§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Mr. GOULDING
Early this year this country was shocked, indeed, the world was amazed, at the siege which took place in the very heart of London. Two alien desperadoes held at bay for six hours a thousand of our police and military armed with a machine gun, magazine rifles and revolvers. At the end of the siege the house was wrecked, and the charred remains of two aliens were found. This result was achieved at considerable expense and loss of lives of two of our brave police and the wounding of others, and I maintain also the humiliation of the State which formed a topic of ridicule amongst people in Europe and the United States. Public opinion since that date, and to-day, demands that the law shall be amended so as to prevent a repetition of so unnecessary a peril, which concerns private safety 2107 and also the credit of this country. For too long England, and London more particularly, has been what I can only describe as the sink of foreign human refuse and also for foreign criminality. The murderous villany which has dared to lodge itself in London was disclosed only recently in the Tottenham outrage. That was to a large extent due to our own action in that we have deliberately deprived ourselves of those powers of search and summary expulsion which are in the hands of the police of every foreign country. I know as a nation we all have pride in the fact that England is a refuge for victims of religious or political persecution. Whether they are Jews who are persecuted in Russia or Christians who are persecuted in Mahomedan countries, we have always extended to them this refuge. This Bill is not intended to hit bonâ fide victims of this character who come here to seek the liberty which is denied to them in their own country, but we must take very great care to see that these refugees are genuine and are not shams. We have too much experience of how the affectation of religion or the pretence of a political ideal can be as much a cloak for crime as any other form of hypocrisy. The political refugees who came to this country last year and declared themselves on landing, only numbered five. The House will remember that a change was made in the rules regarding them by Lord Gladstone, so that those political refugees have now only to state that they are political refugees, and the onus of proving that their statement is inaccurate falls upon the Immigration Officer. By blind devotion to the right of asylum we can easily create social and economic problems here which may become a source of great danger. We have to consider the number of other immigrants coming to this country, and we have in the exercise of all those feelings of sentiment and sympathy to use some common sense.
I respectfully say to legislators that in their action they ought to have the result of their action in view. If it is a mistake, it does not fall upon themselves to a large extent. Those immigrants are of an entirely different class. The aliens who come to our shores do not as a rule reside in those quarters where legislators dwell, but they congregate in the localities where the poor live. They enter into competition with those poor people very often in much of the worst-paid labour in this country, and they thereby increase the 2108 hardships of that class who are least able to protect themselves. The Bill now before the House is not meant as an attack on any creed or nationality. I am not going to hide the fact that a great number of those aliens do belong to the Jewish persuasion It is unfortunate that so many of those aliens are Jews. For my part, I have a profound respect for the Jewish race. I remember that one of the most brilliant leaders the Tory party ever had was a member of the Jewish race. They are among the most cultured and enlightened of British citizens. There is no doubt that they have contributed very largely to the wealth and prosperity of this country, but I venture to say that when we endeavour to stop the growth of undesirable alien immigration into this country we are not only doing a great work to prevent the rise of an anti-Semitic agitation here, but at the same time we are securing the protection of those of the Jewish community who live in our midst at the present time.
There are several classes of aliens who come to our shores. There is not only the alien who brings in his train poverty and a lowering of the standard of life, but there is also the alien who, from the day he lands, abuses our hospitality, and is a scourge to the land. I allude more especially to the vicious alien who associates himself with the meaner forms of crime, and also to that other class of alien—the anarchist of the dangerous type, who never associates himself with a lawful purpose, who comes here with the one motto and the one idea that there is no God and no master, and who thinks that he himself has a right to live without working, and kill without fighting. These are a danger to mankind and a curse to this country. I would like to ask any member of the House on what conceivable grounds he can justify the admission to this country of men of that character. I know it is urged very frequently that those aliens sometimes bring new industries into the country, and that, therefore, they are to a great extent an advantage to the community. Whatever may be said for that argument in the past, I can state that I have made diligent search, and I have been unable to find any information to justify that statement at the present time. Nearly every one of those aliens who come to this country associate themselves with such trades as, tailoring, shoemaking, and cabinet-making, and they also become bakers, barbers, waiters, and pedlars. Their 2109 inundation has been so great that they have practically monopolised those trades and almost driven British workers completely out. This Bill seeks to protect every class of workmen in this country. I think that even without this Bill the Home Secretary, if he were disposed, could do much by means of regulations to stop undesirable aliens coming into this country. It is well known that a great number of those who have been expelled return here with the greatest facility. They can escape inspection by paying 1s. 10d. in addition to the second-class fare on the boats, and in that way becoming first-class passengers. The onus should be placed on the shipowners of bringing such passengers under inspection. When aliens come in search of employment they should not be allowed to land if the current number of the "Board of Trade Journal" shows that in particular trades there is a large number of people out of work. I am endeavouring to deal with this question as far as possible in a non-party manner.
I am not going to say anything about the administration of the Act of 1905. I am satisfied that the mere fact of its being on the Statute Book has worked good for this country. I am equally satisfied that as the right hon. Gentleman, on behalf of the Government has introduced a Bill dealing with part of this question, the Government and the House are alive to the evils of this question, and are determined to tackle them. I venture to hope that if the House gives this Bill a Second Beading, they will be able in Committee to take the best of both Bills and construct some measure towards effecting the reform that is desired on all sides of the House. In this Bill we first propose that those aliens who are liable to inspection under the Act of 1905 shall require to be registered in future; that this registration shall not be retrospective; that therefore we are not going to be told it is a Herculean task and an enormous cost to throw on the country, for those people who come into the country under different conditions are not to be subject to this rule. But to all aliens coming into the country after the passing of the Act, we say that no injustice is done by asking that they shall be registered. This is done in every single country other than cur own. It would be of enormous help to our police in preventing crime, and would certainly assist the Department of the right hon. Gentleman in preventing the wholesale evasion of expulsion orders carried on at the present time. We can see very well that if ever there was such 2110 an unfortunate development as a war between ourselves and another country, it would be very advantageous for us to have a register of aliens dwelling within our shores.
Clause 2 deals with expulsion orders. Under the present law, when an alien is convicted of an offence for which he can only be imprisoned, the magistrate or court convicting has to recommend the Secretary of State to issue an expulsion order. The recommendations from the courts have been comparatively few. His Majesty's Inspector has, during the last three years, brought prominently before the Home Office the fact that these recommendations are not as they should be, and that there are many people sent to our gaols who ought to be expelled from our country. A very few particulars will prove this contention. In 1909 there were 486 recommendations for expulsion, but there were no fewer than 2,352 aliens convicted. The Home Secretary, in reply to a question on 3rd March this year, said that there were 441 aliens in prison in the United Kingdom. Of those 241 had been previously convicted, 170 twice or oftener, and there were actually 9 cases where they had been 20 times in prison. No doubt the passing of the existing Act has worked well, and has decreased the number of aliens in prisons in this country, but in accordance with the recommendations of His Majesty's inspector I want to see these cases further reduced. Out of over 100 convictions in the provinces only nine cases have been recommended for expulsion. I see no possible excuse for this neglect. I have a case before me of a Belgian woman with many aliases who was convicted nine times before this Act came into force and went to gaol. She has been eight times since sent to gaol. She has been four times expelled from this country, and has come back again. There is a German waiter here who has been altogether ten times convicted—seven times before the passing of the Act and three times since, and he was expelled and immediately returned. I have another German here who was three times convicted and expelled in one year, and he comes back again to this country. Surely some better system ought to be-provided of keeping these people out unless expulsion orders are to be treated as a farce. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech on the prevention of crime among these individuals suggested with due modesty that the Home Office should not have greater authority placed upon 2111 them. But the only authority that this Bill seeks to give the right hon. Gentleman, or whoever is in his position as Home Secretary, is the authority possessed by the Ministers occupying a similar position in Canada, Australia, and South Africa.
The next Clause to which I wish to refer is the Clause as regards overcrowding. The Royal Commission in 1903 drew attention as to one of the most necessary of reforms, to the question of dealing with the overcrowding of aliens who come to this country. When the Clause dealing with the expulsion of aliens was under discussion the Unionist Government unfortunately at that time had to take advantage of the closure. They had to meet the obstruction of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Churchill), my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil), and I think the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir H. Dalziel), and there was not one word of discussion in reference to the Clause as to expulsion of aliens for overcrowding. The consequence is it is so defective that there is no machinery to give effect to what were the wishes of Parliament as expressed in this Clause. I asked the right hon. Gentleman, and he informed me that not one single case has been dealt with since the passing of the Act, because there is no machinery to give effect to its provisions. This Clause is meant to obviate the existing dangers. In Stepney in 1909 the inspector reports there were 645 cases of overcrowding, and yet we have no machinery at hand to give effect to his recommendations. As regards pistols, the Home Secretary has said they are only needed for one purpose, namely, the destruction of human life. We in our Bill lay down that any one of these aliens who in future desires the possession of a pistol should have a permit granted publicly in open court. In this country at present it is almost as easy to buy a pistol as to walk into a toy shop and buy a pop gun, and certainly no one would say that that is an advantage. Again we have no restriction whatsoever With regard to the importation of fire-arms, and we had in the Tottenham affair a very clear case in regard to this, where two Russians walked in with their Browning and their Mauser and did the damage that was done in the course of that calamitous affair. I am told that in 1905 a Russian landed in this country who seemed a curious kind of gentleman to offer hospitality to. He brought forty-six revolvers with him and 2112 some 4,000 cartridges. These were retained by the Customs officers for a while, but as they had no right to retain them they had to return them. None of these aliens coming to this country have need of a pistol any more than our forefathers in days gone by had need of a sword, and I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be strict in regard to this pistols' Amendment. Then, as regards search for firearms in Clause 5, we follow very closely what is in the Explosives Act of 1875 and 1883 in regard to pistols. Search warrants are to be procured from a magistrate, but, also, in exceptional cases, the Chiefs of Police are allowed to issue orders for these searches where they believe that delay will endanger life, or where they have good reason to believe that a crime is contemplated. Those conversant with life in alien quarters will tell you that these people have means of information that almost amount to intuition, and that only instant action can prevent their evasion of the authorities. The character of the Chiefs of our Police enables us to be certain that these powers will not be abused or the liberty of the individual unduly infringed. The House will remember that they already possess this power in regard to explosives, and have done so for 20 years, without demur from any quarter. If there is to be effective and proper detection, something must be done, and the first condition is that there must be no delay.
Clause 6 deals with the wretched alien immigrant known as a "Greener," who has been the tool by which much sweating has been carried on. New arrivals, unfortunate creatures, strangers in a foreign land, are willing to work at any wafe for any time under any conditions, to obtain food and shelter. We hope by this Clause to stop grasping and unscrupulous employers—I am thankful to say mostly of foreign extraction—from importing undesirables at starvation wages, who not only displace British labour, but lower the whole standard of life, health, and employment in our country.
Under Sub-section (b) it is hoped that the desired effect will be obtained of discouraging employers in case of industrial strife from importing foreign labour to defeat any English strike. When these unfortunate disputes arise, the parties should come to terms without the assistance of the undesirable alien. The House will recall that under the Aliens Act, a ship with less than 20 immigrants escapes 2113 inspection. As a consequence, the tendency of the alien is to come by non-immigrant-ships, and escapes inspection. The following figures for London bear this out. In 1006, 57 per cent. came by immigrant ships. This fell to 40 per cent. in 1909, and for the first six months of 1910, to 37 per cent. Batches of 14 or 15 persons now come in free of all inspection or hindrance, and it is through this gap that the worst class of aliens enter and defy our expulsion orders. The shipping companies bringing alien immigrants to London, with one exception, favour the inspection of all ships having on board any alien immigrant passengers. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary says that will mean a large amount of expenditure and upset employment throughout the country, but will he make a compromise on this, and at first, at all events, cause all those ships coming to the fourteen immigrant ports to be inspected, and that the number be reduced from twenty to five in regard to the other ports in the United Kingdom. I think the right hon. Gentleman exaggerates the amount of expenditure, because wherever these ships come, even in the fourteen immigrant ports, the Customs officer has always to go on board, and there could be no great difficulty in his asking the shipmaster, "How many aliens are on board?" I am grateful to the House for their kind indulgence. I hope I have shown that it is time that we ceased to beat the sentimental drum, and to sacrifice our own unskilled labour in a vain attempt to solve the problems of every country but our own. I am confident that if we continue to harbour every enemy of faith and patriotism, of public law and social peace, we shall allow a canker to grow and fester that will in time eat into the very heart of our country.
§ Sir GEORGE DOUGHTY
I beg to second the Motion. My hon. Friend has referred to the different clauses of the Bill in an exhaustive way and I think he has made out that it is absolutely necessary that this House should do something in the direction of amending the Aliens Act of 1905. So far as I am concerned, if I thought any proposition contained in this Bill would in any way affect the right of asylum to persons who suffer from persecution, either political or religious, I for one should not be here supporting such a measure. We are all, I think, if not we ought to be, very proud of the fact that the position of this country has 2114 been all along that where a man has been persecuted in another country for conscience sake, he shall have right of asylum here, where he may endeavour to settle and enjoy freedom of conscience in regard to either religion or politics. I think one may go further and say, so far as that aspect of our national life goes, that this country has benefited enormously in times gone by by receiving religious refugees into our country, because a man who is prepared to give up his land, the country to which he is attached, probably the members of his family, and anything that he holds dear in this world for conscience sake and live in a foreign country, is a man with some prinicple; and he will bring character into the nation in which he settles. I think it is clear that from some of the families that settled in this country in days gone by the nation has benefited commercially, and in every other sense as a consequence of their settling here—that is an aspect of the question I think all the House desires to guard. We do not intend that there should be anything to affect that aspect of our national life. One has to consult this question also: has the House of Commons done its duty to those whom it has allowed to settle here as immigrants? We have many thousands of immigrants settling in this country. We have given them the right to settle here. Having done that, are we doing our duty by them? In my judgment we are not doing our duty by them. To allow them to live as we do in tens of thousands under unfortunate conditions of life as they are found is a discredit to this country. The overcrowding, lack of proper payment, the way in which those poor men are from time to time dealt with by unscrupulous employers, all those things are a discredit to us. In my judgment either the House of Commons, with this Bill or some other, ought to say that if you give an individual or a number of individuals the liberty to live amongst you, you ought at least to see to it that they are justly and fairly treated, just as you do citizens who live in the country.
There is another aspect of this question: Is the present Aliens Act doing its duty to the labourers of this country? I believe that the Aliens Act of 1905 has been a great advantage to labour. I think there is no doubt that matters are much improved in certain trades, as a consequence of the Aliens Act of 1905. I know there are some people who think we ought to be a free importing country for all kinds 2115 of men and things. We were before the passing of the Act of 1905. All those multitudes that left Russia and Poland and other countries where persecution existed, and where it was impossible for the extremely poor to live, were rounded up, so to speak, and sent in thousands to other countries. In the first place, all those who were going to America or to Canada had to pass a certain standard. They had to be fit so far as their health was concerned. They had to subscribe to certain conditions that those countries have laid down in their laws. When they were sorted out and sent to those countries then the residue, one-third of them, that were unfit for any other country in the world were fit enough for England and sent across here in thousands. There was no law or no regulation at our ports and the consequence was that we received disease, we received persons ill able to earn their livelihood, and unquestionably many of them became chargeable to the rates of this country. At least to a large extent the Act of 1905 has cured that evil because it has had a deterrent effect. I am informed by those who know that the type of alien at present is of a higher standard, is a more healthy man, and is, indeed, speaking generally, a perfectly fit man to settle in any country. That, I venture to say, is a great gain. To that extent we have benefited. The question arises, has the inspection of these aliens done anything to reduce the numbers who simply come here for the purpose of seeking employment. I think I can prove that that has been the case. May I just quote to the House cases which occurred on last Monday before the Immigration Board at Grimsby. There were four Russians who sought the right to enter our country. One man was twenty-one years of age, and a farm labourer. He had with him a brother seventeen years of age. They had in their possession £10 18s. 6d., and they desired to go and join a cousin living at Tunbridge Wells. The cousin sent a telegram to say that he desired these two men to go to him, and that he intended to find them employment, the two of them together at twenty-five shillings per week. The next case was that of a Russian farm labourer, twenty-six years of age, who desired to go to Motherwell, where he had a cousin, a miner, who had been six years in Scotland. 2116 This emigrant had £5 16s. 6d. in his possession, and left a wife and child, the latter a year and a half old, and his mother at home. The fourth was a general labourer, thirty-six years of age, also a Russian, who desired to go to Motherwell. He had left his wife and five children at home. In refusing leave to land the magistrate said that all the emigrants seemed absolutely unable to support themselves, if allowed to go forward, and they had no trade, and were unable to speak the English language. If those four persons had come to this country before the passing of the Act of 1905, of course they would have walked ashore, and there would have been no more trouble. They would have kept other labourers out of employment in this country. The mistake those four men made was this, that they came in a wrong ship. That is the whole case. If they had known their way about they would have sought the ship that was not an emigrant ship, and they would have walked ashore without let or hindrance. So far as the Act goes in its application to the emigrant ship it has been of great value. At Grimsby, where there are many thousands passing through every year, you may have there a ship coming alongside which has got twenty-one emigrants on board and every one of those can be inspected. The undesirable can be brought before the Immigration Board. Alongside that ship is another ship which has twenty men on board. They cannot be inspected. Every one of them can walk ashore, and there is no one to say whether they are desirable or undesirable. Surely that is a condition of things which, both in the interests of labour and in the interests of health, we ought not to allow to continue. We under our Bill desire that every ship carrying this class of immigrant shall be an immigrant ship. But the right hon. Gentleman can help the country and the cause quite as effectively if he will put the present Act into operation as we can by amending the Act itself. I really cannot understand why an immigrant ship, as defined in the Act, should not apply to every ship bringing more than two passengers. What is the position? At every one of the fourteen immigration ports you have established an immigration board. You have your officer, your medical inspector, and your immigration inspector. These men are there: why should they not do the work? Why, in the name f all that is good, should they not be allowed to inspect every immigrant of 2117 that kind that comes to that particular port? We should then have at least an accurate and exact knowledge of what was occurring.
The persons who arrange emigration abroad are beginning to find out how they can evade the Act. The figures are very interesting. In the first year after the application of the Act, 72 per cent. of these immigrants came in immigrant ships and were inspected, and 28 per cent. in nonimmigrant ships. In 1907 the respective percentages were 65 and 35; in 1908, 59 and 41; in 1909, 58 and 42; and this year, so far as the figures can be ascertained, they are 57 and 43. So that 43 per cent. of this class of immigrant now come into the country without any inspection or supervision whatever. From the standpoint of labour I say that that is wrong. While I am strongly in sympathy with the right of asylum and the proper treatment of the immigrants of this type who are in the country, our first duty is to the people of our own nationality. We ought not to allow thousands of our own people to be thrown out of employment by foreigners of whatever nationality who come hero and take their places, and who, if they break down or lose their health, become chargeable to the rates. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will see his way either to support our proposed alteration on this point or to alter by order the Aliens Act itself, so that this question of twenty or twelve shall be swept away. The right hon. Gentleman says there is the question of the non-immigration ports. That is not a very serious matter. It is not so formidable as it looks. As a matter of fact, if you follow the figures, you will find that ever since the Act has been in operation the number of immigrants passing through the non-immigrant ports has gradually reduced. Nearly the whole of this class of immigrant now pass through the immigration ports. Anyway, if the Act were applied so that only two persons were admitted in non-immigration ports, it should be the duty of the captain to refer to the chief of the police the two persons whom he might bring, and that in my judgment would meet the case. At the present time we complain that we have in this country a class of men who put no value on life, who live by robbery, and who are a discredit not to this country, but to the human race. They are allowed to come at present, because they can come to any of these ports if they are wise enough to travel by a non-immigrant 2118 ship. Take the four persons to whom I have referred as having been sent back, what can they do? If they choose to come on the next ship to the very same port as first-class passengers, they can come ashore and laugh at your immigration officer. That is not what the law expects. We ought to have some way of preventing this setting aside of the intentions of Parliament, and these persons ought to be punished for doing such things.
I desire to associate myself entirely with what my hon. Friend said on the question of registration. The Home Secretary, in his recent speech, seemed to throw doubt on the wisdom of registration. I suggest that what is good enough for every other country in the world should be good enough for England. What do you do in your shipping trade? The right hon. Gentleman would not allow any person to go to sea in any capacity unless he had been previously registered. I do not see where the serious difficulty comes in. If you once apply the principle that all such immigrants shall be inspected at the ports they will have to fill up a form for the first time giving all the information necessary in regard to registration. Registration would be a very valuable thing for all such men. It would soon become a test of character. It would be of great value to the police, and, in the long run, I believe it would materially reduce the amount of crime that is committed under the cloak of very good men with whom these people from time to time associate themselves. I cannot see why any person should object to the clause by which we seek to make it a serious offence for foreigners to carry firearms. They may have lived all their lives in the country where it was necessary to carry firearms to protect themselves. But they have come to a country where we have so much freedom, liberty and goodwill, that we ourselves should not feel happy about each other if we were carrying firearms. If these persons come to live amongst us they should be required to subscribe to the same conditions of life as we ourselves subscribe to, I know, living in a sea-port, that sometimes it is not very pleasant to go down the main streets at 10 or 11 o'clock at night when a lot of sailors have been enjoying themselves at a public-house; and it would not be pleasant to meet a lot of men of this class carrying firearms and who if they chose could do serious injury to peaceful citizens. Therefore, I hope that in the matter of firearms we shall have the support of the 2119 Home Secretary, and that our Bill will become law embodying that clause.
I hope Labour Members will assist us to carry Clause 6. I am a member of an immigration board, and I know that there come into this country through the agency of certain unscrupulous employers considerable numbers of men who are promised employment if they will only come across, and the necessary money—£5 or £6—is sent to them to pass them through. Then those employers give an assurance that if they are allowed to land them they will find them employment. But the kind of work, or rather the rate of wages that they pay them, is a disgrace and a scandal, for many of these men are working for less than a shilling a day. They know nothing about our language, or about our conditions of labour. They are simply taken by these people, who enrich themselves at the expense of these poor aliens. What we say is that any employer of labour who seeks to get foreigners into this country, if the foreigners subscribe to the necessary conditions, should be required, before these employés are admitted, to subscribe to the minimum wage payable in the district; or to the Trade Boards' conditions that are set down in the Act. I should very much like to see the Trade Board conditions in full operation. It would do a great deal of good among these people, and it would establish some sort of reasonable standard of life amongst them. We can serve that class of persons and the country generally if we require that any employer seeking to get men from across the sea for employment should be required to subscribe to the conditions of the Trades Boards Act. I have pleasure in seconding.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I beg to move, as an Amendment, to leave out the word "now," and to add at the end of the Question the words "upon this day six months."
I have listened with deep attention to the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of this Bill. They have dealt scarcely at all with the Bill that we are asked to pass. The hon. Members have studied the question, and I frankly admit that their speeches show a great amount of knowledge. But I do deny most emphatically that they bear much relation to the printed document now before the House. The attack that has been made upon the present law is an attack upon the Tory Act. The very flaws in that Act are not 2120 in this new Bill. Therefore if we pass this new Bill to-day, in a few years hon. Members opposite will be denouncing this a second Tory Bill, and will be bringing in a third. I do not say it is done of set purpose, but it seems to me to be trifling with the valuable time of a private Member's day. The illustrations we have heard about the administration of the Act by the Home Secretary are entirely under the law, about which the party opposite take considerable credit at election times. They consider that the passing of the Act, which they are now finding fault with, was a sufficient justification for attracting votes wholesale to their party. Now they come as if they had a grievance against the Liberal party, because they find innumerable flaws in the Act. I do not find fault in a general way with the making of party capital, but I do object to hon. Members opposite, because their Act is unworkable, finding fault with things that will not be remedied by the present document.
The idea that this Bill has been framed to keep out the criminal alien is absurd. No Clause has been quoted to that effect. The object of this Bill is to keep out the poor alien. The tests in this Bill are the odious tests of the possession of means. Hon. Members have been complaining that it is so easy to evade the present Act. Unscrupulous employers—mostly Tories—do evade the Act when they seek to bring in blackleg labour and strike-breakers, foreigners who cannot speak our language, in order to undermine the power of the trade unions. Candidly, I have no hope whatever that hon. Members opposite will ever dare to produce a Bill to this House which will correspond to the sympathetic language that they have addressed to the Labour party to-day. When they put it down in black and white that they want to keep out the foreign workmen that compete with home labour and apply that principle in the conduct of their own industries, I will give them, at any rate, a little more credit for being sincere in their election speeches. We have had the case put before us to-day as if it were an important question. I do not deny, and I am sure the House will recognise, that hon. Members opposite who have spoken to-day feel most deeply on the question. But at the same time the object is not so important as they think. The question dealt with by this Bill is an exceedingly small one. Proportionately we have fewer aliens in this country than in other 2121 Continental countries. Hon. Members talk as if we were suffering from some special pest—from some terrible outbreak that was burdening London and England. When hon. Members opposite want arguments to support Tariff Reform they pay visits to Germany, and send to Germany English workmen who cannot speak a word of the language. But when they are dealing with a question like this their views are exceedingly narrow. I object to the merely Cockney view on a subject such as this. It is a question of very small dimensions indeed. The numbers are small that would be affected by this Bill. If there was any controversy whatever between the two parties as to how to deal with the criminal alien that will further increase the scope of the issue between us. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has brought in a Bill with the entiro approval of Members who are used to give support to him either by day or night when he commands us. When the right hon. Gentleman brought his Bill in I was hoping that hon. Members opposite would have realised that it was far superior to their Bill. They voted on "this important question" for one small Clause, that of the case of the alien who has been convicted. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has given a special Bill to it. He goes further in dealing with the matter, he is more thorough. There is just sufficient in this Clause 2 to make speeches about at by-elections.
Talking will not do any good. I think the Home Secretary's Bill really will. If you pass a law that the alien must go out of the country unless the court determines to keep him here automatically this man will disappear from our shores. But the Clause in this Bill before us will be ineffective. It will not accomplish what hon. Members desire, and I am surprised that they should occupy the time of the House in attempting to defend it. The speech of the Mover of this Resolution which is now before us commenced by a reference to the Sidney Street affair. One can never expect an hon. Member opposite to get up and refer to such a question as this without his imagination taking him to that famous exploit of policemen, detectives, and guns, and distinguished Members of the Cabinet. Hon. Members opposite have thought that the Home Secretary is handicapped in dealing with a question like this. I hold a very different opinion, and I hope he will occupy the House with this point, because I believe his investigations into the conditions of the East End were not 2122 confined to the streets where he was accompanied by flash-light photographers and gramophones. I have therefore great hope that in the course of this Debate we may have some guidance. Quite frankly, I say that it will influence me as to whether I press my Motion or not. For unless the right hon. Gentleman can explain to the House that there is some little modicum of value in this Bill—perhaps only in the title—which I have been unable to discover, I shall press my Amendment. The hon. Member who moved the Second Beading of this Bill spoke of foreign refuse. I do not know what he means by foreign refuse, but it seems to me that all the foreign refuse it not to be found in the East End. I must say candidly that I think a great deal of the foreign refuse is dumped down in the West End. I want to know will hon. Members opposite legislate for removing the foreign prostitutes from Piccadilly and Regent Street and the bullies that fatten upon their immoral earnings. I will not pursue that subject—it is hardly fit for public debate—but I repeat the foreign refuse is not all to be found in the East End, but is largely found in the West End, and is dumped into restaurants, where hon. Members, when the claims of the House are not too heavy upon them, frequently enjoy their dinners. Hon. Members opposite are not prepared to eat foreign refuse, but they are pleased that there is a foreign chef in the kitchen, and that they are served by foreign waiters. They are not very careful to see that the workmen employed in these restaurants to supply them with expensive dinners are entirely of British origin. The hon. Member made rather a strong point, which greatly interested me, when he said he wanted to protect the Jews arriving on our shores. It is a matter of surprise to me that Jews, when they land upon our shores, generally drift to the party opposite. That has particularly been the case ever since their great leader educated them so well.
§ Mr. GOULDING
There are far more on your side of the House to-day. You have far more naturalised aliens.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I am not speaking of Members of the House. I am speaking of voters. The tendency of the aliens who become naturalised here is to drift over to the party opposite. I was not for a moment referring to Members of the House. I had no such idea in my head. At the same time there are many Members on the opposite side of the House as 2123 well as on this side, that enjoy names not exactly pronounced with the old British ring. I will not make any further excursion in that direction or else I might relate some very distinguished names enjoyed by scions of the aristocracy which do not seem to breathe the air of rural England.
I do not discover on the benches opposite at the moment any Members of the distinguished Unionist party from Ulster. As a rule when the Empire is at stake they are here. Whenever we are discussing questions of police and arrests we generally expect an Ulster Member to get up and ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland why he does not make arrests. We are discussing a Bill now which will arrest people all over the British Isles. The Ulster men are not here. Why? Because they are afraid I might remind them that they retire occasionally to the purlieus of Belfast and drink to the immortal memory of the Dutchman. Hon. Members opposite would throw over the cause of the alien and forget that not only was a great Parliamentary leader of their's a foreigner but that many Members of their aristocracy are only too proud when they can claim to be the descendants of those Norman barons who came as aliens armed with murderous weapons and landed upon our shores. I ask where is the blue-blooded Tory who glories in the claim and who will lay all his political privileges at the feet of a family if it can only show him they landed in days gone by in a small boat near the coast of Dover and then proceeded to murder all the, inhabitants. That is the passport to high hereditary distinction. The speech of the hon. Member was very interesting; I think I have convinced the House of that. In analysing that speech I quite agree I am not dealing with the Bill.
I will now come to the Bill the hon. Member introduced. It is a piece of meddling legislation so dear to the hearts of the Socialists who sit upon the benches opposite. They stole the title Tariff Reform from the members of the historic party who sit upon the Government side of the House, and in every election in the country or in London they call themselves Tariff Reformers or Municipal Reformers; and now they want to steal the word which is the great prerogative of the Labour party. They will not call themselves Socialists, but Social Reformers—that is the idea of the Unionist Socialistic Committee, which meets in secret and 2124 parades these Bills in the open. Social reform in the mouths of hon. Members opposite means Socialism plus cash for vested interests. I assure hon. Members when they keep coming forward with these various Bills for Socialistic purposes, to borrow a phrase of their own, I prefer to go the whole hog instead of their piecemeal methods. After telling clerks that they must put down their pens at a certain hour hon. Members opposite now want to give special privileges to political aliens. This Bill, as the hon. Member for Grimsby admitted, is framed so that aliens under the careful guidance of hon. Members opposite may receive a certificate of character, so that the employers may know when engaging a man who has passed the scrutiny of officials he can employ him without any risk. That is the only deduction I can draw from the statement of the hon. Member for Grimsby, namely, that his object was to frame a Bill, so that the alien would receive a certificate as to his integrity and character. Hon. Members talk of the right of asylum, but this country should not only be a political asylum for persecuted refugees, we should also welcome commercial refugees who have tried their best with little capital against a grinding Protectionist system and military oppression abroad. I hope the hon. Member includes those men who think that if they can only land with a few pounds in their pocket and a good healthy constitution in a Free Trade country that their future is assured. We have welcomed such men in the past, and we owe a great many of our industries to them. I am only too thankful for one industry which was introduced by the French Protestants, who manufactured material for making good honest pockets in which a workman could safely carry a bunch of keys. I am very thankful to those French Protestants, and I am proud that I was born in an enlightened country which received them, because I have profited by their experience. Merely because an alien lands without money he is not to be despised. They are not always destitute of brains, although they may not be able to speak English. I know a case where a man arrived in the East End of London. Soon after his arrival his wife and children were taken ill, all his money was spent in a doctor's bill, and he found himself quite penniless. He did not know a word of English. What did he do? He invented an occupation for himself. He got together a great mass of old keys, which he carried 2125 about, went round not from house to house, but from room to room, to find out those doors which wanted a key. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where did he get the keys?"] They were provided for out of a loan advanced by a wealthy Jew, and this man returned the money in full which he had borrowed. That man invented his occupation. In the case of a man like that who will use his brains and go to that extraordinary amount of labour in order to earn a few pence per day, I entirely object to regard him as a danger to his country.
The hon. Member opposite tried to guard against the suggestion that he was anti-Semitic, but the great bulk of this agitation has been conducted in an anti-Semitic spirit. Hon. Members opposite occasionally, in those emotional flights which both sides indulge in at election meetings, use language which is very ill-advised unless the intention is to provoke anti-Semitic feeling. If you strip this spirit from this Bill you will have very little left except what the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary is going to deal with in a much more superior Bill. Let hon. Members opposite have the courage of their views and say they will prevent any foreigner or any alien landing on these shores. Why do they not say that? Some of them at any rate think it. Why do they not put it into the Bill? A large part of their speeches mean that. I can understand a policy of that description, but when they talk about steerage passengers and third-class passengers, and bring in a miserable piece of class legislation like this, hon. Members are not very thorough or practical. I do not mind being the champion of steerage and third-class passengers, because they are the backbone of England. The man who rides in a Pullman cannot save his country if the Germans land on these shores. The men from the slums who cannot even travel third-class except when they go on a cheap trip, are the men who will come forward at the call of duty to prevent the property of hon. Members opposite from being seized by the Germans. I do not know whether hon. Members are aware that a number of teachers from Canada visited this country quite recently. They were entertained by distinguished Members of the party opposite, both ladies and gentlemen, and they received them on terms of equality. They came third-class, and adopted the practice which has been referred to of paying a little bit extra to 2126 get more pleasant quarters. It is a very common practice for the middle class in taking trips abroad to travel third-class, and pay a little bit extra in order to get on a certain deck. The teachers did that.
I suppose the hon. Member opposite will say that they are of British origin, and that this Bill will not touch them, but they had companions with them who were French, Russian, and American teachers, and does the hon. Gentleman suggest that the Canadian elementary teacher coming in here, and being received and feted in the way they were, should have preferential treatment at the port of entry. Hon. Members echoed the sentiments of the Foreign Secretary when he spoke of improved relations with America, but when he speaks of aliens he only looks Eastward. I do not object to him looking Eastward on Sundays, but I do object to him looking Eastwards all the week. Let him turn his attention Westward. This Bill would apply to Americans and other distinguished people, who speak our language, and there is no way of distinguishing between a Canadian and a Yankee. Many of the Canadians who go to the States and the Americans who go to Canada speak with the same twang, and you could not distinguish between them. It would be an easy thing for an American to tell a lie and say he was a Canadian, and then the hon. Member's police officers would be quite in a difficulty. I do not know whether they will want a Member of the Cabinet to keep them out. When you consider questions like that, and come to examine what they really mean, I am sure there is no answer to my contention that this is a blow at poor and deserving travellers. The hon. Member spoke of this Bill as if it only dealt with a periodical visit. They had in mind a Polish Jew coming here to spend the rest of his life. This Bill has no such contemplation. This measure would deal with an American and all those travellers from foreign countries who spend a little time on our shores. I would remind the hon. Member that it is to the interests of the great hotels of London that there should be many travellers to this country. It is also to the interests of our watering-places, and I am surprised that a London Member should leave the industries of the Metropolis to be defended by an humble Member who comes from the West Riding. Those who have invested in the stocks of West End hotels will not be satisfied with a Bill 2127 like this. It will affect philosophers, poets, musicians, missionaries, and scientists, if only they be poor, but if they are wealthy the Bill will leave them alone. We want to welcome the poor philosopher with a new philosophy. One of the greatest treats Manchester ever got was the periodical visits by a man named M'Cutcheon. He and his friends took possession of a piece of land, on which he planted radishes. They informally elected a President of the Republic, and they informally elected a Minister of Justice. Who was this Mr. M'Cutcheon who refused to travel by railway or to wear clothing made by manufacturers? He was an independent man who could live on the Pennine Ranges, or burrow in a cave for weeks together, but when he got up to talk in the Debates he was invariably cheered by every Tory present. They sat at his feet, and drank in the wisdom which came out of the month of this peripatetic philosopher. Hon. Gentlemen opposite would say if the man had no money and tramped about from place to place that was a real reason why he should not enter the town of Manchester at all. Supposing he had happened to come from America in the shape of a Henry George, and had only landed poor enough, he would have been sent back to America, and we should have had to have done without Henry George, who is supposed to have had so much to do with the shaping of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget. See the tragedy which might happen under this Bill? There might come to our shores a philosopher as distinguished as Henry George who could show to the Conservative party the exact arguments to refute him. If he does not happen to have a few-pounds in his pocket the Tariff Reform League will never hear of him, and the Land Union will never be able to employ him. I warn hon. Gentlemen opposite against the awful danger of passing such an Act as this.
I really must deal with that inviting topic of pistols. The hon. Members opposite does not like to hear the word "pistol," but the great bulk of this Bill deals with pistols, and the one clear thing about it is the definition of a pistol. Probably the hon. Member has forgotten it. I will refresh his memory, A pistol is a firearm or weapon of a certain description which does not exceed 9 inches in length. If in the famous city of Birmingham, from whence comes all the light and knowledge, they are able to make their pistols 9¼ 2128 inches long, then the hon. Member will allow these bloodthirsty aliens to carry them.
§ Mr. GOULDING
If the hon. Gentleman will kindly read the whole of the definition he will see his description is absolutely wrong. He is excluding the principal part, and it is the definition of a pistol in every Act in this country.
§ Mr. BOOTH
We are concerned about that which the hon. Member is trying to exclude. He does not want men on tram-cars in Tottenham firing at our police. Neither do I, and, if I were a magistrate, I would give them short shrift. Unfortunately these desperadoes keep coming before Tory benches. The hon. Member must remember this Clause will be interpreted by brilliant exponents of the law in the shape of the magistrates appointed by the present Lord Chancellor.The term 'pistol' means a firearm or weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet, or other missile can be discharged, and of which the length of barrel, not including any revolving, detachable, or magazine breech, does not exceed nine inches.I repeat that if the gunsmiths and locksmiths of Birmingham are clever enough, and I should not think it beyond the wit even of Tariff Reformers—to devise a pistol, the barrel of which will be 9¼ inches in length, then these desperadoes can walk about with pistols bulging out of both pockets. I can promise the hon Member that, as far as means will allow, we will have cinematograph displays of men walking about with these revolvers of his own selection in order to show what magnificent legislation is first proposed by the Conservative party and then amended by the Conservative party itself. The hon. Member must really allow me to deal faithfully with the question of pistols. I have every desire to defer to the hon. Gentleman's wishes, but the pistols shall not escape me. Pistols may be brought into this country for many reasons. The hon. Member said they only came in for one reason. I do not agree. They may come in as curios. I suppose if some American alien visited this country in order to spend money, and whilst staying at one of the West End hotels happened to have an old antique pistol which he was taking back to Chicago, the hon. Member would have his trunk searched and fine him £20, thereby, of course, promoting more friendly relations with the United States. Supposing 2129 aliens do come in with these pistols, the probability is they will shoot one another.
The hon. Member goes further. He not only wants to deal with the pistol in the possession of an alien, but, with an utter disregard for the liberty of an Englishman, he wants to have pistols taken away from innocent men who happen to be inadvertently in the company of an alien. I can imgaine the hon. Member and his myrmidons in the shape of the police going into an hotel and saying there was a man sitting in the corner who was an alien, and had a pistol, and forthwith compelling all the Englishmen present to give up any pistols they might have. The Clause says not merely that aliens must give up their pistols but that the police can seize any pistol in the possession of any person upon the premises. Oh, what a delightful word to the party of liberty opposite! I wish some of their heroes who are dead and gone could deal with this modern aspect of Socialist Toryism. They now like such words as "seize." I suppose, whenever we visit any of the West-end hotels where fashionable aliens and visitors congregate, we shall have to ask the landlord or the head waiter whether the alien sitting in the corner and patronising the establishment has concealed about him some little revolver, because, if he has, we must deposit our own, if we happen to carry them, for safe keeping, with the landlord. If, however, there is no alien present, then we cannot be searched. You cannot treat so lightly the interference of the police with the liberty of the subject. These Bills are east about on Friday afternoons to my intense horror. I dare not travel on my own business in the North lest legislation like this is sneaked through. Little did I suspect in my innocence when I aspired to a seat in this House that such a duty as this would devolve upon me.
It is all very well for the hon. Member to say he does not welcome aliens here; but, if only an alien will make, a Tory speech, the party opposite will receive him in the Guildhall, and the hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) will turn up and do obeisance. We had come to these shores the greatest big game killer in the world, and, because he was going to say something nasty of the Liberal party, he was welcomed. I presume if he had come after this Bill had become law, he would have been searched to see if he had any pistol, not merely in his clothing, but in his baggage. The great American President, in order to be 2130 saved from the persecution of this Conservative Socialist Committee, would have been compelled to leave the bulk of his baggage at the port of entry. We should have lost in carriage. The railways, so dear to the heart of the hon. Baronet, would have suffered. I feel perfectly sure that when I sit down I shall have convinced him that it would be a great hardship to the railway companies of this country if we compelled ex-President Roosevelt and similar travellers to leave their luggage outside the limits of the United Kingdom for fear that his friends might have it searched for pistols. Not only ought we to consider the position of travellers who might by this Bill involve us in international complications, but we ought also to consider the position of innocent people. I believe it was proposed, when ex - President Roosevelt-visited this country to present him with a case of weapons. Under this Bill it would not be proper to present pistols in such an instance. This measure will have a terrible reckoning to meet with at the hands of the gunsmiths of Birmingham. Personally I object to this searching by constables. I object to this intrusion into an Englishman's castle, his home, by such a Bill as we now have before us. We ought to consider our own position abroad. One hon. Member has referred several times to what he says is the common practice all over the world. That is a good phrase, which he has got into the habit of using in talking about Tariff Reform to ignorant electors.
§ Sir G. DOUGHTY
The electors I addressed were intelligent, and not ignorant.
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BOOTH
When the hon. Member has spoken I have no doubt that they are very intelligent. This is my case. The hon. Member referred continually to the fact of what was done in other countries. Now the country with the greatest population in the world is China. I do not know if the hon. Member has ever visited that country, but I should like to hear the opinion of an intelligent Chinaman who sat in the Gallery upstairs and heard this Debate. I know that Englishmen visiting China are not subject to legislation like this. I am not aware whether the hon. Member has visited the foreign Settlement at Yokohama—the principal port of our friends and allies the Japanese. Englishmen in that settlement call themselves foreigners. They always speak of themselves with pride as foreigners. In the Park at Shanghai Chinese are 2131 excluded. I have been driven up to the gates of the Park by a Chinese merchant, who has dropped me there, but who himself has not been allowed to enter. The Englishman is respected and welcomed in every country all over the world. And why? Because foreigners know that they get a hearty welcome in this country. We therefore stand in a preferential position. Americans at this moment are not respected in business circles in China nearly so much as Englishmen, and it is because they have a great deal of legislation like this. If we persist in the course which is suggested to-day we shall find ourselves getting into much the same position as the Americans. We have been the buccaneers of the world; we have seized every bit of available land and on it we have planted the Union Jack. As far as I am concerned, I for one am not prepared to give up a yard of it. But we shall lose ground if we insist on passing restrictive legislation like this. We have been welcomed in many places simply because we have not indulged in legislation of this description. We have thrown the British Empire open to foreigners. May I appeal to hon. Members not to claim to pass this measure. I notice that there are the names of ten hon. Members on the back of this Bill; they are the names of men who are among the most vigorous of party-advocates. They are the warriors, they are experts in by-elections; they are the spell-finders. I can assure the House we are anxious to meet these ten gladiators. We would like to meet them on the public platforms of this country. We should rejoice to meet these doughty warriors. When hon. Members say that this is not a party Bill, may I ask why they have not taken a little trouble to get on the back of it the name of a Liberal or of a Labour Member? This is a party electioneering measure. It is meant to do duty on the platforms of this country, and that is the only inference it is possible to draw from the speech and attitude of the hon. Member for Grimsby.
I appeal to the House in all sincerity to remember that we are still a commercial nation. It is to our, interest to attract people from other countries to make them welcome, to introduce them not to the police but to the bargain counter. We ought to welcome travellers when they come here to spend the money made out of big trusts, whether they come here as intending to reside permanently or 2132 whether they are mere passing visitors. It is our duty to meet them freely, we want to make what profit we can out of them. Let us at the same time introduce more friendly relations between ourselves and the countries they represent. I hope the hon. Members who are responsible for this Bill will refrain from taking up an insular position. Let them realise that their countrymen are to be found all over the earth, at any rate, Scotchmen are, and I have never been to any place but what I have found a Scotchman who has been pretty well to do. I am not quite so sure it is the same with Englishmen. I ask hon. Members to show a better spirit, not to introduce these narrow restrictive clauses. In this Coronation year we are going to welcome not only our kindred from beyond the seas, but we are going to welcome to this country foreigners who desire to witness the majesty and pomp of old England. We want them to see all our great buildings or so much of them as will not be obscured by the innumerable hoardings. We want to see them come to this House and witness how we behave under the dread eye of Mr. Speaker and of the Deputy-Speaker. We want to impress these men with the fact that we are a great nation, and that, they must not go to war with us, because, although we do not want to go to war with them, we could, just as easily as we can make a big show for a Coronation year, fight them, if we had to fight for our country and our liberties. I hope hon. Gentlemen will join in welcoming these aliens, and not celebrate their arrival in this country by such a Bill as this. Do not let us see the spectacle of distinguished aliens coming to admire the House of Commons and hearing us discussing a miserable Bill like this. What will be their opinion of our Houses of Parliament? [An HON. MEMBER: "Talk it out."] I can assure the hon. Member and the whole House will recognise that that is not beyond my power. It is only one thing that induces me to relent, and that is that I think we are entitled to hear the views of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), and of the right hon. Gentleman who will answer for the Government. Therefore I shall show a consideration which the Bill does not deserve, but which I think the subject does. We have heard about our faith and patriotism, and if we have any conscious pride in our religious faith—in that Christianity which is established in this House and in this country—and if our patriotism 2133 is ideal, as I claim that it is, then I say this, that such is the confidence I have in the customs of this country, in its ancient liberties, its faith, and its patriotism, that I would not let poverty be any bar to the incomer, but, conscious in our unassailable position, let us give a welcome to the healthy, the thrifty, and the persecuted, no matter from what clime they may come.
§ Mr. CHARLES ROBERTS
I think that on the whole the hon. Member, who has covered a good deal of ground in his op-opposition, should have his Amendment seconded, for I think there are points of objection in principle to this measure. I think my attitude might be slightly modified later on, but it will to some extent depend upon the line which the movers of this Bill choose to adopt towards the Home Secretary's Bill, which is down for discussion later. If this Bill can be taken as the only possible amendment of the Aliens Act, then I should say that the House would do best to reject it entirely. I think both Bills should be sent to a Grand Committee together, but I maintain that I am fully justified in seconding the Amendment which has been moved for rejecting this Bill. Clearly as the Home Secretary's Bill cannot be reached until after Five o'clock, much will depend upon the course which is taken by the Mover of this Bill. The hon. Member who has moved the rejection has, as I say, covered a great deal of ground, but I think he has, in the course of his speech, adduced a considerable number of relevant objections to the measure. I want to make first one or two general considerations. I do not believe myself that we have really got an aliens question in this country distinct from that of any other country. We have not got, I mean, any special or particular aliens question. The Mover spoke as if London was a sink of the foulest refuse, and as if we had some power of attracting aliens to this country more than any other country. That is not the case. On the contrary, we have fewer aliens in this country than any other European country, and we have infinitely fewer than the United States of America. I believe that one does not begin to understand the aliens question until, for instance, you have been through the New England towns of America. There you find a population simply sprayed over with aliens. You had a million immigrants a year going into the United States a few years ago, and last year there were three-quarters of a million, and as you go through one town after 2134 another in New England you will find an enormous variety of foreign names over the shops, belonging to many nationalities.
Then you begin to understand what an alien question may be; but here you have in London and some large towns merely groups of alien population. They may be somewhat increasing, but it is inevitable under modern conditions of travel; it is useless to try and stop it. You cannot do so. You cannot build a Chinese wall of exclusion round this country of ours, or round any European country. As a matter of fact, in 1905, when the question was investigated, we were found to have.69 per cent. of aliens, as against 1.38 per cent. in Germany, 2.66 in France, and in Switzerland as large a proportion as 9.08. Therefore, I do not think we have any serious quantity of aliens in this country. On the whole we have fewer than any other European country. That is the first point that I should like to make. Then the other point which I think the Mover failed to grasp entirely was that there was a real reason, for the alien immigration that existed at the present time. There has been a wave of immigration coming into our midst since the year 1880. It is not a very great amount; for the first twenty years it did not amount to an addition to this population of more than 7,000 a year, and I think the Mover and Seconder might have recognised that it is wholly economic, and that this immigration comes from those blessed Protectionist countries where we understand from hon. Gentlemen opposite that ideal conditions prevail. The Seconder, the hon. Member for Grimsby, did recognise that, he said, for instance, that in these countries the condition was such that it was impossible for the extremely poor to live, and I could not help thinking that that was a curious commentary upon Protection and the blessed system of Tariff Reform which we understand gives work for all. There you have as one of the sources and mainsprings of this immigration, an economic question which results in the coming of many perfectly harmless people. They send over the most efficient member of their family as a general rule. He comes over with a little money, or scrapes together a little, and sends over for other members of his family, and gradually gets the weaker members in, and so immigration takes place. That is one large class I believe of the immigrants into the East of London. They are not, I believe, lower in physique than the bulk of 2135 the population, and there is no evidence that they have brought special zymotic diseases. Such evil as results is an industrial one, for they are themselves sweaters and they live under sweated conditions, but they are a totally different class surely from the criminal or the Anarchist, and it is this small handful of people on the existence of which the Mover of this Bill really based his case by an appeal to the prejudice and to the instinctive dislike which all English people have against people who have not had the good sense to be born of English nationality. That, I think, is the first general consideration that we have to deal with.
Then, secondly, the Seconder very truly said that we have gained in the past immensely by allowing England to be free for political and religious refugees, but he said that the political refugees were not affected in any way under this Bill. I think it is to the best possible advantage of any country to offer an asylum to anyone who has the backbone to stand out on grounds of religion or of political principles. In fact there is apparently nothing better for any race or class of people than that their forefathers at all events should have been persecuted. I do not think persecution is always good for the actual race or the people who are persecuted. It often developes rancour and intolerance, such as exists in some parts of England still, perhaps as a recollection of past troubles. But that their fore-fathers should have have been persecuted seems to have the best possible influence upon their descendants, and as one illustration of that, I believe there is almost never a Cabinet formed in France which has not a representative of the Protestant community, even though that Protestant community is a very small one. One has instances in our own country too. But I do not think it is true for a moment to say that this Bill does not interfere with the political refugee. It clearly does. It exposes him to registration and to living under perpetual police supervision. In fact the original ancestor of Lord Beaconsfield, if he had come when this Bill was in force, would have had at once to communicate his address to the police and he could not exchange his place of abode without notifying the police within twenty-four hours. That system of police supervision exists in some Continental countries, but we have not it in our country, and I think it is very undesirable to introduce it into this country, 2136 certainly for these political refugees who, I think, might regard it as being a very offensive interference with their liberty. On that point of registration it was said very recently by Members opposite that it exists in every other country. What is their authority? I absolutely disbelieve that there is any system of registration such as they wish to introduce, in the case of the United States. Do they really mean to tell the House that, when the United States welcomes a million immigrants into their country annually, every one of them has to register his address at once and cannot change his abode without giving notice to the police within twenty-four hours, so that he shall always live under police supervision or control? I am sure that is not the case, yet it was stated that this was universal in all other countries except our own. The Report of the Alien Immigration Commission of 1905, on which the Alien Immigration Act was passed, says nothing of the kind in reference to the United States. There is a power of exclusion but there is no such power of registration. Take our own Colonies. The Report says definitely:—The important points to notice in reference to Colonial legislation appear to be first that no distinction is drawn, with one or two unimportant exceptions, between British subjects and aliens.I am quite certain no such system of registration prevails in our Colonies. It prevails possibly in some Continental countries, but that is because the police system of supervision and control exists everywhere there. Some of the regulations in force in foreign countries are given in this Report. It is certainly not the case in Switzerland or in Austria, where the report says there are practically no laws relating to the immigration of aliens. These sweeping assertions that this system of registration and police supervision, which they wish to introduce into our country, exists in all other countries is far too wide and is, I think, entirely untrue. I think myself that the first provision of the Bill is quite wrong, but everything that is desired to be gained by the first Clause could be gained, where there was reasonable ground for suspicion of consorting with criminals, if you gave the Courts power to take sureties and recognisances. That might be done, but I should be inclined to say even the Home Secretary's Bill in that respect is going a long way. The Mover of the Amendment made great play with the definition of pistols. I think that is an absolute flaw in the Act. You are guarding not against the 2137 ordinary immigrant, the Russian or Polish Jew, who is not a person of a very warlike disposition. You are guarding against the skilled professional anarchist. Do you mean to say they would not have the power of getting a pistol with a longer barrel than nine inches? Of course they would. I should have thought myself to introduce any provision as to the length of the barrel would be at once an opportunity of rendering the particular Clause that you frame absolutely useless. That is only a detail, but, at the same time, it seems to me a flaw which would render that part of the Bill absolutely inoperative. I quite agree that a case may be made out for taking extra precautions in dealing with pistols, but the Movers of the Bill might well have guarded themselves against so obvious a flaw. Then I absolutely fail to see what is the use of Clause 3. It imposes upon the officers of the local authorities the duty of reporting cases of overcrowding. Surely that power exists at present. The local authority, where there in insanitary overcrowding, is to report the fact to the chief officer of police of the district, and nothing else happens. You can get that information out of the report of the medical officer of health for the borough, and, in fact, I should have thought that was purely inoperative and superfluous.
We then come to a question on which one would be glad to hear what the Labour Members have to say. Clause 6 imposes upon a person who is employing an alien the duty of employing him only at such wages as may be compulsorily fixed under the Trade Board Act, or at the trade union wages current in the district. There is no real difference obviously between the two, but I think, if Members on the Tory Benches insist upon that for aliens they cannot possibly stop there. They must also impose the same obligation by law upon employers who employ Englishmen. Obviously that is so. Let us see what hon. Gentlemen opposite are suggesting. It is really impossible to draw the line. I think it was the Seconder of the Bill who said that he wishes it to be applied to everybody. All I can say is that socialism seems to have invaded the Tory Benches rather further than I suspected. It means that you are going to lay down the doctrine by law that employers are in all cases to establish the trade union rate of wages in all the contracts which they make. When it comes to platform 2138 speeches in the country, then the air is rent with cries of the dangers of socialism, and Anti-Socialist unions draw bloodcurdling pictures of what is going to happen in future, but you never see a Bill introduced from the Tory Benches which does not contain advanced socialistic propositions. I think that is very interesting. However, I am not scared by words myself and I judge the Tory party by their actions rather than by their words. There is one Anti-Socialist in the party opposite, and I hope he will at a later stage express his views on this Bill.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am going to do so now.
§ Mr. C. ROBERTS
The hon. Baronet is an exception. One sees that there is a constant stream of socialistic proposals from the Tory Benches, and that is really one of the most interesting phenomena of the time. It shows when we can get away from phrases and mere scare-words how it is possible to make practical suggestions which are really socialistic in their character. But I do not think that this is practical. I think it is impossible to carry this proposition out. If you pass it, how are you going to enforce it? You will require an army of inspectors to deal with the provision, because you would be dealing with employers who would endeavour to elude the arrangement. I should have thought that it was a purely illusory proposition, and that it would be quite impossible to carry it out. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill spoke at such great length that I myself need not speak much longer. But I wish to emphasise that the mere occurrence of the Sidney Street outrages and an occasional murder, such as is not usual here, but may be paralleled in the annals of the Continent or of Chicago, do not justify the proposals in the Bill. These isolated cases are being exploited by hon. Gentlemen opposite, but when you come down to the facts you find that on 31st December, 1910, there were 360 of these aliens in prison, less than 1 per cent. of the total prison population, and that after all the burden on the rates is very slight, for we all know that the Jewish Board of Guardians take the burden of maintaining their co-religionists off us. This question is one which is merely used for electioneering purposes, and there is no great evil which cannot be dealt with by quite minor modifications of the law. I hope that nothing is going to be done which will in any way diminish the right of asylum or 2139 lead people to think that we are being flooded by an invasion of aliens. There is really no evidence that we are having more than the inevitable result of the greater facilities for inter-communication which exist between the countries of the world.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Member (Mr. C. Roberts) has spoken against the Clauses of the Bill, and stated that there is an unceasing flow of socialism coming from this side of the House. I do not agree with the hon. Member on that point, though I must admit that there is a small section on this side of the House who, in the fulness of their hearts, do occasionally bring forward one or two Bills which will not really stand investigation from the point of view of the old-fashioned Conservative. But I think that is really because they have not quite understood the position, and not because of the wickedness of their character. With regard to the Bill I would say that I am in hearty agreement with the first Clause. I think it is absolutely necessary that we should do something to check the flow of pauper immigration into this country. I also think that in view of the outrages which have taken place we should do something in order to prevent these aliens having dangerous weapons, such as pistols and other firearms. I rather agree that the particular Clauses in the Bill which make provision against the carrying of these weapons are not very well drafted, but that there should be some provision of that sort I think is absolutely necessary. The hon. Member opposite dealt at great length with the fact that this country has always offered asylum to all people who have been refugees from political or religious persecution. I think everyone, on whichever side of the House he sits, is agreed that the political refugee or the refugee from religious persecution should be at liberty to find asylum in this country. But the hon. Member must not forget that political and religious persecution exists now in a very much smaller degree than it used to do in bygone years, and that it is extremely difficult to find out whether an immigrant is really fleeing from what he calls religious or political persecution, or whether the statement is made merely to conceal the fact that, having committed some crime in his own country, he is rather fleeing from justice. I believe that a large number of these immigrants do 2140 say that they are fleeing from their own countries and coming here because they have been subjected to religious or political persecution when, as a matter of fact, in the majority of cases, there is no foundation for that statement. I believe, after all—I am afraid the hon. Member will not agree with me here—that England was made for the English, and, personally, I much prefer to see all work of every description, whether it is done in the House of Commons or anywhere else, carried out by Englishmen.
I believe that the Labour party sympathise with that view, and would be prepared to assist in all efforts which have for their object the preservation of work for our own fellow - countrymen. With those objects I am in hearty accord. I do not care to see large numbers of foreigners coming in and doing work in this country at very low rates of wages. If I were an artisan working with my hands I should very much resent foreigners coming in and working for lower wages, and I should therefore work for any Bill which would make it more difficult for immigrants of that kind to come in. But there is another side to the picture. A very large number of our population go abroad, and if we put excessive restrictions on people coming into this country we may be met by retaliation, and the same restrictions may be put by other countries upon our people emigrating from our shores. Therefore I think there must be some moderation in the provisions of any Bill instituted with that object. I do not at all disagree with the very large portion of the first Clause of this Bill, but I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman who says that the Clause requiring registration is very tyrannical, and is not in operation in other parts of the world. I ventured to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, and to say that in most countries, as far as I knew, a Clause of a somewhat similar character is in operation. I admit that I have not looked the matter up, and I could not say now whether every foreign country has a Clause of that description, but I noticed the hon. Member, reading from a very large Blue Book, was able to find only Switzerland and Austria where he said there were no provisions of a similar character.
§ Mr. C. ROBERTS
The United States and all the Colonies.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am reminded of California in the case of the Chinese. 2141 Most foreign countries have this provision. Unless you have something of the sort I do not see how you are going to have any effective check upon ciminal aliens who come to this country. I admit that possibly there might be some modification in the form proposed, but I think that something of the sort must be done if there is to be any check on the immigration of foreign criminals into this country. Whether or not it is possible to limit the duration to which it might extend to five years' residence in the country I do not know.
§ Mr. GOULDING
Let them be naturalised.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That more or less meets the point. I do not attach very much importance to Clause 3, but I do not care very much about it. It will interfere with the liberty of the subject. As the hon. Gentleman opposite says, powers are already in the hands of the local authorities, and I do not see why the police should be put, in the phrase of the Home Secretary, to ginger the local authority. When we come to the provision dealing with the number of inches, there is something to be said for the argument of the hon. Member for Pontefract. Any number of gunmakers in this country, or other countries, would be able to get very effective weapons that would not come under the provisions of this Bill. I see in the Government Bill the length of the barrel has been fixed at 15 inches. I do not see why we should have any particular length of barrel. You do not suppose that the alien emigrants are going up to Scotland to shoot with hon. Members opposite who have deer forests. I do not object to that; I only wish I had one myself. I cannot see any object in limiting firearms to pistols. A gun or a rifle is just as dangerous.
§ Mr. GOULDING
It cannot be concealed on the person; that is the point.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
If my hon. Friend takes a walk along a country road, and he passes an innocent looking man, and tries to stop that man and search him, that man may have a gun all the time concealed on his person, so that no one would know that the gun was there. At the same time it would be a gun of ordinary length, and very effective when used. Therefore I do not quite admit the accuracy of the observation that a gun or a rifle cannot be 2142 concealed. But at night time, who is going to interfere? No ordinary civilian would go up to a man in the early hours of the morning, in the East-end, and because he has got a rifle in his possession take it away from him. That rifle might be extremely dangerous. If the definition Clause had defined all firearms, there would be no objection on this particular Clause. I do not agree with a considerable part of Clause 5, by which, if a man happens to be in a bar of a public-house he may be searched, whether he is English or not, to see whether he has got a pistol or not. Hon. Gentlemen who are prominent members of a Committee on our side really ought to draft their Bills better. They have introduced two Bills up to the present time and I have never seen two Bills worse drafted in all my life. I really think that something would have to be done if this Bill gets into Committee with regard to Clause 5. I agree with every word which the hon. Member opposite has just said with regard to Clause 6. I do not see what Clause 6 has got to do with the Bill. If this were a Bill to prevent aliens immigrating into this country I would have supported it with the utmost cordiality and would have done anything in my small power to forward it, but why on earth the hon. Member goes and sticks on a Clause, which, as the hon. Member opposite said, might lead to State regulation of wages in this country, I cannot conceive. I really could not vote for a Bill which has such a Clause in it. Subsection (a) is quite unnecessary because, under the Trade Board as it exists now with regard to certain industries, everybody employed has to be paid wages fixed by the Trade Board.
Therefore Sub-section (a) of Clause 6 is quite unnecessary, and I do not know why it is put in. It is the law now, and why you want to repeat it I do not know. Coming to Sub-section (b), as I read it, any employer engaging an alien would have to make a statement that he was paying the rate of wages recognised as fair by Government and municipal contracts for that particular class of work, not only to the alien but to everybody else in his employ. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is so."] Then I am right. Under this Bill you are going to enforce the trades union rate of wages on English employers who employ Englishmen. I cannot support a Bill containing a Clause of that sort. I cannot conceive why my hon. Friend should have put such a Clause into the Bill, for it has got nothing whatever 2143 to do with the payment of wages by English employers to Englishmen. Of course, if the hon. Gentleman gives me an assurance that he will take the Clause out of the Bill I have nothing further to say; but as long as that Clause is in it I must confess that I cannot conceive that anybody who has any of the old Conservative traditions in him can support it. Let me point out what would be the effect of the Clause. Employer A employs 100 men, one being an alien and ninety-nine Englishmen. That particular employer does not pay the trades union rate of wages. He employs an alien, and then he is compelled to pay the ninety-nine Englishmen trades union wages. [An HON. MEMBER: "He is not forced to employ the alien."] No, of course he is not forced to employ the alien; but he may have to do so for some reason or other, perhaps because the alien has knowledge of a particular branch of the business, and he is necessary to the employer for the purpose of giving instruction.
The moment he is engaged the employer immediately has to pay his other ninety-nine men trades union wages. Another employer in the same district, and engaged in the same work does not employ aliens, but he employes 100 Englishmen, who are not paid the trades union rate of wages. How long would the trade unions stand up? Would they not come down with a Bill and say to us: "If you say that the alien is a person whom you are desirous of keeping out of the country, how is it that you pay him the trades union rate of wages? Are you prepared to oppose a Bill which would give your own countrymen and your own brothers trade union wages?" Anyone who supports this Clause of the Bill could not logically get up and say that he was opposed to such a Bill for the payment of trade union wages to Englishmen. Are you in favour of legislation which would compel English employers to pay trade union wages? [Sir GEORGE DOUGHTY: "I am in some cases."] The hon. Member says he is in favour of Parliament enacting that all employers should pay trade union rates of wages. I do not think I have anything further to say with regard to the Bill except that I am sorry the hon. Member for Pontefract is not in the House at this moment. I took note of his statement that he is not able to go to Yorkshire because of these Bills which are introduced by private Members on Fridays, and which might be passed into 2144 law. The hon. Member said a few months ago he did not know when he came to this House that he would be obliged to take up that position. If the hon. Member had been a little longer in this House he would have known perfectly well that every private Bill brought in by a private Member on a Friday had better never have been brought in at all.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I confess, in rising to address the House, to a sense of difficulty in my task. The Bill is dead. [Sir F. BANBURY: "What?"] Dead, quite dead. The speeches which have preceded mine have not left a single proposal of the Bill in a decent state of vitality. When I read the Bill first of all I was not quite sure whether it was a case of Stepney or the General Election. When I read the formidable list of names on the back of the Bill I came to the conclusion that it was the General Election. When I listened to the hon. Gentleman, in that nice smooth speech with which he introduced the Bill, claiming that it was not a party measure, but one in which all parties could co-operate, my mind did wander back to previous speeches made upon the aliens question by hon. Members opposite, when there was no question of the non-party question of the subject, and I think that those speeches were much more in accordance with the backing of the Bill than the speech to which the hon. Gentleman (Sir F. Banbury) has just alluded. When I opened the Bill and looked at the clauses I thought first of all that I saw Stepney, and when I went a little bit further down all my suspicions were formed in the same direction as the suspicions of the hon. Gentleman who has preceded me.
I saw from Clause 6 that there was a decided attempt made to inveigle my hon. Friends and myself into the Lobby in favour of this Bill. I am bound to confess that if I thought for a single moment that the hon. Member for Grimsby (Sir George Doughty) is—if I did not misunderstand him—prepared to vote for legislation enforcing trade union rates on employers, I am not at all sure that I would not swallow the Stepney Clause 1 in order to get the Socialism of Clause 6. But, as a matter of fact, it cannot be done. What is the trade union rate of wages? We were somewhat unmercifully, and, perhaps, deservedly to a certain extent, chaffed the other night by an hon. Member opposite, who is not in his place at the present 2145 moment, for making propositions before we had analysed their contents. But the whole of this Bill is one of the most lamentable examples of generalisation, of uncorrected ideas, and of ill-considered adaptation of means to the end that I have ever come across in the whole of my experience of this House. As this is a serious question, however, and as the Bill has been mainly killed by the delightful satire of my hon. Friend (Mr. Charles Roberts), I hope the House will tolerate a few remarks from me upon the serious aspect of the aliens problem. So far as the Labour party is concerned, we start with this un-shakeable assumption, that we shall agree to no alien legislation that in any way destroys the right of asylum in this country. So far as the mere expression of that is concerned there is no party in this House at all. We all agreed on that, and we stand absolutely upon a common platform. But this Bill does destroy the right of asylum, and I will tell you why. I think it was the hon. Gentleman himself, in introducing his Bill who said that we are not afraid of the policeman, that we trust the policeman, and so on. Ah, but he was juggling with words when he used that expression! This is not a question of policemen generally, but of police spies and detectives.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
That is in the Government Bill.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
There are two sections of police officers, and we must remember the two sections when we deal with this Bill. The Government Bill is not before us, or I should have something to say to it. I am dealing with the Bill of the hour, and the other Bill will be equally faithfully dealt with should I get the opportunity. There is the faithful public servant who parades our streets in uniform. We know him afar off—we see him going round the corner—there is no doubt about him. He has been brought under certain suspicion, but he is not concerned with this Bill at all. There is the ether gentleman whom you do not know; you find him in the middle of your political refugees, acting as their friend and their prompter. I think hon. Gentlemen opposite have heard of "Peter the Painter." I think they have heard of Father Gapon, and I think they have heard of others in recent years. That is the Gentleman and that is the section of the police force that is going to be let loose by Clause 1 of this Bill, and who, once he 2146 is let loose, is going to play havoc with the right of political asylum in this country. The Bill as it stands leaves out of account the most characteristic feature of the alien problem. We talk about the prohibition of immigration and all that kind of thing, we talk about the fixing of wages by determinations and so on. Why, they do not amount to anything when you analyse out into its constituents elements the real feature and the real nature of the problem.
What is the problem of the alien in London? It is this—that he concentrates in one place. That is the great problem of the alien in London. If we could solve the problem of the segregation of the aliens then we would have solved the other problems with it. That is not only the case here. If hon. Gentlemen go, for instance, to Canada, and go to places on the border of Canada and the United States, such as Gretna, and if they go a little further north, they will come across the Icelandic settlement, and in the north and west they will come across the Dukhobors. Then go back to the centres of Canadian civic life and discuss with the administrators or legislators what is the foreign problem in Canada, and they will all with one voice say: It is not the variety of race, it is not the new races in the country, but it arises from the fact that the races settle in particular districts and never mix themselves abroad. So that as a matter of fact, you get various civilisations untouched by each other practically confined to watertight compartments, you get various standards of life separated one from the other by a street or road eighty feet broad. On one hand you get mediaeval European civilisation and on the other you have got up to date American civilisation. Up to now statesmen and administrators have never yet solved the problem of how to obliterate that narrow line of demarcation between those two civilisations. The fact that that narrow line exists is the great main problem in this country. What does this Bill do to stop it. The Bill takes a superficial, and, if I may say so without in the least desiring any offence, an unformed view of what the problem is. The Bill divides itself into two sections. The section of civic order and the section of social conditions. The proposal of hon. Members opposite, and I am not now going to deal with mere Committee points, consists mainly and almost exclusively in this, the registration of aliens. What good is that 2147 going to effect? You can accumulate waste paper as much as you like, but every registered immigrant, if you are going to touch him at all, has got to commit a crime. When he has committed a crime, you have got to trace him and to discover that he committed the crime. After the most difficult and intricate parts of your police inquiry and your detective work have been accomplished then it may be that your registration may help you to connect up certain links in your chain. This colossal system of police registers, this troublesome provision compelling law-abiding, decent aliens to go in hundreds to the nearest police stations to register their names, is a proposal absolutely alien to the most fundamental conceptions of English civic liberty, and the obligations of English civic law. It is perfectly true that in some other countries we have got this registration, but is not that what we all object to. Is not the sort of military systematic mechanical reduction of all the free and spontaneous civic life of those countries one of the blots in the life of those countries.
The only definite and certain thing that can happen from the operation of Clause 1 is that we ourselves will become familiarised to such registration and regulations, and I am going to be no party to that. Moreover, the hon. Gentleman's speech about the condition of the problem was altogether wrong. He talked about the murderous alien that is being poured into this country. There is no such thing. The figures he quoted about aliens in prison compare favourably with the figures that he would have had to quote if he had told us the number of natives in prison. If he turns to authorities like the Archbishop of York, whose experience when he was head of the Oxford House Settlement, entitles him to express an opinion which nobody can doubt and which nobody really ought to challenge, he will find that it is not in accordance with the statements which he made. Or if he would turn to the experience of Canon Barnett, head of Toynbee Hall, who has had long experience, again the general impression conveyed by the general statement of the problem by the hon. Gentleman was most exaggerated, to use an exceedingly mild word. But supposing they were, and let us take the Belgian woman as a case in point. This Bill does not touch her. There is nothing in it to prevent those people 2148 coming in. The Belgian woman, I dare say we all know her crime, or can imagine what her crime was, came across not as a steerage passenger, but as a first-class passenger. I am perfectly certain the lady was perfectly capable of coming across as a first-class passenger. Very few of the crimes that we can bring home to aliens, and that justify most of the exclusions from this country are committed by people who come in as third-class passengers. That is so far as the Civil order of the Bill is concerned. Clause 3 is absolutely useless even as a piece of verbiage. What Clause 3 proposes to do can be done now. As a matter of fact Clause 3 does not propose to do anything except to register something. The hon. Gentleman is too fond of registration, and he appears to be too timorous to tell us what the registration is going to effect. What use is there in the public health officer reporting to his Public Health Committee that a house is overcrowded? He can do that now. As a matter of fact, he is paid to do that now. But the public health authority is not given any more powers by this Bill. The Local Government Board is given no more power of coercion. The "benevolent despot," to use his own expression, will be as limited in his authority after this Bill as he is at present. Look at the magnificent example of prescient administration! The one thing done by this Clause which is not done by legislation as it now exists is that the Public Health Committee can report to the head of the police. If you want bad administration the very best way to get it—I make a present of this suggestion to the Social Reform Committee of the Tory party—is to set up two authorities, make them both responsible, and then neither of them will act. If you then discover that neither of them will act, you will not be able to blame either of them, and that is precisely the position that the Tory Social Reform Committee wants social legislation to land them in.
I will pass on to Clause 6. The hon. Baronet was very doubtful why Clause 6 had got into the Bill. I will tell him why. As a matter of fact, I do not think he requires to be told. He knows a fly as well as most people. Clause 6 is a fly. Clause 6 is a bait. Clause 6 is put in for what are vulgarly known as shop-window purposes. The immediate purpose is to get my friends and myself to go into the Lobby in favour of this Bill. For some years we have been asking for something 2149 like Clause 6. The hon. Baronet has deprived us of our opportunities of getting it. Now I congratulate the hon. Baronet: Satan has appeared in his own household. It is no longer a question between two parties fundamentally opposed, as the party to which he belongs and the party to which I belong are. It is a heresy hunt in the Tory party itself with the hon. Baronet as chief prosecutor, and the hon. Member who introduced the Bill as chief accused. Clause 6 is a praiseworthy but crude attempt to apply socialism to an exceedingly complicated problem. What has happened? The promoters of the Bill have taken our idea and put it into their Clause.
§ Mr. GOULDING
The Trade Boards Act has nothing to do with hon. Members opposite any more than with Members on this side. As a matter of fact, my hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Hills) brought in the Bill which was made the basis of the present law.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I do not want to take up time by controverting the statement of the hon. Gentleman. As a matter of fact, the hon. Member for Durham's Bill was introduced before—first of all by my hon. Friend the Member for East Leeds (Mr. O'Grady) as a private Member's Bill before the idea was popular, and then by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks) just when the border line began to be crossed, and it became popular. Then we practically all agreed, with the exception of the hon. Baronet. I, with a certain violation of my Socialist principles, remaining pretty negative on the matter. That is the genesis, the exodus, and the conclusion of that Bill. The Government got converted, as the Government has a habit of doing as time goes on. But Clause 6 is not a Wages Board provision; it is a provision that blackleg labour should not be allowed to be imported during times of trade disputes. The first paragraph of the Clause I leave in the hands of the hon. Baronet. About paragraph (b) there is something new to be said. I want those who are supporting this Bill, under the impression that it will improve the wages of British workers, to consider what it really means. Supposing an employer imports foreign blackleg labour; at the port of embarkation he has to declare that he is going to pay them not trades union rates of wages, but wages recognised as fair for Government and municipal contracts. That is not trades union rate of wages; it is very much 2150 short of trades union rates of wages in many instances. But let us put the very best face upon it that we can. The employer says to the immigration officer that he is going to pay these men trades union rates of wages, and he gets the men in. At the end of the very first day, so far as this Bill is concerned, he can discharge them, and there is nothing in the Bill to compel him to pay them trades union rates of wages, when he takes them on again.
The subject has been so hastily considered that the most elementary conditions of these disputes have not been taken into account. But, as I say, the provision is not for trades union rates of wages; it is for wages recognised as fair for Government and municipal contracts. But over and over again we have strikes against those very rates of wages. Only yesterday or Wednesday, in reply to the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Jowett), the Parliamentary Secretary to the War Office declared that certain firms not pay-paying trades union rates of wages at Apperby Bridge were recognised as fair by the War Office. Therefore you could have a strike against sweating wages, or wages that are regarded by trade unionists as sweating, and blacklegs could be brought in and employed at sweating wages, even if this Bill were carried with the Clause as it stands. There is the whole question of inspection. There is the whole question of undeclared employers. Supposing there is no Government contract and no municipal contract in the district. How is the Sub-section going to act? It cannot act at all. The whole thing will be an absolute dead-letter, except in one or two particulars, and in those particulars it will never be brought into operation at all. Moreover, trade disputes do not occur only on account of wages. Trade disputes occur also on account of hours. We get strikes against iniquitous conditions of labour. There is nothing whatever about them in the Bill. Foreign blacklegs could still be brought in and employed at under trades union rates of wages, under bad labour conditions, for unspecified hours. In fact, there is not a single trade dispute that now takes place in the country but could be carried out successfully by the employers by means of imported labour even if this Bill became the law of the land to-morrow.
If we regard this Bill as being of no consequence, it is not that we disagree 2151 with some of the generalised statements made by the hon. Member opposite. We regard it as being of no consequence and not worth passing because, on its civil side, it has no machinery to offer to solve the real civic problem which alien immigration creates; and, on its industrial side, there is not a single provision that would give the English working man one particle of protection if engaged in a trade dispute with his employer. I understand that the Government is quite willing that this Bill should go upstairs, because it wants to engraft its own Bill upon it. I am bound to say that to ask us to sit dumb whilst you, Mr. Speaker, put the Question from the Chair that the Bill be read a Second time, is to ask from us, so far as we on these benches are concerned, a very great sacrifice, both of principle and of common sense. But I will tell the House what we are prepared to do. If there is general agreement in the House—only if there is general agreement—we are prepared that the title of this Bill should go to Committee upstairs. So far as we are concerned, we simply regard this as the title of a Bill—"The Aliens Act Amendment Bill." We will agree to that. We do not agree with a single line, Clause, or provision of the Bill itself. We do not think that a single line of it will be of the least value, but will be very harmful if brought into operation, and it will delay wiser and more enlightened legislation. But I understand that we will sit quiet and allow the title to go to Committee upstairs, so that its clauses should be deleted, and better ones put in. If so, we will be prepared to sit quiet while Mr. Speaker puts the Question, "That this Bill be now read a second time."
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The hon. Gentleman who has just concluded his speech said that those on his side always knew a fly. I think we recognise the fly which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester has thrown into these waters. I can assure him we are not going to rise to it. I hope he will have the courage of his convictions to-day, and when the Second Reading of this Bill is put from the Chair that he will carry his convictions into the Lobby with him, and will support his arguments with his vote. If he believes that this is a worthless and useless Bill, which for some time he has been trying to persuade the House it is, I hope he will take the most efficacious way of 2152 instilling that into the House by voting against it. He began his speech by saying that the Bill was dead. I have been a great deal longer in the House than has the hon. Member. I have heard a good many Friday Debates, and I never yet heard a Bill which was so little wounded by the criticisms of its opponents. The speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) was very amusing and satirical.
§ Mr. CROOKS
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Effective, if you like a good hearty laugh, but not effective so far as any real criticism of the Bill is concerned. The few points made by the hon. Gentleman were purely Committee points, all of which can be dealt with in Committee. What does the opposition offered by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester amount to? It mainly amounts to this: that if you cannot solve the whole problem—the whole of a very difficult problem—do not try to solve any part of it. I admit that his speech was different from that of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract. It was at least a serious speech. It at least admitted that there was in this country a serious problem. There always has been, certainly for three hundred or four hundred years, a serious problem in this country connected with alien immigration. The hon. Member says that he for his part will never do anything to destroy the right of asylum in this country. We can equally say that we will never do anything on this side of the House to destroy the right of asylum as it was known to our forefathers. But the traditional policy of this country has for centuries been to regulate the immigration of aliens into this country. If hon. Members will read the whole history of this question of alien immigration, as it is summed up by the Royal Commission, they will see that through all the centuries the real problem, as the Member for Leicester said, has arisen from the concentration of these aliens in particular localities. That being so, Orders were made by the Privy Council, sometimes by local bodies, that the foreigners who came to London should be scattered throughout the country. By virtue of the Orders in Council colonies were established at Sandwich, Norwich, Colchester, Yarmouth, Lynn, Glasgow, and many other places. In all these colonies regulations and conditions were framed by the local authorities, and were imposed upon the aliens. Therefore 2153 this right of asylum has always been subject to proper conditions imposed by the country which offered its hospitality.
Why not? After all, are we to say to the poor of all countries, "You may come here," without our imposing any conditions whatever. "You may plant yourselves upon our Poor Law, you may take all the benefits we in this country enjoy without our imposing any conditions as to your residence in this country." I say we have a perfect right to impose these conditions and regulations. I say that the restrictions in this Bill which my hon. Friend has brought forward to-day are not harsh restrictions in any way, but are legitimate and proper restrictions which ought to be imposed, and may well be imposed, upon those who seek the hospitality of these borders. In every single reign hon. Members, if they look at the legislation, will find Statutes affecting alien immigration have been passed, commencing with the reign of Richard II. That is the traditional policy of this country. This Bill which my hon. Friend has brought forward to-day is following out the traditional policy of this country. We all admit that in days gone by these aliens were prosperous people themselves, and that they added to the prosperity of this country. They were, in those cases, almost invariably peaceful citizens. But we can put a very different picture upon the canvas since the year 1880. Anybody who has studied this question must have come to the conclusion that the type of character of the people who have come to this country since that year is very different from that of those of whom we speak with such praise and flattery in other centuries. The problem arises from that time, and it was because of the change in the type of the character of these people that the Royal Commission which reported in 1902 was set on foot. It was upon the Report of that Royal Commission that the Bill of 1904 was brought forward and the Act of 1905 was passed. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract fell foul of the party to which I belong. "Why," he said, "do you go against your own Bill? Why do you complain that your own Act of 1905 is not sufficiently strong?" The reason that the Act of 1905 is not sufficiently strong is because of the attitude adopted by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and by nobody more than the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary of the present time He gloried in the way in which he led the wreck of that Bill of 1905.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill)
The Government that carried the Bill of 1905 was in possession of an ample majority to carry a Bill of this character, and the hon. Gentleman is not entitled to blame individual Members of the Opposition for their action.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I was one of the unfortunate Members who sat on the Grand Committee. The right hon. Gentleman was then sufficiently powerful, in conjunction with two of his colleagues now on the Front Bench, to keep us sitting for seven days while we passed exactly three lines of a Bill of something like 240 lines. No! The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well what are his powers in the way of obstruction. I am quite certain if ever he sits on this side of the House again and dislikes a Bill he will be equally agile and fertile in imagination, Whatever the majority of the Party may be which is opposed to him he will make it very difficult indeed for that party to carry any measure of this kind into law if he and his colleagues are opposed to it. Apart from the fact that it was not such a strong Act as it might have been it was weakly administered. Even to what I call the mild measure of 1905—for that Act was, in my opinion, a mild measure—no less than nine Gentlemen now occupying positions of Cabinet Ministers opposed that Bill on the Third Reading. Two of them were entrusted with the administration of it. Therefore I say that that Act never had a really fair chance. It was called by the Prime Minister "A party, claptrap, gallery affair." The Prime Minister and the present Postmaster - General both said that that Act would be found to be so beset with difficulties in its administration that before very long it would become a dead letter. It is very easy to make the Act a dead letter if you do not mean to administer it, and if the Home Secretary had chosen to throw some of his marvellous energy into the administration of that Act we might have derived very much more benefit from it than we have done. But even under the Act, if hon. Gentlemen will look at the statistics of alien crime, they will see that since the Act came into operation it has been largely decreased year by year in this country. Very few aliens now find their way to our gaols. I was amazed at a certain statement made by the hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). I understood him to say that he had the 2155 authority of the Archbishop of York for it. I did not know he was much accustomed to giving as authority bishops or archbishops, but he gave, on the authority of the Archbishop of York, the proportion of crimes committed by aliens—
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I did not quote the Archbishop of York as an authority.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Well, then, upon his own authority, I understood him to say to the House that the proportion of crime committed by aliens was far less than the proportion of crime committed by the original population of this country. I cannot quote an archbishop or a bishop, but I will quote the opinion of one possibly whose opinion the hon. Member will respect, and that is the present Prime Minister. The present Prime Minister said:—There is undoubtedly an excessive percentage of crime amongst the immigrant alien population of this country as compared with the indigenous population.That is the opinion of the Prime Minister, and perhaps that may weigh with the hon. Member for Leicester. If not let me quote the opinion of the present Postmaster-General upon the subject: He cannot be accused of any leaning towards the policy adopted on this side of the House. The Postmaster-General said:—There is unquestionably a considerably larger proportion of crime among the aliens than among the rest of the population, indeed, this proportion has risen so high, that no fewer than fifteen per 1,000 of the alien population are criminals.These two quotations may possibly outweigh the authority of the Archbishop of York or the authority of Canon Barnett.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Has the right hon. Gentleman abstracted from that the crimes committed on Saturdays by Lascars and foreign sailors who come to our seaports for a few days?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I abstracted nothing except the quotations from the speeches made in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister and by the Postmaster-General, and I presume these two right hon. Gentlemen must have before they made their speeches verified these statements by looking into the figures, and if so it was proved to their satisfaction that the proportion of crime committed by criminal aliens in this country is far more than the proportion of crime committed by the indigenous people of this country. I say undoubtedly there is a very strong case 2156 for some exceptional dealing with the alien criminal population. I say, secondly, the law, as it stands at present, is not strong enough, and the Home Secretary admits, by bringing in his own Bill that the law is not sufficiently strong. He at least is alive to the fact that there is a great-deal of crime going on in the East End of London, and that there is likely to be a recrudescence from time to time, for which at present there is no adequate remedy by any law in this country. He seeks to strengthen the law, and so far as his Bill is concerned, I hope it will go to a Committee along with the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester.
Let me look at some of the provisions of this present Bill upon which so much ridicule has been poured to-day. The keynote of the Bill lies in the Registration Clause—the registration of aliens who come as steerage passengers. I have not heard up to the present one argument against what was said by the hon. Member for Grimsby. Why have you now inspection in respect of immigrants that come in ships containing more than twenty passengers, and not in respect of similar immigrants coming in ships with less than twenty passengers. That is a matter that everybody believes needs remedy. It would not be remedied by the Bill by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Surely that is a matter that ought to be considered by a Committee upstairs, and the whole of these regulations in regard to the immigration of aliens requires overhauling, and overhauling not by the Home Office, which may possibly be permeated with some kind of dislike and distaste for carrying out these duties, but by a Committee of this House upon which all parties are represented, and a Committee sincerely desirous of carrying the Act of 1905 into effect, and getting benefit out of it. I am told that in 1909 only 15 per cent. of those whom the Act of 1905 was designed to inspect were so inspected. That is defeating the Act of 1905, and that is the kind of matter which the Committee ought to have before it. We should derive an enormous amount of benefit from the registration of those aliens who ought to be registered. Is it unworkable? I do-not believe so.
If hon. Gentlemen opposite would only read the evidence taken by the Royal Commission, which reported in 1902 they would find that something like 95 per cent. of those aliens went through the Jewish shelter. I do not say that 95 per cent. 2157 go through the Jewish shelter now, but a very large percentage go through the Jewish shelter, and they could easily be registered. Is that inquisitorial? Will hon. Members kindly look at the schedule and see the questions which have got to be answered. After all, these people are coming here to our shores, and accepting our hospitality. They may come upon the rates paid by very poor people, and I presume they are shortly to have the benefits of that wonderful system to be inaugurated by the Government of Accident and Invalidity Insurance. Surely we are entitled to get from these people such information as would be contained in the answer to these questions as to age, sex, nationality, occupation, the name of the ship by which they came, the port of departure, the port of arrival; to say whether it is their intention to reside here for more than three months, to say what means they have in their possession, what prospect they have of business and of supporting themselves, to say whether they have ever been convicted of any crime; why should we not ask all these questions?
I am chairman of the Old Age Pensions Committee that operates over the whole of London; we have to deal with something like 50,000 old age pensioners, and the questions asked in this category are not one, but more inquisitorial, and are not as inquisitorial as the questions addressed to any citizen in London and right away through the country who claims what now is their right in the shape of an old age pension. Every one of them is visited by the pension officers; many come before the Committees, and they have all to give the full details of their past life. They have to say exactly what is their means, how every sixpence comes to them, what relations they have to support them, what is the value of their lodging, board, and so on. Surely, if we ask our own citizens who live for seventy years in this country honest and reputable lives, who contributed to the taxes and the rates of the country, all these questions before we allow them to obtain the old age pension, there is nothing derogatory in asking aliens who come here and claim our hospitality, and which we give because we are a generous people, and I hope we shall always remain so, and whom we receive with open arms if they are the victims of persecution, to answer these questions. Really it is absurd to say that you may not put these questions because a 2158 great deal would be gained, and much more has to be done before we can solve this problem. We want knowledge upon this question. I believe one of the greatest benefits that would be derived from this system of registration of alien immigrants would be the obtaining of sound information as to their number, the conditions in which they live, their circumstances, their means of obtaining a livelihood, and matters of that kind. There are other Clauses. The second Clause deals with the expulsion of convicted aliens. There, again, the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman admits that the law is not strong enough. Let us discuss this question upstairs or in Grand Committer and then we can see whether the right hon. Gentleman's Clause or the Clause in this Bill is the best. If this Bill is to be killed on the Second Reading, how can we discuss these questions?
There is a duty cast upon local authorities to report cases of overcrowding. I think this Bill ought to be a little clearer on this point, but that matter can be dealt with in Committee. To my mind the local authorities do not do anything like what I think they might do in connection with dealing with overcrowding. That is a subject which we might usefully discuss. Then there is a Clause dealing with pistols. A good deal was made of this point by the hon. Member for Pontefract, who said that this Clause could be defeated by having a pistol nine and a-half inches long. That is a matter which could also be dealt with in Committee. Personally, I should prefer the length of the pistol provided for in the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, in which it is put at fifteen inches, but even that provision could be defeated by a pistol fifteen one-eighth inches. That is the kind of argument which has been used against this Bill. Then there is a Clause which has been very much criticised by the hon. Member for Leicester, and that is the Clause which seeks to enforce in certain trades a fair rate of wages. All my hon. Friend proposes in this matter is this. First of all, in any trade regulated by a Trade Board, the employer shall not employ aliens at a lower rate of wages than that which he is bound to pay to British labour under a Trade Board. Surely that proposal ought to have met with the support of the Labour party in this House. My hon. Friend goes further and proposes that if those matters are not regulated by a Trade Board in all business and commercial transactions and industries carried 2159 on where the Fair-Wages Clause applies—and it exists far beyond Government contracts, and applies to all county councils and municipal contracts—as the employer will have to give the fair rate of wages to British labour if he employs it, he shall not, by taking on aliens, defeat the Fair-Wages Clause by paying aliens less than if he employed British labour.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
There is no standard of pay involved in the Fair-Wages Clause.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The hon. Member says there is no standard involved, but does he mean there is no benefit conferred by it upon the wage-earners?
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
We are constantly complaining of the Clause. Except where there is a general agreement as to the rate of wages, and that occurs in very few places, it is of very little use.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Does the hon. Member say there is no benefit conferred upon the wage-earners by the Fair-Wages Clause?
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Certainly, where it is put into operation and when it is enforced in the way we should like to see it enforced, but that is not very often.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Then, if it is a benefit, why does the hon. Member not assist us in our effort to extend it to these cases where it is defeated by alien labour being taken on? The hon. Member and his friends are really jealous of those on this side of the House because we are trying to do something for the working classes. They get it into their heads that no Conservative wishes to remedy the grievances from which the working classes suffer. I have noticed that idea again and again. We do not refuse to credit hon. Gentlemen opposite with an earnest desire to uplift the working classes, but they never will give us credit for desiring to do anything of that sort. I belong to a party which brought in the Factory Acts, and if at the present time you want to clear slums of anything of that kind it is upon Conservative legislation you have to act, legislation brought in by the late Lord Salisbury's Government, with which the name of Lord Cross is most intimately associated. I admit this is not an ideal Bill. Personally I should like it to go 2160 further. I think there is in it an acute problem affecting the whole of London. An hon. Member opposite said that this was a Cockney measure. I wish some of those hon. Gentlemen opposite who complain of the time we London Members give to this question had to deal with some of the difficulties with which we are faced. Then I am sure they would no longer taunt us with dealing with a mere Cockney question. Let me tell the hon. Member opposite that he will never be taken for a Cockney. This Bill will go far to remedy the evil of which we complain, and although it does not do everything, it does something practical. I hope the House will pass this measure, and send it up to a Grand Committee along with the Bill proposed by the Home Secretary. If we do, I am persuaded that we shall do much to put an end to some of those most infamous crimes which recently disfigured the history of this country. If we only adopt this system of registration we shall secure at least some reliable knowledge upon which we can proceed in future years to deal still further with this grave problem.
§ Mr. STEPHEN GWYNN
The hon. Member for Leicester has dealt with what he called the electioneering part of this Bill. I propose to discuss those Clauses which have a relation to those contained in the Home Secretary's Bill, and which propose to increase the powers of the police in regard to what one may call inspection or espionage, which proposes to put a new disability upon resident aliens. I am speaking now as an individual Member of the House. I may say that the traditions of the party to which I belong have never led us in the direction of supporting the extension of special powers to the police in order to exercise espionage. On the contrary, our efforts have been directed more to removing such powers. There are some points which have been urged by the supporters of this Bill with which I entirely agree. I agree, if you are to have inspection of immigrants on landing it should be logically carried out, and you should inspect the people who come in by fives and tens, just as much as those who come in by twenties and fifties. It is much more important, however, to say that you should inspect those who come in with first-class tickets just as much as those who come in with second and third-class tickets. I understand that provision in favour of the skilled burglar is due to the legislation of the party above the 2161 Gangway. I agree, if there is an expulsion Order, it should be made a reality and a thing that cannot be trifled with. I am all in favour of legislation to prevent overcrowding, but I think that legislation ought to be of general application and not to aliens alone. When we come to the Clause which prohibits the alien from carrying a pistol without a licence, I am in hearty sympathy with the measure. I think it is a desirable thing to do; but I am against putting that disability upon the alien alone. I am strongly in favour of a measure against the secret carrying of arms. I regard this growing practice as a nuisance both in London and in Ireland, and I shall be delighted to support such a measure if I ever get the chance. I will not, however, support a measure to put the aliens under a disability in this matter as compared with the resident citizen, and that Clause, whenever and how proposed, I shall vote against.
What I think is the serious matter in this Bill is the proposal to increase the powers of the police, and to impose upon them a new class of duty. It was said by one hon. Member—I think the hon. Member for Grimsby (Sir G. Doughty), that the London police bore an excellent reputation, and everybody agreed they carried out their duties in a spirit that met with the approval of all classes of the community. Surely the very reason for that is that such duties as these have never been imposed upon them. We in Ireland have had experience of the police with those duties placed upon them, and of the police trying to act in a very different spirit from the London police, and we know the difference in the spirit with which those police are regarded by the community. I do not think it would be a wise day for London when you encourage your policemen to keep check, as the Continental police do, on the movements of any section of the population. It would be a new departure, and one of the cases in which England would be taking a lesson from foreign countries which she has in the past prided herself upon refusing to take. I think in this respect a very great change has come over the spirit, at all events, of some bodies of Englishmen. I heard the hon. Member for Grimsby say that what was good enough for other countries surely ought to be good enough for England. It was not by the application of reasoning like that England was induced to head the agitation to kill the Slave trade. It was not by reasoning 2162 in that sense the right of asylum was so generally established in this country that to-day there is no man to be found in the House of Commons who will raise his voice against it. This House would be taking a reactionary step in giving to the police any further right to interfere with foreign immigrants than they have at present. I deprecate altogether scare legislation. There is no mistake about it in this case. The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Goulding), in the first words of his speech made it plain this was all a backwash of Stepney. What, after all, is the sense of introducing legislation like this because two men with revolvers have kept a large body of police and the Home Secretary at bay for a considerable period. Are we to understand it is only foreigners who are dangerous with revolvers? Desperate Englishmen might conceivably take up a similar position. There is a case for further restriction on the possession of pistols, and I am strongly in favour of such a measure, but there is no case at all for restriction on the possession of arms by foreigners only. I feel this measure and the measure of the Home Secretary is a concession to the scare spirit in the country, and I rise to say that I at all events shall vote against this Bill.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
As the only Member for the Tower Hamlets—in which aliens mostly dwell—who has risen in this Debate, perhaps I may be allowed to say a few words in support of this Bill.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES dissented.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
Well, the only Member for Tower Hamlets who has caught the Speaker's eye. There has been a general discussion on the alien problem, and the first thing we have to do is to clear our minds of prejudice. I am not likely, as a descendant of aliens myself, to be prejudiced against them. I hold that this country has gained enormously from alien ability and alien enterprise. At the same time, those who have some care for the interests of those who have yet to come to these shores, would wish to clear the alien community from alien crime. The Debate this afternoon has been a curious one, and there has been nothing more curious than the speech of remarkable cleverness delivered by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth). It was what what is called on the other side a "stump oration," and it was a very good "stump oration," but when 2163 he came to deal with serious points his speech did not amount to very much. He gave us a quarter of an hour about ex-President Roosevelt, and yet he knows perfectly well that under the provision proposed by my hon. Friend in this Bill no class would be affected except that brought under the Alien Act of 1905. His argument was that you are going to interfere with the travelling public. He knows perfectly well the travelling public would not be interfered with in any way. He had the temerity to tell the House the British race had kept the door open to Adam's kin, when he knows in Canada they are increasing the money disqualification for the entrance of aliens, and that there is no country which has done so much to keep out aliens as the Australian Colonies, where the Labour party at present hold power. They do not do it directly, but they impose the language test, which is perfectly effective, and the most effective they could use. I will leave the hon. Gentleman. We hugely enjoyed his speech, because although there was not much real argument in it, there was a great deal of humour, and I will come to the speech of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). The hon. Member for Leicester made a serious contribution, as he always does, to our Debates, but he forgets that his arguments were really directed much more against the Government Bill than against the Bill of my hon. Friend. He said, "I object to the infringement of the liberty of the subject under this Bill, we know the thin line in blue—the policeman in uniform. We do not want the detective." But he knows very well that under the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the police will have occasion to interfere at every turn with the liberty of the subject.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
I am talking, of course, about aliens, and it is just the detective—the political detective, perhaps, who will be used for that purpose. After all, who are the detectives? If we respect the police we respect the detective branch—they are merely promoted policemen. It is the fact that the uniform makes no difference, it is the character of the men, and I venture to say that the character of the detective force in this country stands very high; therefore to make the observation which the hon. Gentleman did make was to inflict an unmerited reproach on a very worthy body of men.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
The reflection was not aimed at the home detectives. I am quite sure the hon. Gentleman will admit that the political detective force in London is practically exclusively composed of foreigners, and does not consist of home men at all.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
I have the advantage of knowing some of these men. I reckon some of them among my supporters, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman he is wrong; they are Englishmen, and have served in the police force. The hon. Gentleman says that to have a form of registration for aliens is an unmerited insult. Would he be surprised to learn that when the Territorial Force was set up, questions much more inquisitorial were asked of every young Englishman entering that force, questions in respect of commission of crime, than are set out in the schedule of this Bill. There is nothing disgraceful in it to my mind, and the police will hold their own register. The only difference is that under this Bill it would be a public and authoritative register, whereas under the Bill of the Home Secretary it would be a private and official register. I am not pressing that point. I submit it does not matter very much. We do not want too much colour, as journalists say, in this matter. The East End is not Alsatia. The great bulk of the aliens are a peace-loving, industrious people, and they are the first to wish to clear themselves of the implication of crime. But we have to recollect that this crime does exist. Mr. Connell, the judge of the London Sessions, stated to the Royal Commission that:—There are organised colonies of foreign crime.What he said then is just as true now, and it is surely in the interests of the population of the East End, for which, in a sense, I am speaking, that they should be cleared of this connection and cleared by means more effective than we at present possess. The only charge that can be established against the great bulk of the aliens is that their standard of life and sanitation, at first, at any rate, is to a certain degree below that of the population among whom they live. They do not have the same standard rate of wages, nor do they conform to the same normal hours of labour. That is the great charge against them. At the same time there is this alien colony of crime which it is necessary to deal with, and the existence of which it is idle to deny. It is idle to take refuge 2165 in the bare abstractions of general humanitarianism. The whirligig of time brings its revenge, and now we have the Home Secretary, who opposed the Bill of 1905, proposing much more drastic remedies on his own account. A reason why the Bill should receive a Second Reading is that the Act of 1905 requires amendment. I should like to quote a few words from the Inspector of the Home Office:—The shipping agents, finding that the provisions of the Aliens Act stood in the way of their business, have resorted to methods of evasion, and have ultimately succeeded from time to time in introducing into the United Kingdom a number of persons who would otherwise have been refused leave to land.Does the hon. Gentleman wish his law to be broken in this way by shipping agents? Does he not recognise the great merit of the Act of 1905? It did not largely affect industry, but it would be mere pretence to tell the House that it was sufficient in regard to dealing with crime, but it has raised the visible standard of crime, and it has prevented the wholesale importation of disease in this country. If it has done that by application to 15 per cent. of the population why should it not do the same with regard to the other 85 per cent.? What object have hon. Gentlemen opposite in the dissemination of disease; why do they want to protect disease? There are certain kinds of disease which have become common in this country only by reason of there having been brought here largely by the foreign population; who subsist under very insanitary conditions abroad, not due to their own fault, but to their lack of knowledge. It is just that class which has been excluded, which every country in the world wants to exclude, and which, I submit, it is necessary to amend the Bill of 1905 in order to deal with more effectively. Then there is no doubt also that the Act of 1905 has suffered very much from the inaction of judicial tribunals. That point has already been touched upon, but an inspector on this said:—It may be doubtful whether the influence of the expulsion clause is so potent as it can be made. The proportion borne by the recommendations for expulsion to the number of convicted alien prisoners, though rising during the last two years, is still very low, only 18.25 per cent in England and Wales.In that respect, I think the Home Secretary's Bill will be effective. May I say I think, in regard to the Clause as to bearing arms, both Bills seem to be wanting in substance, and I hope they will be amended upstairs. That is a good argument for sending both the Bills to a Grand Committee. I admit it would be a good thing if the same rule as to bearing 2166 pistols applied to the whole population, whether of foreign origin or not. I hope the general sense of the House will encourage the Home Secretary to deal with that problem as well. I will point out there is nothing to prevent an alien, so far as I know, from importing pistols into this country, though of course the police if they have a reasonable suspicion of their being in possession of such weapons, can insist on their having a permit. Would it not be possible to make pistols contraband? I put aside the farcical argument about ancient curios; I am speaking of modern firearms. I believe that would be possible, by making them contraband and causing them to be confiscated in the same way as other contraband goods to deal with this question effectively. I hope the Home Secretary will not be afraid of the powers of his own office, and that, quite apart from the provisions for obtaining sureties and recognizances from men whom the police suspect of consorting with criminals, he will ginger himself up, to use his own phrase, to the point of taking an administrative power of expulsion. I cannot see what risk there can be in it. He is responsible to this House, and if there is any question of abuse of the power he can be dealt with here. It is a power which was found most useful in Germany in 1896. When the Decree of Prussia was passed, words were used which made it possible to remove any undesirable elements from abroad immediately on their arrival and before they had permanently established themselves there. I cannot see-any objection to the Home Office doing this, subject to the jurisdiction of the House, especially as the Home Secretary is accountable to this House. I believe it would be perfectly possible for him to take powers which would be found most useful in operation without going through the cumbrous process contained in the Government Bill. I will not detain the House longer, but I will venture to point out that the last Aliens Act did not affect the problem on the industrial side, but it dealt with it on the criminal side. From the point of view of physical health it has-been useful, and it can be made much more useful if amended. I do not want to depart from the sound rule laid down by Blackstone on the tenderness shown by our laws, not only to foreigners in distress-but also to the admission of strangers, but self protection, after all, is the first law of every society, and if there are certain crimes which we may look upon as human hydrophobia, surely we may attempt to 2167 deal with them. I hope the Bills may go together to the Grand Committee, because, although fantastic endeavours have been made to throw ridicule upon the measure of my hon. Friend, it contains much which is feasible and practicable, it does amend the Act of 1905, which the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman does not, and therefore I think they may be made into a very good amalgam which may be most useful having regard to the social conditions under which we live.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
I desire to say only a few words upon this measure, and that from a totally different standpoint from that which has hitherto been adopted by speakers in this Debate. I am not ashamed to confess that I am and always have been by my faith and by my voice opposed to what is termed anti-alien legislation. I believe that it is entirely contrary to the best traditions of this country. I believe it entirely violates a principle which has been recognised by every Whig and every Liberal statesman in the past time, namely, that of international comity to afford in the freest possible spirit—a spirit which reminds one of the Athenian policy many, many centuries ago—to afford equal opportunity to the aliens on our shores as we afford to our own indigenous population. I can only say that if this anti-alien legislation was supported on the ground that there was exceptional and dangerous crime among the aliens of this country, and it was necessary to protect the body politic from foreign criminals, then it would be a different matter; but if I can satisfy hon. Members opposite that the converse of that proposition is true, I do not think I need trouble very much about the economic question. The Act of 1905 was undoubtedly founded upon an economic fallacy. It presupposes what has been abundantly demolished statistically and argumentatively that the introduction of foreigners into this country has tended to impair our industrial or commercial prosperity in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries more than it did in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries. On the contrary, the importation of foreigners into this country has brought new industries. I am speaking of quite recent and present times—which were formerly not pursued by Englishmen on our shores, but which are now pursued by foreigners and Englishmen here. That is quite enough to dispose of any economic 2168 argument in favour of this policy. I want to call attention of hon. Members opposite to what the true facts are. What this Bill ostensibly is, and what the bill of the Home Secretary is for is to protect us against foreign criminals. Let me in the first place assert this proposition, which I will prove, I hope, by figures, that there is no necessity for special legislation of this kind. What is the argument in favour. It is said that since the Aliens Act of 1905 crime among aliens has decreased in this country. I am not sure that the Home Secretary did not lend the sanction of his authority to that statement. It is entirely a misunderstanding of figures. I will take, and I think it is a fair period, from 1893 to 1902. We then found that the aliens convicted of crime in this country hovered about 1 per cent. of the total convicted for crime. In 1903 they went up entirely owing to economic causes to 2 per cent. until 1905, which happened to be the year coincident with the passage of the first Aliens Act. Then they decreased to the former figures, hovering about 1 per cent. At once the Home Office, through their ingenious officials, pounced upon the year 1903, showing the maximum of criminals, and then contrasted it with the year 1905, when they showed a minimum of criminals. If you take the statistics of native crime you find precisely the same phenomenon. It decreased from 1905 and increased from 1902 to 1905, and, as is pointed out by those who have made a study of criminology, the recrudescence of crime during that period, and the decrease for 1905 was entirely independent of the operation of the Aliens Act.
Let me approach the matter more closely still. What is the number of alien criminals in this country in comparison to alien population? I have been at some pains to ascertain what the percentage is. We have, unfortunately, no precise data of the alien population, but, taking a very narrow and guarded estimate, you find that the proportion of criminals to alien population is one to 250, while the proportion of criminals to native population is one to 200. Therefore, so far as aliens are concerned they are less criminal in proportion to their numbers than natives. What is the number of prisoners who are criminals? I take the prison statistics for 31st December, 1909. At that date the proportion of aliens in prison was 2 per cent. of the persons convicted, and their number—it is amazing to contemplate the scare about 2169 alien criminals—was 375 against 19,000. If you contrast that proportion with the proportion of aliens to natives resident in this country, the figures are immensely in favour of the alien as a law-abiding person in contradistinction to the native. Perhaps that is not enough. We have heard a great deal about these shocking murders which were committed in the East End and which have led to this panic legislation. It is suggested that aliens are a more dangerous section of the population than the English, and that they are guilty of crimes of violence. Again I call the attention of the House to the statistics which I have culled from Blue Books. Of the 375 alien prisoners, a large proportion of whom were deported, 215 were in for sentences of a few months' imprisonment, every one under a year. Of the whole number, only fifty-two were in prison for offences against persons—that is, for violence. The bulk of the offences committed by these fifty-two prisoners were common assaults, and only, I think, two were in for manslaughter. Therefore, so far as the gravity of the offences is concerned, the bulk of the offences committed by the aliens who were convicted were offences against property of the nature of petty larceny.
Let us see what has been done as regards expulsions. There were 370 expulsions in the year 1909. Of the 370 criminals who were expelled, 306 had been convicted of offences against property—small, trivial offences, for which these aliens had been sentenced to not more than imprisonment for three months. I have been obliged, having regard to time, to sketch these figures very rapidly, and I say that they afford no justification whatever for this panic legislation. In saying so, I refer equally to the Bill of the Home Secretary and to the Bill of the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Goulding). I object to the Bill of the Home Secretary because I hope that I inherit those true Liberal traditions which are repugnant to all legislation of this character. I object to the Bill of the hon. Member for Worcester, not on economic grounds, because I do not think that is a matter we should discuss to-day. The ostensible object of the Bill is to deal with alien criminals who are dangerous people, the refuse of foreign countries, who may come to our shores. I agree that hon. Gentlemen opposite have as much solicitude for the good of the country as we have on this side, but let me ask them: Do they think it right that a peaceable 2170 alien, who comes to this country—and this law would apply to him also—should be placed under police surveillance? That is provided by this Bill, and also by the Home Secretary's Bill. That is foreign to the traditions of English policy. Do they think it right that an alien should be liable to expulsion by the Secretary of State? That is a most retrograde step which has never been taken in this country. We have hitherto carefully guarded the right to expel aliens by the exercise of the jurisdiction of the law courts, but to allow the Secretary of State to issue his ukase is conforming our departmental administration of justice, and the affairs of this country to that which obtains in despotic countries like Russia. Do they think it is right that by their provision with regard to pistols—whether it is to apply generally I am not sure, but I object to it—they should imply that every alien is a prospective criminal? I believe that I shall act in consonance with the best traditions of the party opposite if I make my protest, ineffectual though it may be, against legislation which savours of the very worst days of old régimes, and which has been repudiated by every Englishman of reputation during the last 200 years.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Goulding) and those who followed hint speak with an absence of prejudice—particularly of anti-Semitic prejudice and of partly rancour. And I think, though differences of opinion have been expressed strongly in the Debate, there has on the whole been a very good spirit prevalent during the course of our discussion. The only comment I venture to make on the manner in which the hon. Member moved his Bill is, I think, that in his reference to certain crimes which have taken place in the East End he showed a tendency unduly to generalise from the particular. After all, those startling and picturesque incidents are not a very large or serious proportion of the evils with which we have to contend in this or other parts of our legislation. Upon the subject of this Bill I find myself in general agreement with, the views so ably and reasonably expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), though I do not think it necessary at the present juncture to express those opinions; with quite the same degree of controversial brilliance as that with which he was enabled to invest his observations.
2171 I am going to suggest to the House that they should allow this Bill to go to a Grand Committee. Of course the matter is one for the House. It is not a question on which the Government, on a private Member's Bill, would think of intervening by the official Whips, but though I am going to suggest that it would be a convenient thing to send the Bill to a Grand Committee there are certain parts of it which would clearly have to be deleted before the Government would consent to its passing finally out of the control of the House of Commons Take, first of all, the question of registration. The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher) spoke of that as the keynote of the Bill. I am afraid it is a keynote which will have to be suppressed if harmony is to be preserved in the Grand Committee. I am quite certain that the proposals in regard to registration are impracticable, and that if they were practicable they would not be worth the money and trouble that they would cost. The definition of an alien immigrant which figures in the Bill now before the House is not confined to the class which is now actually inspected, but applies to all passengers other than first-class passengers and trans-migrants. That is to say the clause would impose an obligation to fill up a long form on landing and to notify to the police all changes of address of tens of thousands of second-class passengers and many thousands of perfectly harmless bonâ fide tourists calling at the Channel Ports and impose the same disabilities on all the second and third - class alien passengers that come to us from the United States, Canada, and South Africa. The hon. Member for Fulham asked what was there derogatory to the dignity of the alien in having to fill up this form. It is not a question of what is derogatory, it is a question of the delay and confusion, the avoidable delay and confusion, at the moment of landing which would undoubtedly be created if every person outside the class of persons inspected under the Aliens Act were to be called upon to fill up a form in the manner suggested. Even if this trouble were taken, and the expense and labour incurred, the precaution would be absolutely futile from beginning to end. In the first place, any alien who chooses to take a first-class ticket would avoid the difficulty altogether, and the kind of aliens whom the promoters most wish to stop would be just the very class who 2172 would have the funds which would enable them to adopt this simple method of evading these provisions.
In the second place, once this enormous volume of information had been obtained it would be absolutely useless, or else it has to be followed up. If it has to be followed up by the police, a very great increase of police work and of police strength would be needed all over the country, and if any use whatever is to be made of the great mass of filled-up forms which would accumulate in the archives of the Home Office. If an alien was to be convicted it would not be at all an easy matter to prove whether he had or had not entered the country before or after the passing of the Act, or whether he had or had not been given the special form which the schedule of this Bill proposes to be given to him. You would have two classes of aliens in the country—one class under the obligation to keep in touch with the police, and the other class, who happened to come to the country only a few months before, wholly free from that obligation, and you would have no means of identification in any particular case except by setting on foot the police machinery—machinery which would be expensive beyond anything which has been contemplated even by those who are most anxious to see this legislation passed into law. I think the hon. Member for Leicester very effectively demolished the Registration Clause, and I am quite clear that if this Bill goes to a Committee it must be with the understanding that this Clause must be deleted altogether upstairs. I am willing to admit that there may be some case for registration of aliens resident in the areas of our ports. There are grounds which perhaps would make it desirable that we should have some knowledge of the resident alien population at our great dockyards and military harbours; and I know importance is attached to that by the military authorities, and I say nothing at the present time which is entirely opposed to such a provision. But I think the purpose which the hon. Member who introduced the Bill has in this first Clause would be much better met by the provision which figures in Clause 2 of the Government Bill, which, in certain circumstances, carefully safeguarded, empowers the Court to call upon the alien who is likely to get into crime, to find sureties to a reasonable amount for his continued good behaviour. I shall be very ready to argue that point in detail if we reach it in Committee.
2173 It is quite true, as the hon. Member for Fulham said, that when the 1904–5 Acts were passing through Parliament I opposed them, not only because I disliked the electioneering rancour by which they were characterised, but also because of the cheap attempt, for party purposes, to exploit the misfortunes of a poor and wretched class of people, and also because we always contended those Acts would be largely inoperative in dealing with the evils which it was sought to cope with. I am bound to admit that experience has shown that the Act has not been wholly inoperative. Directly it has not been effective, but indirect effects of the Act have been mentioned. For instance, I will mention a case to the House that they should bear in their minds. The great bulk of the emigration from Russia to the United States was conducted through two large emigrant shipping firms. In the United States the legislation against aliens is very strict, and so these large shipping firms as a regular method of doing their business picked out all the most presentable amongst the emigrants, and sent them to the United States, and then as a by-product they sent as a subordinate, though regular, part of their trade, all those who had been rejected from the United States, or those whom they thought would be rejected, to this country. I go as far as anybody in defence of the rights of asylum, but when we speak of asylum we do not mean the artificial coming in of a specially selected undesirable class, who, but for the modern development of communication, and but for the special trade and enterprise of steamship companies, would never have had it in their minds to come to our shores at all. That is not quite the same thing as the exodus from France of the Huge-nots was, or the refuge which this country gave to the French nobility, or to the victims of persecution in other countries of religious or political oppression. I think it shows that those problems do change as the scientific organisation of the world advances. It is not therefore true that the Act at present is inoperative, but now the hon. Gentleman demands in his Bill that every ship bringing in a single alien immigrant to this country should be an emigrant ship under the 1904 Bill. I am sure the hon. Gentleman has not been able, although I know he took a great deal of pains to prepare his subject, to give his attention fully to what that proposal would involve. It would involve our setting up at eighty ports, 2174 besides the fourteen emigration ports, all the machinery necessary for the working of the Act, emigration officers, immigration boards, medical inspectors, interpreters, and, in many cases, receiving houses. For what should we have to set up eighty ports. This vast paraphernalia and apparatus? We should have to set it up in order to deal with 2,700 aliens, which is the total number, who came in by the whole of those eighty non-immigration ports last year. Of those 2,700 the number of 926 were on their way to destinations outside the United Kingdom, 102 had return tickets, and 532 had single tickets. Therefore, there would be only 1,139 aliens coming in through those eighty ports to justify the setting up of all this elaborate and costly machinery, with its attendant inconvenience to all the other persons who travel to our shores. At twenty-nine of these ports less than five aliens a year are landed. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will see that his proposal to alter the number of aliens necessary to constitute a ship an immigrant ship in the manner proposed by the Bill would not really stand the practical examination which it would have to receive in Committee.
The hon. Member for Grimsby (Sir G. Doughty) asked whether the number could not be lowered. That would be possible. But we have power to do that now. We have power, which is extremely convenient, to declare any port an immigration port, or to lower the number of aliens necessary to constitute a ship an immigrant ship, whether in regard to any port or in regard to any particular line of steamers. That power is largely in abeyance. But it is a very useful and flexible power, and it is much more useful when it is flexible in that way for dealing with particular evils which sometimes arise than it would be if it were of rigid, uniform, and compulsory enforcement. My predecessor, Lord Gladstone, used that power in 1906 in regard to a special line of steamers, which was, as a regular practice, sending in a special consignment of German gipsies, who were causing a great deal of inconvenience. He lowered the number necessary to constitute a ship an immigrant ship. I myself recently, within the last few weeks, have lowered the number in regard to certain vessels which were bringing in a too persistent stream of Chinese. I think it very undesirable that a large Chinese population should grow up in this country—on every ground, moral, racial, social, industrial. We have 2175 had a Committee sitting at the Home Office to examine the question of receiving houses being set up for the Port of London. It is very important, if the Aliens Act is to be enforced, that there should be decent means of dealing with these people humanely and comfortably when they arrive. I have received many representations from the Jewish community as to the importance of receiving houses. When I was at the Board of Trade I introduced into the Port of London Act a provision which obliges the Port of London, if called upon, to set up a receiving house. I propose to ask them to fulfil that obligation under the Act. I think it very possible that they may say to me in return, "If we are to set up a receiving house, will you guarantee us the necessary custom, that is to say, the necessary proportion of the alien traffic, to make such a very humane and necessary establishment pay its way without undue cost to the Port of London." I should not be indisposed to consider the possibility to the proper receiving house being established of making some reduction in the number of aliens necessary to constitute an immigrant ship so far as the Port of London was concerned.
I have dealt with these two points in regard to which I think it is obvious the Bill could not usefully be passed into law. But there are other points in the Bill on which, so far as the Government are concerned, our differences with the promoters are not very great. Of course, I do not wish to commit the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) and the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) to any policy which they would think had in it any element of naughtiness. First of all, there is the question of the expulsion of aliens who have committed crimes. That was always contended by the Prime Minister to be a perfectly legitimate and proper feature in our criminal procedure. Although I agree with the object of the hon. Member, I am sure the House will feel that the method proposed in the Government Bill is in every way more desirable. It; secures the discretion of the courts at every point, and it does not thrust the duty unnecessarily upon the executive officer or upon the gentleman who may be at the Home Office. The Government Bill in one respect even goes beyond the proposal of the hon. Member. We propose to increase the penalties on persons who return to this country after they have been expelled. I think experience has shown that that is 2176 necessary and desirable. But I do not think we can possibly agree to the provision by which the hon. Member wishes to authorise the courts or the authorities to expel the alien merely because he is overcrowded, irrespective of the fact that he-may have been in this country twenty or thirty years. I think that would be very harsh measures to take against some person who had long been living here, and had a residence nowhere else, just because he is overcrowded through the landlords' fault, or the failure of the authorities to-put into operation the Public Health Acts, to expel him in his old age to a country which to all intents and purposes has become to him a foreign country.
Then with regard to pistols. There is no great difference between the Government Bill and the proposals of the hon. Gentleman. I have very carefully taken note of what has been said in this Debate as to the desirability of applying such regulations generally throughout the whole of the country. I have been very anxious to do-that. By the time this Bill gets to Committee, if that should be the pleasure of the House, the House will be, I hope, in possession of the terms of the Pistol Bill, and they will very likely find it possible, in view of its terms—which are now being negotiated and discussed with the representatives of the gun trade—we must consider the interests of that very important and respectable trade—they may find, either in Committee, or at any rate on Report, that the general terms of that measure are perhaps sufficient without this special and additional instrument in regard to aliens only. There is an interesting provision which figures in the hon. Member's Bill in regard to a fair rate of wages this is a provision excellent in principle, but my advisors at the Home Office—and my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, having consulted his advisors, confirm that opinion—are confident that it would be quite unworkable in practice. I am glad to know that that view has been confirmed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester. However desirable this principle, it would be found unworkable in practice. The hon. Member has shown a very easy and simple method by which it can be evaded. But there is a great deal more to be said for the prohibition of persons being brought in to break a strike. It happens that we sometimes see our own people sent out in shiploads to break a strike in some foreign port. I think that is 2177 very undesirable. If some of these people get killed it provokes ill-feeling between that country and ourselves in connection with an industrial quarrel from which the subjects of a foreign country had much better keep themselves quite clear. On behalf of the Home Office I may say that if such a provision were introduced into the Bill we could not guarantee in all circumstances that it could be worked. Because if the strike-breakers were imported in "twos and threes," in widely different ports and at different times, it is possible that a man might accumulate a considerable gang without it being possible to arrest them at the special ports of importation. I think we could stop effectively any deliberate attempt to bring in a large group of foreigners for the purpose of interfering with Britsh labour, and I am quite prepared, in spite of the fact that the House of Lords rejected a Bill upon that subject in the past four years—
§ Mr. J. WARD
On the motion of the chairman of the Tariff Reform League.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Although they rejected such a Bill four years ago, I am perfectly prepared to support provisions of this character being introduced into the Aliens Bill, and to see what fate that measure may have at the hands of the House of Lords. I have indicated, I think, such criticisms as cover a considerable portion, at any rate, of the measure of the hon. Member opposite. I do not think anything occurred in the course of his speech, nor do I find anything actually in the measure, which makes it necessary for us to reject it at this stage. After all, whatever we may think of the hon. Gentleman's measure, there are two things in connection with it we must like very much. We like his Friday, and we like its title. I do not know where we could get another Friday or another afternoon for the discussion of this subject. With regard to his title it is indeed preferable to the title of the Government Bill from one point of view because it would enable the Clause to which my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) attaches importance, to be ingrafted on the measure of the hon. Member opposite, whereas I do not think it would be in accordance with the title of the Government Bill. What I would recommend the House to do so far as they will accept my advice upon the subject is, that without committing themselves in any way to the provisions of the Bill, and associating 2178 themselves with the expressions of disapproval against registration and other Clauses, to allow the Bill to go to a Grand Committee, where it can be carefully examined and studied in contact, and in connection with, the Government Bill, and then we can see whether we cannot work out a scheme which will be considered reasonable by the great majority of both parties in the House. Hon. Members on both sides of the House can reserve their final judgment for the Report stage and for the Third Reading, when they will have the opportunity of seeing the Bill after it has been considered from all those different points, of view. In these circumstances I shall certainly not resist the Bill getting a Second Reading, and I hope the House, in order that the Committee may have all the matters before it, may not be indisposed to allow the Government Bill, lower down on the Order Paper, to accompany, and perhaps to overtake this measure from this House to Grand Committee.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The announcement which the Home Secretary has made on behalf of the Government is one which on the whole, I think we on this side should receive with gratitude and some measure of thanks. We are glad to hear from the Home Secretary what he has told us quite frankly that he has found salvation upon the question of alien legislation. He has frankly told us that the condemnation and criticisms which he and his colleagues and friends delivered against the Act of 1905 have disappeared. It is said that at that time we were animated by purely party motives, whilst that is not the case with the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends. I will not inquire too closely into the causes which have led to this conversion, I am quite satisfied that the Home Secretary is going to support this Bill, and he has announced, both in regard to administration and legislation, that he has taken steps, and is prepared to take other steps, which will be of the greatest possible advantage. The announcement the right hon. Gentleman made with regard to immigration ships and pistols are both of them satisfactory. He also criticised very severely the proposals of my hon. Friend in regard to registration. Of course the Home Office must know more than any private Member of the practical difficulties of working a system of this kind, but I do not think my hon. Friend has any need to regret having made his proposal because he has 2179 gone as far as it was possible for a private Member to go with the sources of information at his disposal. In a great many London constituencies there has been very considerable feeling on this question of alien immigration, and that feeling existed long before anything happened in Stepney.
I think my hon. Friend did well to make this proposal, because if the Government think, with their better means of information and wider knowledge, that it is unworkable and would involve further very complicated machinery which would be too costly, then the responsibility must rest with them. The Government can give their decision when we come to the Committee upstairs, and at all events my hon. Friend will have had the satisfaction of making a definite and practical proposal which has a great deal of support outside this House. If he fails it will not be because he has not done his best to put the measure in a complete form before the House of Commons. With regard to firearms, I heard the announcement of the right hon. Gentleman with great satisfaction. Hon. Members know the bitter controversy which raged around the Peace Preservation Act for Ireland. In the case of that Act I have always maintained that its weak point was its failure in regard to a general application to the circumstances. I think the Home Secretary will be well advised if he decides to make his limitations far more general.
§ Mr. STEPHEN GWYNN
I referred to concealed firearms.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
I am quite sure that if the Home Secretary makes this provision more general in its application, both as regards the character of the arms and the individual, he will find a large measure of support quite irrespective of party. I have never been able to understand why any individual who wishes to carry a weapon of that sort should be unwilling to obtain the necessary licence, and why he should not do it within certain restrictions. Those who want firearms for legitimate purposes do not care who knows they possess them, or what restrictions are placed upon them. I cannot conceive why this provision should not have a more general application. I heard the suggestion of the Home Secretary with unqualified satisfaction. The Home Secretary was good enough to say that in the presentation of the case by my hon. Friends on this side of the House there had been 2180 no appearance of party rancour. Let me say on behalf of all of those who are convinced of the present necessity for dealing with this subject that there is not the smallest intention of introducing into it any personal rancour or any feeling of bitterness towards foreigners who come here and pursue legitimate avocations and do their best to contribute to the prosperity of the country without interfering with our own people, nor is there the smallest intention of manifesting any hostility towards the race to which I have already referred. We have, however, felt the time has come, quite apart from the commission of any particular crime, when there must be a greater limitation on the immigration into our country of a particular class of foreigners, and when there must be a greater regard in the first instance for the rights and privileges of our own people. Those are the reasons which have led my hon. Friend to introduce this Bill. I always listen with interest to the speeches of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), although I may disagree with him, but I confess I did not derive as much satisfaction or pleasure from his speech this afternoon as I generally do. His speech seemed to me to be altogether inconclusive. He indicated some of the difficulties of dealing with this problem. Many of us are not so familiar as he is with the matter, and cannot speak with the same fulness and completeness of knowledge, but everybody knows there are serious difficulties, and that it is possible to do more harm than good by unwise legislation, but we say it is better to take up our attitude than the attitude adopted by the hon. Member for Leicester, and to try and remedy the evil even if you cannot secure a complete cure. It is better to make an effort in a wise direction than to make no effort at all. The conclusion of the hon. Member was most remarkable. He appeared to have a great dislike to the Bill and suggested that the title of the Bill should be sent to a Committee upstairs and the Clauses deleted. Powerful though he may be as chairman of the party below the Gangway, he cannot control what happens to Bills which go upstairs. We for our part are content with the attitude Home Secretary has taken up, and are content to trust the Bill to the goodwill and judgment of a Committee of this House.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
I think, perhaps, I ought to give a personal explanation and 2181 say the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Harry Lawson) and I had exchanged information, and we had both intended to speak if we could. I think it rather a pity the hon. Member should have said he was the only Member for Tower Hamlets who had risen to speak.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
I did not see the hon. Member.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
The hon. Member says he did not see me, but I have been in the House since twelve o'clock. I represent Stepney, the constituency in
§ which the whole of these circumstances have arisen, and I think it a pity that an important matter such as this should be dealt with without the representative of the constituency most affected having an opportunity of expressing his views.
§ Mr. GOULDING
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 118; Noes, 84.2183
|Division No. 191.]||AYES.||[5.0 p.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Gardner, Ernest||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Aitken, William Max.||Gibbs, George Abraham||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Grant, James Augustus||Muldoon, John|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Greene, Walter Raymond||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Gretton, John||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.|
|Barnston, Harry||Griffith, Ellis Jones||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Gulland, John William||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc., E.)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Beale, William Phipson||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Pease, Herbert pike (Darlington)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Benn, W. (T. Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Peel, Hon. William R. W. (Taunton)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Boscawen, Sackville T. Griffith-||Hills, John Waller||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Boyton, James||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Butcher, John George (York)||Hunt, Rowland||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Spear, John Ward|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||Sykes, Alan John|
|Cave, George||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)||Verney, Sir H.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Watt, Henry A.|
|Clyde, James Avon||Lewis, John Herbert||Webb, H.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)||Wolmer, viscount|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Wood, John Stalybridge|
|Dawes, James Arthur||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Worthinqton-Evans, L.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Ellbank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Maclean, Donald||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Younger, George|
|Fell, Arthur||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Linc, Spalding)|
|Fisher, William Heyes||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Fleming, Valentine||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Goulding and Sir G. Doughty.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Fitzgibbon, John||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)|
|Adamson, William||Gill, Alfred Henry||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Glanville, Harold James||Lansbury, George|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Hackett, John||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Lundon, Thomas|
|Barnes, George N.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Byles, William Pollard||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Harwood, George||McGhee, Richard|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Higham, John Sharp||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hodge, John||M'Callum, John M.|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hudson, Walter||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Crooks, William||Johnson, William||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)||Millar, James Duncan|
|Cullinan, John||Jowett, Frederick William||Morrell, Philip|
|Devlin, Joseph||Joyce, Michael||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Doris, William||Keating, Matthew||Nolan, Joseph|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Elverston, Harold||Kilbride, Denis||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|O'Dowd, John||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|O'Grady, James||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Wardle, G. J.|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Sheehy, David||Young, Samael (Cavan, East)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clisthero)|
|Radford, George Heynes||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Reddy, Michael||Snowden, Philip||Courtenay Warner and Mr. J. Ward.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."2184
§ The House divided: Ayes, 112; Noes, 87.2185
|Division No. 192.]||AYES.||[5.10 p.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry|
|Aitken, William Max||Frewen, Moreton||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Gardner, Ernest||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Ashley, W. W.||Gibbs, G. A.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Bagot, Lieut.-col. J.||Glanville, H. J.||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Barnston, H.||Grant, J. A.||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Greene, Walter Raymond||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Gretton, John||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Beale, W. P.||Griffith, Ellis J.||Pease, Rt Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Gulland, John William||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Birrell, Rt Hon. Augustine||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Boscawen, Sackville T. Griffith-||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Rowlands, James|
|Boyton, J.||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hills J. W.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Scott, Leslie, (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Butcher, J. G.||Hoare, S. J. G.||Spear, John Ward|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Sykes, Alan John|
|Cautley, H. S.||Hunt, Rowland||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Cave, George||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Illingworth, Percy H.||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Webb, H.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Willoughby Major Hon. Claude|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Crooks, William||Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Dawes, J. A.||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Mackinder, Halford J.||Younger, George|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Fell, Arthur||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs. Spalding)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Mr. Goulding and Sir G. Doughty.|
|Fisher, William Hayes||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Muldoon, John|
|Adamson, William||Higham, John Sharp||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hodge, John||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewelyn A.||Hudson, Walter||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Johnson, W.||Nolan, Joseph|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Jowett, F. W.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Joyce, Michael||O'Dowd, John|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Keating, M.||O'Grady, James|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kilbride, Denis||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Cotton, William Francis||King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lansbury, George||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Cullinan, John||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Radford, G. H.|
|Doris, William||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Reddy, M.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lundon, T.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Elverston, H.||Lynch, A. A.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Gill, A H.||McGhee, Richard||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Maclean, Donald||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Hackett, J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||M'Callum, John M.||Sheehy, David|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Millar, James Duncan||Snowden, Philip|
|Harwood, George||Morrell, Philip||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Thorne, William (West Ham)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Verney, Sir Harry||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Wardle, George J.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)||Mr. Byles and Mr. C. Roberts.|
Bill committed to a Standing Committee.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I beg to move "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the Whole House."
§ Question put, and negatived.