Page images

The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, which in normal times has seldom maintained more than a fortnightly service to the islands, should be increased to a regular weekly service so as to compete with the frequent service of boats, weekly, fortnightly, and monthly, plying between New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New Orleans and the West Indian islands. In the absence of a substantial subsidy, however, no British company could be expected to conduct a regular intercolonial steamship service in the Caribbean in view of the heavy financial losses incurred by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co.-originally formed to carry on a mailservice with the British West Indies, and so conducted for over three-quarters of a century-at an annual loss, for the last twenty years of that period, of about 50,0007.* The difficulties of the situation are not likely to be lessened by the somewhat captious criticism passed in the United States upon the proposal to exempt from tonnage and light dues British vessels passing through the Panama Canal en route to Kingston (Jamaica) and regular boats for Australia and New Zealand. objections raised, attended by threats of 'retaliation,' appear the more unreasonable when it is remembered that the United States Senate has recently passed a bill re-enacting the Panama Canal tolls and instituting discriminatory rates in favour of American shipping.


Against but three British lines (the Royal Mail Steam Packet, Leyland & Harrison, and Elders & Fyffe's) now calling more or less regularly at Jamaica, there are some eight or nine lines plying between the United States and that island. These include the fine vessels of the Ward Line, the Houston Steamship Company, Pickford & Black, the United Fruit Company, the Atlantic

* The Secretary of State for the Colonies has recently informed the Governments of each of the West Indian colonies that was served by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company that the Imperial Government is prepared to guarantee at the rate of 90,000l. per annum a tri-weekly service to be performed by an intermediate class of vessels serving Barbados, Trinidad, and British Guiana, all of which will be expected to contribute in the form of a guarantee to the expenditure on the undertaking, in the following proportions: Trinidad, 17,000l. per annum ; British Guiana and Barbados, 8000l. and 7000l. respectively. The R.M.S.P. Company has offered to provide a provisional service on the basis of a guarantee against loss, such guarantee not to exceed 70007. for each round voyage.

Fruit Company, the United Steamship Company, and others, while additional cargo services are being continually provided. There exists no British cargo service from the west coast of England to the West Indies, the period for which the joint Imperial and Jamaica Government subsidy was granted having long expired.

The question of establishing a subsidised line of steamers between Jamaica and the United Kingdom has frequently come before the colonial legislature, but remains undecided. Whereas it formerly took but 14 or 15 days for mail matter to reach the island from the United Kingdom by direct route, it now occupies fully four weeks via New York. Steamship services between the West Indies and Canada are more or less involved in the question of a better steamship communication between the United Kingdom and the West Indian Colonies; and the matter formed the subject of discussion at the Conference held at Ottawa in June 1920. It was then recommended that subsidised steamers should go to the West Indies from England, calling at Barbados, Trinidad, and British Guiana, and proceeding thence to Canada; from the Dominion the vessels would return to the Caribbean, taking on cargoes for England at British Guiana, and complete their loading at Trinidad and Barbados. This plan, however, was opposed by the Jamaica Imperial Association (included in the Associated Chambers of Commerce of the West Indies), the agreement, in view of the seclusion in which Jamaica would be left, not being considered satisfactory. Alternatively, it was proposed that some arrangement should be made to establish communication between Jamaica and at least one of the other West Indian islands, so as to facilitate connexion with other parts of the West Indies.

At the same time it is the desire of the Associated Chambers of Commerce to complete a trade agreement with the United Kingdom and the Canada-West Indies upon a similar basis. Jamaica is in favour of a trade agreement for a period of ten years, such agreement being on broader lines than the system of imperial preference which has followed in the wake of the agreement with Canada. At the end of the decade period, the agreement could be made permanent, thus securing

stability of trade between the mother-country and the colonies in this quarter of the world.

While Jamaica differs little from the other West Indian colonies in regard to the subject of closer economic federation, it approaches with greater timidity the problem of a political union with Canada. At a meeting which took place in Kingston in August 1921, an elected member of the Legislative Council of Jamaica moved:

"That the Legislative Council expresses its desire to know the views of the other British West Indian possessions and the Dominion of Canada on the important question of federation on an imperial basis of all the British possessions in the Western Hemisphere, and respectfully requests the Governor of the Colony to obtain such views for the information of this Council.'

Divergent opinions were expressed, but no conclusive definition of the term 'federation' seems to have been put forward. It is clear, as was pointed out by the Colonial Secretary (Lieut-Col. the Hon. H. Bryan), that the only direct way of entering into negotiations, having for their object a political as well as an economic union with Canada, would be through the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It should be possible to discern in Mr Churchill's hearty public assurances the vista of a new era for our Colonies, when once the scheme, now being evolved, has been put into practice.


Art. 14-IRELAND.*

IRISH affairs have engaged a large share of public attention during the past six months; and during that period the problems of Irish politics have been more diligently pondered by British statesmen than they have been for twenty years. It is not too much to say that the preoccupations of the Great War, and subsequently the international anxieties which followed upon the attempts to give effect to the Peace of Versailles, have prevented our responsible Ministers from giving that attention to the disturbed condition of Ireland which was necessary for a true understanding of its causes, or for a consecutive and consistent policy of relief. Successive measures for 'the better Government of Ireland' were enacted by Parliament in 1914 and 1920; but in neither case did our legislators pay sufficient heed to the warnings which they received that these measures would prove to be inoperative. They did not know, or they would not believe, that the Sinn Fein organisation was becoming daily more powerful and effective; nor did they appreciate the intensity of the national sentiment which was hostile to any permanent partition of Ireland. And, accordingly, the ferocity and the success of the guerilla warfare waged in Ireland during last winter against the forces of the Crown were disconcerting to the too sanguine Ministers who thought that it could be crushed by the feeble and half-hearted military policy for which they made themselves responsible.

No one in Great Britain doubts that the British Army is equal to much larger tasks than the subjugation of Ireland; and it is unnecessary to labour the point. At any time we could have put down sedition, if we had chosen to put forth our strength and to treat Ireland as an enemy country. But the position last July was such that Ministers began tardily to see the difficulties in the way of succeeding by a policy of coercion. begin with, it was plain that great military forces-far larger than any that had yet been landed in Irelandwould be necessary. It would be necessary to seize all railways and all post-offices, to provide soldiers to


This article continues one by the same author, published in the 'Q. R.' for July 1921.

perform railway and postal duties, to guard bridges and lines of communication over extensive tracts of country, to surround hostile areas so that enemy forces could not break through, and to have in readiness at many points flying columns which could strike swiftly and surely when occasion offered. We learnt in South Africa that a comparatively small number of determined men, operating in their own country, can only be subdued by forces vastly superior in number and in equipment; and an Irish campaign under the conditions of last year, if it were to be completely successful, would have required at least 250,000 trained soldiers-horse, foot, and artillery. We could have raised such an army, if we had decided to do so; but very few people in Great Britain had realised that anything of the kind would be needed. That was the first difficulty in the way of the Cabinet. They had not got the necessary troops to subdue Ireland by force; and it would have been no easy matter to persuade the British public that they must forthwith undertake the burden of a new and costly war.

But this was not all. There are, perhaps, no people in Europe so sentimental as the English. We are governed by sentimental, much more than by logical, considerations; which, it may be said parenthetically, is one of the reasons why the logical French mind finds it so hard to believe in our sincerity. And, while the French nation would have no scruple in subduing by force of arms a rebellious province or in punishing with severity persons who avow themselves disloyal to the State, the English nation is very reluctant to treat treason as a crime. One of the most curious by-products of the reign of terror in Ireland last winter and spring was the comparative indifference, on the part of Englishmen, to the maltreatment and murder of loyalists, while any excess of zeal or act of indiscipline on the part of the police was made the subject of public and violent protest. Many of our people were quite ready to condone the murders committed by the gunmen, accepting the plea that they were acts of warfare, while any attempt on the part of our troops to behave as though we really were at war was regarded with the utmost disfavour. It was quite certain last July that, if the Cabinet had decided to declare war and to enter upon a definite campaign in

« PreviousContinue »