AN ADDRESS BY MAJ. GEN. LORD LOVAT, K.T.,
D.S.O., K.C.M.G. UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE
22nd August, 1928
PRESIDENT FENNELL occupied the Chair and introduced the distinguished speaker, who was received with applause and spoke as follows:
Mr. Chairman, Prime Minister, and Gentlemen: It is a very great pleasure indeed for me to come today to address the members of the Empire Club. It think my first duty as an Under Secretary of the Home Government is to say something to you about-shall I say? the progress of the Empire, or perhaps I might say more correctly the consolidation of the Empire which has been going on in the last year or two. I do believe that these last three years have been years fraught with significance for the future. The year 1926 was the year of the great Imperial Conference, probably the greatest of all the Imperial Conferences that have been held, in which, first and foremost, under the leadership of that veteran statesman, Lord Balfour, the definition of the status of the dominions was defined and accepted by every constituent member of the Empire. What had never been put on paper, what everyone knew to be a fact, what everyone thought was the right and just position, was recorded and made clear for all time. The year 1927 was a year devoted by the dominions and the non-self-governing colonies to carrying out and looking into the detail of the decisions made at that great conference of 1926. It was a year of conferences of sectional work rather than conferences of the Empire as a whole. In that year, you will remember, one of the most important conferences of mining and metallurgy that has ever been held in the Empire was held in your country. In the same year a Royal Commission was appointed to go into the question of Indian Government. The first meeting of twenty-seven governors of the non-self-governing colonies was held; and most important decisions were arrived at for an area in its totality greater than the United States, with a population of 55 million, mostly natives.
There were conferences on education, there were conferences on agricultural research, and there were conferences on research on other lines, which were held in various parts of the Empire. But I think the note, like the note of 1926, was one of decision of big principles; the note of 1927 in the Empire was the question of bringing together specialists from all parts of the Empire and seeing how they could cooperate to advance the vast and varied interests of the Empire. I had the honor of taking part in two of those conferences, or really I should say three of those conferences. For the conference into agricultural research there was no country, no dominion, which gave greater assistance to the great work of agricultural research than your Dominion of Canada, under the leadership of Dr. Drysdale. We had the opportunity of getting all these men together, of deciding how the individual work which was being done in these various dominions should be brought together, how clearing houses could be established for the purpose of disseminating information and also grouping together research work in the various lines that were being carried out. Even in agriculture alone the divisions of work which that conference had to undertake was unexpectedly large, and the number of bureaux which it thought should be established for a period to get the best results of the research of the Empire was literally astonishing. I would humbly offer the opinion that when the next Imperial Conference is held, one of the subjects that may be debated will be not only how the centres can be brought together in our various works-because that is already well on its way-but also how the whole Empire, can make the best use of its resources, what steps can be taken to the rationalization of industries, and how advice can be obtained on the best use of the capital which is in the Empire.
All of us believe that great industries are often started with too little knowledge of conditions, and that an adequate examination of facts by disinterested persons might yield information of mutual value within all parts of the Empire. Anyone who has given consideration to the special lines of research to which I refer cannot get away from the opinion that invaluable research work is being done all over the Empire. The question is to focus the results and make it available to all concerned. It is therefore on the question of obtaining and distributing such knowledge, I submit, that the next Conference will have much to say.
May I talk on the subject of the dissemination of information? May I say one word about its application to the subject which I have come over here to deal with, a corner of the Empire's work on which I am occupied at the present time,-I mean the question of migration? Gentlemen, I say it without fear of contradiction that if either we in England knew and were able to appreciate the position in the dominions, or if you knew and were able to appreciate the conditions at home, the migration question would be solved at once. (Hear, hear, and applause.) It is because we get your information only in little packets that we do not know exactly what you want, on one side, or what we are able to give you, on the other, that misunderstandings sometimes may arise. There is no question that if we knew all the work which has been done by individual societies,-all those opportunities that offer, we could make the best possible use of such knowledge, and the question of unemployment at home, or lack of hands in places where they are needed, would be in a fair way to a satisfactory solution. There is no wish in the home country to send a single man abroad who will not fill his niche, any more than I am certain there is in Canada, or any other dominion, where there is an opportunity, a wish not to fill it with a Britisher. (Applause.) It is, therefore, in, first of all getting this information, and secondly, in being able to make use of it, that I do feel great progress can be made; and when my chief, Mr. Amery, accepted my suggestion that I should go around the Empire to study for myself, first in the three big dominions who are interested in this subject, I felt that progress could be made. And I do feel that even in this very short time which I have spent in your midst, I have become acquainted with phases of the problem which I had not in any sense realized when I was on the other side. And in saying that I speak also for those who are with me, Mr. Plant of my department and Mr. Skimington from the Treasury. I believe that continuing thus in close touch over these subjects, not only helps us greatly in that particular regard, but still more forms a link with the Empire, because when people by personal contact can see nearer the same views, there follows an elimination of points which otherwise might eventually lead to friction. I spent this morning in visiting some of your voluntary associations, and I was struck by the wonderful work which is being done. I think those voluntary associations require close connection, not only with us at home, but we hope also, as they have indeed in a majority of cases, with the governments as well, so that we may steer a steady and easy course for the future. We are not all wise, even in the presence of my friend here-(Hon. Mr. Ferguson)--even governments are not all wise, and I think by bringing voluntary associations in close touch with governments it may help us, between the two, to arrive at the results which we all so much desire.
There are facts, some of which we see frequently mentioned, about which I would like to make a very short statement. Most of us at home have little knowledge of the statistics of openings that occur in the dominions. Even in Great Britain, which is a small island, we have no certainty about the numbers of openings for employment which occur every year. I believe I am correct in saying it was not until the report of the Commission, which reported only a short time ago, that it became general knowledge in Great Britain that in the ordinary course of development in that old country, there are no less than 125,000 new billets coming in industry every year. That may be news to you here. Great Britain is an old country that has nearly reached what is thought to be the top of its development, but even in that old country there are no less than 125,000 new billets yearly, and this will likely continue, as far as the statisticians can judge, for some time to come. Now I would like to put it to you as a guess: What is the total number of new billets that are coming in every year, not only in Canada, but in Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and the non-self-governing colonies? The number must be enormous. It is a question of seeing where they are, filling them where it is possible by suitable Britishers, and in that way, on the one side, bringing the information to the place where it is required.
I mention this as an example of how valuable, disseminative information is, and how important not only the getting of it is but the bringing of it to the place where it can be taken advantage of.
May I say one word further on the situation as we view it in Britain at the present day? We have as you know, considerable unemployment; we have in certain industries something like 200,000 or 300,000 men of the best class who are not likely, in view of economic conditions on the continent, to be able to return to their own work. These are fit and good men, the older of whom fought in the war, the younger of whom are anxious to serve in a new country. When we have cleared away which is after all not a temporary matter-when we have cleared away by the appropriate disposal of the employable which are the vast majority I believe our policy after that, in the future, will be to organize ourselves so that young men, from twenty-one and downwards, may make a continual stream from home to the dominions for all time, to pursue and to keep those ideals of Britain on which the dominions have been built. (Applause.)
I believe we have a temporary yet a great effort in sight if we are to overcome this quite temporary unemployment, and I believe that afterwards we can then all join together in a matter which I know to be in the heart of every true Empire man throughout this great Empire of ours, the idea of maintaining that connection, and by getting out the younger men, who, at the same time that they have the British tradition, can take on their dominion tradition, and on that make not 100 per cent. Britishers, but 110 percent. Britishers and servants of the Empire. (Applause.)
I must thank you very sincerely for having listened to me so kindly. It is a great pleasure to me to address your club. I do trust that we shall all be able to go forward with the great ideals we have of our great Empire and that you will be able to give practical assistance in what I believe is for the moment the greatest question in respect to the Empire, the most advisable distribution of the white population; and nothing can be done more to achieve this best distribution than by getting ready the necessary information on the subject, so that we shall not only be able to act, but to act to the best advantage. (Hear, hear, and applause.)
The thanks of the club were tendered to the speaker by Sir William Mulock.