« PreviousContinue »
The Editor of the ANNUAL REGISTER thinks it necessary to state that in no case does he claim to offer original reports of speeches in Parliament or elsewhere. For the former he cordially acknowledges his great indebtedness to the summary and full reports, used by special permission of The Times, which have appeared in that journal, and he has also pleasure in expressing his sense of obligation to the Editors of “Ross's Parliamentary Record,” The Spectator, and The Guardian, for the valuable assistance which, by their consent, he has derived from their summaries and reports, towards presenting a compact view of the course of Parliamentary proceedings. To the Editors of the two last-named papers he further desires to tender his best thanks for their permission to make use of the summaries of speeches delivered outside Parliament appearing in their columns.
NOTE ON NEWFOUNDLAND AND THE ANGLO-FRENCH
AGREEMENT. The passage on this subject on p. 455 (Newfoundland Section) should be read with, and where it varies from as correcting, the summary of the effect of the Convention on p. 100 (English History Section).
NOTE ON CERTAIN CHURCH SCHOOLS IN THE
ISLE OF WIGHT. In regard to the statement on p. 98 (English History Section) as to an arrangement made for the leasing of school buildings to the local authority, on certain conditions, by the foundation managers of the Cowes and Gurnard Associated Voluntary Schools, it should be understood that the time to be allowed for Church teaching-either one or possibly two half-hours weekly-was to be outside school hours. This arrangement, which, it is said, affected a very small number of schools, was not actually carried into effect during the year.
FOR THE YEAR
Difficulties of the Government–The Fiscal Question and the Unionist Party
Invitation to Mr. Chamberlain to Visit Australia-Board of Trade Returns and the Fiscal Question-Speeches on Fiscal Reform-Correspondence between the Duke of Devonshire and Mr. Chamberlain; Its Immediate Results --Mr. Balfour at Manchester; Uncertainty of His Meaning-Speeches by Mr. Chamberlain at Birmingham, at the First Meeting of the Tariff Commission and in the City-The Duke of Devonshire at Liverpool-Bye-Elections in Devonshire (Ashburton Division), Norwich and Gateshead-Passive Resistance-Mr. Balfour and the Primate on the Education Act-Prospect of Licensing Bill--Chinese Labour-Somaliland-Various Views on the Fiscal Question-Mr. Arnold - Forster on Army Reform-First Report of Lord Esher's Committee-Conviction and Suicide of Whitaker Wright,Mr. Chamberlain on the South African War-Ayr Burghs Election.
THE year opened in the midst of the political confusion caused by Mr. Chamberlain's campaign for fiscal reform and the consequent division in the Unionist ranks. This, however, was only the most prominent of many troubles besetting the Government. Among their difficulties, actual or plainly imminent, were those connected with the administration of the Education Act, with licensing legislation, and with the introduction of Chinese labour · into South Africa. The report on the South African war, again, had produced a profound impression of uneasiness, quite as much among the Ministerialists as among the Opposition. It was felt that the report must be followed by drastic reform, which indeed Lord Esher's Committee was already engaged in devising ; but they could hardly fail to encounter the hostility of existing interests and important elements in the Service.
Both in the Far East and in the Near East the situation had grown worse during the latter part of 1903. The impending Russo-Japanese war threatened the peace of Europe owing
in the pation was ned the Liberale pe organ question Serlain mean it was
to the existence of the Franco-Russian and Anglo-Japanese alliances, and throughout the month of January the world was awaiting its outbreak. The distress in Macedonia was terrible, the reforms were regarded in England as inadequate and the mode of their execution as ridiculous, and it was feared that an insurrection might break out again in the spring and might lead to a great European war.
The fiscal question, however, occupied the largest share of public attention in Great Britain. Many of the most eminent Liberal Unionists took the view expressed by Sir Frederick Pollock in a letter to the Times on January 7, and shared by a leading Liberal Imperialist, Mr. Haldane, in a speech of January 2—that the Home Rule question was in abeyance, and Protection or Free Trade the supreme issue. Others held that in view of Mr. Balfour's attitude at Sheffield (ANNUAL REGISTER for 1903, p. 202) fiscal reform might be left an open question in the party, and that the continuance of the Liberal Unionist organisation was necessary to prevent the revival of the Home Rule question should the Liberal party return to office.
Mr. Chamberlain meanwhile was actively continuing his campaign. On January 1 it was announced that the Federal Ministry of Australia had telegraphed on behalf of the people, inviting him to visit Australia, pointing out that the preferential trade leagues in course of formation in their midst would receive an immense impulse from his visit, and confidently assuring him of a unanimous and enthusiastic welcome. Mr. Chamberlain, however, replied that he could best serve the common cause by devoting himself to its promotion “ here, where the Motherland is called on to say what answer she will make to the advances of her children across the seas.” But it was noted by his opponents in Great Britain that Mr. Deakin's telegram contained no reference to such advances, and spoke only of “ your proposed agreements for preferential trade”; and Lord Rosebery, speaking at Edinburgh on January 6, after a reference to the “anomalous and humiliating position ” of the British Cabinet, declared that Mr. Deakin's telegram showed that the fiscal proposals attributed to the Colonies came from Mr. Chamberlain himself.
The Board of Trade returns, published early in January, afforded fresh arguments against Mr. Chamberlain's contentions. The total volume of import and export trade was 903,000,0001., or 25,000,0001. above the highest figure previously recorded. The export of manufactured goods in 1903 amounted to 235,000,0001., which was higher than that of Mr. Chamberlain's "record year of 1872, even apart from the necessary allowance for the great fall of values in thirty years. Moreover, the substantial increase was in the great staple trades, such as iron, machinery and woollens, not in the miscellaneous industries which were supposed to be replacing them.
Meanwhile the country was deluged with oratory on all the
tip be dones of JanchambLloyd-CRe
aspects of the fiscal problem, but only a few of the speeches can be noticed here. Sir John Gorst, at a non-political meeting at Preston on January 4, brought out the dangers to the cotton trade involved in hampering the purchase of its material, and in encouraging India to demand protection for her own manufactures. Lord George Hamilton, who, like Mr. Winston Churchill at Oldham, was repudiated about this time by the Unionist organisation in his own constituency, set forth on January 11, in a meeting of London hotel and restaurant keepers, the injury that would be done by a tax on food. Lord Robert Cecil, in a letter to the Times of January 13, stated that Lord Salisbury had been opposed to Mr. Chamberlain's policy as far as developed before his death; and Mr. Lloyd-George, entertained at a complimentary dinner at the New Reform Club (Jan. 7), after denouncing Mr. Chamberlain's scheme as an appeal to greed, declared that the Liberal party would welcome the Free Trade Unionists, but must reserve themselves a free hand as to the amendment of the Education Act and social and land tenure reform. Much speculation was set up as to the future of the Free Trade Unionists by the publication on January 11 of the correspondence between the Duke of Devonshire and Mr. Chamberlain, which prepared the way for the change in the Liberal Unionist organisation consummated six months later. Writing on October 23, 1903, the Duke of Devonshire (as the correspondence was summarised in the Times) maintained that it was inconsistent with the neutral position which they had agreed to endeavour to maintain that the Central Liberal Unionist Association should continue to subsidise local associations which had taken up a decided position on the question of tariff reform. It must, he continued, “have occurred to most of us that it is almost impossible with any advantage to maintain under present circumstances the existence of the Liberal Unionist organisation,” but before taking steps in the matter he desired to have the views of Mr. Chamberlain. Replying three days later, Mr. Chamberlain expressed astonishment that the Duke, the president of the association, should be the first person to suggest that it should be violently broken up, not because the members desired it, but because he feared that the opinion of the majority on a question which was not at present a party question might be found to differ from his own. The main object of the association had always been to prevent the return of a Home Rule Government, and in that respect matters remained unchanged. There had never been any pretence on the part of the central organisation to control the decisions of the local associations in regard to matters outside the immediate party programme, and he should have thought that it was better to allow each local association to pass what resolutions it pleased in regard to unofficial questions. If, however, the Duke thought that the opinion of Liberal Unionists on the fiscal question ought to be tested, Mr. Chamberlain would be prepared to approve of