Another fact we certainly ought not to forget is that the State Socialism of New Zealand has not lead to extravagant expenditure. We notice that during the last few years, while the Labour party has been in the ascendent, the demand for expenditure of borrowed money has decreased, and that the people have insisted upon economical administration. That, I think, is a matter of interest to those who say that the drift of Socialism and even of democratic government is in the direction of extravagant expenditure. Again, such State Socialism as we have certainly his not destroyed the self-reliance of the people of the Colony, for I am certain there is no more industrious and self-reliant people in the world than the people of New Zealand. You see there less than 200,000 adults exporting surplus products to the value of about ten millions sterling annually. That, again, is worthy of the attention of those who maintain that the spoon-feeding process of State Socialism is sure to sap the energy and destroy the independence of the people. The great efforts of the Labour party in the Colony have been in the direction of insisting upon the land of the Colony being set apart for the people of the Colony, and they have supported page 41 legislation with the object of enabling all those who desired to acquire land on easy terms to do so. The result of this policy has undoubtedly led to an enormous increase in land settlement, and as a consequence to the growth of the agricultural and pastoral productions of the Colony, and has contributed in no small degree to the maintenance of our financial equilibrium and to the existence of a succession of surpluses at a time when the adjacent Colonies had to declare deficits. There is one other fact I wish to point out. Whatever success the Labour party in New Zealand have attained, they have achieved it by working with one of the existing parties of the State. They did not form a "cave," as in New South Wales, and the result has been they have got a modicum of their programme. Politics always are, to some extent, in the nature of a compromise, and the Labour party have thus managed to get a portion of their policy adopted by one of the political parties in New Zealand. I will only add an expression of my thanks to Lord Onslow for his carefully prepared and suggestive Paper, and express my very high appreciation of the pleasant manner in which he rendered it.
Mr. G. D. Meudell (Victoria): It is with some diffidence I venture to ask the privilege of addressing to you a few words, for. I happen to have to follow two of the best and most popular Governors that Great Britain has of late sent to the Australian Colonies-Lord Onslow and Lord Jersey. I am tempted to say something on the other side of the Labour question, as stated so eloquently by Lord Onslow, because we in Victoria have had a quite different experience of the Labour party and of State Socialism. We attribute-I believe not without some reason—much of our present trouble to the domination and constantly growing power of the Labour party—a party represented by the Trades Hall, to which Mr. Hogan has alluded, a party represented by, practically, four men, who direct a body of some 10,000 Trade Unionists—intelligent Trade Unionists, no doubt—and get them to vote and act as one man, forming a sort of imperium in imperio. It was to defeat that party that at the last election three or four of us helped to found what we chose to call the Young Victoria Patriotic League. We went about among the younger business men—men who hitherto had never organised—and pointed out how their business had suffered, how enterprise had been stifled and the progress of the country stopped by the domination of the Labour party, "who were led by asses." In saying that I am merely quoting Mr. H. H. Champion, who went out and spoke words of wisdom to the Labour party, telling them they were page 42 magnificently strong, but they should beware of their leaders. We founded a society of about 5,000 of the younger business men—the younger generation of Australians of whom you know nothing in this country, men who look upon their heritage as the grandest ever bequeathed to any body of men. We said: "It is time we put a stop to the extension of State Socialism, and to the strikes engineered by a few agitators." We fought them. They nominated thirty-two men in Victoria, of whom they returned ten, only four of whom were real working men. Now their power is broken—I do not say for ever. We have organised to say there shall be no inside dominant party. We want one party, one class, and that class Australians. Reference has been made to the question of emigration, and Lord Onslow has told you of the number of unemployed artisans. Do we want unemployed London artisans? I say no, What we want is farmers. Send us farmers, peasants, shepherds, men who till and cultivate the soil; but do not imagine for one moment we want any more unfortunate artisans to go on the Labour Bureau and be sent on the land—to do what? To grow wheat they do not know how to grow, and have never seen in their lives. It is all very well to talk glibly about the opposition to emigration. It is selfishness, and "enlightened selfishness," It is part of the policy which inscribes on Australian banners" Ours for us." It would be better for the workers of Great Britain, too, if they were not so free in their hospitality to the whole world. What is wanted is some method of drawing closer the bonds between the Mother Country and the Colonies, and to do that, among other ways of encouraging trade, I believe in internal free trade within the Empire, and protection against the outside world. I believe myself that the self-reliance of our people, their honesty of purpose, and their energy will speedily lift them out of the financial difficulty. I am one of those who believe that Australia is not going to sink beneath the sea. She is going to pay every penny she owes. We were forced by our politicians to borrow millions and squander them. That policy has come to an end. We are all living within our means, and a few years of such economy will tell another tale. It is our first lesson in adversity and will do us good. You need not fear so far as our financial condition is concerned. I believe sincerely and earnestly that British capitalists need not have one hour's cause for regret that they ever lent so many millions to Victoria, and that so much of their capital is invested in Australasia.
The Earl of Rosebery, K.G.: I do not think there is anybody else who wishes to address us this evening, and therefore it becomes my page 43 pleasant duty to propose a vote of thanks to Lord Onslow for the eloquent and interesting Paper which he has read to us. I think you have much ground to congratulate yourselves this evening. In the first place, the crowd at the meeting denotes a healthy state of things both as regards the Colonial Institute itself and that public sentiment which it desires to promote. I am perfectly certain that twenty years ago it would not have been possible to fill a third of this room with an audience anxious to discuss the questions that interest the Colonies at the Antipodes, and I believe that that improved state of things is due to two considerations—in the first place, a healthier sentiment bred in ourselves, partly by imagination, partly by pride, and partly by history. But it is also due to the much greater facilities of travel which we enjoy, and which have enabled so many of us to visit the Colonies and take back the most healthy impressions from those regions. One of the best means of travelling to them is to travel as a Governor. We have two of the most successful of these travellers here to-night in Lord Onslow and Lord Jersey; but we can all summon readily to our minds the names of many of those who if they had remained in the Mother Country would have been engaged in sterile discussion, or the pursuits of the stump, and who, by the blessed appointment of the Secretary of State, have been enabled to spread blessings around them in the Colonies and bring back blessings to the Mother Country. Why, at the time that Lord Salisbury went to the Colonies it was considered a marvellous episode in his life, and it is now being dug out of the recesses of his past as if he had been a Sir Walter Raleigh or a Sir Francis Drake. But in these days, if you meet a friend at a street corner, he is often just on the way to catch the boat for the Cape or for Sydney, and he regards it as no more and not so much as our grandfathers regarded a voyage to Edinburgh. All that accounts for our room being full to-night, and I think we should have been able to fill the room twice over if all had known the nature of the Paper to which it has been our pleasure to listen. It was actually a pleasure to listen to it, because the elocution was so graceful and so sweet that I have rarely heard it equalled. It was also a pleasure to hear it, because it passes in rapid survey some of the most momentous questions that affect ourselves, and gives us some idea how they may be partially, if not wholly, solved by our sons and our cousins in the southern regions of the world. I do not think that we object in any way to see experiments tried by our Colonies. There was a story told I think of the old Lord Holland which I remember, who, when he was page 44 asked as to some proposed measure in the first quarter of the present century—some measure which was new to his mind—used to say, "That is a new departure:fiat experimentum in corpore vili. Let us try it upon Scotland." And we observe with satisfaction the extraordinary vitality with which my native country has survived the experiments perpetrated upon it by Lord Holland and kindred statesmen, and we observe these experiments in the Colonies without the slightest tremors as to the result. We shall see a good deal of experimental legislation in this country before we are many of us very old. We have in a body to which I have the honour to belong, and which holds its sittings not far from this hall, seen a good deal of experimental municipal legislation already, and although it is always easy to expose these experiments to much criticism and to more ridicule, I think the critics and the wits ought to remember that, even when these experiments do not at first sight appeal to the more refined philosophy of mature politicians, they have at any rate this recommendation, that they are carried on by deputies in the spirit and at the instigation of those by whom they are elected, and that, strange as it may seem to those who criticise from a loftier standpoint, the vast majority of the people will for the moment prefer being even a little misgoverned by themselves to being much better governed by other people. I do not propose to touch on any one of the topics that my noble friend alluded to. He danced amid burning ploughshares with an agility which I envy, but which I cannot imitate. He was followed by some still more uncompromising spirits; and if I may add one other cause for congratulation to those that I have already laid before you, it is the fearless frankness with which your discussions are conducted. There are some of your speakers who spoke, for instance, of female suffrage with an audacity which I cannot follow, and which will probably procure them some interesting if violent communications from the more irritable sex whom they have endeavoured to depreciate. Then there was, I think, Mr. Macfie, who spoke his mind of the Colonies with refreshing frankness. Then, again, though I should not speak of them in that spirit, if all the members of the Young Victoria Patriotic League speak with the same candour as the last speaker, who gave us so interesting a discourse, there must be pretty warm times in the Colony of Victoria. He told us that he belonged to a generation of whom we know nothing. Well, I can only say that it is a generation of which I should be happy to know more. However that may be, there was at least one practical page 45 point on which I would say a word, because as to that there can be no discussion whatever. It is really an Imperial crime, if I may say so, that the news which is telegraphed from the centre of the Empire to its remotest limits is not more accurately chosen or disseminated. I do not particularise any particular part, but I do say this—that untold mischief has been done in the outlying regions of the Empire by news being conveyed from the centre which conveys a totally wrong impression of what has been done. There is mother word which may be said as to foreign and Chinese immigration. I think my noble friend said that the opposition to that was selfishness, and another speaker said it was selfishness, but it was enlightened selfishness. When I hear of classes being moved by selfishness I sometimes ask what are the classes that are moved by altruism, by a purely generous regard for the interests of others? I may give an analogy that may suggest something of what is passing through my mind, more especially connected with the Department with which I am connected. I constantly see Great Britain abused in the Press of the Continent—indeed, I very seldom see her praised—and the point upon which they always particularly dwell is this—the selfishness, the extraordinary selfishness, of Great Britain. While other nations are pursuing, I doubt not—I do not for a moment dispute it—high and lofty ideals, Great Britain is only intent on her own; and I remember a very humorous American paper taking this off with admirable vivacity. It said: "Great Britain is at her old game, pursuing her own selfish aims, while all the other nations of the world are pursuing the aims of others without the slightest regard to the consequences." I bear the reproaches to my country's selfishness with great equanimity, because I strongly suspect that if other nations were to undergo a: course of self-examination they would find they were pursuing their interests also, and that if they were governed by a statesman who guided them in a different direction he would deserve to be hanged with short shrift. Therefore, when I hear that the working classes are pursuing a selfish course in a particular matter, I am apt to ask myself whether there is not some justification for that course, and whether we could expect them to pursue any other. If the labouring classes predominate in a particular State, and can only see in the influx of immigration the lowering of their own wages and of their own comforts, you cannot greatly blame them if they oppose that immigration. It may be wrong from a politico-economical point of view, but they cannot perhaps see so far as the eternal causes which guide and govern humanity. They see their page 46 own homes more comfortable by keeping competition out, and therefore they are determined to do so. I am not vindicating the course, I am only pointing out the common sense of it; but to those who criticise it I will only say, Be careful when you censure the working man in the Colonies for doing this that you may not have hereafter, and not so long hence, to pass a similar censure on your own, because I take it if there is one certainty in the world it is this, that with the growth of immigration and with the continual closing of the confines of States to the destitute immigrants of other countries, there is no country in the world that will not be compelled to consider its position, and possibly reconsider its position, with regard to pauper emigration, unless it wishes permanently to degrade the status and the condition of its own working classes. Ladies and gentlemen, I will detain you no further. If I were to embark on all the points raised in this Paper I should require much more knowledge than I possess and much more time than I have at my disposal. In one sentence I will ask you to give a cordial vote of thanks to Lord Onslow for his Paper, and I will express the hope we may often again in this hall listen to Papers so instructive and valuable.
The Earl of Onslow, G.C.M.G.: A far deeper debt of gratitude than any which can be owing to me is duo to the distinguished statesman who has presided over this meeting. I wish to be allowed to express my personal gratitude to him that he should have come here this evening, which I consider no small honour. Whatever Lord Bosebery says is always invested with a charm and a freshness that are delightful to his audience, and it is no exaggeration further to say that there is no part of Her Majesty's wide dominions which does not lie under a debt of gratitude to him. The great heart whence pulsates the commerce of this Empire and the most distant possessions of the Queen have alike the sympathy and the interest of Lord Rosebery. No householder reading his paper this morning but will have thought it was the act of a wise man to defer the purchase of coal until the development of proximate events. I am sure I shall not detract from the importance of the Office with which, during the late Government, I had the honour to be connected—the Colonial Office—if I say that the statesman who presides over the Foreign Department is of far greater importance and interest to the Colonies even than the Department which bears their name. I rejoice to think that in Lord Rosebery we have a statesman who has never be littled the Empire. It is perhaps my misfortune that I sit on the opposite side to him in the House of Lords, but I often page 47 feel that if I were asked what are the differences of opinion which cause that chasm between us I should have some difficulty in finding answer. In any case we feel that his presence this evening has contributed very largely to the gathering, and not a little to the interest of our discussion, and I am sure there is not one in this room who will not cordially unite in a vote of thanks to him.
The motion was seconded by Mr. W. S. Sebright Green, and unanimously adopted.