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it has the imprimatur of the Foreign Office. In a similar way the Home Office, having to cope with highly complicated interests of trade, is obliged to furnish itself with experts of equal knowledge to that of the traders. A Departmental Committee dealing, let us say, with factory regulations, is entirely subservient to the superior knowledge of the manufacturers concerned, unless the Home Office has upon its staff equally well-informed officials. In both cases, therefore, the very best available men must be induced to join the service, and above all is this essential in the Foreign Office, whose business is treated as an art so difficult as to be best shrouded in mystery. Bankers who finance foreign States deserve understanding treatment at the Foreign Office. Yet, paradoxically enough, this very office, by restricting the field of competition for places in the service, deliberately denies itself the use of the best available talent.
The same may be said in even more marked degree of the diplomatic service. In this case the candidate has not only to pass the gauntlet of nomination, which is intended to limit the profession to members of the upper ten,' but has to show that he has private means to the extent of not less than 4001. a year. It is notorious that in reality a man will be rash to enter the service without considerably more means than even this. It is no doubt desirable in many cases that he should be able to return invitations, so that by entertaining and being entertained, he can make himself acquainted with important people. To be comfortable, therefore, and to do his work thoroughly he must be worth a great deal more than 400l. a year, for his official pay is a negligible quantity. But this is not all. He may be moved at frequent intervals, and though the travelling allowances have been somewhat increased, it still happens that a man may be moved three times in four years, each removal costing him a round 4001. The pay of junior secretaries does not greatly exceed the difference between the cost of living abroad and at home.
One result of this is that the men who take up diplomacy are, in many cases, rich men who want an interest in life, or who intend to retire after a few years. These have no urgent incentive to succeed in the profession. The effect upon their activities may be foreseen.
A still more important question is that of amalgamating the Foreign Office and diplomatic services. An exclusively Foreign Office training provides only a paper knowledge of foreign countries. The diplomat, on the other hand, loses touch with English life and thought. One result of the system is the complete dependence of the foreign on the home branch, and the consequent lack of solidarity. And further, anything which increases the efficiency of the missions abroad brings them into closer touch with
the public of those countries to which they are in theory accredited. Amalgamation should be complete.
Again, in other States the diplomatic and consular services are frequently interchanged. Our own tradition is far more aristocratic. The promotion from the consular to the diplomatic corps is so rare that the cases of Sir William White and Sir Ernest Satow are conspicuous, indeed almost unique. The United States, in their Consular Inspection' Service, have an institution which maintains the tone of the consular corps, and provides a stepping-stone to diplomacy. In Italy, the Foreign Office is largely manned by consuls.
Now what is the sound reason for our privileged caste system? It is that a diplomatist should freely make himself acquainted with people of importance. But on this point two things may be remarked. First, if that is his duty, the best work will be obtained by paying him for it; secondly, in these days real power resides increasingly in classes outside the 'upper ten'; in hands, one might say, which, though they may be washed for dinner, do not put on dress clothes. Suppose the French Government desires its diplomats to have personal knowledge of the forces at work in England. Even though foreign affairs are under bureaucratic rather than democratic control, the French Minister would expect his men to be acquainted with many non-aristocratic political forces whose ultimate importance is worth considering. Of what use to the Minister would be a man who mainly studied the rich? He should no doubt cultivate many circles, including nonpolitical coteries which would bring him into touch in a social way with political people, without the appearance of deliberate search for political information. But the most arduous efforts would fail, if confined to the West End. He could by far simpler means, and without any really expensive entertaining, inform his Government of the forces which count with Mr. Asquith's Government.
Can it be urged that a privileged system is more specially suited to our needs than those of other States? This will hardly be held by anyone familiar with the impression often made by Englishmen abroad. They have indeed maintained that kind of prestige which consists in being thought different from, and more exclusive than, any other nation, but possibly not different in a manner that conduces to the increase of influence. What is there peculiar in the relation of the English towards Continental peoples? In the essentials of character, of moral force and honesty, both political and private, we must own to finding ourselves, from whatever cause, greatly superior to many younger peoples; but this brings with it the natural defect of the Pharisee-the man who, not imagining, but knowing, his own nation's superiority, thinks it a ground for a genial contempt of less favoured people.
We all remember the story published by the present UnderSecretary to the Home Office. An English lady travelling abroad was asked by her companion why she never spoke to the people in their own language. She replied: 'I don't care to talk to
them; it only encourages them.'
What is the moral of this? Does it favour the method of a privileged caste, and support the exclusive tradition? or does it suggest a system specially democratic, embodying the principles of sympathy and activity, in order to counteract the special dangers of our international position?
There are backward countries where European advisers are brought in to supply knowledge and skill. In two of these I have heard the comparative merits of English and other officials keenly discussed, and not with advantage to the Briton. I do not allude to the recent sneers of a well-known Russian writer at the typical coiffure and monocular equipment,' but rather to the preference for golf as against work, which discounts the Englishman from the point of view of utility to a needy Government; and I have heard it argued by a very clever Mahommedan, who had studied at Cambridge, that in what foreigners call 'snobbism the Englishman attained a degree of sublimity which he had not detected in France or Germany. He said that in the lecture class to which he belonged there was one student, and one alone, of ability and interest; but in social circles, though he met all the dull ones, he never met the clever one. The explanation which he received, namely, that the clever man was not a gentleman,' he had never been able to understand. This was a sample of the phenomena which made him for all practical purposes antiEnglish. He is a Turk, wielding almost unique influence at a moment when the friendship of Turkey is not a quantité négligeable.
To turn to another side of the matter-the diplomat's outlook. All diplomats will recognise, in the description given in the House of Commons by Baron de Forest, something which hit the nail. 'By habit and by tradition a diplomatist is accustomed to look upon himself as perpetually engaged in a species of contest with the diplomatists of other nations, and it is essentially, if I may call it so, a game of skill' and that issue assumes in their minds an importance derived not from the principles involved, but from the mere fact that it is an issue ' ' and unfortu
nately when the game fails, as it often does fail, and each side has stale-mated the other, and matters have come to a deadlock, then the financial resources, and unfortunately the lives of the people are called upon to achieve the successes which diplomatic methods have failed to secure.'
Is there not a final argument for reform in the just claims of
the existing members of the service? They are a small body of public officials, working under great difficulty, doing their work with the greatest ability, good nature, and tact. Why should they be denied that system of adequate pay and appointment by merit, which all other branches of the public service cherish as their best security?
A Liberal Government is at an obvious disadvantage in attempting to carry out its policy through anti-Liberal instruments. Some counter-weight to this influence must be found, and we are brought at this point to the question with which we began: What is the function of Parliament in regard to its own procedure?
The thing to realise here is the overwhelming responsibility which rests upon a Foreign Minister. His is the point of view from which things should be judged.
Now, considering the intolerable amount of work which does occupy him, or ought to occupy him, it is clear that he must naturally seek to reduce to a minimum the amount of attention which must be given to anything beyond the study of his diplomatic task itself. Again, the indiscreet utterance of views is a positive evil in itself when it is misinterpreted abroad. Such views by private persons he cannot control; and as coming from the Press he cannot always influence. It would appear that his best opportunity for serving the needs of his position is to endeavour to regulate such expressions where alone he can efficiently regulate them, viz., in the House of Commons. The public at large is far removed from diplomatic affairs, and only discusses them when greatly alarmed or greatly angered; but the public would be satisfied by the sense that Parliament, as distinct from the nation, was officially concerned, as it is in France, with foreign things. If there is to be discussion outside the Foreign Office (and this, whether right or wrong, is inevitable), it is best, from the point of view of the Minister, that it should be centred in what might be called the semi-public field, viz. Parliament, thus effecting a kind of compromise with democracy. Such a semi-official treatment would take the place of that 'democratic control' of which it is vain to speak in this connection.
To come to concrete proposals, there is a demand for more debate in the House. We have been told more than once by Sir Edward Grey that he is perfectly ready for more debates if the House desires them; and undoubtedly it will do so. But we have occasions when, as last July, open debate would involve excessive risks. At the moment when Mr. Asquith spoke on the Agadir affair, he said: 'I would venture in the general interest to make
a strong appeal to the House not on the present occasion to enter into further details, or upon controversial ground.' It is open to argument, in view of subsequent events, whether the situation to-day might not be happier, if this appeal had not been made, or if it had been ignored. But let us freely grant that there are occasions when open debate is a mistake. What then is the moral? It is that debates, as in other countries, should take place, but should not be reported. With our existing fetish of free speech, we end in sacrificing speech altogether, and we assume also that such a treatment of the Press would not be tolerated. But why should it be assumed that men of such genuine political interest as Lord Northcliffe and Mr. Cadbury are not willing to consider the interests of their country?
If and when we adopt such a rational system, there will still be need for further systematisation because, through lack of time alone, an imperial Parliament, which is also a national Parliament, cannot spare many days.
We come, then, to the method of committees.
It must be realised that this country, except on the point of formal question and answer, has less equipment for dealing with foreign matters than other States. It might be thought that from the point of view of a Government, official committees would provide the best means of minimising debate. A minister must desire either to gag discussion or to educate those who take part in it. But it appears from a recent answer by the Prime Minister, that ministerial responsibility would find itself in danger from such a system. Governments naturally defend themselves as a whole. Ours, in self-defence, maintains the theory that if one minister falls, all must fall with him; and the facilities for criticising a minister are thought to be increased by the foreign system of sectional committees. This refusal of governments to allow criticism of individual ministers is the only ground for that attack on the party system which will possibly succeed (under the leadership of Mr. Belloc) in compelling a concession on this point. In foreign matters criticism might not be increased, but diminished, by the French system of official committees. In any case, the opposition to official committees may give way to a realisation of the solid advantage of the nation itself.
We have, however, at present, rather to consider the private (unofficial) committees. These, of course, have long prevailed informally. The men who are specially interested naturally cooperate, and innumerable committees exist-devoted, for instance, to arbitration, reform in Turkey, foreign affairs in general, Congo atrocities, or conditions of slavery, in the Empire and outside it. There are also outside committees dealing with special foreign causes, each with their affiliated committee of members of the