§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. GRANT LAWSON (Yorkshire, N. R. Thirsk) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:—
Amendment again proposed—
In page 1, line 6, to leave out the word 'landed,' and to insert the words 'prevented from landing.'"—(Mr. Trevelyan.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'landed' stand part of the clause."391
MR. HUNTER CRAIG (Lanarkshire, Govan)
asked the Home Secretary whether he would consider the question of extending the number of open ports beyond those provided in the Bill. The people of the West of Scotland were particularly interested in having the port of Grangemouth included in the number of immigrant ports.
§ SIR CHARLES RENSHAW (Renfrew, W.)
asked the Home Secretary whether it would be possible, where various ports were situated on the estuary, to make the estuary the unit for administrative purposes under the Bill instead of any one particular port? For instance, on one side of Scotland they had Greenock and Glasgow, both ports of importance, and on the other side, in the estuary of the Forth, they had Leith, Grangemouth, and Bo'ness. No doubt there were other similar cases in the United Kingdom, and he did think that if they could in such cases make the estuary the unit for administrative purposes it would materially facilitate the working of the Bill.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said that what he understood was the intention of the Government was that immigrants exceeding twenty in number could only come into the country at certain ports where inspection was provided, and that everywhere else they might come in up to the number of twenty and in successive batches. Therefore, if a number of steamers were crossing from Calais to Dover each one might bring twenty and discharge them on the quay at Dover so long as no vessel carried more than twenty. If there were more than twenty, the ship must go back to the port from which she came or must proceed to disgorge them at some port where there would be some inspection, Probably the latter course would be preferred, and the natural course that would suggest itself to any steamboat company would be to have a tender to take the immigrants exceeding twenty in number to another port where they would come in without inspection. Therefore, in all probability, transmigrants would come in large batches and would be rapidly passed through, having all their papers in order; but immigrants, on the other hand, who de- 392 sired to stay in England would come in small batches under twenty and would be landed at ports where there was no provision for inspection and would be-subject to no inquiry whatever. These people, who would come in small batches and who would be subject to inquiry whatever, were just the people they desired to exclude. The exclusion order would be of no use with regard to them, because they would not be seen until they committed some new crime.
It might be said that this was to presume an amount of organisation and care in the disposal of the immigrant which would give more trouble than it would be worth; but this immigrant traffic from the Continent of Europe had been organised on a great scale with much care and effort, and they must not assume that the companies would not adapt themselves to the conditions they would have to face if the Bill were passed, and so arrange that the transmigrant should pass through, and that those who were coming to stay and possibly prey upon the country should come in small batches and escape inspection altogether. Could anything be imagined more ineffective and absurd than this Bill. All the objects the Government set itself to attain would as defeated. He could not see, the more he looked at the Bill, what was to be attained by it, and he earnestly begged the Home Secretary and his colleagues to consider whether they would not make fools of Parliament and themselves if they insisted upon passing the Bill. Upon their own showing it had every prospect of being utterly useless. They appeared to have been deceived by a false idea of analogy between the United States and this country, but what possible analogy could there be between a country into which all the immigrants came at practically only five or six great ports, and this country, close to the Continent of Europe, and with a large number of small ports. Could they imagine anything more unlike than the conditions prevailing here and those prevailing in the United States? The system proposed by the Government would be not only costly and vexatious, but would be also ineffective.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
asked if it was seriously intended that, at every port where this Bill would operate, absolute power over the shipping was to be given to the Home Secretary, who was the head of the police force, and that this branch of the commerce of the country was to be administered by the police force from a police point of view? Would not the right hon. Gentleman make some promise that he would at least give notice to our unfortunate merchantmen, to the unhappy people who imported and exported goods, before lie closed one port and opened another? The whole question required more examination than the Committee seemed disposed to give it. He asked this Question, not with the object of impeding the progress of the Bill, but because there seemed to be such absolute ignorance of the details of the system proposed to be set up.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. AKERS-DOUGLAS,) Kent, St. Augustine's
said he had no intention, and should have no right, to give a preferential advantage to one port over another, always providing that the ships which this Bill proposed to deal with went to these particular ports.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said the hon. Member for Islington seemed to be under some misapprehension. The principle of the Bill was to deal with the immigration of aliens in large quantities to this country. Only the aliens coming in immigrant ships in those quantities would be obliged to go to the ports listed. The ports had not been listed in the Bill in order to avoid confusion, as it might be necessary to add to them, or substitute one for another. Notice would be given to all concerned by the usual methods, by publication in the Gazette, and by communication with the ship owning companies and the foreign agents. There would 394 be no desire on the part of the Government to select too small a number of ports. When, on the First or Second Reading, he had been asked what ports would be included, he had said that certainly the eight chief ports described in the Return of the Board of Trade would be among them, but he also said that if they found that the traffic went to other ports they would be able to apply the machinery of the Bill to such ports. For instance, ship owners might desire to bring their traffic to Harwich rather than Dover, or to Queen-borough rather than Newhaven, and it was to meet such cases that they desired to have the power of transferring the machinery from one port to another. He entirely agreed with the right hon. Member for Aberdeen that there was no analogy between this country and the United States. The right hon. Gentleman had pointed out that the whole of the immigrant traffic which went to the United States practically went to five ports.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said that was the reason why they had not adopted the American system in this Bill. In many ways it would have been more satisfactory if they could have done so, but the circumstances were entirely different, and their machinery must therefore he different. When the right hon. Gentleman suggested, however, that they ought to drop the first part of the Bill on that account, he entirely forgot that the Bill was introduced for the purpose of dealing with undesirable aliens who came to this country in bulk. The limit of twenty was suggested because they did not wish to put to unnecessary inconvenience ship owners who dealt with aliens who came in small parties. It was proposed to deal with criminals under Clause 3, and many of them could be dealt with by extradition. In many cases they were known to the police, and there was little difficulty in dealing with them. Whilst it was true that criminals might come through under the first part of the Bill, he believed the machinery of those two clauses would form a satisfactory provision for preventing their coming here and remaining in this country, 395 They must have regard to the general practice. He believed that by the provisions of this Bill they would secure those two objects. The machinery of the Bill was intended to deal with the landing of undesirable aliens in this country, and therefore they were not interfering with transmigration, and it was not their intention to put any difficulties in the way of transmigrants. They would allow transmigrants to pass through this country as uninterruptedly as possible, always providing that their officers were satisfied that it was a bona fide traffic, and was not being taken advantage of in order to land in this country any considerable number of undesirable aliens.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
said they all recognised the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman had addressed the Committee, and the attitude he had taken up would great-facilitate the passing of this Bill. Although they had devoted much time to this Amendment he was sure the Home Secretary would recognise that the main principle of the Bill was raised in this Amendment. Upon this Amendment they had achieved the very important success of having got the Government to recognise that this Bill would not prevent the importation of undesirable aliens, and that was surely something. They now knew that when the Government put this Bill into the shop window throughout the country, and told the electors that if they supported the Government candidates they would pass a Bill to keep out undesirable aliens, they were stating something which was misleading.
I think I had again better remind the Committee what the Amendment is. The Bill proposes that immigrant ships should be allowed to come to certain ports, and that there should be certain restrictions. The Amendment proposes that immigrant ships may come to any port, but only at certain ports should there be certain restrictions. It is to either one or the other of these proposals that the hon. Member should address himself.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said his point was that to attempt to limit this proposal to a certain number of ports was a mistake and ought not to be supported. Upon a previous occasion the Attorney-General spoke in defence of machinery which allowed aliens to come in at any port. But the whole machinery had now be an amended, and now they had before them, entirely different machinery altogether, which the right hon. Gentleman was no doubt equally ready to defend. The Home Secretary had admitted that this-Bill would not stop the importation of undesirable aliens.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said they could not stop them coming in certain batches, so what was the use of pretending that this was a Bill which would keep aliens out of this country. The right hon. Gentleman said it would only stop them coming in bulk. It might be summed up by saying "large parties we cannot cater for; small parties cordially welcomed." At last they had pricked this alien bubble
§ MR. DALZIEL
said he was certainly not going outside the speech of the Home Secretary, but he would keep to the point as nearly as possible, and take another opportunity of dealing with the principle involved. The right hon. Gentleman was now asking for a power which the Committee ought not to give. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that he was not going to give them the names of the ports until after the Bill was passed, but he had no right to make such a demand, because the question of the different ports was the whole essence of the Bill. He supposed that it was in the West of Scotland and Glasgow that the greater part of this trade took place, and the only port they were going to include was the Port of Leith. Already the agency companies were advising the people abroad not to come to this country on account of 397 the great difficulties which were being placed in their way. This Amendment showed the utter hollowness of the claims of the Government in regard to this measure, for it was a sham measure from beginning to end.
§ MR. RENWICK (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
said he thought hon. Gentlemen opposite spoke without any knowledge whatever of the shipping traffic. The Home Secretary, in proposing to schedule eight or nine principal ports, was doing something which would effectually deal with practically the whole of the undesirable alien traffic. The majority of the ships which traded between this country and the Continent and which carried these passengers did not carry them as a principal part of their trade. They traded to and from ports where they could get cargoes and they only carried passengers in a subsidiary way and not as ordinary passenger boats did. Therefore, he maintained that by scheduling these eight or nine principal ports practically the whole of the traffic would be covered. It was not for one moment to be supposed that ship owners were going to dodge the Act in the way hon. Gentlemen opposite contended they would. All that the shipowner got for bringing these aliens from the Continent would be from 5s. to 15s. each. Perhaps there would be ten or twenty such passengers—but that would be a large number to bring—so that all the shipowner would get from them would be £5 or £10. It would certainly not pay the shipowner to move his ship from one port to another in order to land these people. A ship from a foreign port was bound when she entered a port to put up her ensign, and she was boarded by the Customs officers and the sanitary authority and she had to pay the dues. Therefore, no owner would think of attempting to evade the Act by moving to another port. Consequently, if any undesirable wished to land at another port, he would have to pay a large sum to the shipowner or bribe the captain, and if he could afford to do that, he would not come over in an immigrant ship but as an ordinary first-class passenger. It was absurd to say that shipowners were going to dodge between ports to evade the Act.
398 He would like to read a resolution passed by the Direct Short-Sea Traders' Association, carrying on trade between London and the Continent, one of the most important bodies of shipowners in this country to show the attitude of shipowners regarding the question. This Association had 50 per cent, of the trade of the Port of London, and in the communication they sent to him they dealt with the question of the number of passengers and asked that the number twenty should be abolished and that there should be no limitation whatever, but that any ship bringing these passengers should be dealt with by the authorities. The concluding words of a resolution passed by them were to this effect—The Association will assist to the best of their ability any Government Department in their efforts to destroy the traffic in undesirable immigrants.Shipowners were thus prepared to support the Government in stopping this traffic, and it ill became hon. Members opposite to infer that shipowners were going out of their way to destroy the efficiency of this Bill when it became law.
§ MR. BRIGHT (Shropshire, Oswestry)
said he happened to be a shipowner and knew what he was talking about when he asserted that the provisions of the Bill would not keep out the undesirable aliens, but would build up a trade at the non-scheduled ports at the expense of the scheduled ports. In fact, the Bill would give preferential treatment to particular ports, and, consequently, a preference to certain lines of steamers. A class of British shipowners engage in the Continental trade did not make a business of carrying emigrants, although glad to get an extra £10 by their ships collecting a few such passengers; but the result of what was now proposed would be that those shipowners would exert themselves to bring to this country a number of, say, nineteen emigrants every voyage where formerly they brought only perhaps a couple, if any. The bulk of the trade upon which it was sought to place restrictions was, he thought it would be admitted, a through trade, and the moment Parliament began to interfere 399 with it serious injury would be caused to the shipping trade. This kind of legislation was tried in the case of the Merchandise Marks Act, which had the effect of very greatly damaging the transhipment trade in goods; and this Bill would have a similar effect upon the transhipment trade in people. It should not be forgotten that the main business of this country was what he would call a middle business. But they all knew that, at bottom, this was really a tariff reform project. He supported the Amendment because he believed the proposal of the Bill was only an attempt to set up preferential treatment to the detriment of this country. Only one thousand immigrants who arrived in this country last year remained here, and it was to deal with so small a matter that the Government made proposals which would be sure to jeopardise a great and valuable
§ MR. DAVID MACIVER (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
said that a great many ship owners did not share the views which had been expressed by the hon. Member who had just sat down. The views of the great companies had been well expressed by the hon. Member for East Toxteth, and by the hon. Member for Newcastle, who were perfectly satisfied with the Amendments which stood on the Paper in the name of the Attorney-General. If there was anything wrong with this Bill it was that it did not go far enough. The Amendment was thoroughly bad, and those who supported it entirely forget that other clauses would deal effectively with the smaller ports. He hoped the Committee would not waste any more time discussing this Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 215; Noes, 169. (Division List No. 218.)403
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Colomb, Rt. Hon. Sir John C. R||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Allhusen, Augustus HenryEden||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. HughO.||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Grenfell, William Henry|
|Arrol, Sir William||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Hain, Edward|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. SirH.||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Hamilton, Marq. of(L'nd'nderry|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hardy, Laurence(Kent, Ashford|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Davenport, William Bromley||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Dewar, SirT. R. (TowerHamlets||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Balcarres, Lord||Dickson, Charles Scott||Heath, Arthur Howard(Hanley|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Heath, SirJames(Staffords. N W|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hogg, Lindsay|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Dyke, Rt. Hn. SirWilliamHart||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside|
|Balfour, Rt. HnGeraldW.(Leeds||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)||Howard John(Kent, Feversham|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Faber, George Denison (York)||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Fardell, Sir T. George||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. SirMichaelHicks||Fellowes, RtHn. AilwynEdward||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. SirJ. (Manc'r.||Hunt, Rowland|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Finlay, SirR. B. (Inv'rn'ssB'ghs)||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Fisher, William Hayes||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Brassey, Albert||Fison, Frederick William||Kennaway, Rt, Hn. Sir John H.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Flower, Sir Ernest||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W.|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Forster, Henry William||Knowles, Sir Lees|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ.||Foster, PhilipS. (Warwick, S. W.||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Galloway, William Johnson||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Gardner, Ernest||Lawson. Hn. H.L.W.(Mile End)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Garfit, William||Lee, ArthurH(Hants, Fareham|
|Chamberlain, RtHn. J. A. (Worc.||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn)||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Chapman, Edward||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Gordon, Maj. Evans(T'rH'mlets||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S)||Palmer, Sir Walter(Salisbury)||Smith, RtHnJ. Parker(Lanark|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Smith, Hon. W. P. D. (Strand)|
|Lowe, Francis William||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Stanley, Hn. Arthur(Ormskirk|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Pemberton, John S. G,||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset)|
|Lucas, Col. Francis(Lowestoft)||Percy, Earl||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord(Lanes.)|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Pilkington, ColonelRichard||Stewart, Sir MarkJ. M'Taggart|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Plummer, Sir Walter R.||Stirling-Maxwell, SirJohn M,|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Maclver, David (Liverpool)||Pretyman, Ernest George||Stroyan, John|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Purvis, Robert||Thornton, Percy M.|
|M'Calmont, Colonel James||Rankin, Sir James||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|M'Iver, SirLewis(Edinburgh, W||Rasch, SirFrederic Carne||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Reid, James(Greenock)||Tuft, Charles|
|Malcolm, Ian||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Manners, Lord Cecil||Renwick, George||Turnour, Viscount|
|Marks, Harry Hananel||Ridley, S. Forde||Vincent, Col. SirC. EH(Sheffield|
|Maxwell, Rt HnSirH. E.(Wigt'n||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Maxwell, W. J. H(Dumfriesshire||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Warond, Rt. Hn. SirWilliam H.|
|Melville, Beresford Valentine||Robinson, Brooke||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Meysey Thompson, Sir H. M.||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Welby, Lt. Col. A. CE. (Taunton|
|Middlemore, JohnThrogmorton||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Whiteley, H. (Ashton und. Lyne|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Milner, Rt. Hn. SirFrederick G.||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Milvain, Thomas||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool||Wilson, A. Stanley(York, E. R.)|
|Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.|
|Morgan, DavidJ. (Walthamstow||Samuel, Sir Harry S. (Limehouse||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wyndham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Murray, CharlesJ. (Coventry)||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Younger, William|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Myers, William Henry||Sharpe, Wiliam Edward T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES— Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Shaw Stewart, Sir H. (Renfrew)|
|O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Abraham, William (Cork. N. E.)||Delany, William||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)|
|Allen, Charles P.||Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Asher, Alexander||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Jones, David Brynmor(Swansea|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Donelan, Captain A.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. HerbertHenry||Doogan, P. C.||Jordan, Jeremiah|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Duffy, William J.||Joyce, Michael|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Edwards, Frank||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Ellice, Capt EC(S. Andrw'sBghs||Kennedy P. J. (Westmeath, N.)|
|Benn, John Williams||Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Kennedy, Vincent P. (Cavan, W-|
|Black, Alexander William||Emmott, Alfred||Kilbride, Denis|
|Blake, Edward||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Lambert, George|
|Boland, John||Farrell, James Patrick||Lamont, Norman|
|Brigg, John||Fenwick, Charles||Langley, Batty|
|Bright, Allan Heywood||Ffrench, Peter||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Findlay, Alexander(Lanark, NE||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Flynn, James Christopher||Leese, Sir JosephF. (Accrington|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Fuller, J. M. F.||Leigh, Sir Joseph|
|Burt, Thomas||Gladstone, Rt Hn. HerbertJohn||Levy, Maurice|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles(Poplar||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Caldwell, James||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Lough, Thomas|
|Cameron, Robert||Hammond, John||Lundon, W.|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Harcourt, Lewis||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Cawley, Frederick||Harrington, Timothy||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Harwood, George||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hayden, John Patrick||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Helme, Norval Watson||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Mooney, John J.|
|Crean, Eugene||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Crombie, John William||Higham, John Sharp||Murphy, John|
|Cullinan, J.||Holland, Sir William Henry||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Hops, John Deans (Fife, West)||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan(Cardigan)||Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|O'Brien, Kendal(Tipperary, Mid||Richards, Thomas||Tomkinson, James|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Toulmin, George|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Ure, Alexander|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Wallace, Robert|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Rose, Charles Day||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)|
|O'Dowd, John||Russell, T. W.||White, George (Norfolk)|
|O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|O'Kelly, James(Roscommon, N.||Samuel, S. M.(Whitechapel)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Malley, William||Seely, Maj.J.E.B.(Isle of Wight||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|O'Mara, James||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Wills, Arthur Walters(N. Dorset|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Sheehy, David||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Parrott, William||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Partington, Oswald||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Paulton, James Mellor||Slack, John Bamford||Woodhouse, SirJT. (Huddersf'd|
|Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Young, Samuel|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Soares, Ernest J.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Price, Robert John||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R. (Northants|
|Priestley, Arthur||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Trevelyan and Mr. Dalziel.|
|Rea, Russell||Sullivan, Donal|
|Reddy, M.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Tennant, Harold John|
Question, put, and agreed to.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.) moved to Wave out the words "United Kingdom" in lines 6 and 7 of Clause and to insert the words "Great Britain." The effect of the Amendment would be to exclude Ireland from the Bill. He trusted the debate would not proceed very long before the Home Secretary intimated acceptance of the Amendment. It had been said that this Bill was largey a "faked up" demand on the part of certain politicians in England and Scot land. However that might be, there had unquestionably been no demand for the Bill in Ireland. There had never been a single resolution passed by any public body in Ireland in favour of the Bill, nor had any public man spoken on the question, or made any demand in connection with alien immigration. For many centuries Ireland was the sanctuary of large numbers of the victims of persecution and intolerance in other countries. In the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth a large number of people sought refuge in Ireland from the religious persecution of the time. Later on when the Jews were being persecuted all over the Continent a large number sought sanctuary in Ireland, and even at the present day there were in that country a considerable number of the descendants of the Huguenots who had to fly from France and other countries. Not only did Ireland not ask such a Bill as this, but her whole traditions and history, and the feelings of the people, were against a measure of this class which was aimed at the unfortunate 404 people who had to seek refuge. The demand that Ireland should be excluded from the Bill was a reasonable one, and he hoped the Home Secretary would at once announce that it was the intention of the Government to accept the Amendment.
§ It was not likely that any condition of things would arise in Ireland in regard to vessels from Continental ports such as had been described in connection with various ports in Eng land and Scotland. There was unquestionably considerable trade between certain Continental ports and ports in Ireland, and from that point of view they desired that Ireland should be excluded. But there was another consideration which he was sure must have escaped the notice of the framers of the Bill in connection with the constant communication between the United States and Ireland. The communication took the form of both emigration and immigration. The immigrants were mostly men and women who would be described under this Bill as aliens. Unfortunately, owing to the sad condition of Ireland large numbers of people had had to leave its shores during the last half century. A considerable number when they went to America became naturalised and forswore allegiance to the Sovereign of this country. They, therefore, became in the eye of the law aliens, and they would be prevented, except under severe restrictions, from coming back to Ireland. He 405 was sure that that was a matter which the Government could not have had in their mind when they were framing Clause 8 of the Bill. He was informed that over 10,000 Irish-born Americans who had been naturalised returned to the land of their birth and visited the Exhibition recently held at Cork. All these people would have been subjected to an examination which would have been intolerable if such a measure as this had been in operation. It was well known that a considerable number of immigrants came over every year. A small percentage of the Irishmen who had been naturalised in America travelled first class, and, therefore, would not be subject to the Bill, but a considerable number, who had only a few pounds to spend on a visit to their friends, came steerage and would be liable to exclusion. The test applied to these people would not be whether they were vicious or criminal, whether they were dynamitards or anarchists, but whether they were rich or poor. If he were an Irishman who had succeeded in making a fortune, and came as a cabin passenger, well and good; but if he were a poor man and travelled steerage he would come under the restrictions of this Bill.
§ It was no use telling him that some day or other the parties to whom these restrictions applied would be settled by the Board of Trade or the Home Office. He absolutely refused to place blind confidence in any future Home Secretary as to this interference with the natural desire of his fellow-countrymen, even if they had been naturalised in America, to revisit their native land. His experience of English administration was not of such a reassuring character that he should be prepared to put such large powers in the hands of the Board of Trade or the Home Office. There was one class of aliens which they particularly wished to exclude from Ireland, and that was British Ministers and British place-hunters. There was another class of Irish-born or British-born citizens who had been naturalised in America whom this Bill would exclude. It was not a large class, but one well worthy of consideration. A considerable number of old Irish-Americans—men and women— 406 whose last, earnest desire was that they should lay their bones in the sacred soil of their own country and in the graves of their forebears. That was a settled and deep feeling in the Irish breasts Most of them were poor and must travel steerage, and the immigration officer-would meet them and say, "What business have you here? Go on to Liverpool or go back to America." Nobody in Ireland had asked for the Bill; nobody took the slightest interest in it, and that because few saw the dangers lurking in it. It seriously interfered with the inflow of Irish-Americans into the country of their birth, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would recognise these facts and exclude Ireland from the scope of the Bill.
In page 1, lines 6 and 7, to leave out the-words 'United Kingdom,' and insert the words 'Great Britain.'"—(Mr. Flynn.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'United Kingdom' stand part of the clause."
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said he was afraid that he could not see his way to accept the Amendment. He had no reason to think that Irish-Americana who came over to visit their relations in Ireland would not be able to satisfy the immigration officer as to their status and condition. There would be little difficulty in their passing the barrier when they could show that they had come to stay with relations and not to settle. There was one reason why it was impossible for the Government to accept the Amendment. It had come to his knowledge that a certain number of undesirable aliens came from America, remained in Ireland, and became a burden on the ratepayers.
§ MR. HUGH LAW (Donegal, W.)
said he did not suppose that there was any objection to the compulsory exclusion of lunatics and idiots from Ireland; but the right hon. Gentleman had not in any way answered the case put by his hon. friend the Member for Cork. Persons of Irish birth who had become naturalised in the United States, but 407 who desired to return and settle again in Ireland, would, on the face of it, be treated under this Bill as aliens, and might be treated as undesirables. He thought some more information was desirable as to what the procedure was be. An immigrant ship, under the Bill, was a vessel which carried twenty alien steerage passengers; and he wanted to know, in the first place, if there were twenty such persons as he had described on board a liner, whether they would be allowed to land at all in Ireland? In the second place, how and where were they to proceed in order to satisfy the immigration officer? There was a great stream of emigrants from Ireland to the United States every year, and a certain proportion of these emigrants returned to Ireland. Irish emigrants to America were of two classes—those who were successful, and those who were unsuccessful. Anyone who knew the congested districts of Ireland must be familiar with the sight of a large house which had a certain look of prosperity about it in the midst of desolation. It generally turned out on examination that that was the house of a man who had been in America, had made some little money, and had returned to spend the remainder of his days in his native land. They did not come as cabin passengers, and if they travelled in a vessel which carried twenty alien steerage passengers they would fall under the restrictions of the Bill, and would have to satisfy the immigration officer that they were proper persons to be allowed to land. Such people would, no doubt, have some money in their pockets and might be able to satisfy the immigration officer that they were not paupers, but still they would be put to a great deal of quite unnecessary inconvenience.
That might be a very serious matter, but there was another class. Unhappily it was only too common for Irish boys and girls to go to the United States and find that country not the golden land of promise which they had been led to expect, but only a land of disappointments. He knew himself of girls who had gone from their little mountain homes to the great cities of America, like New York, Chicago, or St. Louis where the climate and the conditions 408 of life were so different from that of their native land. After being in service for some years, possibly they married and became citizens of the United States. Their health failed them, and the desire came to return to their old homes. Now, how was such a girl to satisfy the immigration officer at a distant port from her old home, where she knew that there would always be a welcome for her and a share of such poor fare as the family had? She had no money in her pocket; perhaps she had only been able to scrape up the money for her steerage passage. She presented herself at Moville or Liverpool and was met by an English immigration officer who would say, "You are not a British subject; you are an alien and you have no means of support." She would reply "Yes; but I am going back to my family," and would mention the name of the mountain hamlet, of which the immigration officer had most probably never heard. Was it really intended, under cover of this Bill, which professed to be directed against criminals and undesirables, that the British Government was going to deny that girl a refuge with her family in her old home? Were these people to be exposed to the humiliation and the possible risk involved in this Bill. If Ireland wished to support her children who had failed in the struggle of life in the United States, that was no affair of the Government. Ireland was ready to welcome them back and the Government had no right to prevent Ireland affording them an asylum which it was ready to give.
§ MR. SLOAN (Belfast, S.)
said he was entirely in sympathy with the proposition in the Amendment, should that be the result of the operation of the Bill. He had listened to the Home Secretary's statement that any Irish-born American who desired to return home to his mother country would not be considered to come under the terms of the Bill. That might not be the interpretation of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it was the interpretation of the Minister in charge of the Bill. He confessed that aliens in Ireland at the present time were not receiving the treatment from hon. Members opposite that they ought to receive. There were aliens in Ireland who were considered by hon. 409 Members opposite to be so undesirable that they could not get a means of livelihood.
§ MR. JOYCE (Limerick)
I desire to contradict in the strongest terms the unfounded assertion the hon. Member has made, and he knows it is unfounded.
I hope hon. Members on both sides will restrain themselves. This question is not in order, and I must ask the hon. Member to pass from it at once.
§ MR. SLOAN
said he would bow to the ruling of the Chair. He went on to 410 say that if the possible cases cited by hon. Members opposite came under the operation of the Bill they would have a case, but he could not understand how the Bill could be interpreted to mean that an Irish-born American returning to spend the remainder of his days in his native land would be described by the Home Secretary of the day as an undesirable alien. He could not further understand how it could be stated that a person coming from America to visit his friends in Ireland, and who had a return ticket, would be considered as coming under the operation of the Bill. If this Amendment what carried, Ireland would become the dumping ground for those people whom Great Britain refused to allow in. Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom and deserved the protection of this Bill, and that was the reason he objected to the Amendment.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said the Government had the greatest possible sympathy with the Amendment; but the hon. Gentleman who moved it would admit that if Ireland were exempted there would be an influx of aliens into the country which Ireland did not want any more than Great Britain. There would be two ports in Ireland under the Bill.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said that probably it would. The Government had not the slightest desire to keep out of Ireland the class of persons to whom the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment referred; and, while it was not possible to accept the Amendment as proposed, the Government were perfectly ready to consider the matter with a view to achieving the object in view, with which he entirely sympathised.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said the speech of the Attorney-General had eased the position somewhat, but with reference to what the hon. Member for South Belfast had said, he would like to say that the argument of the hon. Member had been built on-what the Home Secretary had said. But they were not concerned with what the 411 Home Secretary said. They had built a good many arguments upon what the Chief Secretary for Ireland had said and they had suffered for it. He appealed to the hon. Member for South Belfast to shut out from view what the Home Secretary had said and to see what Section 8 of the Bill said. Section 8 said that the expression "immigrant" meant an alien steerage passenger who landed in the United Kingdom. Therefore, any Irishman who had gone to America in his early days, and had been naturalised there, who returned to the old country was an alien if he came steerage, which he was likely to do, and as an alien was subject to all the prohibitions of the Bill. That was a monstrous thing and Irish Members of all Parties should not submit to it. It applied not only-to Queenstown but to Moville, to Belfast, to Derry, and every part of Ireland. He did not care for the purpose of his argument whether the Attorney-General made-two ports in Ireland or not. That did not abolish Section 8 of the Bill. So long as the definition stood, so long would these hundreds and thousands of Irishmen who returned to their native land be subject to all these prohibitions. They would fight against that to the end. It was not fair of the Attorney-General to say he would confer with the Irish Members on the subject. He was glad the right hon. Gentleman realised the impossibility of passing the Bill in its present shape. It was the business of the Government to introduce Bills in proper form. They never could have considered the effect of this upon the thousands of Irish-Americans yearly returning to Ireland from America, and he for one would not stand it.
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
said he wished to ask the Attorney-General whether the inclusion of Ireland was necessary or not. It always appeared to him that some kind of alien legislation was rendered necessary by the action of the United States. The Government there decided whether a cargo of immigrants should be admitted or not. If immigrants were rejected because of bad character, lunacy, or any other reason the shipping company concerned was obliged to take them back to 412 Europe; and the most convenient part of Europe to which they could be taken was Ireland. He understood that this was now actually being done, and that lunatics had been brought back and dumped down in Ireland and had become an expense to the local authorities of Ireland. The question he wished to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman was whether, under the provisions of the Bill as they stood or as they would stand when amended by the Government Amendments, there was power to stop things of that kind. He desired to point out that these people would not come back in large batches but in ones and twos, and therefore would not come within the provisions of the Bill, and might be landed in Ireland under the very noses of the authorities without there being power to stop them. What he wished to ask the Attorney-General was whether there were in the Bill any provisions which would enable us to prevent those immigrants who had been rejected by the United States from being dumped in Ireland.
§ MR. WALLACE (Perth)
asked whether it was not a fact that the shipping companies were compelled to take those whom the United States rejected back to the country from whence they came.
§ MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)
said two new facts had arisen in consequence of this Amendment as to which he would like to ask a Question. First of all, was it a fact that the Home Secretary intended to make provision that where any man had a return ticket he should be exempted from the provisions of this Bill? He understood the right hon Gentleman to state that, and if it were so it was as well to know it. Secondly, was it not the fact that the Home Secretary proposed to provide that any one born within these islands would be exempt from the provisions of this Bill? Those were very important matters, both of which affected the position of Ireland.
§ MR. LEIF JONES (Westmoreland,) Appleby
asked whether there was any provision in the Bill under which it would be possible to make any exemptions at all. Until the inconvenience of the 413 examination had occurred how could. any exemptions be made.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said he understood the Questions of the right hon. Member for Cambridge related to two points; one, whether persons born in Ireland who had gone to the United States and who having become naturalised had come back were to be regarded as aliens, and the other, what was the nature of the provisions of the Bill for preventing persons of a very different class, who had been rejected by the United States, being dumped down in Ireland. He would not like to give a positive Answer at the moment to the first Question for the reason that though it was well known at common law that a British subject could not divest himself of his nationality by becoming naturalised in a foreign country, exceptions had been introduced by statute. Before returning a positive Answer to that Question he would like to have the assistance of the Foreign Office as to what conventions had been made with the United States. The matter was one eminently deserving of attention, and he could only repeat that nothing was further from the wishes of the Government than to prevent a particular class of persons from returning to their own country. As to the question of the provision for preventing rejected immigrants to America being landed in Ireland that had been explained by the Home Secretary. No such persons, being aliens, could be landed from immigrant ships except at those ports marked out as ports of arrival by the Aliens Board, and then only after proper examination. The power to reduce the number of "twenty" could and no doubt would he exercised if the question arose, so as to prevent the damping of immigrants in Ireland. He was not able to say whether the laws of the United States required a ship to take rejected aliens back to the country from which they came. The first Question asked by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight he had already answered and with regard to the second, with reference to return tickets, he did not think this was the time or place to consider that question. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman desired an Answer he would suggest that 414 the hon. and gallant Gentleman should ask the Home Secretary for the information, which he (Sir Robert Finlay) was not in a position to afford.
§ MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
thought it was very hard, in the face of the opposition of those who represented the majority of the opinion of Ireland, that this measure should be pressed on that country, in which there had been no demand for it. If there was any demand for this measure it existed in certain quarters in England where there was great pressure of population and where it became the interest of particular individuals for Party or other reasons to raise this question. He agreed with the hon. Member for Cork, who pointed oat that some of the most useful inhabitants of Ireland were the descendants of those who could not have landed in Ireland if this law had been in operation centuries ago. Ireland had been a refuge to those who had been driven from other countries by tyranny and oppression, and the descendants of many of those who sought its hospitality lived there to-day. He thought it was most unreasonable to press this measure on Ireland. All Nationalist Members asked was that when a change was being made which at the best was a departure from the traditions of a great and free country, such an organise change should not, in spite of the remonstrances of her representatives, be forced upon Ireland, where no necessity or demand whatever existed for the measure. The retention of Ireland within the scope of the Bill simply afforded another argument in favour of enabling Ireland to legislate for herself so far as questions affecting the locality were concerned.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said that when he spoke last he had not the statute before him. He could now inform the Committee that Section 6 of the Naturalisation Act, 1870, provided that a British-born subject on becoming voluntarily naturalised in a foreign country would cease to be a British subject, except when, with a particular class of case, he made a declaration that he desired to remain a British subject.
§ MR. BRYCE
said the statement of the Attorney-General made the question raised by the Amendment much more important, inasmuch as the number of persons who, having become naturalised, returned from the United States to visit relatives in Ireland was very large indeed. If the Government intended to keep Ireland within the scope of the clause it was obviously necessary that they should make some provision to meet these cases.
§ MR. EMMOTT (Oldham)
agreed that there was some weight in the objection that if Ireland were excluded from the clause she would remain open to the landing of undesirables while England was closed. But what he particularly desired to call attention to was the way in which the scope, expense, and difficulties of the Bill were being made increasingly plain. Two ports had now been added for Ireland, whereas none had been mentioned before, and both the Home Secretary and the Attorney-General had acknowledged the validity of the objections raised by his hon. friend. The case for the Bill had never been made out, but if it had, the Bill ought to have been more thorough and to have covered all the ports in the country.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
said there was no doubt that this question was one about which it was easy to speak on the platform, and for which there was no difficulty in suggesting general remedies, but when one came to close quarters, it was seen that it was an extremely difficult matter to deal with. The provisions which had been so far submitted to the Committee, instead of mitigating would only increase the existing difficulties and to a large extent dislocate trade. As to the prevention of the coming of undesirable lunatics and so forth into Ireland, the Irish people would be very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman if he could stop the deportation of paupers from England to Ireland—a practice of daily occurrence, and the subject of much complaint. Then with regard to the possession of return tickets. Hundreds of people, having amassed a little money in America, came back to Ireland with the intention of remaining in the country; they con- 416 stituted some of the best of the Irish people, but they would probably be hit by the provisions of the Bill. Moreover, the carrying out of the Act would be in the hands of the police, who did not inspire the same confidence in Ireland as in England. In its present form he feared the measure would have little effect in the direction hoped for, but would produce confusion and chaos, and dislocate trade all over the country.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said the Attorney-General now declared—as most Members who had looked into the subject knew before—that a returned immigrant who had become naturalised in America would be in the position of an alien under the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also admitted that that was a fair ground of complaint. Were the Committee justified in regarding that as an undertaking on the part of the Attorney-General that words should be introduced to meet the case?
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY.
What I said was that we were very desirous of introducing words with that object, and that if such a form of words could be devised without prejudice to the general purpose of the Bill, the Government would be willing to insert them.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said he would take that as an undertaking that if words were proposed the Government would insert them.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said he would endeavour to find a form of words, and if any form could be found which would not damage the general purpose of the Bill, the Government would gladly insert them.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said that was a very cautious statement, and he was unwilling to abandon the discussion without a clear understanding that the Government would do their best honestly to meet this grievance.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY.
Certainly we are going to endeavour to do it. I do not think the hon. and learned 417 Member can reasonably ask me to go further than I have done.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said he did not ask the Attorney-General to settle the words off-hand, but he did expect that when the proper portion of the Bill was reached words should be proposed to carry out the pledge just given. There now remained the broad question of whether Ireland ought to be included in the Bill. Personally he objected to the Bill, and if he had his way he would not enact it for either England or Ireland. But as a practical man he had to look at the matter from another point of view. If this measure, which for reasons he need not go into he regarded as a most objectionable one, was to be enacted for Great Britain, he was not in favour of the exclusion of Ireland, because if Ireland were excluded there would be the gravest possible danger of her being made the dumping-ground of undesirables, some of whom would attempt to filter through to England, but the great majority of whom would remain in Ireland. Therefore, he would advise his hon. friend to be content with the concession he had obtained on the narrower point and not divide on the Amendment.
MR. HIGH AM (Yorkshire, W. R. Sowerby)
desired to point out how illusory were the promises made by the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the possession of a return ticket would be a sufficient voucher to permit of a person landing.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
I did not say that a return ticket would be so accepted at all. I said that I did not imagine that the class referred to by the mover of the Amendment would be shut out at all. I thought that they would be able to satisfy the immigration officer as to their status, and that the fact of their having relatives in Ireland would be a very great help to them in so doing.
§ MR. HIGHAM
submitted that these matters ought to be dealt with in the Bill; they ought not to depend upon conversations across the floor of the House. Whether Ireland were excluded or not the Bill would not apply as between England and Ireland, so that the 418 lunatics to whom reference had been made would not be affected. Having arrived in Ireland, say at Queenstown, they had merely to be transhipped to any boat trading or carrying passengers between Ireland and England, and then their deportation from Ireland to England would be completed, as no one here could raise objection to the landing of a passenger from Ireland. This showed the enormous difficulties which faced the administration of this Bill. Thousands of people came over here on short holidays who were naturalised Americans and had been in America half their lifetime. They wished to spend a month or two in this country and they would be subjected to all the indignities of this Bill. They would have to prove that they had the means to maintain themselves, and prove also that they were not lunatics or idiots. The right hon. Gentleman had said that if he could devise words he would meet them, but the proper way to proceed would be to strike out the whole of that part of the clause. Lancashire and Yorkshire had against the Bill as it stood a grievance just as strong as Ireland. Cotton operatives went to the States, settled there, and often in later life visited their friends in the North of England. They were to be faced with these most unreasonable proposals, and they asked at least that there should be omitted from the Bill Sub section (3) (a) of the first clause, which was worded—(3) For the purposes of this section an immigrant shall be considered an undesirable immigrant—(a) if he cannot show that he has in his possession or is in a position to obtain the means of decently supporting himself and his dependents (if any).There would then be very little difficulty about the acceptance of the Bill on his side of the House.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
said he understood that this Amendment dealt with Irish immigrants who returned from America and desired to spend a short time with their friends in Ireland. This matter had occupied the attention of the great shipping lines which carried these passengers, and it had been carefully brought to the notice of those concerned 419 that this class of immigrant was one with which it was most essential no interference should take place. The same thing applied to the Scandinavians who were brought to Liverpool, and if that traffic was to be continued it was essential that it should be free from irritating and vexatious restrictions. At a later stage of the Bill he had an Amendment on the Paper which he hoped would receive favourable consideration at the hands of his right hon. friend, and that Amendment proposed to exempt altogether from the scope of this Bill steamers coming into our ports in that way which were able to satisfy the Government and the authorities that no undesirable immigrants would be landed from them. He thought that was the only satisfactory way in which this great trade could be safeguarded from the operations of this Bill. No less than 107,000 of this class of passengers were brought yearly into Liverpool, and amongst them, with the exception of a few immigrants rejected in the United States, what might be called the undesirable alien was a rara avis for whom no special legislation was needed. Anything like the wholesale inspection of that traffic in the port of Liverpool would be most disastrous to that trade.
The hon. Member is dealing with a question which is hardly in order on this Amendment, which refers to Ireland and not to Liverpool.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
said the Amendment he had down would come later on in Clause and he thought it would meet this case. He hoped when they reached that part of the Bill, if ever they did reach it, that it might receive favourable consideration.
§ MR. LOUGH
said he hoped the Home Secretary would give due consideration to the Amendment he was about to move. At the stage at which they had arrived the immigrant ship was now brought in, and he did not see why it should be brought in at all. Surely it would be better to strike out those words and leave the clause to apply generally rather than to a particular kind of ship. He thought 420 this objection would strike everybody who thought over the matter for a moment. According to this Bill an immigrant ship was one who brought more than twenty passengers, but they had been warned that Amendments would be proposed to reduce the number to ten or fifteen. Moreover, there was already power in the Bill to reduce the number at the discretion of the Government Department. The immigrant ship was to be of a particular kind in which alien steerage passengers came over. British Members of the House as a rule knew nothing about the horrors that might be connected with immigrant ships. Years ago they used to be called coffin ships, and what he wished to point out was that this Bill would tend to create a bad class of ship of that kind. The tendency of the trade was to carry these alien immigrants in the most splendid ships that crossed the ocean, and they provided them with good accommodation. If, however, this Bill became law they would be creating for this traffic a different kind of ship, and, moreover, the Home Secretary was retaining power to declare that a ship was not an immigrant ship if the owners satisfied him with regard to the regulations. Therefore a stigma would rest upon the immigrant ship. He thought the House ought seriously to consider whether it was desirable to create a lower class of vessel like this, thus interfering with the humane tendency of carrying these poor people on the very best ships. He thought the Home Secretary would relieve himself of a very great difficulty if he would strike out the words "immigrant ship." These were very unsatisfactory powers to give to a State Department, because there would be a tendency to favour certain ports, and the introduction of this "immigrant ship" considerably enlarged the scope of this undesirable tendency. If the right hon. Gentleman was going to make a concession on this point, he trusted that he would not do it after waiting till it had been discussed for an hour or two, but do it at once. It would considerably expedite the progress of the Bill if the Home Secretary would announce his concessions at once. He begged leave to move his Amendment.
In page 1, line 7, to leave out the words 'from an immigrant ship.'"—(Mr. Lough.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said they had discussed this question upon an Amendment which had already been under consideration, upon which he pointed out the effect of taking out those words. This particular Amendment attacked the principle of the Bill, and by adopting it hardship would be inflicted, inasmuch as it would close to foreigners all the ports of the United Kingdom except those in which the machinery was set up.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn
§ MR. CLAUDE HAY (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said he desired to move the Amendment which stood in his name. This was an Amendment to strengthen the Bill, whereas the Amendments which had been moved up to the present had been designed to weaken it. He hoped the Home Secretary would be able to give them some assurance that he would reduce the number of aliens below twenty. He desired not only to restrain the admission of alien immigrants when they arrived in large numbers, but also desired to prevent them landing in England in small numbers. He thought undesirable aliens should not be allowed to come to this country, whether they came in batches of twenty or in twos and threes. It would be said that if his Amendment were carried enormous expense would be caused at the ports in providing the necessary machinery. Persons who had given attention to this subject knew that the real effect of the Bill would not be seen actually when the examination of the immigrants took place in British ports The real effect would be seen in the countries whence the immigrants came. The agencies which now induced many of these unfortunate people to come would no longer have the commercial incentive they had at present. When an emigrant 422 came to such a port as Hamburg he would be subjected to an examination so thorough before being allowed to embark that the examination in the English port would not be so costly as some hon. Gentlemen seemed to imagine.
The question of free ports which had been alluded to certainly did raise a difficulty. If, as hon. Gentlemen opposite had suggested, shipowners would be able to devise means whereby they would be able to land parties of immigrants in one of these so-called free ports, a great evil would arise. It would be necessary in that case to induce the authorities to establish machinery at the ports where the traffic Was being carried on, and those who had had to deal with Government Departments knew that that might be a matter of difficulty. Hon. Members who supported the Bill should bear in mind that if it became law the administration of it would not always necessarily be in friendly hands. Possibly some hon. Gentleman who now sat opposite might later on hold the position of Home Secretary, and it would be very easy for a Home Secretary who was opposed to the provisions of the Bill so to frame the regulations as to render the measure a dead letter; he could raise the number of immigrants so as to allow aliens to arrive in small or large numbers. His right hon. friend might by reducing the number be able to prevent the infiltration of aliens in the way hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House desired. He hoped his right hon. friend would be able to give at this stage some assurance that the wording of the Bill would be so altered as to cover not only the arrival of aliens in bulk but all undesirable aliens who came in smaller numbers.
This was not only a question of keeping out criminals. It was also an economic question. He was anxious to take this opportunity, the only one he had had of speaking on the Bill in the House, to point out that, whether aliens arrived in large parties or threes or fours, if owing to the lower standard of life and the insanitary conditions under which they lived an evil resulted, as he thought it did, then the Bill should be so framed as to show the aliens that they would 423 not be able to come here and pull down the standard of life of the working people of this country. A great deal more might be said in support of the Amendment, but it was quite unnecessary to take up the time of the Committee, as this Bill had been fully discussed in most of its aspects. The shipowning interest of which they had heard so much from the other side of the House was not inimical to the Amendment.
In page 1, line 7, to leave out from the word 'ship,' to the word 'given,' in line 9, and insert the words 'without the leave of an immigration officer appointed under this Act.'"—(Mr. Claude Hay.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said this suggestion meant practically the setting up of machinery under the Bill at every port in the Kingdom, and for that reason alone he could not accept it. As he had explained again and again, the basis upon which the Bill was put forward was the dealing with the alien traffic in bulk. The figures in the Board of Trade Returns showed that the bulk of the traffic went on at a very few ports, and he did not wish to set up machinery the cost of which would be out of proportion to the advantage to be gained. It was not actually necessary to put this embargo on these free ports. Should events show a necessity, ports could be declared under the Bill and the number of immigrants might be modified. Suggestions had been made from both sides of the House that some such reduction in the figure would be necessary immediately. He acknowledged that when they came to discuss that clause he would consider whether the figure of twenty should not be reduced so as to avoid an amendment of the Bill soon after it was passed.
§ MR. CLAUDE HAY
said that after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman he asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said that, while they were anxious to make progress with this 424 Bill, it was desirable to consider every Amendment on its merits. The Amendment moved by the hon. Member opposite was evidently to justify his position with his constituents, but from his own point of view it was logical, because it could carry out the object which the Bill was intended to affect. It would keep out every undesirable alien from this country. At the same time, he insisted that the Bill, as it stood, would not affect that purpose, because undesirables could come in provided they were not in large parties. He was amused to hear the right hon. Gentleman talk of the increased expense that would be involved if the Amendment were adopted. He, himself, pointed that out last year, but that did not alarm the right hon. Gentleman; he was then the champion of increased expense. So that, after all, one result of the discussions on the Bill last year was to make a notable convert to economy. After that, he hoped no more would be heard about the obstructive tactics of the Opposition last year. He maintained that if the Government wanted to really carry out the professed objects of this measure, they were bound to have an immigration officer at every port in the kingdom. Supposing a ship brought 500 immigrants and that fifty of them were rejected, and the shipowners were compelled to take them back to the port of embarkation what would happen? An enterprising agent would take charge of them and split them up into three or four different parties. The result would be that all of them would come into other ports in this country without any check. The fact was the whole Bill was a sham and a humbug. He, himself, was opposed to the introduction of undesirable aliens, but they could not provide machinery to effectually achieve the purpose in view, although the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite came nearer to accomplishing it than the Bill as it at present stood. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had made one or two remarks which gave some cause for alarm. In the first place, he was going to reduce the number of alien passengers to some figure below twenty. It was desirable to know, while this discussion was proceeding, what the new number was to be. Then he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman 425 not to delay longer in giving the Committee his full mind as to the number of ports he was going to list.
§ MR. HERBERT SAMUEL (Yorkshire, Cleveland)
asked if the Home Secretary denied that every undesirable alien who had been rejected at one of the specified ports could not be prevented from coming in at any other port in the United Kingdom?
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
was understood to say that he had stated over and over again that an undesirable who had been sent back to his own country could, if he did not come in an "immigrant ship," return to a free port in this country.
§ MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
said that if the Amendment now before the Committee were rejected, and the right hon. Gentleman adhered to the system in the Bill by which eight ports were listed, and the other ports were left open, the undesirable alien could come over again to a non-listed port where there was no immigration officer and no machinery to reject him. The consequence would be that the Bill would be perfectly futile for the object in view.
§ MR. J. A. PEASE (Essex, Saffron Walden)
suggested that the difficulty might be got over without putting the whole of this expensive machinery into operation in the non-listed ports. The Government might appoint the port sanitary authority at the non-listed ports who was always a medical officer—as the immigration officer for that port. In that way alien lunatics, imbeciles, and diseased persons would be rejected by the medical officer at those ports.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said that the suggestion of his hon. friend had been considered last year, and it had been found to be totally impossible to apply such a system to the large night excursion traffic across the Channel. There were sometimes as manyas 1,500 workmen carried at reduced rates as passengers in the cross-Channel steamers, and it would be absolutely impossible in such a case to carry out the proposal of his hon. friend.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said it was desired generally in the House that there should be an opportunity of examining the immigrants on land, but only on the condition that the immigrants disembarked for that purpose did not pass oat of the hands of the shipowners. He begged to move the Amendment standing in his name on the Paper.
In page 1, line 10, after the word 'ship' to insert the words 'or elsewhere if the immigrants are conditionally disembarked for the purpose.'"—(Mr. Secretary Akers-Douglas.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
said he did not wish to detain the Committee by debating the merits of the Amendment, which he thought would improve the Bill. But something fell from the right hon. Gentleman to the effect that the buildings required and the conditional inspection and detention of the immigrants disembarked should be provided at the cost of the shipping companies. A great deal of solicitude for the immigrants had been displayed on both sides of the House.
§ MR. STUART SAMUEL (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
asked whether his Amendment should not come on at this point?
said that the Amendment could not be moved unless a Resolution was first passed in Committee of Ways and Means authorising the money payment.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
said that this was the first time since the Bill had been drafted that it had been made plain to the Committee that provision for the disembarkation of immigrants for the purpose of inspection would be necessary. The right hon. Gentleman definitely pointed out that facilities for inspection would have to be provided, and under these circumstances the question of the cost of those facilities became important. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the cost of keeping those immigrants was to fall upon the shipping companies, and the 427 were also to be at the cost of erecting structures, temporary or permanent, for this inspection. Had they been contemplating the Bill as it originally stood he might not be disposed to press this matter, but this was a new departure, and the limits to which it was going to be pressed in the future were not clearly defined. It was better, therefore, at the outset to state the views of the shipping companies. They did not think it fair that the cost of erecting those buildings should be thrown on their shoulders.
said the particular Amendment before the House did not impose cost on anybody. It only sanctioned the landing. It was obvious something must be done afterwards, and the point that the hon. Member was raising would come later on, by the Amendment of the hon. Member.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
submitted that the Amendment dealt with the question of landing immigrants for the purpose of appealing. But before the appeal was reached these immigrants might be temporarily disembarked for inspection to see if they were disqualified it was only when they were disqualified the question of appeal arose. He would propose to deal with the question by an Amendment suggesting that any accommodation which might be provided for the purpose of such investigation should be provided by the Secretary of State.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
asked whether it would be in order to move an Amendment that the cost of constructing any accommodation required for such inspection should not be borne by the shipowners.
said it was extremely awkward to have to deal with an Amendment he had not seen, and suggested that the hon. Gentleman should set his Amendment down on paper, so that it might be considered while the Committee was discussing the Amendment now before it.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD (Liverpool, West Derby)
appealed to 428 the Secretary of State to add at the end of his Amendment the words, "for the purpose of inspection or special inquiry." As the words now stood, it was obvious that the places referred to could only be used for the purpose of inspection. But of those who landed at least 8 per cent, would have to be detained for inquiries to be made, and it was to enable these places to be used for both purposes that he suggested these words.
§ MR. LOUGH
expressed the opinion that some of the difficulties felt by hon. Members opposite could be avoided if they would discuss briefly but intelligibly the Amendment of the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman was meeting to a certain extent a suggestion which he (Mr. Lough) had made at an earlier stage. He had objected to the delay which might be caused to shipping by having this inspection on board, and he had suggested that the immigrants should be allowed to land and be examined on shore. The right hon. Gentleman having now made this proposal, this was the time to discuss the matter. It was not only a question for the shipowners but also for the public and trade generally to consider whether conditional landing should be allowed, and that was the object of the Amendment. He took leave to point out, however, that if the right hon. Gentleman compelled the shipping companies to bear the cost, they would take care that the buildings erected should be of an exclusive character and should only be used by those who paid for them. He contended that if a public institution of this character was to be set up it could only be set up at the cost of the Government or the municipalities. It would not be right or just to allow private individuals, at their own cost, to found institutions at certain places for public purposes. He thought the object of the hon. Member would be met, therefore, by discussing the difficulties of the situation without formulating any particular Amendment.
§ MR. LEIF JONES
asked for an explanation of the Amendment of the Secretary of State. He said complaint 429 had been made that hon. Members did not read the Bill, and, therefore, he had very carefully read the clause in conjunction with this Amendment, and the result was, as it seemed to him, the two together did not make sense. The clause read—An immigrant … shall not be landed at any such port without the leave of that officer given after an inspection of the immigrants made by him on the ship.to which words the right hon. Gentleman proposed to add—Or elsewhere if the immigrants are conditionally disembarked for the purpose.He did not raise this as a point of order but to ask for some explanation, as it appeared to him that they were asked to say that an immigrant should not be allowed to land until after an inspection had been made on board ship or elsewhere which must mean on land.
§ MR. CHARLES MCARTHUR (Liverpool, Exchange)
said he thought a distinction was to be drawn between a landing and a conditional landing. A landing, under certain conditions, might be revoked, and in that case the immigrants would have to be returned to the ship.
§ MR. CHARLES McARTHUR.
said he had an Amendment on the Paper to provide that a conditional landing should not be a landing under the Bill.
§ MR. FORDE RIDLEY (Bethnal Green, S. W.)
said that the word "disembarking" made perfect sense. It was not a landing.
I think the word "landing" in the first line of the clause means a permanent landing, and that the words of the Amendment provide for a conditional landing only.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said he would submit that there was no difference between the words "landing" and "disembarked." Disembarked meant to land from a bark. [An HON. MEMBER: You may disembark into a boat.] He begged pardon. They did not disembark into a boat. Disembark meant taken from a ship and put on the land, and, consequently, if this Amendment were adopted, it would mean that an immigrant should not be landed until he had been inspected by an officer on being landed for that purpose. It was a contradiction in terms. It was really enacting that he was both to be landed and not to be landed. He submitted to the acumen and lexicographical knowledge of the Attorney-General that really and truly the Amendment defeated the first part of the clause.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said he was very much afraid that the hon. Member for the Appleby Division had overlooked the Amendment which stood lower down on the Paper in the name of the Home Secretary, who proposed, at the end of line 22 of the clause, to insert the words "but an immigrant conditionally disembarked shall not be deemed to have been landed so long as the conditions are complied with." He was glad the matter gave hon. Gentlemen opposite so much harmless amusement, but there was really no difficulty about it. Sub-section 2 of Clause 2 gave power to the Secretary of State to make rules with respect to the conditional landing of immigrants for the purpose of appeals or otherwise. If hon. Members would look at the matter with the desire to see how the thing would work, they would at once be alive to the fact that, if they allowed a man to be landed, he might go where he pleased. He had his liberty to go into any part of the United Kingdom and was no longer under any surveillance whatever. But, in certain cases it might be found more convenient, before he was let loose, if he might use the expression, in the United Kingdom, that the examination should take place, not on board ship, but on shore. For that purpose he was to be conditionally disembarked, but his conditional disembarkation was not to amount to a landing, enabling him to proceed where he liked. It was extremely easy 431 to make very small jokes on the subject, and he did not grudge hon. Members opposite any amusement they could derive from those jokes, though he thought the amusement was almost entirely confined to their authors.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said he desired to fortify himself in the definition he bad given of the word "disembarked" by a quotation from the latest lexicographical authority, which his noble friend the Member for Greenwich had just handed to him. The Oxford Dictionary defined "disembark" as "to put ashore from a ship, to land." Would that satisfy his hon. and learned friend the Attorney-General?
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said he was much obliged to his hon. friend, but if he could tear himself away from his literary studies for a moment, he thought he would find it more germane to the subject to look at the regulations in force in the country where this practice was in actual operation than to be turning up dictionaries. Article 4 of the regulations in force in the United States provided that whenever it should be necessary, in making the examination of immigrants, temporarily to remove them from the vessel to a desirable place for examination—Such immigrants shall not be regarded as landed so long as they are undergoing examination and are under the control of an officer, and such removal shall not be considered a landing during the pendency of any question relating to the examination.
said that as this philological discussion had arisen out of a point of order he might said that in his opinion there was sufficient distinction between "landed" and "conditionally disembarked" to allow the Amendment to proceed.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
said he desired to direct the attention of the Committee to the important question of who was to provide this accommodation. The shipowners objected to the expense being put on their shoulders and desired that it should be borne by the community, for whose benefit it was incurred. A Resolution authorising the expenditure of money 432 under this Bill would, he understood, be submitted to the House, and he hoped that, between now and the introduction of that Resolution, the Home Secretary would reconsider the matter and propose that the expense necessitated by the provision of this accommodation should be borne by the community.
§ MR. BRYCE
asked if they were right in understanding from the Government that the cost of this provision was to be borne by the shipowners. If that were so, he should like to know how it was to be arranged that the shipowners should find quarters. Immigrants would have to be kept, so to speak, in bond. That task it might be possible for the Government to carry out; but it would be very difficult for the shipowner to carry it out. In the United States the difficulty was met by the Government dealing with the matter. The emigrant ships were obliged to send tenders disembarking the emigrants upon an island. It was very desirable that the Home Secretary should say what facilities were to be given to shipowners to enable them to provide or to obtain the necessary accommodation. Another question was as to the provision to be made by the Act for preventing the escape of immigrants and for compelling them to re-embark in case of their rejection. In the United States all that was done by the Government, but here, apparently, it was to be the duty of the shipowner. What powers would shipowners have in this country for the purpose of compelling a rejected immigrant to re-embark? As far as he could see, there was no provision whatever in that respect in the Bill.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said that on the previous evening he was asked whether the Government intended to provide facilities at the landing stages for the purpose of examination or for any purpose under the Act. He said then that it was not the intention of the Government to ask the community to make such provision. In the United States the circumstances were entirely different from those existing here. There these facilities were undoubtedly provided by the State, but a tax was levied on each immigrant. Here it was a concession to the shipowner that the examination 433 should not take place on board ship. The profit arising from this trade put a considerable sum into the pockets of the shipowners, and if these further facilities were desired by them they ought not to be provided at the expense of the community. He was advised by the shipowners that practically all the necessary facilities existed in the principal ports to which the ships carrying immigrants came. They themselves had depots and warehouses at the quay side. Therefore, he did not think any serious hardship or expense was likely to be placed on the shipowneis. But if expense was incurred by them it must be regarded as a payment for the purpose of avoiding examination on board ship.
§ MR. STUART SAMUEL
said it was very well for the Home Secretary to consider mainly the expense of these building's, but the immigrant had also got to be considered. These examinations would have to take place on the cheap, otherwise the cost to the country would be greater than a continuance of the present evils. The expenses of carrying into operation this measure would be so great that it would be far more economical to grant an old-age pension to every alien at present maintained at the cost of the State. According to this proposal the immigrant was to be detained by the direction of the Government, and the shipping companies were to provide the accommodation and house him. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the examination taking place upon the quay side. Did the Home Secretary propose that women and children, and people suffering from sea sickness, should be examined on the quay side? Frequently these people were landed in the middle of the night. They had been told that the Bill would not disturb the transmigrants, but was it likely that they would continue to come via this country if they could be taken as cheaply by other lines which did not come to our ports? British lines could now carry these transmigrants cheaper than foreign lines, but if the hardships of this Bill were put upon the shipowners they would have to charge more for passengers and there was a great danger that the whole of this valuable carrying trade would be lost to 434 this country. It was convenient to say that the shipping companies would pay it, but eventually the charge would have to be paid by the passengers. He hoped the Home Secretary would reconsider this question not only on account of the shipping companies, but also from the point of view of the transmigrants, who would not come through this country if they were subjected to the hardships imposed under this clause.
§ MR. CHARLES McARTHUR
said he wished to direct the Home Secretary's attention to what appeared to him to be an analogous case, and that was the regulations of the Merchant Shipping Act in regard to the inspection which took place at the present time. Section 360 of the Merchant Shipping Act provided that no emigrant ship should go to sea until there had been an inspection of the emigrants by a medical practitioner, and it was also laid down that the inspection should take place of board or at such convenient place as the emigration officer appointed. If the officer appointed a place onshore he took it that the expense was defrayed by the public. He did not see how the officer could appoint a place maintained by the shipowner. He maintained that accommodation provided in the public interest ought to be provided at the public cost.
§ MR. LOUGH
said it ought to be clear to the Home Secretary that the explanation he had given of this matter would not do. Even admitting that in most cases provision already existed the right hon. Gentleman would have to provide for the remaining cases. He wished to point out that at the present time two dollars was charged in America to the shipowners upon every immigrant landed, and out of that sum an asylum for them was kept up. The place provided for this purpose in New York cost about £90,000 a year, and he understood that the cost had been doubled quite recently. Did the Home Secretary mean to allow the port authorities to levy on the shipowners a certain charge in respect of each immigrant, and then out of the fund to establish inspection premises? It was perfectly clear that a public establishment would be absolutely 435 necessary. It would not do to have a private institution which might be organised by the shipowners, and which they would use for private purposes. The establishment need not be provided at the cost of the public; it might be done at the cost of the shipowners. Of course, the cost would fall indirectly on the immigrants, because the shipowners would pass it on to them. It was now time to say openly whether the establishment was to be a public institution. The shipowners had gone to the Home Secretary in secret and had accepted from him an arrangement that would not work—at least he thought it would not work. If a charge was levied on immigrants at our ports our transmigration shipping traffic would be destroyed, Ships would be run direct from Hamburg, Trieste, and other ports, and the aliens going to America would not pass through this country.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD
said the hon. Member for West Islington had at great length dealt in about ten speeches that afternoon with various points which were not before the Committee at the particular moment he made them. [Cries of "Order."]
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD
said the point before the Committee was whether the words proposed by the Home Secretary should or should not be accepted. What was the suggestion? It was that an alternative should be given by way of conditional landing and that if it was found convenient the inspection should take place on shore instead of on board ship. What would happen in practice would be that if the inspection took place on the ship it would be a matter that would not take long, while if it took place on shore it would not take much longer. But if some immigrants had to be detained for inquiry they might be detained for to a week or a fortnight. There would be no necessity for large buildings where people would have to be kept, maintained, and fed. It would simply be a place where medical inspection would take place. The difficulty would be got rid of by 436 taking the bond of the shipowner to take care of the immigrant until it was seen whether the inquiry was satisfactory or not.
§ MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)
said the hon. Gentleman who spoke last and also the Home Secretary had treated this matter too lightly. If they were going to pass the Bill let it be a real Bill. What was it going to do? These aliens were to be examined about their health, their means, their capacity to labour, and their moral character, and did the right hon. Gentleman think that this could be done in a moment, especially remembering that most of these people spoke in a language probably unknown to the immigration officer? Either the right hon. Gentleman was going to do things properly or he was not. How about those aliens who would be retained? They were told that in America 8 per cent, were retained. What was going to be done with them? They could not all be put back on board the ship. Surely the House would see that they were face to face with the necessity of providing very expensive machinery, and they had a right to see that what they wished to do was worth doing at this cost. It was simply ridiculous to think of turning these people into a corner of a shed provided by the shipowner. He challenged shipowners to show where there was accommodation in any port of England for the purpose. What would happen? These people would be badly treated and the consequence would be that they would not come this way. Within the last few months he had seen advertisements at railway stations in Russia and Germany warning emigrants that it would be very much better not to go through England, but to go direct by German lines, because they would have less trouble. Unless the conditions to which we subjected them were civilised the trade would be driven away. It was perfectly absurd for the Government to try to ride two horses. They were pretending to do something, but they would not pay the money to do it properly. The Home Secretary said that the shipowners told him of places where the immigrants could be accommodated. Where were those places? He did not believe they existed; but if such places were not provided 437 great damage would be done to a most important trade.
§ MR. SPEAR (Devonshire,) Tavistock
said he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to require that any accommodation necessary to shipowners for carrying on their trade should be provided by them and not by the public. It would be as unreasonable for shipping companies to ask that the public should provide accommodation which the law required should be made as it would be for railway companies to ask that the public should provide railway stations. He would be sorry to put any impediment in the way of any lawful trade, but the chief hope he had was that the beneficial effect of this measure would be that it would make shipowners more careful as to the class of immigrants they brought to this country, and he was not going to support any step that would make it unduly easy for them to disregard precautions which were absolutely necessary. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would persist in requiring that any accommodation for carrying on this industry should be provided by the parties who got the profit.
§ MR. RITCHIE (Croydon)
said it had been his fate to attempt more than once, both at the Local Government Board and at the Home Office, to deal with this question of alien immigration, and he had never been able to satisfy himself about any Bill he had ever produced, because of the enormous difficulties in the way. He might say that this particular question presented to him one of the greatest difficulties which a measure of the kind could contain. Of course, he had always been in favour of a Bill of this sort, and it had seemed to him in the past, and still seemed to him, that the least difficult solution of this point was to be found in the action of the dock companies. Those companies now provided accommodation for ships and cargoes and passengers, and although he did not say that it was an entirely satisfactory solution of the question, yet he felt pretty sure that the dock companies, wishing to attract as much custom to their docks as they could, would in the end be found ready to provide such reasonable accommodation as would be necessary for landing 438 immigrants. No doubt they would have to be paid for it, but he did not think the charge would be high. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman was right in saying that this should not be a public charge.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said it was useful to have the admission of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon that, with all his experience, he could not himself draft or agree on a Bill to deal with the question now under discussion. The present Government were not quite so difficult to please. The Home Secretary disclosed the fact that an enormous amount of cost would be incurred if the Amendment were adopted. Had the right hon. Gentleman considered on whom the responsibility was to rest of deciding whether the immigrants were to be landed conditionally or to remain on board ship? "Who was the authority to decide whether the examination should take place on ship or on shore? Obviously it would be the desire of the captain of the ship to get rid of his cargo as soon as possible. There might be from 800 to 1,000 immigrants in that one ship and all had got to be examined by one officer. They had to be examined as to their mental capacity and physical condition; inquiries had to be made as to whether they had been convicted before coming into this country, and so on. How long was that examination going to take, for each person would occupy a considerable portion of time? Again, they might be landed late at night, and accommodation would have to be provided for them, for they would have to sleep somewhere. Who was to provide the food for the immigrants when on land, because the contracting shipping company had discharged its obligation when the immigrants stepped ashore? He presumed that the examining officer could not be a doctor and a general magistrate at the same time. In last year's Bill they were to have a board of examiners. Again, who was to be responsible for the immigrants while they were on shore? Were they going to be surrounded with a regiment of soldiers, or planted in compounds, or put into sheds like cattle, each one in a stall? Who was to be responsible if a number of them escaped in the course of examination? 439 There were many other points which had not been considered by the Government.
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had made a good deal of the fact that the State was not to pay the cost; that the port authority would benefit from this traffic, and obviously it ought to pay. The right hon. Member for Croydon thought that the dock companies should pay; but only in very rare cases would these companies gain any advantage. Did the Home Secretary contemplate that the local rates should bear any portion of this great expense? Who was the authority who would have to decide whether the examination should take place on board or on shore? Who would be responsible for the immigrants conditionally landed? Who would provide the necessary staff? Who would pay the expenses of the immigrants until they were allowed to pass through? Who was to pay the expenses of immigrants who wished to appeal if they were rejected? The right hon. Gentleman had not a single supporter for his proposal to increase expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon disagreed with the right hon. Gentleman. An hon. Gentleman opposite said that the expense would fall on the shipowners, and that was a matter which they ought to bear in mind.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
said that the Committee should get Answers to the very pertinent Questions put by his right hon. friend. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon that this Amendment was unworthy of a Cabinet Minister. It was another illustration of the absolutely unworkable character of the Bill. He would undertake, if not to drive a coach and six, at least to steer a whole fleet of immigrant ships, all loaded with undesirable immigrants, through this clause. Who was to determine whether an immigrant was to be disembarked or not? When the immigrant was conditionally disembarked who was to provide the necessary accommodation for him? Who was to keep him? Who was to provide the compound? Next, supposing that such an immigrant escaped while the immigration officer was prosecuting his inquiries, was there any legal authority 440 for a constable to arrest him and take him back? Again, supposing that the immigrant conditionally landed was not a fit and proper person to enter this country, whose duty was it to put him back on the ship? What agent of the law or representative of the shipowner would be authorised to use force?
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said that as the conditional landing was for the convenience of the shipowner, who wished to obviate the detention of his ship, it would be for him to say whether he wished his immigrants to be conditionally landed.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said his point was, would the captain of a ship be allowed to determine the time the immigrants should land without consulting the convenience of the examining authorities.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said that was provided for in the regulations. As it was for the convenience of the shipowner he would have to find the necessary accommodation on shore, or arrange for it with the dock companies, who would certainly provide the facilities for this traffic which the law required. All the difficulties conjured up would disappear. As to the boarding of the immigrants on shore, that must be settled between the immigrants and the shipowners. He quite agreed that such expenses were not to be thrown on the National Exchequer or on the rates. It would be monstrous if the taxpayer were to the mulcted to save the pocket of the shipowner on whom the law had thrown this obligation. As to the escape of an immigrant conditionally disembarked, the second clause provided that the master of the ship should give security in the case of immigrants conditionally landed. He admitted that the clause did not provide for the recapture of the escaped immigrant.
§ And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this evening.