The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 4 (August 1, 1930)
U.S. Senate Passes Naval Treaty—A Prophecy of War—Trouble on Empire Communications—Woman Who Hit a Haystack—The Economic Complex.
A Hoover Win.
Notwithstanding many predictions to the contrary by well informed observers, the United States Senate passed the London Naval Treaty by a heavy majority—58 votes to 9. Prior to that the Senate had rejected, by heavy majorities, various hostile reservations, but it adopted a reservation “stipulating that no approval be given by ratification to any secret agreement or understanding that may exist in relation to the Pact.” Thus the Republican breakaway led by Senator Johnson (California) seems to have come to nothing. When Woodrow Wilson, a decade ago, brought back from Versailles the League of Nations and the guarantee of France's integrity, the Senate threw them into the waste paper basket and not long ago it was predicted that Secretary of State Stimson would have a similar experience with the London Naval Treaty. These anticipations of woe, of course, enhance the moral victory that the Hoover Administration has won in the Senate's final vote. From that success President Hoover gains moral help in his fight for unemployment relief; he also gains material help, for the money saved from naval shipbuilding will give him a more free hand in his economic programme. Naval parity attainable with a lesser expenditure on warships opens the way to a heavier subsidising of the United States mercantile marine. In either case, this American money has for its objective supremacy at sea. The onus is on British shipping to counter subsidies with efficiency.
Next in importance to the passage of the London Naval Treaty through the United States Senate is the statement by Mr. James Gerard that a war is “brewing”—indeed “imminent”—between France and Italy. Prophecies of war are not infrequent; many of them pass unheeded; but this one cannot pass without notice, coming, as it does, from a man of Mr. Gerard's calibre. As United States Ambassador to Germany at the time when Europe was plunging into the Great War that begun in 1914, Mr. Gerard played an important part in European history at a critical time, and his contributions as an historian are not only valuable in themselves, but seem to reflect a clear and unbiassed mind, equipped with unusual insight and foresight. When such an American as this declares that there is fire behind the Italo-Frcnch smoke, America should become able to form a clearer view of Britain's difficulties in dealing with page 10 naval reduction, and Americans should be able to understand more clearly the safeguarding clause that exempts Britain from the London Naval Treaty restrictions in the event of Continental naval building forcing her hand. Mr. Gerard's statement is in itself a sufficient reply to the Hearst newspaper attack on British naval motives. The interest of the United States and Japan in the Mediterranean is infinitesimal. To the British Empire that sea is vital. It is as vital as the Suez Canal, for what use would the canal be if belligerents set up a Mediterranean blockade?
Warships to Egypt.
The Egyptian and the Indian troubles need not be over-emphasised, but they have to be considered by any country that is interested—as are New Zealand and Australia—in the Mediterranean-Suez-Red Sea route. It is sufficient to say that a Labour Government—a British Labour Government that had done its utmost to compromise with an Egyptian Government in the setting up of a settlement of “reserved points”—considered the Egyptian disorder to be sufficiently serious to send British warships to the scene. Such actions are not taken for nothing. In India the position is still confused because it is difficult to discover how much the unrest partakes of the peculiar psychology of Mahatma Gandhi, and to what extent it reflects the activities of less philosophical revolutionaries. Whatever the future of events in India and Egypt, they are of immediate concern to all peoples whose communications—including air lines—pass that way.
Woman Wins King's Prize.
The hand that used to rock the cradle now pulls the trigger. Miss Marjorie Foster won the King's Prize at Bisley, and not long before Miss Winifred Brown won the King's Cup (air race). These royal exploits (drawing forth the King's congratulations) followed that other great epic of the air—Miss Amy Johnson's England-Australia flight. It is wonderful how flight appeals to women, and it is not unlikely that a woman flier of the Atlantic will offer herself. Kingsford Smith's east-to-west triumph resulted ultimately in his bringing the Southern Cross back to the spot (Oakland, San Francisco) where the world-girdling aeroplane started its career. There is a good deal in the name of this famous machine, for it symbolises the advent of the New South into competition with the Old North for leadership in world-progress. A few centuries ago European navigators started out across the Atlantic to discover America and the Pacific countries. To-day an Australian air-navigator crosses the Pacific first, and leaves the Atlantic for his last lap. Thus the centre of gravity is ever shifting, and the newest lands have their representatives in the van of technical and scientific advance.
Control measures directed to maintaining the prices of primary products continue to hold the stage in various parts of the world, particularly in North America and Australia. Controversy has waxed keener since wheat fell below the dollar. In Canada and the United States some authorities are urging less planting of wheat, others would lend farmers cheap public money to produce more wheat. While the United States Farm Board is being stormed at to buy huge quantities of grain for storage so as to hold the price, it is accused on the other hand of propping up the farmers instead of forcing page 11 them to meet the market. A member of the Canadian Board of Railway Commissioners, Mr. Frank Oliver, declared on 4th July that pool marketing had failed, and that “Canada's entire economic structure had been shaken to its foundations by disregard of well-established business principles in wheat pools.” In Australia, the wish to help the farmer is reinforced by a very keen desire to increase exports, because owing to the fall in prices, and to the adverse balance of trade, Australia has great difficulty in maintaining a sufficiency of London funds. Therefore, as a remedy, she seeks to increase exports and make up in quantity what has been lost in price. But the Commonwealth Government's Bill to assist wheat export by guaranteeing growers 4/- a bushel was reported on 4th July as rejected by the Senate.
A New Labour Note.
In the sphere of Empire trade the end of June and the early days of July were marked by two very notable statements of policy on the part of groups outside the ordinary party-political organisations. In Britain the Trade Union Congress (the T.U.C.) is about the last body to be accused of collaboration with the official Conservatives, or with Lord Beaver-brook's “Empire Freetraders,” or with any other political backers of Empire tariffism. When, therefore, the General Council of the T.U.C. declares for a principle of Empire co-operation in trade—the British traditional policy of isolation being “no longer possible”—the pronouncement carries more weight among the politicians than if a party organisation had said it. With an American economic bloc on one side, and a probable European bloc on the other, the T.U.C. Committee declares for an Empire bloc. Such a declaration does not amount to a yea or nay on tariffism, but it implies acceptance of the fiscal compromises that co-operation within the Empire would require. The other statement of policy, from a group of British bankers, presided over by Sir Eric Hambro, goes further. Britain should be “prepared to impose duties on all foreign imports.” This is, of course, a negation of the present British Government's provisional promise to Argentina.
Members of the Royal Commission upon Railways now Sitting in Wellington.
(Rly, Publicity photo.)
Left to right: Mr. J. D. Hall (Christchurch), Mr. R. W. McVilly (former General Manager of Railways, Wellington), Mr. J. Marchbanks (Wellington), and the Hon. R. Masters, M.L.C. (Stratford), Chairman of the Commission.