*MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
I cannot avoid expressing my regret that it falls to my lot to introduce a subject of this importance under conditions so little favourable to its satisfactory consideration by the House. I am not, of course, going to rake up the embers of controversy respecting the policy of considering the Address under the very exceptional circumstances of a Saturday Sitting. This has come about by circumstances over which I have no control, yet I venture to enter a very emphatic protest against a Saturday Sitting. The subject of my Amendment, as I have before stated, is one of very great importance, and it will be generally admitted, without regard to the views which hon. Members in every quarter of the House may entertain as to the direction which legislation or Executive action on it should take, that not only is it of importance, but it is of great interest to all classes, and possesses the characteristics of extreme urgency. I must again repeat that this is not a Party subject.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
I am glad to find that, the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues realise that fact, but when I stated my personal position in this matter the other night I gathered from sounds of dissent from those less well informed than the right hon. Gentleman that they thought my action was not wholly devoid of some Party considerations. But, now I need not labour that point since it has been so generally conceded that there is nothing of a Party character in this Motion. I ought, perhaps, to explain that I was in no way responsible for action not being taken by the late Government. I may remind the House that the question was introduced early in the career of the 1155 last Parliament, and a Select Committee was appointed to consider the subject, and did consider it for two Sessions. I was not then a Member of the House, and consequently no place was accorded me in the deliberations of the Committee. I, moreover, was not in a position to urge upon the Government of the day the immediate consideration of the recommendations of the Committee or of the evidence adduced in the course of the inquiry, for the reason that it always has been, and I hope it always will be, recognised that when a Member of this House has made himself responsible for the conduct of a question and its submission to the House of Commons, it would be contrary to Parliamentary courtesy and usage for another Member to interpolate his action and to do anything which would have a tendency to take the matter out of the hands of the hon. Member who had made himself responsible for it; and in this connection I have to make reference to the loss which the Conservative Party, and indeed the House at large, has suffered by the lamented death of the Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings), who devoted much attention to this question. The hon. Member had indicated his intention of bringing the matter under the notice of the last House of Commons; but unfortunately his health was so unsatisfactory that he was compelled to abandon the intention, and asked me to deal with the subject as best I could. In consequence of that intimation, questions were addressed to the then Government by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Sheffield and by myself, and the result eventually was an announcement that the question had been placed in the hands of the then Home Secretary, who had been charged by his colleagues with the duty of preparing a measure dealing with the subject, and it was hoped that it would be shortly laid before the House. The home Secretary subsequently informed me, in reply to questions publicly put, that he had prepared two alternative drafts of a measure. We were then approaching a time when it was obvious that contested legislation, or any legislation partaking very largely of a controversial character, could scarcely be proceeded with with any hope of success in the expiring moment of the Parliament; and in the course of a 1156 week or two after the declarations of the then Leader of the House and of the then Home Secretary, the latter right hon. Gentleman informed me that certain difficulties had arisen in the way of placing the Bill in the hands of hon. Members, although be hoped that those difficulties would be overcome in a short time. It is not for me, however, to attempt to peer into the region of contemporary history to seek the causes of hesitation on the part of the late Government. Rumour, verified I am bound to say by a statement by a Member of t he late Cabinet, pointed in the direction that assurances were not forthcoming that the measure would receive that general support at the hands of the Leaders of the then Opposition in the absence of which it was useless to introduce a Bill on the subject, which there was no hope of passing into law before the dissolution of Parliament. I have entered thus far into the history of the subject for the purpose of clearing myself and those who think with me from any charge of having neglected our opportunities for bringing this subject under the notice of the House whilst our own Political Party held the reins of Office. The evil with which I now ask Her Majesty's Government to deal has been largely increasing in this country during the last few years. It is not only with the actual immigration of alien paupers that the Government will have to deal; but they will have also to reckon with the state of public opinion which that unrestricted immigration has formulated. I am aware that a strong opinion prevails in many quarters that my proposal is of a half-hearted character, many persons desiring that a measure should be introduced of a mere stringent nature, and that it should be in the direction of the total exclusion of alien immigrants. Many Trades Councils and other Public Bodies, composed of politicians of all Parties, especially those which now directly represent the labouring classes, desire to see a measure of a most stringent character passed into law that would have the effect of prohibiting not only the immigration of the destitute persons with whom my Motion proposes to deal, but also of stopping the competition with home labour—whether the immigrant arrives in this country in an affluent or in a destitute condition. But 1157 that is not a matter with which I propose to deal to-day. I wish to guard myself distinctly against being supposed to be out of sympathy with those who point to the serious competition with home labour which has been established in various parts of this country by means of foreign alien immigration. The minds of the middle classes, I know, are very largely exercised with regard to the competition due to the engagement of foreign clerks on the commercial staffs in the various mercantile houses in this country; mid amongst the voluminous correspondence which I have received since I have placed my notice upon the Paper are many communications from domestic servants and waiters, who, not unnaturally, complain of the very serious competition to which they are subject by reason of the employment of foreigners. But that subject is not immediately before us in the Motion which I now submit. As I said before, the evil is increasing, notwithstanding the denial of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. We are constantly met by statistics which, it is asserted, show that the total number of foreigners in this country form but an infinitesimal proportion of our total population; but even taking the official figures, which, in my opinion, are absolutely unreliable, they show that there has been an increase of 35 per cent. in the foreign population of the country between the Census of 1881 and the last Census. The authorities upon whom is east the duty of preparing the Census Returns, and who discharge that duty, as a whole, with singular ability and industry, had very serious difficulties to contend with; and had it not been for the very cordial co-operation of some of those associated with the administration of various charities in Loudon, even approximate Returns of the number of aliens in this city could scarcely have been obtained. It is notorious, its was pointed out by a Select Committee of this House, that these immigrants congregate in a few specified localities, and attach themselves to particular trades and callings upon which they exercise a very marked effect. There are those who evade the definition of foreigners by the adoption of an English name, or in a smaller number of cases by going through the process of naturalisation, and the House should 1158 bear that in mind in connection with the figures laid before it. But there are other Returns besides the Census Returns. There are Returns ordered to be made under an Act of William IV., which was dragged from its oblivion by the Select Committee. That Act enables the authorities in this country to compel the masters of vessels to fill in certain Returns, giving the nationality of their passengers. These Returns are, I venture to say, for all practical purposes, substantially worthless. They are, I am informed, made up in a most haphazard manner. The captain, who has his hands full with navigation and other important duties, delegates the task to a subordinate officer. I am told that the ship's carpenter, no doubt a very invaluable officer, has often the task assigned to him; but he has his own work to do, so eventually his subordinate—the carpenter's boy—has to undertake the responsibility of carrying into effect legislation sanctioned in the reign of William IV. These Returns, even taking them for what they are worth, show a very serious state of affairs. The figures, prior to the year 1891, may be dismissed as utterly unreliable, and so I will pass at once to the figures for 1891 and 1892. They show that in the year 1891 38,000 aliens arrived in t his country who were not stated to be en route for America; while of the 98,500 who were supposed to merely pass through the country on their way to other lands, it is probable that no insignificant proportion remained here. The Board of Trade attach a foot-note to the Returns, to the effect that it is not to be assumed that the aliens not stated to be en route to America remain in this country, as, in fact, many return to the Continent. I think it would have been a little more candid on the part of those who are responsible for die Returns upon this subject if they had gone on to say that they had not possessed themselves with information which enabled them to state authoritatively that any considerable proportion of the 98,000 aliens stated to be en route to America had not remained in this country. I assert, without fear of contradiction, that a large proportion of them do remain in this country, and I would like to draw attention to the grounds upon which some of them do so, and the particular category in which they are placed. It is well- 1159 known that the stringent regulations in force in the United States have had during recent times a very deterrent effect upon those who are responsible for the shipping arrangements between Liverpool and other ports in the United Kingdom and the United States. The authorities in the latter country are invested with a power, which on many recent occasions they have shown they are not disinclined to exercise, under which they can compel the steamship owners to carry back at their own cost any persons who, in their judgment, are not fit objects for reception into that country—that is to say, those who are suffering under disabilities which are specified in detail in the regulations in force in the United States; and such, for example, as are the most utterly unfit and destitute, and liable to become chargeable on the rates, are denied admission and are thrown back upon the steamship owners, who are compelled, at their own expense, to take them back to their homes. And when I use the words "their homes" I have fallen into a verbal error. Whither do they return—these discarded immigrants? Do they return them to Russia or other countries of Europe whence they have come? I fear not. In many cases they return them to the port of embarcation; they cast them, penniless and destitute, on the landing stages at the ports of the United Kingdom, there to become fierce competitors with our own working people, and, in many cases, to become chargeable to the rates of the localities on which they are stranded. I should like to draw the special attention of the House to the character and race of great numbers of these immigrants. There can, for instance, be no doubt that Italian immigration has been carried on largely into this country, and, I believe, mainly into the Metropolis. Many Italian children are annually imported for the purpose of carrying on a trade which comes within the laws of mendicity and vagrancy. Those who have the management of Government Departments must know full well that this is a matter of notoriety, and no hon. Member will, I feel sure, be found to defend, on its merits, such a state of things. Ought such a gross outrage to be any longer perpetrated upon the hospitality of this country? There are, no doubt, graver causes of complaint 1160 with respect to the great numbers of immigrants entering this country from the Russian Empire, of whom a large proportion are of the Jewish race. Before I deal further with this matter I wish to say that, so far as I am personally concerned—and I think I am also speaking for all those who are co-operating with me in this matter—nothing could be further from our objects and sentiments than to cause pain to that injured race, many of whose members in this country are among the most loyal and patriotic and charitable subjects of the Queen. I also desire expressly to guard against saying anything which might give offence to those who are responsible for the law as it is administered in the dominions of the Czar. I think I shall have the sympathy of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House when I deprecate, even on the part of those who may occupy positions of greater freedom and less responsibility, any indulgence in remarks which might run the risk of being misinterpreted by any Powers which are in alliance with this country. While I have never been one of those who have expressed extreme admiration for the policy and principles embodied in the system of government in vogue in Russia, and while I have never made myself responsible for the endorsement of the policy associated with what has been called "the Divine figure from the North," I shall carry with me the assent of Her Majesty's Government when I say that any Member dealing with a subject of this kind, Which bears very directly upon the internal administration of foreign States, would be wise to adopt, so far as reference to such internal administration is concerned, the policy of "hands off." As to the reasons which in my judgment operate very strongly in favour of action on the part of this House, they are to be found in the ruinous competition which has been brought into play with regard to our home labour markets. In particular localities and in certain trades, as I said before, this undue competition is extremely severe. It is notorious that the tailoring trade, for instance, as was shown by the evidence given before the Sweating Committee, is absolutely overrun by these destitute foreign immigrants. The percentage of foreigners in the London tailoring trade 1161 has been put as high as 90 per cent. of the whole number of workers engaged in that trade; while the figure given by Mr. Burnett, the Labour Correspondent of the Board of Trade, who is considered rather to understate than to overstate the matter, is 80 per cent. in Loudon. That is to say, out of 18,000 or 20,000 persons engaged in the trade, only a few hundreds are of the Anglo-Saxon race. The system of employing aliens, too, is spreading to Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Glasgow, and other large towns, and the ready-made clothing trade is falling almost entirely into foreign hands. Again, in the boot and shoe trade, 25 per cent. of those employed in London are foreigners; and these are constantly on the increase, while a similar condition of affairs prevails in the case of the cabinet makers. There are other trades which, though less important, have in the past at Ordered employment to considerable numbers of our own people, and these are being more and more absorbed by foreigners. Of these minor industries, I may cite as examples artificial flower making, stick-polishing, and work of that sort. Many persons who formerly gained an honest livelihood by those trades have now become chargeable to the rates, because they are unable to get employment in consequence of the large influx of foreigners. That is not all. Many of these aliens, arriving in a destitute condition, not only themselves become chargeable upon the rates, but they constructively add to the demands upon public charity, and upon the pockets of the ratepayers, by throwing out of employment our own workpeople.
§ *SIR J. GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman give us some figures to prove that?
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
My hon. Friend, on whom I am happy to think will devolve the ditty of replying to me, knows perfectly well that there are no such statistics in existence. I have already pointed out that the difficulties of preparing the Census—so far as these aliens were concerned—were almost insurmountable, and that the Board of Trade Returns are far from reliable; yet t he hon. Baronet asks me—a private individual—to give figures showing how many natives of this country, as the result of alien competition, have been driven out of employment and on to the rates. Such figures are practi 1162 cally impossible of compilation by any body—whether public or private.
§ *SIR J. GOLDSMID
My question referred to the number of Jews who are said to have been driven upon the rates in consequence of immigration.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
The hon. Baronet has put into my mouth terms which I did not employ. My hon. Friend asks me how many Jews have become chargeable upon the rates or upon charitable funds. I have already stated I am aware that a very large number of persons who come within the category of those to whom I am endeavouring to draw attention by my Amendment profess the Jewish faith; but I must decline to base my argument upon either race or creed. I know perfectly well that the charitable element among the Jewish connection have concerted measures for dealing with distress in the East End of London, and, indeed, it is the only bright picture in relation to this painful subject that such charity and large-heartedness has been employed. But that is one of the grounds of my complaint. The philanthropy and assistance which my hon. Friend and others have bestowed upon the charitable institutions of this country, without reference to the claims of race or creed, have been largely appropriated by those who have no claim whatever to them. These destitute aliens, who ought to be supported by the Government under whom they were born, are being sent over here in large numbers to compete not only with honest labour in the market, but with the charitable funds of this country, against those who have a legitimate claim to public and to private charity. This is one of the most serious forms which that competition has assumed. My hon. Friend will be able to confirm me in the statement that during the last few years the reply to applications for charitable subscriptions, which hitherto had invariably been sent by many of the most philanthropic and generous hearted members of his own community, have been that they deeply regretted that demands upon the charitable funds under their control, which had a prior claim because of the affinity of race or creed, rendered it impossible for them to contribute to objects of a general character with a liberality which otherwise they would have exhibited. I 1163 am glad my hon. Friend has drawn attention to this point. These destitute aliens who come into this country, and who should be supported in their own native countries by the Government under which they were born, are made chargeable upon the charitable funds of this country, and, what is more, they have, in some cases, even become individually chargeable on the rates. I am not going to accept contradiction on that point, even from such a great authority as my hon. Friend, unless he gives some statistics to show not only that these destitute aliens do not go on the rates, but that they do not constructively add to the burdens of the ratepayers by driving native labour into the workhouse. My own opinion is, that a not inconsiderable number find their way on to the rates; but no private individual or Government Department that could be created could ever present accurate statistics to show the number of persons thrown upon the rates as the indirect effect of this foreign competition. There is another serious matter which must be taken into consideration in connection with this subject. I refer to sanitary grounds, on which this alien immigration is a very serious and grave national danger. In the last few months we have had an only too well-founded alarm with respect to the appearance in this country, as following closely upon its appearance in many parts of the Continent, of one of the most terrible epidemics which have been known during this or any other generation. Within a few hours of the appearance of Asiatic cholera at Hamburg, the disease was found to be in existence upon one of the emigrant ships which was moored at Gravesend after coming front that continental port. The extent of the danger in this respect is not, however, to be measured merely by the number of persons who may arrive from ports scheduled as being under this terrible visitation, because it is well-known that the districts from which these unfortunate people are mainly drawn are hotbeds of disease. Typhus and other fevers of the most serious character are practically chronic in those districts; and it is within official knowledge that the condition in which these emigrants for the most part live is filthy and revolting in the extreme. Nor are the conditions 1164 under which they live after their arrival in this country such as we can contemplate with equanimity. Their dwellings arc of the most foul and loathsome character; they are huddled together in numbers and under conditions which happily do not prevail in these days among the home-born population of this country; and the general hygienic conditions under which they live are such as to render their presence a source of permanent danger to the health of this country. It is all very well to talk of issuing orders—as has been done with much promptitude by the President of the Local Government Board, for which the right hon. Gentleman deserves all credit— calling upon Local Authorities to exercise supervision over the sanitary districts over which they have control, and it is all very well to endeavour to carry out certains regulations at the ports; but when we find that persons are living Within a few minutes' drive of this House under revolting conditions of human existence which can be scarcely imagined, can it be denied that the presence of these people constitute a source of permanent danger with regard, not only to the initiation, but to the propagation of disease? The President of the Local Government Board knows perfectly well that he might go on multiplying his staff of Inspectors in vain in the endeavour to deal adequately with this evil. One of the remedies proposed to check the immigration of these people is that the British taxpayer should be called upon to pay for the appointment of numerous inspectors. But I think that, no matter how you may enlarge your staff of Inspectors, it will be impossible to render innocuous the existence of these people in our midst. There are, I am aware, some persons who object to any legislation on this subject, or to any administrative arrangements, which can have a tendency to run counter to the old traditions of hospitality in this country. Under proper conditions, no doubt, hospitality is a virtue; but what would be said of a father of a family who exercised hospitality wholesale, and, in order that he might entertain anybody aid everybody, turned his own fancily out of doors? I venture to think that if this hospitable person found himself before a bench of magistrates charged with neglecting his obligations to his family, and if he stated that he 1165 turned his family out to starve so that he might entertain persons who had no claim upon his hospitality, the plea would be regarded as an aggravation of his offence. There are also those who talk very largely about the right of asylum, but the person who exercises that right under such conditions should, I think, he conducted himself to an asylum of another kind—namely, the nearest madhouse. There are those, again, who take the view that any interference with this immigration would be counter to the great principles of Free Trade. I do not profess to be an authority upon Free Trade; but, while I do not wish to enter upon this subject, I will say, as one who has never hesitated to avow myself an opponent of the fiscal system prevailing in this country, that I would welcome nothing more heartily than that the cause of Free Trade should be identified with Free Trade in destitution, with Free Trade in sweating, and with Free. Trade in disease. I should welcome that as a platform on which I should be heartily delighted to meet the advocates of Free Trade. There is another argument, in addition to that of the right of asylum, which may be used in the Debate. It is what is called the minimizing argument, the argument that the number of persons affected is relatively small, and that the injury to the community is very slight.' It is, however, clearly explained in the deport of the Select Committee that it is the concentration of this immigration in given areas, and particularly trades that constitutes so great an evil apart altogether from the actual number concerned. The House will probably be told that there is emigration as well as immigration. That emigration, however, consists for the most part of the best blood or the country, and of the able-bodied men who are driven front England, Scotland, and Ireland, out of their own country, and out of the dominions of the Queen, to seek refuge in foreign lands. Possibly amongst those persons there may be found a curtain number who have immigrated, but the most hopeless and the most destitute element is left behind. I may also be told that my Amendment is contrary to the recognised principles of English legislation. If that is the ease, then so much the worse for the precedents that 1166 may be adduced. On the other hand, I say that the legislation of this country shows that when an evil is found to exist a remedy is applied. What are other countries doing in this matter? In speaking of the extreme urgency of this evil I am not dealing merely with its sanitary aspect, but also with the fact that, in consequence of the more stringent legislation and regulations adopted in the countries of Europe, the United States of America, and in our own colonies, the risk is greatly increased of a larger number still of destitute persons being thrown upon these shores. Germany and Austria and the other Continental Powers have adopted very stringent legislation in this respect. I will not Weary the House by going in detail through the regulations of the various States that have legislated on the subject, but I hope my omission to do so will not be used against me to show that I am not in full possession of the facts. I may say, speaking- generally, that every country has adopted regulations for checking the incursion of destitute persons. The United States legislation prevent the landing of any person who, all the opinion of the authorities, is likely to become a public charge or to compete unfairly with native labour. The result d the regulations under the American Alien Acts and under the Contract Labour Law is that already the Steamship Companies have adopted stringent precautions to prevent such persons from taking passages in order to avoid the responsibility of bringing them back again to their own country, and the stream of immigration into this country is thereby likely to be largely increased. Already, as the result of the arrangements made by the United States, a considerable number of these persons have been refused passages by the various Shipping Companies and I do not think Her Majesty's Government are in a position to deny that, although in the past the regulations in the United States may only have been intermittently put in force, public opinion in that country has expressed itself in decided terms to the effect that, if the existing legislation is not found to be powerful enough, Congress will be called upon to pass more stringent legislation. I take it that the House agrees with me that, speaking generally, all the European countries 1167 have legislated in the direction to which I refer.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
Yes, although stringent laws are upon the Statute Books of these countries, they have only been hitherto intermittently enforced, yet, in times like the present, when sanitary precautions are forced upon the attention of the authorities, the House may be sure that these powers will be more stringently exercised in future, and that in the United States Congress will be compelled by the force of irresistible force of public opinion to see that they are so exercised. There is only one Power which has scarcely any legislation worth mentioning on this subject, and which, although in ancient alliance with this country, was not held in high favour in certain influential quarters—I mean the Turkish Empire. I do not think the Prime Minister would care to take as his model of social and domestic legislation a Power which has been described by the right hon. Gentleman—as "the one anti-human specimen of humanity," and has also been referred to as the "Unspeakable Turk." I know that the right hon. Gentleman has been wrongly credited with the last-named observation, though the quotation I gave first would not be denied by him as his own, while the other no doubt should be assigned to the late Mr. Carlisle. I am bound to admit that, without public opinion at its back, it would be difficult for the Government to carry serious legislation dealing with this matter. But the subject has been urged on the attention of the House by many representative bodies. The Trade Union Congress, and also Trade Councils and Unions in many of our most important centres of industry, has passed resolutions strongly urging the subject upon the attention of Parliament. I myself have had deputations from London trade councils on the matter. Forty-three labour organisations, six town councils, 14 metropolitan boards of guardians, and 16 boards of vestries, have also taken action. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the President 1168 of the Board of Trade will be prepared to deny my statements, which are not made at random. The Trade Union Congress, which assembled in Glasgow last autumn, passed a resolution instructing its Parliamentary Committee—To use every legitimate means in its power to have brought and passed through the House of Commons a Bill to prevent the immigration of pauper aliens to our shores.Political bodies of all kinds have taken this matter up. The National Union of Conservative Associations has more than once passed similar resolutions. There is in London an Association for preventing the immigration of destitute aliens, and the executive of that Association includes several members of this House, and even of Her Majesty's Government, which shows, at all events, that this is by no means a Party question. I think it right to remind the House that this question is not a Party question, and that hon. Members opposite, as well as behind me, are members of this Association. And that there is also another body called the London. Reform Union, which is very largely patronised by hon. Members on the other side of the House. I ought to mention what the objects, cited in the official published paper, are of this body—London Reform Union, 9, Bridge Street, Westminster. Object: To reform the existing administration of the river, docks, and wharves, the markets, water supply, means of lighting, locomotion, police, the City funds, hospitals, and other charities; to disseminate knowledge concerning the unfavourable conditions under which vast numbers of the working population live owing to defective and insanitary dwelling and working accommodation, irregular and ill-paid labour, the competition of alien immigrants, the harshness of the Poor Laws,and so on. Now, Sir, that body I find has been patronised by a good many Members of this House. As I am reading from a document, I shall be in order, and it may be more convenient to hon. Members who may not yet be acquainted with the constituencies of hon. Members if I quote from the document. Amongst the supporters of this scheme for disseminating knowledge concerning the unfavourable conditions under which the working population live, owing to the competition of alien immigrants and other causes, are— 1169Mr. Haldane, Q.C., M.P., Haddington; T. Lough, M.P., West Islington; Ralph Neville, M.P., Exchange, Liverpool; W. Saunders, Walworth; J. Stuart Wallace, M.P., Limehouse; Murray M'Donald, M.P., Bow; S. Montagu, M.P., Whitechapel; D. Naoroji, M.P., Finsbury; Lord Compton, M.P., Barnsley; J. W. Benn, M.P., St. George's, E.; Professor Stuart, M.P., Hoxton.The Members of the rank and file of the Party are not without some official guidance and support, for I find no less than 11 Members of Her Majesty's Government are either connected with this body or with a body representing similar views. I find two Lords of the Treasury, Mr. W. M'Arthur and Mr. R. K. Causton; the name of Mr. Sydney Buxton, who occupies a position so well earned, of Under Secretary for the Colonies; Mr. T. Burt, Secretary to the Board of Trade. I find the name of the right hon. A. Acland, Vice President of the Council; the right hon. Arnold Morley, Postmaster General, who comes down, I see, with £100. I also find the name of Lord Carrington, Lord Chamberlain. Then we come to other great personages, the Marquess of Ripon, K.G., Secretary to the Colonies, and the Earl of Rosebery, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, who, I see, like the Postmaster General, has given £100. Then we come to the name of a gentleman who I am very glad to find is a Vice President. Foremost amongst Vice Presidents I find right hon. A. J. Mundella, M.P. Sir, this list would hardly be complete if I did not remind the House that at a large and influential meeting in support of this body, held, I think, upon the I5th December, a speech was delivered—the House need not be afraid, I am not going to read it, but it was, I need hardly add, an eloquent and able speech from the right hon. H. Asquith, Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State, and the Daily News in furnishing the report says—The meeting broke up, and Mr. Asquith and Lord Rosebery were cheered along the Strand when they left the meeting.I do not suppose the people present, and who cheered the Ministers down the Strand, eared very much about many of these subjects; I dare say many of the subjects they had only a slight interest in; but the subject of all those included in the programme for which most persons care is the subject which I have brought forward. The 1170 right hon. Gentleman and Ids Colleague on the strength of this received a cheer down the Strand, and they ought to do what in them lies to carry out the objects to which the Association they were addressing lends its influence and name. Sir, I twist thank the House for the indulgence they have extended to me, but I fear, althought I have been compelled at no inconsiderable length to enter into the matter, there may be some points which I may have omitted to make perfectly clear, still I think I have shown the Horse that there are grounds for prompt action in this matter. We do not want any more inquiries. We had a Committee in each House of Parliament; we have had the Sweating Committee of the House of Lords; the Alien Committee of the Noose of Commons: elaborate inquiries industriously pursued by Members of both Houses: the facts are plain, and they are that prompt and effective action is necessary. For my own part, while cherishing the hope that the Government will recognise the necessity, I shall certainly not consider myself justified in assuming any share or responsibility in the event of further outbreak of disease or the intensification of the other evils to which I have referred. I should not envy those on whose heads such responsibility would rest. I beg to move the Amendment which stands in toy name.
§ MR. J. H. WILSON (Middlesbrough)
seconded the Amendment. He said he must apologise for thrusting himself upon the House, but he felt it his duty as dot representative of a workman's organisation, and one directly affected by the question of foreign alien immigration, to say a few words. He endorsed the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of the House (Mr. J. Lowther), but he would like to point out that he approached this subject from a different standpoint. As was well-known, the right hon. Gentleman was a Protectionist, he (Mr. Wilson) was a Free Trader; he believed in Free Trade, and did not believe that Protection in any way would benefit the working man in this country he had found from experience, having travelled in all parts of the world, that it had not benefited the workmen of other countries, therefore he could not be accused of approaching this 1171 question from a Protectionist point of view. But when they came to deal with the question of alien immigration it was entirely different, to his mind, from that of the question of Protection, and he was glad to find on that (the Government) side of the House that in regard to one important branch of the subject there were Members of the Government who sympathised with this Amendment. If it were possible he would ask for a Committee with power to draft some laws that would meet the evil instead of an inquiry. They had had enough of inquiry, and his experience was that inquiries were for the purpose of shelving a very knotty and disagreeable subject. There might be gentlemen on that side of the House who would defend this alien immigration; they would perhaps be told that if they prevented these foreigners from coming into this country they would be ruining the tailoring industry of the country. He said they had better ruin the tailoring trade of the country than tolerate a state of affairs which was crushing out the life blood and the sinew of thousands of poor women, who were compelled to work on the same conditions as these aliens. He had a quotation from a newspaper of an interview with the Jewish Rabbi, which he thought was sufficient in itself to gain the sympathy of every Member of the House who was desirous of protecting the labouring population of this country. The Jewish Rabbi stated that since the foreign Jews had been allowed or had been imported into this country, quite a new industry had been established—that of the tailoring industry—and that it was quite possible now for working men to get a cheap suit of clothes, whereas a few years ago they had to be content with second-hand clothes. As a workman he would say that he would be much more content with his second-hand suit of clothes, knowing that they were made under conditions where the workman who made them had not been absolutely sweated than a cheap suit where the workman had been sweated. They were told by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the Jews, the aliens, were not thrust on their rates. They were not to any large extent, but that was not what they complained of. What they said was that these aliens came in and drove our men and women out of employment and 1172 put them on the rates, and he said it was the, duty of the Government of this country to dual with this question. He hoped it would be dealt with, not from any Party spirit but with a desire to promote the general welfare of the country. But there was another species of alien immigration with which, with the permission of the House, he would like to deal, as he thought it was a matter of the greatest importance to the country. He had been in the House only a very short time, and he had heard a good deal from both sides about the grandness of this Empire, the integrity of the Empire; he had heard speeches front both sides about maintaining the integrity of the Empire, and these from hon. Gentlemen who perhaps would be prepared to oppose the Amendment when it came to a question of preventing the cheap foreigner from supplanting our British sinew. Their Mercantile Marine was composed of 150,000 men, exclusive of masters. Out of that number 27,000 were returned as foreigners by the Board of Trade. He did not for a moment a knit the correctness of those Returns, because he had evidence, and had himself times without number seen foreign sea men with foreign names sign British ship articles along with himself, and claiming British places of berth when they could not speak a word of English. He had seen hundreds of these men on British ships; he had gone on board British ships and found the entire crew, with the exception of the masters, composed of foreigners, therefore he said that the Board of Trade Returns giving 27,000 foreigners in the Mercantile Marine were not to is relied on for a moment. In addition to the 27,000 foreigners they had got 24,000 Chinamen and Lascars. When they came to add those together he considered there was only a possible 100,000 able seamen belonging to this country, and that the rest were foreigners. Was it good or in the interests of the country they should depend, in the time of war, in the time of a great European war—was it safe to depend entirely for their food supply upon foreigners? This was a side of the question which he thought had not been brought before the House before, and he was pleased to have the opportunity as an able seaman, as a man who had been dragged up in a ship's forcastle, 1173 to vindicate the services of British seamen on this point. The Union of which he had the honour to be the Secretary would no doubt be accused of having encouraged foreigners to come into this country. That he did not deny. They were face to face with a difficult problem. There were a large number of foreigner sailing in our ships; if they had excluded those men from their ranks the shipowners would have been in a position to have defeated any effort on the part of their organisation, and therefore they adopted the best course they could—namely, to enrol all foreigners who could understand the English language and show a reasonable service in British ships, and upon the others they put a poll-tax of £25. In that way in the years 1889–90 they prevented over 5,000 aliens coming into their ships. The shipowners, however, on arriving at Continental ports discharged the British seamen and shipped aliens at a lesser rate of wages, and the result was that in one year no less than 20,000 British seamen were discharged at ports from the Elbe to the Brest. In his time, he had seen in their docks in the United Kingdom notice boards upon the side of the ships "wanted 16 able seamen, but no English need apply." When such a state of things as that existed was it not time that the Government or the country should take steps to prevent it? The men in their Mercantile Marine were rapidly declining, they were depending for the supply of their seamen upon foreign vessels, and in the event of a great European war the 16,000 Naval Reserve they had would be called upon to man their war ships, because though they had plenty of ships they had not got the men. It was also very hard if in times of peace these men were not able to get employment because "no English' need apply." He would not trespass further on the time of the House, but he hoped the Government would seriously take this matter into their consideration. There were ways and means by which this could be remedied though the right hon. Gentleman did not suggest any remedy. If he might make a suggestion, it would be that there should not be a poll-tax placed upon aliens coining into this country, as he did not believe that would answer, because he believed it would cause 1174 abuses that would be worse than the present evil, but he did believe the case might be met by providing that no employer, either on land or sea, should be allowed to employ more than one foreign workman for every two Britishers. ["Oh, Oh!"] Some hon. Gentleman said "Oh, oh," and pooh-poohed the idea, but for his part he said it was worth consideration. Some remedy of the kind would have to be adopted, or by and by our Mercantile Marine would be a thing of the past, so far as British sailors were concerned. They ought to give every inducement to the bids in our country to serve an apprenticeship in the Mercantile Marine. They were dependent on the Navy more than any other country in the world, and yet undue preference was given to foreigners coming into this country. He had much pleasure in seconding the Amendment.
Amendment proposed,At the end of the Question, to add the words,— "And this House humbly prays Your Majesty to he graciously pleased to direct that a Bill he laid before Parliament for the restriction of the immigration of destitute aliens into the United Kingdom."—(Mr. James Lowther.)Question proposed, "That those words be dice added."
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE,) Edinburgh, Midlothian
I wish to say one word in the first instance upon the speech of my hon. Friend who has just suit down. My hon. Friend has spoken in what I may call general support of this Motion, but to the terms of the Motion as it stands he has distinctly stated that he does not attach himself. The Motion as it stands would seek to impose the duty of introducing a Bill to limit the importation of destitute aliens. But I would submit, Sir, my hon. Friend is quite right in saying what he really means is not the passing of a Motion requiring the Government to do that, but the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the proper basis of some measure of limitation. It is obvious to him, I am sure, that the Motion as it stands would in no way serve this purpose, because it is strictly limited to the immigration of destitute aliens, and could not be so extended as to include the question of aliens in 1175 general. With respect to the fraudulent inclusion of aliens into the characteristic of sailors, I am not sufficiently acquainted with the facts to see what advantage they would gain from it, inasmuch as the law at present gives them terms of perfect equality, but I need not say that any such fraud in assuming the character of a British sailor is analogous to the use of a foreign trade mark, which has already been the subject of restrictive legislation, and of course might be the subject of restrictive legislation, but on lines entirely different from those of this Motion. Now, Sir, I fully see the speech of my hon. Friend is quite consistent with the proposition he makes—namely, a course upon which he would be able to bring to the test of the judgment of others the suggestion he has made. But he does not look to the particular terms of the Motion with a desire to be bound by them, and that is a consideration which I hope will weigh with him in concluding how this Debate is to terminate, and whether we are to be placed in the position of apparent opposition by a decision upon a subject where there may be, within certain limits, a considerable amount of agreement. As to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, I do not think that he has much reason to complain. He exhibited a very dolorous case at the commencement of his speech as to the unfortunate position in which he was placed. But he has had the opportunity of sufficiently copious exposition, in a House of competent numbers and of rapt attention. He is not bringing his Motion forward at 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning, but is approaching it at noon, under no disadvantage at all, except that state of Cimmerian darkness which is not infrequent in this House at noon-day. I wish to render my thanks to thee right hon. Gentleman. I am tired of being the subject of perpetual Votes of Censure. The effect of having perpetually to plead, day after day, and night after night, against this Vote of Censure, and that Vote of Censure, and the other Vote of Censure, is that, not with standing a consciousness of innocence, yet, from the continual repetition of one's guilt, there seems to cling a kind of atmosphere of criminality. I must thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving us this 1176 opportunity of meeting a question which we can discuss without prejudice and apprehension, and without having our views distorted by selfish or interested motives. The right hon. Gentleman said that this question had been the subject of previous consideration in Parliament, and he spoke in sympathetic terms of the late Mr. Jennings, who had earned distinction in connection with it. I wish to repeat and echo those words of sympathy. I am particularly glad of doing so, because it happens that, as I believe, I was not at all in favour with Mr. Jennings, who made me the hero of a book which, I believe, convicted me of every sort of inconsistency—a book, I have no doubt, written with the talent and ingenuity Which distinguished him, but which, unfortunately, the pressure of other occupations has prevented Me at any time from being able to examine. I have seen him try in this House to do service to Ids country, and I deeply sympathise in the loss that has been sustained, and especially with the loss to those to whom he was nearer and dearer. But what did that Committee do? The right hon. Gentleman has appealed to the authority of that Committee—at any rate, to the institution of that Committee—in favour of general treatment, and at the same time he has placed himself, I think, in opposition to the recommendation of that Committee, because he says the time for inquiry has gone by, and that what he wants is to demand immediate legislation. But that was not the language of the Committee. The Committee said, "There may be a state of filings in which legislation of some restrictive character on the immigration of destitute aliens may be required, but we do not think that the present condition of the facts and the question justify our making a recommendation to that effect." But then the right hon. Gentleman must feel that there is a difficulty in his way, because the House has appointed a Committee, and that Committee has found that the facts are not sufficiently developed to justify their making any legislative recommendation. What has the right hon. Gentleman done in his speech? I fully admit that the right hon. Gentleman did all that could be done with much ability and ingenuity, and certainly, without unduly limiting the scope and extent of his exposition, 1177 he has done all that could be done in presenting us with a basis for this Bill. He presented to us these things: a general belief that the immigration of destitute aliens has thrown many British workpeople upon the rates, and thereby added to the burdens of the country. Yes, Sir; but does he think that his general belief to that effect, or the general belief even of other Members, unless sustained by specific facts, brings the question to such a state of maturity as to warrant the Government in promoting legislation? He said quite truly that you cannot expect to make a complete presentation of the facts upon such a subject. No, but some approach to that might have been made. He gave no figures.
*MR. JAMES LOWTHER
I did give figures. I said 80 per cent. of those employed in the tailoring trade were foreigners.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
That is another matter. I am not speaking of the number of foreigners in a given trade, but of the number of British workpeople put upon the rates. That is the question. There the right hon. Gentleman gave us no facts. I do not say that his belief may not constitute a reason for endeavouring to, get al the grounds of that belief with the view of acting upon it in whatever sense may be reasonable, if he should he found to be correct. But he has not been able to give us facts. The right hon. Gentleman went on to state that the sanitary conditions of a portion of these immigrants are deplorable. I can well believe that. Reference has been made to the case of the Jewish immigrants, old as that reference has been brought into connection with the sanitary question, I think we ought to do this justice to the Jewish nation—that, speaking of it in general, it is a notorious, at any rate I believe an indisputable, fact that the sanitary conditions of that race are in general extremely good; and, further, it May be said of them on this point that they will bear favourable comparison with Christians, and perhaps on some other points too, so that we should not make hasty and sweeping assertions on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman has justly admitted that this question of sanitary conditions has received the prompt attention of the President of the Local Government 1178 Board, and consequently that we are doing all we can—not in consequence merely of his Motion, but anterior to his Motion—to get at the real state of the facts upon that question. The right hon. Gentleman did quote one case in which I think I may make the concession that the facts are established to the general satisfaction of the public. He referred to the immigration of destitute Italian children. These children are destitute, and the facts of their condition do not require to be established by inquiry, because they are notorious, and if we were dealing with that question alone I should be inclined to say that we had a case in which, undoubtedly, restraint might be properly employed. But the right hon. Gentleman will agree that if we introduce a Bill for the purpose of restraining the immigration in those circumstances of Italian children—it might be a right or a wrong thing, at any rate it is an arguable proposition in itself— it would not touch the length and breadth of the question that has been raised. Having put aside this element of the case, let us see what assistance the right hon. Gentleman has given us towards the formation of this Bill. I will now suppose that we are gathered together in some Cabinet or Committee, and are endeavouring to conceive and fashion out some shape or figure of a Bill that we could introduce. It is to be a Bill to restrain the immigration of destitute aliens into the United Kingdom. Now, the first thing we have to consider is, What is meant by the words "destitute aliens"? What aliens are destitute? The right hon. Gentleman, though he was fair and candid in his avowal about Protection, has not asked us to legislate against alien immigration as such, but against destitute alien immigration. What is a destitute alien? I understand him to include in the phrase "destitute alien," the mass, or very large proportion, of those Jewish and other immigrants who are now crowding, as it appears, without going into particular percentages, the tailoring trade in the East End of London, and with regard to whom it is, on the other hand, asserted that they have in great measure created a tailoring trade which did not exist before, and which would not have existed but, for their coming upon the ground. But these men so employed in the tailoring trade are, according to the 1179 spirit of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, destitute aliens. Now, can we make good that definition of a destitute alien—a man who is supporting himself by wages which he earns, which his employer is willing to give him, and with which he is contented? Is that man a destitute alien? If not, he does not fall within the scope of this proposed Bill, and this Motion will do nothing whatever to get rid of him. In what sense is he destitute? He is destitute in this sense—that, if he has not got employment and wages as the result of such employment, then he would be destitute. Yes, Sir; but that is a definition of the condition of the entire labouring population. They are not destitute, but they would be if they did not get the wages which they earn in their trades. Therefore, I submit to the right hon. Gentleman that he really appears to have given to us no practical assistance whatever; and if this Motion were adopted, and if the Government were endeavouring to act upon it, so far as the speech of the right hon. Gentleman goes, there is no objective, no practical aim we can put before us in a definite manner, except the little handful of Italian children whose case may be said to be admitted. The time for action is when the facts are well matured and well developed. That is the proper time for action. I do not think, speaking generally, the facts can be said to have been so developed by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, when he requires for his purpose to define as a destitute alien a man who is earning wages with which he is content.
*MR. JAMES LOWTHER
I think the right hon. Gentleman misunderstood me. I did not say that persons earning weekly wages at that time were destitute. I said they were thrown upon our shores in a state of destitution, and that by entering into unfair competition foreign labour got the place which British labour would otherwise have got.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The right hon. Gentleman does not assist us by answering the question, what is a destitute alien? Does he assert that every immigrant landing upon a foreign shore, unless he comes with a contract in his pocket, or else with capital in his pocket, is a destitute alien? However capable he may be of work, whatever demand for labour there may 1180 be in the market, however good may be the rate of wages, whatever may be the circumstances he produces, unless be has a prior contract in his pocket, he is to be considered a destitute alien. That is exactly the ease. I am not for the present arguing against the right hon. Gentleman; all I say is, that if you strike at men who conic here with a capacity to work, who do not become a burden to the country, but who obtain work in the labour market here, if you strike at that man as a destitute alien you strike at the great bulk of the labourers whom in hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands we export annually from our own shores. I perfectly agree that the subject of the immigration of destitute aliens—properly so-called—is an entirely legitimate subject; for consideration. But I must even here point out that there are some reasons why it may be necessary to proceed in this matter with circumspection as well as with decision. I will give two reasons. It is generally not wise for a country which exports a particular commodity to lay restraint upon t he importation of that commodity, because it is obvious that by so doing you put into the mouth of Foreign Powers a justification for laying similar restrictions. The restraints which we might lay would be totally useless to us, because we are, upon the whole, exporters and not importers; whereas the restraints which other countries could lay would he fatal to us, because they would stop the free entry of those whom we export into those other countries. That is the case of England and Ireland. Such a measure as the right hon. Gentleman recommends would also create great jealousies and suspicious in foreign countries, and it is my duty to consider in all matters of this kind whether I am prepared with something like a justification for the erection of barriers really due to jealousy and selfishness, although coupled with the pretext that they are for the public welfare. Another reason why I am in favour of circumspection is this— The right hon. Gentleman must recollect that that whole network, that large and complex system of treaties with foreign Powers under which the Government works, relates not only to commodities hut to persons, and that equal treatment has to be secured in those countries with 1181 which Treaties are made for the persons who emigrate from this country into them. It is a matter for serious consideration how we eau reconcile all this with legislation against aliens, and with an unreal definition of the nature of "destitute aliens." But, with respect to aliens really destitute, I perfectly agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there is a fair question how far for each country it may be expedient—though in principle it is perfectly;justifiable—to limit the immigration of such destitute aliens. That is a question which we recognise as a perfectly fair subject of investigation. But do not let it be supposed that I am speaking of such investigation as a means of evasion. It has been pointed out by the President of the Local Government Board, and that without waiting for an impulse derived from a Motion like this, measures have been taken with respect to those who enter this country under sanitary conditions which make their arrival dangerous or inexpedient. In the same way the general question of this immigration has been taken into consideration by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. He has not waited for the action of the House of Commons, but he has, in the new Labour Department, which in a great part owes its existence in its present form to his energy and intelligence, been engaged in endeavouring to make every possible inquiry into the facts of this case, and not only so, but in the case most important of all, the case of America, he has sent a Commissioner to the United States to inquire into the practice of that country, and to see within what limits the system of restriction lets been and can be properly applied. The subject is one which must be carefully and even tenderly considered. We ourselves within our own limits as an Executive are making every effort to place the House in a position to judge to what degree and in what manner it may be expedient to deal with the question. When, therefore, we are asked, "Are you willing to grant a Committee of the House of Commons to examine?" and we say we are if the nature of the inquiry be properly defined, that may be the truth, but it is not the whole truth, because we are willing, and desirous ourselves to assist t hat examination, and we are desirous to place the House of Com- 1182 mons in a condition to form a just judgment in the matter. As to the general considerations applicable to the importation of destitute aliens we are at one with the proposer of the Motion, but we de not wish to take any action on the question except upon a foundation of facts which are clear and distinct in their nature, and front which we may be able to judge what course should be adopted. But it would be scarcely honest in us to accept a Motion of this kind which, from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, might create considerable expectations in the public, and which is so limited by the words "destitute aliens," that no practical result could be hoped for. We should be guilty of endeavouring to gain popularity unworthily if we were to accept a Motion which holds out, and is quite understood to hold out, large promises to the public, but which from the Bunted nature of its scope would prevent the adoption of any legitimate practical measures. What we propose to do is to collect all the information we can in order that we may be able to come with our eyes open to the consideration of a matter in which the public are profoundly interested, and in which it is of the greatest importance that we should take only sound, legitimate, and well-considered action.
§ *SIR CHARLES W. DILKE (Forest of Dean)
Sir, I have to ask the House, in the first place, for the courtesy which it always extends to those who speak for a small minority. It appeared to me, Mr. Speaker, that the right hon. Gentleman who makes this Motion has the sympathy of his side in his demand for legislation, whereas the Seconder of the Amendment seemed to have also much sympathy on his side in asking for a Committee. They were followed by the Prime Minister who dealt at length with the arguments they had advanced. Now, Mr. Speaker, I propose to place before the House the reason why I think that neither legislation nor inquiry is necessary in this case. The Prime Minister gave a strong and good reason why legislation is undesirable, and why there are difficulties in the way when he referred to the question of labour under contract. Those who are acquainted with the subject know very well that the American Government, in their pursuit of the exclusion of destitute aliens, have 1183 been forced into legislation against the introduction of labour under contract. I have no doubt that similar difficulties would arise here if we were to attempt legislation. The Seconder of the Amendment had my sympathy in his speech, but it had nothing to do with the question of the Amendment, and his proposed measures, when carefully examined, will be found to be in no way connected with persons who are destitute aliens. The persons of whom he spoke are some of them not destitute, and others of them subjects of the Queen. The hon. Gentleman seems to he devoted to what is called Trade Union legislation. He says he speaks for a trade which has been very greatly—perhaps more than any other—affected by the importation of foreign labour. Speaking, on behalf of a small minority, I must sax that I am quite in sympathy with his views on the subject, but not at all in sympathy with the Protectionist argument of the Mover of the Amendment. One strong point has been made, that is as to the tailoring trade, which it is said has fallen almost entirely into the hands of foreigners—destitute aliens. That was regarded as a strong point. I do not look upon it as such. I venture, indeed, to say "No!" The tailoring trade suffers from sweating. I do not suppose there is a more sweated trade in the country, and I should be disposed to agree with any reasonable steps that may be taken to protect trade against that system. The great majority of those engaged in the trade are women, mid, of course, they suffer the worst of the system, the evils of which I have indicated.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
In the tailoring trade 80 per cent. of those engaged are foreigners.
SIR CHARLES W.DIIKE
No; there is a difference between London and the Midland Counties. In the comities the trade is mainly in the hands of women. I now come to the speech or my right hon. Friend (Mr. J. Lowther), who has always been the leading Protectionist of this House. I remember the first speech my right hon. Friend delivered in this House. I remember listening to that speech.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
No; but I was in the Strangers' Gallery and heard the speech. Well, whether the right hon. Gentleman has moved with the times or the times have moved with him I cannot say; but he appears to-day as the representative of the working man. I hope we shall have the support of my right hon. Friend when we initiate legislation on Trade Unionist lines to remedy some of the evils he has directed attention to to-day. With reference to what has been said by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough on the evils of pauper alien immigration, I would go further, and add that the competition of the poorer class of such immigrants is of the same nature as the evils accompanying Free Trade, such as the importation of manufactured goods from abroad, the work of foreigners who compete with us at home. In just the same way the foreigner is brought into the British Empire, and he takes his part in English labour, and in the system of competing with us at an unfair rate of wages. The evils of the foreign immigration are less than those of Free Trade, for the one reason—that the alien, not always, perhaps, but very often, is brought into our Trades Unions, and competes fairly with us. At the same time, I would say that the compensating advantages of Free Trade are greater than its drawbacks. My right hon. Friend, as the leading Protectionist, failed to induce the workingman to tax his food; now he asks him to protect himself by legislation against competition in trade. He has spoken of the extreme urgency of this question. I want to know how the question has become more urgent since last year. Last year the Leader of the Conservative Party was approached by my right hon. Friend. He asked the right hon. Gentleman then at the head of the Government in the House whether he proposed to initiate legislation on this question. My right hon. Friend said that a Bill had been prepared. In doing that I am quite sure he was innocently misled.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
I have made inquiries about the Bill, but eau find no trace of it.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. MUNDELLA,) Sheffield, Brightside
That does not appear as his answer.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
I do not believe, Sir, that any Bill on the subject was ever drafted, or if it was, that it was submitted to the Government. Has anything occurred since calling for immediate legislation? The Leader of the House told us in the April of last year that there was nothing to justify immediate legislation. What, I ask, has occurred since then? If nothing had occurred to justify it up to April, 1892, what has occurred since then? since that time there has been a marked falling of in the number of destitute aliens coming to this country. There is no sign of any fresh increase taking place, therefore so far as any change has taken place since April last, it has been one diametrically opposed to any urgent necessity for legislation. It is said there is danger of the importation of cholera, and no one who knows how the disease makes its insidious approaches can doubt that we are in a real danger; but when I was at the Local Government Board we were threatened with a visitation of cholera which, happily, did not come. We were told then, and while it might be wise to take steps to satisfy public opinion, there was no reason in the past knowledge of those who knew most about the ravages of cholera in India to suppose that the malady would be or could be conveyed into this country by destitute aliens. The right hon. Gentleman has given us some reasons founded on the knowledge he has recently acquired oil trades unionism, why we ought to take the course he recommends to us. I do not know what view the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. John Burns) takes in this matter, but then, are those in the House who will give the right hon. Gentleman some sound data on this point. Trades Unions may have passed resolutions embodying a vague desire for legislation on the subject of the immigration of aliens. I was present on one occasion when such a resolution was passed without a word, or a speech or a comment, and I believe that those who support such resolutions have not really thought the 1186 matter out. At a meeting at which I was present one man stood up and said—"The blackleg is the alien even if he come from my own town." That sentiment was loudly cheered, and the resolution was at once passed. The Trades Unionists' desire is against black-legging in every form, and their antipathy is not directly levelled at the alien. The arrival of the alien they regard as a small evil as compared with the other, in fact they hold that in some respects it is better to bring these people to this country than to have to compete with them in their trades abroad. Sympathising deeply with the labour leaders, I believe that the prohibition of alien immigration is a sham remedy for very grave evils in the labour market. It would only operate against a small branch of the disease, and is not at all likely to be successful even in regard to the small branch. The right hon. Gentleman has talked a great deal about "public opinion." I do not admit that the view of the 14 Metropolitan Boards of Guardians which has been cited ought to influence the deliberations of this House, for 14 Boards only form a small minority of the London Boards of Guardians. It is not for want of asking that only 14 Boards have passed these resolutions. All the vestries and Boards of Guardians have been communicated with, and the majority of the latter have taken no notice of the matter, whilst some have passed resolutions adverse to the view of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has not always shown that deference for public opinion which he has exhibited here to-day, and I honour him for it. Sitting below the Gangway, he has had to do what we sitting in a similar position on this side have had to do—what I have had to do to-day, namely, speak for minorities. I remember that on the subject of the Ballot Bill the right hon. Gentleman did not show that exaggerated deference for public opinion that he has displayed here to-day. My view of this House is that we ought to some extent to take part in forming public opinion, and ought not to defer at once to what may be public opinion without any proof that it is public opinion. At present, I admit, there is a kind of public opinion on the side of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Speakers at public meetings and news- 1187 paper editors declare that legislation is necessary, but my experience is that, if you fight with these gentlemen, argue with them, put your case clearly before them, you can easily convert them. That being the case, I submit that it is our duty to try and take part in the formation of public opinion. The right hon. Gentleman says that the evil against which he complains has been increasing for some years, mid he quoted the last Census Returns and the Returns of the Census before last, and I have quoted the statistics for the past two years, which, at all events, is the freshest information before us. I have tried to show the House that there has been a very steady and even rapid falling off in the number of destitute aliens coining to this country during the last two years. The right hon. Gentleman says the falling off is owing to the large number of destitute aliens who become naturalised when they arrive. That is an argument hardly worthy of the right hon. Gentleman. If he had turned to the Home Office Returns he would have seen that amongst the whole of the aliens in this country those who become naturalised are a drop in the ocean, and the number of destitute aliens who become naturalised is a drop within a drop, if such a phrase can be permitted. My right hon. Friend declares that the Returns made on the authority of the Board of Trade are worthless. Well, if they are worthless—and I am not altogether prepared to take exception to that statement—it is because they include a vast number of people who are not destitute. Let us look at these Returns. They come not only from places like Harwich and Hull, but also from places like Dover, Folkestone, and Newhaven, and all foreigners travelling as deck passengers, and all who proceed by third-class from those ports after their arrival are classed in the Returns as destitute aliens. Is it not a notorious fact that a number of people who are certainly not destitute aliens, but who are aliens coming over to benefit themselves, who know well what they are going to do here, travel by third-class from Dover and Folkestone to London? There can be no doubt that the figures laid before us show that the total immigration of aliens is small and decreasing, and is a mere trifle as compared with the vast number of workmen in this country, 1188 that there is no tendency to swell in this destitute immigration, and that destitute immigration, so far as it exists, is an immigration of Russian Jews. The number of Russian Jews who come in is small. I know a good deal about them, having travelled in their country, and seen them at home, and I can say that these persons against whom so much is said in Germany and Russia, are a thrifty class, who, when subjected to public opinion in this country in the small numbers in which they come, and brought face to face with the Trade Unionists, probably become decent and respectable citizens. They are, I say, few in number. They have been driven from their country under circumstances to which I must be permitted to allude with some clearness, despite the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman that every Member of the House should refer to these matters with bated breath. These men are the victims of the most cruel religious persecution, taking all its circumstances into account, of all the persecutions of modern times. The Russian Government has followed the action of the mob—some say it has led the action of the mob—and the persecution is the bitterest since, perhaps, the persecution of the Jews in Spain. The Government mid the populace have both taken part in it. The Government have acted slowly and stealthily; they have driven the Jews from every office and position in which they could earn money Or win reputation. They had driven them out of wide areas in Russia into one small corner of the country, and even there they are taking from them almost every means of livelihood. The populace have followed, and have driven these poor people into the streets, where they have been starved and frozen, and where their wives and children perished. It is the few victims of this persecution who reach this country and desire to stay here whom we are asked by the supporters of the Amendment to exclude by legislation. The right hon. Gentleman has asked us to-night not to deal with this question too fully. I will not go into it in detail. But I will say that the Jews in Russia fro reduced to this condition of things—that even in St. Petersburg, where for a time they were allowed to remain carrying mercantile lawsuits, they have now been deprived of their synagogue, which 1189 is being used as a Mahomedan Tartar mosque.
§ SIR J. GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
And the Moscow synagogue is closed.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
Yes; and the Moscow synagogue is closed. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the legislation of other countries, especially that of the United States, but he did not speak of Canada. The Prime Minister in alluding to this subject with the keen perception of its bearings which he displayed, though he had ma been middle to find tune to read the literature on the subject, and had had to think it out almost whilst on his feet in the House, asked the right hon. Gentleman opposite, what he should do if other countries acted against us as he suggested that we should act against them, and the right hon. Gentleman replied that they had done so already. They have not, for practical purposes, done so already. We still export from this country a great number of persons who are destitute. We send them out not only by private charity but even at the expense of the rates. For every destitute alien who conies here I venture to say 10 destitute persons go abroad, and there are 100 times as many Britons in what are practically foreign countries as there acre foreigners living in our midst. Most hon. Gentlemen are engaged as members of Boards of Guardians, Magistrates, or members of philanthropic bodies in sending, destitute Britons to foreign countries, and is it not hypocrisy and worse for us to seek to exclude the same class of people from this country? It may be said that British emigrants are sent chiefly to Canada but Canada for practical purposes is the United States. If a mail has land to go to in Canada he will stay there, but if he is destitute he will go to the best labour market and therefore immediately cross the border. You cannot tether these people down as if they were so many cows. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to the past history of this country in reference to the right of asylum, ouch he spoke of hospitality and of our oh traditions. As an extreme Radical I am far from saving we should never change traditions, but when we are asked to reverse our historical course 1190 upon such inadequate grounds I do say it is right that we should have some regard to the past history of the country upon the question. I am not going to take the right hon. Gentleman or the House back to all the famous instances, as a great deal of literature has been circulated on the matter dealing with them. But I would point out that the riots against the Flemings and the Walloons which arose against their introduction, to which Chaucer alluded in time case of the Flemings, were riots caused by y the fact that the British workman was taxed for the purpose of bringing in these foreigners. Up to very lately— as it was thought to be the policy of the Government to bring these people in—British workmen were taxed over and over again for the introduction of such persons. We all know that we owe to the immigration of destitute foreigners many distinguished persons—many valuable servants of the State. Mr. Disraeli's family, if they were not destitute aliens when they came here, were so when they went to Venice; and I think I may almost allude to my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) as being in a somewhat similar position. Those who were brought directly into this country were brought here at the expense of our taxes, and the riots were the result. I am not going back to those distant clays, but I should like for a moment to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to a case very similar to the present ease, in the time of Queen Anne, which was discussed as this has been, and in regard to Which arguments very couch the same as those we have heard to-day were used. At that time as many Palatine refugees came to this country in two and a-half months as the whole of the Russian Jews who came here in the course of 12 months new, and as they came to a very much smaller population the House can well imagine the arguments used against these people being brought here at the public charge were strong. At first the cost was borne by the Queen herself, but Her Majesty subsequently appointed a Committee, and after that the cost was made a public charge. I have here book written against the arguments of those who tried to prevent the introduction of these aliens 1191 into the country. The writer speaks of surprise at—The arrival of so many poor distressed Palatines at a time when there was no flagrant persecution in those territories.This is not the case with the Russian Jews who are being persecuted on religious and political grounds. The objectors complained of—Admitting and subsisting so many strangers in South Britain in a time when trading was low, employment scarce.They said—Bringing in such great numbers of foreigners at this juncture, is to make provisions still dearer; to eat the bread out of the mouths of our native handicraftsmen alai labouring people, and increase the number of our poor, which are too many, and too great a burden to the nation already.The writer who opposed those arguments spoke of the opinions which on the present occasion have been expressed by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lowther) as "ancient errors" and "foolish prejudices," and called those who entertained them "poor-spirited, selfish animals." Queen Anne herself was applied to, and, as became the Queen of this country, she quoted from the Bible the words—For I was an hungred and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger and ye took me in.These people came to the number of 10,000 souls in two or three weeks, and they were supported by this country. They were not, like the Flemings and Walloons, handicraftsmen who were specially useful to us here. They were really destitute aliens like the Russian Jews. They were vine dressers who had to learn our trades. They were brought only because it was rumoured that they were unhappy, and they were received in this country because the people thought it their duty as Christians and Britons to extend protection to the afflicted. The writer to whom I have referred concluded his pamphlet by saying—By this time I hope, Sir, you are satisfied that by employing and settling these poor Palatines in Her Majesty's dominions of Great Britain and Ireland, besides many others, these general advantages will accrue.' 1. It will invite more foreigners of all degrees and conditions to conic over and which ought by all means to be encouraged, pursuant to the general maxim so often repeated. 2. It may, by example, awake our own people out of the present lethargy, and oblige them to put the laws in execution for employing the poor.1192 That statement I commend to the Member for Middlesbrough. I would suggest that instead of endeavouring by sham remedies to meet the case with which he deals he should try Trade Union remedies.
§ MR. J. H. WILSON (Middlesbrough)
We have already adopted the remedy which the right hon. Baronet suggested, and we have failed, because the shipowners engage the foreigners abroad.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
I am alive to that matter. But that does not come within the terms of the resolution, and requires legislation in which I shall be glad to co-operate with the hon. Member. There is also legislation needed on behalf of the Merchant Service being considered as a Naval Reserve. We have not the number of British sailors living at home that are needed, and if the hon. Member is prepared to propose legislation which would give us a sufficient number of men living on our own shores to man our ships in time of war, he will have my cordial support. But there have been many cases in which destitute aliens have been brought into the country which are within the knowledge of Members of the House. There is one former Member who has, perhaps, more knowledge of this matter from his own liberality than anyone in the country, I mean Mr. Joseph Cowen, the late Member for Newcastle. I asked him as to his experience. He recalled to my attention the fact that in 1830 Poles were actually pensioned by the State here, having been driven from their own country for political reasons. In June, 1848, the refugees from the French Socialist Revolution came here. These people, though destitute aliens when they came, founded in this country many important trades. The English electro-plate work and many branches of the Birmingham hardware and jewelery trades would not have attained their present development had it not been for the Socialistic refugees of 1848. In 1849 and 1850 the Magyars and German Socialists landed here, and we owe to that immigration ninny who, coming as destitute aliens, afterwards became most distinguished scholars, decorators, and artists. Mr. Cowen quoted to me the ease of the Magyars who came here in 1850 or 1851. In one instance between 400 amid 500 of these people, who could not speak a word of English, 1193 were brought here. They had fled destitute to Turkey, and Turkey allowed them to enter, and at Turkish expense sent them here. They had friends in this country who were willing to place them here, and the Turkish Government paid the Whole cost of the arrangement. Mr. Joseph Cowen said—It would be contrary to all the traditions of this I country, and an outrage to the better sentiments of Englishmen, to offer any obstacle to such men coming here.If public Opinion is in favour of the right hon. Gentleman On this matter, it has changed very lately. It is only a few years ago since the Russian Government pressed for an Extradition Treaty with this country, but it was refused, because there were circumstances in the religious and political life of Russia which inducted Great Britain to treat her differently from other countries. Ultimately we gave way, and tried to make the political and religious portion of he Treaty very clear indeed. There have been a few cases of destitute aliens coming in before these Russian Jews. The hon. Member for Great Grimsby was driven out of France by the Government of that country in 1851. He had to sell his business, and was driven over here to start life afresh.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
The hon. Member had to sell his business under most disadvantageous circumstances, and before he realised its value he had to fly. There was a strong case in regard to the Paris Communards. A universal feeling prevailed against these men in England, yet a great number found themselves here; and we gained thereby the services of several men whom it would have been a loss to be without. No doubt some of these men were guilty of great crimes, though some were very young men with a very imperfect knowledge of what they were doing. There is a man of great distinction whom I will not name, who he performed great service to his country sad to the world. Another who came here as a destitute alien was one of the greatest sculptors in the world, and he was helped (not out of sympathy with his political views, or with his acts, but simply for the sake or extending, the right of asylum in this country to the starving) by no less a personage than Her Majesty the Queen. The 1194 right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has given a promise of a Committee on this subject. It would have been idle on the part of any of those who sympathise with the views I have endeavoured to place before the House to offer any resistance to the appointment of the Committee. I hope that the terms of the Reference to the Committee may be such as will treat the question as a purely open one, as Will not prejudice the matter, and Will not force the hands of the House and drive us into legislation of the kind suggested to us.
MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
I wish to make a personal explanation. I said the late Government had publicly committed themselves to legislation on this subject; but I was in error in thinking that the best authority for my assertion was the answer of the late Home Secretary, for I find that on May 13th the then Leader of the House (Mr. A. J. Balfour), in answer to a question, said—A Bill on this subject (pauper alien immigration) is in charge of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and I believe he will be in a position to introduce it soon.On May 20th the right hon. Gentleman, in answer to another question as to when the Bill would be brought forward, said "The Bill is in an advanced stage of preparation."
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
I would ask whether the present President of the Board or Trade has been able to find the Bill?
§ *MR. J. STOCK (Liverpool, Walton)
said, he was aware of the kind indulgence the House extended to its new Members, and which he for a few minutes might be allowed to claim. He desired rather to give information to the House than to attempt to argue with the historical facts which the right hon. Baronet had narrated. As the representative of one of the Divisions of the great seaport of the City of Liverpool which, with the exception of London and perhaps of Glasgow, felt the effect of this alien pauper immigration more severely and more directly t leis any other place, he thought the House might feel interested to learn from hint What was the feeling and the at t it tide of die people there upon this question. He was present at the cud of November at a meeting—not of the unemployed, although he feared the statement which 1195 the hon. Member for West Ham made in his interesting speech, last Tuesday, that there were at the present moment 7,000 unemployed workmen at Liverpool was only too true—but a meeting held under the auspices of the Liverpool Trades Council.To protest against the unrestricted immigration of destitute foreign labour, and to urge upon the Government to take some active steps to deal with this great evil.He felt it was a duty, not only to his constituents, but to the working artisans of Liverpool, to tell the House something of what passed at that meeting, and the feeling shown. Letters expressing sympathy with the object of the meeting, and expressing their regret at being unable to attend, were read from almost all of his hon. Friends who were Members for the Divisions of Liverpool, including one from the hon. Member for the Exchange Division, showing, if any other proof was wanted, that the meeting was of no Party character. The hon. Member wrote a letter expressing his feelings strongly on this matter, ending with words with which he cordially agreed—I do not write in any lack of sympathy with the poor immigrants themselves, but, my opinion, it is our bounden duty to consider the sufferings of our own people first.It was a fairly large and representative meeting, and he was struck with the sound judgment and generous feeling expressed in the speeches of its chief promoters, in addition to their unmistakable conviction that some action must be taken in the matter. Mr. Parkin, the Chairman or the meeting, and also the President of the Trades Council of Liverpool, in the course of his speech, said that—He did not object on general political grounds to England being the home of the free, but he did object as a working-man to see these people coming among them and underselling British labour, and bringing it to a low condition. He contended it was the duty of the Government, whether Conservative or Liberai, to see that the labour of the Working classes were not jeopardised, and it ought not to allow these people to land on our shores indiscriminately. They would find, within a stone's throw of where he was speaking, that the tailoring trade had been completely swamped through the introduction of aliens into this country, a great many of the Polish, Russian, and German Jews who had landed on our shores having found their way to Liverpool within the last two or three years. Some prohibition ought to be put upon their introduction into this country.1196 A member of the Amalgamated Society of Tailors moved a resolution in favour of the adoption of measures to stop the immigration of destitute aliens into this country, and the resolution was unanimously carried. He (Mr. Stock) knew that, fortunately, the question only came prominently forward in a comparatively few parts of England, but he thought all hon. Members were aware of the economic truth that when one portion of the community suffered, the rest suffered with it. And he thought that truth was accentuated at the present time owing to the state of agricultural depression when the labourer of the soil came flocking nil to our already Overcrowded towns, and thus contributing, he feared, to the large masses of our unemployed. He was surprised that the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Keir Hardie) had not, in the speech he made the other evening, suggested legislation on the subject, as such legislation would undoubtedly bring relief to the class in which the hon. Member took so great an interest. No doubt in the past foreign immigration had brought great industries into the country, and had thus to a large extent benefitted the working classes. It was necessary, however, to bear in mind what a vast increase had taken place in the population of these islands since the first notable immigration 200 years ago. In any case one could scarcely compare the French skilled artisans who had to leave their country on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes with those destitute pauper aliens who we wished to restrict coining in such numbers to our shores now. He could scarcely imagine that the most ardent apostle of Free Trade would object to what might be called protection of our working classes in regard to pauper alien immigration. Surely our beneficial schemes of emigration were frustrated by this ever flowing tide. He had been stimulated to address the House on the subject by letters lately written to him by artizans in Liverpool and Lancashire. He wished he could give some correct statistics of the number of pauper immigrants who entered Liverpool, but such statistics were hard to obtain, because numbers of these poor people were continually working their way across to Liverpool from Hull and other parts. The numbers of those who arrived last year were no doubt less than the numbers 1197 recorded in previous years, on account of the effect which the cholera precautions had had upon immigration. Captain Nott-Bower, the Chief Constable of Liverpool, had, however, reported that in January, 1892, as many as 25 destitute Russian families, averaging four to a family, reached Liverpool. It was a fact these pauper aliens had to take refuge in the workhouses of Liverpool, and were thus affecting the rates. While he fully accepted the statement of the Prime Minister, that the Government had upon its shoulders a burden heavy to bear, he trusted, it this Amendment was brought to a Division, the right hon. Gentleman would not regard it as implying a Vote a Censure upon the Government, but would realise it was the only way of expressing to the House the strong opinions held upon this subject. He thought he was justified in appealing to gentlemen on either side of the House, and especially to the so-called Labour Party, to support an Amendment which was of an absolutely non-Party character, and which was intended to benefit our struggling and deserving poor.
§ *SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
I think, perhaps, it may be useful to the House if, after the somewhat wandering speech of my right hon. Friend (Mr. J. Lowther) upon the statistical aspect of the question, I give a few facts and figures to show what is the real state of the case. I accept, most fully the declaration of my right hon. Friend that he does not mean to make any attack upon the Jewish subjects of the Crown; but there is no doubt that many of the aliens he has referred to are Jews, and there is a tendency for an attack upon aliens to degenerate, as it has already degenerated, into an attack upon the Jews. [Cries of "No!"] Yes, it has already degenerated into an attack upon the Jews. I can say this for the Jewish community, of which I an proud to be a member, that we feel as honoured by the title of Englishmen as by that of Jews, and that we are as faithful to our country as we are to our religion. That being so, any thing which unfavourably affected the working people of this country would have no support from its. That which the right hon. Gentleman has stated in veiled language I shall state in the clearest manner. There is no doubt that if there are pauper aliens in this country the great majority 1198 of them are Russians. I can, however, state from my own personal knowledge and from information obtained by inquiry amongst our people that the figures given in tile Government Returns on this subject are absolutely inaccurate. It is stated that about 10,000 pauper aliens arrived in this country in 1892.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
My hon. Friend is entirely wrong. I said that in 1891 38,000 odd, and in 1892 32,000 odd, aliens arrived in this country beyond those who were stated to be eu route for the States.
§ SIR J. GOLDSMID
Then the right hon. Gentleman spoke of all aliens. I am quoting the figures of the most able Secretary of the Board of Trade, Mr. Giffen, who upon questions of figures is an even better authority than my right hon. Friend. Mr. Giffen says that, of the foreigners who came here in 1892, about 10,000 were classed as pauper aliens. The reason why I say these figures are inaccurate is this: Very large numbers of the foreigners who arrive in this country are suspicious of those who question them as to their means. They have suffered at the hands of the touts of Steamship Companies and others, and have been robbed of some of their money, and they suspect that those who question them want to rob them in the same way. Consequently, many who have means say they leave not. Again, every third-class passenger in certain cases is also put down as a pauper. It is obvious, under these circumstances, that the figures are absolutely unreliable. As tar as London is concerned, it is admitted by the right hon. Gentleman that the poor people who come here to escape the bitter persecution that prevails in their own country go to the neighbour-hood of Whitechapel. One would have thought that the right hon. Gentleman, in order to confirm his statement that the rates had suffered, would have given us some figures relating to that parish. The right hon. Gentleman, however, knows that the Whitechapel figures absolutely belie his statement. In 1887, and again in 1892, the Whitechapel Guardians were requested by the Local Government Board to report is to the effect produced by foreign immigration upon pauperism in that parish. The answers given were that in neither year had foreign immigration produced any effect upon the amount of pauperism in 1199 the parish, and that there had been no material increase in the number of foreigners who applied for relief. I think that these statements of the Guardians abundantly prove what I have said. I can give the figures which my right hon. Friend did not condescend to give. In 1887 there were 826 chargeable to the Whitechapel Union, and of these only 23 were foreigners, while in 1892 the corresponding figures were 843 and 18. I will go a little fur there into the matter, because I am anxious that the House of Commons should understand the view we take. We are far from desiring to increase the amount of pauperism in this country; indeed, we have done our best to reduce it. I think I am entitled to speak of the Jewish Board of Guardians, which was established years ago by the late Mr. Lionel Cohen—a Member of this House—who brought to bear upon its work that knowledge of administration which was his great characteristic. By means of the Jewish Board of Guardians we Jews in this country have endeavoured, as far as possible, to relieve our Christian fellow-countrymen from payments on our behalf. In 1882, at a great meeting at the Mansion House, called by time Lord Mayor, Lord Shaftesbury lifted up his voice against the persecution of the Jews in Russia. The Lord Mayor established a fund, and, at his suggestion, a Committee was formed to administer it in the interests of the persecuted Jews. He did me the honour to ask me to be Chairman of the Committee, and from that day to this my colleagues on the Committee and I have done our best to relieve my poor coreligionists out of the funds placed at our disposal. I do not suggest that many Christians have not contributed to these funds. I rejoice to think that they have, thereby showing their sympathy with the sufferings of the persecuted Jews; but, at least, I can say that we Jews have also done our best. I do not think we have any reason to be ashamed of the action we have taken, nor do I think I need apologise for the course I am pursuing to-day. Mr. Giffen has expressed the opinion that anti-alien legislation would recoil upon ourselves, and has pointed out that we emigrate more people than we ourselves receive upon our shores. He denies also that there is any evidence to show that wages at home have been substantially lowered 1200 by foreign immigration. Mr. Gillen's opinion on this point is of the greatest value, and the figures I am about to produce will, I think, convincingly show how the matter stands as regards London. I should mention that we have a Joint persons Guardians and the Russo-Jewish Committee to deal with all cases in which relief is needed. So as not to weary the House, I will merely give the figures relating to last year. They have only just been made up, and they speak volumes on the subject. It has been stated that Christian workmen have been injured by Jewish competition. Both the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Lowther) and the hon. Member for Sheffield (Colonel Howard Vincent) have made speeches on the subject. Well, Sir, the total number of Jews in this country is not more than 120,000 or 130,000—a mere drop in the ocean of the 40,000,000 who make up the aggregate population. As far as I know, they live in peace and happiness with their fellow-countrymen, and I say that there is less crime amongst them in proportion to their numbers than amongst any other portion of Her Majesty's subjects. That being so, I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to be quite so hard upon these poor victims of Russian persecution.
*MR. JAMES LOWTHER
I have been particularly careful in the speeches I have made in the Provinces and also in this House not to refer to the Jews at all as Jews.
§ SIR J. GOLDSMID
I said there was a tendency for this attack upon aliens to degenerate into an attack upon the Jews. [Cries of"No!"] I have good reason for knowing that it is so degenerating. I will give an instance. In order to prejudice the case with regard to the paupers, the right hon. Gentleman brought in the question of German waiters in our cafâs. Now, I beg to say that the German waiters are not paupers, and I should like to know why the right hon. Gentleman referred to them unless it Was to create prejudice? Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to deal with the question of the Russian immigration. Of course, he stated that he had no feeling against the Jews. I know it, because I have had the honour of the acquaintance—I may say the friendship—of the right hon. Gentleman for many years. That, however, is not the point. A feeling is 1201 being aroused against the Jews as the result of the right hon. Gentleman's action, because it is understood that the majority of the paupers who come over here are Jews. Let me give the figures. I find that in the course of 1892 our Joint Committee had a total of 1,697 cases to deal with— a case meaning either an individual, where there is only one, or a family where there is a family. We have, as far as possible, tried to induce them to go to countries where they would have a better opportunity of earning an honourable livelihood than they have here. In this way we have helped on 419 cases, besides assisting 24 to go to the Continent. We have assisted a certain number of people to return home, as we considered that they had no chance of earning an honest livelihood here. Our desire is to prevent anybody combing here to live the life of a pauper. In 305 cases we have assisted people to return home. There remain here 639 cases, of which 310 have not been finally dealt with. This makes up the total of 1,697, and proves that those who have come here have not become a burden to the community. The figures show that the number of persons who are called paupers is greatly exaggerated, and they also show that the Committee who administer the fund do all in their power to prevent any of these immigrants becoming a burden to the rates. I might quote other figures on the subject, but do not wish to weary the House. I know, as a matter of fact, that numbers of persons who have come to our Committee for assistance were honest aid thriving citizens in Russia before the persecutions began. At one time they never dreamed that they would be dragged down into anything like pauperism, old they are only too anxious to earn a livelihood in the country of their adoption. I should like to go a little further, and tell the House what we have ventured to do on behalf of the immigrants who still remain here. We have been most anxious that those who are Russians should become as English as possible if they are going to remain here, and we have established English classes, which are being very largely attended, with the view of inducing them to learn the English language. I may say that they are the best pupils that our community has ever had to deal with. They show 1202 an intelligence, a desire to learn, and on assiduity which do them infinite credit. Well, Sir, if there have been in London only some 1,600 persons who have required the help of our Committee, and in the Provinces about as many who have needed help from the local Jewish Committees, how can it be said that the importation of destitute aliens has seriously injured the people of Great Britain? He knew that these men, even if some of them were for the moment paupers, would do all in their power to make themselves self-supporting in the country in which they lived and he could assure the I louse that, so far as the Jewish community were concerned, they were anxious to send from this country all whom they honestly thought could not earn a living. He did not look the hon. Gentleman who proposed this Amendment had proved that his figures were reliable in the ease of the Russian Jews. He had asked time House to understand that these foreigners were all paupers, but he had certainly failed to establish his proposition. He did not believe, so far as the general question was concerned, that hon. Members would be considering the best interests of the people of Great Britain if they were to deny to aliens that great right of asylum which had always been vaunted as the boast of England. The hon. Member for Waterford had made use of a splendid expression the other night. He said, "It is the boast of this country that it is the great sanctuary of the world." On the other hand, he greatly regretted that the Member for West Liam, in an otherwise able speed, said, "In exchange for our workmen who emigrate we have the Jews."
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT
§ SIR J. GOLDSMID
said, he was sorry to hear the hon. and gallant Member cheer that sentiment, because he believed the great majority of the English people were ready to admit that the Jews were not bad citizens, and that they were no discredit to English life. The foreigners who had landed on our shores and had become Englishmen had done great good to the country of their adoption. He would like to quote an instance of that. The Huguenots, who constituted the best portion of the population of the southwestern part of France, and were driven thence by religious persecution, brought 1203 the silk industry to Spitalfields, which had proved a great source of income to English artisans. He remembered, only a few years ago, being Honorary Secretary of an East London Industrial Exhibition, one of the great objects of which was to promote the Spitalfields silk industry. Therefore, the experience of past years went to show that when England had acted upon her great principle of hospitality, she had not suffered; and he contended that, neither by his facts nor by his figures, had the right hon. Gentleman proved his allegation. He hoped the House would not support the Amendment.
§ SIR WILLIAM MARRIOTT (Brighton)
I deny that my right hon. Friend has shown any animus whatever against the Jewish nation. I wish it to be understood that in the inquiry which has been referred to nothing was suggested against the Jewish nation. The Member for Whitechapel was a Member of that Committee of which I had the honour of being Chairman, and he will bear witness that throughout the whole inquiry there was no feeling whatever against the Jewish nation; but that, on the contrary, immense admiration was expressed for the liberality shown by them to their fellow-people, as well as gratitude for the way they had relieved the ratepayers of London by contributing to the support of their destitute poor. I might appeal further to the right hon. Baronet, who, in the course of a magnificent speech, entered into a denunciation in regard to Russia. Sir, position often changes our sentiments and our actions; but I must remind the right hon. Baronet that, in the year 1881 and 1882, when he wits Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Member who pressed the matter on the attention of the House was my right hon. Friend who sits on my right—then the Member for Greenwich, now a Member for Liverpool—than whom no man in the whole of this country has shown more interest in the welfare of the British artisan. At that time the right hon. Baronet was not so profuse in his expressions of sympathy for suffering Jews in London. He felt the responsibility of Office, and not that freedom which he now feels sitting below the Gangway. Every person throughout the length and breadth of the laud sympathises deeply with the poor Jews in the suffering they have to endure in 1204 Russia, and when they come front Russia here. I agree with the excellent words that fell from the Prime Minister when he urged that this matter must he dealt with with circumspection. Circumspection mist he used. No doubt it is a question which has two sides to it, and might be very dangerous to go too far in one direction or the other. But the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was wrong, I think, in what he suggested the Committee over which I had the honour of presiding had done. It is quite trite that Committee did not suggest immediate legislation. And it gave a reason for it: it had not sufficient knowledge. I recollect one of the great difficulties of that Committee was to get knowledge. The hon. Baronet who spoke last has expressed great faith, almost childlike faith, in the statistics and figures of Mr. Gillen. I had to examine Mr. Giffen on that occasion, and his figures and his evidence were not so satisfactory to me as they were to the hon. Baronet. He was actually ignorant that the Alien Act of William IV. was then in force, and that none of the regulations allowed by that Act had been put in force. And one of the few great results obtained by the Committee was the disinterring of that Act of Parliament whose sections have been put in force, and from which we derived a great deal of beneficial information. It was an astonishment to us that the Board of Trade Lad ready to their hands means by which they might find out the number of aliens who came to England. But they had not used them. Now they have; and we have a certain amount of material to go upon. Somebody has said that nothing is so misleading as figures except statistics. Why, many of the poor people in the East End of London are aliens (although they do not think themselves aliens) because they cannot afford to be naturalised. I think anybody who has the advantage of a scrutiny into some of the elections will find that these people voted although they are not naturalised. The fact is, we do not know how many pass for British subjects who are not. There is many a foreigner who has been here for some years, working here and receiving pay, and exercising the ordinary rights of British citizenship who thinks that he is a British citizen; his name goes on the register, and he votes. When I was Chairman of that Committee I took two 1205 ways of ascertaining the figures. I listened to all the evidence given—I think I gathered from Mr. Giffen that he thought it was largely a storm in a tea-cup—and, in addition, I myself went down to the East End of London with Mr. Arnold White, and I ventured on another occasion by myself. And any Member of this House who wants to appreciate what is the number of these aliens cannot do better than spend his Sunday in the East End of London to-morrow. On Sunday there is street after street through which von may go where you will find a kind of open market—cheap-jacks, and other vendors, all selling in a foreign language. There are sonic streets you may go through and hardly know you are in England. To tell the number of these foreigners is impossible. The impression made on my mind was that the number of these foreigners in London is far greater than that shown by any statistics we have at present. That being so, I think that affects the working classes of our country. But I have more figures, and they show that things are much more serious than I think the right hon. Baronet who last spoke considered. Mr. Burnett the Labour Correspondent of the Board of Trade, said that in the tailoring trade in the East End of London 80 per. cent. were foreigners—that was to say, from 18,600 to 20,000—whilst there were only a few hundred Anglo-Saxon men employed in it.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Where do yon get those figures from?
§ SIR W MARRIOTT
That was given in the evidence in 1889. I know what we said about this. We had a man on that Committee whom I admired very much—a man hard-working., straight-forward, and most honest (Mr. Bradlaugh). Mr. Bradlaugh was on that Committee, and our aim was to minimise the evil as much as possible. His argument was that these people, so far from doing a wrong, did stood, as they created a new business—a new business in clothing, and also a new business by which a great many of the articles made cheap here were sent abroad to our colonies. Questions with regard to these destitute aliens have been asked by the right hon. Baronet and the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, when he spoke, seemed to think that the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman was not 1206 good enough, but the word he objected to was "destitute." He asked what was "destitute alien." And though the right hon. Baronet knew what a "destitute alien" was, I am bound to say he confused the object before the House. He referred to the case of the Poles and other political refugees.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
In the cases I mentioned they came in as destitute aliens.
They were highly educated men, tram of high position who had been rich, but had fallen on evil times and had been made paupers by the political action of the country from which they came. We sympathise with them and the persecution they endured. But that is not the class of destitute aliens in this country now, and these people are not cooling because of political opinion; there is no wave of political refugees; we do not get the bonâ fide refugees. Why do we object to these men? Because we think they are inflicting a serious injury on the artisans of this country. And why do we fear such an injury? For this reason they come here so poor that they go to work for less wages than the working classes ought to have; that is the sole ground of complaint. This is a working classes question. The right hon. Baronet says it is a Trades Union question. I do not know anybody who objects to their coming in more than the Trades Unions, because they come in and undersell the labour market. The Prime Minister said that nobody should come into this country destitute. I understood hint to say that if a man came in with nothing on he was not destitute because he had a capacity for work; and he said that capacity of work prevented him from being destitute. I do not deny he capacity for work, hut the evil is this they come in here so poor, so in clad, so hungry, with so little in their pocket that they are glad to work at the lowest possible wage. That is the evil they inflict on the working classes of this country. I have no doubt it might be difficult to stop them, and the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister rather complained that no suggestion had been made by my right hon. Friend as to what was to he done. I suppose it is a very responsible thing to make a suggestion, but I would venture to make a very slight suggestion which I think might be 1207 carried out in some degree. What is wanted is that the Government of this country should have the same power as other Governments to deal with people coming into the country. It is not necessary that the power should be exercised; it would only have to be exercised when the want arose. Let me refer to one matter. Some hon. Members say that the evil is diminishing because last year their number was less than the year before. Why was that so? Because of the cholera scare. There is no doubt that the Sanitary Authorities, when there is a scare, have power to stop this kind of immigration. Why not extend that power to other things besides cholera? Why not give the same powers as are given in an emergency? I can understand that at Dover or Folkestone there would be a great outcry if the officials had not the power of stopping immigration. There are, however, the Ports of London, of Grimsby, of Hull, and of Liverpool. I may say that we have recently found out that there is such a broad distinction between those destitute aliens and the ordinary travellers who come from the Continent that no mistake is made. And what we press upon the Government is this: Another Committee has been suggested. Surely a Committee in this ease is nothing but delay; and what we are afraid of is t his. There are but few matters in Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne which will not take up an enormous amount of time; and if this subject is to be dealt with by means of a Committee, on which there shall be men of both Parties, we shall not have the Report for perhaps six months, and it will be a year before that is followed by legislation. Therefore, what we want is immediate action, because this year the state of things is very different front what it was last year. We see all over the world this question is being considered, and especially in that cot nary which up to now has been the great receptacle for people front all parts of the earth—America. America is feeling the stress of population—["No, no!"]—they think so there; they are getting t' e most restrictive laws. And if von ant to know how they are exercising them ask the masters of some of the great Liners, who will tell you that they regard these restrictions as tyrannical. 1208 And they are applying for larger powers still. I do not think it for the interest of America to shut her gates, but she has it in her power to do what she wishes. There is the chance that one of those gates of emigration will be closed, and we are threatened with a great inundation of these people from Russia. Russia is a despotic country; they do not take two or three Sessions to decide what shall be done; if they have anything to do they do it at once; and an order may issue at any time sending hundreds and thousands of these people from their hart of the Continent of Europe. No other country will receive them except Great Britain and Ireland; and if they come here it will be to the detriment of the great body of the working classes. That is why we have thought that action should be taken immediately. If we have a Committee is it possible there should be legislation this next Session? Probably it would not report until next Session, and nothing could be done until next year or the year after. What we say is that all we want is to give powers to those who are responsible on that basis to prevent what would be a great evil coming to this country. Of course, on both sides of the House there are some who see the evil, and I have no doubt my hon. Friend the Member for Whitechapel will repeat the munificence of the Jewish nation. We do not deny that; but there is one point I should like to call attention to. The money that is given away, though belonging to rich members or the Jewish community, is made in this country and is this country's money; and if it is given to these Jews the others do not get the benefit of it. We had recently a long inquiry into the action of General Booth, and it turned out that the regular charities had sunk by an amount almost equal to that represented by the General's fend. We must recollect that the charitable fund of this country is more or less a fixed quantity. Let us give the greatest scup: for the generosity of the Jewish community, and till credit to them for preventing their poor front coming on the rates. That is not to be complained of, but that is not the point; the point is that they are here at work at low wages—wages which are below the average rate of wages. We expect now that the evil will increase very much; and, therefore, I do not think the appointment of a 1209 Committee will meet the case. I hope before this Debate is closed some right hon. Gentleman from the Government Bench will undertake to facilitate the passing of a Bill the provisions of which shall be agreed upon by both Parties, giving power in times of emergency to pevent the destitute aliens from coming to our land.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. MUNDETLLA,) Sheffield, Brightside
I am sorry to have to stand between the House and hon. Members who wish to speak on this subject, but, having regard to the fact that the De bate has now been going on for several hours, and that we are sitting on a Saturday when we should have a holiday, I shall detain the House only for a very short time. I should be very glad to leave the matter where my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister left it, were it not for the plea of the right hon. Gentleman opposite that immediate legislation is necessary and that a Committee would cause delay. The late Government, when asked to legislate on this matter, said they had not sufficient knowledge. What additional knowledge have you now that induces von to demand legislation at once? On the 1st of April of last Session the Leader of the House said, in reply to the right hon. Gentle man, that the Government were not of opinion that anything had occurred which would justify the introduction of such a Bill as the right hon. Gentleman had suggested. It was then said die Home Secretary would bring in a Bill, and he was addressed on the point. What was the right hon. Gentleman's answer when he was asked by the right hon. Gentleman on the 30th May whether the Government proposed to fulfil the under taking they gave with regard to the introduction of a Bill on the immigration of destitute aliens? He said—I am not able to say precisely! The question is under the active consideration of the Government; but it is thought necessary to institute inquiries, not only at home, hut abroad, before our proposals can be given definite shape.On the 26th June following the Home Secretary was again questioned on the subject, and he said he could not possibly name a day for the introduction of a Bill. That was the position of the question in the last Parliament. That being so, is it 1210 not strange that after receiving these answers the right hon. Gentleman opposite should make a demand on us on the Queen's Speech that we should at once introduce legislation in this House.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
But the right hon. Gentleman might have given us time to consider before he brought on this Amendment. When I came into Office I knew this question would be raised. I knew that the consideration extended to our predecessors in Office would not be extended to us by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and so I at once introduced this question. I made inquiries if any Bill existed. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary also made inquiries, but there was not a vestige or a scrap of a Bill left behind by the late Government.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
I have seen the Bill.
§ MR. MUNDELLA:
I wish the right hon. Gentleman would let us see it. The late Government were to bring in a Bill. But it is one thing to promise a Bill and another thing to draft it. There is nothing that requires more circumspection than legislation on this question. The right hon. Gentleman says we might bring in a Bill conferring powers, but that we need not exercise those powers. But if we passed the Bill, another Government might put the powers into operation. The American Government had got increased powers; but they did not practically act upon these powers. The increase in our alien population had come almost entirely from the influx of the poor Russian Jews. My hon. Friend (Sir Julian Goldsmid), who spoke on behalf of the Jewish Community, said there were not more than 120,000 of these aliens in this country. Well, I want to tell the House why there ought to be some further inquiries on that matter. As a Member of the Royal Commission on Labour, I sat for two years on the section which dealt with the textile and clothing trades. We sent out 8,000 or 10,000 circulars inquiring how these trades had been affected by immigration, and on next Thursday the Commission will meet to consider its Report. We examined many working men with respect to the influence of this Jewish immigration, and I must say that nothing could he more 1211 generous and more honourable than the answers they invariably give. Even those most strong in their complaints of this immigration said they did not wish to hinder religious or political refugees from obtaining employment. Every man of them expressed that opinion without exception. The hon. Member for South West Ham (Mr. Keir Hardie) gave evidence. He was very strong for some measure; but when the question was put to him, would he prevent political refugees from coming into the country? he said, "Certainly not"—or persons who left their country because of religions persecution? and again the hon. Gentleman replied, "Certainly not." If these are excluded, what is there left to be dealt with? Nothing can exceed in horror the persecutions to which the Jews are exposed. Even women are obliged to change their faith or to accept certificates that they are prostitutes. I am quite sure the working classes of this country would never demand that our shores and our workshops should be closed to people flying from a persecution of this kind. A lady sub-Commissioner is at present engaged in making inquiries into the effects of this immigration upon the employment of English workpeople. We have got the Census, and it makes a remarkable revelation on this subject. The Returns of the late Census shows that many of these immigrants made England rather a halting-place than a resting-place; they come here in large numbers, but they also go away in large numbers. They assist each other in the most handsome way. No kindness could exceed the kindness of Jews to Jews. I only wish Christians were half as good to their own people. One illustration of their kindness and goodness is afforded by the Jews Free School in the City, which is the largest school in Her Majesty's dominions; nor is there any school in which better instruction is given or scholars made more rapid progress. Ninety-five per cent. of the children were foreign born; and many of them are destitute and dependent upon kindness and charity. But to return to the Census Returns. France has 1,250,000 of her inhabitants foreign born. Bow many have we? Something about 200,000. On the night of the Census the number of foreign-born persons in England and Wales, 1212 rich and poor, whether remaining here or passing through, and including Americans, was under 200,000. The number of European foreigners was 168,719, and of these 87,448 were in London. Under these circumstances, and considering the fact that within the last ten years we had sent 1,100,000 British and Irish emigrants to the United States, it is worth consideration what may he the effect of any restrictive legislation on our part. No doubt there is in this country a good deal of cruelty amounting to white slavery, in which poor children are sold; and we ought to do what we can to put it down. There may be restrictive legislation in the United States, but Mr. Arnold White's book showed that it is only put into force against immigrants of exceptional poverty or physical debility. The number of Russo-Polish immigrants received by the United States in the last 10 years was 422,664. Even Mr. Arnold White, who is one of the strongest advocates of restriction, says in his latest book on the subject that further inquiry is needed, because the House of Commons Committee had touched Only the fringe of the subject, while the Lords Committee on Sweating ended in a wrangle on the Jewish question, which had nothing to do with the matter. I say we want further information on this question. I felt that so strongly that when I went to the Board of Trade Office I took up the question and got all the information possible. But I did not stop there. I felt the matter was urgent and important, and so went and constituted the Labour Department, and put in the forefront of its programme inquiries as to the economic effect of foreign immigration. A gentleman who is well known with regard to the labour question is going to the United States in order to make a special Report on this question. If the right hon. Gentleman likes to move for a Committee all the information shall he laid before it; but we must hate full knowledge and careful deliberation before we place ourselves in so dangerous a position as that which the right hon. Gentleman wishes us to take up.
§ SIR HENRY HOWORTH (Salford, S.)
said that, as he represented a constituency in which this was a burning question, he thought it necessary that he should speak upon it. He rose for the 1213 purpose of supporting the Motion of his right hon. Friend the Member for the Thanet Division. His Motion was clear and definite and precise. The Leader of the House, who was the ablest man of his craft who ever sat in the House, had urged that this was a case for the appointment of a Committee. They had had two Committees, which had sat for a very long time, and the result of their deliberations had been embodied in a Bill. That being the ease, it seemed to him there was no further necessity for resorting, to these dilatory tactics. Why was the Committee to be appointed? They were told by the Prime Minister it was to be appointed for several reasons. In the first place, he wanted a definition or "what was a destitute alien." The definition was already contained in the Statute Book of the United States, though they need not go to that authority, for the definition had been already made on most sensible lines by the Jewish Committees in London and in Manchester. In Manchester and Salford the Jewish Committee had, wit h a prudence and wisdom which did them every honour, refused to assist these poor Jews who came into this country until they had been resident in the country six months, in order that there should not be a continual bait and temptation held out to these poor men to come. He was told the same regulation applied in London so what they had to do was simply to support those wise and prudent men constituting the Jewest Committees in those two communities in making such a restriction by law as should prevent poor Jews from being tempted to come to this country. Another reason that was held out by the right hon. Gentleman was that a country which was exporting commodities ought not at the same time to prevent importation of commodities. That scented to him a singularly inconsequential contention. A country which was exporting pauper labour was exporting it because it was too congested, and it was surely playing, with logic to say that such a community was not right in preventing that congestion by the importation of foreign labour ate the same time to compete in its markets. They were further told that what this Committee was to inquire into was not the fact that a large number into was not the fact that come front Poland had displaced English 1214 workmen in several departments of trade in the East of London, and in Salford and Manchester, but to get statistics of the number of Englishmen who had been thrown upon the rates in consequence of the importation of those poor people. That was an impossible class of statistics for them to obtain under any circumstances, and yet that the main reason upon which the right hon. Gentleman based his claim for delay and for more information on this matter. It was, no doubt, true that those poor Jews especially who came to this country were not directly chargeable to the rates. The Jewish community itself supported them, but it was forgotten that by that very support a bonus was offerred to those very people which had enabled them to work at lower wages, and in that way to compete unfairly with the rest of the community. He spoke with some knowledge, at all events of the artisans in one the towns in Lancashire, when he said that it was a serious matter, for unless they restrained in some way the importation of this labour into already congested communities they would have in the lower parts of the towns presently a strong and bitter feeling, such as already existed in one or two Continental capitals, against the Jews, which was the last thing one wanted to see. It was a mistaken view altogether to suppose that in what they were pressing they were not acting in the real interests of the Jewish community itself in this country. They themselves had initiated measures for the exclusion of these poor people unless they could support their families for six months after their arrival. That was the case in Manchester, he believed, mid other places, and all that this House was asked to do was not to do a grave injustice to It class of men with whom they had sympathy, but simply to carry out a policy which had been already found to be beneficial by their own best friends and richest supporters.
§ SIR J. GOLDSMID
Thai is not so. The hon. Member is absolutely wrong.
§ SIR H. HOWORTH
said, he had a long conference last week with some members of the Jewish Committee in Manchester.
§ SIR J. GOLDSMID
The hon. Member said in London also. We have no such rule in London.
§ SIR H HOWORTH
said he would confine himself to his own district. There ought to be such a rule in London. It seemed to him to have been an exceedingly prudent thing for the welfare of the Jews in the congested state of the labour market of this country. A good deal had been said about the tyranny which had driven these men to our shores. They all sympathised with them, but what was tile remedy? The remedy was not to hold out an inducement to these men to exist in poverty, and by and by squeeze out our working men, but to make such representations as would be listened to in the proper quarter. It was distinctly a question in which they were the victims of a policy which ought to be distinctly reprobated in the proper quarter, instead of having a remedy applied which was no remedy at all. From all sides in the crowded towns of the North, where there were large masses of unemployed at this moment, representations were coming, to them that this particular policy was a policy which would be presently insisted upon. It was pressed upon them in all directions by those who knew the facts, because they knew the pinch of the shoe. For these reasons, it seemed to him that this question was one which was distinctly ripe for legislation. The issue before the House at this moment was one concerning which there was a considerable amount of strong feeling among those whom he represented, and he felt that that being so they should, at all hazards, press it mid see what the real feeling of the House was upon it.
§ BARON F.J. DE ROTHSCHILD (Bucks,) Aylesbury
said, that hon. Members on his side of the House, headed by the Prime Minister, had spoken on this subject so comprehensively, that it seemed to him he could loudly add anything to what they had contributed to the Debate. Still, he must say that other speeches had been made which might have obscured the intelligence of some him. Members, and which had not been heard at any rate by sonic of them. It seemed to him that the upshot of the discussion was this. The right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment, and those who shared Ids views, had put forth certain statements based on no figures. Those statements had been answered by right hon. Gentlemen in speeches which were based on figures. He hoped the House when it 1216 divided would give a majority to the Government to enable it to conduct the inquiry, and he hoped that inquiry would be of the most comprehensive kind. He would like it to be extended to every trade to which it was stated these pauper immigrants belonged. He should vote for the inquiry, because he was convinced it would prove to the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment, and to those who shared his views, that their fears were unfounded. He would Venture to say, with all due respect to his right hon. Friend opposite, that however able and elaborate Ids speech might have been, it to a certain extent was only a cry for popularity. There was no doubt that owing to the immigration of pauper aliens a few years ago the trades in this country had suffered. He believed that the boot-making mid tailoring trades to a certain extent had been. affected; but they had heard, on the best authority—he, for one, knew it as a fact—that the work in the boot-making and tailoring trades, in which these aliens hail been and were now engaged, was not of a competitive nature. It was of a different nature, for the tailors and boot-makers of foreign origin made clothes and boots of a different type to those made by English workmen, and he believed they were made chiefly for exportation; consequently, that class of work, to a great extent, did not affect Dative work. He represented the town of Chesham, among others, in his constituency. That town lived entirely by the boot-making trade, and he ventured to assert that there was not one single alien immigrant at present there. If there had been he should have been the very first to hear of it. They had heard that these immigrants had to a great extent displaced the native trade. They hail had from his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade figures which indicated that for every one immigrant to this country there were 10 or 20, if not more, emigrants from this country. He would like to know, if 20 men left this country, how could they be replaced by one man? If 20 immigrants arrived and 20 emigrants went out, he could understand it. He must he allowed to impress again amid again on the House what had been already stated by other speakers, that immigration to this country, serious as it might have been some years 1217 ago, had diminished, and was diminishing, so far as the immigration from Russia was concerned, owing to the efforts of his co-religionists to deter immigrants from coming to this country. He had no hesitation in saying that, patriotic as he was, he would like to see this immigration stopped, but he could not help feeling an interest in, and sympathy with, these poor immigrants, sent here by the most cruel and abominable persecution which had ever been seen in Europe since the Dark Ages. Twenty-five years ago, during the lifetime of the late Emperor, he travelled all over Russia, from St. Petersburg to the Crimea, and he came into contact with both the native Russians and the Jews who had settled in the various parts of the Empire, mid throughout that long journey he only met with goodwill on the part of the native Christian towards the native Jewish population. There were absolutely no signs of any hostility on the part, or the native populations. This persecution was one that had been entirely brought about, fostered, and continued by a tyrannical and persecuting Government. He was convinced that, after a short time, the native peasantry would have the same feeling of Sympathy towards these wretched Jews who were now being persecuted. He might he allowed to quote one instance out of many that he could give of this persecution. Only a few days ago there was a person living in St. Petersburg who was expelled after two hours notice, not only from St. Petersburg, but from Russia, simply because she had not been born in. St. Petersburg itself. She became a ruined woman. Now, he would ask hon. Members of this House if they would shut their ears and steel their hearts to those who were in the position of this unfortunate widow? Would this country, in the most enlightened years of the end of the century, close its doors to the members of a race who were persecuted in a most cruel manlier, and who, moreover, only came to this country as a halting place and temporary refuge on their way to a permanent home across the ocean?
§ *MR. S. MONTAGU (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
said, the alien question was of great importance to his constituents, therefore he thought it his duty to say a few words on the subject. He believed that Whitechapel, which in- 1218 cluded Spitalfields and Mile End New Town, was the only constituency in the United Kingdom which was very seriously affected by foreign immigration, yet no expression of opinion on this Amendment had reached him from any section of his constituents. They must be very patient or long-suffering, possibly, now that the arrivals had fallen off, adverse opinions had become in some degree modified. It was evident that the agitation which prompted this Motion arose from the fact that religious persecution in Russia compelled many who were not members of the Russian Church to leave that benighted country. Some Protestants and Roman Catholics had been forced out, but the majority of those who reached our shores were Russian or Polish Jews, of whom he had a very extensive knowledge. He saw many thousands of them near the Russian frontier at Brody in 1882, when they hall just escaped into Austrian territory, after they had been robbed, in many cases even of their clothes, by the professed protectors of property, the Russian soldiers. He went to Brody and Lemberg on behalf of the Mansion House Russian Jews committee to found an Emigration Society, which sent thousands of those unfortunate creatures direct to America. They thus avoided their settling in this crowded country. In 1884 he saw many of them breathing the free air of America when, with three friends, he visited the Jewish Agricultural Colonies which they helped to found in the far West, at least one of which was a brilliant success. In 1886 he visited Jews of all classes in various Polish and Russian cities, when he, a Member of this House, was expelled from Moscow solely on account, of his faith. He had not applied to the Foreign Office to claim redress for the insult offered to him and indirectly to the House, because the Jews of Moscow entreated him not to do so, as the officials were at that time not actively unfavourable to them. Since 1886 he had been in constant communication with the foreigners in his own constituency, and he could testify that, as a rule, they were fairly intelligent, exceedingly industrious, and extremely sober, and their faults were those which they would expect to find in a persecuted and a hunted people. He said that, the alien immigrants, thought often poor, could not be called paupers, because they 1219 did not come upon the rates. It was asserted that they pauperised natives. Now it was a remarkable fact that pauperism during the last 10 years had been steadily decreasing until quite recently; and what was a still more remarkable fact, according to Mr. Charles Booth, in his work on London poverty, they would not find the deepest poverty in Whitechapel, where the foreigners were most numerous, but in Southwark and Bermondsey, where they were least numerous. He quite believed the supporters of the Motion were not actuated by religions motives or prejudice, but were anxious to protect native workmen from excessive and unfair competition. There were too many foreigners in Whitechapel, though it was fair to say that Superintendent Arnold, in his evidence before the Committee to which reference had been made, stated that these foreigners had dislodged many of the criminal classes, and rendered peaceable streets which were dangerous before. Notwithstanding, they added greatly to the distress in certain districts when they became too numerous for their own well-being or that of the native workmen. He should, therefore, welcome any wise measure for emigration or migration, or for diverting the stream from this country should it be found necessary. All the influential members of his community were continuously exerting every effort in those directions with fair success. The absurd exaggerations as to the number of immigrants, which were circulated during the last two or three years, arose front the fact that this country was the cheapest route to America, and was the halting place for those who, having no through tickets, eventually emigrated Westward. This crowded country, where every industry was filled to overflowing, had no attraction for foreign settlers, who could, and did, go elsewhere. He had the Official Returns from the six Jewish Burial Societies in London. The total burials in 1892 were 1,615, which, at the low death-rate of 20 per 1,000, gave 80,750 English and foreign Jews, rich and poor, of whom about 28,000 souls were in needy circumstances. That was an extreme estimate. If a Government Inquiry were instituted he should be able to place facts before them which would show that, at the present time, there was no need for restrictive legisla- 1220 tion which might cause reprisals. He would, however, leave the matter in the hands of the Government, who, while safeguarding national interests, would take a broad and statesmanlike view of the situation. They all knew that England's greatest attribute was not her wealth, not her commerce, hut her wide sympathy with suffering humanity.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
regarded the Amendment merely as a desire for the House to express its opinion upon a non-political question. He was not going into the matter about the Jews. He thought the whole issue had been prejudiced owing to the Jews being introduced into the question. He regarded the question as a trade question, and not as a religious one. It was a matter of perfect indifference to hint whether these aliens arrived on our coasts with a copy of the Koran, the Talmud, or the Thirty-nine Articles of the Established Church in his pocket. For his part, he considered their room was better than their company. The reason he had risen was because this matter seriously concerned his own constituents. The House had heard that these pauper aliens immediately took to either tailoring or shoemaking. They did that for the simple reason that in both trades the work could be done at home, and consequently the Trades Unions were not able to see that a fair price was paid for their labour. He must trouble the House with an extract from a letter written to him by the Secretary to the Shoemakers' Trade Union. He says—These aliens have been landing in large numbers during the last eight years, and they all flock into the tailoring and shoemaking and kindred trades, where the work is done at the homes. They work 17 to 20 hours, sleep in gangs like pigs, amid work at any price. In fact, it has cost us thousands and thousands of pounds to try and maintain wages against their repeated offers to do it for less. What is the result Last winter thousands of Englishmen were walking about starving, whilst these men had the work. Now that the East End is full of them, they arc spreading into the provinces will illustrate what they have done for us at Manchester. Five years ago, we put in a statement to the whole of the employers, so that all paid alike for the same classes of work. On that statement there are items of 4s. for certain work. The aliens have taken it at 4s., 3s. 9d., 3s. 6d., 3s. Until this winter we spent several hundred pounds in resisting their taking it at 2s. 9d. I could multiply this instance by hundreds of others. They simply stultify what we do, and unless our men take the work at as cheap rates, these people have the work to 1221 themselves. Our Manchester Secretary has lived in his house 20 years. When he went not an alien was in the street, now he is the only one who is not an alien. And it is the same story at Leeds and elsewhere.He believed those who were anxious for the social progress of the country desired that work should be found for the unemployed, and that the standard of living should be raised among the artisans by receiving a fair rate of wages. This was impossible so long as these aliens were allowed to come in and compete in this way. It had been suggested they should have a Committee. As far as he could gather from the President of the Board of Trade, his reason for a Committee was that there had already been a Committee, and a Committee in which several hundreds of witnesses had been examined. He (Mr. Labouchere) wanted actions instead of Committees, and if the right hon. Gentleman opposite went to a Division, he should vote with him.
§ *MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
should like to ask the hon. Member the date of the communication he had just read, and the name of the writer?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
The letter is from Mr. Inskip, Secretary to the Trades Union, and the date is, I think, three days ago.
§ MR. CREMER
had an object in asking that question, because the constituency he represented contained a greater proportion of shoemakers than that of the right hon. Member who had last spoken, and during the recent contest no question was addressed to him in regard to this question, which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowther) would have them believe was a burning question among working men. If the men themselves who were immediately concerned, and whose interests were said to be so vitally affected by pauper immigration, had not raised their voices or made any complaint during the recent Parliamentary Campaign, he concluded that they would accept the course which the Government had indicated. He sat on the Committee which inquired into the effect produced among the industrial classes in London, Northampton, Leeds, &c., by pauper immigration. The evidence laid before that Committee was of tile loosest possible character. There were no reliable statis- 1222 tics or information placed before the Committee to aid them in arriving at a conclusion. They made one recommendation, which he believed had been acted upon—namely, that statistics should be afforded to the country and that House, but even now the information was of an unsatisfactory character, although it was more reliable than during the time the Committee Was sitting. Still, the information they had to-day was of such an incomplete and misleading character that further inquiry was absolutely necessary. That inquiry the Government were prepared to undertake, and he should, therefore, cordially support the Government in the Lobby.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:— Ayes 119; Noes 234.—(Division List, No. 9.)
§ Main Question again proposed.