I propose at the beginning to indicate certain changes that appear on the face of the Estimate for the Department of External Affairs, and to refer to the scheme of reorganisation which those changes indicate. It will be observed from the Estimate that representatives abroad have been scaled to a particular grade so far as salaries are concerned, with, I think, one exception, and also that secretaries in these various offices have been put in a particular grade, the object being that in the reorganisation we ought so to assimilate salaries and positions that the representatives will be easily interchangeable, not merely with other representatives accredited to foreign capitals, but also with civil servants at home. The difference with regard to expenditure that has to be met, and the expenses that fall on people abroad, is met by giving increased allowances of different types, which are detailed for the different offices in London, Washington, New York and other capitals. That indicates the reorganisation of which I spoke when I was last dealing with this Vote. We have now, if not entirely, almost completely achieved the position which we set out to achieve, namely, that these people will be readily interchangeable, and that no distinction in grade and salary will impede a transfer from one foreign office to another where it seems to us that the change is suitable to the service generally. The Headquarters Vote shows an increase of over £3,000, and an increase in staff, apparently, of six persons. One of the officers attached to headquarters has been assigned for temporary duty at Geneva, so that, so far as that office is concerned, the amount opposite his name for salary must be deducted from the gross increase, giving an increase of about £2,000. That is due to the reorganisation of the headquarters staff in order to cope with the increased duties which fell on them.
Up to about a year ago there was continued in existence the old staff and the old office which had been functioning from about 1922. The organisation had been unchanged pretty well during that time and it was found that the accumulation of work to be dealt with by the office was so great that the officials were being overburdened and the work was not being properly handled. With the recognition of the importance of the office and in advertence to the enormous increase of work that had fallen to the staff, there was a decision that certain changes were necessary and these changes are shown here. The headquarters staff consisted of a legal adviser, a principal officer, two assistant principals and two junior administrative officers. Two old posts have disappeared, the post of a special correspondence officer and one of the temporary administrative officers. The principal officer is, of course, the official to whom I previously referred as having been sent temporarily to Geneva. There is therefore an increase in the headquarters staff of three administrative officers and a very slight increase in the junior staff. There have been a few typists added.
Under the heading of Great Britain, an increase is shown of about £1,000 due mainly to the increased representation allowance that has been given to the new High Commissioner, a representation allowance which was found to be necessary when we had considered what had been allotted to the previous High Commissioner and the inroads made on his personal income by reason of the fact that the personal representation allowance was not sufficient. It will be noted that under Sub-head (B) 2, rents, rates, etc., there is an apparent increase on the face of the Estimate, but the receipts will show that there has to be set-off against that a sum of £470, leaving the net amount estimated this year under that heading less than what was previously estimated. I should point out also that under the heading of receipts there is coming in a sum of £1,180 as rents paid by subtenants for part of the High Commissioner's Office.
In the Washington Office there is a total cost of something over £9,000 representing an increase of a few hundred pounds on last year's Vote. That follows from the ordinary reorganistation of the office where certain posts have been more or less superseded, and where a number of people have been allowed to carry on who are to be superseded. Provision is made for a Minister, a counsel, and a secretary. In New York there has been a considerable change. There is there an increase of £2,000 as compared with last year. The whole character of this office is being changed. Previously there were two officers having different functions, one being a trade representative concerned solely with matters of trade and the other being a Passport Control Officer, who had to deal with visas and the passport of any alien sailing from New York and proposing to land in this country. It is proposed to re-establish this office as a Consulate-General which will have to deal with trade, consular visa, and passport questions not only for New York, but for the whole of the United States, so far as is practicable. The Vice-Consul appears in the Estimates for the moment. This official is temporarily stationed at Boston and carrying out visa functions in the case of aliens sailing from that port. At the moment visas are being granted for sailings from all ports in the United States of America, and the revenue from that is estimated somewhere between £17,000 and £18,000. There is an expectation even since that figure was set down that the receipts under that heading will be found to be increased. It is intended not merely to visa passports, but in future to issue passports from the United States to all our citizens who want these passports and who are sailing from the United States. From that alone we expect to get in an amount of £1,500.
Last year the representation to France and Belgium amounted to £3,700. For these two offices the amount this year is estimated at £5,300, showing an increase of £1,600. It is proposed, at any rate temporarily, to close down the existing offices in Brussels and to close down the existing offices in Paris, replacing these by a Legation in Paris immediately. We will make provision also for carrying on the work which was being done exceptionally well at Brussels. The provision that is made under the heading of Brussels under this Estimate is for only part of the time—until such time as a Legation has been set up in Paris. Similarly the item "Trade representation" under the head of "Irish bureau" will disappear hereafter. Provision is made to carry on that until such time as the Legation in Paris has been established. The last item under these detailed headings is completely new. Up to date there has been no representation to Germany. It is now proposed to establish a legation as soon as approval for this Vote has been given. Provision is shown only for part of the year. It is estimated at £4,400 during the present financial year. The total of the Vote, with these increases, omitting the supplementary, which I will deal with later on, is £59,796, an increase of £11,000 on last year's Vote. The receipts are £28,180, leaving the net expenditure a little over £30,000. The net expenditure for the State on all services is £21,000,000. A calculation will show that we are, in fact, spending here on foreign representation something less than 3/- out of every £100, and that comparison is useful when taken into consideration with figures which I have for a few other countries. In Finland 17/- on every £100 is spent on foreign representation; in Norway, 24/-; and in Denmark, £313,000 is spent on external representation. Those are the only points to which I wish to refer at the moment.
With regard to the detailed headings the sum as set out in the Supplementary Estimate is not, of course, the full amount that will be required for the legation when in full working order for the period of a year. Although there is the intention to get this office at least established as soon as possible, it will not be in full working order until October, and the Estimate is calculated from that date. Those are the details of the officials and of the salaries being paid to those officials, and they represent, so far as I am concerned, almost completely the reorganisation I spoke of previously. We have now got to the point, as I said before, that Ministers have been scaled at a particular rate, and the main officials scaled also at a particular rate, rates which bear comparison as far as the basic rate is actually concerned with certain posts in the home Civil Service. Allowances will be made for the conditions under which these people will have to live by way of extra allowances set out here, representation allowance and transport allowance. The offices, if this Vote be passed, will then compare with establishments at London as previously, Washington as previously, New York, suffering a certain change, and the League of Nations in a transitional period, some change further still being required, Brussels office to a certain extent disappearing for the time being, and new offices being established in France, Germany and at the Vatican. With this staff we will have to rest content for the moment, although there is pressure constantly exerted to have further offices opened up, but one must wait until time shows what the value of these other representations is and the value the State is going to gain from the new appointments that are being urged. At the moment this appears to be the mere minimum representation that any State dealing in any serious way with external matters must have.
Our first association is with the British Commonwealth of Nations. Our membership of that association of States called the Commonwealth of Nations, as I stressed on a previous occasion, is that of a completely independent State, freely associated with other member States and co-equal in status with them. The supreme executive authority in every exclusive concern of this country is exercised on the sole advice of the Executive Council. The Commonwealth conception imports no limitation of the internal sovereignty of any of its members, and imposes no restrictions upon the exercise of its external sovereignty by any such member, save those imposed equally on every international person as a member of the family of nations by reason of the acceptance of the obligations of the Covenant of the League. In the year 1926 the principles underlying the status of each of the members of the Association of States to which we belong were formulated and declared to the world. The declarations then made did not proclaim a constitutional system suddenly established, but rather collected, co-ordinated and consolidated a body of constitutional principles theretofore gradually accepted, but then for the first time authoritatively interpreted and formally acknowledged. Thereafter the principles then formulated were to be universally recognised as the governing factors in the relationships of the member-States of the Commonwealth to each other, and the relationships of each member-State to the Commonwealth as a whole. It was made manifest to the world that the new definition of status then declared postulated far-reaching readjustments in the external relations of the member-States with international society at large. Our contribution to the formulation of these constitutional doctrines was positive, persistent and decisive. The vigilance and diligence which have been exercised in applying them to our routine relations with other States within and without the Commonwealth, in removing anomalous legal forms, in securing the discontinuance of practices that have no place in modern democratic life, and no justification in present constitutional theory, and generally in conforming every aspect of the Commonwealth scheme to the principles on which it rests, has been, and must continue to be, the special work of the Department of External Affairs.
In the autumn of the present year a Committee of Experts from every State in the Commonwealth will meet to discuss the formal amendment or modification, or repeal of enactments still on the Statute Book of the United Kingdom which are inconsistent with the existing legislative powers of the member State Parliaments. Our purpose is that whatever remnants there may be of the old order of Imperial control will be removed and the last legal vestiges of the organisation now superseded swept away. The entire legal framework in which the old system of central rule was held together will be taken asunder and will never be put together again. A new legal structure will take its place, in which no bar or barrier to future constitutional development will be found. The free co-operation which is the basis of the Commonwealth idea, the instrument of its usefulness and the expression of the individual sovereignty of its members, will be clothed in forms which reveal rather than conceal its reality. The House will realise what an amount of watchful, painstaking and highly technical labour that work involves. No more exacting work has been or is being done in the service of the State than that which this Department has to show. It is needless to emphasise the importance of that work and the consequences which must follow its well-doing. The system or polity to which we belong is not a vague and nebulous political formula. Our Treaty with Great Britain and the Constitution of the Irish Free State gave a new direction to constitutional thought, and set going new forces and new processes in constitutional speculation within the Commonwealth of Nations itself. The constitutional historians of this time will hereafter record the great achievement this has been. In a far larger field the historian of international politics will find the landmarks of our progress.
I have adverted to the accepted criteria of status in the Commonwealth of Nations. It is unnecessary for me to review in this House the credentials of Statehood in the post-war organisation of the world. Statehood has now two readily discernible, because well-defined and unmistakable, marks or characteristics the possession of which proclaims it to be a State, entitles it to the rights of a State, and imposes upon it in international life the duties and obligations of a State. There is (1) the Treaty-making power, and (2) the right to diplomatic representation in the capitals of other States. We become signatories to international treaties, commercial treaties and political treaties. We do so because we take the view that the international treaty represents the great and growing conspiracy of peace-loving mankind against the calamity of war. We have sent representatives abroad and we are sending more representatives abroad primarily as part of our contribution to the organisation of peace as the world's most impressive need. Our Legations abroad are not ornamental establishments. Their expenses are, as the Estimate shows, being cut to the bedrock requisite for the position which the Ministers will hold and the duties will in the nature of things be different in the different countries. But they will be informed and dominated by the paramount policy of peace, and of arbitration and conciliation as the instruments of peace. The exercise of the Treaty-making power of this State and its conduct on a larger scale of diplomatic intercourse with other nations are closely co-related because directed, in the first instance, to these ends. I have taken these aspects of the position to show to the House the extent of the work which the Department of External Affairs has been engaged upon and the extent of the work which the continuance of its activities in new spheres will bring in its train.
The traditional national policy of this country has been that Ireland should take her place amongst the nations. Ireland has taken her place amongst the nations. We speak clearly and audibly in the assemblies of the world. At Commonwealth Conference, League Assembly, and in the Chancelleries we have a place, a responsibility and an influence. We have assumed an irrevocable share in the burthens of international life, a share which we could not have shirked and would not have postponed. If our influence is to be increasingly felt in the promotion of progressive causes, and if our efforts are to be thrown more and more into the balance of forces working for the peace and harmony of the world, our new responsibilities must be solemnly understood and seriously undertaken.
We approach this year the opening of three new offices. The Supplementary Estimate deals with the establishment of a legation to the Vatican. In an Irish Parliament I do not think there is much need to put forward arguments to justify the creation of a diplomatic post at the Vatican. Our whole history has received its dominating characteristics from our adhesion to the principles of the Catholic religion, of which the visible head is the Bishop of Rome. This State does, indeed, count many thousands of loyal citizens who do not acknowledge the primacy of the Pope; but there will be very few amongst them who will not recognise that the Papacy is an exceedingly important factor in the affairs of nations and individuals, and that accordingly this State should not be less eager than other nations to secure its good-will and co-operation. For the vast majority of our people, however, whether in this country or scattered through the United States and the various nations of this Commonwealth, this present stage of our history has been pre-determined in all its details by our fidelity to the Church of Rome, and to the illustrious line of Pontiffs who have occupied the Chair of Peter.
From time to time in our history our relations have assumed something more than a religious aspect. In the days of Elizabeth, the Papal Court was the great refuge of exiled Irish leaders. In the final war of the Gaelic chieftains under Hugh O'Neill, the Papacy took a lively interest, being ever active on their behalf with foreign Powers. When the last hopes were crushed and the leaders were compelled to flee, they went to Rome, where they were received with sympathy and generously provided for by Paul V.
The only example in our history of formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See was the sending by Innocent X. to the Confederation in 1645 of Rinuccini, a close personal friend of Eoin Rua O'Neill, who, when the inevitable clash between the old Irish and the Ormondites came, unhesitatingly took sides with the old Irish.
Nearly three hundred years elapsed without any renewal of official relations. Our attempts at making official relations in the immediately post-war period were not successful. The position of the Holy See was rendered exceedingly difficult by the circumstances arising out of the war, and no amount of good-will and tact on both sides could have changed the situation. These were the things that, personally, I had before me when I was entrusted with the task of approaching the Vatican on the point of opening up diplomatic relations between this country and the Holy See. I do not know if any Irishman could have approached that task without feelings of great emotion. Personally, I assert that it was with feelings of considerable emotion that I took the steps preliminary to the opening up of diplomatic relations formally and permanently with the Holy See. I had the task of informing the Holy See that the establishment of official relations would be a source of very great satisfaction, not only to the Irish people here in this country, but also to the millions of our race all over the world. It was the feeling of my Government that the Irish Free State should definitely give to the world this sign that the attachment to the things of the spirit which had been the outstanding characteristic of our people in the days of persecution continued to be the chief characteristic of the organised Irish State. It seemed to us to be especially appropriate that this exchange of diplomatic relations should take place just at the moment when the Vatican State was being recreated and when the Centenary of Catholic Emancipation was being celebrated in Ireland. The Holy Father has been pleased to take cognisance of this latter circumstance and it is hoped that his Envoy will reach Dublin on the 24th June, so that his solemn entry into this State may form the appropriate climax to these celebrations.
I hope every citizen of this State, no matter what otherwise his views may be, will regard this event in its true perspective, detached from the passing quarrels and jealousies of our time and will welcome the Papal representative as the envoy, not only of the religious head of the vast majority of the Irish race, but also of the oldest and most glorious monarchy in the world.
It is my intention to send our Minister Plenipotentiary immediately to Rome on the passing of this Vote so that diplomatic relations with the Holy See will have been formally established by the 25th June.
The establishment of diplomatic relations with France and Germany is an obvious step in the development and expansion of our international relations. France is our nearest continental neighbour. Our paths in history have frequently run together. The roll of honour of her armies contains the names of many Irishmen who gave their lives in her service. There has been a traditional mutual esteem between our two countries for many centuries, and a considerable degree of sympathy has always been found in France for this country in her political struggles.
It must also be remembered that Paris is one of the great world centres of diplomacy and international action, and there is no nation in the world which has not its representative there. To neglect Paris would be to remain outside the great stream of world progress and to ignore one of the most potent means of securing the good will of Europe.
Germany has come more and more into our national life since the war. Her experts have been amongst our best helpers in the reconstruction of this country. She is a great and growing nation occupying a geographical position of great importance between the Latin and Slav peoples, and her commerce is expanding with astonishing rapidity.
London, Washington, Berlin, Paris, Geneva and the Vatican are the great nodal points of the life of nations. Representation at these centres is the very minimum which any country with a State existence should secure. We hope, of course, to extend our representation at a somewhat later date to Canada and some other of our sister nations in the Commonwealth. We are in constant touch with these nations by correspondence, but it is felt that the method of personal contact will become more and more a normal requirement as our relations increase.
The new offices when established will fall into line with those already set up. They will have activities that will change, as I said previously, according to the circumstances of the different countries: but, ordinarily speaking, all these offices will work much along the same lines. I possibly should stress here, simply for the reason that so much vague and ill-informed talk was heard on the last occasion on which the Vote was before the House, the fact that the opening up of these offices—what some people are apt to decry by the title of political offices—is important in the ordinary commercial and trade relations as between this country and the other countries in which we have offices. I did say last year that the main duties of these officials of ours abroad will be primarily that of commercial intelligence, and I stress the fact again, because there is apparently everywhere a disposition to query the opening up of some of these offices and to ask in detail what commercial good, what increase of trade is hoped for from their establishment. Again, one must view the present situation and take that in its relation to what is hoped might eventuate in future. At the present time England is our chief and greatest market. While recognising that fact, and seeking to consolidate our position in that market, an attempt has been made, and will continue to be made, to get openings elsewhere. It was realised in the post-war world that a trade representative who has no diplomatic status has a less easy way of approach to the heads of States, has less authority, has even much less chance of acquiring contact with business people, with commercial people of standing, and, on the whole, has much less authoritative and genuine information to give about the country in which he is representative to the office at home; and his information with regard to openings here, or with regard to what comes from this country, is less well received as coming merely from a trade representative than as coming from one associated with an office of the ordinary type dealt with here.
There are varied activities and there are various functions which these foreign representatives have to perform. I take the London office as an example, because, as I say, England at present is our chief and greatest market. But, if I do stress London, I do not want it to be taken that I am minimising at all the efforts, or even trying to decry the efforts, of representatives elsewhere than in London. One might easily point to the balance of trade as between two countries. One might take any of these countries where either we had representation previously or where we intend to open up offices and say, "What have we to offer these countries?" or better still, "What have these countries to offer us?""What is the possibility of success in improving the economic situation in this country by reason of representation abroad?" A short-sighted view might easily lead one to declare that as far as all the offices, excepting only London, were concerned there is no function for our representatives abroad, and that our representatives abroad, in so far as they have been in operation for some years, have not been successful. That is, as I say, the short-sighted view. One could again, in opposition to that, take, say, the flow of trade as between this country and Belgium prior to the establishment of any representation there, and see what increase there has been, and decide as to whether or not that increase has been entirely to our advantage. But that would be leaning too much, or giving in too readily to the short-sighted view which will seek to judge everything merely by trade results. There is the point of view of intelligence acquired, the point of view of information supplied, and the point of view of precedent, and the comparison made and contrast instituted between what happened in other countries and what is happening here; and all this information and contrast and comparison leads, if people receive the information intelligently, to development in this country. There might be an enormous amount of information circulated as between the External Affairs Department and the Department of Industry and Commerce, and through them to traders and industrialists in this country, and no appreciable increase shown year by year in the volume of trade passing between the two countries. I stress that because I have found a disposition to rule the value of all that has passed simply by the trade that is passing, and to say that the office is successful or unsuccessful according as the volume of trade has increased or decreased.
I could go into detail with regard to the information supplied from all the other offices. I take the function of the Commissioner of Trade in Great Britain as being an office about which people here in this country would know most. I would like to deal with some of the duties performed by this office, which might be a revelation to people who think that they know all that is done or neglected by that particular office. Other offices which are not so near to our vision and which do not appear to be so important in our regard, may have just as good a case from the point of view of information supplied and the development suggested as the Commissioner of Trade in Great Britain may have. I have had reports from the office in London showing that the officials radiating from there—the word is badly used, because there are very few of these officials—have duties throughout Great Britain and not confined to London merely, and I could summarise the functions of that office under a number of heads.
A great part of their work is performed in effecting introductions between commercial people on both sides. A great amount of time is spent in that office in providing commercial intelligence to people here about England and to people in England about this country, and a great amount of tact and a great amount of research is required to give advice about openings for commerce and about the standing of commercial people.
On the question of marketing, the Commissioner in London, and the whole office in London have been very alert, and people here will have read of some of the activities of that office in this particular respect. They will have known of the exhibition of Irish produce made on certain occasions. They will have heard from time to time of the reports that appear and filter into the Press from producers with regard to advice that is given as to marketing, the better conditions that prevail in competing countries, and suggestions as to how produce that is well found here and produced here in good quality should be presented to the buying public in those countries into which it is sent in the best possible way. A great amount of time, particularly of the outdoor staff, has been spent inspecting commodities that come across from this country, and a great deal of effort and a great amount of diligence has to be observed by that office in dealing with certain commercial disputes that arise from time to time, and in seeing that not merely is justice done, but that lessons can be drawn from particular episodes about which disputes arise. The movements of markets and prices are surveyed at short intervals and reports are frequently sent home, and the two Departments of Government in this country are regularly in possession of the latest information with regard to the trend of prices and the state of markets for Saorstát goods. Certain traders' interests from time to time get involved and assume an importance that cannot be left to the individual trader to protect, and where there seems to be an item falling for consideration that has a repercussion and reaction, beyond the individuals themselves it is the duty of the office to be vigilant and on the watch and to intervene to see that no harm, at any rate, will come, possibly, even to the individual concerned, but that certainly no harm resulting from a bad display of goods, bad marketing or goods badly sent, or even sent under false pretences, should ensue to Irish produce in general as a result of activities of one or two traders.
Publicity has to be given to everything that comes from this side and publicity has many forms; through the Press, through exhibitions and displays that from time to time have been made in the biggest retail stores in England, through window display competitions which are again becoming a feature of the Commissioner's work in London and are becoming more and more demanded as the fame of one exhibition spread from one neighbourhood to another. In addition to that there have to be conferences attended with representative associations, and arrangements made so that the exchange of goods can be facilitated. Questions frequently arise on the matter of transport of goods between the two countries and here, again our office in London being situated close to the main railway system which deals with our produce find themselves in frequent consultation so as to get complaints enquired into, to get differences smoothed over, and, even, at times, to get questions of special rates gone into where consignments are of a particular type, or where the particular numbers seem to deserve these.
There are customs details to be attended to arising out of a variety of matters. Recently tourist development has assumed an importance which one or two years ago it neither had nor seemed ever likely to have. Here again the London office is playing a considerable part, but the end of its activities there is not even approaching. There have been established in the past few years a number of commercial committees upon which we have had to have representatives both from this side and from the London office. Recently there was established a railway committee on national development. There has been sitting, for a long time, an imperial economic committee. There has been co-operation for months past with the Tourist Association not merely of this country but of Great Britain and Ireland. On the Imperial Shipping Committee we are represented, and on the Empire Marketing Board we have a permanent representative, and there are a number of other minor committees dealing with research and commercial matters in general on which we have taken certain action.
In addition to dealing with the work which is thrown on it, through the activities of the offices abroad, the Headquarter staff has to consolidate the position which I previously referred to as being now obtained in the Commonwealth of Nations and in its association with other States, members of the League of Nations. There are also separate items that arise from time to time for special consideration. The two Departments of Industry and Commerce and of External Affairs were concerned in the question of treaties —the Department of Industry and Commerce being mainly concerned in the details of commercial treaties. Negotiations have been opened with eight countries on the basis of the most-favoured nation treatment for the conclusion of commercial treaties. The countries in question are: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Spain and the United States, and proposals for the opening of negotiations with a view to concluding treaties have also been made as between the Irish Free State and Greece, and the Irish Free State and Turkey. Political treaties are rather more the concern of the Department of External Affairs on its own. The question of making arbitration treaties with the principal of European countries and the United States has been under consideration for a long time. It is hoped that some of these will be completed in the course of the present year. It is proposed—I put in the remark here in answer to comments that have been appearing in the Press and notices elsewhere—to adhere to the protocol against the use of asphyxiating gas in war. There are a variety of special questions that fall for consideration from time to time. One international conference on the question of copyrights occupied a lot of time about a year ago, and an exchange of views has been going on since on the convention that proceeded from the conference dealing with the matter. In the spring of next year a conference has to be attended dealing with the codification of international law and the preparation of views on that, and a statement is at present under consideration.
The question of passports I dealt with specially in connection with the offices in Washington, New York and Boston. Of course, an amount of work under that head falls also on the headquarters staff of the special passport office at home. It will be understood when I say reports coming from our representatives abroad on a variety of matters, not to the same extent by any means as I have described as being part of the function of the Commissioner in London, but nevertheless extending over a vast number of subjects and going into great depth as far as investigations are concerned—that the examination and distribution of these reports to people likely to be interested and to get benefit from them entail a considerable amount of work even upon the headquarters staff. I simply again refer back to the activities I speak of with regard to the office in London and ask people to make up their minds whether or not even the reorganised staff at headquarters for which I ask provision in this Vote seems to be either extravagant in numbers or in the emoluments granted to those people for dealing with the reports founded on the activities of those offices abroad.
There has not been and there cannot be given to the Dáil, in sufficient clarity or in sufficient amount, evidence of the work of these people. It is clear that there should be—and it is a thing towards which I am working—a presentation of reports at least from the office in London and the presentation of reports annually by the offices abroad to the two Houses of the Oireachtas. It will be understood that that was impossible heretofore with a staff which was changing, and with offices which were not and could not have been established on a permanent basis because there had been no clear view, and there could not have been a clear view, as to the exact situation in any of the countries mentioned. We now have a fairly clear view of the whole situation. The staffs and offices have been reorganised and new offices, as I indicated, are about to be opened. From this onwards it will be the aim that, in more detail than during previous years, members of the House will have an opportunity of gauging from reports the value of the information supplied by these offices and the extent of their activity. When I say the members of the House have not an adequate opportunity of dealing with that to-day I do not mean to convey there is merely a compilation of information by people abroad channelled through the offices here and pigeon-holed and inspected only by people who may happen to be interested and who may happen to inquire. There is quite a good distribution of this information to the people definitely interested, to advisory committees operating under the auspices of the Department of Industry and Commerce in the different industrial groups in this country and to commercial people of every type.
The difficulty all along has been to get organisations to deal with in this country instead of individuals. After a certain amount of endeavour we have got to a point. There had always been a certain amount of organisation amongst the trading and importing classes as opposed to the industrialists and the people to whom we would ordinarily look for an increase in exports. There are now in operation a big number of advisory committees representing the different industrial groups, and most of these are actively functioning. Some from time to time failed and refuse to meet or do not find that they have any interest in common on which they could meet, or they have so many disagreements that it would be better they did not meet. On the whole there is a tendency, which in another department I have tried to foster as much as possible, towards cohesion amongst groups of definitely organised bodies, and our information is circulated through these bodies to different commercial and industrial interests and any business groups that we can find taking an interest in and likely to benefit from the information we have got. The information is disseminated mainly through the Department of Industry and Commerce. In addition, quite an amount of information has been specially called for. There has hardly been a Commission of Inquiry on any subject in the last three or four years which has not requested information regarding conditions which seemed to offer some sort of contrast to conditions abroad. On every occasion where information has been requested we have found our offices abroad able to get authoritative views expressed and have proper information supplied. That is an important side of the work. There are a great many members of this House who have served on Committees from time to time and they have found themselves in a position to request information about conditions which seemed really to afford a good comparison from other countries. I think they will realise, and could give testimony here, that on every occasion when information has been asked that information has been supplied readily, authoritatively, and in great detail.
I now submit this Vote to the House. I pointed out the increase in the offices previously established, the increase brought about owing to reorganisation and the increase necessary by reason of the opening of three new offices. I have simply indicated, as a sign of what is happening in the rest of the Department, what has happened in the office of the High Commissioner in London, particularly on the trade side. The smaller items of this Vote do not, I think, call for any explanation other than what I have given on B2, where there is a big increase on the London side. I stress again that if people are disposed to quarrel with the amount of money to be spent on external affairs and propose to base their criticisms on the money spent and the value received from it merely on the flow of trade as between this and any other country, that they are going entirely on a wrong basis. I will get back to the figure I quoted previously, and I will take the expenditure of this State as shown in this book. It is £21,000,000. The entire Vote asked for our foreign representatives amounts to less than three shillings in every £100.