§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £34,085,000, be granted to His Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charges for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1914, namely:—
|Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens||53,000|
|Houses of Parliament Buildings||21,000|
|Miscellaneous Legal Buildings, Great Britain||35,000|
|Art and Science Buildings, Great Britain||40,000|
|Diplomatic and Consular Buildings||40,000|
|Labour Exchange and Insurance Buildings, Great Britain||90,000|
|Public Buildings, Great Britain||330,000|
|Surveys of the United Kingdom||85,000|
|Harbours under the Board of Trade||20,000|
|Rates on Government Property||350,000|
|Public Works and Buildings, Ireland||100,000|
|The Palace of Peace, The Hague||—|
|United Kingdom and England:—|
|House of Lords Offices||16,000|
|House of Commons||90,000|
|Treasury and Subordinate Departments||50,000|
|Privy Council Office||5,000|
|Board of Trade||140,000|
|Mercantile Marine Services||40,000|
|Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade||10|
|Board of Agriculture and Fisheries||150,000|
|Civil Service Commission||25,000|
|Exchequer and Audit Department||27,000|
|Friendly Societies Registry||8,000|
|Local Government Board||105,000|
|Mint, including Coinage||15|
|National Debt Office||5,000|
|Public Record Office||11,000|
|Public Works Loan Commission||5|
|Stationery and Printing||550,000|
|Woods, Forests, etc., Office of||9,000|
|Works and Public Buildings, Office of||55,000|
|Secretary for Scotland, Office of||7,000|
|Board of Agriculture||110,000|
|Local Government Board||9,500|
|Lord Lieutenant's Household||2,500|
|Chief Secretary's Offices and Subordinate Departments||11,000|
|Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction||90,000|
|Charitable Donations and Bequests Office||800|
|Congested Districts Board||64,000|
|Local Government Board||45,000|
|Public Record Office||2,500|
|Public Works Office||20,000|
|Valuation and Boundary Survey||20,000|
|United Kingdom and England:—||£|
|Miscellaneous Legal Expenses||27,000|
|Supreme Court of Judicature, etc.||150,000|
|Police, England and Wales||50,000|
|Prisons, England and the Colonies||400,000|
|Reformatory and Industrial Schools, Great Britain||130,000|
|Criminal Lunatic Asylums, England||32,000|
|Law Charges and Courts of Law||35,000|
|Scottish Land Court||4,000|
|Register House, Edinburgh||18,000|
|Law Charges and Criminal Prosecutions||30,000|
|Supreme Court of Judicature, and other Legal Departments||47,000|
|County Court Officers, etc.||40,000|
|Dublin Metropolitan Police||60,000|
|Royal Irish Constabulary||627,000|
|Reformatory and Industrial Schools||60,000|
|Dundrum Criminal Lunatic Asylum||4,000|
|United Kingdom and England:—|
|Board of Education||5,250,000|
|National Portrait Gallery||3,000|
|Scientific Investigation, etc.||40,000|
|Universities and Colleges, Great Britain, and Intermediate Education, Wales||100,000|
|Endowed Schools Commissioners||400|
|Science and Art||30,000|
|Universities and Colleges, Ireland||60,000|
|Diplomatic and Consular Services||305,000|
|Telegraph Subsidies and Pacific Cable||19,000|
|Superannuation and Retired Allowances||360,000|
|Miscellaneous Charitable and other Allowances||1,000|
|Hospitals and Charities, Ireland||16,000|
|Savings Banks and Friendly Societies Deficiencies||—|
|Repayments to the Local Loans Fund||—|
|Ireland Development Grant||165,000|
|Repayments to the Civil Contingencies Fund||—|
|Expenses under the Unemployed Workman Act, 1905||—|
|Old Age Pensions||5,000,000|
|National Health Insurance Joint Committee||7,000|
|National Health Insurance Commission (England)||1,300,000|
|National Health Insurance Commission (Wales)||110,000|
|National Health Insurance Commission (Scotland)||210,000|
|National Health Insurance Commission (Ireland)||191,000|
|Labour Exchanges and Unemployment Insurance||300,000|
|National Insurance Audit Department||50,000|
|National Health Insurance (Special Grants)||—|
|Treatment of Tuberculosis (Special Grants)||—|
|Friendly Societies (Grants-in-Aid)||—|
|Customs and Excise||…||…||950,000|
|Total for Civil Services and Revenue Departments||£34,085,000."|
§ [Note.—The sum taken represents a provision for between four and five months' expenditure.]
§ Mr. HAROLD SMITH
I beg to move, "That Item Class II., Vote 4 (Home Office), be reduced by £100."
I take this opportunity to draw attention to what I, and I believe many other Members of the House, conceive to be the ineptitude and the inefficiency of the right hon. Gentleman's administration of the Department over which he presides. I shall endeavour to say what I have to say without heat, but I speak with the sincere conviction that the criticisms which I shall attempt to pass on the administration of the Department have the support of the vast majority of the law-abiding citizens of the country. I desire to direct the attention of the Committee particularly to the administration or the maladministration of the Department in respect of the outrages which have been perpetrated during the last few months by supporters of the Women Suffrage movement. What is the state of affairs with which we are faced at the present moment? In many parts of the country we are faced with what is rapidly developing, if it has not already developed, into mob law. I submit that a very grave situation indeed has arisen through the inaction of the Home Office and the apparent, but, as I shall attempt to show, not the real impotence of the law. I am inclined to believe that the law as it stands to-day is adequate; but if it is not adequate, I suggest that the first elementary duty of the Home Secretary is to come to the House, frankly state that the law is inadequate, and ask for powers which will enable him to tackle with these outrages effectively. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us frankly if he thinks the law is adequate to-day, or to tell us equally frankly if he thinks it is inadequate, and if he thinks it is inadequate, we will ask him to take such steps as a strong Home Secretary ought to take in order to inspire society with the confidence which it has a right to feel in the administration of the law of the land. What are the facts? The Home Secretary told my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. N. Craig) yesterday that so far as he was able to get the figures, fifty-five of these misguided women have been released from Holloway Prison since the beginning of last year, and that, while he had only been able to get the figures for Holloway, those figures included the great majority of such 874 cases. That is not a fair answer. I suggest that when he tells the House that the figures from July, 1912, only show twenty-five cases, and that those include the great majority of such cases, he is not taking the House into his confidence as he ought to do; because in a previous answer the right hon. Gentleman stated that no fewer than sixty-six out of 240 women had been released in the year 1912 alone.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
And eight since.
§ Mr. H. SMITH
The answer given yesterday has now been brought up to date. There have been sixty-six, and eight since. In 1912, out of every 100 women convicted of these outrages, twenty-eight were released before their sentences were expired. That is a very grave situation, and it is one the seriousness or the effect of which, I submit, has never been appreciated by the Home Secretary. Can he give the House any assurance whatever that these figures are going to be reduced? Is there not rather some justification for assuming that there is great danger that the figures are going to be increased every year, and that the administration of the law with regard to these women is becoming a farce in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman? There are obviously two dangerous results from the present system. One is that these women, by the weakness and inefficiency of the Home Office, are being, I do not say directly incited, but indirectly induced, if not incited, to take the law into their own hands, and to snap their fingers at a Home Secretary who cannot keep law and order. The other result is even more dangerous, namely, that the public themselves are realising, as I think they have always realised under circumstances such as these, that they must take the law into their own hands, and they are doing so.
What do we find? I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has been rash enough to attend any of the meetings of these ladies. I take it that he has not—perhaps wisely. But I have. What do we find, whether we attend the meetings or read the daily Press? We find that these women are openly and unashamedly at public meetings advocating crime. They are perpetrating and boasting that they are perpetrating some of the worst offences known to our criminal law. They are preaching war upon society and inciting the public to mob law. 875 Further, on almost every platform on which the militant suffragists appear, they are openly boasting that they are criminally conspiring and inciting others to break the law; they publicly announce that there is no means of depriving them of their liberty or of interfering with this orgy of crime with which we have been faced during the past few months; and they snap their fingers in the face of the right hon. Gentleman, relying upon the fact that either he wants to gain some imaginary popularity or that he is afraid. I would allude particularly to the case of Mrs. Pankhurst, who was released only a few weeks ago on the distinct understanding that she would give a pledge not to incite. I do not suggest that she has broken that pledge; but we find, according to a speech at a suffragist meeting reported in yesterday's papers, that Mrs. Pankhurst, after announcing that she is to take her trial in a few days, and that she expects to be convicted, assures her audience that she will be with them on 10th April in order to take part in some celebrations that they have arranged. How can the right hon. Gentleman come to the House and defend a system or an administration which brings us to this sort of thing?
§ Mr. H. SMITH
If the right hon. Gentleman has not yet appreciated the state of affairs, I think it is useless for me to attempt to impress it upon him. I allude particularly to the statement to which I have just referred. Mrs. Pankhurst, on the eve of her trial, deliberately snaps her fingers in the face of the right hon. Gentleman; she anticipates that she will be convicted, but she undertakes to be present in a few days at a meeting of her friends, and the right hon. Gentleman asks what I complain of in that!
§ Mr. H. SMITH
That state of things. I could cite many other instances if it were necessary, but if the right hon. Gentleman sees nothing wrong in that it is useless for me to waste his time or the time of the Committee in giving further instances. What do we find going on every Sunday afternoon in Hyde Park? Meetings which, I submit, are a scandal and a disgrace to any civilised community. I do not know whether hon. Members have attended these meetings. I have attended the last 876 few, not as a sympathiser, but because I felt it a duty to go really and see what it is takes place in Hyde Park. I want to be careful in respect to the feelings of any hon. Member in the matter of the suffrage question, but I do not believe that any hon. Member could attend these meetings without shame at what he would see there. I know that a great many hon. Members in this House who are as keenly in favour of Women Suffrage as I am opposed to it view with alarm and shame the things that go on in that part. What do we find? We find large armies of police. It is true that the Home Secretary gave us an answer a day or two ago in this House to the effect that the police are there, not necessarily to protect the women—though when necessary steps have been taken for their protection by the police—but in the ordinary discharge of their duty. That is a very misleading statement—a very misleading statement. It would suggest that there were just two or three policemen patrolling Hyde Park in the ordinary discharge of their duties to protect, if necessary, the women. I do not say it is deliberately misleading, but I do say it is misleading.
§ Mr. H. SMITH
I say it is misleading, and when the House knows the facts I can only leave the matter to them for their judgment. It is said the police are there in the ordinary discharge of their duties. I say that is not accurate. It is not at any rate that whole truth that we have a right to expect. What are the facts? The police are there in large armies, sent by the right hon. Gentleman. Anyone who has been to these meetings can see the police in hundreds in the crowd in order to protect the crowd, and to protect the women; and you have only got to go a few hundred yards around some corner to see dozens of policemen marshalled there, almost hundreds, certainly many dozens, ready for all emergencies. Our Sabbaths are desecrated by these scenes, and we know that at great cost to the State armies of police are sent up to the park every Sunday in order to protect the women. The House will not misconstrue what I say, and my comment on these matters. The police are necessary, but my point is this: they are necessary to protect the public, and for the safety of the public, and the right hon. Gentleman appears to be perfectly satisfied at these meetings going on, and that the public safety should be safeguarded only by the 877 presence every Sunday of armies of policemen. I do suggest that the first step the right hon. Gentleman should take is to proclaim these meetings, and to proclaim them, not because anyone has a desire to support any proposal to interfere with the rights of free speech, but to proclaim them because these meetings are a danger to the public and a great disgrace to our capital. The second result of the administration of the right hon. Gentleman is the fact that the mob is gradually taking the law into its own hands. The mob has listened to these women preaching war upon society for many months if not for years; the mob has listened to these women inciting them to join with them in the use of bombs, hammers, and in the performance of other crimes; and the mob, I submit not unnaturally, is taking the law into its own hands. When you find—and these things are in the history of our own country and I believe in that of other highly civilised countries—an army of people inciting to the breaking of the law and deliberately breaking the law themselves— [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
§ Mr. H. SMITH
There, if the Government fails to give it that protection that it has a right to, I am convinced you will find society will retaliate by taking the law into its own hands. It is very easy to work up sympathy for these misguided women. I have not the slightest doubt about it that the right hon. Gentleman will call into activity such emotional powers as he possesses to try and put forward a case for the women, and to appeal to what after all, I believe, under these circumstances, is only the sentimentalism of the hon. Members who may sympathise with that sort of argument. But is there no sympathy for the owners of property who have sustained damage? Is there no sympathy, for instance, for the members of golf clubs who had their greens damaged? Is there no sympathy for the owners of the theatre which the women deliberately attempted to set fire to, deliberately choosing the moment when that theatre was full of people—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"]—in order that the most damage should be done?
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me. The theatre was empty at the time. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."]
§ Mr. H. SMITH
I think the hon. Member is in error. The theatre was not empty; there were a great many people in it. I think the hon. Member is wrong. Is there no sympathy for the owners of the dwelling house that these women attempted to set on fire—not, certainly in this case, when it was empty? I refer to the dwelling-house occupied by a Minister of the Crown, the Colonial Secretary. The part of the house attempted to be fired was occupied by the right hon. Gentleman's children. I do not go so far as to say that these misguided women deliberately chose that particular portion of the dwelling-house occupied by the children of the right hon. Gentleman, but what are we to say about women who, if they are going to take these sort of steps do not at any rate make some inquiry to find out how the matter lies if they do not want to injure life? Is there no sympathy for all these people? Is there no sympathy for society which finds in effect that the Criminal Law has broken down? Is there no sympathy for the public, and particularly the working class portion of the public—who have not had the advantages that many of us in this House have had—and who are not able to resist this incitement, or to maintain proper behaviour while this incitement is going on? I have much greater sympathy with the public who meet in Hyde Park and in other parts, and who, knowing they are being addressed by law breakers, who are wilfully and deliberately breaking the law, have not broken it.
I do ask the Home Secretary, in view of the appalling outrages that have taken place, and in view of the fact that there are no signs that these outrages are ceasing; rather, there are signs that they are growing, to consider a remedy. Has he no remedy to tell the House? Does he come here after this long and unfortunate history of these suffragist outrages, and say, in effect, he has no remedy whatever to offer to the House? I think that is a question the answer to which the House has a right to demand of the right hon. Gentleman. May I take leave to anticipate the sort of answer which I expect the Home Secretary will give us, having read his speeches in previous debates, and having read several of his answers in this House? The right hon. Gentleman will stand up and will ask us: "What is your remedy?" It is a favourite debating trick of the right hon. Gentleman. That is the answer he has given, and 879 the question he has asked over and over again. It is no business of the private Member, and certainly no business of the private Member in Opposition, to stand up and say what must be the remedy. If the right hon. Gentleman—I say this with all respect and conviction—is going to retain the emoluments of his office, he must, too, retain the responsibilities of his office. I say it is a mere debating trick for the right hon. Gentleman to expect any private Member of the House of Commons, in circumstances so grave and so serious as these, to throw suggestions across the floor of the House for dealing with these women; but I venture to say any Member of this House who would attempt at any rate to make some proposals to deal with them, if he did not succeed one way or the other, would resign his office and allow somebody else to take his place. If the right hon. Gentleman finds that the present law is not adequate, and if he finds he has no powers by which he can adequately administer the law, it is his bounden duty to come to the House of Commons and to ask for increased powers. I go further, and say if he carries the Cabinet with him—and if he does not there is a proper course open to the right hon. Gentleman—let him come to the House of Commons and ask the House to share the responsibility which he or the Cabinet chooses to undertake. I do not ask the right hon. Gentleman to go so far as to take more drastic action in respect to these women upon his own shoulders. I do not think he has any power to do so, but it is his duty to come to the House of Commons and let them share the responsibility with him. If he does that he will find many private Members prepared to consider the suggestions he may make when the proper time comes. I suggest that the proper time has now come for the right hon. Gentleman to come down to the House with some definite proposal for dealing with these matters.
What is the right hon. Gentleman's only remedy? Forcible feeding. I am an anti-suffragist, and, in my sincerity in opposing votes for women, I will not give place to anyone, but as as an anti-suffragist I say that as regards forcible feeding it is one of the most barbaric and cruel things that could possibly be devised. I cannot believe, as one reads the authentic accounts of the operations that take place upon these women, that the House of 880 Commons is going to remain satisfied with the administration of the Home Office in respect to that. I cannot believe that even party ties, which are so very strong, will induce hon. Members opposite who know anything at all about this outrage to be satisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's administration and that he should continue to practice it, and it is the only remedy or proposal he ever brought to bear upon this subject. We had a very striking case only a few days ago. That was the case of Miss Lenton, who was charged and committed for trial for having committed arson in Kew Gardens. This woman was released by the Home Secretary on the ground of ill-health.
The right hon. Gentleman has been asked over and over again by the Mayor of Richmond, who committed her, for his authority in this matter. He has been asked in this House for his authority. He has none. There is no authority. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to cite any precedent or authority to justify his action. What was the excuse he gave to the mayor? He said there were only three courses open to the prison authorities, one was to let her die, the second course was forcible feeding, and the third course was to release her, and he said the prison authorities adopted the third course. With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman I say that is not true, or at best it is only half the truth. The right hon. Gentleman said in so many words that the third course was adopted. That is not true, because both the second and third courses were adopted, for this woman was forcibly fed. Two courses out of the three were adopted.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No, that is not true. At the time to which this letter relates only the third course was adopted, and if the hon. Gentleman will read the letter he will see that it relates to the time when it was communicated to the Home Office that she was in immediate danger of death. She was not being forcibly fed. She had been forcibly fed some hours before, but when taken ill she was not being forcibly fed.
§ Mr. H. SMITH
The House will be in a better position to appreciate the answer of the Home Secretary if I read the letter to the magistrate:—Three courses were open"—
§ Mr. H. SMITH
I have not the whole letter with me, but I shall be very glad if the right hon. Gentleman reads it.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The quotation is only relevant to a particular point, but if the hon. and learned Gentleman reads the whole letter he will see what I stated was correct. The whole letter relates to the time when the doctor communicated with the Home Office that the woman was in danger of death.
§ Mr. H. SMITH
Let me read what Sir Victor Horsley says, and the right hon. Gentleman can read the whole letter to the House himself, and the House can decide. Sir Victor Horsley says:—Miss Lenton was reported by the Medical Officer at Holloway prison on Sunday, 23rd February, to be in a state of collapse and in immediate danger of death consequent upon her refusal to take food. Three courses were open:—1. To leave her to die; 2. To attempt to feed her forcibly, which the Medical Officer advised would probably entail death in her exhausted condition; and 3. To release her on her undertaking to surrender herself for the further hearing of her case. The Home Office adopted the last course.How can the Home Secretary say that was a frank answer? What were the facts? sir Victor Horsley, who cannot be accused of political bias, and who was recently adopted as a candidate of the party to which the right hon. Gentleman belongs, tells us that her solicitor saw her the day before, on Saturday, after two days' fasting, and that she was in her normal and ordinary spirits and good health. On Sunday the forcible feeding took place, and then a very short time after being forcibly fed, under circumstances which are related by sir Victor Horsley, and are all too horrible, we find immediately afterwards she was taken ill, and was in a state of collapse, and then after a few hours she was taken from the hospital and placed in a taxi-cab, but was not allowed to leave the prison premises until the local doctor came to take her away; she was certainly accompanied by a doctor and two warders. In face of these facts, how can it possibly be said that the danger to her life was due to her refusal to take food? It was due entirely to the fact that she was forcibly fed, and how can it be said that the Home Secretary is giving a truthful answer when he says that the third course only was taken of releasing her when, as a matter of fact, she was forcibly fed, and when that and that alone was responsible for the grave condition of health in which she found herself.
What authority had the right hon. Gentleman to take that course? If he had not 882 forcibly fed her he could have approached the magistrate and done the thing in a proper manner, but it was owing entirely to the fact that the prison authorities had resorted to this barbaric and cruel operation that they found her in such a grave state of health that the right hon. Gentleman had no time in which to go through the usual formalities and obtain the leave of the magistrate. That is a very fair example sf what takes place under the régime of the right hon. Gentleman, and I ask him if he is satisfied to continue this sole remedy of forcible feeding. I believe the House cannot but censure the right hon. Gentleman for what he has done in his treatment of those women. I would suggest in these circumstances of great gravity, resulting in a state of affairs which I believe will be condemned by the vast majority of all law-abiding citizens, that the right hon. Gentleman should come down to the House and ask for other powers, or if he has adequate machinery for putting the law into operation that he ought to put it into operation, and if he will not do that I suggest that he might exercise his great talents for failure in some other Department or some other place. I honestly believe that the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman is looked upon with contempt by those who break the law, and certainly by those hysterical women who break the law, and it is looked upon with contempt by law-abiding citizens who maintain the law, and I believe it is looked upon with contempt by the magistrates and police who administer the law. Certainly the right hon. Gentleman has hopelessly failed in the elementary duties of his high office, and I believe that this serious state of affairs can only be ended by a strong man occupying the right hon. Gentleman's position and place, and for these reasons I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
§ Mr. A. F. WHYTE
I thought the hon. Gentleman had a good case, but he has absolutely ruined it by the manner in which he handled it. He took up one extreme position after another, and endeavoured to fortify himself in each. He told us if the law was adequate then all that was needed was drastic action on the part of the Home Office. He then said if the law is inadequate, this House would willingly support the Home Secretary in any demand he might make that the law should be made adequate. The hon. and learned Member said that the administration of the Home Office in the handling of this 883 particular matter of militant action of certain suffragists had brought about two dangerous results: one that the women were induced to take the law into their own hands and the other that the mob were encouraged to take the law into their own hands in order to retaliate. The manner in which the hon. and learned Gentleman described the situation gave a totally false view. He appealed to the Home Secretary to act as the strong man, and invited him to ask this House to strengthen his hands if they were not strong enough. We always hear that appeal for panic legislation at a moment when certain people suppose their political opponents are not administering the law as they ought to.
This is essentially an appeal to panic legislation or panic action, and what is the moment the hon. and learned Member chooses to bring forward this matter? Why the very moment when by almost universal admission the violent section of the women are daily losing public support, and, what is more, are daily losing funds. The hon. and learned Member chooses the moment when the constitutional supporters of Women suffrage are greatly gaining ground to bring forward an appeal for extreme measures. I wonder if in preparing his speech the hon. Member stopped for a moment to imagine himself in the position of the Home Secretary at Whitehall. [An HON. MEMBER: "Impossible."] More strange things than that have happened before now. Casting aside the empty gibe which the hon. and learned Gentleman threw across the Table and the statement that it was no business of his to put forward schemes of reform, supposing he held himself the Home Secretary's position, and asked himself, "What are my legal powers and what is now my public duty?" I think he would be driven to the conclusion that, whatever his legal powers, his public duty was to minimise this agitation as far as possible. The hon. and learned Gentleman comes forward and suggests action which would have one inevitable result only, that of giving a vast encouragement to the movement, which he wishes to suppress. The one thing that the militant suffrage movement desires now is exactly that which the hon. and learned Gentleman has been pressing upon the Home Secretary. Supposing the hon. and learned Member were Home Secretary, would he allow the women to die in prison? If not, what is he pre- 884 pared to do? Would he artificially feed them if he were Home Secretary?
§ Mr. WHYTE
The hon. and learned Gentleman may put off the answer to my question to the Greek Kalends, but he has now moved the reduction in the right hon. Gentleman's salary, which, if he were successful in carrying, might possibly land him in the position which the Home Secretary holds. I have invited the hon. Member to make some suggestion. I agree with what the Noble Lord opposite (Lord Robert Cecil) has said in the past and his general attitude on the principle of Women suffrage and the treatment of women in prison, but the difficulty of the Home Secretary in these matters is one which it would be hard to exaggerate. The Home Secretary's duty is to vindicate the law.
§ Mr. WHYTE
I agree with the Noble Lord. That is exactly what everybody has been saying. We are face to face with a certain class of what I may call criminals, who have adopted certain methods with which no Government has been faced before. The Government, no matter to which side they belong, has to feel its way in this matter, and we should do rather too little than too much. My chief desire was to rise, in answer to the hon. and learned Member, to say that the most dangerous thing that this House could resolve to do, or encourage the Home Secretary to do, would be to take anything approaching immediate action in relation to further legislation in the direction of the kind of repressive legislation which the hon. and learned Gentleman seems to have in his mind, although he did not actually describe it. The hon. and learned Member suggested that the Home Secretary should proclaim these meetings of the women. Was ever a more futile suggestion made? I agree with every word the hon. and learned Member said in his criticism of the behaviour of the women and of the mob in Hyde Park, but what earthly good would a proclamation of the meetings be? What has the proclamation of public meetings always done in the past? It has increased tenfold the vigour of the agitation which supported those meetings. Really, the hon. and learned Gentleman should have paused for a moment before he brought forward these suggestions to the House. He should have considered 885 the history of such agitations as we are now considering, and should have been a little more cautious before he lent his support to such a policy.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The hon. Member opposite has made a very interesting speech, in which he made an attack upon my hon. and learned Friend on the ground that he made no suggestion as to how this question should be dealt with. I listened to hear what suggestion the hon. Member opposite had to make, but he did not make any. I do not know whether he means that we should go on as in the past, but I am going to present some considerations to show that I think that is an impossible solution of the present situation. I do not think anybody believes the present state of things is satisfactory, or that the present methods are satisfactory. Therefore the real question, if it is the duty of private Members of this Committee to do so, is to make suggestions, and this is as much the duty of a supporter of the Government who can get his views carried into effect as it is the duty of a Member of the Opposition. What is the position in which we stand? My hon. Friend described the outrages which have taken place, and I think they are exceedingly serious. I do not agree that this is a matter of no importance. The actual things which have been done, the blowing up of a house, burning down a railway station, the burning down of the Kew tea-house, the breaking of numberless windows, causing a vast amount of expense—all these are very serious matters. They are an attack upon the property and upon the liberties and civilisation of the country, and so far the attempts made to put them down have wholly failed. We must recognise the facts.
The outrages are not less common nor serious than they were. I agree entirely with my hon. Friend that that fact is in itself a very serious matter, because if it is allowed to go on it is perfectly certain to lead to something in the nature of lynch law. That has been the whole history of lynch law, where it has been adopted in its most horrible forms, in America. Everybody knows why lynch law was adopted. The real reason was that the administration of the law was unsatisfactory and ineffective, and consequently people took the law into their own hands. I have not seen, like my hon. Friend, the crowds in Hyde Park, but I have read the accounts of the meetings in the papers. You read 886 accounts in the daily papers of thousands of people pursuing these women and the police exerting themselves to the utmost because they are afraid of some serious injury being done to the women by the mob. I am not sure that would not happen. Undoubtedly very serious things were done to the women at Llanystumdwy. The Police Court proceedings proved beyond doubt that, whether the man accused was guilty or not, unquestionably the women were injured very seriously, and that is a very serious matter, which I cannot regard lightly, and it is a matter which the House is bound to take into consideration. I am bound to say that I think the Government are very largely to blame. I do not think you ought to take this question of what has happened solely by itself. We must go back to the history of the movement. I am not going this afternoon to deal with the treatment of the suffrage question by the House of Commons. I have often explained my views on this question, but I am now going to deal with this matter purely from the point of view of how these outrages began, how they grew up, how they were treated successively by the Government in a series of mistakes, if not blunders.
We all remember that the beginning of what was called the militant movement consisted of a certain number of women coming to the premises of the Houses of Parliament and asserting, or pretending to assert, a right to present a petition to this House, and then declining to give way when the police prevented them, and they were afterwards summoned for obstructing the police. For several months that was the course of events. For many months these women were not punished for any crime, but for the most part they were bound over to keep the peace, and in cases where they refused to be bound over they were sent to prison. Personally, I think the Government treated those offences too seriously. I thought they were very technical offences at the outset, and much too much was made of them, and they ought to have been treated much more lightly. I think the women ought to have been arrested for the night and let go in the morning. That occurred under Lord Gladstone. Then came the present First Lord of the Admiralty, and it was during his administration of the Home Office that very serious events took place. There was a very peaceful deputation to the House 887 of these women, and I remember it very well, because I looked into the facts. The women came in small detachments of ten or twelve; they were wholly unarmed, and they came pretending, rightly or wrongly, that they wished to present a petition. In my judgment they were received by the police or by some section of the police with great violence. They were knocked down and injured in other ways. A charge was made against them. A certain number of the women asked to see me, and I saw them in company with a friend of mine who is an anti-suffragist. We heard some ten or twelve of these women, and we cross-examined them, and I confess, in my judgment, subject to any answer that may be made by the police, it was quite clear that there was a strong primâ facie case that these women had been very seriously ill-used by a section of the police. They alleged that that was in obedience, as they had been told by some of the police, to some kind of hint or suggestion made by the authorities to the police. I dare say that particular charge was quite untrue. The charge was made and was investigated by myself and by the Under-Secretary for the Home Department, who shared my opinion. The women asked for an inquiry, and it was refused. I think that was the creation of the whole agitation. I think that was a great injustice committed upon the women, and I believe that was the first thing which drove them into the more violent courses they afterwards adopted. That was the second great mistake that was made.
There was a lull for a time, and then came the much more serious outbreaks, the breaking of windows. Now it seems to me that was the great mistake the Government made. Up to that time they had treated what was really a technical offence very seriously. Now, the offence became real and serious, because I think the breaking of windows was very serious indeed, and the Government treated them as no more serious than the previous technical affair. I believe the Government ought then to have exercised what the hon. Gentleman very rightly demanded, a little imagination. They ought to have realised the kind of people with whom they had to deal; they ought to have satisfied themselves that their existing armoury was sufficient to deal with the offences, and, if they were not satisfied that their existing armoury was sufficient, they ought to have come to this House and have asked 888 to have it strengthened. I regard that as the great error that was committed. The danger was perfectly obvious to anyone who chose to inquire into the matter. some of these women are undoubtedly of the stuff of which fanatics are made. [A laugh.] I do not know in the least why the hon. Gentleman laughs. He generally laughs in a perfectly meaningless fashion. They are undoubtedly the stuff of which fanatics are made, and, if the hon. Gentleman doubts it, he shows he is not acquainted with the facts of the case. They are fanatics. They are not amenable to the ordinary kind of considerations that affect ordinary people. They believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are doing what they ought to do. They believe that they are taking the only method—I believe myself that they are profoundly mistaken—for achieving their object, and you must treat them from that point of view. It is mere pedantry to treat them as burglars and thiefs and criminals of that kind. They are not of that kind. They must be treated in a different way, and you must realise what you have got to do if you hope to deal with the matter successfully.
What are the facts? These women were imprisoned, and they were sent to the second division. Personally, I think that was a mistake. They adopted what they call the "hunger strike," a device which I think they took from the Russian Nihilists, the object being to compel the Government to let them out, or to take the responsibility of allowing them to starve. I agree with the Government to the extent that I do not myself think that the particular grievance which was felt from time to time—whether they should have first or second-class treatment—had very much to do with it. It is only my suggestion, I have no information on the point, but I do not myself think that was the real point. They were determined, if they could, and they said so quite frankly, and they say so now, to bring the administration of the law into contempt and into failure in order to put pressure upon this House to grant them the demands which they were making. That was their plan, and they went on hunger strike. We all know what happened. In certain cases, not in all, a difference was unquestionably made in the treatment of the women. I venture to think that that was another great blunder. In the result this system of forcible feeding was very largely adopted. I believe that forcible feeding is not only a disgusting but an 889 utterly futile and an utterly indefensible proceeding from the point of view of administration. I believe it to be all wrong and the worst possible way of dealing with the matter. Just consider what it means. You sentence a woman to two months' imprisonment. She refuses to eat. You then, in effect, in order to get over that difficulty, add to her punishment. You propose a process, or an operation, which must cause, even in the most favourable view, very acute discomfort, which commonly causes a great deal of pain, and which, in a very large proportion of cases, is dangerous to health. I believe I have put that so moderately that nobody can deny it. That is the literal truth.
The right hon. Gentleman was very indignant with my hon. Friend over the case of Miss Lenton, but I cannot bring myself to have the slightest doubt that in point of fact Miss Lenton had to be let out because of the great injury to her lungs, caused by forcible feeding. The right hon. Gentleman, I know, takes a different view, but he must know quite well that such things often happen. I saw the report of a man, not in any way connected with the suffrage movement, who, one or two years ago, was forcibly fed, and, by accident, some of the liquid food got into the lung and set up pleurisy. That is consistent with what has happened in this case. Here the woman was apparently in good health, when her solicitor saw her. She was forcibly fed, and she is now suffering from acute lung disease. Those facts are unquestionable. Her medical advisers, Sir Victor Horsley, Dr. Agnes Saville and Dr. Charles Mansell Moullin, wrote this morning to the "Times" all implying—I am not sure if they say so in so many words—that the injury was due to some liquid food getting into the lungs through the process of forcible feeding. That is their diagnosis of the case. I venture to think that is the only reasonable way of reading the letter which appears in the "Times." That, at all events, appears to me to be the meaning of what they say. What is the result? In a very large proportion of the cases, by the admission of the authorities, the danger becomes so acute that you have to let them out. There are sixty-six women who have been let out, and it is absurd to tell me that this is a safe process. If, in sixty-six cases, out of 200 or 300, you have had to let the women out—
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Noble Lord, I know, does not wish to mislead the House. The sixty-six women were not let out because forcible feeding was injurious to them. A large number of them were not forcibly fed at all.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I do not want to be drawn aside into a discussion whether the actual number of women let out was forty, fifty, or sixty. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that interruption was not worth making. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I do not mean to say anything discourteous to the right hon. Gentleman. I only mean his interruption did not appear to me to be relevant to the discussion, because he does not deny that a very large proportion of those who were let out were let out because of the danger to their health arising from forcible feeding.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
If the right hon. Gentleman denies that, all I can say is that he has to explain how it is such a large number of this particular kind of prisoner was let out. It may be there is some explanation, but, at any rate, I have seen documents signed by a large number of medical practitioners of considerable eminence, including sir Victor Horsley, and many others, and they are clearly of opinion that where a patient is forcibly fed and forcibly resists it cannot be regarded as a safe operation, and, unless all these people who have undergone this treatment are absolutely untrustworthy in their description of what actually occurred, it is such as to make everyone quite confident that it is a very serious matter indeed. I do not very much mind what view is taken. In my view, women who go through the hunger strike and are forcibly fed and let out are severely punished, but unquestionably, to the public, they appear not to be severely punished. So you have this ridiculous result. The individual criminal is severely punished, but the right hon. Gentleman may say she is not; she is let out having served a very small portion of her sentence. The result is that she appears not to have been punished at all or only slightly. You therefore get the exact reverse of that which you ought to get. You ought to get the greatest possible deterrent effect, with the least possible suffering of the individual prisoner, but you actually get the greatest amount of suffering of the individual 891 prisoner with the least possible deterrent effect. I do not think anything could be worse than forcible feeding as a penal device. Then we were challenged by the hon. Gentleman opposite as to what is our remedy. I agree with my hon. Friend that it is not primâ facie, the business of the Opposition or of a private Member to suggest any definite proposal of that kind. He is entitled to say, and has often said with the approval of everybody, that before he makes a definite proposal he is entitled to the full assistance and skilled advice which only a Minister can possess. I am going to discuss shortly some of the suggestions which have been made. The hon. Member opposite said, "Why do anything? This is mere panic legislation." I think for the reasons I have tried to give that is a far too optimistic view of the case. If it were true, then, sooner or later, these things would die out. You have no right to assume that they are going to die out, and, if they do not, you have this great scandal to the administration of the law and to civilisation perpetually going on.
I am bound to say that it is your duty to devise some means of putting a stop to it, and particularly of showing the general public that the law is not powerless and can be administered effectively and justly even in exceptional cases. We have had the proposal made to leave the women with plenty of food and drink and to starve if they choose to starve themselves. I am not prepared to say that logically and theoretically that is not a legitimate thing to do, but I do not myself think it would be a proper thing to do in this case, and I do not advocate that course. That is the view that I personally take. Another suggestion has been made that the women should be let out on some kind of licence, and that when they have recovered their health and from the effects of starvation they should be rearrested and made to serve the rest of their term. I cannot think that would be acceptable to the public. I cannot believe that would ever be adopted by the public, and I think there would be great difficulty in carrying it into effect. You would probably demand some kind of under-taking from the women, before you let them out. They certainly would not give it, and you would not be any further advanced than at present. Now I am going to make a desperate effort to carry out the prescription of the hon. Member 892 opposite, and try to imagine the state of mind of the people who commit these crimes. They seem to me, and I have often said so, utterly indefensible. They are foolish from the point of view for which they are designed, and often enough they strike a blow at the civilisation of this country. What has to be done? When all has been settled, I must say quite frankly to the House that I believe these women are honest and sincere. I believe, although they act foolishly and absurdly, that they think they have a right to do what they are doing, and I believe they think, although in my judgment quite mistakenly, that what they are doing will bring about the political change that they desire. And, therefore, I think that to treat them as ordinary criminals is perfectly absurd and shows a complete lack of imagination and a complete failure to understand the very elements of the problem. That being so, I think you have got to face this, that you must provide some new form of punishment and preventive machinery that would not apply to ordinary criminals, but which you would apply to those people, and, personally, I should recommend that we should deport them from this country for a considerable period.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I really think, after all, there is a limit to what can be expected from a private Member. I am perfectly prepared, if the Government think my suggestion worthy of consideration and desire me to do so, to give my opinion in detail, as I think they know. I am perfectly ready to state exactly my opinion. It is not my own idea entirely. Other people have thought of it. I do not know that there will be any difficulty in carrying it out. I believe that is the kind of line on which you ought to go. You ought to say, "These women are dangers to the state; they are misguided; they are of the nature of insane people; really they are not normal," and you must treat them from that point of view, and not as ordinary criminals. I believe it can be successfully done by deportation; by a complete change of scene; by getting right away from the excitement of the present surroundings and circumstances. I believe that is the kind of way in which foreign countries have been compelled to deal with a similar kind of outbursts of criminality. They have always made a 893 distinction between this kind of criminal and ordinary criminals. I believe that is the way to deal with the matter if it is to be dealt with successfully. I read the other day in one of the Liberal newspapers, called "The Nation," which happens also to be a warm sympathiser with Women suffrage, an article which said that unquestionably if the Unionists were in office they would, by the exercise of what I think they called brutal methods—I may not be quoting rightly, something of that kind—of strong measures, soon put a stop to this, and the writer expressed a hope that the Liberal party would not do the same. I think that is a profound mistake, although I think it is true to say that these things do happen more easily when a Liberal Government is in office than when the Unionists are in office. There has been constant reference to that, although hon. Members sometimes make charges against people on this side of the House on the ground of supposed sympathy with disorder. But after all, what is the record of the Liberal party? I do not go back to old times in Ireland. It is enough for me to remind the House of passive resistance in Wales and a number of other movements of that kind that have been sympathised with and supported by the Liberal party.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The hon. Member is quite certain always to make a characteristic observation. I have already alluded to that, and if he seriously thinks that there is any similarity between the two cases I am sorry for his mental processes. Seriously I do say, apart from that, that it is right to say that the Liberal party undoubtedly by their past record are in a much greater difficulty in dealing with this kind of matter than the Unionists, and that makes it all the more necessary for them really and seriously to make up their minds that the matter must be dealt with. They are now charged with the duty of administering the law and preserving order in this matter. I do not care whether they are Suffragists or Antisuffragists. This is a very serious difficulty that has arisen. They must find some way out. If they cannot find some way out they must resign. It is absolutely fatal for any Government if they cannot uphold the law. They fail in the first duty of a Government. They must find some way out. If they think my sugges- 894 tions are ludicrous, impossible, grotesque, or fantastic, let them by all means find some plan of their own. One thing I am quite sure of, that if they persist in the pedantic folly of treating these women as ordinary criminals they are destitute of that quality of imagination which was recommended by the hon. Member opposite, and they will fail in dealing with the case. They have got to find some way, not necessarily bounded by the ordinary lines of Home Office administration, and unless they do find that they will fail and bring great disaster to themselves and serious injury to the country.
§ Mr. McKENNA
We have had two speeches from hon. Members opposite which were entirely different in tone, temper, and argument. The Noble Lord was courageous and fair and frank, if I may say so. The hon. Gentleman who sits below him (Mr. Harold smith) was unfair, unfrank, and lacked courage. I am sure the House will be better satisfied if I address myself to the speech of the Noble Lord rather than to the speech of the Member for Warrington, which I think was successfully and effectively answered by my hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Mr. Whyte). The Noble Lord made a very strong statement. I am quoting his exact words. He said: "If the Government cannot uphold the law they must resign," a general proposition with which, I think, ninety-nine Members out of one hundred would agree. But in making that general statement the Noble Lord has got to satisfy the House with precision that the Government have failed to uphold the law. He has got to give what in legal parlance would be called "particulars," names and dates and occasions when the law has broken down, or has not been upheld. He must not talk airily and vaguely about sixty-six prisoners being released without knowing the reason why they were released. He must not give figures unless he knows his case, and he must be quite sure that he can establish the fact, which he alleges, that the law has broken down. He must not content himself with some general vague case founded upon newspaper attacks, and, let it be observed, newspaper attacks for the most part found in newspapers of an inferior class. He must not be content to say that there is a general opinion that the law has broken down. He must show where and when and how it has broken down. That is the case I propose to address myself to. What is the real state of things? I do not deny 895 that the facts are serious, but we have got to consider whether these serious facts are facts for which the Government are or could be responsible, or facts like Mrs. Pankhurst's speech, for which the hon. Member for Warrington thinks the Government are responsible. What are the facts which the Government have cognisance of, or could have cognisance of? How could the Government, or the Home Office in particular, be held responsible for the existing state of things? The allegation is that the attempt to enforce the law has been a failure in the case of these suffragist offenders. It is alleged that they commit offences knowing that the authorities are powerless to punish them, and that they no sooner get into prison than they come out again, and that all attempts to suppress disorder have been in vain. I am sorry to trouble the House with figures, but I believe that the figures will bring home to the House, and I want to bring it home also, if I can, to the public, how small in number the failures have been; so small, in such circumstances, as to be insignificant beyond belief in comparison with the outcry that has been made.
since the beginning of this year, in two and a half months, there have been sixty-six suffragist prisoners received into prison; that is, since the 1st of January this year. I do not go back upon 1912, not because I am not perfectly willing to go into the figures, but the House will remember that in 1912 there was one great outburst, when I think something like 200 persons were arrested, and many of these prisoners were undoubtedly let out. In some half a dozen cases they gave an undertaking that they would not offend again. In other cases their sentences were properly reconsidered and were thought to have been unduly heavy, having regard to cases of first offenders and the particular circumstances of each case. There were a number of circumstances in regard to these 200 which really vitiate any argument from this point of view, because we are now dealing only with the question whether the law is or is not being vindicated. There have been these sixty-six prisoners up to the present in this year—sixty-two women and four men. How are these sixty-six prisoners being dealt with? Thirty-three women and two men have been released on the expiration of their sentences, or on payment of fine or bail at the expiration of remand. That 896 is to say that out of these sixty-six, thirty-five, upwards of half, have in one form or another served their sentences under the ordinary course of the law. Their sentence is now over. There remain in prison still serving their sentence twenty-one women and two men, so that in all, out of sixty-six, thirty-five have completed their sentences and twenty-three are still serving their sentences, making a total of fifty-eight out of the sixty-six prisoners. That is to say, fifty-eight have either served their sentences in full or are now serving their sentences. There remain the eight prisoners who have been released, eight since the beginning of the year, eight cases out of the sixty-six in which it is alleged that the law has been a failure. Let me take these eight cases individually. Of the eight prisoners who have not been released in the ordinary course, all were women and all were released because they refused to take food. Without an Amendment of the law as it now stands, it is the duty of the medical officers of a prison to take all necessary steps to keep their prisoners alive. So long as the law remains as it is, it is the duty of the medical officer to feed a prisoner who starves, unless an attempt to feed such a prisoner is likely to be seriously injurious to the prisoner's health.
§ Mr. McKENNA
It is under a decision of the Lord Chief Justice in the case of Lee v. Gladstone. I do not wish to trouble the Committee with the decision, but I think the Committee may accept that. I see a number of eminent lawyers opposite who are familiar with the case, and they will agree with me that that is the effect of the Lord Chief Justice's decision.
§ Mr. McKENNA
It is also the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown. My hon. Friend shakes his head, but I have the Law Officers' opinion in this box, and I will hand it to him.
§ Mr. McKENNA
In the case of these eight women, in ordinary circumstances, if their health were normal, it would have been the duty of the medical officer when they starved to keep them alive by forcible feeding, but in every one of those cases, long before they came into prison, and not as the result of any forcible feeding or any attempt at forcible feeding, these women were all incapable of being forcibly fed. Four were suffering from heart disease, one from pleurisy, one from tuberculosis, one was paralytic with a weak heart, and one was an epileptic. In the case of two of them an attempt to feed them forcibly was made, but as it was found to be seriously injurious to them all further attempt was abandoned, consequently, in these eight cases, the prisoners were released.
§ Mr. McKENNA
In no case was that done. In the case of Miss Lilian Lenton, who was suffering from pleurisy, she refused to allow herself to be examined. The trouble in all these cases is that the prisoners, who, as the Noble Lord said, are fanatical, adopt every devise in order to conceal from the medical authorities the true state of their health. I put it to the Committee that here is a state of things in which you have sixty-six prisoners admitted, fifty-eight of them are being dealt with in the ordinary course of the law, and eight—four suffering from heart disease, one a paralytic, one an epileptic, one suffering from pleurisy, and one a tuberculosis patient—these, and these only, have so far been released from prison before their time has expired.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I have given the figures, and the hon. Baronet is perfectly capable of working out the percentage. I have given the figures and the exact circumstances in each case. I do not want to conceal anything from the Committee. I put it to the Committee whether these 898 facts indicate such a state of things as would justify the charge that the law has broken down. Because four young women, or middle-aged or old women, suffering from heart disease, one from tuberculosis, one paralytic, one epileptic, have been discharged from prison before the expiration of their sentences, is that a ground for saying that the law has broken down? so far the case stands upon numbers. Now as to the character of the people with whom we have to deal. Let the Committee clearly understand that I am not minimising the gravity of the state of things from the point of view of the social condition in which we find a large number of women who join this movement and act in the most fanatical manner. I am not under-estimating the gravity of the situation from that point of view. What do we find among these women? When they come into prison and announce their intention to starve, of course only a limited number do that. Almost invariably they refuse to allow themselves to be examined by the doctor; some of them pretend to take their food and surreptitiously starve themselves in order that they may become so very weak and exhausted that they cannot be dealt with at all, for no other reason that I can discover than with the intention of dying in prison. One of the prisoners quite recently, before going to bed at night, sponged herself all over with warm water, and then lay on her bed without any bed clothes the whole of the cold night, with no other object that we can conceive except that she wished to catch her death of cold in order to die in prison. Every precaution is taken. It is often said, "Leave them to starve; give them milk and they will take it." Some of them have refused to drink water, and voluntarily submit to self-torture, not merely of hunger, but of thirst. Those to whom milk has been offered instead of water have refused it.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Gentleman may rest quite satisfied that there is no suggestion he can make which has not been considered. It would hardly be of advantage to take away water from prisoners who voluntarily abstain from drinking, as well as from eating, and thus inflict the torture upon themselves. This means we have got to face the fact that, so far as we can judge from outward acts, many of them are actuated by a 899 determination not merely to bring the administration of the law into contempt, but actually to make martyrs of themselves in order that their cause may receive a further stimulus by their heroic example. That is the state of things we have to face, a state of things I have to deal with day by day, and while suggestions are being made as to this or that trifling palliative, we know by bitter experience that we cannot deal with them except by taking each individual case as it arises, and exercising patience, forbearance, and humanity, and endeavouring slowly but surely to break down the movement. So much as to the numbers and character of these patients. I now come to the figures as to forcible feeding. Here, again, I think that the Noble Lord was under some misapprehension. When I ventured to interrupt his statement it was in order that he should not continue under a real misapprehension as to what the difficulties are with regard to forcible feeding. We have had sixty-six men and women up to the present. Of these, thirty-five have completed their sentences. Of these thirty-five, three women were fed forcibly; all the rest took their food. Thirty-two out of the thirty-five of those who completed their sentences took food in the ordinary way. If you were to abandon forcible feeding I do not think those figures would hold, as the fact that it was known that the medical officers would forcibly feed prisoners had a considerable effect upon the majority of them—not all. I have described some of the pains and tortures to which these prisoners will voluntarily submit themselves, but not all of them are like that. The majority of them, like the majority of human beings, will, under great stress, take the easiest course.
Out of the thirty-five, thirty-two took their food in the ordinary way, and three women were fed forcibly. Out of the twenty-three now remaining in prison, there are being fed by tube, with resistance, three women and one man, that is four out of the twenty-three are being fed forcibly; by tube, without resistance, one woman; by cup, one woman; refusing food, and not yet fed, one woman, who only recently came in; forcibly fed until yesterday, but now taking food, one woman. All the others, fourteen females and one man, are taking their food. So we have fifteen out of the twenty-three now remaining in prison, all of whom are taking food in the ordinary way. The remaining eight have 900 been discharged from prison, two after a brief attempt at forcible feeding. Of the whole sixty-six, only twelve from beginning to end have been forcibly fed or attempted to be forcibly fed, so that the evil is not so general as the Noble Lord seemed to argue, and the fact of forcible feeding does have a material effect upon a large number of prisoners. I have dealt with the case on general lines. Let me turn for a moment to the particular instance of Lilian Lenton. A letter quoted by the Noble Lord, and signed by Dr. Agnes Saville, Dr. Charles Mansell Moullin, and Sir Victor Horsley, has appeared in the "Times" this morning, and has been generally circulated. The Noble Lord quoted from that letter, and seemed to be under the impression that one or more of those doctors was the doctor attending personally upon Lilian Lenton.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I understood the Noble Lord to say "her doctor," and that Lilian Lenton's doctor ascribed her illness to the injection of milk into the lungs.
§ Mr. McKENNA
If the Noble Lord reads the letter again carefully, he will observe that these three doctors abstain from saying that.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman has got the letter before him. I have not, as I omitted to bring it to the House. It is perfectly plain what they say; that there was forcible feeding, and that immediately after it there was a breakdown, and the woman was in a condition of collapse until she was removed, and that she was seen to be suffering from pleurisy. I should have thought that there could be no question that the general effect of their letter was to say that forcible feeding was the cause of pleurisy, and I rather think they suggest that the leaking of some liquid food into the lung caused it.
§ Mr. McKENNA
They do not suggest it; they assert it. The Noble Lord is quite right so far, but where he has been misled is in thinking that these doctors are speaking on the authority of Miss Lilian Lenton's own doctor. That they do not assert. What their knowledge of the case is I have no means of knowing. They do not themselves even say that they have seen her, but certainly their statement of 901 the alleged facts is so remote from the truth that I cannot help coming to the conclusion that they have never even seen Miss Lilian Lenton. I am going to read to the House the report of the medical officer upon this case. He reports as follows:—She was received here on remand on 21st February, 1913. I saw her shortly after her reception, when she refused to be medically examined and declined to give any information about her previous health. She was of rather spare physique and struck me as not being a particularly strong-looking woman, but I was unable to ascertain anything further about her on account of her refusal of an examination. She adopted the hunger strike tactics from the commencement, and consequently, on 23rd February, I considered it advisable to feed her as she was presenting symptoms of malnutrition. She was examined both by Dr. Pearson and myself before the commencement of the feeding, though under great difficulties, as she resisted violently. She was fed by the nasal tube, which passed easily. During the process there was no cough, stridor or dyspuœa (difficulty in breathing), and there was no indication of any food having passed into the larynx, as alleged. She rested for a little while after the feeding and appeared quite comfortable. About three hours later she asked to go to the lavatory. About ten minutes after her return she complained of a pain in the left side and she then allowed me to examine her. I ascertained that she had been subject to attacks of pain in this region and shortness of breath on exertion for the last twelve months, but apparently she had not received medical advice about it. On examination I found slight dullness in the lower part of the left axillary region and some doubtful friction sounds. The cardiac action was rapid, but I could detect no organic disease. The pain in the side was increased on taking a deep breath. I came to the conclusion that she was suffering from pleurisy, which may have been present before, judging from her history, and which had become acute again. Considering the facts that she would take no nourishment or medicines, that she had been without food for two days, and that her life would be endangered under such circumstances, and it was quite impossible to artificially feed her again, the only alternative was to report the facts to the Home Office. There was nothing to suggest in the case that her condition was due to food entering the lungs, and this is borne out, I understand, by her own medical attendant, under whose care she has been since and who reported that she was now convalescent.I ask the Committee to observe upon that statement that it was not until three hours after, and not immediately, as Dr. Agnes Saville alleged, that Miss Lenton became ill. I now turn to the second doctor. He reports as follows:—On instructions being given for this woman's release, I accompanied her in the taxi-cab with a hospital officer to her home. I assisted in carrying her to her room and told the friends I would like to hand over the case to some doctor who lived in the neighbourhood. They refused to take my advice, and decided to wait for another doctor. After finding the patient was comfortably in bed, I left, giving instructions that the medical attendant whom they called should be told that the patient was, as far as I could tell, suffering from pleurisy, and that the symptons began about two p.m. On hearing of the doctor who was attending the case, I called on him the following day to discuss the case, and he has kept me informed of the progress of the patient up to yesterday, when he reported her as convalescent. The doctor has agreed throughout with Dr. Forward and me, that her symptoms could in no way be attributable to the presence of food in the lungs. There has been no indications of bronchitis or pneumonia, which would 902 have undoubtedly been present had such been the case. We are all agreed that the patient has had an attack of pleurisy, to which she was probably predisposed, judging from her previous history.I am glad to give the House the full circumstances of this case in order that the House may judge in this instance, as in so many, the sort of attack founded upon nothing except hearsay, misunderstanding and prejudice, and very often prompted by an earnest desire to forward a particular political movement—a sort of attack to which the Home Office is continually subjected, and—I appeal to hon. Members for sympathy in this matter—the difficulty under which we are placed in conducting our work. In the midst of an effort to maintain order in the prisons, and to maintain order amongst the public, we get this attack launched at us by Sir Victor Horsley and others founded on unsubstantiated facts, and even so acute an observer as the Noble Lord is entirely misled and believes that the attack is founded upon the report of the patient's own doctor. Not at all. The patient's own doctor agrees with our doctors.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
It is an ex-parte statement of one doctor. The doctor of the lady has not made a statement.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The doctor of the lady can contradict it at any time. I am quoting from the report of a medical man who is an honourable man and is accustomed to weigh his words, and he reports to me that the doctor who has attended on her, and has kept in communication with him from day to day, agreed with him that there was no indication that the illness was due to the presence of food in the lungs. Then as to the other statement in this letter, of course I do not doubt that the hon. Member (Sir A. Markham) will say again that this is only the ex-parte statement of the doctor. The Government are attacked with ex-parte statements. What does the hon. Member, when he makes these attacks, found himself but ex-parte statements? Fortunately his attacks do not move me very much.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
All I said was that the right hon. Gentleman has shown a deplorable lack of courage in dealing with this question in a proper manner and that is entirely the view of my Constituents also.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I remember some years ago when the hon. Member made other attacks in which he informed the House he was entirely supported by his constituents, but on further examination he found those attacks were unwarranted. I have no doubt he will live to withdraw them. The medical inspector after reading the letter of Dr. Agnes Saville and others, reports as follows:—The statement that the condition was due to food being forced into the prisoner's lungs is not true. Her collapsed condition was primarily due to wilful abstinence from food. This in a person physically not robust, and who subsequently gave a history of pain in the left side of the chest with shortness of breath on exertion for a period of twelve months, would be more liable to cause cardiac failure to occur sooner than in a person in robust health, and without the above history. She was not ti d into a chair, but a sheet was thrown round her body, and she was restrained by officers. Her head was not dragged across the back of the chair by her hair. This is not the usual method of restraining these prisoners. They are restrained by female officers, and, if the resistance is very great and violent, by an attendant controlling each limb, i.e., four officers. Another officer holds the head by placing the hands on each side of the patient's head, and a sixth officer would be in charge of the food. The tube was not forced through the nose twice, but passed only once, and that without difficulty, the tube passing to the usual distance. The interior of the mouth was examined before food was administered to ascertain whether there was any coiling of the tube. Both of the doctors in attendance are perfectly certain that the tube was not passed into the air passage. There was no choking; there was no difficulty of breathing nor noisy respiration. Neither doctor told her to breathe more quietly: there was no noisy rattling. There was no coughing at the time of the feeding. About half a pint of nourishment was given. It is not true that the food was passed in twice and it came back at once and out of the mouth. About an ounce was regurgitated at the conclusion of the feeding and the tube was withdrawn at once. She did not fall against the wall, but was assisted to lie down on her mattress. There was no rattling, but quite quiet breathing. No pain was complained of or other complaint made for three hours after, when she asked to go to the lavatory. She walked across the hall without showing any indication of illness. Five minutes after her return to her cell she rang her bell and said she felt faint, and the doctor was summoned. She was not removed from the prison until six o'clock, when, having voluntarily taken some warm nourishment, she was considered to be fit to be moved to the care of her friends. The fact that she is now stated to be convalescent in itself negatives that food was forced into the lung.These are the reports that I received. They come from medical officers in whom I have every reason for having confidence—in whom I have confidence. I ask the House in judging of this case, and of other cases, to compare these statements with such a letter as that which was written by Doctor Agnes Saville. Dr. Saville does not purport to allege that her case is founded even on direct communication from Lilian Lenton. It does not purport to be supported by any other evidence. I should be only too glad for a case of this kind to be made a test case in order that the House may be completely satisfied whether in the treatment of these prisoners we do not 904 exercise every possible degree of humanity and that we do nothing more than carry out the law as it stands.
Before I sit down, I will say one word more. The real gravamen of the attack of the Noble Lord, as I understand it, was not so much upon the present administration of the law, because all the history he gave related to a time long before I occupied my present office. He was wrong in assuming that I introduced forcible feeding.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
If I said so, it was entirely a slip, because I knew quite well that there were cases long before that.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Two years before I was at the Home Office forcible feeding had been in continuous practice. There is undoubtedly the difficulty of dealing with those cases in which it is undesirable on medical grounds that any attempt should be made to feed a prisoner. Quite apart from considering the case whether any prisoner should ever be forcibly fed, there are undoubted cases of prisoners who ought not to be so fed. In this case, as the law now stands, we are face to face with this alternative, that when such a prisoner starves we must either let the prisoner out or let the prisoner die. There is no other alternative. All hon. Members who think that food placed in a cell, or deprivation of water or any other artifice, is going to induce some of these women to give up starving themselves are under a complete error. A medical expert, I think one of the best in the country, who has greatly assisted the Home Office in this matter, who has constantly been visiting the prison, who has seen these prisoners and has had very wide experience of forcible feeding in lunatic asylums, assures me that if I were to take the advice of those who believe that these women would not starve themselves to death, I should be committing a profound mistake. The real alternative which we have to face under the existing law, is letting them die, or letting them out. Let me deal with these two alternatives. There are some people who say, "Let them die"—[An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear"]—and because I absolutely decline to let them die, I ant subjected to attacks on the ground of want of courage. The usual 905 statement is, "If he had courage, he would let them die." I wonder if it requires more courage to let some helpless woman die because she has mistaken political opinions and has broken a window, or to refuse to do that, and face the obloquy showered upon my head by the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Harold smith). I confess it requires no little courage to face his obloquy, but inasmuch as I have resisted it, and, in spite of all his attacks, mean to continue on the same course, and not let these women die, I hope the hon. Member will believe me that I am not wanting in courage.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Why should we let these women die? What is their offence? Are you going to leave them to the penalty of death, first of all, for the offence of window-breaking, and secondly for obstinacy. These obstinate women—
§ Mr. McKENNA
I have not got to arson yet. I am only dealing now with such offences as window-breaking. There was an attempt to commit arson, but it was not dealt with very seriously by the Court. What were we to do in the majority of these cases. I think most, if not all of the eight cases where the women have been let out were window-breaking cases. The remaining seven were all window-breaking cases. Am I to let these seven women die because they have broken windows, or because they are so obstinate in their political opinions that they would rather starve themselves than give way?
§ Mr. McKENNA
Some hon. Gentlemen are quite satisfied to say, "Let them die." I think that would be a wrong thing to do.
§ Mr. McKENNA
That is how the hon. Baronet gets away from that. He does not say that he would face this alternative. He says "Nothing would happen." The women, he says, would know what I meant, and nothing would happen.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I see the hon. Member for Mansfield also takes that view. Let me tell hon. Members that some of these women had been so reduced by starvation 906 that the question of living or dying no longer lay with them. The medical officers, who had to deal with these women by the score, reported to me that some of them would die. I would rather take their opinion, founded upon experience and knowledge, than the hypothetical suggestion of the hon. Member for Mansfield. I proceeded on the assumption that some of them would die. How many are to be allowed to die? The hon. Baronet opposite says "Let them die; only one or two would die." I think you would find thirty or forty would come forward to die. They are fanatical and hysterical women, who no more fear death in fighting what they believe to be the cause of women, than the natives of the Sudan feared death when fighting the battle of the Mahdi. It has been said that there are not many women who would die, but I think you would find that thirty, forty, or fifty would come up one after another in order to defy the law, and they would consider it a triumph over the law to die from starvation. Why does a woman sponge herself over with hot water, and lie down on her bed on a cold night? What is it for but to catch pneumonia or some serious disease? [An HON. MEMBER: "Name."] If the hon. Member is not satisfied with my statement, I am quite willing to give him the name privately. I will give him or any other hon. Member all the facts of the case. That is the temper we have to deal with. I think it would be a blot on our administration to say, "We will let you die." I do not think we ought to let one die, and I am quite certain that you could not let thirty die. If you did so, the conduct of the Minister would be challanged, and the administration of law and order would be brought into confusion and contempt by the very process which you are attempting to urge on the Home Office. The other remedy is to let them out. I have no other alternative. Hon. Members may say, "Why not ask an amendment of the law?" The Noble Lord opposite (Lord Robert Cecil) has suggested deportation. I would be very glad if I had the power. I am not sure that the women would not starve themselves on the way, and I am still less sure that the House of Commons would grant me such power as the Noble Lord suggests.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am extremely doubtful if the House would grant such power, and I have got to deal with the matter 907 day by day, regarding it as urgent. I propose, however, very shortly—at the first moment, in fact, the state of business will allow me to do so—to ask the House, in substance, to give me the same powers in dealing with persons committed to prison as I have in regard to prisoners committed to penal servitude. I wish to have power to licence out. I believe the exercise of that power would be effective. It would enable me, in many cases, not to employ forcible feeding where I think it is my duty to employ it now. It would enable me to let the prisoner out on licence, and not to exercise the power of bringing the prisoner back to prison so long as she remained of good behaviour. I believe it would be extremely effective in certain cases to licence out. I might in some cases leave her out of prison so long as she refrained from taking any action in inciting to acts of public disorder. Perhaps this is not the moment for me to enlarge upon a Bill of that kind, but I would say that if the House gave me such power I believe I would be able to deal effectively even with those prisoners, with respect to whom I had to advise the Sovereign to exercise the prerogative of mercy. With such an amendment of the law, which would give me something of the same kind of power as I have in cases of penal servitude, I believe we would be able to make the law operate successfully. In conclusion, I ask hon. Gentlemen on both sides to realise the gravity of the case and the difficulty of the circumstances, and I would beg of them to have patience. I believe they will find, if they will exercise patience, that the powers of the law are sufficiently strong to maintain order and to deal with suffragist offences.
§ Mr. CLYDE
I cannot think that, except perhaps for the ray of hope which the right hon. Gentleman threw out towards the very end of his speech, the Committee can regard the statement he has just made as satisfactory. I want shortly to give some of the reasons that move me to take that view. I want to say once for all, and I shall not recur to the matter, that I think in one sense the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to some answer to the appeal he made for sympathy. I should not have been able myself to make any answer to that appeal at all if it had not been for what the right hon. Gentleman indicated with regard to possible procedure in the future. Even as matters are, for, of course, one cannot discuss 908 changes without knowing what they are, I am not disposed to do more than to admit that the function which the right hon. Gentleman has been called upon to perform under the existing powers of the law is extremely difficult and embarrassing. But, all the same, the difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman put before the Committee failed, I must say, to find a favourable response in my own mind. He puts it upon a matter of arithmetic. He says that the number of persons who were sent to prison for this class of offence, and who were forcibly fed are not very many. I do not extend any sympathy in this matter to men at all. The men are quite able to fight their own battles. The thing that gives trouble to the right hon. Gentleman, which does not bring him any honour, and which will not make the memory of his administration of any greater fragrance in the future, is the way in which women prisoners have been dealt with. It is the application of the method of forcible feeding to women that I wish to deal with. If we eliminate from the figures given by the right hon. Gentleman those relating to men and confine our attention to women, the statement means that in something like 14 per cent. of the commitments there were releases of women who had been forcibly fed in one form or another. To say that the number is infinitesimal, or that it reduces this problem to negligible proportions is, in may opinion, to state what is not justified. To say that the law is not brought into contempt by the failure of criminal administration in 14 per cent. of the cases to which it is applied, is to make a statement which will not stand examination. The hon. Member for Perth broke a lance in defence of the Home Secretary.
If you are going to say, as the hon. Member for Perth seemed to say, and as the right hon. Gentleman said, that he was going to persevere in his present course, as he considered it the best way of vindicating the law, that he thought that a practicable course to follow in something like 14 per cent. of the female cases of commitment for this class of offence, you are going to resort to what I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, if he does not realise it, the general sentiment of public opinion in this country regards as torture. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to hug himself complacently with the reflection that if 15 per cent. were not forcibly fed, others might resort to 909 starvation tactics. Those are means which would be quite worthy of the Inquisition. I have no doubt that those who defended its methods pointed out quite truly that they made some people repent or recant who would not otherwise have done so. But it does not seem to be in the right hon. Gentleman's mouth even to advance that, because it really means—though, after all, I do not think that in his heart of hearts he means it—that he prefers to keep this method as part of a punishment, of which it forms no part, that though it is a miserable and most regrettable incident, he finds it useful to have this method of preventing outrage and keeping order amongst suffragist prisoners. I am expressing only my own opinion; but I ask him, as I would have asked the hon. Member for Perth if I had followed him, does he really think that in the present position of public opinion it is a practicable proposal to continue the forcible feeding of 15 per cent., 10 per cent., or 5 per cent. of these women?
§ Mr. CLYDE
I did not say that the hon. Member had, but the hon. Member's position, as far as I understood it, was that no change in the administration was required and we were doing something unnecessary in asking whether the right hon. Gentleman was really disposed to go on with this kind of thing, or whether he was not prepared to realise at this time of day the very serious position into which it was drifting. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, quite realises the position. The hon. Member for Perth asks, "What are yon criticising about? We are doing our best to vindicate the law." My suggestion is that he cannot go on vindicating the law in this way much longer. Observe what it means. It means that you are going deliberately to use as part of your penal treatment of these people a form of treatment which, however, conflicting medical opinions may describe it, there is no man in this House who does not regard as a form of torture, and which only requires, in order that its true nature may be exactly realised, the simple description of the Home Secretary, that you have four people, one to hold down each limb, a fifth to hold down the head, and a sixth to hold the cup, and I suppose the doctor working the pump. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman is faced with a position even more serious than he quite realises. I understood him to say, and I think he says truly, that these people are 910 not by any means criminals in the ordinary sense of the word. They come from neither of the two classes of people from whom criminals are drawn. They are not members of the society that preys on the rest of the community and seeks to make its livelihood out of it, nor are they people who are swept off their feet by temptation which proved irresistible, or some overmastering human passion, and forget what is due both to themselves and their brothers and sisters and to society at large. But the difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman is experiencing arise out of the circumstance that he is tryinfg to apply to them precisely that machinery of our criminal administration which was devised in order to keep the criminal classes under control, and the real thing he has got to consider is whether the methods which he employs are really the methods which can, consistently with public opinion, continue to be employed for repressing this particular kind of offence.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he expected by diligent persistence in well-doing of the kind which we have experienced to break down this movement. The hon. Member for Perth says, if you proclaim a public meeting, you take the first step to inflame a movement of this kind. What is the foundation of the right hon. Gentleman's faith? How does he suppose, that by forcibly feeding 15 per cent of these women he is going to break down this movement? He described their characteristics; those are not the characteristics of people who are likely to be daunted by treatment of that kind. The Member for Perth says, "Do not proclaim the meetings." Does not that depend very much on the character of the meeting? f the meeting is one of the kind that take place in Hyde Park, where the real difficulty is to prevent the public storming the speaker, has he not the right to protect the speaker and to stop the public from doing any injury? You cannot proceed in this matter on hard and fast lines, such as those which the right hon. Gentleman adopts. You ought to try to modify the application of a criminal system which was never intended for offences like these at all, so as to restrain, in place of inflaming, the agitation which produces all these results. At the same time, if the right hon. Gentleman is going merely to add another weapon to his criminal armoury in what he proposes to do, if he is going to continue forcibly 911 feeding and at the same time to use his additional powers of licensing others, then I myself have very little hope of any amendment in the future with regard to these women; but if it turns out that the proposals, which he has to put before the House, will be such as will get rid at once of this kind of scandal in the treatment of these women and at the same time rescue the law from the disgrace and contempt into which the right hon. Gentleman's administration has brought it, I shall be one of those who will be very glad indeed to support those proposals when I see them.
§ Sir ARTHUR MARKHAM
The Home Secretary has told the House that some time ago I made a statement in this House of which I said my Constituents approved and which I had afterwards to withdraw. That statement is untrue. The incident to which the right hon. Gentleman undoubtedly refers took place in this House fourteen years ago, when I said I had made a statement in this House and that I was perfectly prepared to repeat outside the House what I had said inside the House. I had, at all events, the courage to go outside the House and repeat the statement. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, that case was taken up to the House of Lords, and on a technical issue the defence I had put in in the particular case was struck out, and I had no option, and it was withdrawn. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman, in reference to any statement which he has made in this House, has gone outside the House to make any statement which would involve the very least risk to his own political career. As far as I know, his political career consists of stripped tobacco, by which on these benches he managed to make some reputation as a faithful party hack until he has now reached the position in which he sits on that bench. The right hon. Gentleman is, no doubt, probably aware of that—perhaps the Secretary for Scotland will kindly allow me. I am addressing my remarks to the Home Secretary on a matter which is purely personal. I did not raise the personal issue.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
Apart from that, I would suggest to the hon. Baronet that now that 912 he has made his personal explanation, the matter may be regarded as disposed of, and that he will pass from it.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
The hon. Member is perfectly aware that in all our remarks we address the Chair. With reference to forcible feeding, the right hon. Gentleman is probably aware that there is a conspiracy on foot on the part of the suffragettes to kidnap him, and, if they are successful, the forcible feeding which they intend to administer to him will not have a very deterrent effect, because I think that a little strength is what he requires at the present time. That was the only statement I made to my Constituents. With reference to the speech in which this Resolution was moved by the hon. Member opposite, I am not in sympathy with it, particularly the remarks that he made that it was necessary to proclaim public meetings in view of the disorder which occurred in Hyde Park. I have attended one of those meetings. I have for years past taken an interest in the matter of Women Suffrage. I have always been a keen supporter of the movement. It is because I am a supporter of the movement and not an opponent that I want to see that what is done should be in the interest of the movement, because I believe that the very worst enemies of the cause of Women Suffrage are the militants who, owing to the weakness of the Home Secretary, have been carrying on the agitation which they have been carrying on. So far as the meetings in Hyde Park are concerned, I believe that they are well calculated to promote the cause of any object if free speech is denied, and I am sure that the hon. Member on reflection will see that no good purpose can be served by proclaiming these meetings or any other meetings. Because what this case comes down to is this: If the women wish to take the law into their own hands, there is always the mob law, which is always brutal, and has been exceedingly brutal on one occasion that I have witnessed.
If women adopt those measures of taking the law into their own hands they call down on themselves the vengeance of the mob, and it is only on account of the utter disregard and contempt to which the law is subject at present that these things have become possible. If this conspiracy had been nipped in the bud, to start with, these things would not have happened, because the House knows that this is a conspiracy on the part of certain women. 913 These women say, "We will enter into a conspiracy; we are a militant section; we undertake to go out and commit certain outrages; when we have committed those outrages, and been punished according to law, we bring in as a party to this conspiracy and agree to adopt what is called the hunger strike. Then owing to the attitude of the Home Secretary, we shall be able to obtain our release from prison." If, on the other hand, the Government from the first had put their foot down, and said that they were not going to be any party to allowing people to escape the law by adopting what is termed the hunger strike, the present state of things would not have occurred. It is the fault of the Government for not having put a stop to these proceedings before. My own view is that if people enter into a conspiracy such as this they must take the responsibility themselves. No doubt, in that case, so far as the Home Secretary is concerned, his responsibility would be a heavy one. I do not deny that. In the course of his speech the right hon. Gentleman said that during last week he had received the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown that he was responsible in effect for the death that might be occasioned of any of these prisoners by forcible feeding.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Ellis Griffith)
No, he did not say that. As I understand, what my right hon. Friend said was that if there were prisoners who abstained from food and who could, according to the medical advice, be safely forcibly fed, in those circumstances, if he neglected to forcibly feed them and they died, he would be liable to be charged with manslaughter.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
That is what I said myself in effect. I said that if the Home Secretary did not take any steps to forcibly feed them he would be liable.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
What my hon. Friend said was that if the prisoner died while being forcibly fed the Home Secretary would be liable—precisely the contrary statement.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I fail to appreciate the difference. The position, as I understand it, is that if a prisoner refuses to take her food she is forcibly fed. That is number one case. Number two case is that if the prisoner is forcibly fed and 914 dies, action might be taken against the Home Secretary.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
And number three case is that if there should be neglect to forcibly feed, and the prisoner refuses to take food at all and dies, in that event the Law Officers of the Crown express the opinion that the Home Secretary would be liable. Is not that the case? It is a question of law, whatever that may be. The Law Officers of the Crown gave their opinion only last week. It is three or four weeks since I put a question to the Home Secretary as to whether he had taken the opinion of the Law Officers on this very question as to a prisoner dying owing to his or her refusal to take food. The right hon. Gentleman's reply was that it was not necessary to take the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown because the case had already been decided in the High Court. Since then, however, he has apparently changed his view, and he appears to have received, according to his own showing, the opinion of the Law Officers. If these women enter into a conspiracy, after having committed offences for which they are sent to prison, and, if they go to prison with the determination not to take food, I submit that no responsibility ought to attach to any Government. If the Government had chosen to take the line that these women were to bear the consequences of their own action, in my humble judgment public opinion would not have been opposed to that policy. I speak as one who has always consistently supported the cause of Women Suffrage, and therefore it cannot be said that I have any hostile feeling to that movement. It is the militant women, who are only a limited number, women receiving large emoluments, £1,500 and £2,000 per year, in some cases. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] My hon. Friend knows that is perfectly true. Very large salaries are drawn by these women who have been preaching the doctrine of militancy. Therefore I say, if the women who form this conspiracy deliberately choose to take the risk, then the risk is theirs and not anyone else's. As an alternative I suggested some months ago to the Home Secretary and the Government that they should take their courage into their hands and deal with this matter, and I suggested that these persons might be deported to St. Helena or some of the Scottish Islands. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where are they?"] 915 I believe there are three islands which the hon. Gentleman suggests to me—Rum, Eigg, and Muck. As to Mrs. Pankhurst, who was released on bail, it was said that the Government were not responsible. I entirely dissent from that view. In this particular case the prisoner was released by the magistrate on the recommendation of the Home Office. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] I quite understood that the release of Mrs. Pankhurst came on the suggestion of the Home Office.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I cannot contradict every statement of the hon Gentleman, but it must be taken that I cannot assent, though I do not contradict.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I quite understand that, and, if what I say is not correct, the fact remains that Mrs. Pankhurst said that she was going to get a friend to speak next month at a meeting of her supporters, and that she was going to adopt starvation tactics when she went back. That is the speech which was made at a public meeting while she was on bail. It is perfectly intolerable that the leader of such a movement should be able to go about the country, after having admitted responsibility for the diabolical crime at the house which was being erected for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is intolerable that a person committed on such a charge should be able to go about saying that she is a political prisoner, but so far as I am concerned I cannot regard the crime as a political one in which there was a use of bombs, which removes it from that category and renders it worthy of no consideration from this House or any civilised State. The Home Secretary has given us certain figures as to forcible feeding, but I do not think the House is in a position to judge of the question when those figures relate only to nine weeks. We ought, to have had the whole of the figures for the period since this movement started. The figures could have been easily collected at the Home Office, and if the right hon. Gentleman had desired to give them to us, the House would have been seized of information, which it has not at present, as to what has happened. I consider forcible feeding to be a most horrible and disgusting proceeding, and I think the House ought to have some regard for the feelings of warders and wardresses who are called upon to administer it.
The right hon. Gentleman, in the speech he made to the House, talked of forcible 916 feeding as a deterrent. He entirely lost sight of the fact of not only the horrible torture to the prisoner, but to the warders and others who are called upon to administer forcible feeding. It is not right that the officers of prisons, who after all are public servants, should be called upon to forcibly feed these prisoners, and I am utterly opposed to the system, root and branch. The only way to deal with the matter is for the House at once to take its courage into its hands. It must say that if men and women engage in this conspiracy to abstain from food when they are sent to prison, the only logical consequence is that they must suffer the natural consequences which follow, and that is death. I believe myself that if the House and Government had taken that step at the beginning we should not have been faced with the present position. It is only their weakness and their failure to take a strong line from the commencement which has led to the present condition of things. The House must be logical in this matter. I do not wish to make any attack on the Home Secretary, but the right hon. Gentleman in his speech chose to rake up an incident in connection with myself that occurred fourteen years ago, and that is the only answer he could make to a speech which I had delivered to my Constituents. His only answer was to rake up the whole history of my political life fourteen years ago. That is his answer, and I think it is a very poor one, while the facts he mentioned were untrue. Do let the House pause in this matter. We are now, according to the Home Secretary, to have a kind of legislation thoroughly in accord with the whole policy and line of the Home Secretary himself, that of weakness. I hardly like to use the word I should like to use to describe what I consider to be the policy carried out by the right hon. Gentleman. In his speech what he said was, "We are going to let these people out on licence and we are then, if they behave themselves, going to cancel their sentences, and if not we are going to take them back."
The right hon. Gentleman does not appear to have the slightest knowledge of what the real feeling of those women is. They are, as an hon. Member has pointed out, fanatics in the true sense of the word. If he thinks he is going to cure this movement, or it the Government thinks they are going to cure this movement, by letting the prisoners out on their giving an undertaking, which a majority of them would never give, and if not they are to be taken 917 back—if that is the policy, then it is a policy which will never succeed. Assume that this case occurs, that a man who suffers from heart disease or some other serious trouble, commits a grave offence for which he is sentenced to a long term of penal servitude. What are you going to do in that case? If the man says, "I am suffering from heart disease," and if the prison officials are aware that he is, then according to the Home Secretary such a case would not be a proper one for forcible feeding. If the man has heart disease so that on forcible feeding death might occur, then if he refuses to take food, although he may have been convicted of a most serious crime, yet that prisoner, in accordance with the policy foreshadowed by the Home Secretary, whether the prisoner be man or woman, is to be released. That is perfectly intolerable, and it was in protest against that intolerable state of affairs that I mentioned the matter to my Constituents a fortnight ago. There was not at that meeting a single dissentient voice against the policy of forcible feeding adopted by the Home Secretary, and before the meeting working men, who had never spoken to me before about the conduct of a Minister, came to me and said, "That Home Secretary McKenna wants moving," and with that I thoroughly agree.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
Three propositions thus far have been put forward for curing the difficulty in which the Women suffrage movement has placed the authorities. We have had the proposal of the Home Secretary, of imprisonment according to law and under which ticket-of-leave is to be extended to ordinary prisoners. The other proposition was that of the hon. Baronet (sir A. Markham), who, indeed, put forward two propositions, one of which was to try transportation to a desert island, and the other was to let the women die who would not take food. He forgets that in the case of men fighting for the franchise, scarcely a hundred years ago yet, that transportation was tried, and only added to the strength of the movement. The hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Harold smith), who brought forward this question, wanted to suppress meetings, not because the speakers were doing anything amiss, but because a rowdy mob, as I think they are properly described, came to create a disturbance. I do not think that the suppression of public meetings under those circumstances is going to help. The Home Secretary supplied the 918 only criticism necessary of his own proposal. He told us that these women were guided by a fanaticism which led them to risk life freely, and to offer themselves as a sacrifice in order to promote their cause. He submitted they were mistaken, but his point was that their zeal, their determination, their fanaticism, to use his expression, was such that they got beyond the terrors of death if thereby their cause was going to be helped. For these women he comes forward with this proposal, that when they hunger strike they are to be released conditionally, the condition being that as soon as they recover their health sufficiently they are to be rearrested. Does he think that women of the type he described are going to submit to conditions of that kind? They certainly will give no undertaking. As the Dublin case proved, they will treat the whole law with contempt, the whole administration of the law with contempt, and what then?
Their argument is perfectly logical and consistent. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] They say they have no voice in the making of the laws, and that this House refuses to give them any voice in the making of the laws, and that they have no power or control over the administration of the laws, and they are under no obligation to obey them. That is their argument, and you may amend the law as much as you please in the direction indicated by the Home Secretary, but it is not going to help you in the slightest degree to remove the difficulty which has been created. The hon. Member for Warrington tried to play upon the feelings of the House in the first place by alleging that the attempt to fire the theatre in Dublin was made when the place was filled. That is not true. His information on that point is wrong. The people responsible for that act waited until the theatre was empty before they set fire to it, as in the case of the house of the Colonial Secretary to which he himself referred recently. In that case also the part of the house that was attempted to be fired was empty.
§ Mr. HARDIE
They knew that. Let us be fair even to women suffragettes; there is nothing to be gained by overstating the case. They have stated publicly, and Mrs. Pankhurst has stated publicly, and nobody has denied it.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Their statement of the case is that they carefully inquired and ascertained that the building was empty before they attempted to fire it.
§ Mr. HARDIE
They have publicly declared their policy is to destroy property, but not to destroy life.
§ Mr. HARDIE
If the hon. Gentleman who sits opposite and the Prime Minister were present they would agree that there was no hatchet thrown in a way to endanger life. To drop a hatchet into a carriage is not to throw it in a way to endanger life. [Laughter.] If those who laugh do not believe that it only shows that they have not much experience of hatchet throwing. I want to submit that the only remedy for the hunger strike is the release of the prisoners. The hon. Baronet opposite (sir F. Banbury), who is so humane in the case of dogs, was quite right when he said that the alternative was to let them die. What I submit is that if any woman died in prison through hunger, even through a hunger strike, that that would arouse such indignation in the country as would make the authorities feel that a mistake had been made. It has always been recognised that a prisoner indulging in a hunger strike, especially these women, deliberately for a purpose, are suffering penalty and punishment, which ought to be taken into account when considering their release. Take, for example, what is happening at this moment in Holloway, in connection with the hunger strike. Some three or four weeks ago a number of women broke windows in the East End and got two months' imprisonment each. They are in prison still. If the Committee will not think it too much of a joke, I should like to read the description of one of them of what forcible feeding means. Let the Committee keep in mind that these women, however mistaken, are not degraded, brutalised, and demoralised. I do not claim any special consideration for them because they happen to be educated, and so on. I merely mention it as a fact, which ought to be kept in mind when listening to this, 920 written by one of the prisoners now in Holloway:—I was in solitary confinement, deprived of books and exercise, the first eleven days. Then hooks were given by the doctor's orders. Then solitary exercise offered. I refused this, and later refused to go with Mrs. Branson, who is here in the children's hospital. I said I would either go with all the suffragettes, or with some of those who came in with me, or none. … I am fighting, fighting, fighting. I have four, five and six wardresses every day as well as the two doctors. I am fed by stomach tube twice a day. They prise open my mouth with a steel gag, pressing it in where there is a gap in my teeth. I resist all the nine. My gums are always bleeding. … The night before last I vomited the last meal and was ill all night, and was sick after both meals yesterday. … I always vomit through struggling during the operation, but what gets down usually stays there. … Sleepless nights, nervous collapses—nothing is of any use but demonstrating that the food won't stay down. … Now as to the actual operation.I hope the Committee will mark this, because it shows that the spirit of bitterness is not at all universal among these women.Now as to the actual operation. They areas gentle as they can be—the doctors always rebuke wardresses who pinch or clutch. Quiet firm strength is demanded, 'must avoid agitation' one doctor said. I am not sure about the tube being always forced into the stomach. In fact I think this is not usually done. Twice only can I swear to its being done. It may be that I am too agitated always to feel it, but I think not.Let the Committee mark this, just to get some idea of the intensity of the struggle that is going on and of the strength of conviction that must he behind it.I have tried holding my breath and trying to keep the throat shut. I have tried coughing and rasping. I have tried struggling madly, arching the back and retching from the stomach. I generally manage to get up something—sometimes more, sometimes less—but the major part goes down, I believe, slowly of course, but in time it goes. One cannot hold one's breath for ever. … I am afraid they may be saying we don't resist. Yet in spite of their gentleness my shoulders are bruised with struggling whilst they hold the tube into my throat; one cannot cough it up, they hold it in. Of course I am not certain about it not going all the way down, but I think it does not, because I felt so much more suffocated the times I know it did go down. I was much more sick those times and I think that has made them resolve not to continue it.That is what is happening in an English prison at this moment. Conduct so horrible as that, if it were being done in, say, Italy, or some other part of the world, would be denounced from every platform in England. The treatment of prisoners on the continent of Europe has, ere now, been the subject of a great campaign; because the victims were political prisoners it was held that they were entitled to special treatment. These women are political prisoners—political offenders. They are not criminals in any ordinary sense of the word. They are law-breakers; they tell you why they break the law; they take the consequences. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] They take the consequences of breaking the law. Ten days of 921 treatment such as I have described is a thousand times greater punishment than quietly enduring two months' imprisonment, and accepting ordinary prison conditions. Someone says that it is their own fault. Of course it is. The men who went to prison when fighting for the rights of Ireland—it was their own fault; and Ireland to-day is getting the advantage. The men who in the past fought for the rights of the working classes of this country—it was their own fault; they took the risk, and we to-day are benefiting. All I ask this House and the country to recognise is that when women get to the point that their health is being permanently endangered by forcible feeding, it becomes incumbent on the Home Office to liberate them. By keeping them in prison and inflicting permanent injury upon them the spirit of the law is being more violated than it is by liberating them. I repeat that the House of Commons and the law may do as they please; there is only one way of ending the strife, and that is by the House conferring the vote upon women.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I agree, of course, that the home Secretary is in a very difficult position, and to a certain extent my sympathy goes out to him. But when a man accepts the position of Home Secretary he has to take the rough with the smooth, and he must expect at times to have to face difficult questions. I agree with the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division (sir A. Markham) that if, at the inception of this movement, the Home Secretary had shown a little courage and backbone, we should not have had the horrible description of forcible feeding to which we have just listened. Such a description, of course, affects everyone. No one likes the process; everyone would like to see it abolished. If the Home Secretary had shown a little courage, forcible feeding would not have had to take place, and we should not have had these women breaking the law.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I know that my Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) admitted just now that before the present Home Secretary came into office forcible feeding was carried out. But I am referring to the women.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
In any case, it only takes us back to the previous Home Secretary. It is a mere splitting of hairs. Whoever first of all had to with these women, if he had said, "If these women do not obey the law they must take the consequences," I do not believe we should have had half the trouble we are having now. The Home Secretary has told us that he intends to continue the practice which he has put in force during the last few months, and that he hopes to obtain an alteration of the law which will enable him to release these women on probation, and to put them in prison again if they again break the law. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) has told him in very clear and frank language that that will have no effect at all. I am sorry the Home Secretary was not in the House to hear that statement. I hope the Under-Secretary will repeat it to him. It is therefore perfectly evident that any alteration of the law in that direction will not meet the difficulty. What is the defence of the Home Secretary? The right hon. Gentleman, taking only two and a half months, said that during those two and a half months, out of sixty-six prisoners committed to gaol, eight only were released because they refused to take food. That, however, represents 12 per cent., which is a very large percentage when dealing with people committed to prison for a variety of crimes. It must be remembered that arson is one of the crimes for which some of these people have been committed. Lilian Lenton, who apparently, according to the papers—I do not believe everything I see in the papers—has managed to escape, has not been convicted, but she was practically taken red-handed in the act of burning down the pavilion in Kew Gardens. That is a very serious offence. In fact, the Home Secretary almost went so far as to say—I am sorry he did not say it—that if anybody was convicted of arson he would not release them, even if a hunger strike took place.
The Home Secretary went into details, and showed that he released these 12 per cent. because they were suffering from a variety of human infirmities—pleurisy, heart disease, or something else. What does that mean? It means that if a person in delicate health commits an offence against the law and chooses to refuse to take food, that person, whether male or female, defies the law, and is let out of prison. As the Hon. Baronet opposite (sir A. Markham) said, that state of things 923 cannot go on. It is absolutely impossible that the law can be made a mockery of as it is at the present moment. The Home Secretary said that it requires very much more courage to allow these people to be released than to say, "If you do not choose to take the food which is put before you, you will be allowed to commit suicide." I differ from the Home Secretary. I say it requires much more courage to get up and say that, in your opinion, the only alternative is to allow these misguided people to commit suicide, than to say, "They cannot be allowed to die; therefore we will allow them to make a mockery of the law, and let them out." In the course of his speech, referring to an interruption of mine, the Home Secretary said that he did not believe that, if he had taken strong action from the beginning, it would have been a deterrent. I believe that if these people had known that the refusal to take food would end in their own death, it would have deterred them. That is always provided that it was known that the penalty would be carried out. If, by a great misfortune, one woman was to die, there would be no more. After all, one has to remember this, horrible as it is, that it is worse to allow the law, on which the safety of the whole country depends, to be made a mockery of than to allow one foolish woman to suffer the consequences of her own folly. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil practically admitted that the only alternative was the one I have suggested. I believe that unless something of that sort is done, we shall be faced with an outrage which will result in the death, certainly of one or two people, and probably more. If this sort of thing is allowed to go on, no one can tell where it will stop.
I do not want to use strong language, but these people are encouraged by the weakness of the Home Secretary. They know perfectly well that he is afraid to put the law into force, and they take advantage of it. Until we have someone strong enough to stand up and say boldly that the law has to be maintained whatever happens, we shall have the trouble to which we have been subjected during the last few months. It is not a pleasant thing to have to get up and say what I have said this evening, but I believe it is the right thing, and I have never been afraid of saying what I believe to be right. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil said something about a dog. That has got 924 nothing to do with humanity. There is a very great difference between an innocent dog, which cannot protect itself and women who, of their own free will and accord, not only commit crime, but by refusing to take food thereby endanger their health. I hope the Home Secretary will take heart of grace and will see that the law in future is carried out whatever may follow.
On the question of the legal position, I understood the Home Secretary to say that a decision had been given by a judge that in the event of a prisoner refusing to take food, it was the duty of the Home Secretary and of the prison authorities to see that that person did, as far as possible, take food. That, of course, is the decision of a High Court. It is not a statutory one. That decision of the High Court might be overruled by a higher Court. What does that decision amount to? Am I not right in assuming that it only necessitates the prison authorities to take every precaution to put food before every prisoner—because I would not have any forcible feeding. I would put the food in the cell, and if the prisoners did not choose to take it they must take the consequence of their own action. I do not think anyone will hold but that the law had been vindicated if it could be proved that every opportunity had been given to the prisoner to take proper nourishment, and that the prisoner, whether male or female, had refused food.
§ Mr. OLIVER LOCKER-LAMPSON
I have followed this discussion with considerable care, and I have come to the conclusion that the suggestion foreshadowed by the Home Secretary was one really of very little value; and that we shall have to wait and see in order to determine whether or not it will be of use. We are faced at the present time with a wave of militant suffragettism all over the country. It seems to me confined to this country alone. There seems to be one distinctive feature about it in this country which is worthy of remark. We find that people of the highest moral character say it is perfectly legitimate and right to do things which they would not do for any other reason, or with any other object. We find women, who have hitherto been creatures of charm and domesticity, ready to allow themselves to be classed as criminals in order to further the cause they have at heart; in order even possibly to advertise themselves! The question is what is to be done? We find that at the 925 present moment the acts are no longer a question which is amusing to the newspapers, but that they are an absolute menace to a perfectly innocent public. The question may be divided into two parts. We have first of all the question of the molestation of Ministers, and secondly the terrorisation of the public at large.
I am not concerned with the question of the molestation of Ministers. As a Member of the Opposition who desires to annoy the Government as much as possible, I do not say I welcome, but I do not altogether pity Ministers if they happen to be molested by suffragettes. I feel that they have brought the thing upon themselves, that they are largely responsible, for they happen to have treated the suffragists with absolute humility in the past. It is not unnatural that something should be done by way of return, and that the suffragists should be inclined to treat them in a rather hostile and not particularly Christian manner. I, for one, find it very difficult to sympathise with, let us say, the Chancellor of he Exchequer when he gets one of his meetings broken up. I find it particularly hard to sympathise — [An HON. MEMBER: "You might try to"]—I will try to—with the Prime Minister when he is prevented from playing a good game of Sunday golf merely because the suffragists have interrupted him.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think I must point out that we are discussing the action of the Home Secretary, and nothing is relevant except so far as it takes into that discussion whether he has acted rightly or wrongly.
§ Mr. O. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I must apologise, Mr. Whitley, I thought the Home Secretary also played golf. I ventured to mention it in connection with the question not only of the Ministers of the day, but also with the question of the public at large. What is the position of the public at the present moment? At the present moment a perfectly innocent person, who has done nothing to deserve any censure, may, through the suffragists, be at the risk of the loss of his property or the injury to his person. We cannot even send letters through the post. We cannot 926 guarantee their safe carriage or conveyance. What has the Home Secretary done in the past? He has displayed a spirit of apathy and infirmity of purpose, with truculence, that it would be very difficult to find equalled in any barbaric country of the Middle Ages. He has done nothing to assist us, for his suggestions to-day seem to be little to the purpose. The last speaker, the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, asked us to be kind to these women. Why is it that at the present moment they are holding the law of the land so cheap? I cannot help thinking they have been deliberately educated to disobey the law by certain acts of hon. Members opposite in the past. I am reminded of the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer educated the Nonconformists not to pay their rates. I am reminded of the fact that he also exalted the well-known malefactor, the shepherd in Wales, at the expense of honest men. [An HON. MEM BER: "What about Ulster?"] I think that question has already been answered. If, as a result of all this, the suffragists do take the law into their own hands, I feel they are not altogether to blame. The people to blame is the Government of the day. I feel that the Home Secretary has done very little to cope with a very difficult question which a strong man might easily have managed to deal with effectively. We have had too much government by motion. There is nothing in the world so cruel as cheap sentiment. There is nothing I dislike more than to see sentiment and false pity pumped up for the occasion. Though I am perfectly ready to see that the Home Secretary should have a heart for distressful cases, I should rather that he did not keep his heart upon his coat-sleeve, but allowed it to be comfortably and respectably retained beneath his waistcoat.
We have to consider this fact before all things. We have the reputation of being the most law-abiding nation in the world. We are great, not because we have made great laws, but because we have obeyed them. And we are going to lose that priceless national distinction because for the time being we have a Government in power that dares not govern, and Ministers who do not attempt to minister. The Home Secretary is depriving us even now of safeguarding our private property and our persons. I say that if he is unable to supply us with an effective measure of reform, I join with the hon. Member for Warrington, and say he ought to leave his present position to a more efficient person.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
In a moment or two I want simply to make good an interruption of mine on a point of fact during the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Merthyr Tydvil. He has been forced to leave the House, which I regret, but I gave him notice that I intended to recur to the matter. I came into the House when he was dealing with the affair at Dublin, and I also understood that he had attempted to justify the outrage at the house of the Colonial Secretary. He was saying that at the house of the Colonial Secretary at the time mentioned—[HON. MEMBERS: "In a part of the house"]—in a part—I am extremely anxious not to misrepresent the hon. Gentleman. I interrupted him, and I have since confirmed my recollection from a friend of my own who knows even better than I do as to who was in the house at the time this attempt was made. There were eight servants present in the part of the house which it was attempted to set on fire. I know extremely well the part of the house referred to, and I said the attempt involved great danger and risk to persons in the house. Did the hon. Member know these facts, or does he consider that servants do not count?
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I am glad to see the Home Secretary present, because what I have to say is directly in reference to the attitude he has taken up in regard to this question. I will not suggest that he has failed—which I think is obvious—but he has acted illegally. I am going to support what I am suggesting in every respect. I quite agree we cannot at the present time go into the question of whether or not he thinks his powers insufficient. If he wants more adequate powers he will have to come to this House and we will have to pass fresh legislation. We are not, however, upon further legislation at this moment. The only question is how the Home Secretary has used the powers which he has got. I say he has used them illegally and unconstitutionally. I admit that is a strong statement to make, but I want to support it. First of all, I will take what he said as regards letting out of these women prisoners, whom I, at any rate, have the greatest sympathy with, under what he calls the prerogative of mercy, or what is more ordinarily called the prerogative of pardon. What I want to point out to the Home Secretary is, that he has no right whatever under the prerogative of pardon or conditional pardon to do any such 928 thing. If he is going to interfere with justice in this way under what he calls a prerogative of pardon or of conditional pardon you may have the Secretary of State or the Executive interfering with the whole course of criminal jurisdiction in this country. Nothing in my opinion could be worse.
The prerogative of pardon means that as regards a particular individual you take into consideration all the conditions and you think he is either to have an absolute pardon such as in the Beck case—which does away with the whole conviction—or he is to have a conditional pardon. That depends upon this; that you reduce the punishment—if the prisoner consents to a reduced punishment, and undertakes to abide by the result of the undertaking he has given, in connection with any reduced punishment to which he is subjected. That is not the case with these women at all. It is an entirely different point. It is not that they are innocent. It is not that they have been wrongly convicted. It is not that they have been improperly dealt with as regards their criminal law jurisdiction. It is that they, having gone into prison, having regard to the conditions which now prevail—the Home Secretary has been met with great difficulties, I quite admit—and I am coming to them by-and-by—I want to challenge the Home Secretary, and I say he has no right whatever, and it is contrary to constitutional practice to interfere with the ordinary course of our criminal jurisdiction in cases of this kind under the plea of the prerogative of mercy or a prerogative of pardon which belongs to the Crown. I want to make this point clear for this reason. And it was, of course, always the object of this House to keep the prerogative of the Crown within due limits. It was a claim to the dispensing power that led principally to the dethronement of James II., and even Charles II, in the plenitude of Monarchial reaction could not induce the House of Commons to give him a dispensing power in what we should now call religions persecution. The difficulty as it presents itself to-day is that of a Minister in this House permitting himself to apply the prerogative of pardon, and we have to be very careful lest we should have the prerogative of pardon used as it is now used in contravention of every principle of criminal jurisprudence in this country. The second point is this, and I think it is a very important matter. Lately when a certain 929 prisoner was on remand without bail she was released by the Home Secretary's orders. He had no right whatever to give an order of that kind which is absolutely outside the powers or the jurisdiction or privileges of the Home Office. What ought to be done is that if a prisoner is suffering from harshness or injustice you have got to go to the person who committed her to gaol, that is the committing magistrate, and if the committing magistrate does not assent to bail you can go to the High Court, but so far as the Home Secretary is concerned he has no more power than any ordinary Member of this House. The Home Secretary seems to assent to that, but is it not a monstrous thing in these circumstances for the Home Secretary to act in contravention of his powers and to interfere with the course of criminal jurisprudence in this country?
§ Mr. McKENNA
In a case in which the Home Secretary knows on the best information he can get that a prisoner who has not even been tried to die and when he is informed that minutes are urgent has he not the power to release her. Whether he has any legal authority or not does the hon. and learned Gentleman suggest that he should not release her?
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I will answer that question. The person in question could have been released as quickly by following the proper course.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No, no. When the information was telephoned to the Home Office on Sunday afternoon there was no knowledge at the Home Office as to who sat upon the bench when the prisoner was remanded. As a matter of fact the information was sent from the Home Office to the private address of the particular official who was to receive the information. He had no knowledge either of the clerk to the magistrate or of the magistrate who sat upon the bench. It would be necessary for that official to come from his private address to the Home Office to look up the clerk to the magistrate, to find him on the telephone, and to get from the clerk the information as to who sat upon the bench, and then to communicate by telephone with the magistrate, if he could find him, and all that would have had to be done on the Sunday afternoon.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
It was illegal. Whatever the order of the Home Secretary was to the official who gave the order to let the prisoner out made him liable at common law, in my opinion, to indictment and serious punishment. But I do not at all agree that the excuse put forward by the Home Secretary is justified. It is perfectly clear to anyone that a case of that kind, if it had been taken at a reasonable time, could have gone through the ordinary course, and I am not prepared to say that because in some case you have harshness you should in consequence for the first time sanction the overriding of the law of this country by the dispensing power of any individual. It is a most serious thing, and I charge the Home Secretary with having pushed forward an unconstitutional right of his office beyond what was ever done by any occupant of that office before. And if we are not careful we shall come to this result, that on political grounds and by a political party we should sanction the principle that would lead in the long run to political interference in every political trial. It is quite wrong, and the Home Secretary can find no precedent for what he has done. It is not for me to suggest remedies. It is quite clear to my mind that a matter of this kind could be properly dealt with by proper prison regulations, and if anyone is so very ill that they are about to die the right and proper thing is to treat them kindly, cautiously, and scientifically while they are under the prison regime; and I should think it a very dangerous thing to remove a person who was dying, as the Home Secretary is suggesting. I see that the Home Secretary smiles, but I think he will agree that if a person is in extremis, it is not a case that should be removed outside, but a case where you ought to have prison regulations, so that the prisoner could be properly treated, medically and scientifically, in the infirmary.
§ Mr. McKENNA
In this case the moment the prisoner was told that she was to be released she immediately consented to take food and medicine. It was the absence of food and medicine, which she so persistently refused to take, that was causing her death. Immediately she was told she was to be released she accepted the doctor's advice.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
That shows that she was taking this course in order to get release. I accent what the Home Secretary 931 has said, but that is not what I saw stated. I thought that pleurisy or some other ailment of that kind was stated as the cause of danger. But where you are dealing with a prisoner of that kind, from one point of view or another, I think the Home Secretary in this respect is directly responsible, and that you ought to have sufficient regulations as regards your prison infirmary and medical attendants as would enable them to deal at once with matters of that kind. I have been very often in the position as chairman of Quarter Sessions of having to sentence prisoners. No one likes that; it is a very disagreeable necessity, but in cases of illness you always give directions to the medical attendants in the gaol that the prisoner should be sent to the infirmary at once, if necessary. That is the proper way of dealing with the matter. I cannot assent for a moment to what the Home Secretary stated that it is right for him or anybody else to do what he has done, because in this respect it is no different from interfering with the ordinary course of criminal jurisprudence, and I say that in the interest of the prisoners themselves. The prisoners have a right to be properly treated in prison, and to have proper regulations with regard to infirmaries. They have a right, if ill, to be treated there so that there may be no danger to their lives; and if it is true, as the Home Secretary has stated, that this course had to be taken because of immediate danger to life, I say the answer is that he is to blame more than anyone else, because he is directly responsible for prison regulations, and they certainly were not adequate in this particular case.
I entirely join issue with the Home Secretary as regards his responsibility in cases where there is a hunger-strike. I admit the difficulties, and it not for me to suggest a remedy. The position is an extremely difficult one, but I think the Home Secretary is quite wrong in what he laid down as regards the law. This hunger-strike is simply attempted suicide. There is no obligation upon the Home Secretary in a case of that kind to resort to forcible feeding. What he has to do is to take every possible care that a result such as all of us should dislike and deplore should not take place. I want to know if he has done this. We are all agreed that we are dealing with a very difficult matter, and the great thing is how to deal with it 932 effectively. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Heir Hardie) that these are political offences. Arson is not a political offence. Attempts on property and life are not political offences, and society is as much entitled to be protected in cases of this kind as in ordinary larceny or burglary; but there is no obligation upon the Home Secretary to employ those horrible means of forcible feeding at all. I do not think the case to which he refers has anything to do with it. I am not saying what has got to be done. I see that Gentlemen opposite laugh, but I say that if the Home Secretary has not got sufficient power to maintain order it is his duty to ask for sufficient power, and I am sure it will be granted to him. I am dealing with this matter as it is, and I wholly deny that there is any obligation upon him in the way he told us to resort to forcible feeding. I believe it is a matter of law, and I believe my statement is absolutely true, and I believe that his notion that he is bound to have recourse to forcible feeding in these cases is absolutely without foundation. I make that statement having looked into the matter as closely as I could, and it is upon these grounds I arraign the Home Secretary. I say, taking things as they are, he has acted illegally and unconstitutionally upon most serious points, and if he desires to pursue a course of this kind he ought in the first instance to get powers from this House which he certainly has not got now on any constitutional principle at the present time.
§ Mr. WALTER ROCH
Everyone who has heard the discussion this afternoon will agree that the Home Secretary is placed in a very difficult position, and I hope he will believe me when I say that while I do not agree with some parts of his speech I fully accept what he says, that what he does is entirely repugnant to him, and I take no part in the somewhat violent things which have been said about him in the course of this afternoon. The only point on which I quarrel with the Home Secretary is upon the question of forcible feeding. I believe he is not justified in that. I believe that any body of men or women would agree that it is a barbaric punishment taking the form of torture. I go further and say that, by the Home Secretary's own showing, forcible feeding is ineffective. I think in about 12 per cent. of cases where these women have been subjected to this horrible form of torture they had to be let out, showing 933 that forcible feeding is absolutely ineffective to bring about respect for the law or to carry out sentences. Look at the great risk that is run in these cases. Take the case of Miss Lenton. There you had this girl suffering from pleurisy. They were unable to ascertain that she was suffering from pleurisy, and yet, in spite of the fact that she was suffering from that disease, she was forcibly fed. It would have been a very grave reflection upon the authorities if anything had happened to that young woman under those circumstances. The Home Secretary has stated that there is an objection on the part of these women to being medically examined. I think if these women wish to be examined by a woman doctor, that alternative should be put before them, and that might do away with some of their objections to a medical examination. I do think, in dealing with these women, and in dealing with these cases, you must realise what their position is, and what kind of women you have to deal with. I agree that you have to deal with fanatics. The Noble Lord opposite spoke disparagingly about that fact. May I point out that we owe all the religion we possess to fanatics, and we also owe many of our reforms to fanatics. You have to deal with that fact, and you have to remember in dealing with fanatics two other points. First of all, I do not think you can say that in all the harsh judgment passed upon these women that either party in this House has got clean hands. Reference has been made to passive resistance as being morally justifiable and a right policy to adopt. On the other hand, you have the great party opposite pledged to violent resistance in the case of Ulster, and with these two records of two great parties, you have no right to go to these women and say, "We will deal harshly with you; you are bad politicians; you are serving your cause badly, and the law will visit you with heavy penalties." You cannot deal with these women without remembering that broad fact. Go where you will to any fair body of men—I do not except even the Second Chamber which is going to be created by the Government, next Session—they could not say on their conscience that these women have been fairly dealt with on this question.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
I am afraid the hon. Member is beginning to discuss the merits of this subject, and that cannot arise in Committee of Supply.
§ Mr. W. ROCH
I do not think anyone can say that this House has fairly dealt with the women, and that is an element which must be borne in mind in dealing with this question. I wish to make one further appeal to the Home Secretary. I regret that he has resorted to forcible feeding, and I regret that he has not said that he will discontinue it. I will make one suggestion which I think he can adopt. I subscribe whole-heartedly to the view that you cannot treat these women as ordinary criminals. Many people think that is unjustifiable, but that is my view. All the same, I thoroughly agree that the law must be enforced, and I think that the Home Secretary should seek means to amend the law if necessary, so that he can see the law is vindicated. I would say discontinue forcible feeding at once. I agree that if these women are sentenced, the sentence must be carried out or the law will get into disrepute. I think the Home Secretary might devise a plan for the term that the women are sentenced under which they might be subjected to a stringent form of police supervision which would be fairly irksome and prevent them going to meetings, and prevent them proceeding with their ordinary avocation. That would be something similar to prison treatment. I think that would be absolutely justifiable and would put an end to the difficulty.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I am convinced that those who have attacked the Home Secretary are under a complete misunderstanding with regard to the law relating to imprisonment. What is the law? Is it a rigid system? Does it insist that every sentence must be carried out to its bitter end? So far from that being the law it is exactly the contrary. The law recognises that there are cases of extreme difficulty and emergency which are not capable of being defined by any set rule or formula. In these cases the law relies upon the individual judgment of one man. It relies upon the personal equation, and in order to deal with these cases and prevent the law from being harsh and doing that which was not intended, the law relies upon the individual judgment of the Home Secretary as to how far these sentences should be carried out, and in exercising his judgment the Home Secretary is not defeating the law, but carrying out its spirit, and in that exercise of his judgment he is responsible to this House. I submit that in the whole course of his action the right hon. Gentleman has carried the 935 House with him and has the confidence of hon. Members. He has been faced with a situation of extreme difficulty and delicacy. The right hon. Gentleman has been faced with an outbreak of crime which is not ordinary crime. I do not agree that it is political, because you cannot call arson a political crime. At any rate, it is not ordinary crime, and it is crime which is pathological in its character and due to an outbreak of hysteria verging upon insanity. It is true there have been numerous cases; but they all spring from hysteria, though I do not say that the movement as a whole springs from the same cause. In dealing with the difficulties with which he is confronted in this respect, I think the Home Secretary is justified in using the powers which the law reposes in him. And why has his judgment been attacked in this House? I think I can discern the motive of those who have been attacking the Home Secretary. First of all, there are the rigid formularists who insist upon a hard and inconsiderate application of the law, people who say, "Let these women commit suicide."
I do not think they are right with regard to the law. It was never intended to be applied in that way. If it were it would defeat its purpose. You have here really a question of high policy. In the exercise of the judgment reposed in the Home Secretary you cannot apply the rigid forms of red-tape. There is another motive which has to some extent animated those who have attacked the Home Secretary, and it is the conviction that the line he has taken is not helping the cause of Women Suffrage. In the first place, there are those who say, "Let him surrender to intimidation; he can easily stop this movement by passing a measure for Women Suffrage." I should be out of order if I discussed this question, and therefore that ought to be ruled out of consideration because it is not within the power of the Home Secretary. It is within the power of this House, and hon. Members had an opportunity two Sessions ago of doing that, and this House refused to do it. Others say, "Very well, if the Home Secretary will not do that, let him administer the law in such a way as to create sympathy with suffragists. Let him push the law to the extreme; let him make martyrs; let him have a few suicides in prison, and popular sympathy will be aroused to such an extent that the House 936 might be impelled to grant the demands of the women."
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Does the hon. Gentleman think that is the motive of my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London?
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I certainly do not think that, and I do not think it would be the Noble Lord's view. I think, however, it is the motive of some of those who have criticised the Home Secretary.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
My hon. Friend referred to forcible feeding as torture, and the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) read out some very horrible details of the operation of forcible feeding in a particular case. The emotion those details aroused in me was one of extreme sympathy and pity and sorrow for the unfortunate girl who was undergoing that most painful operation. But is it right or fair, is it reasonable, to describe this operation as torture? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Let us take any medical operation whatever, such as the amputation of a limb or an operation for some disease of the stomach. I could go over that in pathological terms, describing the severing of each muscle and nerve, the flow of blood, the sawing through of the bone, and it would be revolting and enough to rouse a man's gorge and make the ordinary man faint to witness that operation. But in its nature that operation is far more painful than the operation of forcible feeding, but is it torture?
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
Torture is the infliction of pain for the deliberate purpose of inflicting pain, but in this case the operation is done with one motive only; it is done from a humane motive, with the object of preventing a person committing a mortal sin which ought to appeal to the Noble Lord. It is done, in the second place, to prevent that person committing the illegal crime of suicide. The Home Secretary is bound to do everything he can to prevent that crime being committed. I do not see that he has any option in the matter, and he is bound to administer the law in that respect. Let me call attention to one extraordinary paradox in regard to this whole case and with regard to the attitude of those who 937 are attacking the Home Secretary. I remember, about eight years ago, when this militant movement first started, that Miss Pankhurst and Miss Kenny were both present at a meeting the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (sir E. Grey) was addressing in Manchester, and they interrupted to such an extent that they made the meeting impossible, and they were forcibly removed. When they were deliberately trying to break up the meeting they shouted out, "Why don't you give us the vote? Why don't you treat us like men?" When they were being forcibly removed they shouted out in protest, "Is this how you treat women?"
§ Mr. W. ROCH
I understand they were not allowed to put a question as men usually are at political meetings.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I am not going into the merits of that question. I am talking of the apparent contradiction between those two statements. Many people laughed at that as if there was a contradiction, but I say the Home Secretary, in exercising his discretion under the law, is saying, "No, we will not treat you like the male criminal, because we recognise the special infirmity which has been imposed upon women, not by any human degree, but an infirmity of a kind that no human degree or law can alter."
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
I hope my hon. Friend will pardon me if I do not follow him in the intricacies of the law to which he has just given expression, and if I devote myself to the speech of the Home Secretary. No one in this House would accuse the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) or my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Sir A. Markham) of being animated by any motives of inhumanity in the speeches to which we have had the pleasure of listening this evening. Both those hon. Members have put the case in a most convincing manner. I think all of us listened to the speech of the Home Secretary with considerable pain and disappointment when he gave us details with regard to the various instances of forcible feeding, and we must all of us have been filled with disappointment and disgust at a state of affairs which necessitated that any Home Secretary should have had to resort to such a method of coercion in order to carry out the law of the land. There is, as has been well pointed out by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Berks (Sir A. Cripps), 938 no legal necessity for the Home Secretary to engage in forcible feeding. We are, therefore, forced to the conclusion that, as he admits, he does it on his own responsibility. I, for one, shall certainly support this Amendment as a protest against forcible feeding. The Home Secretary says he is faced with the alternative of either meting out death or of indulging in this process. I submit that is not a true statement of the facts of the case. He is not asked to mete out death. He has to deal with those who have broken the law, and it is his duty to punish the people who have engaged in these outrages as a protection to the rest of the society, and as a protection to those who have suffered from them. He must surely punish these misguided women who have engaged in such dastardly outrages as setting fire to houses, damaging property, and interfering with the lives of peaceful people. I submit his next step is to provide proper food for them, and, if he does so and lets it be known publicly that he has provided them with proper food, then there is no body of men, either here or anywhere else, who would condemn him or say his responsibility extended further. He has offered these people the opportunity of feeding themselves, and if they, which I very much doubt, refused to take that food, then certainly the responsibility rests upon them and them alone.
We have to bring to this question ordinary common sense; we do not need to complicate the issue with subtleties as to the law, or to enlarge on the question whether we can allow them to commit suicide. People commit suicide to-day if they wish. We are perfectly at liberty to starve ourselves to death. We are a civilised community, and we have certain laws. They are the result of the labours of able men belonging to both parties; they are the edifice built up over a long period of years, and we have got to maintain those laws. I do not suppose anyone will accuse me of inhumanity in suggesting that the law certainly ought to be maintained. Why is it maintained? It is maintained for the benefit of this State as a civilised State. The Home Secretary has to punish those who break the law, and, if he provides them with food, then the responsibility rests with them and not with him. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I presume he believes otherwise, or he would not act as he does. I, for one, certainly think he is not 939 justified in taking a sort of law unto himself, and in indulging in what must be revolting to us all. He has no right to engage in such a process withou the authority of this House. He ought to have the authority of the House before he indulges in such a process, and I do not believe for a moment this House would authorise any Home Secretary to engage in this in-human process of forcible feeding.
It has been suggested that one method of settling this question would be to allow these people to have their liberty. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie), who in a moving speech gave us those details, said, I believe out of the honest feeling of his heart, that these women should be allowed to go free. I certainly disagree with him. We are not now discussing the question of Women Suffrage; we are discussing whether the Home Secretary is justified in forcibly feeding certain criminals. Most of us, in our heart of hearts, revolt at the idea that gentle women should be forcibly fed, and that we should be the instrument of doing it, and to ask us to endorse the action of the Home Secretary in forcibly feeding these people is an outrage on the House of Commons. I, for one, will not endorse it, and I shall most decidedly support the hon. Member who moved the Amendment as a protest against forcible feeding. Another suggested method of settling this question is that further powers should be given to the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that he would come to this House for powers to enable him to let those criminals out on licence. Certainly, unless he can make out a better case than he has made this afternoon such a proposition would meet with very considerable opposition from many of us. I see no failure of the law further than I see a failure of the Home Secretary in administering the law. The law provides, and we are all satisfied, that the punishmnt should fit the crime, and this subject we are asked to discuss, namely, whether the Home Secretary is justified because certain criminals refuse to take the food which is provided for them in forcibly feeding them, seems to me beside the question. I believe public opinion will support me in the statement that his responsibility ceases in providing them with food, and that responsibility rests upon them, and upon them alone, for any further action which they may take.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I desire to ask the Home Secretary a question or two. I cannot help feeling that the criticisms which were uttered by the hon. and learned Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps) have not been really met at all by the short interjections of the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman, as I followed him, says that under necessity he claims the right, in particular cases, to act illegally, and he admits that in the case of Miss Lenton he did act without any sanction at all. That raises a very important and a much larger question than the mere case of Miss Lenton. I rather sympathise with the difficulty in which the right hon. Gentleman is placed, and, as I am not in a position to offer an alternative suggestion, I do not wish to put forward too severe a criticism of the course he has adopted. In passing I may be allowed to say that the Home Secretary has got himself into the present difficulty by being so lenient in the first place. If it had not been for that, he possibly would not be in the position in which he is to-day. The point on which I rose to ask information was this: Are there no prison rules; is there no practice which provides for the release of prisoners, or for dealing with the important question of releasing prisoners who are suffering from sudden or severe illness? Are we to understand from the interjection of the Home Secretary that the life or death of the prisoner depends, not only upon whether it would be possible to approach the bench of magistrates who had committed the prisoner and to find them on a particular Saturday or Sunday afternoon, but upon the convenient circumstance that you can get into communication with the Home Secretary by telephone. Is there a system, or does chaos prevail at the Home Office? Is the system such that in the case of a serious and sudden illness there is no automatic provision, and that communication has to be made from the gaol, and chance has to be taken whether or not the Home Secretary happens to be at his residence, or can be communicated with? The answer the Home Secretary has made is in effect this: "I did act illegally. I had no justification in law for what I have done. What was I to do? Nobody else could be reached. I was the person who was reached. I acted improperly, but surely everyone in the House will sympathise with me in the way I acted."
That is a most unfortunate condition of affairs. If the Home Secretary by his 941 answer means that there is no system under which the governor or medical officer can act, and that they must approach the Home Secretary personally, I think a system of maladministration is revealed at the Home Office. I should like some statement from the Treasury Bench as to whether or not we may take that as the meaning of the interjection of the Home Secretary. I can remember a particular case some years ago in which illness arose in which the Attorney-General was communicated with on a Sunday in order to advise the Home Secretary, and I confess that I thought, until the Home Secretary made his reply this afternoon, that there was some system by which the Home Office in, a particular case could seek the advice of the Law Officers of the Crown as to what it should do. I remember that that particular advice was sought on a Sunday afternoon from the Attorney-General by special messenger. I should have thought that was the ordinary system. But if it is a question not of the Law Officers, but of the Home Secretary acting without any more authority than any particular Member of this House has, it is quite time that further regulations were made. I do not accept all one reads in the papers, but in the course of last year I saw one case of what is called a suffrage raid in which a number of prisoners had been arrested, but on the following morning no evidence was offered against them, and apparently it was suggested that that was in consequence of some Home Office action which required that in that particular case, although arrests had taken place, the course of justice should be arrested and no further steps should be taken. Although it was alleged that a crime had been committed, and after the arrest had been made by the ordinary and proper officers of the law, further proceedings were stayed by the hand of some person at the Home Office. I ask for further information about that. It would be a very improper intervention on the part of the Executive.
§ Mr. McKENNA
May I call attention to the fact that the hon. and learned Gentleman is referring to a matter which occurred upwards of two years ago?
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I did not know my memory was so good. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon his memory. If the matter has never been raised and has never been answered, and the Home Sec- 942 retary knows all about it, perhaps this will give the Home Secretary a satisfactory opportunity of clearing his Department from the criticism which apparently he has been waiting for for two years. Although it comes a little late, I do not see why it is not material at the present moment, but if I am wrong I will bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman. I only desire to ask the question because it is quite clear that I am right in my facts and that it did happen. I ask the Home Office, at the present time, in the course of the present financial year, does it claim to have the right and to exercise that right to interfere with the course of justice as it did in the past, although that happened two years ago? Has that claim been abandoned, or does the same system now prevail at the Home Office? I do not raise this point in too critical a spirit or without appreciating some of the difficulty on the part of the Home Secretary, but it cannot be forgotten that it is a very short step before these same difficulties will arise not merely in the limited sphere of prisoners who are arrested for what is termed political outrages, or because they are woman suffragists, but there will be this logical and speedy result, that many other prisoners will adopt the same course. We are entitled to ask the Home Secretary, What power does he intend to exercise for the enforcement of the law when that difficulty is upon him, as most assuredly it will be? I have drawn attention to these two points because I think the House ought to be told by the Home Secretary what is the practice and what he intends to do in the future, and if he intends to adopt that method of direct interference by administrative Departments with the due course of the law. If that be so, I say he is establishing a most unfortunate precedent, which must give rise to grave anxiety among all those persons who desire to see the law maintained. The House is entitled to have an answer in order that it may have some assurance that these difficulties will not arise in the future.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I do not think the hon. and learned Member was in the House when the Home Secretary spoke earlier in the day.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I think, if he had been, he would have been aware that most of the questions which he has now been asking were answered by my right hon. Friend. With regard to his remark 943 upon what happened three years ago he said it did credit to my right hon. Friend's memory, but it also does credit to the officials of the Home Office, when the hon. and learned Gentleman has to go back for two years for material to complete a short speech of ten minutes and an indictment against the administration of the Home Office. The hon. and learned Gentleman has complained that my right hon. Friend has released Miss Lenton. With regard to that, I do not think he was here when all the facts were put quite frankly before the House in my right hon. Friend's speech.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I really made no complaint. I confined myself to the broad point of what is the system? I had taken the trouble to inform myself, and I specially avoided any criticism of that particular case.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
The position with regard to that matter is that the prerogative of pardon is not contained in the prison regulations. I understand the hon. and learned Member to suggest that there should be some machinery by which a prisoner could be released in case of serious illness by the governor or by the doctor. That has never been done. It would be really impossible from a constitutional point of view to leave the exercise of the prerogative of pardon to the medical officer or governor of a prison. What has always been done is that the prerogative of pardon is exercised on the advice of the Home Secretary. That is not done only in suffrage cases. Every year many other cases occur in which prisoners are released in the exercise of the prerogative of pardon on grounds such as of by reason of ill health, or the danger of continued imprisonment. There is nothing peculiar to the suffrage prisoners so far as that is concerned. Prisoners may be serving their sentences, and there may be serious illness, and they may have to be released, but the only way in which they can be released is by the exercise, on the advice of the Home Secretary, of the prerogative of pardon in each particular case. With regard to Miss Lenton, no doubt the case was very peculiar, and I recognise the sympathetic way in which the hon. and learned Member referred to it. It was an urgent matter of great difficulty. Although a prisoner under remand may be in a somewhat different position from a prisoner who was under sentence, the practical question was absolutely the 944 same. With regard to the position of the Home Office in these matters, may I try to put it in a few words. A prisoner is sentenced to a term of imprisonment. It is the duty of the prison authorities to keep that prisoner in health and to keep him in life, if I may use the phrase. It is not only the right thing to do, but it is the duty of the prison officials to perform these two functions. The Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps) gave the House a carefully considered legal opinion that we were under no duty under any circumstances to forcibly feed a prisoner. That is not our view. May I quote what the Lord Chief Justice said in the case which came before him, as showing what are our legal responsibilities? It is essential to consider what they are in order to form a judgment. He said:—He should rule, as a matter of law, that it was the duty of the prison officials to preserve the health of the prisoners, and a fortiori to preserve their lives, and he would therefore ask the jury whether the means adopted were proper for this purpose.And in the course of the same judgment he asked:—If Dr. Helby had allowed the plaintiff to fast a few days longer, and she had died in consequence, what answer would be made?There was no answer if these circumstances had taken place. My right hon. Friend has taken the opinion of the Law Officers, and they have corroborated that view. I am sure the hon. and learned Member will be quite fair in considering this question.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I followed the case. It is a question of fact. Obviously the Lord Chief Justice took the view that certain steps were necessary which were adopted. That view means that in every particular case it must be a question of fact for the jury. I think that what the hon. Member for South Bucks said was, that if all precautions had been taken, then on the question of fact the jury would find that the Home Office was excused.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
That may be so, but let us see what the prison officials are to do. A prisoner comes into the prison and hunger strikes. That prisoner may be normally healthy or may not be normally healthy. If normally healthy, in the ordinary course that prisoner will be forcibly fed, as many of these prisoners have been forcibly fed, without evil results occurring, and duly serves his sentence of two or three months. The legal difficulty does not arise in that case. It does arise in a 945 case where the prisoner is in such a state of health that we are in this dilemma—first that by going on hunger strike he may die of hunger, or if we forcibly feed him, he may die under that operation. Therefore we are in this dilemma, that we have to let them die in prison or we have to release them. I know there are a great many heroics to which expression is given upon this matter. Two hon. Baronets, one on each side of the Committee, have said, "Oh, let them die!" I do not think that is right, either in law or in policy. It only applies to the weak people; it does not apply to the ordinary normally healthy people. Our view is that we ought not to do that, and we have acted upon it. In eight cases out of sixty-six prisoners have been released—two of them, it is true, were forcibly fed before they were released. They were released on the ground of ill-health, and my right hon. Friend gave a catalogue of them. Under these circumstances what are we to do? Everyone must feel that the situation is a very peculiar one, because in fact a prisoner with a weak heart, and therefore not amenable to this operation, is able in effect to determine her own sentence. That is a ridiculous conclusion at which to arrive. What is to be done? I have heard a good many suggestions made. The suggestion has been made to-day of transportation. I have not much sympathy with that. It has been said with regard to the suggestion of my right hon. Friend that it will not answer the purpose. The junior Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) mistook our purpose. He said it will not cure the movement. We do not say it will. The object of punishment is to deter. I am not very sanguine that in these cases any kind of punishment will cure the movement or stop the movement; all that we as a Department responsible for administration have to do is to see that the prisoners shall serve the sentence given to them. We cannot affect their state of mind, deprive them of their views or opinions, or regulate their conduct the moment they get out of prison. All that we can do is to take the best steps we can to see that they serve the sentences awarded by the tribunal. If Members of the Committee would try to see this matter as far as possible from a position of responsibility, if any Member here were responsible for the policy, what would he do? I do not say it is a very 946 satisfactory remedy, but I think it is the only remedy, that is to give the power of rearrest. If a person abstains from food for three or four days and it is dangerous to forcibly feed her, she is released not on any undertaking. You say to the prisoner, "You go out," and after a time she is rearrested. Although it may seem to some Members to be rather an awkward thing to serve a sentence of imprisonment under, as it were, the instalment system, that is the only remedy, and I ask the Committee, irrespective of party, to assist us in taking this step.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I am sure that the more belated and the more necessary the hon. Gentleman thinks it, the more enthusiastic support he will give to it.
Before dealing particularly with the position of the Home Secretary in this matter, I should like to make one or two observations on what fell from the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie). If I understood him aright, he seemed to approve of the course the women were taking, and to believe that nothing could be done to stop them, that they would not recognise any change in the law, and that the proposed amendment of the law by the Home Secretary was bound to be ineffective because they would have no part, having no votes, in the making of that law, therefore feeling able to resist that law as well as to resist any previous laws. I entirely dissociate myself from the views he expressed. I am a suffragist, but I believe that the women have considerably set back their cause by their conduct. I realise that they have been mistaken but quite honest. I believe that those who have been violent and who are planning further violence are doing their cause an enormous amount of harm. Even those who are apologising for them are appealing to us not to be too severe towards these women because they are not responsible for their actions. They are now bound to shelter themselves behind a plea almost of lunacy, and they throw themselves on the good nature of the House. That is not the subject of this Debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Warrington (Mr. Harold Smith) moved to reduce the salary of the Home Secretary for the purpose of calling attention of his administration of the existing law. The Home Secretary in replying to him and to the Noble Lord the 947 Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil), quite unnecessarily and rudely, claimed that before any charge was made against the Government full particulars of dates, items, names of the parties and of the places should be supplied to him in support of the general charge. In dealing with the speech of the hon. Member for Warrington, he characterised it as unfrank, unfair, and uncourageous, and then passed on, not to deal with that speech, but with another speech without giving a single particular of the unfrankness, the unfairness, or the want of courage of which he complained.
The Home Secretary, in giving some particulars of the women now in prison, summed up the position by saying that the amount of failure under the law as it at present stands is insignificant beyond belief. When he gave those particulars it turned out that 12 per cent., or over, of the women who have been committed to prison for serious breaches of the law have been let out because the existing law was not sufficient to deal with those cases. Yet he would ask the Committee to believe that his administration of the law was so good that the amount of failure was insignificant beyond belief. If we applied 12 per cent. right through the criminal law, what would the House and the country say if, in every form of a breach of the law, 12 per cent. of the prisoners were obliged to be let out because the law was not strong enough to keep them in prison or able to deal with the offences they had committed. The Home Secretary said there were two alternatives: one to let the women die, the other to let the women out. He has succeeded in finding the third alternative, namely, to torture before he lets them either die or lets them out. The Lenton case seems to be an extremely good case by which to test his action. He himself said he was willing to take it as a test case. When he dealt with that case with what did he deal? A letter written to the "Times." He said that three doctors who signed that letter had probably never seen the patient, and that some of the statements made in that letter were not accurate. I have not even read the letter, nor am I concerned to defend its accuracy. I am prepared to rest my objections upon the statements made by the doctors which the Home Secretary himself read. The first doctor said that the pleurisy may have been present before the forcible feeding; that there was nothing to suggest that the food had entered the 948 lungs, therefore the pleurisy or the illness had not arisen from the forcible feeding. Both the report of that doctor and that of the second doctor showed that the woman was undoubtedly in a state of collapse. When this lady was going to be let out of prison the second doctor actually had to take her in a motor-car to her home. From the motor-car he carried her to her room and waited there, wanting to hand her over to her own private medical attendant. He was not willing to take the risk of leaving that woman until he passed her over to some doctor who would in future be responsible for her. That is very creditable to the good feeling of the doctor, but it also proves the awful state of prostration to which the administration of the law by the Home Secretary had reduced this woman.
The matter does not rest there. The prison doctor thought it was necessary, although it was quite outside his official duties, to call the next day to see the private medical attendant of the lady, because he was not able to see him at the time of his first visit. If anything is wanting to prove the awful state to which this torture performance of forcible feeding can reduce a prisoner the case of Miss Lenton is surely a sufficient case. [An HON. MEMBER: "What would you have done?"] There has hardly been a speaker from the other side of the Committee who has not asked that question. The Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary made it the burden of their speeches. The Home Secretary has told us what he ought to have done. Before I deal with that, I want to deal with the Hyde Park case, which is the other branch of the administration of the law. There was a meeting on Sunday in Hyde Park, and the Home Secretary said that the police, "in the ordinary course of their duties," were there to keep order. I happened to be in Hyde Park on Sunday afternoon, and there is no doubt that the police were not there in the ordinary course of their duties. There were many squads on duty in addition to the ordinary police on duty. There were squads in reserve. There was a large number of mounted men. When the women were speaking members of the crowd were throwing things at them, and one of the women was certainly struck in the face by some mud thrown from the crowd. In order to preserve the lives and the limbs of these women a squad of mounted police helped to take them off the ground. Was it a candid description of 949 the proceedings to say that the police, "in the ordinary course of their duties," were there to protect the women who were speaking on that occasion? The attitude of the crowd is the direct outcome of the weak administration of the Home Secretary. The public are satisfied that the Home Secretary is not taking the necessary steps to prevent mistaken women committing the outrages that have been committed during the last few weeks, and the crowd is taking the law into its own hands. The crowd is trying now with its brute force to do what the Home Secretary himself ought to do, namely, to take preventive measures. The Home Secretary, quite clearly, to my mind, has, from his own speech, proved the necessity for this Motion. The Motion is one condemning the action of the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary and his predecessors have had to deal with practically the same state of things as now exists, although to-day it is exaggerated, for the last four years. They must have known at any time during the last two years that forcible feeding was not a remedy, that it could not be persisted in, and that the alternatives in the existing state of the law were to let die or to let out. The Government ought to have known that letting out was bringing the law into contempt, and they ought, not to-day, when pressed on this Motion, but months ago and even years ago, to have taken the steps that they are now proposing to take and seek an alteration in the law without which they have to admit to-day that they are powerless to deal with a gross scandal and a gross evil. If the Home Secretary had said two years ago, "I find the powers I have got are insufficient;" if he had had any intelligent anticipation of what was likely to happen, he would have come down and said, "If I cannot have powers which will enable me more effectively to deal with this, I shall not be able to control the crowd, because they will be taking the law into their own hands, and I shall not be able to make the influence of the law felt upon the malefactors, because they know that all they have to do is to starve themselves and to get out; if he had come down and said, as the Under-Secretary did to-day, that that is a ridiculous position, he would have found this House willing to strengthen his hands and give him the extra power that now at the last moment he is demanding. I wonder how long he would have waited before he asked the House for the powers he is now 950 going to ask for if the hon. Member (Mr. Harold smith) had not brought forward this Motion? It might have been going on for another year or even another two years before he would have screwed up his courage to confess his failure and asked for further powers. I hope my hon. Friend will press his Motion to a Division, and I shall support him.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I support the Motion for the reduction of the Home Office Vote on two grounds, first, that the Department has exceeded its powers, and, secondly, because it has failed to carry out the powers it has got in an effective and efficient way. On the first point there are two cases that I wish to bring before the Committee. The first is the unprecedented action on the part of the Home Office in sending down a Metropolitan police magistrate to Newcastle to retry a case which has been already tried before the magistrate. The facts are probably fresh in the memory of the Committee. A man was tried before a Bench of Magistrates and was convicted of drunkenness. For some reason or other doubt was thrown on the question of the innocence or guilt of the man who was convicted, and in consequence, presumably, of political pressure brought to bear upon the Government, the Home Secretary made this order, which was absolutely unconstitutional and absolutely without precedent. They sent down a London police magistrate to hold an inquiry, to hear witnesses, not upon oath, upon the very charge which had been already tried by the magistrate. I want to know what possible power the Home Office has of sending down a London police magistrate for this purpose. The evil must be obvious to everyone. If it once gets about that a police magistrate, who holds an office of great difficulty, requiring considerable tact and prestige to maintain it, can be sent upon what might be considered a political job, the position of a London police magistrate will certainly suffer very considerably. But that is not the position with which I am dealing. I want to know what power the Home Office has for what they are doing, and if the work which Mr. Chester Jones did on that occasion was out of his ordinary remuneration, or was there a special Grant out of the Home Office Vote for the expenses of the inquiry at Newcastle, or any remuneration to him for the work which he did?
That, I say, is a matter on which there is considerable feeling, and it is an absolutely unwarranted breach of the power of 951 a Government Department. It is one of our first duties here, not so much to pass laws as to see that the Departments carry out their work properly, and, more important even than that, to see that they do not overstep their bounds. It may seem a light matter to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway because it happens to be one which did not do them any particular harm. If you once allow a Department to go beyond its power, that would be a very disastrous thing for the liberties generally of the people. A second point which has been mentioned twice, and which the Under-Secretary touched upon but absolutely failed to answer, is part of the case of Miss Lenton. She was committed for trial by the Richmond magistrates, and, I believe, was offered bail. She was detained in prison, and was released, I understand, by order of the Home Secretary. I want to know under what possible power he was acting in doing that. The Under-Secretary went out of his way to explain how unconstitutional it was. He said there is a power of pardon, and that is the only way. There is no prison regulation which gives the Home Secretary power to release whenever he likes. What a terrible State it would be if there were such prison regulations. It was perfectly possible to apply to the magistrates, or to any judge of the King's Bench Division, for bail, and the Home Office could have sent their representative to support any such application, and there is not the slightest doubt that it would have been granted. These are two matters on which the Home Office have absolutely gone beyond their powers. I either want a confession that it was beyond their powers or that the exceptional state of the case demanded it, but it ought not to pass this House without a distinct explanation as to whether the Home Office claim a right, which they certainly have not got, to release prisoners who are committed for trial.
Having criticised, I hope not unfairly, the position of the Home Office upon that, may I say one word somewhat in favour of the Home Office on this point of Miss Lenton? When the hon. Member (Mr. Harold Smith) and the Noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil) read the letter from the "Times," I think the Home Secretary must admit that they were fully justified in bringing the matter before the House. I listened with great attention to the Home Secretary, and, as the matter stands, I was rather convinced by his version of the 952 matter. It is for him and the writer of the letter to fight the matter out between them. I wish to read this to the House, and if the facts are as stated by the Home Secretary, it amounts to little less than a scandal that people should put their hands to a letter like this, and it shows how careful one ought to be when one finds letters written by female doctors and by Radical candidates for Parliament, even when these letters appear in so respectable a publication as the "Times" newspaper. In their letter to the "Times," Dr. Agnes Saville, Dr. Moullin, and Sir Victor Horsley, make a very serious charge. On the other hand, if what the Home Secretary has stated is correct, it is a monstrous thing that such letter should be written. They say, in their letter,That night her temperature was above 102 deg., and she was gravely ill. Her own doctor found pleurisy (pleuro-pneumonia) at the base of the left lung and slighter symptoms in the right. He certified that her condition was serious until all complications had cleared up. Under his care she has slowly recovered, and is now convalescing. These plain facts of Miss Lenton's case prove clearly that the food which was forcibly injected into her lung set up a pleuro-pneumonic condition which, but for her youth and good healthy physique, would have ended more seriously. That the prison doctor and the governor recognised immediately what they had done is also obvious. They hurriedly and at the further risk of injury to the patient immediately removed her from the prison, so that at least she should not die there and thus compromise the Home Office, and our horrible prison administration, of which they were the instruments.If, as the Home Secretary says, her own doctor stated distinctly that no food could possibly have gone into the lung at the time, the statement contained in the letter is very misleading, and people should not put their signatures to such a letter. I think the Home Secretary will agree that my hon. Friend was justified in reading the letter in order that he might be able to state in reply that her own doctor had said that the illness was not caused in the way suggested. I am not one of those who complain in any way, or who join in any attack upon the Home Secretary as regards forcible feeding.
The second branch of the question has reference to the efficiency of the present law. The Home Secretary made one of the best speeches I have ever heard from him in defence of his position. He asked for our sympathy, and he also asked us to exercise imagination by putting ourselves in his place. It is a tempting proposition, but I am not bound to do it. I do not think it is right to ask us to put ourselves in his position. The Home Secretary and the magistrates have got to do unpleasant things. That is what they 953 are paid for. I do not suppose that magistrates like the duty of sentencing people to imprisonment, but in the administration of the criminal law, they have to send offenders to prison. It is a necessary evil. There are certain cases in which the penalty of flogging is imposed, and though magistrates may not like to impose that penalty, they have to do it. They should act cautiously in passing sentence, but once it is done the punishment has got to be made effective. The law has been set at defiance, not merely during the last two months, but also last year. I have not got the exact figures, but I think I am right when I say that out of 240 who were sent to prison, sixty-six were let out, and that at a time when people were saying, "We shall be let out." That is far more important. I submit that there has been an absolute breakdown of the criminal law. The Home Secretary said, "You must prove that I have failed in my duty before you can reduce my salary." I submit that there has been a breakdown of the criminal law. People have been going about defying the law. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) said that these women have defied the law because it is man-made I cannot see that that is a sufficient reason for defying the law. The Home Office authorities have control of the prisons, and when people are sent to them it is their duty to see that the punishment is effective.
Suggestions have been made, possibly good or possibly bad, as to how these women should be dealt with. The Home Office authorities have men of experience to advise them, and I think they have been lamentably slow in taking efficient steps to deal with the matter. They trusted rather to luck, hoping that the difficulty would blow over. That is not an efficient line to take. They are coming down at the last moment to get certain powers. So far as I understand them from what was foreshadowed to-day I, for one, will not oppose them. That course ought to have been taken long ago, certainly six or eight months ago. They have allowed themselves to be flouted and set at nought by people who have been habitually breaking the law. When the Home Secretary said it was a comparatively small matter, I reminded him that there had been arson. He said it was only attempted arson. It seems to me that a person who attempts to burn down a house is almost as guilty as one who succeeds in doing so. 954 I do think that it is perfectly monstrous that the Prime Minister, who has the tremendous cares of office upon him, should be molested wherever he goes by people who defy the law, and that the Home Office should not be in a position to give him ample and proper protection. It is nothing less than a scandal. An attempt was made to burn the house of the Colonial Secretary. I say that I put the administration of the law before politics, for I was brought up rather as a lawyer than a politician. It is the first duty of the Home Office and the Government to see that the law, as it exists, is administered. When the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil says that the law is not made by women, and that therefore it is not to be administered at all, I say that is a monstrous proposition, and one which is absolutely untenable. The Home Secretary has pointed to these people as more or less hysterical. It would appear that in some cases where there has been forcible feeding we have lunatics to deal with, and if they are off their heads we must deal with them in a certain way. A large number of them are near a state of lunacy, but they know perfectly well what they are about. What I demand is that the Home Secretary should administer the law efficiently as regards these people. There is another matter I wish to bring forward. The Home Secretary has referred to the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown. I wish one line or another to be taken in regard to this. Let us either have the opinion of the Law Officers put before the House by themselves or not stated at all. I think it would be undesirable to have the opinion of the Law Officers given frequently in the House, but, at the same time, it is highly desirable that when given it should be given by themselves, and that the Minister in charge of a matter ought not to place continual reliance upon the opinion of the Law Officers when it has not been given publicly to the House under conditions which would admit of our cross-examining the hon. and learned Gentleman who gave the opinion.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I did not quote the Law Officers' opinion. I was asked by the hon. Member for Mansfield when I quoted the decision of the Lord Chief Justice whether the Law Officers supported that view, and I said yes.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I understand that the Home Secretary's lapse was brought 955 about by the hon. Member for Mansfield, but the Under-Secretary, emboldened by the comparatively small iniquity of his Chief, went simply and in cold blood referred to the opinions of the Law Officers. I only mention this as a word of warning because it is highly objectionable for anyone on the Front Bench to get up and say that the Law Officers advised this and that, unless he is prepared to produce the opinion of the Law Officers, and I understand that in many cases it is quite undesirable to do so. On that understanding I say no more on that point, and I ground my support for the reduction of this Vote by £100 on the excess of authority on the part of the Home Office and on the inefficiency of carrying out the administration of the criminal law as it should be done during the last six months.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
Whatever one's opinions of the Home Office might have been prior to this Debate, the mere act of listening to the whole of the speeches delivered must convince anyone of the temendous difficulties which the Home Secretary has had to encounter. The hon. Member who spoke last and the hon. Member who preceded him, said that if the present law were not sufficiently strong to deal with this question it was in consequence of the Home Secretary not coming to the House before this and getting further powers. The hon. Gentleman mentioned a period of two years. I submit that if two years ago, when this matter was in its infancy, when it had not developed to the extent to which it has developed to-day, when there was no comparison between what was taking place then and what is taking place now, the Home Secretary had come down to this House and asked for extended powers to deal with this question, everyone, even from that side of the House, I believe, would have laughed him to ridicule. The first suggestion that would have been made, and naturally made, would be, "Try the powers that you have, and if they fail then we will consider the question." It is not fair, when criticising this matter, and when everyone who has taken part in this Debate to-day utterly failed to make any suggestion to deal with the situation, simply to ride off on the score of blaming the Home Secretary. I was extremely interested in the point of the hon. Member, who always addresses all sections of the House with absolute fairness, but the view I take of 956 the particular question in dispute, being naturally interested in it as well, is this: He says that it is a bad thing for this country that the Home Secretary should send a London magistrate down to a country district and over-ride the decision of the local magistrates, and he says that the real danger of that course by the Home Secretary is that it would be calculated to destroy the confidence of the country in the law and in its administration of the law. The layman's answer to that is: Was it not better to reverse a wrong decision than to allow a man to continue to suffer an injustice?
In this particular case whatever one's opinion may be of the Home Office, I do venture to assert with a true knowledge of the circumstances that from the layman's point of view it was a very wise course. For what would have been the situation? Here was a man, who, we thought, was unjustly convicted. His employers say to him, "We do not know whether you are guilty or not, but the only course open to us is to accept the verdict of the magistrates. If that verdict is upset, if by any means this judgment is quashed, here is your job waiting for you." Or, in other words, his only means of living, because as a railway man he could not get a job anywhere else. His employers say to him, "You say you are innocent, that this charge was not proved and that you are suffering an injustice. It is for you to prove that the magistrates were wrong, and immediately you can prove that we will reinstate you." The man was an ordinary working man, and he did not know the processes of the law. Apart from the question of expense he did not know hew to proceed. The result was that the conviction stood; 7,000 of his fellow men—never mind the merits of the dispute for the moment; here is the brotherhood and solidarity of the 7,000 men — said "So satisfied are we from the evidence that an injustice has been done, that we will even stop work." The Home Secretary first takes into consideration the whole of the evidence submitted to him in the local Courts, which showed that there was a grave element of doubt, but the most important fact was that the man himself was ignorant of the processes of the law. Then the Home Secretary sends down an impartial gentleman, who not only reverses the decision of the local magistrates, but enables the North Eastern Railway Company to say, "We are satisfied now and we will give you your job."
957 I say quite seriously that this tendency to lawlessness, to break the law and to encourage disorder, is a very dangerous thing, because we, who are entrusted with grave trade disputes, know that our real difficulty is to say to the men, "Never mind what happened, you must keep the law. Do not be incited to riot, mob law, or anything else," and I say that it is a great danger for anyone to encourage that kind of thing. That is why we do not want to encourage it, but if, as in this case, you can convince the working classes that whatever their opinion may be of the Government of the day, the law is equitable, the law is just, and there is an opportunity of having an injustice removed, convey that impression to the working classes of this country, and they will have more confidence than they have ever had before in the administration of the law.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
The hon. Gentleman has not met the case which I put, namely, that the Home Office sent somebody down to hold an inquiry into this matter for the purpose of satisfying these 7,000 men. I pointed out that it could have been done by some emissary of the Department, and that it should not have been done by a gentleman who is now holding a judicial office in London in the shape of a police magistracy at a fixed salary of so much a year. It is essential that any man who is put into a position such as that, of holding an inquiry of that description, should be absolutely apart from any Government appointment of any sort or kind, and it was a great pity that a London police magistrate was sent down by the Home Office to conduct the inquiry, held in Newcastle, into a matter which was not judicial, but somewhat political in its nature, and in the Form of an arbitration.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
The hon. and learned Gentleman will understand that I do not enter into the legal argument, which I leave to hon. Members like himself. I was rather dealing first with the general question of lawlessness and its moral effect on the country as a whole, and then I was taking up the point raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman, which I profoundly believe would have an effect the very opposite of that which he suggests. Apart entirely from the question whether the right person was sent to make this inquiry—that is not my business; I do not understand it—I do say that the very fact of the Home Office action on that particular occasion was calculated to have the effect 958 of restoring confidence in the law. Therefore I go back again to the original position before the House, namely, that this Debate has clearly shown not only the difficulty of the situation, but how careful Members of Parliament, and especially those sitting on the Front Bench, should be—when there is incitement to riot—as to where the matter is going to end. But what I desire to deal with is not the question of the prisoners in our prisons, but with the prison warders, a class of Civil servants who, from the very nature of their occupation, responsibilities, and duties, and from the unfortunate circumstances in which they are placed, are prevented from organising in the ordinary way. They are prevented from getting their grievances brought forward, and the result is that they have to trust, as it were, very largely to luck.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
The point with which the hon. Member is now dealing does not arise on the Motion before the Committee. That arises on Class III., Vote 8 (Prisons).
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I thank you, Sir, for having directed me into the right course, and I now come back to the original question before the House. I desire to say that I, of course, am a strong supporter of Women Suffrage, and I am quite impartial in the matter. But I do desire to say here and now that every suggestion which has been made up to the present would, if adopted, make matters worse. Take the suggestion made by the Noble Lord opposite. One concluded, when he intimated that it was his intention to make a suggestion—though it was not quite his duty as a Member of the Opposition to do so—that one was going to get some solution of the question. But he at once suggested that these women should be deported. What would happen in such circumstances? Imagine, for a moment, that the women deported started a hunger strike after deportation, what could be done? I think that is a simple answer to the suggestion. Yet I urge the Government to realise that there is a strong revulsion of feeling to this system of forcible feeding, and I believe they would have the support of everybody—regardless of their being supporters or opponents of Women Suffrage—in a rigid administration of the law. I repeat that the Government should realise that there is this general revulsion of feeling on the question of forcible feeding, because everyone is satisfied not only 959 that it is a barbarous method, but one that would never adequately deal with the situation.
§ Mr. MORRELL
I desire to turn aside from the question which has been engaging the attention of the Committee to speak on a matter which more affects a large class of the people of this country—I mean the administration of the Coal Mines Act. Two years ago we were engaged in passing a very comprehensive measure for the regulation of coal mines. Section 77 of that Act provided that coal miners, where they obtain a majority of two-thirds of the workmen employed in any mine, may represent to the owners of that mine that they desire accommodation and facilities for baths and for the drying of their clothes, and on their undertaking to pay half the cost of maintenance of the accommodation and facilities to be provided the owners forthwith are to provide sufficient and suitable accommodation. Under the second Sub-section it is provided that general regulations should be made to determine what is sufficient and suitable accommodation. That Act was passed into law on 16th December, 1911. It came into operation six months afterwards, on 1st July, 1912. In November last a large association of my own Constituents, the Burnley Miners' Association, took a ballot under this Section, and they decided to have washing accommodation provided for them, and were prepared to undertake to pay half the cost. They then wrote to the Home Office to ask what was the next step, having decided in favour of putting this Section into operation.
They received a letter from the Home Office to say that the question of what was sufficient and suitable accommodation for the purpose of Section 77 had not yet been determined—the letter was dated 9th December, 1912–and the Section could not be put into operation until the matter was determined. The letter added that a Committee had been appointed to consider the question and was now making inquiries. I must say that on the face of it—I do not know what the explanation may be—this seems a most extraordinary case of neglect and delay on the part of the Home Office. I am quite certain that when this House passed the very important provisions under this Act they never for a moment supposed that two years after the Act had been passed, and nine months after it had come into operation, 960 the Home Office was still considering how Section 77 of it could be put into operation. It is quite true that they had the power given to them to make regulations, but surely they had in the six months between the passing of the Act and its coming into operation sufficient time to determine what was sufficient and suitable accommodation for applying the provisions of this Section. I must say I await with some interest the reply of the Under-Secretary as to the reasons for this delay in what appears to be an elementary duty on the part of the Home Office. I would point out that this matter is not merely a grave inconvenience to the miners themselves, but it is a risk to their health. Everyone agrees that a man runs a great risk to his health by remaining in the dirty condition in which he must inevitably be after having gone down a coal mine. It is very bad also for his wife and family, and it would be a great advantage that the man should have suitable accommodation for washing before he returns home. It is also bad for the general public, because everyone knows that on tramcars and so on it is considered to be a nuisance to have a man who has come straight out of a mine, who has not had the opportunity of washing himself, as he desires to do, before returning home. If the men themselves were backward in putting this Clause into operation, a good deal might be said, because they are asked to pay half the cost, but when they come forward and are in favour of it by two-third's majority it does seem hard that they should find that the Home Office does not do what it ought to do, namely, to encourage the operation of an Act of this sort, but that they should obstruct the carrying out of the Act in the way in which they appear to be doing. I therefore trust that the Under-Secretary will be able to explain to me what are the reasons for the delay that has occurred, and that he will also be able to give us some assurance that before very long we may see this very important provision of this Act being carried into operation under Home Office Regulations.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I desire to express my very great appreciation of the speech of the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas). I can only say that I am exceedingly glad that the man was reinstated. I do not pretend to know whether his conviction was right or whether the subsequent report on that conviction was right; I 961 express no opinion. I never heard the evidence, nor am I in a position to judge. I am so well acquainted with the decisions of judges and of juries and of magistrates that I am fully possessed of the fact that they are just as likely to go wrong as to go right. Having said that, I do not want to attack what the hon. Member said, but my point is as to the way in which it was done. My condemnation of the Home Secretary is two-fold; he is lacking in courage and he is lacking in knowledge of the law. Why do I say he is lacking in courage? I understand he is the Secretary of State who advises the Crown in the exercise of its prerogative. In regard to the man, whose name I will not mention, because I hope whatever difficulty there was about him may be forgotten, I conceive his duty was perfectly clear. I think he ought first of all, when the question was raised and a satisfactory explanation given by the man in question as to why he had not exercised his right of appeal, to have made inquiry of the magistrates as to what was their view of the case. It may have been that they were very closely divided, and on being approached they might have said, "On consideration we think no injustice would be done in your advising His Majesty to grant a free pardon." I say the Home Secretary was lacking in moral courage, because he ought to have taken that responsibility on himself and not trust the matter to a stipendiary magistrate. It is for him to advise the Crown, and nobody else. As a matter of fact, as we know from what appeared subsequently in the Press, the magistrates of Newcastle distinctly stated that they were never approached as to the grounds of their decision. I respectfully submit that for the Home Secretary to have sent down Mr. Chester Jones under those circumstances was as reprehensible a thing as any Minister of State could do. It was reprehensible on two grounds. First of all, there may have been, and probably was, a large section of the people who thought that a stipendiary magistrate was sent down to hold an inquiry wholly without precedent because there was an immense union and an immense body of railway men behind the matter. That is wrong, because if the magistrates are wrong then any private individual is equally entitled to such an inquiry, although you would never give it to him, and you know you would not. That is the real position. I say the Home Secretary was a coward in the matter of dealing with this man. He knew quite well 962 if I had represented to him the case of a private individual I should never have got the inquiry.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
On a point of Order. May I ask is it in order for an hon. Member to refer to the Home Secretary as a coward or to describe him as a coward?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I did not quite catch the sentence which the hon. Member used, as my attention was directed to another point in connection with the general Debate.
§ Mr. HOHLER
Outside of this case the Home Secretary may be the most courageous person in every other respect in the world, but what I said was that he acted in a cowardly manner in this matter, and that he was lacking in moral courage.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not think that is an unparliamentary way of expressing an hon. Member's opinion about a Minister.
§ Mr. HOHLER
The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. J. Ward) is a past master as to what is desirable or not, but if the hon. Member opposite thinks that the word I have used has given offence, which I did not intend, I withdraw it unreservedly. My point is that I say the right hon. Gentleman is lacking in that moral character that you require in a Home Secretary. I hold that no Home Secretary ought ever to put himself into such a position that it can be said, possibly with truth, that he took this action because certain men threatened to come out on strike if he did not. That is wrong. Moreover, the stipendiary magistrate is not a Court of Appeal. There are certain sections of the public who honestly think that Mr. Chester Jones was sent down to whitewash the case. That is not desirable. Further, the Home Secretary could not have been guilty of a worse selection than that of a stipendiary magistrate. An hon. Member suggests that I should have been appointed. Two things are required in an appointment, namely, an offer and an acceptance, and I can assure the hon. Member that no acceptance would have been forthcoming from me.
At best the stipendiary magistrate was only a Court of Co-ordinate Jurisdiction. If such an action was to be taken at all, a person in high position, and of absolute independence, should have been sent. I 963 think that the Home Secretary himself ought to have held the inquiry. It is his responsibility, and he has no right to ask anybody to share it with him. When it was suggested that he had given way to the clamour of a threatened strike, he ought to have been in a position to say, "Not a bit of it; I did it because, after proper investigation, I considered the conviction to be wrong, and therefore I advised His Majesty to grant a free pardon." What does it matter to a man of high honour, as I am convinced the right hon. Gentleman is, what people say, if he is honestly convinced that he has only done his duty? I think the right hon. Gentleman has made an egregious mistake, and created a most unfortunate precedent. I have had considerable experience at Petty and Quarter Sessions, and I would suggest that the Home Office should take steps to ensure that the justices' clerks inform every man who is brought before the Court that he has a right of appeal, to what Court he ought to appeal, and within what time notice of appeal must be given. It is all-important to such men, who may be convicted of drunkenness or some petty offence which may affect them prejudicially in their trade, that they should know, at the earliest possible moment, what are their rights. The right to appeal is a great privilege, and I would always advise a man to exercise it in a doubtful case. The trade unions would not be wanting in machinery to find the necessary funds, or, if they were, the men in the trade would willingly contribute. The appeal is fairly large, and I do not know that any Amendment is necessary, but I think it is desirable that men should be informed what are their rights.
There is another matter which I have had under consideration, and in regard to which possibly the Under-Secretary, in the absence of the Home Secretary, will be able to give me some assistance. I have great delicacy in approaching the matter, which concerns the carrying into effect of the death sentence. The case in which I was interested was that of a young man who was convicted of murdering his sweet-heart by cutting her throat. The jury found him guilty, and I do not propose to argue that he was not. I accept, with all sincerity, the verdict in the case. My point is that this youth was under the age of twenty. I raised the question at the time, and put forward facts which suggested to me that it was a case in which the preroga- 964 tive of mercy might properly be exercised. The man went into the witness box and told his story, which the doctor admitted was not an impossible one, namely, that the girl had committed suicide. The man was strongly recommended to mercy by the jury on the ground of his youth. I think there ought to be exceedingly strong grounds before such a recommendation is ignored. I am in favour of the death sentence being carried into effect in certain cases, but in regard to such a youth as this, who is strongly recommended to mercy by his fellow citizens, what useful purpose is served by his execution? The moment punishment ceases to be a deterrent its object is gone. I have a most pathetic letter, which the youth wrote to his counsel just before his execution. I am satisfied that there was much good in that young fellow, though he may have gone wrong at the time. On what ground did the Home Secretary ignore the recommendation of the jury? These crimes happen at times, but they are not very numerous. If it were thought that in such cases pardon was frequently, if not always, extended when the offender was young in years, there might be good ground for saying that it must be stopped. But that is not the case. I hope the Under-Secretary will state the grounds on which, it being admitted that the youth was properly convicted, in the face of the strong recommendation for mercy, he was hanged.
I wish to refer briefly to the Woman Suffrage question. I agree with the Home Secretary that the power of rearrest is an admirable one. I think it would have this salutary effect that the woman would starve till the doctors certified that it was no longer safe. Thereupon you release her. A fortnight or three weeks after she is rearrested. I am satisfied—that is anyhow my judgment of it—that they will not, at any rate in any number, resist the feeding when they come to realise how the matter stands, and will say; "We must not go on like this; it is fatal; we cannot lose the whole year in prison." I believe it is an excellent plan. I suggest another way in which His Majesty's Government have neglected opportunities. I have always been a great believer in matters of this kind of attacking the financial side of the person who commits offences. I am not certain but I rather think I am right in saying we have not heard so much of Mr. and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence since they were made liable in costs, and I understand that an action is pending 965 against them for damages. I suggest that these conspiracies can be very easily got at with the machinery and with the means and resources the Crown have behind them if there is money to be had from the conspirators. I believe a little breaking up in that way would do infinite good and get rid of these difficulties.
Coming to the Home Secretary particularly, what I complain of in him in regard to the women is this: I complain that there is no justification—and I have made some inquiry into the matter—known to me in law for the course he has adopted, namely, releasing Miss Lenton without bail while under remand. I understand the law to be perfectly clear as to the prerogative of pardon, conditional or entire. But I find no trace in the books of anything that enables the Home Secretary to so release a person—that is, of course, the Crown advised by the Home Secretary. What course was open to the Home Secretary? It was a bailable offence. He could have asked the magistrate to grant bail. He tells us it was Sunday and that he could not find a magistrate. That may be so, but there are His Majesty's judges all available for the purpose; they could have granted bail in this case. I say that the case was such that the Home Secretary could have proceeded through the proper channel. I would rather have risked the day or a few hours rather than have acted in an irregular manner. I think the Home Secretary in his reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington, never answered that point of my hon. Friend at all. The right hon. Gentleman dealt with him in the curtest manner—I think in the most discourteous manner. As I understood my hon. and learned Friend the point that he put was in relation to a letter in the "Times" signed by three doctors. That letter contains what purports to be an extract from a letter of the Home Secretary. That is the point. The letter begins:—The Home Secretary recently issued a formal statement in regard to the sudden release of Miss Lenton, that she was reported by the medical officer at Holloway Prison on Sunday, 23rd February, to be in a state of collapse and in imminent danger of death, consequent upon her refusal to take food. Three courses were open. The one to leave her to die; the second to attempt to feed her forcibly, which, the medical officer advised, would probably entail death in her exhausted condition; and the third was to release her on her undertaking to surrender herself for the further hearing of her case. The Home Secretary adopted the last course.The Under-Secretary will follow the purpose of the quotation. It purports to be a quotation from a document or a letter published by the Home Secretary, and 966 what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington asked was this: He said, "I want you to read to me that letter from which the quotation is made." For this reason: I have read it, and so did my hon. and learned Friend. I read it quite clearly as meaning this—as meaning in fact what it says. What is that? It says in substance that the lady was in a state of collapse, and that three courses were open: death, forcible feeding, and release. The Home Secretary said, "I adopted the third." What does that import? I ask anyone to read the letter fairly, as I read it in the "Times" this morning. I understood it to mean that forcible feeding had not been adopted. I read the letter and thought that was perfectly true. Now it turns out that the alternative adopted by the Home Secretary, that is release, only followed forcible feeding. My hon. and learned Friend said that the letter was ingenious.
§ Mr. HAROLD CAWLEY
My right hon. Friend did send for the letter as requested, but he unfortunately forgot to read it.
§ Mr. HOHLER
It is very desirable that we should have that explanation, for the right hon. Gentleman has been accused of want of candour and so on. What I protest against is the act of the Home Secretary towards the hon. and learned Member for Warrington, suggesting that he was offensive and not worth talking about. I should have read the letter to mean clearly that this woman had never been forcibly fed, and that the Home Secretary had adopted the third alternative, that was to release her. I am sure if the Home Secretary were here he would admit it in a moment, and would have said that the letter was written—I do not say by the Under-Secretary—but a private secretary, who had made a mistake. He never answered the point. That is what our complaint is really founded upon. I will not go into the merits of the question. It is one for doctors, and an hon. Friend near me will say something on that aspect in a moment. He will explain this letter which is written and signed by lady doctors and a Radical candidate and the opinions of the doctors in the gaol. My point is that the Government knew there was forcible feeding. Why that undue haste? I tell you honestly I do not like it. The Home Secretary does not for a moment satisfy me about it. It is curious this pleurisy. It is curious how dormant it was, so long as you left alone the lady herself, and we are told after she got this forcible 967 feeding, then she coughed and spat to no end, as if something got into her lungs, and then she goes off home. When the magistrate complained that she did not appear upon remand, counsel said she was suffering from pleurisy, but there was no doctor's certificate. We want to get at the bottom of the matter. The doctors say that the Home Secretary's explanation was not candid, and that is just what the Home Secretary never explained. I suggest in this case that it was quite improper when this woman was forcibly fed, to say that she was released on the other alternative. They might have waited until Monday. A few nights before, this lady was running about setting fire to a house, and then a few nights after we are told she was suffering from pleurisy. I suspect there was no need for forcible feeding in this case at all. I wonder why the doctors never discovered she was suffering from pleurisy while she was on remand. I will ask the hon. Member behind me (Dr. Esmonde) if he speaks later to tell us whether pouring something into the lungs would make a person cough and spit. In this case there was no necessity for forcible feeding, and if they only waited until Monday they could have got bail in the ordinary way. I protest against the manner in which the Home Secretary acted which I think was absolutely illegal.
It looks as if the Home Secretary acted in order to get the doctors out of any trouble, and as if he said, "Do anything you like; get rid of her; do not let her die after forcible feeding." I believe there would be a far greater outcry if some unfortunate prisoner was killed by forcible feeding within the prison walls. We must administer the law, and we have no safety unless it is administered. I protest against the right hon. Gentleman's administration in this respect, and I consider the case of these women is by no means satisfactory. A case was cited in which the Lord Chief Justice said something which I have no doubt he did, but to say that anybody would be liable to indictment or imprisonment or any punishment because they did not get doctors and nurses to forcibly feed someone, is nonsense. Somebody said the law is "a bass," and so it would appear from these cases. I condemn the administration of the Home Secretary for the reasons I have given, and I say that even at this belated time he ought to take the earliest possible steps to be in a position to deal with this class of offender. Arson 968 is a most serious and dastardly outrage. Supposing in the attempt which was made on the house of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that anybody was killed or injured in the explosion that took place, and that persons were arrested, would they be let out because they went on a hunger strike? You cannot have these attacks upon life and property without making the authors of them suffer. I think the course the Under-Secretary has suggested is an excellent one for minor offences and I approve of attacking the finances of these leagues, and if you strike at them I believe you will strike one of the greatest blows at this whole movement.
§ Mr. DUNCAN MILLAR
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member who has just addressed the House because I venture to think that the matter last referred to has already been very fully debated, and that those of us who listened to the statement which the right hon. Gentleman made in reply to his critics must have felt that he made an extremely able defence in reply to the charges brought against him, and, listening to the subsequent course of the Debate, we must have felt that there were no real facts of any importance mentioned that would go to prove those charges. I should like to take advantage of this opportunity to raise very briefly a question in connection with the Coal Mines Act of 1911, namely, as to the provisions of rescue and ambulance appliances in the coalfields of this country. It will be in the recollection of the House that in 1910 an important Debate took place shortly after the White haven disaster, in which the present First Lord of the Admiralty, who was then Home Secretary, indicated that he was about to introduce important legislation dealing with the matter. He then foreshadowed the Act of 1911, but he mentioned also in that Debate that the moment was urgent for dealing with the question of providing proper rescue stations and rescue and ambulance appliances in the mines throughout the country. In that Debate he said:—There is one matter which I think will not wait until next year, and that is a more general provision of rescue apparatus.And, consequently, he was enabled to carry through the House, without any real controversy, the Mines Rescue Aid Rill, which became an Act in 1910. Upon the passing of that Act there was an Order issued which called upon the mine owners of this country to provide adequate rescue ambulance appliances throughout the 969 coalfields, and I am very sorry to say that in many quarters very little attention is paid to the terms of that Order. In reply to a question, which I addressed to the Home Secretary to-day, I was informed that the Returns received from the mining areas in some counties show that the progress made is very far from satisfactory. The Order has now been in force for nearly a year, and the owners have had ample time in which to make their arangements. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to say that unless he received assurances that energetic steps would be taken to secure compliance at an early date with this Order, it would be necessary to take legal proceedings to enforce it. I am very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to take steps to see that the law is carried into effect, and I should like to urge upon him the necessity for taking immediate action in the Scottish coalfields. I have the honour to represent one of the largest mining constituencies in the West of Scotland, and although provision is made in the East of Scotland by the setting up of a rescue station in Fife, there has been practically nothing done to carry out the provisions of the Act in Lanarkshire and in the Western coalfields. The matter is one of great urgency, because the report of the Scottish Inspector for the last year shows that out of a total mining population of 138,000 there have been no fewer than 16,700 injuries during that year, and a total of 194 deaths. I am sure this House is well aware of the very serious risks to which miners are constantly exposed, and would desire to see that the provisions of the statute are complied with at the earliest possible moment. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will realise that to carry into effect the provisions of the Order it will be necessary to see that up-to-date life-saving and rescue apparatus is provided at the various mines throughout the country. Although I attach great importance to the establishment of rescue stations in the districts I have referred to, I think it will be necessary to secure that the provisions of the Order are carried out by providing in each mine apparatus of the most modern type, which has been tested, in order to meet the case.
There are two different kinds of apparatus to which attention has been drawn as a result of the report of the Royal Commission on Mines and of other inquiries—namely the Draeger and the Weg breathing suits, and the latter has 970 recently been very much improved. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will see that not only are smoke helmets provided which are regarded by all the authorities as insufficient, but also the later and more up-to-date breathing apparatus with a full equipment for each member of the rescue brigades at each of the mines in the district I have referred to. I would like also to point out that in the last report of the inspector for the Scottish District reference is made to the rescue station already provided in Fife where these particular forms of apparatus which I have referred to are provided. I do not see why in the West of Scotland, which is a much larger coalfield with a mining population of 45,000 as against 22,000 or 23,000 in Fife attention should not be given in an equal degree to the miners there. When I inform the House that provision has been made throughout most of the Continental mining districts of the best up-to-date life-saving and breathing apparatus I do not see why this country should be behind in providing what is so much needed by the miners to protect them against the risks to which they are exposed. I know the inspector of this district has been doing his best to secure attention to this matter, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to report more favourably at an early date as to what is being done. While one recognises the willingness of many of the mine owners to come into line on this question it seems necessary to get certain individuals to pay more attention to the demands made upon them by the Statute, which I hope will be enforced, if need be, by a penalty under the Act.
With reference to a matter dealt with in the annual Report of the Inspector of Mines for the Scottish District namely the hydraulic stowage of mines in regard to which an experimental attempt has been made in Lanarkshire to prevent the subsidence of the surface by stowing the mine where it has been worked with waste and other debris under a system which has been highly successful in many districts on the Continent, that is a matter of great importance now. In many districts much damage has been done by underground workings, and in the report to which I have referred it is stated that great success has attended this particular effort, that in the opinion of the inspectorthe system appears most successful, it is not difficult or highly technical, and the cost will compare very favourably with other methods,971 and also that in his opinion there is no doubt that only a slight and gradual subsidence takes place and it does not cause the surface damage which takes place under other methods. I hope it may be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to secure from the experts who have studied this system on the Continent further information which will enable them to carry it out in this country. As is well known, there are many districts where the buildings have been very seriously damaged owing to underground workings where there has been great risk to public safety and health by the breakage of water pipes and drainage pipes, and this has caused a great increase in the rates. The matter is one which is ripe for consideration. In this respect I can refer to the very serious injury which my Constituents in Lanarkshire have suffered from the damage caused by underground workings. I hope the Home Secretary will give us an assurance that he will do all he can to encourage a system of working which will prevent such damage in the future and encourage the adoption of a system which has been highly successful wherever it has been tried, not only on the Continent, in Germany, and in France. The instance referred to in the inspector's report for Scotland, proves that it can be adapted to the mines in this country with great advantage. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give me an answer in regard to two matters to which I have called attention, and I hope he will be able to satisfy me that steps will be taken to give effect to the representations which he has received.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
I wish to make a few remarks on a different subject. I have not intervened this afternoon during the progress of the Debate, which has created a good deal of interest on the question of forcible feeding and Women Suffrage, because I prefer to reserve the remarks I have to make to a later period, for the reason really that I understand dogs better than I do women. I always know what a dog wants, but I have never yet been able to arrive at what a woman really wants. The point I wish to direct attention to is this: I acknowledge gratefully the attention paid by the Home Secretary to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Vivisection, and I readily acknowledge the trouble he has taken to attempt to carry out the majority 972 of those recommendations. Many of us who think on this subject have been considerably alarmed by the publication of the names of those who are to assist the Home Secretary as an Advisory Committee in carrying out the administration of the Vivisection Act. I admit that the right hon. Gentleman has carried out a very important recommendation of the Royal Commission in appointing this Committee. I must confess, however, that the name of one of the gentlemen appointed to assist him has filled not only myself, but many others interested in this matter, with a considerable amount of apprehension, and that is the name of Sir John Rose Bradford. I have too great an admiration of the profession to accuse this gentleman of any intention of cruelty, and I would not accuse any member of the profession of anything of the sort, but his name is so intimately connected with many painful discussions that all those who are interested in the vivisection of dogs must view the inclusion of his name with considerable apprehension. I almost dislike reading out the various experiments that he tried, because I feel he is not able to answer those accusations at the present time, and I do not think it would be quite fair on my part to read them; but I will say this: He has acknowledged, and I believe he acknowledges, that he was the author of forty-nine experiments on terriers for various purposes. I am sure he thought he was doing his duty to mankind in carrying them out. I do not, and that is where we differ. It is for that reason that those of us who are entirely in favour of the total exemption of dogs from experiments of any kind view the appointment of this gentleman on the Advisory Committee with more than apprehension at the present juncture. It is an open secret, everybody knows, that the Royal Commission on Vivisection by a very narrow majority failed to pass a recommendation in favour of excluding dogs altogether from that peculiar method of research, and we are comforted by the fact that as time goes on dogs are used in fewer and fewer numbers for this purpose. I believe, though those of us who think the time has already arrived, are perhaps a little in advance of our time, that in a very short time indeed the general sense of the public will be against allowing any experiments on any live dogs of any sort or kind. Meantime, we must view the law as we find it, and it is as regards this Advisory Committee that I am addressing my question to the Home 973 Secretary at the present time. The point I put to him is that this name of sir J. Rose Bradford should not be included among those who are to assist him in the administration of the Vivisection Act. I will only quote one or two facts which we on the Commission reported. We said:—We feel that recognition should be accorded to the reality and worthiness of such underlying sentiments which would secure a special reservation for animals of affinity or utility to man.Again we said:—The representations made to us for the complete exemption of any class of animal from all experiments under the Act have been stringent in the case of dogs.We unanimously expressed our opinion that a differentiation in the use of certain animals for experiments is justifiable.Such differentiation, though admittedly difficult, we attributed on ethical grounds to the degree of association with, or affinity or utility to man, and in this connection we referred especially to the case of dogs and the higher apes.Precedents are not wanting, as we quoted. I only quote those things as showing that a professional man who is exercising his ability in the direction of experiments on dogs will hardly command the confidence of the public when placed on an Advisory Committee to assist the Home Secretary in carrying out the law as it stands, and in carrying out the recommendations of the Royal Commission. There are many eminent professional men who have carefully avoided experiments on dogs for some time, because they have felt that if possible—and it is possible—dogs should be excluded from experiments of all sorts. Therefore, the field of the Home Secretary is not a very narrow one. There are ninny distinguished men in their profession who have never sided with my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (sir F. Banbury) and myself in our desire for a total exemption of dogs, but who have not used dogs for these purposes for many years past, and in whom we should have much greater confidence if they were placed on the Advisory Committee. In appointing an Advisory Committee for the first time, it should surely be the wish, and I believe it would be the wish, of the Home Secretary to appoint such men as hold public confidence. There is no doubt that public feeling grows rapidly and continually in favour of the exclusion of this friend of man from all experiments, and, without throwing the smallest slur or casting any blame upon this professional gentleman in the exercise of his work, I do think we have fair ground for urging on the Home Secretary that his name should be excluded from the Advisory Committee.
§ Mr. GEORGE GREENWOOD
I am anxious to join as earnestly as I can in the appeal which has just been made to the Home Secretary by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite. This is a question of the administration of the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876. That Act, as its title tells us, is one for the prevention of cruelty to animals. It was passed, not in any way to protect the experimenters upon living animals, but in order to protect the animals themselves, and it was passed after a Royal Commission had reported. The Royal Commission of 1876, on which Professor Huxley sat, reported that the entire and undivided responsibility of granting licences for experiments should be upon the Home Secretary, and upon him alone. Notwithstanding that, the practice grew up of the Home Secretary, before he granted licences, consulting a body which was called the Association for the Advancement of Medicine by Research. That was an association for the promotion of vivisection. Any single licensed vivisector could be a member of it on the payment of 10s. Another Commission, of which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was a member, was appointed in 1906 to consider this matter. They took a very long time to receive evidence, and they reported in March, 1912. They advised that this practice of the Home Secretary, referring to the Association for the Advancement of Medicine by Research, should be discontinued; that there should be an advisory body appointed; that the advisors should, as regards Great Britain, be selected by the Secretary of State from a list of names submitted to him by the Royal society and the Royal Colleges of Physicians and surgeons in London, and that no person so selected should be the holder of a licence. The gentleman who has been alluded to, sir John Rose Bradford, does not now hold a licence, but I venture to think that it must have been the intention of the Commissioners, when they made this recommendation, that a gentleman who had been holding a licence, and who was very well known as a vivisector, should not be among the advisory body. I quite admit that the appointment technically was right if sir John Rose Bradford no longer holds a licence. The Commissioners only used the words "Shall be the holder of a licence." But the object of this recommendation is that the public may feel confidence. I make no charge against sir John Rose Bradford. I am perfectly certain he acts according to what he thinks 975 right, and in what he has done believes that it is done in the interests of the human race. I do not want to make the slightest suggestion or charge against him; I have here his own words in the "Journal of Physiology." I make it a practice never to make any attack with reference to one of the vivisectors except by quoting his own words, and then one cannot do any injustice. These were experiments described in the "Journal of Physiology" for February, 1899, which is of comparatively recent date. There were experiments on forty-nine dogs:—The removal of a portion of one kidney was attempted on thirty-three dogs. In one case. No. 20, no ligatures were used to arrest the hæmorrhage from the kidney, and the animal died from loss of blood on the sixth day. In cases No. 8 and No. 10 the wound became septic and the animals were killed with chloroform; in No. 29 a wedge of kidney was excised and an attempt made to graft the fragment removed in the peritoneum. The animal died on the fourth day after the operation. … One dog. No. 17, died thirty-six days after the operation. There were then twenty-eight dogs left available for the performance of the second operation, i.e., removal of the entire kidney on he opposite side. Five animals died from causes immediately connected with this operation. No. 7, No. 16, and No. 24 died during the chloroform anæsthesia. … In one case, No. 33, the wound became septic and the animal was killed eight days after the second and forty-five days after the first operation. No. 49 died apparently from shock; in this case the operation consisted in excising a wedge from the second kidney. … In all these cases the wounds healed well and the animals survived for varying periods, as will he seen in detail in the sequel. In some of the twenty-three successful cases more than two operations were performed on the same animal, e.g., No. 34 and No. 35. In No. 34 and No. 35 a wedge was excised from the left kidney, subsequently a wedge from the right kidney, and lastly, in a third operation, the remains of the right kidney were removed.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
Yes, all were under anæsthetics, but then the dog was kept under observation to see how long it would live, and after some time it was opened again, and another wedge of kidney was taken, and the slicing of the dog's kidney went on in that way. Sir Frederick Treves—I do not quote him as an antivivisector—said that in his young days he went abroad, and he made experiments on intestines of dogs, but when he came to operate upon the human animal he found he had to unlearn all he had learned in that way, because it was an obstacle in his way. The difference between the intestines of a dog and of man was so great that he actually had to unlearn it. I should be sorry to misrepresent sir Frederick Treves. I probably owe my life to him. With 976 regard to Sir John Rose Bradford, I know there is a great deal of feeling among people who hold the same opinions as I do. This Advisory Committee to advise the Home Secretary was meant to inspire confidence in the public, and the first thing you do is to appoint a vivisector enragé. With regard to Dr. Pembreay and Dr. Klein the Royal Commission unanimously advised that they should no longer be granted licences in consequence of the opinions they had expressed with regard to animals' suffering. Instead of this appointment inspiring confidence, it will give rise to the opposite feeling, and all those who feel as I do, and as the right hon. and gallant Member does, will agree there could hardly have been a worse appointment for that purpose. Under these circumstances it is deplorable. The Commissions have made a great many recommendations. What has become of them? The mountain has been in labour, and what a ridiculous mouse has come from it. The Home Secretary has appointed two new inspectors, and has also appointed this Advisory Committee. The Minority consists of the right hon. and gallant Member, Dr. Wilson and sir William Collins. I say without fear of contradiction that there is no one whose opinion as a scientific man, or as a man of the world, or a man of sense and judgment, is held in greater respect than that of sir William Collins. I am sure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree with that. The Commission have made certain recommendations which cannot be carried out without further legislation, but the Home Secretary has told us that it is not contemplated to follow such recommendations or to introduce new legislation. The whole result of this Commission, which has sat for six years, is apparently to be the appointment of these two new inspectors, and this Advisory Body, which fails to inspire us with confidence, and indeed inspires the opposite feeling. I hope the Home Secretary will reconsider this matter, and will not appoint to this body a gentleman who certainly does not fulfil those conditions which I think anyone on that body ought to fulfil.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I have no wish to take part in the Debate on the prison treatment of women. It is a matter entirely within the cognisance of the Home Secretary, and the only difference between us, if it is a difference, is that I doubt whether, if these were all poor women who were raiding shops to keep their children, 977 they would be treated quite so handsomely as these wealthy ladies are being treated at the present time. The question I wish to raise is that of a poor old man named Smith. It is not a very poetic name, but none the less, the case is extremely important to him and to the people in my district. This man is now entitled to an old age pension, but he is deprived of it because of something which the Home Secretary can put right if he will. It is, therefore, in his administrative capacity that I would like to appeal to him to deal with the matter. This old man left the workhouse just before he was entitled to his pension. He left, unfortunately, with the clothes belonging to the guardians. [An HON. MEMBER: "He stole them."] Yes, they were stolen. He tried to borrow other clothes as soon as he could, and it is admitted that he took back the clothes to the authorities before the case was heard in Court. Proceedings had been commenced against him, and he was brought before the stipendiary, who, although he thought it was a very trifling affair, was bound to convict, as the offence of stealing clothes had been committed, and the man was sentenced to seven days. It was useless to impose a fine, because the man had just left the workhouse. The effect of that seven days' imprisonment, so long as the record is against him, is that he is deprived of his pension for ten years. The stipendiary himself has appealed to the Local Government Board to reverse the decision. We do not ask the Home Secretary, as in the case of Knox, to send down a man to review the matter. We believe that in this case the stipendiary will be only too delighted if the Home Secretary will take the matter into consideration and get over the difficulty, which the stipendiary himself says would not have occurred if he had understood it. It is a case in Tunstall, and I hope the Home Secretary will deal with it.
§ Mr. REMNANT
I am glad the Home Secretary is here, because I feel that the information for which I ask he will gladly give me. It will be the means of relieving a considerable amount of anxiety that exists in many parts of the country. That anxiety is in reference to the constabulary and Section 1 of the Police Weekly Rest-Day Act. Under that Act the various police authorities have four years' grace in which to form their own schemes. They have now only one year in which to complete their arrangements, and if they 978 have not done so an Order in Council will issue, based upon the advice of the Home Office. Those counties which are moving in the matter seem to have some strange idea as to the construction that will be placed upon Section 1 by the Home Office in dealing with these Orders in Council. The Home Secretary will agree with me, although he was not in charge of the Home Office at the time, as to the intention which was clearly expressed in the House in regard to section 1, which says:—
"Every constable shall be allowed at least fifty-two days in a year in which he is not required to perform police duty save on occasions of emergency, such days being distributed throughout the year with the object of securing, so far as practicable, to every such constable one day's rest in every seven."
The Home Secretary will agree that the intention was that the fifty-two days were to be exclusive of annual leave.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have the Act in front of me, and the hon. Member appears to be referring to something which is not within the discretion of the Home Secretary—the question of the interpretation of Section 1 of that Act. The only thing the Home Secretary can do, as I understand it, is to issue an Order in Council failing action on the part of the police authorities in the provinces, in order to bring the Act into force. He cannot interpret it.
§ Mr. REMNANT
I am quite aware of that. My position is that some of these county authorities are hesitating to carry out the arrangements, which otherwise they would very likely carry out if they had some idea what the Home Office felt upon this matter. It makes a considerable difference to the county authorities if you put it off until this time next year. The necessary number of men will be very much more difficult to get. It is difficult enough to get them now. As a matter of convenience to the police authorities, I respectfully ask that you should allow me to question the Home Secretary on this point. It will not take long.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Other Members desire to raise matters which really belong to this Vote, and I must say I do not think that can be done. The hon. Member can put a question at Question time, and if it is, as I suspect, a legal question, he will no doubt be referred to the Attorney-General.
§ Mr. REMNANT
It is a legal question, on which in some cases they have had a definite reply from the Home Secretary, while in other parts of the country the authorities are stating that the Home Office has given an entirely different interpretation on the question whether annual leave is to be included. It is only for the convenience of the authorities and to allay anxiety among the men that I desire to ask the Home Secretary whether—
§ Mr. BUTCHER
Those of us who sincerely desire to prevent the infliction of unnecessary cruelty upon animals, especially dogs—and in that category I include all Members of the Committee—must have listened with considerable sympathy to the appeal made by the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. George Greenwood). Personally I know nothing of Sir John Bradford, but in view of the facts that have been stated here to-night upon good authority, I appeal to the Home Secretary to reconsider his decision to put him on the Advisory Committee. It certainly seems a strange thing to put on an Advisory Committee which is appointed for the express purpose of seeing that the Vivisection Acts are properly administered, and that no undue cruelty is perpetrated or suffering inflicted, a man who, according to the extracts read from the journals, has inflicted experiments on dogs, which to the unlearned mind seem to be unnecessary, and attended by very grievous suffering. There is another matter to which I desire to refer, namely, the inspection of pit ponies in mines. The Coal Mines Act was passed in December, 1911, and contained elaborate provisions carefully thought out by the House for the purpose of protecting ponies employed in mines. The House also insisted that there should be an adequate inspection of the ponies in the mines, for the purpose of inquiring into their treatment and insuring that those carefully thought-out regulations should be observed in spirit and in deed. The Act came into operation in July of last year and there was some delay, six months or more, but eventually, in February last, they were appointed. There were some of us who thought, and who think still, that, having regard to the number of mines in the United Kingdom—something over 3,000–the number of in- 980 spectors appointed was inadequate for the purpose, the number being six. Perhaps the Home Secretary will be able to give us some information presently as to how these six inspectors are getting on with their duties. He perhaps can tell us how many mines they have been able to inspect since the date of their appointment, and it would also be well to know whether they are making reports to the inspector of the district or to the Home Office as to the results of their examinations.
There is only one other thing I should like to ask. Will these reports be published some time, sooner or later? It appears to me essentially important that these reports should be published, because supposing that we have a mine which is admirably conducted, where the ponies are well treated and the regulations are strictly observed, it is only fair and right to the owners of that mine that the report, if it is satisfactory in every respect, should he made public. If, on the other hand, there are mines where the ponies, notwithstanding the Act, are ill-treated, where the regulations are not observed, it is also right that the pressure of public opinion, as well as the action of the Home Office, should be brought to bear upon those owners in order to ensure better compliance with the desires of this House and the provisions of the Act of Parliament. Therefore I hope the Home Secretary will be able to give us some assurance on these two points—first of all, that the inspection that is now taking place is adequate, and, secondly, that the reports will sooner or later be published, so that we may know what has been done. I think I am right in saying the Home Secretary gave us to understand that if the number of six was not adequate for the purpose of inspection he would take a vote in this House, which I am certain the House would give him, for the purpose of adding a sufficient number of inspectors for the purpose of seeing that the examination was properly conducted.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
The Home Secretary received last year the Report of a Departmental Committee which he appointed to inquire into the question of the night labour by young persons permitted under the Factory Acts, and in accordance with special Orders issued by the Secretary of State. That Report, in many of its provisions, concerns matters which can only be dealt with by legislation, and to those I do not wish to refer, but there were other important points which would properly form the subject of administrative 981 action, and it is of one of those matters that I should be grateful if the Home Secretary would give us some information upon to-night. At present young persons of the age of fourteen, before being allowed to work at night in factories, have to be medically examined, but there is no provision made for the further examination of these boys at regular intervals, so that, although a boy may be supposed fit to undertake night work when he leaves school, although the labour itself may render him unfit, there is no provision made for applying any sort of medical test. One of the recommendations of the Departmental Committee contained in the report to which I have referred suggests that, in addition to the preliminary medical examination of boys who are allowed to work at night in certain trades, not only should they be subjected to this preliminary medical examination, but that at regular intervals afterwards—every six months—they should be re-examined to see if they were in sufficiently good health to continue at night employment. I should like to ask the Home Secretary whether he has given any consideration to the suggestion, and whether he is prepared to issue the appropriate Departmental Order to give effect to that recommendation which does not need legislation.
I desire to urge upon the Home Secretary some points in connection with certain aspects of mining legislation. I would call his attention to the great delay that has taken place in putting into operation the provisions of the Mines Consolidation Act of the year before last respecting the provision of bathing accommodation for miners. I am speaking as the representative of a Scottish mining constituency, and I want to remind the right hon. Gentleman of a reason why the matter is even more urgent in Scotland than in England. That is because of the conditions of housing accommodation in the mining districts of Scotland. In my own constituency, for instance, there still continues the custom of the one-room house, so that a miner and his family have to live in that apartment for all purposes. That makes the provision of bathing facilities at the pithead a matter of very urgent necessity for reasons of decency and health. I do not want to use any language of exaggeration, but I venture to submit that the introduction of facilities for bathing in connection with Scottish mines would be a reform immediately followed by very beneficial results indeed. It would greatly affect the level of life 982 generally in the Scottish mining districts. Therefore I earnestly hope that the necessary pressure will be applied in order that the provisions of the Act may be given effect to in this connection as rapidly as possible. Very much the same thing applies to the Mines Rescue Act. That has now been the law of the land for nearly three years. The Act preceded the passing of the Mines Consolidation Act. I trust that in this case some speeding up will take place. I should like to associate myself with my hon. Friend the Member for one of the Divisions of Lanarkshire in the appreciation he expressed as to the terms of the answer given by the Home Secretary earlier in the present sitting. I am sure those of us who represent the mining districts, and who realise the great risks which miners necessarily undergo at their work, will be extremely grateful to the Home Secretary for any pressure he can put on the mining authorities to expedite compliance with the provisions of this Order. The provisions of the Mines Rescue Act were extremely moderate and made no undue demand upon owners of the pits, and the owners themselves, in Scotland, at all events, are well able to bear the moderate expense which this vitally necessary reform places upon them.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I desire to express the hope that the Home Secretary may not be induced by the speeches of my right hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Peterborough to withdraw the name of Sir John Rose Bradford from the Advisory Committee on Vivisection. I assume that he has been nominated by the Royal Society, of which he is a most distinguished member. I say confidently that nothing is further from his mind or practice than to be guilty of any unnecessary cruelty to any animal. When one reads the records of experiments which may have been performed on animals in the manner described by the hon. Member opposite they may seem to the ordinary layman, the uninitiated, as experiments involving a certain amount of pain, but it is very difficult indeed to imagine any experiment performed on an animal, even under anæsthetics, which might not be characterised in the manner in which these experiments have been characterised. The hon. Member has said that he owes his life to an operation performed on him by Sir Frederick Treves. I doubt very much whether he would be here among us to speak on behalf of the animals if Sir Frederick Treves, when he was 983 a student, had not had the opportunity of performing experiments upon animals instead of upon human beings. All these experiments on animals are carried on under anæsthetics. As regards Sir John Rose Bradford, the very fact that he has performed some of these experiments is a reason why he might be regarded as a very suitable person to be an adviser. Any one perfectly unacquainted with the nature of these experiments could not be regarded as a useful adviser. A man must know something about a subject to advise on it, and no one could be a more appropriate and suitable adviser than Sir John Rose Bradford. It is quite impossible to hear the charges made against so eminent a scientific man without replying to them.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Reference has been made to a large number of subjects, but I shall do my best to answer with reference to all of them. The first is the want of baths to be used by miners in conformity with the provisions of the Coal Mines Act, 1911. The subject was first raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley. I very much regret the delay which has taken place in making headway with the provisions of the Act of 1911. The circumstances, however, are these: Remember that the Act had not passed until the end of 1911. A Committee was appointed early last year, and on that Committee were serving Mr. Pickering, the chief inspector, who was, unhappily, killed at the great Yorkshire accident, and another Member, Mr. Smillie, who, of course, as we all know, has many other engagements, and the work of that Committee must necessarily fit in with Mr. Smillie's other work. It has also been necessary for another inspector to be appointed in the place of Mr. Pickering, and for the Committee to visit France, Germany, and Belgium. All this has necessarily taken time. We have not a system of baths in this country; in France, Germany, and Belgium they have, and it was obviously desirable, before laying down the lines on which the Act should be worked, to get the best experience that could be obtained. I hope that the Report will be presented very shortly. I am expecting it momentarily—that is perhaps too strong a word to use—but I am expecting it in a very short time, and as soon as the Report is presented I will take care 984 to see that the Regulations are provided at the earliest possible moment. The next matter to which I must refer was mentioned by the hon. Member for Chatham (Mr. Hohler) and by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson)—I refer to the well-known case of Engine-Driver Knox. Unfortunately, I had not the advantage of hearing the whole of the speech of the hon. Member for Chatham, but I would like to recall to the Committee what are the real facts in regard to the case. Circumstances were brought to my notice which prima facie led me to the opinion that Engine-Driver Knox had been wrongly convicted of drunkenness. In similar cases, where there is some doubt as to whether the whole of the evidence has been received, it has been the practice, not a frequent practice, but certainly an occasional practice of the Home Office to order a special inquiry into the circumstances of the case. In making such an inquiry it is obvious that the Home Office should employ someone who is wholly independent of the Department. In the present case I asked Mr. Chester Jones, a London Magistrate of great experience, and whose independence is beyond question, whether he would undertake the inquiring into the circumstances of the case, in order that I might be advised of all the facts, not only of the facts which came before the magistrates, but such other facts as I am bound to take into account in advising the Crown as to the exercise of the prerogative in all the subsequent facts as well as the original facts, in order that I might form a judgment. It might have been a better or a worse course to hold the inquiry in private, but I should certainly have been attacked if I had caused the inquiry to be private. I can say this that it was more satisfactory to the gentleman who had to hold the inquiry that it should be in public.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
There is no precedent for a public inquiry. There is a precedent for sending a Home official to find out privately, but to send a London police magistrate to the same town and hold an open court is absolutely unprecedented.
§ Mr. McKENNA
If the hon. and learned Gentleman had given me notice that he intended to raise this question, I would have furnished myself with more information as regards precedents than I have with me now. It is many months since the matter occurred. However, the inquiry was held and if the whole gist of 985 the charge is that it was held in public, I admit that is a matter of discretion. It was certainly the wish of the gentleman who was going to hold the inquiry that, having regard to the publicity which had been given to the case, it should be held in public. That was his view, and it was a view which I shared, that having regard to all the circumstances and the great publicity of the matter it was desirable that nothing should be done which hereafter should be charged as being of a hole-and-corner character. The inquiry was held and Mr. Chester Jones in public heard all the evidence, and heard evidence that was not before the magistrate.
§ Mr. McKENNA
An inquiry of the kind is never held on oath. He was not sitting as a Court of Appeal to hear witnesses on oath. Not at all; he was simply holding an inquiry in order to advise me as to whether there were any circumstances which had not been properly brought to the minds of the magistrates at the trial. I am not revealing any secret when I say that the inquiry was held not only at the request of the railway company, or at any rate in accordance with the wishes of the railway company, but in accordance with the wish of the men who were conducting a great dispute in opposition to the railway company, and in accordance with the wish of the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, who is himself the head of the Newcastle bench. Therefore I cannot conceive the possibility of any suggestion that anything improper was done in that case. Mr. Chester Jones held his inquiry, and upon the statement made to me I came to the conclusion that engine driver Knox had been wrongly convicted. There, again, I may have been right or wrong in coming to that conclusion, but I honestly came to the conclusion upon the evidence presented to me. There is nothing to distinguish that case from other cases where, under precisely similar circumstances, the Home Office holds an inquiry and varies the judgment of the magistrates. The hon. Member for Chatham raised the case of a man who was sentenced to death and in whose case I did not advise the exercise of the prerogative. I really do not think it would be proper for a Home Secretary to debate in the House the reasons for the exercise or refusal of the exercise of the prerogative. The hon. Member charged me with being disingenuous in the letter which was 986 written with regard to Lilian Lenton. If the letter appeared to be disingenuous I can assure hon. Members that no one would be more sorry than I. There was nothing to conceal. How could a letter, relating to a prisoner who was then out of prison and had every facility for speaking for herself, purposely be disingenuous? I could have no object in trying to conceal anything, because the concealment would not have operated for five minutes. The only point I was dealing with in writing that letter was the situation in which Lilian Lenton stood at the moment when she was released. If hon. Members will bear that in mind they will see that the sentence in the letter was strictly and accurately true. When I said in that letter that at 3 o'clock it would have been dangerous to feed her forcibly I was stating the literal truth, and I was referring only to the time about which the letter purported to speak.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
Will the right hon. Gentleman say under what power he was acting when he released a prisoner who was simply committed for trial?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for reminding me of the point, and, if I may, I will ask him a question. If he saw a house on fire, and he knew somebody was in danger of being burned to death, if the front door was locked and the windows were closed, would he have any authority to break into the house and commit a trespass? Would he not be committing an illegal act? Nevertheless would it not be his duty in the nature of the case to break into the house to commit a trespass, and to rescue the person who was in danger of death?
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I fancy there has been a decision on that very point. However, I am a private person, and I would certainly act illegally in that case. If the Home Secretary makes that admission, I am content. I want to get an admission that it was an illegal act, done with a good motive, as my act would be if I broke into a house to save life. I do not want it to be drawn into a precedent. I want it definitely stated that this was an exceptional case, and that it was an illegal act committed with a good motive with the intention of saving life. I do not want it to be a precedent for saying that the Home Office has the slightest right to interfere with a prisoner committed for trial but not convicted.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Gentleman is now asking for something which is merely verbal. He says he would be acting illegally if he committed a trespass. Illegal in the ordinary sense it would be, and illegal in the same sense my action was. But when a duty is imposed upon a citizen in the nature of the case to save life, although the act which he commits would in other circumstances be illegal, by the very reason that the duty is imposed upon him there is also given to him the right to execute his duty.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I really do not think if the Noble Lord is not here while the discussion is going on, that we can at this late hour go into that point. In a sense my action was illegal and without authority. But I say when a duty is imposed upon anyone by the need of the case to save life, that the existence of the duty gives me the right to execute it. I conceive that in executing that duty I was only doing what any hon. Member would have done had be been placed in my position.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the courteous way that he has answered me. He is on exceedingly dangerous ground. I quite admit I would have acted in that way in the case of the burning house. But he is giving instructions to the governors of goals to act illegally, and is making them do it. But the right hon. Gentleman has not explained the query of the Noble Lord as to whether in this case the urgency was so great and so immediate that he could not have sent to a Judge in Chambers and so made the matter legal?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The point raises a question that was answered five hours ago. I should be failing in my duty if I allowed the time to be occupied by it.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I will only reply to the question in one sentence. This event happened on a Sunday afternoon. Nobody of course was at the Home Office. Communication was made by telephone to the Home Office, and passed on to the private house of one of the officials. He was told that the thing might be a question of minutes. Is it conceivable that any man with such a statement made to him would waste, not minutes, but hours, in finding first of all the clerk to the magis- 988 trates, and then the magistrates, before he issued the order? The matter was urgent—to save life. All I can say is that any Home Secretary, who, under the circumstances, delayed his decision, would deserve to be hanged in his own red tape! The Noble Lord asks why were not the magistrates told?
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
On a point of Order, Mr. Whitley. You have already called the right hon. Gentleman to order. Is he entitled to go into full detail after what you have ruled?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think a full and sufficient answer has been given. In the interests of other hon. Members who have not had time to put their points, I deprecate the fact that hon. Members who have been out in the earlier hours of the Debate should interject observations.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The brief answer to the question is that the magistrates were informed. I come to the question that has been raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Lanark (Mr. Duncan Millar)—the question of rescue and aid work in mines under the Act of 1911. It was not a Coal Mines Act. A Return—under the Act—was called for at the end of last year. As a matter of fact I gave the substance of that Return in the course of an answer this afternoon. In many cases—in the Lanarkshire coalfields for instance—the Act has not been satisfactorily put into operation. Where owners have no sufficient excuse for delay we propose to send out a circular at once to the effect that, unless a definite undertaking is given that immediate steps will be taken to secure full compliance with the Order at an early date, legal proceedings will be necessary. I hope that statement will satisfy my hon. Friend. Then he raised the question with regard to hydraulic stowage. That is a matter which is now being considered by the Committee on Spontaneous Combustion in Mines, and inquiry is now being made as to the practice, and as soon as the Committee reports I hope to be in a position to give my hon. Friend a satisfactory assurance upon the subject.
My hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough and the right hon. Gentleman opposite raised the question of the appointment of Sir John Rose Bradford, and I should like to recall to the Committee the facts of this case. The Advisory Committee and the Royal Commission recommended that the Royal Society and the 989 Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians should be invited to suggest names to the Home Secretary, and the name suggested by the Royal Society was that of Sir John Rose Bradford. He is a most distinguished man, and I am very glad that neither my hon. Friend nor the right hon. Gentleman made any personal attack upon that gentleman. It is quite true that before the Royal Commission two witnesses charged Sir John Rose Bradford with cruelty, but in my judgment, and so far as I could ascertain, in the judgment of the Commission, Sir John Rose Bradford controverted those charges.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No; the Commission did not make any charge against Sir John Rose Bradford, but they referred to other people against whom charges were made as having used methods which might be indicative of cruelty. Although the charge was made against Sir John Rose Bradford, the Commission made no reference to him at all, and anyone who reads the evidence of the charges and Sir John Rose Bradford's reply cannot come to any other conclusion except that he completely vindicated himself. It was not the doctors, although he is a distinguished member of their societies, that recommended Sir John Bose Bradford, but the Royal Society, an independent body, and just as likely to take the view of my hon. Friend as the view of the hon. Member for London University. They recommended him, and I conceive that I was fully justified in appointing him.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The right hon. Gentleman has rather missed the point of my right hon. Friend, which was that the Royal Commission recommended that no person holding a licence should be appointed. I know this doctor does not hold a licence and technically he complies with the recommendation of the Commission, but he has held a licence in recent
§ years and does not practically conform to the recommendation.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Practically is a very wide term, but Sir John Rose Bradford has not held a licence for nine years. With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Stoke, I will communicate with the President of the Local Government Board and inquire more fully into the circumstances. With regard to the inspection of pit ponies, perhaps I might be allowed to thank the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Butcher) for drawing my attention to a recent case where his intervention has been of considerable use in putting a stop to certain practices which were undesirable. The annual reports of the inspectors will, like other annual reports, be published, but the weekly and daily reports are confidential. I have had some communications with one of the inspectors appointed in South Wales, and I have received a report from him in which he states that he is extremely glad that the appointment has been made, and he finds that there is a great deal to be done, and he will be able to do a great deal of good looking after the ponies. It is, however, too early to make any general statement of the work, but I will do my best to satisfy the hon. and learned Member as to the work done in this respect upon another occasion. With regard to the question put by the hon. Member from which you, Mr. Whitley, protected me, I think I shall be able to give him an answer at the proper time.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
Will the right hon. Gentleman reply to my question about the night labour of young persons?
§ Question put, "That Item Class II., Vote 4 (Home Office), be reduced by £100."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 100; Noes, 224.993
|Division No. 6.]||AYES.||[10.59 p.m.|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir Wiliam R.||Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r., E)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Clive, Captain Percy Archer|
|Baker, Sir Randalf L. (Dorset, N.)||Bull, Sir William James||Clyde, J. Avon|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Butcher, John George||Cooper, Richard Ashmole|
|Barnston, Harry||Campion, W. R.||Courthope, George Loyd|
|Barrie, H. T.||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Cassel, Felix||Croft, H. P.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Castlereagh, Viscount||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Cave, George||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Bigland, Alfred||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.|
|Bird, Alfred||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Falle, Bertram Godfray|
|Fell, Arthur||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Goldman, C. S.||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Sandys, G. J.|
|Gretton, John||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Stanier, Beville|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hardie, J. Keir||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Touche, George Alexander|
|Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Mount, William Arthur||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Nield, Herbert||Worthington-Evans, L|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Perkins, Walter F||Younger, Sir George|
|Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Harold Smith and Mr. Rawlinson.|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||McGhee, Richard|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Ffrench, Peter||Maclean, Donald|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Field, William||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Fitzgibbon, John||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Furness, Stephen||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Armitage, Robert||Gladstone, W. G. C.||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Arnold, Sydney||Glanville, H. J.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Manfield, Harry|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury)||Goldstone, Frank||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Barton, Wiliam||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Meagher, Michael|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Griffith, Ellis J.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Millar, James Duncan|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Guest, Hon. Frederick (Dorset, E.)||Molloy, Michael|
|Bentham, G. J.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Boland, John Pius||Hackett, John||Mond, Sir Alfred|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hancock, J. G.||Morgan, George Hay|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Morrell, Philip|
|Brace, William||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Muldoon, John|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Munro, R.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Murphy, Martin J.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Hazleton, Richard||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Henry, Sir Charles||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Higham, John Sharp||Norton, Captain Cecil W.|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Hinds, John||Nuttall, Harry|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hogg, David C.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Hogge, James Myles||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Holmes, Daniel Turner||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Dowd, John|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hudson, Walter||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Clough, William||Hughes, S. L.||O'Malley, William|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Cotton, William Francis||John, Edward Thomas||O'Shee, James John|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Crooks, William||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Phillips, John (Longford. S.)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Joyce, Michael||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Keating, Matthew||Primrose, Hon. Neil James|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Dawes, J. A.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Radford, G. H.|
|Delany, William||King, J.||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Reddy, M.|
|Dillon, John||Lardner, James C. R.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Doris, William||Leach, Charles||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Duffy, William J.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Lewis, John Herbert||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Falconer, James||Lundon, Thomas||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lyell, Charles Henry||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Lynch, A. A.||Robertson, J, M. (Tyneside)|
|Robinson, Sidney||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)||Webb, H.|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Rowlands, James||Sutton, John E.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Tennant, Harold John||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Thomas, James Henry||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Scanlan, Thomas||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Toulmin, Sir George||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Sheehy, David||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Sherwell, Arthur James||Wardle, George J.||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Shortt, Edward||Waring, Walter|
|Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Smith, H. B. L. (Normanton)|
Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ It being after Eleven of the clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15, to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the Vote.
§ Whereupon the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow (Wednesday); Committee to sit again To-morrow.