§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this Bill be now read a second time."
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
The Bill of which I am now moving the Second Reading is the same as was introduced last year, with one alteration only, and that is the omission of the provision for the maintenance of Members of Parliament. When the matter was last before the House there was some discussion as to why we did not include that provision in this Bill. It had already been announced by the Government that there would be a provision for the payment of Members, and for this reason we have omitted it, because it is not necessary. In all other respects the Bill is identical, and I am thus enabled to deal with it more briefly than otherwise I could have done. I assume, in the first instance—and I am entitled to assume, I think—that there is no party in this House, either the Opposition, certainly not on the Labour Benches, and not on the Ministerial side, who would take the view that the Osborne judgment in its entirety, as promulgated by the House of Lords, should be maintained. I agree that there is a considerable diversity of opinion as to the question and as to the remedy, but certainly I need not spend any time, in view of what happened on the Motion for the Second Reading on the last occasion, in justifying the 2976 statement which I have made, because I remember quite well—it will be within the recollection of the House—although it may be that one or perhaps, two out of the number did oppose the Second Reading of the Bill, in the first instance it was admitted by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool (Mr. F. E. Smith) that there was undoubtedly much to be said for a Bill, for legislation, to mitigate the severity of the Osborne Judgment, and the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for St. George's, Hanover-square (|Mr. A. Lyttelton), was explicit in his statement with regard to it. As the House will remember, the result of the Debate upon that occasion was upon the Division that there were 219 who voted for the Second Reading, and, following the lead given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover-square, the Opposition did not officially vote against it. In fact, I think I am justified in stating that only eighteen Members of the House of Commons were found to vote against the Second Reading. For that reason I do not propose to take up any time in explaining why it is thought necessary to introduce this measure.
It is quite plain that as a result of the decision of the House of Lords which was pronounced upon the interpretation of the Trade Union Acts, and a judgment with which I need scarcely say not only I do not attempt to criticise, but with which I do not presume to quarrel, that judgment pronounced by the highest judicial tribunal of the land, made it clear for the first time that a trade union could not devote its funds or could not make levies for political purposes. Up to that time undoubtedly the view had been held by the vast majority of lawyers in this country that trade unions could use their funds for political purposes, and there was even a decision in the Courts to that effect. In the end, when the matter went to the Supreme Tribunal, it was held they could not. The House of Lords further laid down this proposition as confining the activities of the trade union, and this is in substance the decision, that the sphere of activity and operations of trade unons must, accordng to the Trade Union Acts, which were their charter, be confined entirely to industrial purposes, and must not in the slightest degree overlap political purposes. That is the reason why this Judgment has become one which I think cannot be allowed to stand 2977 in its entirety, and which must be, to some extent, mitigated. May I make one further observation before I proceed to deal with the Bill, which I shall do with but little preface, and it is this: Of course hon. Members of this House will remember that the difficulty with the trade union arose from a minority in the trade unions who objected to the funds of the trade union being used for political purposes and for the advancement of a particular political party. I am not going to argue the question, which has been discussed so often, at any length, but I desire to say with regard to it that the view we take as a Government on this matter, after very serious consideration, is that we do not think that the trade unions ought to be confined merely to the sphere of industrial activity. We think that combinations of men, of working people, joined together for the purpose of ameliorating the conditions of labour are entitled, as a necessary consequence, to take some part in political life, and more particularly that in some senses it is necessary they should have Members of Parliament, and that they should be entitled to promote the candidature of Members and to pay election expenses, and to take generally a part in the political life of the country.
On the other hand, we recognise also that a man who is a member of a trade union, and who has joined it for industrial purposes, and has become a member in order that he may get the protection of his union, and in order that he may get the advantage of the position of his labour which his union may maintain for him, and in order that he may get the benefits which the union will pay to him, and get the advantage of strike pay in case a strike should be decreed, that that man is also entitled to the protection of the Government when he says this, that although he is a member of the union he objects to his money being used for the purpose of defraying the expenses of a Member of Parliament, or a candidate for Parliament, who advocates political opinions which are opposed to his own. It is obvious that that necessarily must have led, and has led, to some friction, and the consequence of that has be-en the action brought by Osborne, which culminated in this decision of the House of Lords. We think that the difficulty is one which can be very well met, provided certain conditions are fulfilled which we have incorporated in the Bill of which I am now 2978 moving the Second Heading. The substance of it, I think, I may state in a few sentences, and, indeed, it has been before the House since last year. We say in a trade union you must first of all define it as we do, and deal with its statutory objects, and by that we mean the objects which are included in the old Trade Union Acts, and which incorporate nothing new except some words at the end of the Clause introduced for the purpose of removing any doubt as to the right in a trade union to provide benefits for members. In that respect, as I apprehend, there will not be the slightest difference of opinion between this and the other side of the House. Further, we say the statutory objects will cover what I may call the sphere of industrial activity, which is entirely apart from the political. For example, I have in mind in making that statement the shortening of hours in a particular employment, the effort to increase wages in a particular employment for which the union naturally would do its best in the interest of its members. Those are very simple instances of statutory objects which are beyond all question, and I pass from them because there is no question about them.
Then, in the other extreme, you have what is called in the Bill political objects, and the political objects which we mean and which we state in the Bill, and which are set out in more detail in the Bill, substantially consist of candidature at elections; the use of the funds for payment of election expenses; for election meetings or for political meetings in furtherance of the candidature of a particular member; for the distribution of literature on political doctrines, and also for holding meetings for purposes which are not in the main merely industrial purposes. Those are what we call political objects, and we draw a distinction in the Bill between the statutory and the political objects, and in order that a trade union may be entitled to devote its funds to the political objects, it must comply with three conditions. The three conditions are set forth in Clause 3 of the Bill, which on the last occasion was much referred to, and which, no doubt, will be criticised again today. Those conditions are to this effect: That there must be rules passed by the trade union and approved by the Registrar of Friendly Societies incorporating first the three conditions to which I have referred. The first is that the funds shall only be used for political objects after there has been a resolution passed on a ballot taken of the 2979 members of the union, and in accordance with the provisions of this Bill, which are to the effect that the Registrar must see that every man has an equal opportunity of voting, and, as I have said already, he must be satisfied that the ballot is fair, and that the rules provided for it are, at any rate, such as give opportunity to every member of the union to record his vote, and that the resolution must be carried by a majority of those voting. The second condition is that any payments which are made in furtherance of those political objects are to be carried to a separate fund, and that this fund should not be mixed up with the ordinary fund of the trade unions; and, further, that any man who objects to pay should be entitled to claim exemption from the levy or from the obligation to contribute his quota to this political fund.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I think that is quite an unjustifiable interruption. If the hon. Member has any criticism to make with regard to this, surely he can make it in the discussion later on. There is no question of a man becoming a "blackleg." I am pointing out what he is entitled to under the Bill, and if the hon. Member will read the Bill he will see that we have taken care to provide that he shall be safe. Whether that satisfies the hon. Member or not, is another matter and is open to discussion; but we have at least taken care and every precaution to see, as far as we have been able, that he shall not only be enabled to claim exemption, but that effect shall be given to it when exemption is claimed. The third condition is one which deals with that precise point, and it provides that no member who has claimed exemption is to be under a disadvantage, nor is he to be excluded from any of the benefits of the trade union because of his refusal to contribute to the political fund. We think that in that Clause and with those conditions we have taken ample precaution to see that a member who does not wish to pay and who claims to be exempt, will be entitled to refuse to pay, and will at the same time not be excluded from the benefits of his union.
One further observation I wish to make upon the Bill, and that is that, although I called attention to the two extremes, that is, the statuory objects and the political objects, there is a wide intervening field for the activities of trade unions 2980 which covers what I think I am justified in calling a non-debatable area—that is to say, activities in which the trade union may be agitating for an eight hours' day. Nobody could say that is purely industrial; it partakes of the political, and undoubtedly there you have the political purpose overlapping the industrial purpose. In that sphere I quite agree, or at least I think, after having devoted a good deal of attention to it and I daresay some other hon. Members may have done the same—I found it quite impossible by any definition to draw the line between what is industrial and what is political. I am speaking not only of what I have done myself, but with the assistance of many who are well qualified to incorporate definitions in a Bill. We have all arrived at the same conclusion, and I am quite certain that it will be unanimous, that you cannot say that at a, particular point a thing ceases to be industrial and becomes political. You may say, and rightly, that there are some things which are merely industrial and never will be political, and equally that there are some things which always will be political and never are industrial; but there must be some intervening space, and that is untouched by the provisions of this Bill. I mean that the conditions, the three conditions which are incorporated in Clause 3, do not operate as regards this non-debatable area. They only affect the application of the funds of the union towards what are called and defined in the Bill as political objects to which we refer. Outside those, of course, the trade union may devote its funds according to the wishes of the majority. Therefore the result of our Bill, if carried in the shape in which it stands, would be this: that for the vast majority of the operations and activities of trade unions it is not necessary to put into operation those conditions, and that means it is not necessary to have a separate fund or to have this special ballot or to have the particular rule to which I called attention. The trade union will carry on as it has done hitherto, and in our view properly and legitimately, in accordance with the government of the majority. But when you come to the other field to which I have called attention, the field covered by the political objects, you must have these three conditions complied with before the trade union is entitled to spend its money or take contributions from its members.
There is one other provision which is no doubt important to trade unions and to 2981 which I would call attention. We have provided in the Bill that there should be no doubt as to what is a trade union—that is, so far as you can do so by legislation—and we have also provided for a tribunal to decide that point, in order to avoid the expense and delay, and very often the annoyance, of having to fight a matter of this kind in the public Courts. What we have said is: Here is the Registrar of Frendly Societies. He, and his predecessors, as the successors of other Registrars, have built up a very useful code of rules and practice to the satisfaction of trade unions and all those who come within the sphere of the operations of the Registrar of Friendly Societies. He, with the experience which he has derived, is the best authority to judge whether or not the objects of a union which seeks to be registered or to get a certificate from him is really a trade union. Our reason for providing that is that you might have associations formed which are not legitimate trade unions, which might seek to get the advantage of this Bill or of similar provisions. Therefore, we say that a union must have for its principal objects what we have defined as the statutory objects. But that is merely incorporating the old definition of the old Trade Union Acts. If any question arises in regard to that, the Registrar will decide. When he has decided and given his certificate, which he may give to unregistered as well as to registered unions—and an unregistered union forfeits nothing by applying for a certificate; it does not come in the slightest degree under the sway of the Registrar—both registered and unregistered trade unions, when they have once got the certificate of the Registrar of Friendly Societies, can produce it whenever they are challenged, and that is conclusive for all purposes that they are a trade union within the meaning of this Bill. If the Registrar chooses to grant a certificate, or if, having granted a certificate on an application, and on hearing the facts and circumstances he withdraws the certificate, as he is entitled to do under the Bill, an appeal is given from the Registrar to the High Court of Justice. In that case, as the union may be deprived of what in our view is a very valuable right, we give them the opportunity of going to the High Court of Justice.
That in substance deals with the provisions of the Bill. After a moment's examination of the criticisms which may be directed to the Bill, I will leave the matter to the House. One criticism 2982 which no doubt will be directed to the Bill on this occasion as on the last was foreshadowed by the interruption of the hon. Member opposite. It will be said that the safeguards provided in the Bill are illusory. [Several HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I quite anticipated that that would be so, and I am very anxious to deal with the point. I understand that hon. Members opposite are apprehensive that a member of a trade union who claims exemption will be what is called a marked man, and that in consequence he will either lose his employment or in some way or another be put at some disadvantage, and, it is suggested, might be expelled from the trade union. If he is expelled, there is a right of application to a Court of Justice. A Court of Law can deal with that question, and can restrain any union from expelling a man if there is no ground for it.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I am not so sure of that. I was not dealing with that point, but I am obliged to the Noble Lord for referring to it. I will come to it in a moment. I agree that it is a matter which has to be considered. But the safeguard is not illusory, for the reason that you have provided under the rules, which will be administered by the society, that a man is not to be placed at a disadvantage or to be deprived of his benefits. I know that it has been said and will be said again, "What is the use of that to a man who is a member of the trade union? The union may deprive him nevertheless." But is that quite a just observation? Is it well-founded? If hon. Members opposite are right in the view that they take, there is a very considerable minority of members of trade unions who object to pay towards these political objects. That has always been the argument. If that is the case, do they imagine for one moment that, with that provision in the rules to the satisfaction of the Registrar, a powerful minority or even a small minority would not be enabled, if the executive refused, to make its voice heard and to carry its way at a general meeting of the trade union? I am unable to take the view that the members of a trade union at a general meeting would be so unfair, so unjust, so arbitrary, as to say, "Not-withstanding that we have incorporated that provision into our rules, we refuse absolutely to give effect to it, and we are 2983 going to deprive a man of his benefits merely because he refuses to contribute towards the political objects."
I understand much better the argument that may be put forward that very considerable pressure will be brought to bear. It has been said that there would be intimidation and coercion. I prefer to take the view that there would be attempts at persuasion, perfectly reasonable, perfectly legitimate. [An HON. MEMBER: "Peaceful picketing."] The question of peaceful picketing does not come into it at all. What I am pointing out is that there may be persuasion, and surely it would be perfectly legitimate for the members of a trade union to attempt to persuade another to come in and join them. If you had not the force of our provisions, if you had not the conditions which we have incorporated in the Bill, I could understand much better its being said that we had taken no care to provide that a man should be protected effectively in the exercise of his liberty. But with those provisions and the further point to which the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin calls attention, I submit that there is ample protection. The Noble Lord said just now that there was no power to restrain a trade union from excluding a man from benefits. I agree with him if he says, and I have no doubt this is what was in his mind, that under the Trade Union Acts, which we must always bear in mind when dealing with trade unions, there are limitations on the actions which may be brought against a trade union or by a trade union. That has been so from their earliest incorporation. It is not necessary to go into the history of the matter. No doubt at one time it was thought to be some disadvantage. To-day it may be thought to be some advantage. But as the law stands, a trade union cannot be sued for the payment of benefits to its members, and equally a trade union cannot sue a member for refusing to pay his contributions to the union. But I am by no means prepared to say that there could not be an application for an injunction to restrain a union from excluding a member from benefits.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
From one point of view it would be enforcing an agreement. But I am not going into the legal discussion. I am anxious particularly that the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay 2984 Macdonald) should follow my view in regard to this. The restriction is not against bringing an action. The words are that a trade union shall not be entitled directly to enforce an agreement. The House of Lords has drawn a very great distinction between the words, the point being that the House of Lords felt that you might bring an action to restrain by injunction, because it was not directly enforcing an agreement. I agree that hitherto the law has been, and I think the law is, that no action can be brought against a trade union to obtain the payment of benefits to members, and there is nothing in this Bill which changes the law on this point. The law remains exactly as I have explained it. But when you have got this provision in the rules—and the provision is one which I think a trade union must necessarily carry out; I cannot conceive that a trade union would be absolutely regardless of it or that at a general meeting of its members a trade union would refuse to give effect to its own rules—
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
If no action can be taken against a trade union, how does the Attorney-General get rid of the point by saying that an action for an injunction can be brought?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I have had to look into the matter very closely, and the matter is really perfectly plain on the authority of the highest tribunal in the land. The House of Lords held that to bring an action against a trade union to restrain them from doing a thing was not the same thing as bringing an action against them for damages for not doing a thing. In one case, if you bring an action for damages, you are directly enforcing an agreement. In the other case, if you bring an action for an injunction, it is not directly enforcing an agreement. That is the whole point. The right hon. Gentleman may think that it is a very fine distinction. If I may say so, I thought so when I argued the point, because I argued to the contrary. But the House of Lords pronounced it to be the law, and now there, is no doubt about it. It is the law administered from the highest tribunal to the lowest. Therefore it was that I drew the distinction, and said that the Noble Lord 2985 was not quite right in his statement, or at any rate that there was no authority for the proposition which he put forward.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
It is the case of Howden. There is also the other case of Osborne v. The Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The object of the action was to restrain a union from paying strike pay. I agree that it did not decide that a member could bring an action to restrain a union from not paying him, we will say, the sick benefit to which he was entitled. That was agreed to; and I am sure the Noble Lord will agree with me that one ought to be a little careful in making a statement, though I agree with him that there is no case in the view of certain judges. In view of a recent decision I am not prepared to state that such an injunction would not be—
§ Mr. PETO
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I want to know from him whether it is not a fact that in the case of Mussell v. the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, decided by the House of Lords so late as 26th February we have not got a perfectly definite and conclusive decision that there is no possibility of a trade union member getting the benefits in the way indicated?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I have said that at least three times. I did not quote the authority, for it was, to my mind, an absolutely clear proposition. I was trying to draw the distinction. My reason for doing it was because I did not want the hon. Member for Leicester or his friends to be under any misapprehension. When I say that I am not changing the law by this Bill in this respect, I do not want it to be understood that I am laying down that no action can possibly be brought by a man in some way to restrain a trade union if it refuses to carry out these rules. I do not say that at all. It appears to me that by more recent decision it is a very difficult thing for any one to assert that 2986 the Courts and certainly that the House of Lords, might not in certain circumstances say they would grant an injunction. That is my only reason for referring to it, and because of what the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin said. I will deal with another, and what was certainly on the last occasion the chief objection raised. It was said that we made no proper provision for taking the ballot. I think that that criticism, when the matter is examined more carefully, will turn out to be wrong. It is plain from the Bill that the rules are to be subject to the approval of the Registrar of Friendly Societies. Clause 4, a special Clause, provides that before the Registrar of Friendly Societies approves he must be satisfied that every member has a legal right to vote, and that the secrecy of the ballot is properly secured. I do not know what other precautions anybody could have devised for this purpose.
The criticism which was built up upon that, and which I thought had some substance in it, and probably the criticism that the Noble Lord had in his mind just now, was properly directed to the suggestion that you might not get a sufficient number of men to take part in the ballot to make the vote really a true reflection of the opinion of the members of the union. That is an argument which was dwelt upon at considerable length by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division on the last occasion, and which was also argued out by various hon. Members. The only answer that I desire to make in regard to that is that you cannot, of course, insist that every man shall vote. What you can insist upon is that he shall have the proper opportunity to vote, and that the ballot shall be secret. If he does not choose to take the trouble to vote on a question which is thought to be of importance to his union, how on earth are you going to make him do it any more than you can make a man vote at a Parliamentary election? All we can do is what we have done in this Bill, and that is make it clear that there is the ballot and that it is secret, and to make it clear that a member of the trade union shall have the opportunity to vote. I think I have covered the whole ground of this Bill. My submission to the House is that when this Bill is carefully and seriously examined, when it has been looked into and its provisions analysed, the House will come to the conclusion that what we have done here is to give full 2987 effect to the legitimate aspirations of the trade unions in their desire to devote their funds to political objects, whilst at the same time we have taken the amplest care to protect the minority who decline to contribute to this fund, and therefore are entitled to that protection which the Government can give in these circumstances.
§ Sir ARTHUR MARKHAM
Before the right hon. Gentleman finishes his remarks, may I ask him whether the general, that is the accumulated funds, can be taken for political purposes, or is a fund to be accumulated for payments to be made from it?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The fund is to be a separate fund, and that separate fund consists only of the money that is raised from the levies for political purposes, and in pursuance of the resolution which has been arrived at through the ballot, and which has been approved by the Registrar of Friendly Societies.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
Look at Clause 3, Sub-section (1), paragraph (b)—
"Any payments in the furtherance of those objects are to be made out of a separate fund (in this Act referred to as the political fund of the union). All payments that are to be made out of the separate fund are not to be made out of the general fund. A levy 'may' be made."
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
You can make a separate levy because the man has to claim exemption from that levy. There need be no separate levy, and exemptions are provided for in Clause 6. The hon. Baronet wishes to know whether you are to have a separate fund, that is a political fund, apart from the general fund.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
Undoubtedly no. The money that has been obtained from the levies which are made in pursuance of this Bill for the political fund would have to go to a separate fund, as provided here, and no payment could be made for politi- 2988 cal objects except out of that fund. That is the intention of the Bill. I hope that answers my hon. Friend.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I am not quite clear. If the levy is an ad hoc one, then, of course, it is perfectly clear. When the general, the ordinary contributions to the trade union are made weekly, I presume that the learned Attorney-General's statement is that a portion of this weekly levy might, if the trade union assents by a majority to the levy, be taken for the purposes of the political fund?
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
May I give an illustration, and try to make the point clear? Supposing the payment to the trade union was made on a call of 5½d. per week, and a further call was made for a halfpenny per week, then I suppose a man would have to pay 6d., 5½d. of which would go to the industrial fund and a halfpenny to the political fund.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
Quite; provided, of course, that you have made provision that a person who may want to claim exemption from the second part may do so and pay the 5½d. instead of the 6d. Everyone who has not claimed exemption will pay the 6d. Everybody who has claimed exemption will only pay the 5½d. All that is collected for that halfpenny extra would go to the extra, the political fund.
§ Mr. CLAVELL SALTER
I beg to move, as an Amendment, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the question to add the words "upon this day three months."
I think that the speech to which we have just listened from the Attorney-General is really an eloquent statement of the position of the Government at the present time. He has given us, with his usual fairness and lucidity, an exposition of his Bill, but he has not attempted to justify it in any way. He has explained its provisions and its machinery, but I really think he ought, at any rate, to have attempted to show that this concession to the Labour party is not merely a convenience to the Government, but is in some way an advantage to the country.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
One moment; that there may be no misapprehension, let me say I thought I pointed out that I was not going to argue the merits of the Bill because of what had happened on the last 2989 occasion with this very Bill, when my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. Alfred Lyttelton), approved of the Second Reading of the Bill. The only question between us was as to whether the remedy which we were proposing was a right and a proper one; that is the whole position.
§ Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
Let us be quite clear. I said most distinctly when I voted against the Third Reading of the Bill last year, that unless provisions for safeguarding were made—
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
The Government have had twelve months to consider the question and have not made a single addition to the Bill. I shall most certainly vote against it.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CLAVELL SALTER
I venture to protest strongly against the discussion I of the Second Reading of any measure I in such circumstances as these. The Bill was brought forward fifteen months ago, and it shows, to my mind, some little lack of respect to this House, if this Bill can be justified upon its merits, that the Attorney-General sits down without attempting to do so. If this Bill could be justified on its merits, no one could justify it better than the Attorney-General. He has omitted to justify it upon its merits, but he has done a practical thing. This Bill is a price which has to be paid, and when a price is being paid the practical thing is to count out the money and to show that it is there. What the Attorney-General has done is to go through this Bill and make it clear to the payees that here is the stipulated and agreed price. I will endeavour to deal with this matter as shortly as I can, and may I, without offence, venture to say that this is a matter on the broad lines of which great interest is felt by people outside. I hope that the lawyers who may take part in this Debate will avoid any technicalities so far as they can. I approach this Bill from the point of view which I expect is shared in all parts of this House. I approach it from the point of view that the direct representation of labour in this House is a necessary and a desirable thing. I protest altogether against the notion that the only representation of labour in this House or the principal representation of labour in this House is upon the benches opposite. Events appear to me to demonstrate that the 2990 average working man of this country, inside and outside the trade unions, desires to be represented here either by a Liberal or a Conservative Member. But the presence of the Labour party here shows that there are a large number of important industrial constituencies which do prefer to be represented by labour in this House, and although I think myself that the representation of labour here is attended by serious disadvantages, I will not take up time discussing that matter; I would much sooner have Labour Members here even with, those disadvantages than not have them here at all. I feel very much indeed that in these days there is a segregation of classes and interests in this country; that classes are living apart and drifting apart in a way that used not to be, and it is a most urgent matter that these great and growing forces of labour should have every kind of outlet and ventilation for their grievances and for the bettering of their condition.
I start, as I expect we all start, from that position, and starting from that position I oppose this Bill, because while I think it is in no way necessary for the maintenance of labour representation here, I think this Bill would introduce grave danger into our representative system and would interfere with and take away elementary rights of freedom of thought and action. The Attorney-General certainly has not suggested, and I do not think anyone in the course of this Debate will suggest, that this Bill is necessary for the maintenance of labour, representation in this House. To my mind the point need not be laboured. I do not think that any Labour Member, at any rate, would get up and say that unless they can get a forced levy, and that if they have to depend only on voluntary levy they cannot maintain their position in this House. Obviously that would not be time. The presence of the Labour, party in this House demonstrates that they are here and can remain here in great force and vigour upon a voluntary basis. It. was in 1908 that the Osborne Judgment was pronounced in the Court of Appeal. No one suggests that the Labour party have either evaded or broken the law since, and therefore, if they are here, I think we must assume they are here upon the basis of voluntary contribution and voluntary association during these four years and at no time have they been more fully represented 2991 or more influential both inside and outside this House. The reason why this Bill is demanded is because the Socialist leaders, although they obviously have control of considerable resources under the present system, yet would like to have more. They would like to have a full levy. They know they will never get a full levy except under compulsion, and they know if this Bill is passed whatever is the form they will be able to have that compulsion. We know what their position is. We know what their Bill was. Roughly speaking, they are in favour of the powers of the Bill, but opposed to the restrictions. They were instructed by the Trade Union Congress to oppose this Bill unless it was brought into accord with their desires. We shall see in a moment what their position is. I expect they will accept this Bill under protest. If they do that it will be because they know very well that the safeguards against which they have been instructed to rebel are illusory and unreal in practice.
Whatever else this Bill does it is going to take very large sums of money from pockets not too full of money, and that money is going to labour representation. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Kein Hardie) has told us what that representation is. He says it is a means to an end, and that end is not trade unionism but Socialism. The money, therefore, to be taken from the pockets of the average trade unionists is going to be applied for Socialistic purposes; of that there can be no doubt. I want to discuss this matter step by step. Assuming, as I hope in a moment to show, that this Bill involves a compulsory levy, then the question arises of necessity what are the polities of those men whose money you are going to take for Socialism? If they are Socialists then this is a Bill which no Liberal would support, because no Liberal would admit that Socialists ought to be compelled to subscribe to Socialism, any more than Liberals to the Liberal Association. If these men are Socialists then this Bill is bad, but if these men are not Socialists what are any of the Liberals who still attend debates in this House going to say to a proposal which will be found to be this, that its object is to take from the pockets of men who are not Socialists money which is to go to Socialist purposes. What are the average political views of the average trade unionist? It is a very difficult question, no doubt, but I think of late years the facts, which enable one to judge pretty 2992 well, roughly show what the average trade unionist is in ordinary politics. The Attorney-General referred to results of political ballots in the last three years inside the trade unions. They are very striking. The stonemasons took a ballot in 1911. Out of 15,000 members I think less than 1,500 voted. The engineers had a ballot on a political question, and out of 107,000 odd members more than 100,000 stood outside the ballot altogether. The shipwrights took a political ballot, and 3,000 voted out of 21,000 or 22,000. The boilermakers had a political ballot, and 5,000 out of 50,000 voted. Everyone knows the list could be extended indefinitely. It shows the same thing and that the inference to be drawn is this, that these domestic political ballots in the trade unions, which, be it remembered, are not secret—a man gives his name and address—resolve themselves into a vote between a minute minority of Socialists and even a minuter minority of anti-Socialists, and that the body of the trade unionists stand outside the contest altogether. That is in effect what happens.
How is this very striking fact to be explained? Is it that the men are apathetic and do not take the trouble to vote? It would be a very unfair view to take of the political capacity of British labour to say that they were men of that character, and that you might take their money for Socialism or Toryism or Liberalism or what you like. But that is not so. You get an indication of the political views of the ordnary trade unionists whenever you get a Parliamentary election in an industrial constituency in which the three parties are represented. Take the last two instances—the elections at Hanley and the Crewe Division. What do they show? It seems to me they prove to demonstration that when the average working man, the average trade unionist, is called upon for his vote at the proper time in a secret ballot he is not found to be a man of no political opinions at all, but is like any ordinary man. He comes to the poll and gives his vote, and by great masses and majorities these men vote down the Socialist candidate, and the working man is seen to be just an ordinary Conservative or an ordinary Liberal. I claim, if the House is good enough to have followed me, to have established these two points. You are going to take the money of men who are convinced Liberals or Conservatives, and you are going to apply that money beyond a doubt to Socialistic purposes. Now, that is a thing which re- 2993 quires justification, and it rests very heavily upon the Government, if that is so, to show that the minority are going to be protected. What is the present position? The Attorney-General has not troubled us with the present position of the law. It rests with him to show that it is wrong before he proposes a vital change.
What is the present position of trade unions in regard to taking part in party politics? They are on an exact equality with all their fellow subjects. The individual trade unionist can spend what money he pleases in any voluntary association that believes like himself. He can take any part he pleases in party politics, like any other individual, and the trade union is in exactly the same position as any other corporate or quasi-corporate body in this country. As I understand it, a corporate body has its objects; trade unions have their objects by Statute and they can no more than any other corporate body go outside these objects, and almost all that the Court did in the Osborne Judgment was to look at the objects of trade unions and to say these objects do not permit trade unions any more than any other corporate body to employ its corporate funds and organisation in interfering in party polities. That is the present position. There is no disability and no privilege, and trade unions are in this respect upon an exact equality with their fellow subjects. The Attorney-General has spoken of the difficulty of distinguishing between political and industrial matters. I should like to ask the House to look at this Bill carefully, because it is discussed outside almost entirely from the point of view of the insufficiency of these safeguards, and there are matters in this Bill outside those safeguards altogether. I do not think the far-reaching effect of this Bill is realised in the least. It gives power to trade unions and imposes certain restrictions upon the exercise of those powers. Those powers are enormous and the restrictions imposed are very slight. The Bill is most artfully drawn to convey the impression that there is a fair balance of power given on the one side and fair restrictions on the other, but really there is no such balance at all.
Before I discuss the question whether these restrictions are real or not, I wish to point out how great are the areas of activity of the trade unions to which these restrictions do not purport to apply at all. This Bill opens to trade unions any political object and any non-political object 2994 and any lawful object whatever, subject to the one condition that the industrial object must predominate. I do not pretend to go into detail in this part of the matter, but so far as I can see it would be open to trade unions without any restrictions at all to embark upon commercial or industrial enterprises. For example, it will be open to trade unions to run newspapers. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] May I make two observations about that branch of non-political enterprise? There will be no separate fund and no member of the union will be able to secure exemption in regard to the cost of these vast new enterprises. In such objects as running newspapers and other enterprises they are not subject to the ordinary law of the land. Consequently they are in an anomalous and extraordinary, and, in my judgment, a most dangerous position. Supposing a trade union runs a newspaper; it can attack its trade rivals with libel or its political opponents, and the injured persons have no redress in any Civil Court. Not only are they prevented from getting compensation, but the Court has no power to make an order on the admitted wrongdoer that he shall not continue his wrongdoing. I invite the attention of the House of Commons to the vast field which is open to trade unions here in the non-political sphere to which these restrictions do not apply at all.
Let me come to the political object. I wish to point out that the political objects to which these restrictions apply are only certain narrow political objects, and they only apply to the political objects defined in Clause 3 of the Bill. If hon. Members will look at the third or fourth line of the third Clause they will see a little modest parenthesis. If this Bill ever becomes law a good deal will be found to be contained in that parenthesis. The restrictions are to apply to the political objects specified in Clause 3, "without prejudice to the furtherance of any other political objects." All other political objects are free from these restrictions. Now let me come to the actual political objects to which these restrictions apply. I will take what everybody will agree is a most important form of political activity, that is, the propaganda which goes on at ordinary times. What does this Bill say about that? It says that the restrictions shall apply to the expenditure of trade union funds:—On the holding of political meetings of any kind or on the distribution of 2995 political literature or political documents of any kind unless the main purpose of the meetings or the distribution of the literature or documents is the furtherance of statutory objects within the meaning of this Act.A short time ago in my own Constituency in Aldershot the local gas company started a profit-sharing scheme, and I believe it was a great success. The Socialists circulated quantities of leaflets, one of which I saw, imploring the working people of Aldershot not to touch this scheme on the grounds that the interests of capital and labour must be in eternal hostility, and they urged the people to support the Socialist party and to adopt the Socialist programme. I will take that leaflet as an illustration. [An HON. MEMBER: "Was it a trade union leaflet?"] I do not think it was a trade union leaflet, but I do not see that that matters in the least. I am simply taking as an illustration what; seems to me to be an extremely important matter. I take that leaflet and I ask whether the whole political activity which that leaflet represents does, or does not, come under the restrictions of this Bill. What was that leaflet! No fair-minded man would deny that it was a political leaflet. Would any fair-minded man deny that the main purpose of that leaflet was to improve the industrial condition of the workers as against the employers, to benefit their position, and to regulate and alter the relations between employers and employed for the benefit of the employed. The main purpose was undoubtedly the industrial benefit of the worker. If that is so, then that leaflet is undoubtedly illegal now because it is political, but it becomes legal under this Bill because its main purpose is industrial, and it is exempt from these restrictions altogether.
I submit to this House that if this Bill passes it will be free to trade unions at once outside these restrictions altogether, and with no power to any man to dissociate himself from it, to spend the ordinary funds of the trade unions on ordinary every day political propaganda. With regard to the ballot I would like to say a few things generally. The way this Government deal with the vital, delicate, and all-important question of the secrecy of the ballot is very characteristic of them. Do they take this question in hand and deal with it themselves? Do they insert in their Bill careful provision how it shall 2996 be done? No, Sir; they leave it to the ipse dixit of an official, and he has to decide whether or not trade union rules, sufficiently secure the secrecy of the ballot. I will now come to a matter with which the Bill is very careful to deal. It is provided that the result of this all-important ballot shall be determined by a bare majority of those who take part in the ballot. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] The entire constitution of trade unions is to be revolutionised by a bare majority of the members voting. If there is in any I given trade union a real majority who really desire political action, surely those men would be willing to go to the effort of writing their names or making their cross on a piece of paper. If there is not in a given trade union a majority willing to take that trouble to get political action, then there is no real majority desiring it. The reason why this outrageous provision is inserted is because those who demand this Bill are perfectly well aware that if you wait until you can get a real majority in a trade union to signify their desire for Socialistic action, you will have to wait till Domesday.
It is said that the minority are to be protected by a separate fund. We have heard some discussion about this matter. As I read this Bill there must be a separate political fund, but there need not be a separate levy for that purpose. The officials of the union can make an ordinary collection for the general purposes of the union, and having got that money into their coffers, and provided it has been, authorised by a trade union ballot, they can take what they please out of that general fund and put it into a separate fund, which is a political fund, and political payments must be made out of that fund. What is to be done in that case? The Bill provides that dissenting workmen are to have some abatement made. That is all the Bill provides. The officials are to decide how much abatement is to be made, and, without taking much risk, I can anticipate that it will not be on an unduly lavish scale. Could anything be more invidious than the position in which the dissenting workmen would be placed. The hat goes round for the general purposes of the union, and this man puts in nothing, and why? Because he is a dissenting workman, and although the collection is for the general purposes of the union on which he will make his call, he puts in nothing, and he is exempted. Nothing could be more invidious 2997 than the position in which the dissenting workman is put by the machinery of this Bill. The dissenting workman has to give notice in writing that he is unwilling to contribute, and hon. Members will see what that means.
Fairness and logic are inverted at every step in the machinery of this Bill. The fair course obviously would have been if you are going to embark on a Socialist propaganda to make your collection from those men who have signified their willingness to contribute. Am I not right in saying that this Bill enacts in practice that on and after its passing into law every trade unionist in this country will have to subscribe to Socialism unless he gives written notice to the contrary. I will suppose a Tory landlord puts up a notice to his tenants to the following effect: "Every tenant of mine must subscribe to the local Conservative association." [An HON. MEMBER: "They have to," and "Where does the landlord get his money?"] I will ask hon. Members who follow me to show in what respect the two things are different. I am putting the case of the landlord who provides that every tenant of his must subscribe to the local Conservative Association and says of any man who wishes to be exempt, "Let him send to me his name and address and then we shall all know where we are." What is the difference? In each case the upholder of the system can say the man has only to sign a notice. The two cases are similar. If a Tory landlord so acted, what would be the language of hon. Members on the benches opposite? The imagination reels at the mere thought of it. Then we come to the last protection on which the Attorney-General laid so much stress: this pious provision against disability. The minority will need something more than that. They will need a real protection The report of the Trade Union Federation's Congress of 1911 says:—The concession of the right to claim exemption will breed more bitterness in six weeks than the old political levy has made in a year.I quite agree there will be plenty of bitterness. What will be the result when a man is hustled and abused in the shops? What redress will he have if he is boycotted and his mates refuse to work with him, so that he is hounded from shop to shop? [HON. MEMBERS: "Belfast."] I think hon. Members will see I am endeavouring to deal reasonably from my point of view with this Bill. I am not dealing either with the docks or with Bel- 2998 fast. I am dealing with the state of things which will exist, and I am asking the House to face them fairly. We have seen what happens when there is bitterness in trade unions, but I venture to say the treatment they have extended to the outside "scab" will be nothing to the treatment they will extend to the inside "scab," whom they consider altogether a traitor to their order. We shall have men wandering from shop to shop until in despair they return on terms of absolute submission. If that is the manner in which a man is treated, what legal redress will he have? Can the Courts help him? Can they give him any redress? I am not dealing with expulsion, because it is plain enough, if a man is expelled, a Court cart restore him to mere membership, but not to benefit. If he is deprived of his benefit for his contumacy, I venture to say the Courts have no power to restore him to his benefit. That is my view, and I think on consideration the House will find it to be well founded. There is a case we all know very well decided under the Trade Union Act of 1876, which provides that in a certain event a trade union shall pay to the nominee of the deceased member a certain sum of money. The event happened, and the nominee sued the trade union. The Court held it was unable to give him judgment for the benefit, because of the inflexible rule that you cannot recover benefit by action in Court. It was said the benefit was due under the words of the Statute, which are imperative, but the Court said notwithstanding that they could not give judgment for the benefit.
I venture to say if a man is deprived of his benefit and goes into Court asking for it, the Court will say, in that case as they said in the other, "We cannot give you your benefit." The man may say, "The Trade Disputes (No. 2) Act says I am not to be deprived of it," but the Court will say, "That section does not say what is to follow, and it does not alter the established rule that we cannot give you judgment for your benefit." I venture to say these safeguards are seen on examination to be wholly illusory. The ballot is a fraud and the separate fund is a form, and, if a man is foolish enough to avail himself of the dissenting notice, the arm of the law is not long enough to save him from the consequences of his action. The minority will have only two alternatives under this Bill. They must either secede or submit. If they go out you get rupture in the trade unions, and, if they stay in 2999 and submit for fear of what will happen to them if they do not, which I myself anticipate is what they will do, what is that but tyranny on the one hand and slavery on the other? If this Bill passes this will be the beginning in this country of that which is common enough in some other countries, the intervention of corporations as such, with their great funds and power, in party politics. If you let in trade unions of men, by the same Bill you let in trade unions of masters; and if you give it to the trade unions, how can you refuse it to the other corporate bodies? A railway company is far more affected by the daily course of legislation than a trade union, and has far more excuse for taking part in party politics. Railway companies are not allowed openly and as a right to employ their corporate funds and to interfere with party politics. [HON. MEMBERS: "They do it the other way."] Hon. Members are thinking, perhaps, as I am, of an evening a year or two ago, when some lynx-eyed Liberal discovered that a railway company had subscribed out of its corporate funds, I think it was as much as £10, to a Conservative association, and we remember how that instance of Tory depravity was withdrawn with abject apologies amid the upturned hands of horror of Liberals.
If this Bill passes, corporations must be allowed into our party politics. I say we want no Tammany in this country, and this Bill would be the beginning of demoralisation in our public affairs. The conclusion which I have reached in considering this matter is very far from supporting this Bill. The conclusion I have reached is that it is urgently necessary trade unions should receive their full rights and undertake their full obligations, and should in both directions be brought under the full operation of the law. There will be no abiding peace and no industrial security so long as these great and powerful bodies are outside the law; half above and half below it as they are at the present time. I decline, for my part, to discuss this Bill with any benevolent idea that it is going to be transformed in Committee. It will not be transformed in Committee. It is a price, and, if it were transformed, it would cease to be a price and would lose the object of its existence. We must deal with it as we find it, and in my view, in resisting this Bill we are not fighting against the trade unions; we are fighting against the Socialist minority, who have captured and 3000 who boss the trade unions, fighting, in my humble judgment, for the great majority of the members of trade unions. I shall vote against this Bill on the double ground that I think it would degrade our public life and that I am profoundly convinced it would hand over great masses of the best of our people without redress and without appeal to a legalised political servitude.
§ Mr. PETO
I beg to second the Motion which stands in the name of the hon. Member for North Hants and also in my name. A few moments ago I felt I had undertaken a responsibility considerably heavier than I do now. I am really in doubt if it is worth while to put forward any elaborate case in opposition to this Bill after the hon. Member has so clearly pointed out to the House the elaborate sham these various Clauses are in purporting to give safeguards to the minority and to distinguish what the Attorney-General said was indistinguishable, the future of political and industrial activities of trade unions. The hon. Member has shown that the whole of this is unnecessary, and it is a work of supererogation. There is a perfectly obvious and easy method open to any member of a trade union to entirely avoid all these meshes in which the Bill might be supposed to be going to entangle him. I think the explanation of the hon. Member of what took place at Aldershot the other day, taken in conjunction with the statement of the Attorney-General that in his opinion and in the opinion of people learned in the law it was absolutely impossible to distinguish between these two departments of human activity; make one fully realise that the whole of this Bill from beginning to end is nothing more than an absolute sham, and should really never have been brought before the House.
I would like to say one word with regard to the interruption of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. Alfred Lyttelton). From the time the Bill was introduced I have opposed it, and put down Amendments to it, and I believe I opposed it in the Division Lobby last year. I do not make any special claim to consistency at all, but I was in a position of greater freedom and of vaster less responsibility than the right hon. Gentleman. After all, what is the distinction? The right hon. Gentleman said a whole year had elapsed, and the Attorney-General took pride in saying this was precisely the same Bill with one minute modifica- 3001 tion that had been made in view of the fact that payment of Members had since become law. After all, it is simply a question of distinction as to at what point it is right to oppose the Second Reading of the Bill. It is simply a question whether the Bill is capable of Amendment. I would like to say one or two words with regard to the speech of the right hon. and learned Member before I say what I have to say in opposition to the Bill.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that a trade union was an association of men formed to ameliorate the conditions of labour, and that they must be allowed to take political action and be represented by Members of Parliament. I was surprised to hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman say that trade unions, as trade unions, should be represented by Members of Parliament. There is no constituency called the trade union constituency, and what is to become of the representation of constituencies if we are to say it is the right of any organisation to be represented as an organisation. I am not opposed to trade unions, but I would like to ask would it not be the case that, if this principle were carried out, every time a trade union was represented some constituency would be entirely disenfranchised. The right hon. and learned Gentleman also said there is a sphere of industrial activity entirely apart from political objects, and, later on, he pointed out that it was perfectly impossible to distinguish between the two spheres of activity. In the Bill it is laid down that every Member is to have an equal right of voting. I think that that Clause of the Bill is about the biggest sham of any part of it, for, although it says that every member has an equal right of voting, it takes no steps whatever to see that any member has any reasonable opportunity of voting whatever. There is nothing whatever to insure that more than a minority of, say, one-tenth, or even less, of the members of the trade union will vote at all. The Attorney-General asked how can we compel people to vote in such a matter any more than in a Parliamentary election. But we know perfectly well that from 85 per cent, to 95 per cent, of the electors habitually vote in elections if they have an opportunity of exercising their franchise secretly under the rules of the ballot; and in contradistinction to that, we know that, under the existing system of balloting in trade unions, frequently less than one-tenth of the members vote. There is not the slightest 3002 attempt in this Bill to require that there shall be any majority at all or any real expression of the opinion of the trade union as a body before political action becomes legalised as part of the activity of that trade union.
The Attorney-General said further that no member could be deprived, or would be deprived of benefits merely because he does not contribute. I venture to say that that shows either a singular lack of knowledge of what goes on not only in trade union circles—I am casting no stone exclusively at trade unions—but in any circle where associations are bound together, and where feeling runs high on any subject such as this. Is it not perfectly conceivable that there would be other opportunities found and reasons made for the expulsion of a member than that he had not contributed to the political fund? The right hon. and learned Gentleman said one thing at the conclusion of his speech which surprised me more than anything else. He was speaking on the question of intimidation, and he said it was perfectly legitimate on the part of members of trade unions to attempt to persuade members to join in this political activity. I ask the Attorney-General to just take the case of an ordinary club—a closely analogous case—a club formed for social purposes. Supposing a small minority, including a few members of the committee who take an active part in the management of the club, decide that they want to turn it into a political organisation. Would he say in that case it was perfectly legitimate for those few members of the club to take steps to try and persuade the rest of the members of the club to entirely alter the whole basis of the constitution of the club and the reason for which is existed? There is nothing to change the law as to directly enforcing or recovering damages. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member who last spoke was referring to me when he said he had no doubt that laymen would deal very fully with the-legal aspects of the case. I am only seeking information as one who has been in business for a long while, and who would like to know exactly where he stands in this matter. I have always held that any man who employs a lawyer and did not take the trouble to find out the merits of his own case had a perfect right to expect he would not meet with success unless he tried to master his case. To the same extent, therefore, I say that all Members of this House have a right to 3003 look into this question, although it is somewhat intricate. The Attorney-General says there is no question whatever now of any member of a trade union having any right of directly enforcing benefits. Yet I noticed last year one hon. Member of the House put a question on this subject to the present First Lord of the Admiralty, then the Home Secretary, and received a reply which appeared to us to have very little, if any, bearing on the case at all. The answer I refer to was to this effect:—Under the Bill a member of a trade union who is expelled from his union in breach of Chaise 3 would, I am advised have a right of action in the Courts of Law to restrain the trade union from expelling him. That is the law as laid down in the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Osborne v. The Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants and in a former decision of the House of Lords (Yorkshire Miners v. Howden).I venture to take these two cases, the first one bears certainly on the question of expulsion, and I should like to read for the information of the learned Attorney-General, although no doubt he is familiar with it, an extract from the judgment of Lord Justice Fletcher Moulton as follows:Let us assume that the relief is granted and that the plaintiff is declared a member of the trade union. Will the effect of that be to enforce an agreement for the application of the funds of the trade union to provide benefits for him? The only possible answer to this question is, 'Certainly not.' By the Statute that is the very thing which his membership does not entitle a man to do, and therefore declaring him a member simpliciler not only does not directly enforce the application of funds for his benefit but does not even help him in any future proceeding to enforce any such agreement. It seems to me to be a logical contradiction to say that to put a man in a position where he cannot enforce a particular agreement is enforcing it.I do not understand how such a case as that can possibly be quoted. It is quite true in that case Mr. Osborne proved that he had the right to restrain the union from expelling him, and he has done that, but how much further forward was he? He had the right to vote, but he had no right to claim any benefit. He had the same shadowy right as before, say in the case of the trade union being wound up or ceasing to exist, to share with other members in the distribution of its funds. That was the only right he possibly could have. In the case of the Yorkshire Miners r. Howden, he was merely restraining the union from parting with its funds, and that does not seem to have any direct bearing on this case whatever.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
In Osborne's case he was restored to his position by the injunction, but the hon. Member says he did not get the benefit. I do not quite agree with that view.
§ Mr. PETO
I did not say he did not get the benefit; what I said was he had no right to it, and I read out to the House the judgment of Lord Justice Fletcher Moulton in which he said it gave him no right to claim benefits which he had not got before. If the basis of this Bill is that you are not, under Clause 3, to deprive any member of rights which he has in common with the other members of trade unions, and if he is to have no right to claim benefits then there is no real safeguard for anybody who objects to this political action. I oppose this Bill on these grounds. I say if the Bill really did what it was supposed to do outside the House, if it simply gave the trade union the right and power which the House of Lords declared, by the Osborne Judgment, does not now exist, to spend money on account of political objects, and having given the trade union that power, in return for that new power, insisted that they must allow every member who wished to do so to refuse to contribute to the political funds, the members so refusing not to be excluded from benefits or to be placed under any disability, if that were laid down by the Bill, it would be a substantial fact instead of a mere piece of pretence and then there would be very little ground for opposing this Bill. It is undoubtedly in the details of Clauses 3 and 4 of this Bill that the real grounds for opposition exist. I say that the Bill does not do what it purposes to do, and what it is essential it should do if these great powers are to be given to trade unions, and I believe that in opposing the Second Reading of this Bill I am doing it as much, if not more, in the interests of the trade unions themselves as of any body of men in this country, because there is no doubt in my mind whatever that there is bound to be a difference of opinion on the question of this political action, and, if steps are not taken to regulate this in such a way as that it shall be unfair to nobody, there will be a vast number of trade union members who will object to see their trade unions, which they believe exist for their statutory objects, and for mutual protection in the case of dispute between employer and labour, and in many cases for benefits in sickness and for relief in unemployment, they will most strenuously object to see the trade union turned into a mere political caucus for the advocacy of one particular view, which may not be the view of the majority of the trade unionists. They will still more strongly object when they see their trade union leaders allowing them 3005 selves to be degraded to the level of political bosses. When you deal with the interests of freedom and the liberty of the subject, the basic principles of our Constitution, according to which all men have equal rights and the same responsibility for wrong-doing under the law, and when you look at it also from the point of view I have touched on of the true representation of the constituencies by men who are free and not pledge-bound, then I say for all these reasons this Bill is a thoroughly inadequate solution of this great difficulty, and, if passed into law, is simply likely to add fuel to the fire and bitterness to the controversy.
With regard to one other point my hon. and learned Friend touched upon in his speech, the question of what really originated the whole of this dispute, the Attorney-General said that, until the Osborne Judgment, the great majority of the lawyers believed trade unions were perfectly free to go into political action. It is not surprising that the condition of controversy did not occur much sooner than it did, and it is no use disguising the fact that the whole situation changed only very shortly before that time. Up to within a very few years of the Osborne Judgment no doubt trade unions were carried on for the legitimate purposes for which they were originally constituted. It is only the fact that the whole organisation of the trade unions, and to a large extent their funds, were captured by a political body that has created the whole of this difficulty. I object most strongly to the assumption that trade unionism and Socialism as synonymous terms. I do not for one moment think that they are. I object to trade unionists parading in these borrowed plumes, and making out, by quoting the number of trade union members, that all those members agree to the political views of those who now lead and control the great trade union movement. I object to this parading in borrowed plumes—I might almost say stolen plumes.
As to the effect on the liberty of the subject, there is no guarantee in this Bill that a man is free to join the political fund or not. He makes himself a marked man by objecting to the contribution to the political levy. There is no real distinction between the funds, although there is a pretended division between the two funds. They are not separately administered, they are not separately levied, they 3006 are not administered by separate officials, and the contributions are not collected by separate collectors. Unless that is insisted upon, as well as the secrecy of the ballot, together with some provision for ensuring that the majority of the trade unionists will vote, and that every member will have the opportunity of voting by secret ballot, I do not think it is possible to deal justly with this controversy. As to the question of the equal right of every British citizen to his own political views, there is an elaborate provision in this Bill which I think carefully evades the point at issue. It purports to give every trade unionist, whether he agrees with the contribution to the political fund or not, equal rights with every other member. It is an axiom that, as no member has any right by action at law to recover the benefits—the benefits being the measure of his loss—if he takes action he really has no locus standi whatever. He cannot possibly maintain his position if he is in a small minority unless he has the right to say, "My life is not a pleasant one in this trade union. I do not agree with my fellow members. I not only want to leave the union but I want to be paid the actuarial value of the benefits towards which I have contributed." He has a right to demand that, and nothing short of giving him also that legal right will give him true independence of action.
> The payment of Members is the one question which makes a minute distinction between the present Bill and the Bill of last year. I maintain that it does not materially alter the case at all. The expenses of a Member in this House, when we have frequent General Elections, are a very trifling matter compared with the expense of keeping the political views of that Member before the constituency during the, whole time he is sitting here, and the constantly recurring expense of contesting a General Election and possibly a by-election. As long as all these activities may be undertaken by trade unions, it is a very small matter indeed whether there is payment of Members or not. I do not agree for one moment that payment of Members has anything really to do with the reversal of the Osborne Judgment, or that it is a logical position to take up to say that you would not be in favour of the reversal of the Osborne Judgment if it had not been for the payment of Members. I think the two things are entirely distinct. Whether we agree with one or the other they do not hinge upon each other. I have several other minor objections to the 3007 Bill. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent a trade union from taking up any separate business or running a newspaper. That seems to be specially contemplated in the Bill among the political activities; not that I attach much importance to whether a particular operation of a trade union is called a political activity or an industrial activity. Among the enumeration of political activities mentioned in paragraph (e), Sub-section (2) of Clause 3, the Bill seems specially to contemplate that trade unions should run newspapers, because they may issue literature of all kinds. That, in my opinion, would be held to include the issue of pamphlets, leaflets, then perhaps weekly journals, and ultimately daily journals. There is no point at which you could possibly draw the line. It is important to consider what that means. If that is part of the activity of a trade union, which cannot be sued for any damage that may be done to any of His Majesty's subjects, what will come from it?
> Trade unions in pursuit of political objects have a privilege which is exclusively their own, and not common to any other political organisation in the whole of the country. Any political organisation which ran a pamphlet or a newspaper in support of its views, if it libelled anybody would be liable at law for damages, but I am informed that if a trade union did so no action would lie, and nobody would be able to recover damages. They could say anything they liked about their political opponent without the slightest fear of having to pay the penalty if they said what was untrue or wrong. As to keeping the funds separate there is the most deceptive Clause in the whole Bill. It purports to set up two separate funds, but there is no real separation of the funds, and no separate branch, as has been arranged for in the case of the insurance companies, friendly societies, and others in connection with the Insurance Act. It is very curious that with that example before the right hon. Gentlemen who are responsible for this Bill, they have not thought it an obvious parallel when they are going to give the trade unions the light of carrying on separate work. Should it not be laid down that they should have a separate branch to carry on that particular business? There is far more difference between the political work and the ordinary industrial purposes from which trade unions exist than there is between the administration of the benefits 3008 under the Insurance Act and the administration of these separate benefits which may be given by any insurance society. There is the exact parallel which ought to have been followed in this Bill, but there is no attempt made to do more than to have a mere pretence of having separate funds. Almost my strongest objection to the Bill is that there is no provision that the majority of the members of the union shall vote. That lies at the root of the matter. If the contention of hon. Members is true that the vast majority of trade unionists are in perfect agreement in this matter, what possible reason can they have for opposing a provision which would make their position clear to the whole world and show to everyone outside who may be under the impression—as I am—that the trade union organisation has been captured by a minority, that they have a solid majority of members of all unions for this political action and for the political views of those misguided people who are called Socialists? Why should they object to having a fair and secret ballot held at proper places appointed for the purpose, and not at the trade union lodges, so that-there should be no question of intimidation?
Is it in order for the hon. Member to suggest by inference that trade union lodges are improper places to take a vote in matters relating to trade union business?
§ Mr. PETO
My contention is that if there were any desire to show the world at large that this is a perfectly straightforward and above-board business, the very last place where the ballot would be held would be the trade union lodge. In voting for a Member of this House the ballot is held, not at the office of either the one rival party or the other, but a proper place is appointed for that purpose under the supervision of the proper officials. I say that this is just as important a matter. It is a preliminary step to a new form of representation in this House, not the representation of constituencies, but the representation of organisations such as trade unions, of which the Attorney-General said he approved. There is no provision in the Bill that a substantial majority should be required, neither is there any provision that the ballot should be taken in secret. Clause 4 says that any rules 3009 may be adopted by the trade union, although, of course, they must be approved subsequently by the Registrar of Friendly Societies and that every member has an equal right of voting. I cannot help thinking that whoever drafted the Bill did so with his tongue in his cheek, knowing he had instructions to put forward something which would serve as a specious sham and which would deceive the public and make them think that there was some real security and that it was a real provision for a secret ballot and proper rules. It is provided that every member is to have an equal right of voting, but no attempt is made to ensure that every member should have the opportunity or right of voting at all.
> I believe this Bill is not going to deceive anybody now. I believe it is thoroughly exposed. By good fortune it was introduced into this House last year, and people have had time to take in what it really provides. From what I have read of the absolute unanimous condemnation of the Clauses of this Bill, particularly Clauses 3 and 4, by every trade organisation in the country, I believe I am perfectly right in saying that the Bill now deceives nobody. I believe it satisfies nobody. I believe that when hon. Members opposite who are particularly interested in trade union organisations come to consider this Bill in Committee—if it ever gets to that stage—and hear what is to be said in regard to its various provisions, they will come to the same conclusion as I have, that if this Bill were passed into law in anything approaching its present form it would not be any solution of the difficulty that has arisen because of the Osborne Judgment, but, on the other hand, it would mean additional trouble, and it would serve as a wedge to split trade unionism into two sections—those who believe in the carrying on of trade unions for their old, first, original, and legitimate purposes, and those who believe in turning them into mere political organisations. Therefore, from the public point of view, from the trade union point of view, from the point of view of free exercise of the rights of citizenship by every man, free from intimidation or the possibility of anything of the kind, I feel equally safe on every one of these grounds in seconding the rejection of the Bill.
§ Mr. CLYNES
It is clear from the speeches we have so far heard that there are many besides those who sit on these benches who feel very keenly on the ques- 3010 tion, and its importance to us cannot be overstated. The House is now engaged in considering how best, how most effectively, to set up a real obstacle to prevent hon. Gentlemen who sit on these benches from coming here at all. There are forty-one Members composing the Labour party. Eight of them are men who were put before the constituencies by a Socialist organisation. The whole of the others were submitted to the electorate by trade unions. We are now engaged, as I say, in this effort to legally obstruct the entry into this House of the trade union representatives who are in it already. I do not for a moment wish to say anything to belittle the quality of the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Salter), but it struck me as being a perfect piece of imaginative work, for it dealt with a set of circumstances which do not exist, which never had existence, and which could not possibly exist if this Bill became law. We are accustomed to the taunt of being bought, and of selling ourselves. It is quite in the vocabulary of the new controversial tongue to declare that the Labour Members are more or less corrupt and receive a price from other parties. We are accustomed to be asked to regard hon. Gentlemen opposite as the very pattern of political morality, who would yield to no temptations, and who represent the brewing interest or the landlord interest or the railway interest, without the slightest motive of advancing the personal gain of those who are associated in these undertakings. We need only go back to the Debate last night to recall how adequately and how effectively those interests are represented. New Clauses were brought forward dealing with taxation, with the licensing trade or with land, and Clauses for the personal advancement of men attached to various interests affected by the legislation with which this House has to deal. As to price, I will only say that many hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House have pledged themselves to some such legislation as this. They at least, tempted by the desire to come here, guaranteed to their constituents that if returned they would see that the Osborne Judgment, if not completely overturned, was at any rate considerably modified. Last year, when we dealt with a similar Bill, only a few hon. Gentlemen opposite went into the Lobby against it. That surely indicates that we are not as corrupt as from some utterances this afternoon one would be led to believe.
§ Mr. SALTER
I want to make my position clear. If I was understood to suggest that any Members of the Labour party in this House are corrupt, I expressed myself very badly. I had no intention of doing so. To be quite frank, I said this Bill was a price.
§ Mr. SALTER
No, I never used the word "bribe." It did not pass my lips. I said it was the price of their support.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I accept the assurance of the hon. and learned Gentleman that there is no personal significance whatever in any reference of that kind to those of us who sit on these benches, but we must take it, after all, that language at least has a certain meaning to people outside if it is not intended to convey a certain meaning to us who sit here. We are accustomed to defeats at the poll, and we were reminded frequently of that fact this afternoon by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He claims that they represent the average man, and we readily concede that. We claim, on the other hand, that we represent that class of man who is above the average, and that it is somewhat in the nature of political cowardice to seek to defeat us, not at the poll, not in the constituencies, but in the Law Courts. I think the very number of our electoral disasters should give some encouragement to those who we say should be content with the successes they score over us in ordinary political contests. I will not reply fully to that long statement about the leaflet issued by a little branch of the Socialist society. It has nothing whatever to do with the case. Such leaflets could be issued before the Osborne Judgment, they have been issued since the Osborne Judgment, and they can be issued after such a Bill as this has become law; and we are quite entitled, I should say, whether Socialists or trade unionists, to advise the working men of this country against any new offers of entering into co-partnership with employers of labour. The argument as to a trade union wishing to do certain things and to expend certain moneys by a bare majority of its members is adequately answered when we recall the cheers of hon. Members opposite after seeing the hon. Member for Crewe walk into this House the other day backed up not by a narrow majority, but representing a minority. If they are satisfied with a minority of votes for the purpose of making the laws of the land, surely we have a 3012 right to be content with a majority of votes for the purpose of administering our trade unions. I want to recall to the House the fact that what we are now asking, and what really this Bill does not give us, we have enjoyed for very many years without any molestation and without any objection. The spirit of the speech of the Attorney-General was good enough. It was very much better than the Bill, and this Bill, if it is to be satisfactory to us, will have to be improved; but this is not the moment for attempting improvements. It is in the Committee stage where our objections in detail would have to be offered to many parts of it.
I want here to draw attention to one detail in the Bill. After all the elaborate processes have been gone through, after all these long courses of democratic methods, of meetings, of conferences, of ballots, and finally of decisions to pay a few coppers for Parliamentary purposes, the Bill says the trade union must send a circular to every member intimating that, although he and his mates have decided that money shall be paid, he need not pay it at all. That is really the effect of that part of the Bill, and it is to that principle that resolute opposition will have to be offered. The Osborne Judgment greatly narrowed down the objects of trade unions, and greatly restricted the machinery by which trade unions sought to attain their objects. As we had these objects in common and pursued them for more than a generation, it may now be correctly said that our demand is not for the restoration of a privilege; it is merely to reclaim a right which was taken from us by what we regard as judge-made law, and, in the course of that judge-made law, Lord Macnaghten covered the history as to what trade unions have been permitted to do. He said that two or three years after the Act of 1871 the scheme for securing Parliamentary representation and obtaining political power first took shape and met with general acceptance amongst trade unions. From 1871 down to 1908 the trade unions, without any interference and without any alleged illegality, have been quite free to spend their money by the votes of majorities for the purpose of sending their men here. Conservative working men and Socialist working men have been contributing towards the support of Liberal working men who have sat on these benches. I should like therefore to ask whether it is that our action was deemed to be wrong when it began to be effective and successful. For very many 3013 years but a few working men could come to this House. They were not a party. They did not really act or behave like a party, in the sense in which you have a Labour party now. Individually they certainly did a great deal of good, and contributed much to legislation which was of great value and advantage to the industrial population of this country.
It is admitted that the objection to us is that we are growing strong; that we have become a party; that we exercise an influence in this House and in the country far in excess of any influence that a few stray Members were able to exercise in former days. In the year 1869 trade congresses and labour parties were discussing this matter, and in the General Election which followed, in 1874, fourteen Labour candidates were put before the electors, and at every election few or many candidates were submitted in the name of Labour right down to 1906. So that really, when we were a feeble party, suffering only failures at the poll, we were doing nothing wrong; but when we became successful and were strong enough to form not only a party here in this House, but in the country, numbering a million subscribing members, all the right of former years suddenly became illegal and actions were taken to prevent our continuing to do it. Before the Labour party was formed as an organisation in its present shape the precaution was taken to obtain the highest legal opinion on the question whether the course they were taking in forming the party was proper and in harmony with the trade union spirit. The view given jointly by Sir Edward Clarke and the late Lord Chancellor, who at the time was Sir Robert Reid, was stated in these words:—The society—that is the particular trade union—can raise money for purposes which fall within the declared objects for which it exists. The first of these objects is to improve the conditions and protect the interests of its members. The question whether the maintenance of Parliamentary representation falls within that object or not is not a question of law but a question of fact to be determined by judges, and in our opinion the Court ought to hold that this society is entitled to require by properly made rules a contribution from its members or Parliamentary representation.It is by that legal view that we stand. It was in harmony with that legal view that we acted. During the recent years of our action undoubtedly party lines and tendencies have very much hardened. We hear hon. and right hon. Gentlemen talk in this House about their being all in favour of labour representation. They say it is a 3014 very good thing, and that it contributes to the value of your decisions. But we never find that that sentiment is followed or put in practice at the polls. There is not an attempt on the part of any one of my hon. Friends to enter this House which is not resisted to the utmost, and I think, in view of the limitless supply, and the secret supply, of the resources of those who oppose us, they should not object to our gathering a few coppers, and should not declare that coppers obtained in that way should not be taken. I take it from the speeches this afternoon that the objection is not to our taking part in politics, but to our politics. The objection is to labour politics and to Socialism. The two hon. Gentlemen who moved and seconded the rejection of this Bill have found it impossible to get Socialism out of their heads. I say it is not a fair thing for one party to seek to set up legal difficulties in the way of another party merely because of its politics. I wonder if there would be any objection if we could be induced to sit on the other side of the House, and if we could adopt the views of hon. and right hon. Members opposite on Imperial, fiscal, and other matters, and range ourselves generally on their side? I wonder if there would be this strong objection to trade unions playing any part in politics? There is undoubtedly a strong representation of sectional, trade, commercial, and company interests in this House, and it is essential that the greatest interest of all—the human interest, the interests of labour, the worker, the wage earner, and the wealth maker—should be permitted to enter the House and to represent the greatest national asset in this country.
In the last discussion on this subject—I think in May last year—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division (Mr. F. E. Smith) gave some figures to the House, after he had explained very candidly that his objection was not to labour representation, but rather to our methods and to the conditions of our election. I ask upon what ground we can be called upon to accommodate the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the manner of our election and the methods and procedure that we follow? Trade union procedure is the most open and the most democratic procedure followed by any political party in this country. By-elections apart, the process we have to follow is this: Meetings of delegates from every eligible organisation in the constituency, whether affiliated to the Labour party or not must be called. 3015 Weeks or months of time have to be given to consider whether they will have a candidate, and having decided that there shall be, they must have lists submitted to them for the free choice of the man who is to stand in the name of labour. There is no method comparable to this method pursued by the Labour party. There is no method at all of the kind followed by those who oppose us in the House and in the country. The figures given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division were designed to show that the trade union method was tyrannical. The figures, I submit, prove the very opposite. The right hon. Gentleman stated that in the case of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers there were 107,000 members, and that out of that number only 5,110 voted in favour of paying a Member, while 2,056 voted against that. There you have a proportion of five to two. That is a number which should be taken as decisive enough. It should be taken as the verdict of those who entered into the ballot. On what grounds can it be said that they should have the right to vote and then reject the decision when it is arrived at?
If you go into an organisation and agree to take or not to take a certain course by the vote of the members, you have no right afterwards to depart from the decision to which actually you have been a party. If only 2,000 out of 100,000, care to take the trouble to go and use the ballot paper against collecting a few coppers for a certain purpose, that proves that there is no feeling of tyranny and no real interference with the liberty of the subject. If there were, you would have a very much larger number of the 100,000 trooping to the ballot box to protest against a levy inflicted on them against their will. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Weavers' Protection Society of Blackburn, thinking he had discovered a union1 that was representative, and that was really opposed to the Labour party. He showed that 2,009 members of that body voted against political action, while 466 persons voted for political action. He did not tell the House, probably he did not know, that this is really a Tory organisation established some twenty years ago for absolutely partisan reasons. It is not representative of the textile workers or the weavers' organisation, that class of work being represented by the very much larger1 body, the Weavers' Amalgamation. 3016 That amalgamation met in conference at Preston a few weeks ago, and their political attitude is shown by the fact that they passed a resolution to increase the number of Labour candidates from three to six. Therefore, after a considerable lapse of time, the tendency is in favour of seeking not less, but more direct, Labour representation. The levies are self-imposed. They are not tyrannically imposed, and all the talk of what would happen if you did not make the conditions and restrictions more stringent still, and as to how a man would be followed and pursued if he did not pay, is answered by what happens now. The man who does not pay is not pursued, molested, or persecuted. It may be that one or two instances can be found, but similar conduct can be found in other spheres as well as trade unions.
The fact is that political action of a partisan character has forced itself into trade unions. Conservative agents are known to be endeavouring to organise and establish rival trade unions—constitutional trade unions, non-political trade unions, and all you have to do to be a non-political trade unionist is to be a Tory, and generally to associate yourself with the party known by that name. Let me give a few instances. Taken not for argument's sake, but because they represent great bodies of workers, large divisions of labour and big organised associations. These are instances of decisions come to either by conference or by ballot of representative classes of workers during the time when these bodies were deciding whether they should contribute to the Labour party or not Postmen, almost unanimous; shop assistants, absolutely unanimous; tailors, absolutely unanimous; miners, by a ballot vote, decided by nearly two to one—nearly 250,000 men voted in favour of joining the Labour party; and steel smelters two to one. I am told that by recent decisions of the steel smelters that they are going to contribute further support to the Labour party. Carpenters and joiners voted three to one; typographical association nearly four to one, and the furnishing trades seven to one in favour of joining the Labour party.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I have given already one or two instances of the percentages. It was considerable in the case of the miners. Nearly 250,000 of the membership voted in favour of joining the Labour party, and 3017 in the case of the textile workers 82,500 voted in favour of giving financial support to the Labour party. The railway workers voted five to one in a membership of 21,000 in favour of the Labour party. In the case of the boilermakers it was decided by eight to one to join the Labour party, the vote showing 33,000 in favour.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I am not able to do so at the moment; but I will undertake to prove that this was the largest vote given in any recent vote by the Boilermakers' Society on any question. I know it was a much larger vote than was given by the boilermakers when they had to come to a decision in their own recent dispute. I submit to the House that these figures prove that there are large masses of men who have decided in favour of joining the Labour party and continuing to support it. We are asked to accommodate the individual who has something on his mind for the time being, and who objects to something or other that the Labour party is doing, or who objects to some action on the part of an individual Member of the Labour party. The Labour party or the trade unions only ask for the same system of Government and the same right of administrative action as are enjoyed by the member of the Cooperative Society, by the shareholder of a company and the citizen of a city. In any one of these instances the majority rules, and whether it be a matter of money, rates, taxes, or contributions, in every one of these instances the majority vote decides the policy and action of the general body. We are convinced that it is impossible if we are to manage our business efficiently to allow the varying moods and the changes in views of individual members to obstruct the decisions of the majority. This view was to some extent sustained by another of the Law Lords, Lord James, who gave his judgment in this particular case; He said:—I think it may well be in the interests of trade unionism and labour that the funds of a trade union should be devoted to the payment of the expenses of Members of Parliament who should represent such interests.That seems to be a very complete and deliberate opinion. How the legal mind can first express itself in those terms, and then give a judgment against the trade union doing anything of the sort is more than I can follow, but it seems that the legal mind fastened itself upon the fact 3018 that, the Labour party had a paper constitution, and the objection was that its Members not only got permission from unions to come to this House, sanctioned by the majority of a constituency, but that, having come here, we signed and accepted the conditions of the Labour party, and we are subject to their Whips. When did that begin to be a Parliamentary obligation? So far as we undertake and carry out the objects of our party we are not setting an example, we are simply following one. We are not attempting anything new. There are two things which the Labour party constitution aimed at. One was that we should all assume the same name—that is very simple, and, I think, proper—and that we should trade under the same title. The only other condition of the Labour party constitution was that we should act together to obtain the objects we aimed at. That is the very first thing you would expect a political party to do. It is not the maximum of the claim you may make upon this body of men; it is the minimum required that is imposed upon the units of every political organisation. When we see as we have in recent years hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House exhibiting too much of an independent frame of mind, we have seen their followers use various ways and means to prevent them; and men of exceptional capacity and brilliancy were flung out of this House, practically rejected by their party, because they exercised that independent frame of mind which it is said the Labour party seeks to suppress. The latest instance of what I mean will be recognised by hon. Members if I just remind them of three letters, B.M.G. When the leader or the followers of a party act more or less out of line with the wishes of the whole body the most stringent, if secret, courses are pursued to bring them into line, and the Labour party may then fairly claim its absolute right to seek to obtain the objects at which it aims by organised and united effort. But on matters of conscience on any point upon which a Member of our party feels deeply, we have never insisted that he must either vote against a pledge to his constituents or vote against his own honest conviction, and frequently, as the House will know, Members of our party have gone into the Lobbies against the decisions of our party because they represent constituents and because they have an honest belief that the party on that particular point was not right.
3019 We say you have, by the circumstances and events of the past generation, forced the necessity upon the country of labour representation. If we had the situation of thirty-five years ago to deal with we could treat this matter academically, but now, as the time of this House in this present Session clearly proves, the House is to be compelled more and more to deal with a man as he is circumstanced in the workshop, and to deal with strikes and unrest and with economic and social and industrial subjects which are becoming more and more matters for the deliberation and decision of this House. It is essential in view of these enormous changes that there should be a Labour party such as, however feebly and ineffectively, now seeks to voice the wishes of the industrial population of this country, and we claim that the whole bodies of the members of the trade unions should be made to act alike when they themselves by a majority vote have decided on a certain course. Their needs are alike, their general necessities are the same, their dangers are common dangers, the benefits they obtain from their action are alike and the pay should be alike. If they are to be the same in every respect then when it comes to contributing a copper which the majority decide upon we say that there ought not to be any exception. If the House say that we should provide for allowing every individual who wants it to be exempted from such a thing as this, what are you to do with regard to the other features of labour and trade union business? The Attorney-General put it to the House, and I think it is universally accepted, that it was impossible to distinguish clearly between what was political and what was industrial work. But there is some attempt to be made to accomplish the impossible. If there is a trade dispute everyone, will admit that the majority of members who may decide in favour of a levy should impose it upon the minority. There is not a Member of this House who will say that a man should escape a levy which a majority of his fellow workmen may decide in favour of if that levy is for the purposes of a trade dispute. A good many Members on the other side of the House opposed our recent stand in regard to the Port of London dispute; but yet levies were imposed and none of these hon. Gentlemen ever thought of objecting to those levies in the name of the minority who may not have wished to pay a levy.
3020 We know the trade unionists spend their money sometimes in building monuments to members. I live in a town in which there is a monument to a former Conservative Member of this House. That monument was erected out of trade union funds. The hon. Member for Bolton is associated with an organisation that has given a considerable sum of money in support of cotton-growing. There are individuals in these trade unions who dissent from the use of money in that way. If you are to provide for exceptions in the political cases, are you also going to provide for the exception in each one of these other numerous instances "where money is spent against the will of a small dissenting minority in a particular trade union? We require unity, and we go so far as to say that unity must sometimes be imposed upon men in their own interests. Why, free education, as it is termed, had to be forced upon many working class persons. Insurance and many other recent pieces of legislation have been more or less forced by all parties in this House upon people who have not desired them. You frequently have to compel men to do good in their own interest, and we are saying that the trade union, when it has got a majority, but never before; once it has got the right by the use of that commonly accepted method used in all organisations; once it has got that, then it should be left to pursue its own government, and collect the contributions for its avowedly proper objects. The individual who gains by political action, who may get, say, an eight-hour day, or have his old age pension improved, or may get anything he desires to receive, has no right morally to ask to be exempted from the contribution payable for the purpose of obtaining these particular ends. You would not think of making an exception, so that a man in another department of trade union business should escape the liabilities imposed upon him by the general decision of the majority of the persons who form those organisations.
We have seen, already, why the voluntary levy has not been a success. There is no need to disguise the partial failure of that particular method. It is because workmen have a very homely, but, I think, wholesome principle in determining their action on these questions. When Jack sees that Jim does not pay, and both are alike receiving the same benefit, both meeting in the same room or working in the same shop, there is a natural tendency for the former not to contribute; and we 3021 know that hundreds of thousands of men have refused to contribute to the Labour party because we are not compelling others to pay who decided with them in the first instance that these contributions should be paid. The Bill which we desire asks for the three things which I think we have a right to obtain. One is that a union should avow its objects, and no Member here, in this House or out of it would say that political action and objects must be ruled outside the activities of trade unions. Activities of that kind are absolute necessities. The second is that the rules of the union must sanction these objects. Those rules must be approved by the members and must receive the sanction of the Registrar. You have very elaborate safeguards indeed for reducing any illegal or improper action to a minimum, if not absolutely preventing it from taking place. Lastly, that the money of the trade union is the property of its members, whether gathered in the form of weekly contributions or in the form of levies, and should be spent according to the wishes of the majority of the members. Talk about the consciences of members! Why there are Tories and Liberals paying now for the salaries of Socialists. Upon what ground does this House say, or does the law say, it is right that we should receive £400 a year contributed in part by men who detest our principles, and yet say that it is altogether wrong in the case of trade unions that minorities should be asked to contribute? At any rate, the law says it is right, and it will be right until the law is altered; and that is exactly our point. This House has decided that a certain thing should be done with regard to the payment of Members in this House, and we say that if a trade union desires the same thing it should have exactly the same right to continue in that course until those members themselves again decide that that thing should not be done. In short, we want government in trade unions by the trade unions, for the good of those who compose the trade unions; and, while we give a general welcome to this Bill, we trust that many of its defects will be wiped out altogether in its Committee stage.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
I should like to deal first with the arguments put forward by the hon. Member who spoke last. In the first instance, may I ask him this: Supposing the Bill is not improved, and 3022 stands as it is at the present moment, will he support the Third Reading or not? As I understand him, he thinks it is not right to include in the Bill this question of safeguards in respect of the minority. Towards the end of his speech he made the statement that in his view the property of trade unions belongs to trade unions to deal with as they like.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
According to the rules made by the trade union. I will deal with the claim. Am I to understand the hon. Member (Mr. Clynes) to say that if trade unions are not given power in accordance with their own rules to deal with their own funds in any way they like, he will not support the Bill now brought forward by the Government, with its various safeguards? I do not know if the hon. Member will answer that question or not, though it appears to be the essence of the whole matter. I am one of those who believe that it would be wrong in principle, and inconsistent with both representative and legal principles, to give any such power at all. It is the essence of combinations that they should have certain statutory or fundamental limitations, and that is the only way in which you can give fair protection to the minority, whoever the minority may be. Then the hon. Member referred to other corporations and municipal bodies, but he seems to be under a complete misapprehension. There is not a corporate body in existence at the present moment in this country, as far as I know, which is entitled to use its funds for political purposes. I think there could be no greater source of political corruption than to give power of that kind to our various large corporations. Let me give an illustration of what I mean. The railway companies have as large a number of shareholders as they have of workers. There are about 800,000 railway shareholders and about 800,000 railway workers, and nothing could be more demoralising than to give a great corporate body like that power to use its funds to interfere with our political system. What possible reason can the hon. Member adduce for giving power of that kind to the workers of the railway companies'? Why should not a similar power be given to the shareholders of the railway companies? It is very often a great mistake, in arguing questions of this kind, to talk about great corporations on the one side and workers on the other. 3023 The fact is you are dealing with a question that applies to both sides. Nay, more, a large number of our railway shareholders are not one whit better off than the workers on our railway system. If the workers on our railway system were to have a special form of political combination and representation, it would be impossible on any sound principle to deny the same right to shareholders in the various great corporations and great companies.
I am not going to argue in favour of shareholders in great corporations having those rights, and I hope they never will. I hope you will proceed in the way we have done in the past—that is, we have limited industrial corporations to industrial purposes; we have kept them out of the political arena, and kept them out of the current topics of political discussion on one side of the House or the other Let me put it to the hon. Member that if you are to give power of this kind to trade unions on the ground that people are allowed to deal with their own funds in their own way, without any limitation, how can you refuse a similar right to the great corporate bodies of this country? As regards municipal matters, I think the hon. Member was entirely wrong. No municipal body can use its, funds for political purposes. Can one imagine a greater degradation of our municipal life than that' the municipal majority for the time being might levy rates and use the funds to further the purposes of one party or other in the country? Yet the hon. Member refers to municipal bodies as an illustration in favour of his argument that trade unions should be allowed to use their funds as they like, without any limitation or any restriction at all. Another argument which the hon. Member used was as to the numbers who voted in favour of using funds for political purposes. It is impossible for me to follow the figures which he gave, but I caught one figure. He said that as regards the Railway Association, 21,000 had voted in favour of applying trade union funds to political purposes. I want to put this, and I believe I am right: that members of that society number more than 100,000. I have not got the exact figures, but I have seen them quoted lately at, I think, about 108,000; at any rate, it is above 100,000. There you have got about one-fifth of the body, 21,000, voting in favour of the application of the funds to political purposes.
§ Mr. HUDSON
The hon. Gentleman is confusing the two things. He is referring to the ballot taken about seven years ago, and comparing that with the figures of the last return.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I think the hon. Member must be wrong; but I take his correction, because on the question of figures there may be a mistake. I understood this at least, that the result of the ballot was that 21,000 were in favour of the funds being applied to political purposes.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I may explain that those figures related to the ballot taken at the time when the various trade unions were asked to decide whether they would join the Labour party.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
That is a totally different thing altogether. I understood that the unions to which the hon. Member referred were asked whether they desired to see their funds applied to political purposes. That is an entirely different proposition from what he now states. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It may be quite right; they may decide to be members of the Labour party; I do not want to attack the Labour party or any other party in this House; but this is an entirely different proposition from asking the members of a particular trade union whether they desire to see their funds—contributed for other purposes—applied to political purposes. I think it is a great mistake when we are discussing matters of this kind, either on one side of the House or the other, to deal with questions of principle as regards the different parties in the House. It really does not matter whether the Labour party are right, or the Socialist party, or the Liberals, or Members on these benches. In neither one case nor the other can you justify the improper use, as it appears to me, of these trade union funds, be the result of the attempt in favour of one political party or the other. I can hardly believe that the Labour party is so poorly supported that its continued existence depends upon what I may call the improper use of funds, which have been raised for other purposes, for political purposes. There is one other point. Surely you could not have a better system, in spite of what the hon. Member says about the want of desire to contribute to these funds for political purposes, than that of voluntary support.
What is the whole argument he was trying to state to the House? The hon. Member is really desiring to have compulsion, 3025 whether people wish to make contributions or not: that is the whole of his argument. Is it not rather a monstrous thing to compel people to contribute for political purposes because they are members of a trade union, of which the primary purpose is to deal with industrial disputes, and the secondary purpose to give sick benefit to the various members? Surely it is about the last case in which you should exercise compulsion. I noted the hon. Member suggested that other people might do wrong as regards the use of funds for political objects. I doubt whether he can justify any statement of the kind, but if he can, and if he wants to bring a matter of that kind before the House, I, for one, will support him on every occasion, because I look upon the application of funds—contributed for other purposes—to political objects as a source of the future demoralisation and degradation of political life in this country. Although the hon. Member did not use the same words as were used last year by the hon. Member for South Glamorganshire (Mr. Brace) he really brought forward the same idea. The hon. Member for South Glamorganshire claimed that a trade union ought to be a State within a State; in other words, it ought to be a law to itself as regards dealing with trade union funds and questions of that kind. I object altogether to an idea of that sort. A trade union is entitled to the same position as all other corporate bodies of the population. It is entirely wrong to give it a special privilege, and I think that the privilege which is now being claimed for trade unions is one of the worst features of modern times, and most inconsistent with the true principles of liberty and equality. If I may, I will now leave what was said by the hon. Member, and refer to what was stated by the Attorney-General. It cannot be denied that the Attorney-General did not attempt in any way to deal with the underlying principle of this Bill. He assumed, and assumed wrongly, that the principle was not going to be opposed.
Of course, we have had no answer whatever to what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for North Hants (Mr. Clavell Salter). There were two points I noticed mentioned by the Attorney-General. He talked about the "non-debatable area," that is the area that lies between industrial questions and political questions. He called it "non-debatable," and he used the same expression last year. I want to ask the Home 3026 Secretary, or whoever may reply for the Government, this question: Assuming: there is this non-debatable area, and that there are difficulties connected with it, how are those difficulties touched in any way by this Bill? If there are those difficulties now, there will be exactly the same in the future, and so far as this Bill is concerned they are not touched one way or the other. I do not believe, that there would be the slightest difficulty in drafting a proper provision giving the trade unions such powers as are really industrial, and excluding from their powers such questions as are really political. I think the suggestion of difficulty which has been made by the Attorney-General is no difficulty whatever; and if you make up your mind what you want, a form could be drafted immediately which would have no reasonable chance of being misinterpreted. One other question to which the Attorney-General referred at some length, because there was some interruption as regards the legal question, was the sick benefits which are given by trade unions. I do not want in any sense to discuss the legal question. There is no doubt that a member of a trade union cannot successfully bring an action to secure those sick benefits at the present time. No one denies that proposition. I ask the Attorney-General whether he has done anything in his Bill to deal with an obvious injustice of that kind, because those who subscribe towards benefits ought to be assured that they will get those benefits when the time comes. Consequently it is peculiarly unsatisfactory to find that he, has done nothing of that kind in this Bill, because I think it cannot be denied that the temptation, I do not use a harder word, to deal harshly with a dissentient minority under this Bill as regards sick benefits, will be very much greater than it has ever been in old times. Therefore, if you throw an apple of discord of this kind into trade union organisation you ought at the same time to make sure that the dissentients, whoever they may be, may have a legal remedy to ensure to them the sick benefits to which they are properly entitled for the contributions which they may have been making for a number of years.
As regards the objections on principle, let me state them shortly. The first is that it is a fundamental principle of our law and of our policy that you protect minorities by defining the statutory limitations within which a corporate body or combination can act. That is the fundamental underlying principle which is essential if 3027 you are giving true protection to minorities. At the present time that is exactly the position as regards the trade union bodies in this country, and that was the decision given in the House of Lords. People have joined those bodies because they knew their powers were limited by the Acts of 1871 and 1876, and everyone who joined was entitled to the benefit of the limited power because he knew that the trade union or corporate body could not use his funds outside the limitations laid down. The very object of those limitations is to safeguard the minority. It appears to me, in spite of what the Attorney-General said, that the moment you withdraw that statutory limitation you at the same time withdraw the whole effect of the security which the minority for the time being could possibly have in a trade union combination, because outside the statutory limitation, what is the position? I do not want to go into all the points which were dealt with by the hon. and learned Member who preceded me, but it is qutie clear that, apart from that statutory limitation which gives everyone in a minority the right to which he is entitled, the safeguards in the Bill itself are purely illusory. No one supposes, for instance, that the Bill, which requires only a numerical majority of the members voting, is any real security on a question of this kind. There is no security in having a separate political fund, contributed to in the same way and under the same conditions as the general fund of the union. As regards the exemption of the individual, surely it is impossible to suppose that the individual will really gain the exemption that he wants, coupled with the protection that it is necessary he should have, if he has got to give written notice to the officials of his union declaring that as far as lie is concerned no funds contributed by him are to be used for political purposes. What is the position of a person giving notice under conditions of that kind? Is it not impossible to suppose that he will not have the whole weight of boycotting opinion against him by perhaps a large number of his fellow trade unionists, and probably of all the officials of the union?
It appears to me that there is no halfway whatever between these two principles, and I believe that the hon. Gentleman who spoke last really agrees with me. You must give trade unions absolute power to use their funds as they like—that is a proposition which I think ought to be opposed to the utmost. If you do 3028 not do that all these so-called paper safeguards are wholly insufficient and wholly illusory; they are simply for the consumption of weak-minded individuals who, not liking the tyranny which they know is likely to be brought about, console themselves by referring to the paper safeguards which are contained within the four corners of the proposed Bill. In reference to what was said by my right hon. Friend who represents St. George's, Hanover Square, it was pointed out last year on all sides that those safeguards were of an illusory character. After full consideration of a period of a year we find the same safeguards suggested as were suggested a year ago. I think that speaks forcibly for the proposition I am making, namely, either give trade unions the powers they are asking or do not introduce these illusory safeguards, which can only introduce difficulty and danger, and which will not take in anyone who really understands what is done in matters of this kind. I do not believe there is a member amongst the Labour party who believes if these safeguards are included in this Bill that they would have any effect whatever as regards safeguarding what I call the due rights and principles attached to minorities. On the question of principle I take a very strong view about all questions of representation in connection with principle. This House of Commons is the representative of the nation. The whole principle on which we act is that we come here for national objects, and whatever our different politics may be we desire, at any rate, to further national objects from a national standpoint. What is the first step in this Bill as regards the decadence of our representative system? The object of the Bill is to introduce sectional representation. The object of the Bill is to see that the Labour party are entitled to use funds in a particular way in order that their views may be represented by particular individuals.
I have no objection whatever as regards the presence of the Labour party in this House. That is not the question. Every Member of this House, from whatever constituency he comes, ought to be under no consideration when he comes here except to further national objects and national aims. What is this the commencement of? My hon. and learned Friend referred to Tammany; we might have worse; we might have sectional representation of the Labour party, and sectional representation of shipping, and sectional representation of railways, and sectional representation 3029 of breweries, and sectional representation of landowners, and, in the end, instead of having a national representative body, you would have a body which avowedly would represent merely sectional interests, to the detriment of national and Imperial interests. I know it has been suggested, and I think by the hon. Member who spoke last, that in a certain sense those interests are represented now. That is quite true, and quite right, but that is a different thing altogether. Are you going to allow our great railway corporations to pay ten or eleven Members to represent them in this House out of their corporate funds, or are you going to allow brewery corporations to use their funds for purposes of that kind, or are you going to allow great shipping corporations to do that; or, again, are you going to allow the great municipal bodies of this country, which constantly have questions of great importance in this House, to pay Members, not to represent the country but to represent the sectional interests for which they are sent? We are standing, in my opinion, upon a precipice as regards this great constitutional question, and I think we are discussing it in the way the hon. Member did on what I may call low lines, to use quite a colloquial expression. They are always seeking to say that those who oppose this Bill are attacking the Labour party. We are preserving the honour of this House; we are preserving the representative principle which we believe underlies the freedom of this country, and I hope that this tendency will not begin with trade unions, and I am convinced if it does that other great corporations will rightly and justly claim similar privileges to our common disadvantage.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
I rise with somewhat mixed feelings to speak upon this measure. At the outset I want to say that in my judgment this Bill would not have been necessary had it not been for the extravagant shape of the Bill of 1906. I believe I was at that time the only Liberal Member who opposed that measure and was in favour of a Bill which was promoted by my late lamented right hon. Friend the late Sir John Lawson Walton. The real grievance under which trade unions suffer in respect of actions of tort brought against them was as a result of the Taff Vale case through the ill-considered acts of their subordinate agents. I think my hon. Friends around me here will confirm what I say, when I state that during 3030 my long knowledge of trade unions, I have never known the executive authority of any trade union wilfully lending itself to a wrongful or illegal act, I mean a wrongful act from the point of view of the law. There may have been exceptions in the case of one or two obscure unions where that was done, but generally speaking trade unions have always conducted their operations not merely in the letter but in the spirit of the law. Therefore I regarded the scope of that Bill of 1906 as unnecessarily wide. In the decision of the Osborne case some of the judges stated they were largely influenced in the decision at which they arrived because they did not believe it possible that the Legislature would extend immunity to trade unions in respect of every class of business adventure or enterprise which they might undertake. Therefore they limited, by what has been termed judge-made law, the scope of the exercise of the activity of trade union simply to what has been called industrial questions or labour disputes. The result of that has been that the Osborne Judgment has been succeeded by this Bill which gives to trade unions absolute freedom to enter upon any enterprise whatever, industrial, commercial, political, or otherwise, and gives them the fullest power of enjoying absolute immunity, let the House observe that, from all responsibility for any torts which they make. Under those circumstances I am bound to confess that I rise with mixed feelings to say a few words on this measure.
Speakers from the opposite side of the House have referred to the historical position of trade unions in this country. Trade unions date back, not as was said by one hon. Member, to some two or three years before the Trade Union Act of 1871 was passed, but to the early portion of the eighteenth century, and from then down to the present time they have been, sometimes intermittently, but with practically regular continuity, taking part in what may be called political propaganda, and endeavouring to promote the return of candidates to Parliament pledged to serve the interests of labour. In the period from 1830 to 1848 trade unions raised, by compulsory levies upon their members, money for the purpose of returning Members of Parliament. Therefore it was, as the Attorney-General said, a most extraordinary surprise to us lawyers when the Court of Appeal, influenced by the passage of the Trade Disputes Act of 1906, came to the conclusion that the activities of trade 3031 unions must be confined to their industrial departments; that is to say, looking after the interests of their members in the case of trade disputes. That is the historical position in regard to trade unions. I have listened with a great deal of interest to the extremely able speeches which have been delivered this afternoon. I have endeavoured to ascertain what reasonable grounds could be advanced against conceding to trade unions the larger scope of activity which this measure proposes to restore. My hon. and learned Friend opposite (Sir A. Cripps) said that corporations, by which he meant joint stock companies generally, may not spend money for the purposes of political propaganda. That is perfectly true. But there is no reason why they should. A joint stock company is limited by its memorandum and articles of association to certain definite industrial or commercial projects which it may have in view, and it would obviously be ultra vires if it proceeded to do something which was entirely outside the scope of its powers. Parenthetically, I may observe that I am not at all sure that some of the great railway companies do not take very good care to have a director representing their interests in this House. At any rate, I have heard a rumour to that effect in the past.
But there is nothing in the law of England, or, as far as I know, in the law of any civilised country, at any rate any country with constitutional government—certainly not in France, where the syndicalist law is extremely severe—to prevent a corporation, or qvasi corporation, or a voluntary association, being formed for the purpose of promoting the election of Members of Parliament. And that is precisely what trade unions were formed for in the larger sense. They were formed for the purpose of protecting the industrial interests of working men, whether by trade union action in the narrow sense, or by political action in the larger sphere. Therefore, that argument must necessarily fall to the ground. Another argument advanced by my hon. and learned Friend was that he objected to compulsion. Here, again, comes in the analogy of most organisations. Compulsion is an essential necessity to every organisation which possesses a large constituency of members in order to obtain its money. Take a commonplace instance, which I think will appeal to my hon. and learned Friend. We are both members of a club. Suppos- 3032 ing the secretary of the club "takes the hat round," and asks us to subscribe to some specific object. I venture to say, with great respect to the liberality of my hon. and learned Friend, that in nine cases out of ten the response would be very insignificant. But let the club call a general meeting, and authorise a compulsory levy upon its members. If it is not ultra vires, there will at once be a ready response and the money will be raised.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
I agree; but that does not touch the point of my argument. What I say is that if a trade union were to rely merely upon "taking the hat round," in their case, as in the case of every other organisation in different classes of the society, the response would be unsatisfactory and the means ineffective. Objection is also taken to the matter being decided by a bare majority of members.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
I am not certain, but I think that under the Municipal Corporations Act there is a provision requiring a larger majority than a bare majority. Even assuming that in one or two cases it is provided by Statute that there should be more than a bare majority, in the vast majority of cases it is merely a majority of the members voting. Members of Parliament are not elected by a compulsory vote of the electors. We are elected by a voluntary vote, and by a majority of those voluntary votes. It is really ludicrous to insist upon a different standard of organisation and management in the affairs of a trade union to that which you permit in the case of almost every other organisation, from the highest political organisation which we represent down to the smallest commercial or industrial organisation in the country.
Let me turn to what I consider to be defects in the Bill. I regard with great jealousy the new departure of giving judicial powers to the Registrar. I hope the Attorney-General will reconsider that proposal. It may lead to the vexed question continually being argued in our Courts as to whether the Registrar is right or wrong in his refusal to grant a certificate. Hitherto the function of the Registrar has been purely ministerial. If he does not register, his refusal can be questioned in the Courts in the form of a 3033 mandamus to make him register. He has no judicial power. If he registers a company which he ought not to register, then there is a case which holds that the registration is void. I only throw this out; but I think it is well worthy of consideration whether or not my right hon. Friend should afford the opportunity for the registration of every trade union to become a matter to be argued before the Registrar, perhaps by counsel, and certainly argued in the Courts, perhaps the highest Courts afterwards. I have a second and more material objection. I am not at all sure that I agree with the provision that a fund must be set aside. With regard to the suggestion that a member who might be unjustly treated in not receiving his sick benefit should have power to sue for it I think that as inviting the Attorney-General to embark upon a very dangerous enterprise. The one thing which Parliament was most jealous about in the inception of the legislation of 1871 was to prevent litigation between a trade union and its members. If it is once started, heaven knows where it may end. I do not think that my hon. and learned Friend, who is a careful constitutional lawyer, would really desire to see that facility afforded to members of trade unions to continue at loggerheads with their officials and to carry on, it may be, protracted litigation.
But although I am against setting aside a particular fund, I agree that, on the whole, the Government have done wisely in so doing, because it meets a formidable and, at any rate, a plausible objection. To say that after a union, by a majority, has solemnly come to the conclusion that they will avail themselves of the powers of this Act to subscribe to political objects, an individual man or a number of individual men belonging to that association may say that they will not pay, and not only that, but that they shall receive a persuasive circular from the association telling them that if they do not want to pay they need not do so, I believe that that is not fair or reasonable treatment, and it is treatment which a trade union may very reasonably resent. I shall most certainly support an Amendment on that point. The provision giving power to spend money on holding political meetings so long as they are merely in furtherance of statutory objects within the meaning of the Act should certainly be expunged. Nothing is more likely to lead to confusion. There would have to be an 3034 inquisition as to whether the money was spent ultra vires or not, an inquisition upon the most bewildering of grounds, as the Attorney-General rightly said, deciding whether a meeting was political in furtherance of a trade dispute, or whether it was political not in furtherance of a trade dispute. It would baffle the wisdom of any number of lawyers to come to a really practical and sound conclusion on such a point. On the whole I support this Bill, although there still remains behind defects which have not been met by the Attorney-General, and which I really think and feel it will be a great and difficult thing to meet. As has been pointed out by the hon. Member opposite—to the surprise, I think, of my hon. Friends who sit around me here—a trade union henceforth will be able to carry on any enterprise, political, scientific, if you like, commercial, industrial; anything in fact, from the publication of a newspaper to the running of a tramway line—so long as you have the dominant feature of the association it will enjoy complete immunity from the law. That, of course, is a very serious matter, and one which perhaps shocks the moral sense of my hon. Friends who sit behind me, and maybe gives more than they want. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] That has embarrassed me in the few observations I have to make. Otherwise I welcome the Bill as restoring to trade unions that freedom of action which they have enjoyed almost from time immemorial.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I think trade unions have a very reasonable claim to be allowed to engage in politics. I am of opinion, although I am aware that on this point I do not agree with everybody on this side of the House, that the Osborne Judgment stands in some need of amendment. Therefore I do not propose to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill. But I should like to say unless it is amended in the direction which I should like to see it amended I shall certainly vote against the Third Reading, because, as it is drafted at the present time, I do not think it gives any adequate safeguards at all to the minority. The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has entered an eloquent plea for majority rule. Of course, majority rule is an institution which we all accept in this country. I venture to assert, however, that the analogies which the hon. and learned Gentleman quoted were entirely fallacious. He quoted the case of a club. The 3035 salient, to my mind the fundamental, point, about a trade union is that members of a trade union—rightly or wrongly is not the point—insist that every man in that particular trade, if possible, shall be forced to join his trade union. That claim is a feature of the situation which completely alters the case, and renders the analogies quoted by the hon. and learned Gentleman absolutely inapplicable. No one in this House denies that trade unionists force unwilling men into their ranks. They may be right or wrong in doing so. We have just seen the terrible dock strike, which has been brought about on this very question. What we claim is this: When you are dealing with free and voluntary associations of men who have met together, and who have decided to be bound by the rules of the majority, then the minority have no complaint. But when you have men forced into organisations against their will, and further forced to subscribe to the propagation of political principles which they detest, we say that that is absolutely inconsistent with individual and civic liberty. That is the point I should like to make this evening.
Why cannot the Labour party be supported by their followers? If they have such a number of followers, surely there would be no great difficulty in that? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester said that the taxpayers were forced to contribute towards the salaries of Members of Parliament with whose politics they did not agree. Again, there appears to me here no analogy. The fact that the payment of Members has been passed has strengthened our opposition to the claim of the Labour party. Surely it is an utterly different thing to say that all the citizens of the State shall contribute towards the payment of Members of Parliament, and towards the payment of the salaries of the Government, although they may not agree with the opinions of those Gentlemen? We are not paid here for our opinions. We are paid here for managing the country. I think it is quite a reasonable thing, although it may be good or bad policy, to ask the electorate to contribute to the salaries of Members of Parliament. What the Labour party, however, are asking for now is that men should be forced to contribute to the propagation of political principles which they abhor. It is because this is a matter of principle, because political principles, I suppose, stand next in importance to religious principles in 3036 the sentiments and convictions of mankind, that we are here really on very much more dangerous ground than we would be in any question of pure administration. The hon. Member for Manchester took various instances in the administration of trade unions, and he said, "You do not insist that the minority should be able to appeal against the decision of the majority in cases of industrial moment." No, but we insist that when it comes to a question of the conduct of political propaganda then you have no right to cause a man to assist in that propaganda against his will. It is a very simple matter to say that a man must abide by a decision in matters of administration. That is not a question which affects the conscience. It is purely a matter of arrangements. When you come to great political questions, such as Home Rule or Welsh Disestablishment, two things which involve principles far dearer to free citizens than anything else except religion, then you have no right to force men to contribute towards a propaganda which they detest.
§ Viscount WOLMER
That interruption is quite irrelevant. The hon. Member for Manchester chaffed us about minority rule in Crewe. An hon. Member reechoes that and says, "So it is," but how about the minority rule of trade unions? The hon. Member himself quoted the case of a trade union that had over 100,000 members, and in the instance quoted only 7,000 voted. It is, he said, not satisfactory. It is not right that the votes of 5,000 men out of the 7,000 who voted, when there are 100,000 members, should dictate the whole policy of those 100,000 members.
§ Viscount WOLMER
No, I do not think it would be right to compel men to vote; but what I do think you ought to do is to say that no decision shall have effect unless it commands the support of a majority of the members of the union. That, to my mind, is the only fair and just solution. I heard the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley, as is his custom, interject remarks that in political elections we are elected to the House of Commons by a majority of those voting and not by a majority of the electors. Again, surely there is no real analogy, because we all know that 80 or 90 per cent, of the electors 3037 habitually exercise their votes at every election. If it was the same with trade unions then I think we should have no reasonable cause of complaint. But when you get a state either of such apathy or of such intimidation—I do not know which it is—it is not a very satisfactory state of things. It is not satisfactory that only about one-tenth or less than one-tenth of the members dare or care to exericse their votes and should exercise the control they do, and I say it is altogether monstrous that that infinitesimal minority should be able to coerce thousands of their fellow members in their trade unions. The hon. Member for Manchester said: "We are only demanding what every company demands." That case was dealt with by my hon. and learned Friend who spoke last from this side. Hon. Members know perfectly well that no company at the present time is allowed to vote money for political objects. I remember the case of the railway company, I think it was, that sent a subscription to a political party a few years ago. I remember the outcry that was raised. If railway companies are not to be allowed to do this, why should other bodies be so allowed?
As is well known, a company cannot go outside its original objects without the sanction of three-fourths majority of its members and without an order from the Court as well. We are not asking that any such strict rules should be applied to trade unions. We are only asking that a simple majority of their members should decide what the policy of the union shall be. I have a question to ask hon. Members opposite to which I should like an answer. It is: Is this minority which they desire to coerce a small minority or a large one I If it is a small minority it seems to me they have very little to fear from these being given liberty to refuse to pay. If it is a large minority, so much so that the refusal to pay would seriously inconvenience the Labour party, then it seems to me that hon. Members opposite confess that they are indeed practising coercion and intimidation on a very large scale. It means that they are coercing a very large minority against their will. That is a point I should like to put to hon. Members opposite. So long as they maintain the claim that every man working in a trade shall be forced to join the trade union of that particular trade, then I say they cannot equitably maintain the claim that those men should be forced to subscribe to political propaganda with which they do not agree. Unless 3038 Amendments are put into this Bill which provide that the ballot shall be efficiently taken, and that only a clear majority of the members of the union shall decide its policy; that adequate safeguards are inserted against the intimidation of those who avail themselves of the privileges of this Bill, then I shall feel it my duty to oppose the Third Reading.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ALBION RICHARDSON
One or two questions, I think, have been lost f sight of by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Hants, who moved the rejection of this Bill, spoke of the grave danger which the provisions, of this measure would involve if it became law. But he and hon. Members opposite who followed him seemed altogether to forget that for more than thirty years they have lived under a system under which trade unions exercised not the powers-given by this Bill, but the far wider and greater powers which it was universally believed that they possessed. I cannot find that on a single occasion during the whole of that period, from 1872 onwards, that the question was ever raised in this House, that a single objection was ever taken, or that any Act of Parliament was introduced by hon. Members opposite limiting the powers of trade unions by depriving them of the right of paying election expenses and salaries to Labour Members. The Osborne Judgment has not affected the moral position; of the matter at all. All the Osborne-Judgment has done is to decide that it was ultra vires for trades unions to so employ their money, and that decision was founded upon this fact, that the Act of 1870 which created trade unions did not contemplate that the funds should be employed for the purpose of paying the Parliamentary expenses of Members of Parliament. I dissent entirely from what hon. Members, whose opinions I desire to treat with the greatest respect, have said with regard to the powers of corporations. They say that they are willing to give trade-unions the same powers as other corporations. I speak under correction, but I think I am right in saying that there is no instance of any body of men who have been clothed by the Common Law or by statute with a corporate existence which cannot by a majority—sometimes a bare majority and sometimes a majority of three-quarters—extend their powers in order to carry out their main object, even 3039 against the will of the minority. In the case of trading companies there is an express provision in the Companies Consolidation Act that the objects of the company may be enlarged and altered and extended in order that the company, and these are the words of the Statute: "May obtain its purposes by new and improved means." What is the main purpose of trades unions? It is this: to improve the condition of their members—I do not think any one will quarrel with that—and. to that end to deal with such questions as the regulation of the hours of labour and such questions as workmen's compensation. That is admitted to be the main object of trade unions. How can they achieve that aim under the existing law? They can carry on a propaganda; they can run newspapers, although an hon. Member opposite did not think they could. They may promote a strike, they may paralyse the industrial life of the nation; they may drive millions of pounds worth of trade away to foreign ports, and incidentally they may bring misery and starvation to a hundred thousand homes. All that they may do under the law in order to achieve their main purpose, but this they may not do; they may not send a representative to this House by peaceful and lawful and conciliatory means to attain the very things for which trade unionism was brought into existence. I do not think I should have opposed this measure, indeed, I should have supported it if it had simply provided that the Osborne Judgment should be reversed. I think we should have some ground for supporting a measure of that wider scope and I hold myself free in Committee to support an Amendment of that nature.
Let me ask the indulgence of the House for a moment or two while I examine one or two of the objections which have been taken to this very restricted measure which does not restore trade unions to their former position and which gives the fullest liberry to members who do not wish the funds to be employed for political purposes to be exempt from contribution. It is said by everyone who spoke upon the other side, "We want to see the Labour party in this House," but instead of exemption the money must be raised by a separate voluntary contribution, and they must do that because a system of exemption involves the difficulty of the marked man and coercion and intimidation, and so forth. Does not exactly the same state of objection apply to the man 3040 who is asked to contribute voluntarily to such a fund. If he is intimidated because he applies for exemption, will he not be equally intimidated under a system of voluntary contribution when he refuses to contribute. In fact, we have either to accept the system of exemption or practically to do away with Labour representation in this House. There seems to me to be no via media. The hon. Member for South Bucks, who spoke on the other side, took the point which he pressed very hard when he spoke on this subject last Session. He spoke of the right every man has either to refuse to pay or to pay subscriptions to the fund which is provided for labour representation, and he said that any man who wants to subscribe and is in favour of political representation would voluntarily subscribe to the funds if they were entirely voluntary. I do not think that argument was a very sound one. Nine out of ten men in this country are in favour of maintaining the Army and the Navy. Would it do to leave that to voluntary subscription? I think if the hon. Member examines that view a little more closely he probably will not desire to repeat it and pledge himself to the extraordinary proposition to which I have referred. His last objection was to paid nominees coming to this House under pledges. I think I am right in saying that we are all at the present time paid nominees who give pledges, unless we are numbered amongst that gallant and anonymous band of nine who return their salaries to the Exchequer. We are all paid. We all come here under pledges. There is not one of us here who has not pledged himself to support or oppose certain of the measures introduced into this House, and I would point out upon that part of the case that the objection is quite as strong if the money is raised by voluntary subscription as if it is paid directly out of the funds of the trade union. A man is under a pledge and he is paid: whether the money is paid out of funds of the union or out of voluntary subscriptions cannot possibly affect that point.
What about those Tariff Reform workman candidates who were run at the last election? Where did the money come from to pay for them? Why are not they exposed to the same criticism that they were paid nominees, paid by organisations and placed under pledges to support or oppose certain measures which were placed in the forefront of the various programmes at the election? I think the attitude of the Tory party in this matter can be 3041 summed up in this: "We cannot for obvious reasons avow our desire to destroy the Labour party: we desire to see them in this House; all we wish to do is to close every avsnue by which they can obtain access to the House." I think casuistry of that kind directed to an important measure is rather worthy of the school men of the eleventh century than legislators of to-day. Let me say, in conclusion, that I think this Bill raises a short and clear issue between those who wish to see the Labour party remain in this House and those who wish to see it abolished and destroyed. Its career in this House has been a distinguished one. Its Members have devoted themselves with unceasing toil to grave social problems profoundly affecting the lives and happiness of millions of our fellow men. They have brought to the consideration of those problems a ripe experience and in many cases an unrivalled knowledge. I should regard their exclusion from this House, and that is what the rejection of this Bill involves, as a disaster not only to the interests they particularly represent, but to the whole progress of our civilisation.
§ Mr. ERNEST JARDINE
All the speeches that have been made upon this Bill, with the exception of that of the hon. Member who has just sat down and that of the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General, have condemned the Bill more or less, and to anyone sitting on this side it is very difficult indeed to know whether hon. Members opposite are going to vote for or against the Bill. The Member for North-East Manchester, who made an extremely able speech and one which we were all delighted to hear, referred to the speech of the hon. Member for North Hants and accused him of speaking of the Labour party as a corrupt body. He withdrew that afterwards, no doubt feeling, as we all felt, that the speech of the hon. Member for North Hants was an extremely moderate and by far the most capable speech made upon the subject to-day. The real trouble in the mind of the hon. Member for North-East Manchester was the accusation that this Bill is a bribe to the Labour party, not in the nature of personal bribery, because every one in the House feels that the Labour party are a good party, a sound and an honest party. There is no one in this House but is proud of the personal character of the Labour Members, but the Labour party have always left themselves open to the accusa- 3042 tion because they have by their conduct in the past made it absolutely clear to every one that they are practically a tail, a little tail if you like, of the Liberal party. They get most furious from time to time against the Government, but I remember the first Session I was in this House and the first speech I made in this House was in support of Mr. Haldane, who was subjected to a very severe attack when the Labour party threatened awful things if the Government did not accept their Amendment. I supported the Government then because I did not want them to be terrorised by the fear of losing the Labour votes. I am sorry to say that many Members upon this side, possibly feeling there was a chance of defeating the Government, voted for the Labour party's Amendment, and what was the result? As soon as these gallant Gentlemen below the Gangway found that this side was going to vote for their Amendment they changed round, and simply bolted into the Lobby to vote against their own Amendment. The hon. Member for North-East Manchester should not feel offended if we think that this Bill, which is not worth having, is thrown out to them as payment for services rendered. Referring again to the speech of the hon. Member for North-East Manchester, the hon. Gentleman made no excuse or no pretence as to whether the working man who differs from the others is to have any rights on this question at all. He was not to be at liberty to think for himself unless he happened to think with the Socialist party, who are ruling so many of the trade unions, and that man was to be brought into submission. He was told he should be made to act like the others. Is that the liberty of the Liberal party? One can understand and one knows, even Liberal Members know, that the strength of the Labour party—and it is not much if it is tackled—depends entirely upon force and coercion.
I do not want to be personal, and I apologise to the House for bringing in any personal matters; but wherever any employer of labour requires highly-skilled workmen, and wherever he is prepared to treat them rather better than the other fellows, not only in regard to wages but in regard to general treatment, he can snap his fingers at trade unions or Labour leaders anywhere; he can get full liberty for his workmen and better results than if they were under the fear and tyranny of any trade unions. That is the case with my own people. I do not expect hon. Members opposite to agree with me; but 3043 I have no hesitation in saying that the free labour which I employ is better paid, more faithful, and more skilful than could be obtained by any other method. I want to give a word of advice to the Labour party on this matter. I wish to point out that if this Bill is forced forward at will bring a new element into the calculation which will be a very formidable opposition. Many employers have not been forced, as I have been forced, to adopt free labour. I have been forced to adopt it because people have come to me and said, "You pay us well, the conditions are good, either for a week or for a year; we have not the slightest complaint to make, but when you say you want some more help, when you want us to train up people in this trade, we shall never do it, because there are enough people in our trade already, and whatever you offer us you will never have any more people." In cases like that I was forced to adopt the attitude which I am proud of, and now I employ no trade unionists. If any Labour Members think they are so strong, or anyone in the House is afraid of the trade unionist vote, I ask them to come down into my Division and try to knock me out. The danger of this Bill is that it will create another class of employers who are politicians, or who are deeply interested in, shall I say, the Imperial party or the big England party, and if you compel that man's workpeople to become members practically of Socialist organisations and make them subscribe to Socialist funds, then there will be a great danger of creating an opposition to trade unionism, which will do a great deal of harm to the trade union movement. Again, there is the danger, that if this Bill is forced on, of employers forming trade unions. Why should not an employer form a trade union and compel the workpeople to subscribe to the Tory party.
§ Mr. JARDINE
This Bill is giving him the power. Let me give another instance if anyone doubts this power. The Trade Disputes Act was passed in order to promote peaceful picketing, and everyone knows what that means to-day. What was one of the first results of that? Not only were trade unions formed amongst the men, permitting them to do illegal acts, but the employers also formed trade unions, particularly and specially to perform illegal acts. I will give one instance, There is a particular trade in which certain 3044 buildings are required before one can start in that particular line. Certain people had a monopoly in that trade, and they found that a particular manufacturer, in. the interests of his own business and of his town, was going to start in that business. The employers immediately formed themselves into a trade union, took advantage of the Trade Disputes Act, and they went to that man who was going to build, and said to him, "If you dare to put up that building in competition with us we will, ruin you; we will stop supplying you with, what you absolutely need." That employer, tyrannised over by his fellow employers, and sheltered by the Trade Disputes Act, had to crawl down and accept the terms of that union.
§ Mr. JARDINE
That is the example trade unions set to an employer. What I ask the Government to do is to drop this Bill which the people they are giving it to are not satisfied with, because it will have bad results on trade unions, and will further degrade that independence which is rapidly passing away from our people, because they are gradually coming more and more to Parliament in matters which they ought to settle by their own efforts. The trade unions are now simply crawling to Parliament asking us to tax the whole of the workpeople whom they cannot coerce into the trade unions, and they are asking for power to use their hard earned money for Socialistic purposes.
§ Mr. JARDINE
One of them, at any rate, is here to expose the tyranny yoit are attempting to inflict upon honest, independent, and courageous workmen.
§ Mr. W. E. HARVEY
I have listened to many debates in this House, but I have never listened to speeches which have contained more misrepresentation than those which have been delivered from the other side of the House to-day. If they could prove half of what they say, then I venture to say this House would be justified in rejecting the Bill. I am going to give a sample of what took place during the debate on 30th May last year, and I think it could be multiplied ten fold. The Noble Lord (Viscount Wolmer) then said:—The federation have decided that this union must be stamped out altogether. They have been alarmed at the number of men who have left the federation, and 3045 therefore they have decided to force every working miner in Lancashire to join their own union. How do they set about it? In the first place, they chose pits at Bamfurlong, near Wigan, which were specially favourable for their tactics—pits where there were only tour men working who did not belong to the federation. The mine is such a delicate one that it could not have been left vacant without the roof falling in. By threatening the masters with a strike, they forced them in this case to dismiss the men because they would not toe the socialist line and would not become members of the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federation. Now they have gone on to some pits called the Park Lane Colliery, also near Wigan, and there they have forced over 250 men to join the union by threatening the masters that the pits would be closed down unless these men were either forced to join the union or discharged.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th May, 1911, cols. 994–5, Vol. XXVI.]That is a strong statement to make in this House. The agent of the Miners' Federation was summoned for his action, and the case was tried in Manchester. It went against the employer. It was then tried in the High Courts before three judges, and they found there had been no threatening and that nothing had been done except what was done legally. The man was acquitted of what he was charged in this House on 30th May, by the Law Courts of England, and the other side had to pay all the expenses. I want to know whether those statements made in this House on 30th May last year were justified. If there is anybody who will say that, I think he has very little conscience left.
I shall be very pleased to prove up to the hilt to the satisfaction of the hon. Member for Leicester any statements I have made.
§ Mr. W. E. HARVEY
I was myself in the Court and heard the case tried, and that was the judge's finding. My point is that there are statements made in this House to mislead the public and bolster up an opposition to this amending Trade Union Act. I stand here as an old trade unionist. We have been charged in this House with being socialists. I suppose we are in a degree. Every man is a socialist in a degree, though some may be more advanced than others. I have never yet declared myself a socialist. I have been connected with one of the best trade unions in the country for over thirty years, and a ballot has been taken as to whether I should contest a seat or not, and I am here as the result of the ballot. I should like the hon. Member who last spoke to give other people the credit for honesty as well as taking it for himself. I do not know that there is an over-abundance of it on that side of the House. I have no knowledge of it. I have a knowledge of acts by Tories at elections which do not 3046 warrant me in saying they have an abundant supply. Therefore, when we meet to debate these questions, I wish we could leave passion and temper out. It began almost in that strain, though I have no fault to find with the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill. There has been one point left untouched. I am a member of the Conciliation Board of the Federated Area of Great Britain. We have an independent chairman—we much regret the death of Lord James who was our chairman for many years—and the negotiations on that Conciliation Board regulate the wages of over 250,000 workers. When we ask for an advance in wages, we do not ask for the union men alone. There are various grades in the mines with some non-union men, and there is not always the coercion, and not always that following of men ruining them and making it impossible for them to get work that has been talked about in this House.
We do not negotiate alone for the men who are in the unions. We negotiate for all the men, whether unionists or non-unionists, and I venture to say since 1893 we have raised the wages 50 per cent, on the 1888 prices by negotiations. Those men who are not in unions have had the benefit of that. They have received higher wages at the week end. That has made their whole life better, and they have had it as the result of the work and negotiations of the association with which I am associated, in the county of Derbyshire, which is attached to the Miners Federation of Great Britain. Will hon. Gentlemen say they are to have that for nothing? If they say they are to have all the advantages of the trade unions and not pay anything, then they are preaching the doctrine that "a man shall reap where he has not sown." Everyone knows there has been more progressive legislation during the last six, or shall I say seven years, than there ever has been in the history of Parliament. I am not going to say, I have never said, and will never say, it is all the result of Labour men being here; but we have assisted in shaping and improving that legislation and in bringing into existence things that would not have been if we had not been here.
Take the Workmen's Compensation Act. We know who introduced and carried it, but it was only a part measure after all, it had to be improved upon, and, of course, the Conservatives claimed, when it was introduced, and before it was amended, 3047 that it was going to ruin everything in this world, and that the trade of the country would disappear. But by the action of the trade unions and of the progressive forces in this House the measure was amended, with the result that it has brought untold blessings into the homes of the people. But the amendment of it was fought night after night, and the working men of this country know how little they have to thank the Conservative party for. It is not your Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is a Unionist Bill."] I admit that the Unionists brought in a Bill, but it was a lame, limp thing, and the amendments to it came from this side, which made it a vital, living power, of which the working men got the advantage. Prior to the Osborne Judgment we had certain rights; we want those rights restored to us. We want the power we originally possessed to use our trade union funds for political objects. There is a good deal of talk about the ballot. Suggestions have been made that it can be interfered with and manipulated so as to induce the men to do exactly what their leaders desire. Now, in an organisation with which I am acquainted we have 40,000 men and to them we sent 40,000 ballot papers. The ballot papers are put into their hands and they record their vote. If that is not a true expression of opinion T do not know what is.
Majority should rule in everything. They rule in this House. They rule on county and town councils; they rule on all public bodies. Why, then, should a different law apply to trade unions? I object to the principle which is embodied in this Act with regard to majorities not ruling. Majorities must rule, and I hope that, during the discussions in Committee, we shall be able to convince the House that we are entitled to the right which we have enjoyed for thirty years, and which has been taken from us by judge-made law. My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester hit the nail on the head when he said that this decision was the result of a feeling that we were getting too powerful, and, consequently, money was found in certain quarters in order to attack the trade unions, injure their progress, and prevent them continuing to do the good they have been doing. I may mention only one organisation, but it has 600,000 members, and I venture to say that those members will support that party which gives its sanction to this Bill with Xo. 3 Clause taken out, because working 3048 men have opened their eyes to this fact that their best interests will be served on the floor of this House by having men of their own class representing them. Whenever the next election comes you will have to answer for some of the things that have been said in this House. You have misrepresented the working men. You have not treated them fairly. You have represented them as almost the worst creatures under Heaven's sun. For all these things you will have to answer. Working men are as honest as anybody in this House. They are asking for their liberties; they ask that the majority shall rule in any great organisation, and they resent being subjected to heavy costs with the idea that their unions may be crippled, so that they shall not be in the future such a force as they have proved to be in the past. If this Bill be carried the trade unionists of this country will be found still progressing and fighting for the elevation and betterment of the working classes.
Mr. MONTAGUE BARLOW
We have listened to an extremely interesting Debate on a most interesting subject. In the speech just delivered an appeal was made which I heartily support. It was an appeal for the absence of misrepresentation; for what used to be called in the old days "reasonable construction." The hon. Member seemed to think that misrepresentation was rife, and he desired to see it done away with. I entirely agree him. But unfortunately he himself was a rather bad example of the fault of which he complained. He spoke of the Workmen's Compensation Act. I had not the honour of being in the House at the time that that Act was passed; neither, I think, had he. The Act was introduced in 1896 by Mr. Chamberlain. It was brought in as a great experiment, it was applied to half the existing labouring classes. It was estimated that the labouring community at the time numbered 15,000,000. The Act was applied to the engineering and mining trades and to railways—to, in fact, about 7,000,000 of the population, in the hope that, if it worked as it should, it would eventually be extended to all artisans in this country. I have reason to know those were the facts because I was a lecturer at the School of Economics at that time.
They were half the industrial classes of the community. The other point mentioned by the hon. Member 3049 was that of coercion. To my mind that question is the most difficult question in the whole trade union controversy. He said that to suggest that coercion was asked for was to cast a slur upon honest trade unionism. I should be the very last man to cast a slur upon honest trade unionism, because I have the greatest admiration and respect for the principle of crade unionism.
I think there is a certain amount of dishonest trade unionism so far as one can gather from the speeches made in this House. It is a claim put forward quite frankly—one hears it every day—that there should be some power of coercion. I should have thought it was not arguable otherwise. I am prepared to say that there is a good deal to be said, not for violent action, but for some kind of pressure, for the obvious reason that if you are fighting for a standard or a minimum wage, some members would have influence out of all proportion to their numbers. To say that the claim is not made seems to be misrepresenting the issue. What is the real issue we are discussing? It is this. Is or is not a trade union to have freedom to engage in political work. I am one of those who think that subject to certain safeguards, which I will mention later one, that all trade unions ought to have such power. I know that is not a view held by many of those who sit around me, but I think that if you have a body of capable industrious Englishmen, as you have in the great trade unions in this country, who have subscribed funds, you must allow them to have, within limits, powers to regulate their own affairs. If they say they desire to have power to intervene, either directly or indirectly in political matters, subject to the full protection of the rights of minorities, it seems to me very difficult to refuse them that right. We have had proofs of trade union legislation in the past. We had the great Act of 1825. Up to that time unions were liable to be proceeded against under the criminal law. You had the group of Acts from 1871 to 1876. Up to that time they were liable to civil proceedings for conspiracy, and those Acts relieved them from that liability. The Osborne Judgment, so far as it restricts the activities of the unions, seems to me to call for modification somewhat on the same lines.
3050 What are the limitations which I suggest, supposing that greater freedom is secured to the unions than they now enjoy as a result of the Osborne Judgment. The restrictions imposed by the Osborne Judgment were very severe indeed. Under that judgment as it stands it is impossible for any union to subscribe to a library, or to aid the cause of education among the labouring classes by means of scholarships, objects which are obviously desirable in themselves, however you may regard the question of the political activity of the unions. Supposing the Osborne Judgment was maintained in strictness, it would be impossible for a deputation to come up to London and have its expenses paid, although it might be to see the President of the Board of Trade on a subject definitely concerned with the interests of the union, or, it may be, a strike. If that is so, it seems that some modification of the strictness of the Osborne Judgment is inevitable. The question arises as to what the safeguards should be, and how far this Bill provides those safeguards. In discussing this matter with my own constituents, who are very largely trade unionists, I find a general consensus of opinion—I do not think this will be disputed by any member of the Labour party—that you must have some protection, some conscience clause for the minority. The point we shall have to discuss at greater length is, how far the protection provided by the Bill is satisfactory or not. Of this I am quite certain, treating the matter broadly as a Second Reading matter, that unless the leaders of the great organised forces of labour are prepared to accept adequate safeguards for the minority, they will go a long way towards smashing up the unions, a result I should view with the greatest possible dissatisfaction. I believe they are the only chance for bettering industrial conditions in this country. Take the recent dock disputes on the one side and the magnificent organisation of the trade in cotton in the North. You have an instance at the docks where labour and capital are not properly organised, and another in the cotton industry where both labour and capital are highly organised. I am certain that the only chance for the industrial peace of this country in the future is high organisation on both sides.
If you accept that, the very first condition you must lay down is that your organisations, both of employers and employed, can only proceed on such general lines as will secure equity and fair treat- 3051 ment to all those who belong to the organisation on one side or the other. Let me give an instance of what I mean. Those who have anything to do with Lancashire will know what I am referring to. There is a very strong feeling among those connected with labour in Lancashire in support of religious education in the schools. There is a resolution passed by the Trade Union Congress year after year—it is one of those standing dishes which pass without discussion—in favour of secular education. If that resolution means anything, and if it could be made effective by the forces of organised trade unionism, it would mean that you would be causing offence to the consciences of men in a way which must inevitably lead, I will not say to retaliation, but to the weakening of trade union forces. One can see the beginnings of that even now, because the Catholics themselves have formed trade unions of their own, because they say that the trade union movement does not treat them fairly in the matter of religious education. It is just the kind of inevitable reaction which will come if the trade union movement is so misguided as to take upon itself to coerce minorities in a way which I do not think the members of any country will stand, and I am perfectly certain the members of this country will not stand. Any man of sense and responsibility would repudiate coercion with violence, but, although some kind of pressure might seem an easy weapon, it is bound to bring its own nemesis. If there is one lesson in history more obvious than another, it is that those who take the sword will perish by the sword, and if pressure with violence is put upon minorities by the trade union movement, I believe they will be laying up for themselves a great and very serious retribution, and it is because I believe in the trade union movement, because it is in itself in the future, as far as I can see, the only hope of bettering industrial organisation, that I would ask trade union leaders to be extremely cautious before they embark on a course which may seem to them at the moment to be advantageous, but which, I am perfectly convinced, in the future will be to the serious detriment of the trade union movement as a whole.
Then there is the question of the separate funds. These two things are essential—the protection of the minority, the protection of the conscience clause, so to speak, and the separate funds. I do not 3052 think this Bill secures the separate funds. I do not wish to speak as a lawyer—we have had appeals to lawyers to forget their profession—and I do not wish to go into the minutiæ of Clause 6, but it is quite obvious that Clause 6 is not as clear as it might be, and, if the funds are to be kept separate, very much more careful means must be taken, in that or some other Clause, of saying so. Subject to these two safeguards being better defined than they are at present—and that must be secured in the course of discussion in Committee or I may have to take a different course on the Third Reading—I believe the broad principle of the Bill to be not unsatisfactory, namely, that some greater liberty must be secured to trade unions. That is the feeling that I have about the Bill, and it is a feeling which is somewhat different from that of those who sit on the benches around me; but I think, from some considerable study that I have given to this subject, that it is the inevitable conclusion if you accept the great principle of trade unionism, as I do.
§ 9.0 P.M.
Mr. DEN MAN
The hon. Member has given the House an example of the best 1911 form of the Conservative party. The Debate then took this general form, that the Bill was, on the whole, a bad Bill, but we do not propose to vote against it. The hon. Member has perhaps gone a shade further, and is very nearly in the same position that I occupy, that this is a very good Bill, which I hope will in Committee receive a certain amount of amendment. But, congratulating the hon. Member upon keeping intact the ancient form of the Conservative party, I must refer to what, with all courtesy, I regard as the most interesting speech made this evening, the very brief speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Alfred Lyttelton). Last year he told us that this Bill was correcting evils which had been created by the Osborne Judgment, and that those evils were badly in need of this correction. He congratulated himself upon not having to vote against the Second Reading. He doubted whether the machinery for the exemption was quite adequate. He supported the general principle of the Bill, to give trade unions power once more to exercise that sort of political activity they had exercised before the Osborne Judgment. Indeed, in one place he went so far as to indicate the kind of amendment which was needed to make it a thoroughly good Bill. He said it merely required the inversion of the 3053 Schedule and notice to be given by those who wished the political policy to be carried through to this effect: "I hereby give notice that I am willing to contribute to the funds of so-and-so union for such-and-such an object." That is to say, provided the Schedule were reversed and put in a positive instead of a negative form, he supported the Bill. Because in 1912 the Government and those who support them have not seen fit to change their opinions on this Bill the right hon. Gentleman proposes to oppose the Bill, and apparently has fundamentally changed his views on the whole question. The big, simple question on which we are voting today is just this—Are trade unions to be able freely to participate in politics or are they not? The House last year decided by a majority of over 200 that they should, and I think very many Members on both sides of the House feel that that decision was right.
The new view of the Conservative party has consistently been put forward to-day by Members representing rural or residential populations. The two Members who have spoken from that side who represent industrial constituencies have been careful to revert to the old style. Really, the Debate to-day has centred upon the question of the safeguards—whether the methods of protecting the minority are adequate or not. It is only fair to the Government that those of us who wish to amend the Bill in this matter should take this opportunity of expressing our opinion, and I should like to call the attention of the Home Secretary to the fact that the only three Liberal Members who have spoken have all expressed precisely the same view, namely, that they hope that the provision by which the minority are exempted will be withdrawn. In this matter there is a considerable feeling in the Liberal party that the views put forward by the Labour party are right. The hon. Member (Mr. Barlow) suggested that this was not in the interests of the trade unions themselves, and that unless there were some adequate safeguards for minorities the trade unions would break up. He may be right, but leave that to the trade unions. Let them look after themselves. If they choose in their rules to safeguard minorities let them do so. If they choose to walk straight into the disruption that the hon. Member fears for them, I should deem it presumptuous in me to attempt to preserve them. Personally, I am wholly opposed to all these provisions which purport to secure exemption for the individual. 3054 There are two grounds of objection to these proposals, theoretical and practical. It would not be a suitable occasion to attempt to lay down the precise amount or value of the rights that should, on the one hand, be reserved to individuals, and on the other hand should be reserved to the societies to which they belong, but I want to remind the House of two considerations. Firstly, no individual can join a society without an appreciable loss of some liberty or personal taste, or whatever you like to call it, for the general good. Secondly, surely in modern times the whole tendency is to exaggerate the rights of individuals as against the rights of the societies to which they belong. I venture to suggest that that tendency has gone somewhat too far, and needs to be checked. I believe most people in this House consider that at the present time, as a matter of political theory, the prime necessity of our social condition is a higher degree of association and organisation, and far more perfect social discipline. There are, I know, a certain number of sentimental individuals who want individual licence to run mad, but I believe the general feeling in this House is directly against that trend in politics. While it is a feeling in this House, there has undoubtedly grown up in recent times a perverse sympathy with outbreaks of individual lawlessness which have become extremely common. One can take existing cases, and think of people who will say that they will not pay the Stamp Duty in respect of insurance on the ground that the Act is unjust. In all these cases you see just the same tendency of the individual thinking he has private rights which are superior to the decisions of the community to which he belongs. That tendency, I think, has been totally bad.
I do not see any need in our society to emphasise the rights of minorities. I believe we ought in all ways to emphasise the rights of majorities. In applying these considerations to the Bill before us, the House will notice that it begins by authorising a trade union to include political objects among its lawful objects. No adequate reason has yet been given why, if a political object is a lawful one in this kind of community, the decision of the majority shall not bind the whole membership. It is admitted that the fruits of the political object will come to the whole society. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not of every political object."] Yes, the actual results of the political endeavour of the union is shared by the whole of the union in com- 3055 mon, whether good or bad. Then we are told that we must think of the conscience of the individual. As to that, I should like to ask one question. Has anyone in this House met a man whose conscience was offended by contributing to a fund which was to be used for politics? I agree that there are many who may be offended by the fact that the fund to which they have contributed is used to promote doctrines to which they are personally opposed, but that is quite a different point, and that is not the ground given in the Bill for exemption. The conscientious objector objects not to the nature of the policy the union adopts, but to the fundamental fact of the union taking any part whatever in politics. That is quite a different point. It is one thing to object to a trade union taking part in an education controversy, and it is another thing to object to a particular doctrine of secular education which a union may adopt. But I would remind the House that it is the latter sort of objection that hon. Members have in their minds when they talk about conscience. They instance many occasions of conscious wrong done to a man who finds his funds being used for Socialism when he himself is a Liberal or a Conservative.
§ I confess that I have no sympathy whatever with the man who is willing to pay for a union entering into politics, and who then says, "Because my party has lost in the union, and is not in the ascendant, I will not pay." Surely that is not a very worthy point of view. Is not his real task to set about converting the union to his own way of thinking, paying, as all of us do, for objects with which we do not directly sympathise, in the hope that we shall be able to persuade the organisation to which we belong to come round to our view in the long run? From statements made in this Debate it would appear that some hon. Members think the minority were being in some way coerced. The opinions of the minority would remain what they are. The only question is whether they shall pay Is. a year to the union. I think the hon. Member for Manchester very appositely described the difference between a Conservative contributing to the salaries of a Liberal Ministry and a Conservative trade unionist contributing to a trade union. I really do not know what the difference is if you once admit that in the case of a large community a political object is a lawful object for that community. I wish to give 3056 one or two practical suggestions as to the difficulties which are caused by the system of separate funds, and: then allowing exemption. Take the case of the Railway Clerks' Association: which has recently sent a deputation to Belgium, I think, to inquire into the question of railway nationalisation. Under this Bill all that process of inquiry will certainly be payable from the general fund, and therefore the members will contribute to it. When the deputation reports and the union decide upon a campaign in favour of railway nationalisation, any political meetings, or the distribution of literature on behalf of the nationalisation of railways, will have to be contributed for out of the political fund. Surely the whole-process is the same throughout. We all know that they are merely collecting matter to assist their propaganda. That is not a very unreasonable arrangement.
The Act seems to me to produce greater difficulties when you come to questions of local political propaganda. Suppose a trade union desire to induce the local authority to adopt the Housing and Town Planning Act I suppose the normal way in which that would be done in most towns is by persuading the Trades Council to take up the subject and then by having more or less a public propaganda. Under this Bill it is quite obvious that a branch of the trade union would not be able to contribute anything to the trades council which proposed to undertake such a propaganda unless the union as a whole had decided that political objects should be undertaken. Secondly, I suppose the local branch would have in some way to secure out of its political funds a contribution to local expenditures incurred in this sort of work. Of course, if a branch, though itself desiring to assist the trades' council in its propaganda, happened to be a branch of a union that had not undertaken political activity then that branch would be powerless altogether. It could do nothing. The trades' council itself must find the assurance of a great deal of support in undertaking the work. Then a federation of employers may be a trade-union under the definition of this Act. It is possible they might awaken to the fact that technical education is exceedingly valuable, and that it is cheaper to train labour at the public expense than in their own workshop. They cannot support a public propaganda in favour of technical education unless they have gone through all the process of special ballot and 3057 separate funds. Suppose on the other hand this federation of employers had been storing up a fund for some years, then as far as this Bill is concerned by a mere vote of the majority all that fund could be devoted let us say to Tariff Reform. That is to say, though a minority might very bitterly dislike that propaganda they would find that because they had contributed in the past funds were being used for an object to which they were bitterly opposed. I would really suggest to the House that these provisions for separate funds and for having a special ballot are not really worth preserving.
What seems by far the most important argument for not attempting to separate the minority is that every one who has had practical dealings with trade unions knows that what you want to arrive at is an organisation which would be really representative of all the men. The most dangerous kind of union is the weak union which represents few people in which there is carefully separated off what I may term the frothy element from the substance. What you want is a union representative of all, and you can be sure then of getting an expression of the general opinion; but by this method of separating off the minority and the majority you make it far more likely that the political sections will be much more extreme than they would be if the political side of the union were really representative of the whole. That is the inevitable result when you deliberately allow a number of people who object to a particular policy to depart from it. The remainder will be far more extreme than the total union would ever be. On that ground, while I very cordially welcome this measure and hope that the Government will pass it in this Session, I am afraid that I shall have to support Amendments proposed by the Labour party. From the Debate which we have had to-day I anticipate support from those concerned who are convinced that the minority representation cannot be very effectively carried out.
I understand that this Bill is not a party question, and I also know from experience in my own constituency that trade unions are made up of Unionists as well as Socialists, with a sprinkling, of course, of Socialists. In the main they are not Socialists. Unfortunately the executives of some trade unions have been captured by the Socialists, but I think the time will come, especially after this Bill passes, when the 3058 working men will insist that they shall be represented, not by Socialists, who are after all a very great minority, but by either Liberals or Conservatives, and I think that this House will have no reason to complain if a Bill like this, when thoroughly amended so as to safeguard minorities is passed into law. Trade unions, properly led, are of the greatest possible service to the community. Nowhere is that fact more strikingly exemplified than in my own Constituency. In the cotton trade we have avoided strikes and industrial disputes in a manner which does the greatest possible credit to the sterling common sense of the Lancashire men, who just at this moment have avoided what might have been a complete paralysis of the cotton industry by a strike which originated in a dispute among the ring spinners. What appeared to be a very serious dispute has been settled in a marvellous manner by the common sense of the leaders of the trade unions of the cotton trade. They are men for whom I have the greatest respect. I agree with the hon. Member for Durham that trade unions have always been political bodies. They were political in their inception. The right to combine was originally illegal. They claimed to alter the policy of the country in that respect; they succeeded, and ever since that time the funds of trade unions have been used for political purposes. It was Benjamin Disraeli, Leader of the Conservative party, a humble admirer of whom I am, who passed the Trade Union Commission Act. He instituted a Commission to inquire into the organisation and rules of trade unions and other associations, and the direct result of that was that when the Commission reported in 1868, Mr. Gladstone happened to be in power, and the first Trade Union Act in 1871 was passed. But when Mr. Disraeli came into power again shortly afterwards he passed the Trade Union Act of 1876. I think hon. Gentlemen opposite will admit that trade union privileges have been given to them by the Conservative party, led by Benjamin Disraeli. As a humble follower of him, I am a great believer in and a great supporter of proper and right privileges for trade unions. As long as the leaders of trade unions were either Liberals or Conservatives nobody made any fuss about the funds of trade unions being used for political purposes. It was only when the executives were captured by the Socialists that trade unionists objected to having their funds used for political purposes, and 3059 that Osborne and others voted against trade union funds being used for Socialistic purposes. The real cause was distrust of the Socialist policy of some of the trade union leaders.
In these circumstances I feel that I must vote for the principle of the Bill, leaving myself perfectly free in Committee to vote upon such Amendments as I think will be necessary to safeguard the rights of minorities. The first point in the Bill to which I wish to refer is that the funds which are to be used for political purposes are not only to be separate, but the contributions must be ad hoc, and no other moneys must be used except those which are specifically contributed for political purposes. If the strike funds, benefit funds, and funds for political purposes were collected in one lump—collected, as it were, like a rate—with the different items indicated, that for political purposes would be car-marked and would be a separate fund. Under no circumstances then must the strike fund or the benefit fund be encroached upon. It is a merit of this Bill that it will for the future prevent any part of the strike fund or the benefit fund from being used for political purposes. If it does not do that, I shall vote against the Bill on the Third Reading. I take it that there will be an honourable claim on the part of the Labour party that they accept the position that under no circumstances shall the strike fund or the benefit fund be used for political purposes, but only those sums which are actually contributed to political purposes. The next point of the Bill is Clause 3 (c) which must be capable of being easily enforced-Clause 3, Sub-section (1), paragraph (c), is that a member who is exempt from the obligation to contribute to the political fund of a union, shall not be excluded from the benefits of the union or placed in any respect, either directly or indirectly, under any disability or disadvantage compared with the other members of the union.
At the present moment it is extremely doubtful whether that can be legally enforced, but it is a condition of my voting for the Third Reading of the Bill, that some provisions should be inserted to make it perfectly clear that legal sanction shall be given to the provisions so that minorities may be protected, and so that those who do not wish to subscribe to the fund for political purposes may not be subjected to exclusion from benefit or to any disability or disadvantage. A further point is with 3060 regard to the ballot. The ballot must be made really secret. The secrecy must be so strict that the members can rely upon it, so that they may be able to give a perfectly free and unbiassed vote. Lastly, no man is to be compelled, either directly or indirectly, to contribute to the political fund. That should be made a reality by inverting the notice which is inserted in the Schedule of the Bill, that nobody shall be compelled to contribute, and nobody shall be called upon to contribute unless he gives explicit assent, and he ought not to be put in any position of disadvantage for having expressed his dissent. The hon. Member for North-East Manchester (Mr. Clynes) was all for compulsion. I do not believe in compulsion. The very base of the argument of the hon. Member for North-East Manchester is the base of most of the legislation of the Radical party. The leaders of the men arrogate to themselves this position: they say, "We know better than you do yourselves what is good for you, and you are going to have it whether you like it or not." In my opinion, that is entirely wrong. The leaders should find out what it is the men want, and it should only be by the men's permission and with their sanction that they put measures before the country for adoption by Parliament. Subject to these four matters, I approve the principle of the Bill. I believe that it will be a great benefit to trade unions, whose funds, which are for strikes and for benefits, will never be encroached upon for political purposes, as they have been in the past. With these remarks, I beg to say that I shall support the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I am sure we were all glad when the hon. Member who has just sat down was able to make the confession which he did in the earlier part of his speech. He told us that so long as the trade unions' political activities were confined to Liberals and Tories no objection at all was taken to using trade union funds for political purposes. But the moment, he said, the trade unions' executives were captured by Socialism then the change came, and the law, which I always assumed was based upon principle and not upon political expediency, began to be put into operation, and trade unions were deprived of the opportunity of doing the work which they had done from the beginning. That is a very important, interesting, and suggestive statement.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
The point is, whether they revolted or not, that the power was taken away from trade unions for doing work which the hon. Member himself admitted they had done since the beginning, and which consequently at all times is essential to the operations of trade unions, and, being essential to the operation of trade unionism, ought not to be subject to a minority clause, and would not necessarily be subject to a minority clause so long as the only kind of politics within trade unions was Liberalism or Conservatism. That is a contention we have been making for some years, and I am very glad that in making it in future we can rely on the support, the voting support, of the hon. Member. Let us take the general question raised by this Bill. I am not going into details, because it is far more convenient they should be entered upon in Committee upstairs. This Bill attempts to establish a certain principle, and the question we have to decide is whether that principle is right, and, to a minor extent, whether the Bill carries it out under such conditions. The Osborne Judgment, may I say parenthetically, did not merely affect political action, or what is commonly called, at any rate, political action. The Osborne Judgment affected a very considerable body of trade union effort which by no stretch of the imagination could be called political. For instance it is very doubtful whether a trade union can now spend the funds subscribed by its members in sending two or three of its members to study at a college at Oxford or anywhere else. The works of trades councils has been greatly hampered by the Osborne Judgment, and so on.
But I assume that we are not so much interested in that aspect of the Osborne Judgment, and that what we really want to discuss to-day and the consideration which is going to influence our vote a little later on, is not going to be those questions at all, but the question of the political activities of trade unions. It was on that ground the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Salter) moved the rejection of this Bill, and, if he will allow me to say so, in a speech which, although we did not agree with him, we certainly admired. It was controversial undoubtedly, but nevertheless it was just one of those speeches which raise important questions which must be settled, and which we must answer if we are going to establish our 3062 claim at all. I want to confine myself to two main questions, first of all, why we want a Bill like this, and secondly, how we would draft the Bill ourselves. I want this Bill, I want the right to take political action restored to trade unions, because the fundamental and characteristic purpose of all trade unions is not to give unemployed benefit, and not to give friendly benefit of any kind. The characteristic function of trade unions is to regulate the relations between employer and employed. From the very beginning of the trade union movement it was regarded by the Legislature as an army in the industrial field. It was a kind of organisation and a combination of labour meant to oppose, and, if possible, to conquer combinations of capital, and combinations of capital which were not always political and not always definite, but which, from the very economic conditions under which capital operates, must be a combination, the individual capitalist being the equivalent of a combination of working men. Those were the conditions under which trade unions were regarded, and it was upon that point of view that the whole of our trade unions code of legislation has been built up.
Let us begin with that fundamental proposition that the characteristic object and function of trade unionism is to regulate the relations between capital and labour. How is a combination of workmen going to regulate the relations between capital and labour? We have been occupying ourselves in this House for the last eighteen months very largely in regulating those relations ourselves. We did it when the railway men came out on strike, and we did it when the miner's came out on strike, and we have been busying ourselves in connection with the Port of London Dock Strike. The Government has appointed a committee of inquiry, or, rather, charged the Industrial Council to conduct an inquiry into how labour disputes can be avoided in future. In fact, this House has definitely and specifically taken upon itself the responsibility to step in and regulate, of its own accord and of its own will, the relations between employer and employed. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. A. Lyttelton) is going to follow me. I put it to him, how can he or how can anybody who is going to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill argue, or think he can prove, that the combination of workmen under modern political conditions and in 3063 the teeth of the responsibility which this House has taken upon itself within the last eighteen months, that that combination can fulfil the functions of the Trade Union Acts of 1871 and 1876 without being represented somehow or other in this House. I do not see how it is possible.
Legal technicalities, of course, come in. We have heard them narrated to us in a very alluring and delightful way by the hon. and learned Member who moved the rejection. I candidly confess I am one of those laymen whom I suppose he had in his mind when he said we would hear legal opinion by those not qualified to express them. I candidly say I could not follow the Attorney-General in those very subtle distinctions which he made, but I have had to try to understand them, and I could not follow the points that the hon. and learned Member opposite made, and I am bold enough to confess that because I have had some experience of lawyers on these very points. I have been with a lawyer, I have had his advice and discussed the matter with him; I put the points to him and got his settled opinion. I have gone to another lawyer, and I have found that he disagreed with the first, and then, although not personally concerned, but more or less in a representative capacity, I have heard judge after judge throw over all the lawyers. I am bound to say, if my experience of the advice of the lawyer and the opinion of the lawyer had been more consistent than it has been, I would have treated far more seriously than I did the somewhat gloomy prognostications of the hon. and learned Member who moved the rejection of this Bill. There is one thing I am perfectly certain about. Although he may be perfectly right in what he has said, before ten years are out lie will find that other interpretations, and, assuming this Bill is carried in its present form, things he has not foreseen will be seen by lawyer-judges, and others, and the only safe thing we can say when in the hands of the law is, "Goodness alone knows what is to happen to us." But it is not really the legal objection that most frightens the hon. and learned Member. I feel quite sure that he experienced a good deal of hesitation and mental reservation in laying down the law, and he always came back—I think I noticed it running right through his speech—to what is fundamental. He does not believe that the ordinary member of a trade union would do the fair and 3064 honourable thing. He says, "You can insert rules in your trade union rule book; you can make pledges in those rule books; you can impose by those rules obligations upon your membership; you can gather a mass meeting or a representative meeting of your members in accordance with those rules; but I have no belief and no confidence that the mass meeting or representative meeting would carry out those rules." I do not think that that is quite fair.
Take the very worst. There are times, when a trade dispute is on when feeling runs very high, and we get temper shown and things done which we regret very much, but that is not a peculiarity of trade unionism. That is not a pecularity of the working-class mind, or of the working-class character, or of working-class, conduct. Even when statements are made specifically, as my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Derby (Mr. W. E. Harvey) pointed out in connection with a statement made twelve months ago, in regard to occurrences that happen under those unfortunate circumstances, they are made with exaggeration, without knowledge, and without a sense of responsibility. To assume that they are as bad as they are stated, that they are typical and representative of the normal state of trade union conduct, is really to inflict a very grave injustice upon the trade unionists of this country. If this Bill is passed, with or without safeguards, it is not going to operate when passion runs high. It will operate in normal conditions such as we have to-day. It is going to operate every day, every week, every month. I know my colleagues very well; I know the people whom they represent here; I know the people whom they lead as presidents and secretaries in the trade union movement; and nobody will contradict mo when I say with knowledge of these men that this Bill in normal times—that is nine years and eleven months out of every ten years—will be accepted, will lead to no oppression, will lead to no unfair pressure, but will become part and parcel of ordinary trade union habit. The man who wishes to subscribe will subscribe, and the man who does not want to subscribe will not be interfered with in the exercise of his liberty.
Then there came the political considerations against this Bill. They were expressed by the hon. and learned Member opposite (Sir A. Cripps). I will take a case typical of the kind of idea that he 3065 had in his mind—the parallel which he tried to draw between a corporation like a railway company and a trade union. There is no parallel between the two cases. It is perfectly true, as he says, that there is no corporation like a railway company directly represented in this House. But in life the real is not always the nominal. Take, as an example, what may happen twelve months from now when we are discussing the next Finance Bill. Supposing there is an Amendment interesting to brewers or distillers. The chances are that the tellers in the Division on that Amendment will belong to that particular section of the community. It has happened over and over again. If there is a railway Bill before us, the chances are that railway directors will speak on behalf of the railway companies. I admit that none of these men are sent here on the funds of brewing or railway companies. But that is not necessary. The whole point is that a particular set of political circumstances suits capital but does not suit labour, and in order that labour may be put on terms of equality with capital it must be allowed to use a liberty which is of the same equivalent value to them as the particular liberty which capital enjoys now is to capital. As a matter of fact, the hon. and learned Member, in asking labour to conduct its political work in precisely the same forms as capital, is like the stork asking the fox to dinner, and serving the food in a dish out of which only the stork could eat heartily and with satisfaction to himself. The only suggestion that I make to the hon. and learned Member is, not that the stork's dish should be abolished or broken and made unusable, but that he should be good enough to come and help me to put the fox's dish alongside of it, so that both of us may have an ample meal at the end of the day. That is all that I want, and, while I do not think the Bill goes far enough, and it is open to many objections in detail, I suggest that, at any rate, the intention of the Bill is to put two unequal dishes alongside of two persons who have got to be unequally provided for in order that they may get on terms of equality in the political feast.
What we have to do is to forget the corporations on the one hand, and the trade unions on the other, and to remember that the representation of corporations in this House is a representation of capitalism in general, and that the representation of trade unions in this House is a representation of labour in general. What is the use, 3066 for instance, of our asking for a constituency to send a boilermaker here as a boilermaker, to vote as a boilermaker, and as a beilermaker to bring pressure to bear upon the Government? That is not, and never was, our idea. As a matter of fact, we have always opposed that idea. The more antiquated people amongst our friends outside, and amongst our critics as well, have assumed that that was the purpose and the basis of the Labour party. That is a profound mistake. Capital is represented here as capital, and when its sub-divided interests come up—brewing, railways, land, and so on—then the sub-divisions of its representation in this House take the lead, and when we are imposing taxes, as in the Budget, upon land the landlords in this House rise up, and say, not "You are taxing the landlords," but "You are taxing us." And they identify themselves with the particular tax. That is how it is done. So on this side of the House we want the representation of the Sub-sections of labour, not standing separate and distinct amongst themselves, but co-ordinated together into a party, so that the whole of labour's experiences, labour's interests, and labour's needs may be available for deliberation on the floor of this House. There are two views that can be taken of Parliament. There is the view that hon. Members sitting around here are very impartial men; that we have no personal interests, no class interests to serve; that we are simply like gods looking down upon the strife in which men are engaged; that we are standing apart, dealing out even-handed justice. That is one view of the House of Commons. That is not my view.
We cannot attain to it. There is, therefore, no use talking grandiloquent nonsense about it. The House of Commons represents the various interests of this country, and the only way in which the House as a whole can become impartial is that the various interests of the country should be adequately represented. So we shall be blended in the discussions as to our rights, our influence, and so the House may be a microcosm of the great nation outside. In order that this may be done labour cannot be represented by forty-one Members. That is not representation. That is not democracy. Labour must be represented by far more than forty-one Members. Consequently our idea of the Labour party in the House of Commons is not a party of forty-one men, three or four railway servants, two or three engineers, and one or two 3067 Socialists as a sort of binding link. That is not our idea at all. That is not our conception of party. Our conception of party is that we should have here representation of labour experience, labour interests, labour ideals, so that we can put that experience, those interests, and those ideals into the common stock of the House, and meet hon. Members face to face, as we are doing to-day, and discuss matters with them, and trust that the result will be for the enlightenment of the country, and for wisdom on the occasions for which this House may make itself responsible. That being so, it is absolutely necessary that organised labour should find its way into this House, not as a series of trades, but as the expression of the great producing class—sub-divided in such a way that sometimes it is in conflict with itself—necessarily represented by the large number of people in this House. What, if I am going to follow in the line I have taken, what is the answer given to us and to that contention? I have never been able to see, and I do not see now, how it is possible, if you go on certain assumptions, if you proceed on the assumptions I have made, if you agree with certain propositions that I have made, that the object of trade unions is to regulate the relations of employers and employed, that anyone can say that it is not necessary for the well-being of this country, for the well-being of the nation, that all interests should be adequately represented in this House. I do not see, therefore, how you can resist the conclusion to which I have come, that the trade union must have restored to it the right of political action and of political conduct that it was believed it had, and which, as a matter of fact, it did exercise until what is known as the Osborne Judgment was delivered by the House of Lords.
There is just one point left that I want to deal with in a sentence. I have been dealing with the "Why." I now come to "How." This raises the question of the minority. I want to lay down a proposition. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman who is to follow me resists it or not, but again I do not see how it can be resisted. It is this: When one speaks of the rights of the minority or the rights of the individual—for that matter, whether in a majority or minority—one can only define the rights in relation to the nature of the organisation of which the individual is part. If the individual joins an Army 3068 his rights are limited and denned by the nature of the Army organisation in which he has enlisted. If an individual joins a trade union he joins that trade union as an organisation which has got certain nature, certain functions, and a certain utility. It is mere moonshine, mere abstraction, and without any meaning at all to talk about individual right within that organisation, which means the paralysis of that organisation. If a trade union is such as I have been trying to define in the former part of my speech, then the individual member of a union has no right which would paralyse that union in its political activities, for the protection of its members who require it, and in connection with the relation between employers and employed. That is my general case so far as these minorities are concerned. I do not believe there is anything oppressive in saying to men who join the union, "You know what it is for; you know why you joined it." The trade union is fundamentally a fighting organisation. You know all that; and you. have joined it, and when you have you cannot possibly set up a claim for individual right that is contrary to the nature of the organisation, that you have joined voluntarily and open eyed.
That being so, it conies to be a mere question of government by the majority. If the majority decides that the union ought to take part in political action, then the minority must obey. The right of the minority is to express its opinion and to carry on a propaganda so as to turn this minority into a majority. That is the good old fashioned individualist doctrine. I do not think the safeguards are necessary. I think they are rather insulting. I think that the trade union movement has shown that it can exercise the rights given to it in a general way by this Bill without these safeguards. But as I said when I rose, I do not propose to deal with any Committee points. I am interested in laying down, or trying to lay down, a doctrine which I think really is a fundamental principle of this Bill. That being so, I believe that the House will give us this Bill by a large majority, so that the particular details that have been so interestingly discussed by some hon. Members this evening may have a chance of being met face to face in the Committee room upstairs.
§ Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
I wish, before I answer one or two questions which the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down 3069 has put, to brush away one or two observations that have been made at an earlier part of the evening. Speaking for myself, and I am sure for those who act with me, I may say we have no objection to trade unions—on the contrary, very much the reverse. For forty years or more, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend behind me our party supported trade unions in all that is legitimate, and to Mr. Disraeli and other prominent Members of our party trade unions owe very much of the charter of liberty that they have now. Nothing that we have done in the past, or shall do in the future, will in any way fetter the legitimate function and liberties of trade unions. Neither, again, have we said anything against the Labour party, nor do we regard the subject of the Labour party as relevant to this Bill at all. There are many interesting lessons which we may lay to heart with regard to the Labour party, but at the present moment in discussing this Bill the position of the Labour party is not in issue. The hon. Member who has just sat down has asked me how I can possibly say that without this Bill trade unions can be represented in this House. There, are two answers to that. The first answer is that the Osborne Judgment with which this Bill deals was delivered in 1908, and the Labour party and those representing trade unions are here still. That is the first answer.
The second answer is this, and it is a curious thing that it was wholly ignored, or at any rate scarcely mentioned throughout the whole of the Debate, yet it is a matter upon which the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down made an extremely eloquent speech before, namely, the payment of Members. I remember the hon. Gentleman's speech. It burned itself into my recollection. The hon. Gentleman then advocated the payment of Members, and his main case, and very forcible argument, so far as it went, was that it was undesirable and contrary to the public interest that men should come here representing peculiar interests, such as trade unions and particular trades and the like, and he urged how much better would it be if the Bill for the payment of Members were passed, if salaries were allowed to Members, not excessive salaries in his view, and if everybody on the benches where he sits, as well as everybody else, should represent not a particular section of interest but the interest of the public at large. The hon. Gentleman agrees with my recollection of his speech. 3070 He asked, how is labour to be represented? I answer that he pointed out labour was to be represented by the payment of Members, by facilities given for the great operative classes in this country to come here unfettered by sectional interests, free to vote as they thought right in the interests of the nation, made free by the fact that they were made pecuniarily independent of those who in general supported them. These two answers may be unsatisfactory" to the hon. Member, but I submit them to the House in the belief that they are fair arguments addressed to fair questions. The next point upon which the hon. Gentleman invited my agreement or disagreement was this. He said the fundamental reason for the existence of trade unions if I quote him rightly, is to regulate so far as they may the relations between employer and employed. I accept that as one of the most important functions. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that that is the most important function that trade unions can fulfil. I do not see myself how that carries the hon. Gentleman to the decision which he has sought after as resulting from it. I have always laid it to heart in considering trade union questions that it was desirable that so far as possible labour should be rendered equal in its contests with capital, that the arms of labour should be made equally long with the arms of capital, and throughout the whole of the legislations from 1871 up to that ill-omened day of 1906, after which we had the Trades Disputes Bill and other disastrous Acts, for the whole of those years I submit to this House and I think I could call ample authority to back me up that the efforts especially of the Conservative party were directed to abolishing the ancient and harsh rules against the combination of labour with the definite intention of placing labour on even terms with capital in industrial disputes.
I draw a totally different conclusion from the hon. Member from that history. I say that legislation between the dates I have given did in point of fact render so far as it is possible to render equal the conflicts of labour and capital, and I myself and I think all my friends behind me, believe that so far as the Osborne Judgment conflicts with certain expenditure not political, which trade unions were wont to incur on behalf of university extension and technical education that this House would almost unanimously pass a Consent Bill which would liberate the funds of trade 3071 unions for these admittedly beneficent objects. But this is a far more drastic and comprehensive measure than that. This Bill really does this. It takes trade unions as they now stand equipped with the formidable powers which we know they have, with privileges and immunities which do not exist with regard to any other section of the community; it takes these bodies and organisations thus equipped, endowed with these powers not for purposes of politics but for purposes of industrial conflict and launches them avowedly into the political arena, there to use these opportunities and privileges in a manner which no one who was a party to that legislation ever contemplated or thought possible. It is perfectly true that my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke in his admirable speech said—and no one knows it better than hon. Members opposite—that the political views which trade unions at this moment would advocate are Socialistic. For my part I trust the House will believe me, I care not what political interest is favoured, but the danger is that these organisations should be used for party purposes. You might have organisations for Free Trade, you might have organisations for Tariff Reform, you might have organisations for some religious or antireligious purpose. It was an axiom with all the old trade unionists, men like Frederick Harrison and the present right hon. Gentleman the Member for Morpeth (Mr. Thomas Burt) to keep politics and religion out of trade union discussions; otherwise you will get a disintegrating influence which was sure to operate against the interest of trade unions. Directly you make it a really effective political organisation, and directly you make your trade union effective as a political organisation, you remove the whole lynch pin out of the fabric which has been so patiently reared, and you inflict a great blow against organised labour. Experience has shown in the last fifteen months how much demoralisation there has been with regard to opinion in industrial conflicts and political conflicts. The passing of the Act of 1906 placed the trade unions above and outside the law, and it has created an atmosphere of unfairness and tyranny and oppression about trade unions. Men who were thus favoured by the legislation came to think that whatever they might desire in the interests of labour and trade unions must be right. The hon. Member for North-East Manchester made a very interesting and ex- 3072 ceedingly candid speech, and he most frankly avowed what I have said. He said that the objects of trade unions were proper objects. If those objects were avowedly proper why need we discuss anything at all, and why should we not at once obey their demands'? He said the unity of trade unions must be imposed on every member of trade unions in their own interests. He went on to say, with a singular disregard of the facts, that shareholders in a company had a perfect right to dictate the policy of the company in which they were shareholders. Really it is no such thing, because a limited company is limited in its action by its memorandum of association, which lays down what its functions are, and any shareholder who observes the company of which he is a member going outside of its functions would have an immediate right to go to the Courts and restrain the company from so doing.
§ Mr. CLYNES
After all, shareholders have to submit to whatever is decided in their name by those who have authority to come to such a decision.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
That is precisely where the hon. Member is entirely wrong. If a railway company chooses to embark in some business absolutely foreign to its constitution, any shareholder can restrain that company from so doing, and that is really elementary law. I can quite understand how it is that the hon. Member is under a misapprehension on that point. A trade union is not formed for the purpose of political agitation, but for the benefits of industrial agitation for regulating the relations of labour and capital. When the hon. Member gives the instance of a company or corporation, and imagines that the members of those bodies have to submit to the ipse dixit of the majority, he totally misapprehends the position of affairs, because it is the absolute right of any shareholder to restrain a company or corporation from acting beyond the scope of its original constitution. Do I really exaggerate his position in any degree when I say, if the principles which he lays down for our guidance with regard to trade unions were to prevail, there would be absolutely nothing to prevent this state of things happening outside. If a Conservative Member were to be returned by a majority for a constituency, the circumstances that he represented the majority would enable and entitle him to levy upon his Liberal opponents that sum of money which was necessary to maintain his 3073 organisation. I do not desire to exaggerate the point at all, but when the hon. Member says that unity must be imposed in their own interests and that the trade union must be regarded and must always act as a solid whole and that the minority, notwithstanding their opinions, must pay for actions which they dislike intensely and distrust, it is equivalent to saying that a Liberal having been returned by a majority in a constituency, is entitled to make a levy upon the Conservatives for maintaining him in that position.
Perhaps I may be allowed a personal reference. The position I took up last year was that it was possible in Committee this Bill might give such safeguards to minorities in trade unions that at any rate we could afford to discuss it in Committee and allow the Second Reading to go through. That was the attitude of many of us last year, and that was the Attitude of one of my hon. Friends this evening. It is perfectly clear the hope we then had was illusory. This Bill has been before the Government for fifteen months, and it has been widely discussed in the. Press and elsewhere. We hope such arguments as we laid before the House last year have been considered by the Government, but, whether they have considered them or not, the only effect of our adopting an attitude of not absolute hostility to he Bill last year has been that the Bill has, with the exception of an Amendment consequential upon the payment of Members, been brought in again this year without the alteration of a single comma. I think, the Government having had fifteen months' consideration of the Bill and of the arguments we addressed to them as to the unfairness with which a very large proportion of the House thought large minorities were treated, and not having yielded a single point, it would be childish for us to suppose they intend now upstairs or anywhere else to alter the position they have taken up. They admit, and every hon. Member opposite has admitted, that trade unions cannot get voluntary subscriptions for the purposes they desire. They admit they cannot get votes from trade unions as a whole to alter the fundamental policy of trade unions and to enable them to become political and partisan organisations, and the plain English is they seek by the machinery of this Bill to beguile members into contributing for these political purposes without definitely and manfully ascertaining whether they wish those political purposes to be 3074 attained. It is an enormous weight to take upon themselves. The Government have taken a great weight upon their shoulders in wishing to make these bodies definite political bodies. They have failed to have the courage of their opinions. If they really believed that it was the object of the rank and file of the great democratic masses in the trades unions to have this power why have they not put to them the plain question, "Do you, or do you not wish the constitution of your trade union altered so that political purposes shall become part of an organised trade union?" Why have they not put that question to them? Because they have known that the answer would be in the negative. All the talk about the application to the Registrar and about the secrecy of the ballot is absolutely futile in view of the fact that a man has to obtain exemption from the liability to pay this contribution. He has to claim exemption on a written form so that it is known to everybody, and every single dissenting member of a trade union would become obviously a marked man. The Attorney-General, to whom I am indebted for his exposition of the provisions of the Bill, did not really advance more than one argument in its favour. He pointed out—a little unfairly, I think—that there would be quite sufficient protection in the circumstance that the Bill itself enacted that no disability should lie on any man who had claimed exemption. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggest to the House that that is sufficient protection for those who are claiming merely elementary rights? Suppose the headmaster of a school declared there was to be no disability on a boy who refused to play cricket?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
What I pointed out—and I think the right hon. Gentleman has, of course unintentionally, misrepresented me—was that no one was to be excluded from the benefits of the Bill by reason of claiming exemption.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
The position is that there is to be no disability attaching to a man who does an unpopular thing against a very large majority of his fellows, and the hypothesis is that the mere fact that the Registrar is to make rules to prevent a feeling of dislike operating upon that man is really quite absurd. We know how these things are done. A man is sent to Coventry. There are, in fact, innumerable ways by which a powerful body, very keen indeed to get its particular policy 3075 enforced, can demonstrate its feeling to the disadvantage of the dissenting member. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman really think this House can make provision to prevent the operation of this well known force? The real test of the sincerity of this Bill and the purposes it seeks to carry out is, Which party is willing to take the real opinion, under real secrecy, of the members of the trade unions? That measures the sincerity of the opinion that the working classes are in favour of this measure. If they are in favour of this measure, and trade unions are in favour of it, why should not every possible step be taken to make the decision really secret, and to prevent it being known who has claimed exemption from its provisions? That is the real test. Hon. Members shrink from every hostile inference which is legitimately drawn from that fact. It is useless to bandy words with hon. Members opposite about who is in a majority. The only way you can test who is in a majority on this subject is by ascertaining, in confidence and in secrecy, what are the real opinions of the members. Until you find that out the subject is still at large. Those who object to the seal of confidence being placed upon these matters cannot complain if their opponents say, and say with confidence, that the people who shrink from that test are the people who are wrong about the opinion of the working classes.
The hon. Member who preceded me, as every one must do who heard the speech of my hon. Friend who moved the rejection of this Bill, spoke with great respect of his arguments, and complimented him, with great courtesy, upon them, but it would have been a greater compliment still if he had attempted to answer some of those arguments instead of postponing them to a more convenient season. My hon. Friend adduced arguments in his speech, and, so far as I can gather, no one has attempted to answer them. He argued that a trade union hereafter, if this Bill were passed, so long as it kept its original functions of a trade union predominant, would be able, collaterally with those functions, to embark upon commercial and political pursuits. He said it might start a newspaper. Those under its authority might write defamatory articles upon Parliamentary candidates. He might have added that its members might enter into a conspiracy to prevent the candidature, or grievously impede the candidature, of anybody opposed to their side. My hon. 3076 Friend pointed out that by the operation of Section 4 of the Trade Disputes Act. 1906, which is law still, if these grievous wrongs were committed by a trade union, there would be no remedy, because under Section 4 it is made immune from all civil proceedings. The Home Secretary is going to follow me, and I should like to know what is his answer to that. I do not think it is possible to say that my hon. Friend's statement of the law was not absolutely correct. The Attorney-General says it is not.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The trade union under that Section is immune from liability as a trade union from damages in an action for tort, but there is another Section under which the trustees of the union are liable for anything which is done in respect of their property provided it is not in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. If they are running a newspaper and libel a person, not in connection with a trade dispute the trustees would be liable, as they were in the well known action which took place before the Osborne case.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
If the right hon. Gentleman will contrast the language of Section 2, which makes peaceful picketing legal when it is done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, with Section 4, which leaves out altogether the words "in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute," he will agree that there is very considerable ground for saying that no matter what tort is committed by the agents of a trade union, whether or not in furtherance of a trade dispute, their position of immunity will be very difficult to prove. I am glad to have the Attorney-General's view upon the point because no one else has attempted to say that Section 4 would not apply to the case brought forward by my hon. Friend. Certainly it would be a monstrous and outrageous thing that a trade union should be invited into the arena of politics and should be subject to passions which are quite as great as those which exist in trade disputes, unfettered by the law under which we all have to be governed.
I have only this one word more to say. It is surely an instructive thing, when you look at the history of the whole matter, that we should have arrived at the pass we have now. A hundred years ago employers had it all their own way, and they pushed" their way under the doctrines of the ex- 3077 treme Free Trade school ruthlessly in industrial matters. But since then, largely under the inspiration of the Conservative party, the Factory Acts and the machinery which is now imposed by the Home Office and the Board of Trade, have arrested these methods which had deteriorated the health and vigour of the nation. The employers of labour in this country now never could carry on their business without being constantly faced by the thought of the community, and having forced upon them at every turn in their industry the requirements of the community and the necessity for its safety and well being. Contrast the position of the other side—the employés. A hundred years ago, by their very existence, they were in danger. They were an unlawful organisation. During the last four or five years they have gradually attained a position of great power and freedom. Privilege, which hon. Gentlemen opposite have always declared to be monstrous when it was used by landlords or capitalists, is now sought to be extended out of the field of industry and into the field of politics. It is astonishing how different privilege looks when it is exercised by yourself and when it is exercised by your opponents. Cannot hon. Gentlemen opposite take a warning? I have often heard them say that privilege and special power and immunity is demoralising in the class which was then supposed to be the wealthy class. If they thought that genuinely they ought to be the first to reject these privileges when they are asked on behalf of the class whose voting power now makes them unquestionably the predominant power.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
The right hon. Gentleman charged my right hon. Friend with having devoted only a very small portion of his speech to the defence of the principle of the Bill. I think that charge was one which the right hon. Gentleman ought not to have made. He ought to have remembered the history of this Bill. My right hon. Friend who spoke first could not possibly know what the new attitude of the party opposite was going to be towards this measure He had fully in mind that in May of last year the right hon. Gentleman, in speaking upon this Bill, did not raise any objection to it in principle, although he complained of it in detail. My right hon. Friend assumed that the right hon. Gentleman was still of the same mind. When the question of the Second Reading went to a Division, only 3078 eighteen hon. Members opposite voted against the Second Reading, and the great bulk of the party, including the right hon. Gentleman, abstained from voting against it. In these circumstances my right hon. Friend was absolutely justified in asssuming that the principle was accepted on both sides of the House. In the few words I am going to address to the House I could wish, as far as possible, to get away from the legal difficulties of this problem, and to state the matter as it occurs to a layman. By the Act of 1871 certain new legal entities were created—trade unions, with disabilities, immunities, and privileges. From time to time Parliament has amended and extended the Act of 1871, and has always continued that condition to trade unions of special privileges, immunities, and disabilities. From time to time the Courts of Law, by their interpretation of the Trade Unions Acts, have either extended or limited the popular interpretation for the time being of what these privileges, immunities, and disabilities were. There was one privilege which trade unions believed they possessed for upwards of thirty years—the privilege of engaging in political activities. For the first time that privilege was taken away from them in 1908. For thirty years every Member of Parliament believed that trade unions still enjoyed that privilege, and Parliament never interfered, because, no doubt, in the first instance, it was the action of the Courts of Law that deprived the trade unions of that privilege.
Let me remind hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that they themselves believed that trade unions enjoyed this particular privilege in 1906, when they refrained from opposing the Trade Disputes Act. They were themselves content to allow Pelion to be piled on Ossa. Trade unions to their knowledge then enjoying all the privileges of full political activities, and they did not oppose the Trade Disputes Act. Though the right hon. Gentleman now is good enough to describe the year 1906, the year of that Act, as a terrible year, he never voted against that Act. With the exception of the hon. and learned Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Salter), who took a different view in his very interesting speech, it is a matter of common agreement on both sides of this House that trade unions ought to be continued in their present anomalous position, under which they have enjoyed their special disabilities and special privileges. The hon. and learned Gentleman stated that in his 3079 opinion if trade unions were to have political activities restored to them on any terms they ought to be brought under the full ordinary provisions of the law. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Is that view general on that side? This is the first time it has been expressed in this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] To-day is the first time that this view has been expressed in this House—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—that trade unions should be given their full rights under the law if they are to be deprived of certain of the privileges which they at present enjoy. If that was the view it was not taken up by the Opposition in 1906 when the Trade Disputes Act was passed.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No matter what opinions may have been expressed in the course of the Debate, the final, fundamental fact stands good that not a single one of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench who are now interrupting me divided against that Bill. I am sorry to remind them of that lamentable fact, but it is a fact. At any rate, we on this side of the House do not suggest that the special position of trade unions should be altered. Therefore Parliament has to consider now if we, notwithstanding the decision of the Courts, should restore to trade unions the power to enter into political activities which they had recognised and enjoyed prior to 1908, and, if so, on what terms and under what restrictions. My hon. Friends below the Gangway expressed the opinion that they ought to have the full rights which in practice they enjoyed prior to the decision of the Courts in the Osborne case. I agree with them that there is much to be said for that view, based on the experience of thirty years, but there is also a very strong argument against it.
It must be admittedly a condition of the enjoyment by the trade unions of these special privileges that they should also be under certain disabilities, and it is impossible for trade unions to claim the privileges of corporate bodies, governed by majorities, and at the same time have the peculiar privileges which they enjoy under the trade union Acts. Parliament is bound to consider, in giving trade unions special privileges, the proper limitations under which they ought to be enjoyed. What is proposed here? It is proposed 3080 under the safeguards of Clause 3 that trade unions should have the right of entering into political action. Those safeguards are devised in the interests and for the protection of the minority, whose interests are as specially dear to hon. Members on this side of the House as to hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Clavell Salter) asserted that trade unions did not need the ballot which is provided in the Bill as a means of securing the protection of the minority, any real protection. He founded his argument upon certain facts. He showed, what is perfectly true, that in certain of the ballots affecting the internal affairs of the union very important issues have been settled by the vote of a comparatively small proportion of the total number of members of the union. He stated with perfect truth that in several cases the views of the Socialist party in the unions have predominated. He then reminded the House that in some well-known political contests between the Socialist party and one of the other political parties in the State, and in which the very same trade unionists were concerned, the Socialists had been beaten. From that he argued that the ballot affords no sufficient protection. I think I have stated the hon. Member's argument fairly. What are the facts? It is quite true that in political warfare and in public contests, the Socialists have frequently been defeated by other parties-in the trade unions. That only means that in politics the trade unionists are as a majority not Socialists. I think that is true. I think that trade unionists, as members of trade unions, are not Socialists. But when you come to local affairs, the management of their own affairs, those very same unionists will vote for Socialist members of the union in the government of their own concerns. Many of them do not vote at all, but that only means that they are quite satisfied with the existing government of their union. I believe that to be true. It is pretty clear that when the members do care they turn up and vote and smash their opponents. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] They do at political contests. The hon. Member is not going to assert that the ordinary ballot taken in a trade union is not a secret ballot. He surely will not assert that.
§ Mr. CLAVELL SALTER
As a matter of fact, my belief is that each voter writes his name and address on the paper.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I think there is some confusion on this point. There are ballots conducted by the unions which are secret ballots. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Indeed there are certain ballots taken by the unions which are secret ballots. I have known certain cases where the ballot has been taken and where secrecy might not have been observed, but I have known a far larger number of cases in which secrecy was most scrupulously observed, and certainly in all the most important ballots secrecy is invariably observed. The fact that members of the union after the ballot say which way they voted does not in any way militate against the actual secrecy of the ballot itself. I can assure hon. Members, with personal knowledge, that they are not correct when they allege that the ordinary ballot taken by the unions is not secret. I submit the securities given for the protection of the
§ minority in Clause 3 are ample. That, at any rate, must be a Committee point. The only real issue which we have to decide on this occasion is whether we shall in any degree, and under any limitations, and under any proper safeguards for the minority revert to the position in which the trade unions stood before 1908; or whether we shall say to-day that Parliament, the public, and the trade unions were all on the wrong course from 1871 to 1908, and that wisdom was only restored to Parliament by the action of the Law Courts. I submit upon that issue there can be only one answer, and that is that we shall give a Second Beading to this Bill.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 232; Noes, 132.3083
|Division No. 207.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Dillon, John||John, Edward Thomas|
|Adamson, William||Donelan, Captain A.||Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Duffy, William J.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Alden, Percy||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Armitage, Robert||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary)||Jowett, F. W.|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Joyce, Michael|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Essex, Richard Walter||Keating, M.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Farrell, James Patrick||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Ffrench, Peter||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Barnes, George N.||Field, William||Kilbride, Denis|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Flennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||King, J.|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Gill, A. H.||Lansbury, George|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Glanville, H. J.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Black, Arthur W.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Boland, John Plus||Greenwood, Granville (Peterborough)||Leach, Charles|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Greig, Col. J. W.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Lundon, T.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Hackett, J.||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hancock, J. G.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Hardie, J. Keir||Maclean, Donald|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Clancy, Joseph||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Clough, William||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Clynes, John R.||Hayden, John Patrick||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock).||Hayward, Evan||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hazleton, Richard (Galway, N.).||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hemmerde, Edward George||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Molloy, M.|
|Crooks, William||Henry, Sir Charles||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Crumley, Patrick||Higham, John Sharp||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Cullinan, John||Hinds, John||Mooney, J. J.|
|Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Morgan, George Hay|
|Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Hodge, John||Morrell, Philip|
|Dawes, J. A.||Hogge, James Myles||Morison, Hector|
|De Forest, Baron||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Delany, William||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Muldoon, John|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Munro, R.|
|Denniss E. R. B.||Hudson, Walter||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Hughes, S. L.||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Tennant, Harold|
|Nuttall, Harry||Reddy, Michael||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|O'Brien, Patrick Kilkenny||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Richards, Thomas||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|O'Grady, James||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wadsworth, J.|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|O'Malley, William||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Wardle, George J.|
|O'Shee, James John||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Webb, H.|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Rose, Sir Charles Day||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Rowlands, James||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Scanlan, Thomas||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Col. J. E. B.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Pointer, Joseph||Sheeny, David||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Shorit, Edward||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Smyth, Thomas F, (Leitrim, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Gibbs, G. A.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Goldsmith, Frank||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid||Gretton, John||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Bagot Lieut.-Colonel J.||Guinness, Hon.W.E. (Bury S.Edmunds)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baird, J. L.||Gwynne, R. S. (Eastbourne)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hamersley, A. St. George||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Harrison-Broadley H. B.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hickman, Col. Thomas E.||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Royds, Edmund|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col Dennis Fortescue||Houston, Robert Patereon||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Boyton, James||Jardine, E. (Somerset, East)||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Joynson-Hicks, William||Stanier, Beville|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Kerry, Earl of||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Campion, W. R.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Cator, John||Knight, Captain E. A.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.)||Larmor, Sir J.||Swift, Rigby|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Chambers, James||Lewisham, Viscount||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo.,Han.S.)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Mackinder, Halford J.||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Cripps, Sir C. A.||Macmaster, Donald||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Malcolm, Ian||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Winterton, Earl|
|Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Newman, John R. P.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Fleming, Valentine||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Younger, Sir George|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Nield, Herbert||Sanders and Mr. Eyres-Monsell|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||Parkes, Ebenezer|
Bill read a second time.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the Whole House."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 143; Noes, 2273087
|Division No. 208.]||AYES.||[11.10 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Gibbs, George Abraham||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Glazebrook, capt. Philip K.||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Goldsmith, Frank||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Ashley, W. W.||Grant, James Augustus||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Gretton, John||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Baird, J. L.||Guinness, Hon. W.E. (Bury S.Edmunds)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Gwynn, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hamersley, A. St. George||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Barnston, H.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rolleslon, Sir John|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hickman, Col. Thomas E.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Royds, Edmund|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Hohler, G. F.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Horne, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Houston, Robert Paterson||Sandys, G. J.|
|Bird, Alfred||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Boles, Lieut-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Stanier, Beville|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Boyton, James||Joynson-Hicks, William||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Kerry, Earl of||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Kimber, Sir Henry||Stewart, Gershom|
|Burn, Col. C. R.||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Swift, Rigby|
|Campion, W. R.||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Cassel, Felix||Larmor, Sir J.||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cator, John||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Lewisham, viscount||Thompson, W. Mitchell (Down, North)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r)||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Chambers, James||Locker-Lampson, G, (Salisbury)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Touche, George Alexander|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Edgbaston)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo.,Han.S.)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Mackinder, Halford J.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Macmaster, Donald||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Magnus, Sir Philip||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Cripps, Sir C. A.||Malcolm, Ian||Winterton, Earl|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Worthington, Evans, L.|
|Faber, George D.||Newdegate, F. A.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.)||Newman, John R. P.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Nicholson, William G. G. (Petersfield)||Younger, Sir George|
|Fleming, Valentine||Nield, Herbert|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Parkes, Ebenezer||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Sanders and Mr. Eyres-Monsell.|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Clynes, John R.||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Adamson, William||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Alden Percy||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gill, Alfred Henry|
|Armitage, Robert||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Glanville, Harold James|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn, A.||Cotton, William Francis||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Crooks, William||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Crumley, Patrick||Greig, Col. J. W.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Cullinan, John||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Barnes, G. N.||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hackett, J.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Dawes, J. A.||Hancock, John George|
|Bentham, G. J.||De Forest, Baron||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Delany, William||Hardle, J. Keir|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Devlin, Joseph||Harmsworth, R. L. (Calthness-shire)|
|Boland, John Pius||Dickinson, W. H.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Dillon, John||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Bowerman, C. W,||Donelan, Captain A.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Duffy, William J.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Hayward, Evan|
|Bryce, John Annan||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Hazleton, Richard (Galway, N.)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Essex, Richard Walter||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Farrell, James Patrick||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Ffrench, Peter||Higham, John Sharp|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Field, William||Hinds, John|
|Clough, William||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Hodge, John||Montagu, Hon. E, S.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Mooney J. J.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Morgan, George Hay||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Morrell, Philip||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Morison, Hector||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Hudson, Walter||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Muldoon, John||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Munro, Robert||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|John Edward Thomas||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Rowlands, James|
|Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir. D. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Nolan, Joseph||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Norman, Sir Henry||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Nuttall, Harry||Sheehy, David|
|Jowett, F. W.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Shortt, Edward|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Connor, J. (Kildare, N.)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Keating, Matthew||O'Doherty, Philip||Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clitheroe)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Donnell, Thomas||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Grady, James||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow W.)||Sutton, John E.|
|King, J.||O'Mailey, William||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Lansbury, George||O'Shee, James John||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Lardner, James Carrlge Rushe||O'SuIlivan, Timothy||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Outhwaite, R. L.||Tire, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Leach, Charles||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Wadsworth, John|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Parker, James (Halifax)||Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Lundon, T.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lyeil, C. H.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Lynch, A. A.||Pointer, Joseph||Webb, H.|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falklrk Burghs)||Power, Patrick Joseph||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Maclean, Donald||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh Central)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. T. J.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Pringle, William M. R.||Williamson, Sir A.|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Reddy, M.||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leltrlm, N.)||Richards, Thomas||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland|
|Molloy, M.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza|