§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Long)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
I must make a rather fuller statement on the Second Beading of this Bill than was permitted by the limited period at my disposal on the occasion of the introduction of the Bill. When the Prime Minister decided to have what is called the Coalition Ministry nobody, I think, will deny that the situation was a grave one. I notice that in some quarters there has been criticism of a speech delivered in another place the other day by my Noble Friend Lord Curzon. I do not think my bitterest enemy will call me a pessimist, but I do not hesitate to say that I identity myself with every word that Lord Curzon used on that occasion. However great the difficulties may be, or however grave the situation, nobody doubts that we mean to and that we shall succeed; but if we are going to succeed it will only be by putting forth every effort that we can command, and by doing all that in us lies to sec that the full forces of the country are used to their utmost extent, and I submit with some confidence that this cannot be done without a complete and thorough system of organisation.
I have had some experience of the events which preceded the introduction of legislation in this House. Before I had the honour of joining the Government, when I was seated on the Opposition side of the House, I was aware of the fact that throughout the country, quite regardless of party or party divisions, there was a very strong consistent and persistent demand for a measure of this kind. It found expression in public newspapers. Letters were written by men who were well known not to be in any way identified with party politics urging that if we were to use our forces to the utmost of our power we must first know what they are. As things were we had and we have no record whatever of the resources of our country—I mean the human resources of our country —for the various purposes for which we now want and seek their aid. One of the results was that recruits for the Army 54 were taken wholly regardless of their of their own personality or of the part which they were playing in the industrial life of the country, and in many quarters strong criticism has been passed upon the War Office and the recruiting officers throughout the country for taking men in this way. But it is all very well to pass criticism upon the War Office and the officials of the War Office. How were they to do-otherwise? What information had they at their disposal to tell whether a man was necessary in his district or was not? I have been, like so many other Members of this House, at many recruiting meetings, and I am confident that the experience of all of us has been the same. The recruiting officers could not exercise their discretion. They could not decide against a man's application because they had not got the information. It was impossible for them to take any action of the kind.
When I was on the Opposition side of the House it was my privilege to sit on one of the Government Central Committees, and there, as elsewhere, the same experience was gained by me as was gained by the Department over which I have now the honour to preside, namely, that there are men here and that there is work there, that there have been efforts made to bring the two together and that those efforts have to a large extent failed. Surely it is not unfair to assume that one of the reasons for this failure is the absence of accurate and complete knowledge as to the needs and requirements of the country on the one hand and as to the possible sources of supply of men on the other. What is it we have got to do? I endeavoured to point out, on the introduction of this measure, that our first duty is to support those splendid fellows on sea and land who are fighting so heroically for our country; but while that is undoubtedly our primary duty, it is no less our duty, because it is a part of that primary duty, to see that everything possible is done to support our agriculture and our trade generally, and certainly our export trade, which means so much to the income of this nation.
As regards the agricultural situation I do not think that anybody will contest the proposition that it is not improving. If anything, it is becoming more serious. In many parts of the country the diminution in the supply of labour for the farmer is very great. In some parts of the country there has not been the same call upon the agricultural labourer. Under that 55 system of recruiting to which I have referred, in some cases men have been taken from the farmer who are of special value, because their loss not only means the loss of their own labour, but it depreciates the value of the labour of many of those who are left, because the men taken were in responsible or directing positions. The same may be said in regard to trade. With regard to our export trade I think that anybody who has made a careful study of the conditions of things in the country must know that at this moment it is in what I may, without offence,? describe as a rather haphazard condition. Over and above our duty to ourselves we have a great duty to perform to our Allies. It is a part of our duty and it is a great privilege to us to take a considerable share in providing our Allies with munitions of war, and the duty is doubly ours not only because we are in alliance, not only because we have the power to do it, but for another reason.
Our Allies are suffering from the invasion of their own territory and the occupation of their own land by the enemy. We, thank God, are free from any horror of that kind. I hope and believe and am confident that we shall keep our land inviolate from the foot of the enemy, but we shall only do this as we shall only succeed in other ways by the strength of our own right arm and by the combination and the organisation of all of us and the fullest possible use of all the resources which we as a nation possess. I said a moment ago what I think comes first, is that we must organise before we can act. I do not know what the view of this House may be, but I believe that in respect of any legislation which is honestly conceived with a desire to help this country to face the situation, the country as a whole is ahead even of this House of Commons. I believe it would be very difficult for even a Minister to come down to this House and propose well considered schemes or Bills without finding the country as a whole is behind him. I believe that the country is rather tired, very tired, of protestations and speeches, and is very anxious to see something done. Before we can act—surely it is a very old rule—we have got to organise and put our forces in the best possible condition. With regard to our export trade, or our trade generally, I can speak from my own experience, I am constantly, especially since occupying my present office, approached 56 by people in the country who ask me two different questions. A very common question is, "Can you find me so many men, five hundred, three hundred, a thousand, whatever the number may be; I can employ them if I can get them." The other question is of a different kind, "Do you think that I am justified in carrying out my own industry? I do not know that I can prove that my industry is one that can properly be described as connected with war." How on earth is any Minister, however anxious he may be to help his country in time of difficulty, to answer these questions unless he has accurate and complete knowledge of the needs of his country and of his country's resources? I do not want to dogmatise, but I submit that it is impossible for these questions to be satisfactorily or usefully answered unless this House will provide the machinery for which this Bill asks.
I believe that it is necessary to apply provisions of this kind to every class in the country. This is not a Bill which proposes to organise labour alone, or to call upon one class to make sacrifices; it is a Bill which proposes to register all classes, rich and poor alike, and I believe, even from my own limited experience, that a register such as they propose to carry out throughout the country, will disclose altogether unexpected resources in productive power, and that there will be a surprise for many of those who do not realise all that the country can do if she is really put to it. I will give two very simple instances. I was told the other day by a friend of mine, who is very interested in this question of organisation, that there has been need in the country of men, not necessarily devoting the whole of their time, to aid in the provision of certain munitions, and he told me what I believe to be true, that there is a very large number of people in this country with a sufficient knowledge of mechanics to be able to aid the Government materially, not by giving their whole time, but by giving a portion of their time in the production of some of those things which do not come under the head of munitions, but which are none the less essential for the proper equipment of our troops.
How is any Government, unless it may be in this register, to have the necessary knowledge at present? Can anybody say with confidence even now, after all the experience we have obtained, that there are not many men in this country who are doing work which is neither pressing nor 57 even important who are well capable of serving their country in some efficient way? Can not you see it yourselves in going about the country? I myself have seen men engaged in such work, for instance, as light road work, or in light domestic service. In the first place we have no knowledge, except what in going about we see, that this is going on; but if you object to it, what machinery have you got to put an end to a state of things which certainly ought to be put an end to? Until you know you cannot act. I submit with great confidence that if you are going to secure that every man who can lend a hand is going to lend a hand, we must first know what men there are and what they can do, and then it would be our duty to do our best to see that their energies are directed into the right channel. A question which is very naturally asked is, "Given that you get this information, what use are you going to make of it?" [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am quite of aware of that, and I will deal with it presently. I am quite aware that there are many hon. Gentlemen who believe that we cannot make use of it. Why not? If you know that it is wanted, if you know that it is true, if you have got accurate and reliable information, do you mean to tell me that it will not be possible to succeed where up the present there has been failure in bringing the workmen and the job together and to see? And I beg the House to bear this in mind, not only that the workman and job are to be brought together, but we are to see that so far as possible that they are engaged in a manner which will give immediate aid to the country in prosecuting this War to a successful conclusion.
The machinery by which this Bill will be put into operation is not, I think, difficult to devise, but I confess at once that I hesitate to pronounce definitely what form of machinery should be introduced —[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—for this reason: Hon. Members must not be in a hurry to think that I am going to make weak admissions, because I think they will find that the reason is a very good one. I am very hopeful that the Debate on this Bill will aid us by showing what are the views of Members of Parliament in arranging and deciding how this work can best be done. I have seen recently, since being at the Local Government Board, that a very large number of employers of labour and men engaged in our industries believe that a small com- 58 mittee, not of Parliamentarians or Ministers or even men prominent in the world, but of men who are daily engaged in organisation, would be able to help us, and to give effect to and to make use of the knowledge which this Bill will provide. Of this much I am quite certain, that to-tell us that we are to do nothing because there is some doubt as to what use will be made of the knowledge that we are seeking to obtain, is to give us counsel which we ought never to follow. The Government believe that the proper motto is to be prepared for whatever difficulties there may be in store for us in future—to be prepared for the future, whether it be short or whether it be long. To tell us to-day that we are to do nothing until the enemy is at our gates, that we are to wait until something more is known than is known now, is to give us advice which we cannot accept, and which I believe this House would condemn us for accepting, if hereafter it was found that fresh difficulties which ought to be surmounted had arisen.
May I say a word or two about the objections to this Bill, which I believe are raised in various quarters. First, I hope I may be allowed to say this: I do not for one moment suggest or think that the most severe critic, the most determined opponent of the measure for which I am responsible, is actuated by any less love of his country by any less sincere desire to bring this War to a successful issue, than we are in believing this Bill to be a necessary part of the machinery for the performance of our task. I recognise as fully as critics and opponents can do that the spirit of patriotism in our country is throughout the whole of our people, and I attribute to nobody motives less worthy than those who have got to work out a policy which they believe they are right in advising the House to adopt. I have observed that one of the objections to this Bill is that it contains in some mysterious and concealed fashion the policy of conscription for the Army. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I wonder at those cheers, though they are very faint, because I think that after the answer given by the Prime Minister to-day, and given previously by other Ministers, nobody can seriously advance that proposition, because what is the condition? I do not blame hon. Gentlemen who have hitherto been my political opponents and with whom I have now the privilege to act in unison, for suspecting me. I do not blame 59 them for thinking that the mere fact that I have changed my seat has altered what I knew many of them regard as the unbecoming spots which have previously marked me.
What is it that it comes to? If it is true that deep down in this Bill there is some poison which they have detected, they are actually suggesting that the Prime Minister has been taken in by that astute President of the Local Government Board. I hope that no violent opponent? of the President of the Local Government Board will make a suggestion of that kind, and I can most positively assure them that if I were starting to try my prentice hand to take somebody in—which I have not done in politics yet—I shall not begin with the Prime Minster. I really think that we may dismiss this theory of conscription as not being in any way connected with this Bill. This Bill leaves the question of compulsory service exactly where it is and where it has been; it does not affect it one way or the other. The only effect it has on the military question is—and I have the authority of the Secretary of State for saying this—that it will materially assist the War Office in avoiding those difficulties with which hitherto they have been confronted, and the Secretary of State believes it will enable his Department, in making further recruits, to avoid taking men who ought not to be taken and who ought to remain. Surely it is not unfair to remind the House that actually now, when you are confronted with this growing difficulty, about the insufficiency of munitions of war, of what you are doing because you have not got this information. You are recovering men now from the Colours in order that they may go back to the factories. I venture to say you could not have a stronger argument in support of this Bill.
Another objection to the Bill, as was indicated in some questions asked to-day, is that it is not needed now, because the Munitions Act will do all the work that is necessary, and that therefore we do not want a register. In connection with the Munitions Act the situation is rather interesting. About a week ago we were debating that Act in the House of Commons, and I do not think I am inaccurately representing what took place on that occasion when I say that, while in all quarters of the House the Bill was welcomed and passed, there were criticisms of one kind, and they were, "Why did you not bring 60 in this Bill long before?" I should like to ask those who are critics to-day, of myself and of the Government, and who are going to oppose this Bill, if the late Government had brought in the Munitions Act four or five months ago, would they not have used to the Government then the identical argument which they are using to the Government to-day? [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] We have agreed to differ; I think they would. Suppose that I am wrong in my view, let me ask them another question. In two or three months fresh difficulties may have arisen, the situation may have become more full of anxiety for anything we can tell, and it would be, I think, very foolish of us to imagine that everything is going smoothly and easily for us, and that it is not necessary for us to act with the greatest caution and with all the foresight we can command. What would the country say about it if we said, "Oh, you had your Munitions Bill, giving you all that you wanted; it is true now, we want more men, and we want work to be done that is not being done, and we are in great difficulty, and even danger, because those things have not been obtained, and we will get those lists of workmen now." I venture to say, under those circumstances, that the country, and the country would be right, would condemn us for having failed to do our duty at a moment when there was yet time in which to get this information.
We are told also that the Munitions Act itself does the work. I am bound to say I am amazed to hear that argument, if only for this one reason alone. As the House well knows, in connection with the framing and carrying of the Munitions Act, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education assisted both in the Departments and in this House, and nobody has given me wiser counsel or greater support in the preparation of this Bill, or in the various discussions upon it, that I have received from the President of the Board of Education. Surely, if anybody is in a position to say that this Bill is not required, because of the Munitions Act, he is the man, and he is not likely to have failed to say so if he held that view. Then, we are told if there is not conscription that there is an odious form of compulsion. I wonder whether those who have been criticising compulsion in somewhat strong terms have really asked themselves what the compulsion comes to. There are all sorts of criticisms of this kind. We are told there is this 61 odious compulsion, and that you are to be obliged to answer certain questions degrading to our nature. It is rather late in the day to wake up to this view. Is it degrading to the English people to be compelled to take part in the Census, which is made every ten years, and which is compulsory, and upon which, to a very large extent, this Bill is founded?
§ Mr. LONG
The lion. Gentleman misapprehends me. He is on another point altogether, namely, the secrecy which surrounds the Census. I am dealing now with the question of compulsion. The objection is not to the secrecy or publicity, but that which I have seen in many quarters is, to your compelling the people to do a particular thing. I say that the people are compelled now to make the Census returns every ten years. Yes, and nobody can be born into this country or can die without compulsion on their relatives to record their birth and to record their death; and hon. Gentlemen themselves, who are my critics, were only the other day passing through Parliament with enthusiasm a Bill which compelled the people? of the country to insure themselves against the future whether they liked it or not. Those measures to which I have referred, the Census, births and deaths, the Insurance Act, and there are plenty more, are all peace measures, passed in peace times; and surely nobody is going to say at this moment in our history, when we are faced with this great crisis, that what we do in peace times for certain definite purposes we must not do for any purpose in war time. I hope in the course of this Debate that those who are going to criticise this Bill will tell us what there is in those questions which they are compelled to answer about which so much resentment is felt.
Everybody says, and I believe truly, that the people of this country are enthusiastic in their desire to serve their country and help her in her difficulty. If that is so, and I am sure it is, what is there in these compulsory questions which you object to? An hon. Gentleman says they are not talking about the compulsion but the questions. If there are certain questions which hon. Gentlemen can show are unfair or objectionable or unnecessary, let us consider them in Committee. I am dealing with the question of compulsion itself. I am within the knowledge of the House when I say that that has been a strong 62 criticism of the Bill quite apart altogether from the question of secrecy or the particular questions to be asked. I believe the vast majority of the people of this country are ready and anxious to do anything they are set to do. There is a minority, and everybody knows it from Debates in this House. This Bill does not propose to compel any one of those people either to serve on the field of battle, or to serve in the factory, but I frankly admit it does this: It compels those people to declare that they are doing nothing to aid their country, and I am looking forward with curiosity to see whether anybody is going to rise in his place and say to-day that he does not think it right that people who deliberately, at this solemn moment in our history, are not doing their duty to their country should be compelled to avow it and admit it. At all events, on that issue I am prepared to join with hon. Gentlemen in this House who condemn this proposal. I am not ashamed to say that I believe the time has come when whatever a man may be doing or a woman either, if they have solemnly determined they will lend no hand to their country in a moment of difficulty, they should be compelled to state it in plain terms and, at all events, that information will be available for the Government, or whatever authority they may select, and we shall then know de finitely.
I believe myself that some of those who are called "slackers" are slackers, not because they are cowards, not because they are not patriotic, but because in many cases an Englishman is unwilling to push himself forward and he does not quite know what to do, and has been given no definite instructions and no clear lead, and has not been told, "Come here, and say what you are willing to do." That is what we propose to do in this register. We propose to give every man and woman in this country between the ages mentioned the opportunity of coming forward and saying, "Here I am, use me, take advantage of my services; I can do this or that; I am willing to do anything else you like, so long as you give me a lead." Once the Government know those facts, am I going to be told it is beyond our power to make wise and good use of those resources? Another objection that is urged is the question of cost. In reply to a question I stated that the cost of the Census is about £200,000, and that is spread over four years. That sum of £200,000 is the amount of 63 money we are spending every hour and a half in the prosecution of the War, and I do not think it can be regarded as a very serious addition to war expenditure. But I said in answer to a supplementary question, what I am confident is true, namely, that there is every reason to believe that the cost of this registration will be infinitely less than the cost of the Census. The greater part of the cost of the Census is in payment of officials who are called enumerators. Since the idea of a National Register was first started, I have received at the Local Government Board a multitude of offers from all parts of the country of voluntary service in the issue of the papers, in their collection, and in all the work that is to be done. Lord Mayors and their officials, chairmen of urban district councils and of parish councils, private individuals of all kinds, and of all professions, and large groups of working men, have intimated to me that they would be ready and willing to give any time before and after their hours of labour to assist freely and voluntarily in the work connected with the taking of this register. Therefore I am confident I am not exaggerating when I say that as far as the amount of cost goes, it will be infinitely less than that of the Census; and to oppose the taking of this register on the grounds that it will be money wasted, is, I venture to say, to use an argument which cannot by any possibility be sustained.
There is only one other part of the Bill to which I desire to refer, and that is Clause 7, which has been described as "a ticket of leave" Clause. The object of that Clause is that if the time through which we are now passing should last longer than we anticipate, that during that time this register can be kept up to date. Let me remind the House of what my critics no doubt have overlooked, namely, that this is taken from the National Insurance Act. Under the National Insurance Act an insured person who changes his address, and is in receipt of an allowance, is compelled to make notification of the change. Is anybody going seriously to suggest that what people are perfectly willing to do, and what they gladly do in order to get an allowance of 5s., they are not prepared to do in order to help their country? I decline to believe that is a true or just charge to bring against my country. The essence of this register is that it is to be locally made. An hon. Gentleman behind referred, 64 when I was talking about compulsion, to the question of secrecy and to the use that is to be made of the information which will be obtained. I have put nothing into the Bill about secrecy, for the very good reason that I myself did not think, and do not think now, that there is any necessity for anything of the kind. Although I have had numbers of letters about this register, all of them, with an exception so small that it is hardly worth mentioning, helpful, making suggestions, or offering services of one kind or another, I have not had any suggestion that the information which is going to be given ought to be kept secret. But the Census contains a clause to that effect. There is no difficulty, and I shall have no objection, if the House as a whole desires it, in inserting words of the same kind in this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] No objection whatever, because it will not interfere with the effective use of the measure at all. These figures will have to be compiled by the local authorities. They will, of course, be private so far as the local authorities are concerned. That will be in the instructions we shall issue to the local authorities.
No one suggests that these registers should be posted up in windows or things of that kind. What we want is to get the information for the use of the Government, and of course it will be used, as all other Government information is used, in the interest of the individual and of the public. If the House thinks further precautions necessary I shall, of course, be ready to consider suggestions of the kind. Beyond that the general machinery of the Bill is for local registration, to be done locally, by the local authorities, compiled by the urban district councils or boroughs, and when compiled it will be sent to the Local Government Board. I believe the machinery is as simple as we can make it. I have received from the local authorities of all kinds the assurance that they are ready and anxious to do the work, and that they are confident they can get plenty of volunteers to aid them, and can get it done as accurately and as rapidly as it can be done. As I have said about Clause 7 so I say about the Bill itself. The Government have not introduced this Bill in a hurry. Do not let hon. Gentlemen who are still rather dazed by the creation of the Coalition Government think that this is some fell design by those who were up to the other day their political opponents to take in the rest of the Cabinet. 65 They surely do not think that. Let them think what a poor compliment they are paying to those who have been sitting on their own Front Bench. This Bill, I can answer for it, has been the subject of a great deal of careful consideration. It is the result of the fullest possible examination of the facts, of our interests, and of possible remedies, and for my part I am quite willing to say that the Government will most gladly consider any Amendments which are intended to improve the Bill—to make the Bill more workable and more effective. Any Amendments of that kind we will gladly consider, but anything intended to destroy the Bill we will resist with all our power. Any suggestion that we ought to recede from our position, or withdraw the Bill, will be treated by the Government with the utmost determination, and will be resisted with all the powers we possess.
We believe, rightly or wrongly, that this machinery is necessary. We believe that it will serve a good purpose. We are not dismayed by general statements to the effect that it will not do any good, or that there is already machinery that will do the work. We say there is no machinery which covers the whole ground as this Bill will cover it. We believe it to be essential, if we are to organise the nation as she ought to be organised. We believe it will give the country the opportunity it desires to give a prompt and emphatic answer to the question, "Are you ready to serve her?" —and we believe the answer will be one on which we shall have reason to congratulate ourselves. It is because the Government holds that the passing of this Bill is essential to the due discharge of the duties which rest upon them that we ask the House to-day to read it a second time. I, for my part, hope that whatever criticism it may have to meet, the time will not be long delayed before it passes on to the Statute Book in order that, with the least possible delay, it may be set in motion and the information we want may be obtained.
§ Sir THOMAS WHITTAKER
I beg to move to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words, "this House declines to proceed further with this Bill until proof has been adduced that the powers already possessed by the Government, amplified by the Munitions of War 66 Act, are insufficient for the production of the necessary munitions of war."
The generous words of the right hon. Gentleman make it unnecessary for me, in prefacing my remarks, to say more than that I am one of those who wish to pursue this War for all that we are worth. I would put in every ounce, every man, and every penny; stick at nothing; do everything, submit to anything, necessary to smash our foe and assist our Allies—anything that is necessary and desirable. That is the whole point. Is it necessary and is it desirable? If it is necessary, I do not object to registration, to compulsion, to conscription. [HON. MEMBKHS: "Oh, Oh!"] No, not if it is necessary. To save this nation and smash our enemies I am prepared for conscription or anything else; but the objections to compulsion and conscription are so serious, the consequences are so hateful, and the difficulties so many and so great, that I do not wish to embark upon them until it is shown that they are necessary. This Bill raises the most controversial issue of the day. I regret extremely its needless and gratuitous introduction. It raises a subject of strong feeling and grave distrust. We have had partisan advocacy of this thing for months, and it has been bitterly resented. We have kept quiet, but, now the Government have yielded to it, we are going to keep quiet no longer. We have not raised this controversy. The introduction of this Bill has. Why have the Government touched it? They have privately been earnestly warned. Why do they persist in this course of discord and strife? It will split the country. We are told we should have confidence in the Government. In the previous one I should have said Yes, but on this point there are Members in that Government now in whom I have no confidence on this matter. I distrust them on this matter. They, say, "What about the Prime Minister?" There is no man in whose judgment on political matters I put more trust. I put more trust in the judgment of the Prime Minister on political matters than in all the Members of this House put together. Had he not got the colleagues he has, was he not in the difficult position that he is, I would bow to his judgment now. We have rumours of a divided Cabinet, and knowing the men who are in it we are perfectly certain it must be so. The Bill has every evidence of coming from a divided Cabinet. What are you doing with the 67 women? It is put in by one element in the Cabinet because they think it will swamp the Bill.
§ Sir T. WHITTAKER
I state it. This Bill is the first step to something more. It is a compromise. It is holding a candle to the devil. So far as my observation has gone, that never was a safe or a remunerative occupation. It is dangerous. In my judgment it is the first real fruit of the Coalition. It means weakness and folly. What is the object? What does it mean? Mere registration of itself is obviously no use. It is a means to an end. What is the end? We have heard a great deal about mobilisation, organisation, co-ordination, national service, taking stock, ascertaining our resources, ringing the changes on vague platitudes and jargon. Tell us frankly what you are at. Organisation? Yes, by all means. Efficiency? Yes, and where? And what has this to do with it? It is most needed and most lacking at the top, and you are fumbling at the bottom. Purge, recast, reorganise Whitehall, especially the War Office and its branches. The right hon. Gentleman said something about enlisting men who had been engaged in munitions work, and we have had complaints about enlisting married men. What in the world has registration to do with that? Have the recruiting officers no tongues? Cannot they ask if a man is married? Have not they the record of his marriage? If they did not want them and munition workers they need not have taken them. Did not they know where they were employed? They could find that without looking through 25,000,000 forms. What is the use of talking nonsense like that? You cannot stop that with registration. It is not the people who need tabulating or being compelled to do their duty. It is the Government. This Bill is a waste of time, a waste of energy, and some waste of money. It is diverting attention from the real trouble, the real necessity, the real danger. It is hiding it up and misleading the people. It is not everyone between fifteen and sixty-five we want to stir up. They are not the people who are at fault, but those who should guide and use them. We hear that Sir Evelyn Wood is ready to do anything. Aye! but he is not more willing than the people of the country. They are not less patriotic than he is, but 68 like him, they need to be told where to go, what to do, and that is the Government's job, the Government's duty, and it should get about it.
No compulsory register of persons from fifteen to sixty-five is necessary to enable you to tell people what they are to do. Take the men who are willing. Ask for the men who will offer. Have you taken all the men who have offered already? You dare not, because you cannot use them, and now you want more. When, you are ready for more, take them. They are all over the country waiting. Ask for them. You will get them. Tell the people exactly what you want, where and when you want them, ask them to register themselves, and do not register all the women and girls from fifteen to sixty-five. And when they do register, use them. Do not play with them as you have played with the manufacturers of this country. Do not make them feel they are being trifled with. Unless this Bill is going to be used for compulsion it will be of no use whatever. It is a mere waste of time and money, disturbing everything and irritating everybody. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO!"] Of course, I know Government officials like mountains of returns, acres of forms! Twenty-five millions of forms, we are told, then there will be twenty-five million certificates, and then tabulated records. Get these people to work on something useful?
So far as the Army is concerned there has been no necessity shown for this Bill. The response has been splendid. There have been plenty of men, and will be more when you really need them; when you can equip them, and when you look like using those men you have got. So far as munitions go, there has no necessity whatever been shown, and no attempt to show it, either on the First Reading of this Bill or to-night. Are munitions wanted? Yes. But are you ready for the men? You never publicly asked for them until last Wednesday, and then you gave them seven days! You have been at it for months knowing that you wanted shells, and the working men at the finish had seven days or else they were to be compelled. You have known your need for shells months ago. You took power to take over works. Did you lack men then? If so why did you not ask for them, or has the need only just arisen? If it has, give the country a chance. What is the chance you are giving them? Seven days, or be branded as shirkers and unpatriotic! There is no case for the Bill. I am willing to rest the 69 case against this Bill on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who introduced it. There are two paragraphs in his speech, and they are my case. What is the first?In the munition factories we know now that volunteers are crowding to aid us in producing what is required. In other fields of labour, in our coal-fields, not only have enormous masses of men gone to the Colours, hut the work has been going on steadfastly and continuously, and wherever you go yon find the same earnest desire on the part of the citizen to do his share in this great national work."—[OFFICIAL RKPORT, 29th June, 1915, col. 1083, Vol. LXXII.]What is the second paragraph?I wish to give two very simple illustrations—I have come across hundreds of them myself—of the result of the present system which, without disrespect, I may perhaps be allowed to describe as a somewhat haphazard one. In one case a man to my knowledge is now assisting in the production of munitions of war as a result of chance, for he was happy to see an advertisement in the paper which enabled him to place his services at the disposal of the country. In another case, active labour engaged on work which could easily be done by older men has now been transferred to more productive services. There are hundreds of thousands of these instances, as we all know from our own experience. It happens almost every day that one has applications from people saying,' I am ready to work; I am ready-to do this, 1 am ready to help; what am I to do V Where am I to go?' We do not know where to send them or how to direct them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th June, 1915, cols. 1653–4, Vol. LXXII.]There is the whole ease. They do not want to know about the men. There are hundreds and thousands of them, as the right hon. Gentleman says. The trouble is that he does not know, and the Government do not know, what to do with them, or where to send them. The registration of 25,000,000 people will not help him in that direction. It is organisation at the wrong end, and in the wrong way. Two or three months ago you asked the local authorities of this country to make out lists of men available for work. Have you used any of them? I know a considerable number of local authorities in this country where you have not used a single man. Thousands of men have been registered. You have not used one of them! Now you are going to complicate that by adding 25,000,000 more forms. Really, the thing is preposterous. If it would not be thought offensive, I should like to say what the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman said from that box, on a historic occasion:Stop this fooling and get on with your work.The men of this country are anxious and willing. Prepare to use them! Ask for them definitely, if you are ready for them, not in indefinite talk and indefinite advertisement. Men must know where to go, that there will be work there when they get there, and that they will not be kept loafing about. Let the local business men arrange it. Above all, keep all this part 70 of the business out of the hands of military men and the ordinary War Office staff. They are not fit for the business. They are hopeless. In their place and at their legitimate work they are admirable. Business is not their job. There is no need for the register. Say clearly what you want and leave the business men to get it. Let the War Office say precisely what are the munitions and what the equipment in other directions they desire, and then leave it to the business men of this country to get them. The very training and the very qualities which make military men excellent military men unfit them for business. They are unadaptable, inelastic, and are apt to be irritating. Supplying the Army from the War Office has always been a weak point. Remember the scandals of the Crimea. Remember the scandals of Egypt. Remember the scandals in connection with the war in South Africa. Absolute gross incompetence from a business point of view has always been a characteristic of the War Office. If one quarter of what reliable and trustworthy men tell us of the conduct of the business Departments of the War Office to-day be true, it is not registration you want, but wholesale dismissal! The difficulty is not mainly the men—nor getting them. Go about amongst the manufacturers and employers of this country. Hear what they have to say of offers of supplies not accepted. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, and then the same thing ordered from the same men through some other fellow—at a higher price!
§ Sir T. WHITTAKER
I am speaking of the conduct of the War throughout, and through the permanent officials; they are the same under both Governments. It has simply been deplorable. When you get these working men do not treat them as you have treated the manufacturers. They are furious at kicking their heels about the corridors of the War Office, with all its red-tape.
§ Sir GODFREY BARING
The War Office, may I remind the right hon. Gentleman, is not going to control this Bill nor administer it in any way.
§ Sir T. WHITTAKER
I am not so sure about that. I am not so sure about the military men at the War Office, with their red-tape, wooden methods, endless formality, and delay; and now in this registration you will have more of it. It is 71 mere form and nothing else, and it is putting the blame on the wrong shoulders. The whole country is to be turned head over heels because of the failure of responsible authorities to do their duty. It is not the people who need organising and dragooning: it is the permanent officials and the chiefs of the Departments. The Government in playing with this thing in this way confirms the suspicion that the real problem has not been grasped. They are up the wrong street. They are kicking the wrong dog.
The other day the Minister of Munitions spoke of a firm in the Midlands who had costly new machinery standing because they could not get seventy-five men to fit that machinery together. Seventy thousand men have volunteered in a week to do your work! If any one day it had been announced in the Midlands that there was standing important machinery needed to supply munitions of war and which could not be used for lack of seventy engineers, within twenty-four hours you would have had every man you wanted, and the machinery would have been put up immediately. As to the stories we have had about Woolwich. Everywhere else it is the same. It is not the men; it is the head! That is where you need this organisation and the rest of it. The speech of the Minister of Munitions on the Munitions Bill created the impression of neglect of serious duties somewhere. If that impression created was sound and true, it meant that somebody ought to be in the Tower! [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, but a short time before a speech, delivered by the same right hon. Gentleman as to what had been done in the way of getting supplies and equipment for the Army, left the impression on our minds that there were men who deserved a halo. My impression is that the truth is somewhere between the Tower and the halo—with a list towards the halo!
Unquestionably much has been done. Unquestionably the dispatch of the Expeditionary Force and the transport service to France and the equipment of it there reflects the greatest credit on those responsible. But when you are putting all this other work upon the same shoulders, the heads of the same Departments, you are placing upon them a burden that human beings cannot bear. The Prime Minister in a speech the other day spoke of what we were to do in this direction. He said what is to be done by the people 72 must be done willingly. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in a very forcible passage in his speech at the Guildhall, referred to the necessity of our carrying the people with us. You must do it or you will fail. If you are going to carry the people with you we want to know where we are going.
§ Sir T. WHITTAKER
Are we being manœuvred into something to which we very much object? The real backbone supporters of this measure have referred to it as, at any rate, a stepping stone to compulsion. You have read in the papers, and seen speeches as to "the first step." This Bill is described as the "first step." Then it is described as "another step." The jingo and yellow Press of this country are in full cry. All who advocate conscription and compulsion are delighted. That ought to put us upon our guard. In my judgment they are the wrong lot. [An HON. MEMISER: "NO!"] They blundered badly before. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] During the last three or four years they would have rushed us into steps which would have been absolutely disastrous for this country. That, to-day, should be obvious to the most dense. I mistrust them badly! They are pursuing the same partisan cry now, and have been hounding us on for this measure. What does it mean? We had an article in the "Times": "Registration a military necessity." [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, and in the same issue of the paper there was a letter by my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey, in which he said:—What is the next step? Is the register to be merely an academic document, or the preface to action? Is it to become an obsolete curiosity in the National Museum, or an effective weapon in the national armoury?5.0 P.M.
He was advocating conscription. And this is the stepping stone. On 25th June, referring to this Bill, the "Times" had its article headed "A military necessity." It was a necessity in order to provide the military. What did the "Pall Mall Gazette" say on 2nd July with reference to the very Amendment which I am moving? It said this:—It will be noted that this Amendment begs the whole question. It suggests that the National Register is being formed for the purpose of supplementing the movement for the increase of the output of munitions. As a fact, the register has no such limitations. It is a register for all purposes, known, anticipated, and unknown, and it is far from the wish of the promoters of it to impinge upon the province of the Munitions of 73 War Bill. The Munitions Bill has its own special machinery for dealing with a concrete Department for national needs, and it is efficient for its own objects. The National Register will be a supplement to it only in a remote degree: hut its chief object is to organise effort for purposes other than the making of munitions.That is what they say.
§ Sir T. WHITTAKER
The hon. Member is trying to be insolent, and is failing. The right hon. Gentleman said that you cannot use the full powers of the nation without registration. I do submit that registration is not necessary at all for using even the full powers of the nation in the direction indicated. If you want to compel men to work—if you have got down to that—pass an Act ordering all men of a certain age under penalty to report themselves. You do not want to take a register to do it. The same with regard to recruiting. Further, if this is to be the first step in compulsion, it is a reflection on our patriotism. If it had been part of our system for years in the past it would have been another matter, but it is not. And now what does it mean? It means an announcement to the world—an untrue one —that not only will our men not fight willingly, but that they will not even willingly work to support their comrades who are fighting. It is a slander; it is defaming our country, and we have had enough of that from the Yellow Press of this country, injuring our reputation before the world and our Allies, creating a false impression altogether that we are indifferent and slack. It is unpatriotic; it is shameful. That is what they have been at. If you bring in a Bill to deal with them, you will do far more good. This is an unnecessary and an undesirable scheme. No necessity whatever has been shown for it. I say to the Government, "Tear it up; get on with the important work and put an end to discord and dissension."
§ General Sir IVOR HERBERT
I have always looked upon my right hon. Friend who has just sat down as the type of temperance man. He is a man who has always impressed the need of temperance upon us; but I suppose we must all sometimes have our orgy of intemperance. He has had his to-day, and I fear that it is intemperance mingled with irrelevance. Really in the whole of his speech there was nothing I could see that bore very much upon the Bill which we are supposed to be considering. There was one point— 74 and I am glad that I am able to mention one point—on which I find myself in some sort of agreement with the right hon. Gentleman, and that is with regard to the inclusion in this Bill of women. I am anxious that the Bill should be carried through as quickly as possible and that this register should be completed in the shortest possible time, in order that it should be available for the very useful purpose which it will serve; and it seems to me that by more than doubling the number of persons to be registered the period of registration must be prolonged, and the completion of the register and its application to a useful purpose delayed.
I fear that in the few remarks which I venture to offer to the House, I shall fall to a very dull level after the speech to which we have just listened. I am not here to tear a passion to tatters, but merely to speak a few words of what, I hope, will be common sense. The right hon. Gentleman who introduced this Bill, and whom I am happy to be able to congratulate on having brought in a Bill of this kind as the first act of his new office, has earned, I think, a position in this House which he justly deserves, mainly by his possession of that very valuable quality of common sense. I think it is becoming that the first measure which he has brought in should be one which is characterised by common sense, and has no sensation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir T. Whit-taker) has been endeavouring to provide the sensation We will now return to the common sense. If the right hon. Gentleman had carried his mind back to the early days of the War—I do not know what at that time he was engaged upon; I know he has done very valuable work—but if he had been engaged actively in the work of recruiting, of raising that great aggregation of men which has been brought together, as is popularly believed by the Secretary of State for War, but really by the voluntary action of many people in the country, he would have realised what the value of this register would have been. There was a sudden call for 300,000 men, followed by a call for 1,000,000 men, and it is no secret now that when that first call was issued the military authorities of this country did not believe it would be met, and there were many high military authorities who were of opinion that compulsory service must be immediately introduced. Well, that has absolutely been falsified, and we owe this meed of 75 gratitude to the Secretary of State for War, whatever may be our opinion about the other mismanagement that has taken place, that, at least, he gave the people of this country an opportunity of showing clearly that they are prepared to meet the requirements made upon them without recourse to statutory compulsion.
But the very fact that they were so ready, that they came in such crowds, that they came in such an indiscriminate crowd, has produced the misfortune which we are now trying to remedy by setting up a new Department of State, passing the Munitions Bill and so forth. If there had been at that time a register which would have /enabled those who were engaged in recruiting to call upon only the men who were not required for certain trades and professions and to call upon them to come out first, we should have had less of a crowd, less difficulty for the military authorities, none of those unfortunate occurrences to which I had to draw attention in this House in the early days of the War, and we should not have had now to try to undo a great deal of the work that has been done, to disorganise units now at the front by bringing men back to do work they ought never to have left. That is the use to which such a register as this could have been put in the first days of the War, and I admit it was an unfortunate thing that the Secretary of State for War did not clearly see this at the beginning, and take the course which was suggested by many persons, including myself, for dealing with the question of raising the Army by registration. If we had had the register there would have been much less difficulty, and it is no reason—if the right hon. Gentleman will permit me to say so —because we muddled through at that time that we should go on muddling through now. After all, we have now had eleven months of war, and the country is beginning to be fully alive to the seriousness of the War. That was not the case in the early days of the War, and, therefore, it is all the more necessary now that there should be this means of guaranteeing us against a repetition of such an unfortunate mistake as has occurred, of which we are feeling the results now.
The right hon. Gentleman seems to be terribly distressed by the bogey of compulsion. But how is compulsion going to be effected by means of this Bill? Before you could compel a man to serve in the Army you would still require an Act of 76 Parliament for that purpose. Because I admit that some such register as this will be necessary in the machinery of a system of compulsory military service, is that any reason why it should not be made now when it can be of use for other purposes? According to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, I must never make an inventory of my effects unless I am going to have a sale. I must not know what pictures, books, or other articles I possess, unless I am going to send them to Christie's. The right hon. Gentleman himself has been a most diligent searcher into matters connected with a certain trade. Why should he be allowed to collect that information, which belongs to private persons, if he has some sinister purpose behind it, possibly a compulsory temperance or teetotal Bill? Are we always to look to some ulterior motive or some nefarious purpose that some person may have and therefore refuse to do that which is necessary and desirable? I was surprised to find with so much knowledge there was so little sense.
The right hon. Gentleman gave a long list of words, such as organisation, mobilisation, and other names, evidently from a book of refeience, and he spoke very emphatically of the need of organisation. We all admit that organisation is necessary, but organisation, mobilisation, and all those other words of that kind are words which have about as much meaning to the average man in the street as the word "Mesopotamia." What we want is something that will be of practical value at the present time. We must come down to truisms, and if you want to organise you must know first of all what you are going to organise. If you are going to mobilise, and mobilisation means being able to put things into motion, you must know first of all where is that thing you arc going to mobilise. That is what the right hon. Gentleman is going to do by means of this Bill, and when it has been carried into effect we shall then know what men we have of various ages and professions, and so forth. It will then be possible for us to get what we have failed hitherto to get, and that is we shall be told accurately whether these men can be of use. The mobilisation of these men will then be possible, because we should know what men we have available for certain occupations, and they can be directed to go to those occupations. As my right hon. Friend said in his speech in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, there will be undoubtedly 77 an indirect influence on a certain class of people, although I believe that class is a very small one in the country. We must, however, recognise that a certain feeling exists amongst the men who have already gone into the ranks to a very large extent. You cannot talk to any soldier, whether he has been abroad at the front or in our training camps who does not believe and tell you that there are a large number of men who are hanging back. I must say that my experience in recruiting—and I have been at it constantly ever since the War began—does not bear that out. Possibly I come from a very fortunate part of the country, a part where I think they have done extremely well, largely, I believe, because from the first day of the War, on my own authority and responsibility I adopted the very principle that is embodied in this Rill and had registers made which I have made use of.
I am perfectly frank with hon. Gentlemen here who will be following me presently and will no doubt endeavour to destroy what I have said. I think we must be frank in these matters, because we are faced with a very serious danger and a time of great emergency, and personally, I cannot afford, under these circumstances, to be anything but frank, and I hope to the point. There is one point to which I should like to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. It is a question which he touched upon very lightly, namely, that of secrecy. Why any secrecy at all? Personally I think this is a matter which should be perfectly public. I should like to see on every church door in every parish the names of those who are willing to serve, and it would be the best possible way, if there were any such men as have been alluded to as hanging back, to bring them up into line. Moreover, it would make it easier to pass on at once to that particular branch of industry the men who are wanted so particularly.
I know there are a great many hon. Members who wish to speak, and there are a certain number who particularly wish to have their objections heard. I am so anxious to hear what more there is to be said, especially after what we have already heard, which I must confess seems to me vox et præterea nihil, that I will not stand in the way. There is one point, however, I should like to touch upon, and it is the question of expense. It has been pointed out that this Bill will entail unnecessary expense. I can say that to my certain knowledge if it is only to cost the 78 country £200,000 it will really be a saving as compared with the reckless extravagance now being displayed in the recruiting part of the Army without a register. At the present time the expenditure on recruiting is going up by leaps and bounds in an unnecessary way, because endeavours are being made to transfer work that has been done efficiently by local bodies by voluntary aid to a certain class of military officer popularly known as a "dugout." These local bodies in the past have done very great service, and I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman has fixed upon the urban and rural district council as the particular bodies who are to carry out the work of this registration, because those are the bodies which, in many parts of the country, where the most efficient recruiting has been done, who have formed committees for the purpose of recruiting, and they know exactly the difficulties which have arisen. Really, it seems to me that there is little to be said upon this Bill more than I said some weeks ago in this House, although I confess that then my remarks were received somewhat coldly on the Treasury Bench. I am glad that whatever may be the sinister causes of the change adumbrated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley that that change has come, for it is a sign that there is at last a recognition that we cannot go on carrying on a war with a great Power, which has been long preparing for it, on mere haphazard methods. Whatever may be coming after this Bill, and I do not inquire now, at any rate it must have been a great satisfaction to all hon. Members who have held opinions contrary to my own in favour of compulsory service to know that in future they will have the support of the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me.
§ Mr. J. M. ROBERTSON
I have followed with some surprise the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Sir Ivor Herbert). He set out to rebut the case that had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker), and he seemed to suppose that he was doing so. I am bound to say that I do not think the hon. Member realised either the nature or the point of the objections made. I think all hon. Members opposite will at once release the hon. and gallant Gentleman from any suspicion of seeking by such a Bill as this to promote a system of conscription. He has been quite open and above-board, and he has said that he does not 79 desire a conscription system. Nevertheless the arguments that the hon. and gallant Gentleman adduced to justify the Bill on any other grounds were really extremely nebulous. He paid a high compliment to the President of the Local Government Board, who, he said, had distinguished himself in this House by his common sense. I do not wish to detract from such a compliment as that. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to say that he thought the Bill would be improved if we left out the women, which seemed to suggest the perception that the taking of a census of men and women between fifteen and sixty-five years of age is not a common-sense way of securing skilled workmen for certain trades—a rather damaging criticism even of the common sense of the right hon. Gentleman. Having indicated in that way his perception of the faultiness of the Bill, I confess that I am puzzled that my hon. and gallant Friend should not have returned to the point, and should not have even suggested that in this respect the Bill might be usefully amended. The arguments that he did adduce in no way met those of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Spen Valley. He urged upon us that a great deal of harm had been done —and this is a matter of general agreement—by the recruiting of men who would have been better left at their work in certain industries important for the production of munitions, and he argued that if we had had such a register as this at the outset of the War no such mistaken recruiting would have taken place. That is a very strong proposition to put forward. The hon. Member must be surely aware that in France, where they have conscription, they have had to bring back from the front many thousands of workmen.
Does he suggest that the register now proposed would be positively more efficacious to guard against this particular evil than the great organised military systems of Germany and France? If so, it is a new argument in favour of haphazard methods. He used that phrase "haphazard methods" as if everything that had been done up to the introduction of this Bill was a matter of "haphazard methods." I am thankful to think that the Minister of Munitions' Bill is a very much less haphazard measure than the Bill we are now discussing. It is a practical Bill. I do not believe that such a measure as 80 this would have the effect the hon. Member contemplates. Does he suppose that in recruiting 2,000,000 men you could consult for each case a register covering 25,000,000? Why did not the hon. and gallant Member meet the point of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley, who suggested that the recruiting officers might use their tongues and ask a man what he could do? The right hon. Gentle man the President of the Local Government Board, not very long ago, was given to very severe criticism of the War Office. I listened to many volleys of his criticism when I had the honour of sitting on the Bench which he now adorns. He did not then give very much credit for common sense to the War Office in regard to a number of matters on which, I confess, he did not seem to me mostly to make out his case. But he is now giving the War Office—
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
If I have done the right hon. Gentleman an injustice in my assumption that he used to criticise the War Office severely, I retract, but that may be left to a study of the records of the House. The right hon. Gentleman— this is the point I wish to make—is now-giving a very handsome certificate to the War Office. He has told us that the War Office could not have avoided recruiting men in the wrong place and the wrong kind of men. They could not possibly have avoided recruiting thousands of men who were really needed for the continuance of the work at the places at which they were recruited. I am extremely anxious to avoid any process of mere recrimination. I do not in the least desire to rake up any shortcomings of the War Office. I am perfectly satisfied that any human being who should have been at the head of the War Office would have incurred criticism, and that War Offices incur criticism all over the world. I would indeed even deprecate a good deal of the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Spen Valley against the officials. My right hon. Friend is apt to make the assumption, which business men so often make, that they are always right in business. If only they were allowed to do everything! If they were allowed to accept the contract as well as to tender it! I would suggest that there is something to be said on the other side, and, as against that which is being said about 81 contracts that were not accepted, business men might possibly usefully hear a little about contracts that were not fulfilled. One of the troubles of this War has been a very considerable shortage of business ability amongst business men, and, in view of all that, I should like to dissociate myself from any appearance of joining in any attack upon the War Office in general.
I do say in this matter that there was a plain oversight which the War Office could easily have avoided in its original reception of recruits, because, as my hon. and gallant Friend has said, the military authorities did not believe that they would get the recruits—let that be remembered, I will not say to their discredit afterwards, but let it be remembered— and, in their fear of not getting recruits enough, they took no rational precautions whatever against the recruiting of men who should have been left at their work. That was a serious oversight at the War Office, and it could perfectly well have been avoided in the past, and it can perfectly well be avoided now, without this ill-conceived and ill-explained measure. I know, in my own experience, of cases in which the War Office, when its attention was called to the inexpediency of recruiting in certain places, gave orders at once that the recruiting should cease. A friend of mine came to me one day and said that in a certain town where they made boots and had large contracts placed by the British Army and the armies of our Allies they were recruiting scores of men who were needed for the making of the boots in the factories. He said, "If you go on recruiting the men those contracts cannot be carried out, and it will be a very serious matter indeed, both for us and for our Allies. "I caused that information to be passed on to the War Office, and I received the information that they had at once taken steps to guard against recruiting in that place. That is the application of common sense. It is a simple matter. Such warnings have been acted upon again and again, and they can be acted upon in future. Observe that this particular kind of trouble is almost the sole reason given by my hon. and gallant Friend in justification of the Bill. He hinted at others, but that was the only one that had any practical point. He sought to repel the criticism of the Mover of the Amendment by saying, "Is it to be suggested that I am never to take an inventory unless I am to have a sale?" An inventory of what?
82 The President of the Local Government Board, in his speech, talked repeatedly of needing a knowledge of the resources of the country. Does he mean to suggest that this Registration Bill is a means of tabulating the resources of the country? You have got that information already in the census, and in the census of production. You have got there far better information as to the personnel of the country and the productive powers of the country than you can possibly get out of this register. If it is a knowledge of resources that you want, the knowledge exists for you there already. You are really introducing a supplementary Census, and I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Long) that this Bill does practically nothing in the nature of military compulsion. It does not amount to a power of the slightest importance, and that is the great point made against the Bill by the Mover of the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board says, "Where is the harm in what we are doing? It is only like the Census?" Exactly, you are asking people simply to answer the question, "What do you do? Are you able and willing to do anything else? That is all you are going to get. What is the value of it?
The very fact that this Bill is so pointless, and that there is so little evidence of any utility in it, naturally sets people wondering what is the ulterior motive? I will not for a moment suggest that the Government have any ulterior motive, but I cannot to my own mind explain the Bill in any way save as a concession to clamour outside. I read a characteristic article in the "Times" the other day. We were-told that next week—that is, this week— we should all be filling up our registration papers. The right hon. Gentleman told us the other day that it would be a very wrong thing for him to prepare his registration papers before he had got his Bill. The "Times" evidently thought that the papers were ready. Surely, one may assume that the Government did not invite support from that particular source. Non tali auxilio surely. But when you can see nothing behind the Bill but such clamour as that, and when the criticisms of its defects can only be met by such a calm and temperate a critic as my hon. and gallant Friend with such inconclusive considerations as he put, surely the Government cannot be surprised that the people of the country and a large number of the Members of 83 this House uneasily say that there must be an intention behind the Bill, because that which the Bill does is not worth doing.
The right hon. Gentleman professed to meet the criticism of people who told him that he was to do nothing. He said, "If we are to be told that we are to wait and do nothing, that is advice which we cannot accept. "Who gave the right hon. Gentleman such advice in the name of the opposition to this Bill1? The objection to this Bill is that it does nothing, that you are wasting effort—I will not talk about expense, because that is a trifle—and that it gives you no semblance of organisation. You are doing a thing which is not organisation at all. The only practical suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman was that we wanted to keep agriculture going, that we wanted to keep trade in general going, and that we wanted to keep up our necessary exports. If he had argued the point that such a register as this might enable us to transfer to agriculture some labour which it requires and which it has not got at present it would have been a consideration for the House to take into account, but he merely touched upon that point, and beyond that there was no argument. It would indeed have been, upon examination, a rather weak argument. The right hon. Gentleman is sanguine about the time in which he will be able to get these 25,000,000 papers tabulated. "A few weeks, "I think, was the expression which he used. He is aware that the whole of the Census of 1911 is not, I believe, tabulated yet. The most important volume of it—that of the distribution of trades and industries-came out last year. It took about three years to produce it. No doubt the particular Census you are now taking—especially as there is no real concern for accuracy in it—can be tabulated in a considerably shorter time, but it will not be tabulated in time for you to do anything about this harvest, I expect, so that on the one practical point which the right hon. Gentleman did raise it would be very difficult to make out a useful case.
The right hon. Gentleman, lacking practical considerations which he could adduce, did adduce one or two to which I think this House should really give some attention. He said that the effect of the issue of the papers would be to compel people to declare if they were doing nothing to 84 aid their country. My hon. and gallant Friend talks about sensationalism. I think he might credit the right hon. Gentleman with a little sensationalism in respect that he went on to say that, if such persons had solemnly determined not to aid their country, they ought to be called upon and compelled to record that fact. I ask, did the Cabinet ever dream, in preparing this Bill, that they would get such declarations as these? Is this one of your objects in your registering 25,000,000 people? It may be there are some people in England who, either truthfully or insanely, may make some declaration of that kind. If there are, is that the sort of thing you are seeking to obtain by casting your net over 25,000,000 people? Was the object, among other things, to get a declaration from an imaginary multitude of cranks or anti-patriots, who will solemnly declare that they do not want to help the country? Is this what we are seriously out for in this time of war?
I cannot think the right hon. Gentleman used that argument after serious consideration. I am driven to the view that he used it precisely because he had so few arguments of any kind to advance. He made no attempt to meet the objections which have been put forward to the Bill, even by some of his own supporters. If you are out for what you call organisation and mobilisation — and these terms were in the vocabulary of the right hon. Gentleman—they were not collected from any other source—if you desire to mobilise and organise your industrial forces, why do you ask all persons, all men and women, boys and girls, between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five, to register? No attempt has been made to reply to the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker). His criticisms have in no way been met. What you want most is men for dealing with munitions. We are told that these men are coming in in admirable fashion, with admirable spontaneity, and in great numbers. Nearly 70,000 have recorded their names in the first week, and while they are coming in at that rate you tell us we must do more, and you send out 25,000,000 registration papers to people between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five. My hon. and gallant Friend spoke of that as improving upon haphazard methods. I can only say that the business spirit which is so often appealed to in this House, if it 85 is to rule in these Debates, will decide that this registration is the very reverse of a business proposition.
We are always driven back on the need for some further explanations beyond those already given. The right hon. Gentleman said that in order to do anything we must know what are our needs and what are our resources. But you already know your resources from other quarters, and what will this registration do to tell you what your needs are? Again and again it has been pointed out that you already have had thousands upon thousands of offers. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted it. Have we not all of us in this House received many such offers? It must be true of all Ministers that they have received from private persons scores of appeals to be employed in a certain way. I remember that quite early in the War my right Hon. Friend the then President of the Board of Education (Mr. J. A. Pease) had compiled a list containing 2,000 names of people appealing to have their services utilised in some way. Attempts were made to employ such persons, but, as a matter of fact, posts were only found for about a hundred of them. We have had the statement in the House to-day that large numbers of women have volunteered and handed in their names at the Labour Exchanges for special employment. I think it was stated some 80,000 had done so. Are these women being employed? If not, the register will not help you in the least. It will not tell you how to employ them. If you have work for them to do, there is no need to add a further indiscriminate list by going to a multitude of 25,000,000 people and asking them if they are willing to work.
Has the right hon. Gentleman asked himself what kind of answer he is going to get? He will not find people solemnly declaring that they are not willing to help their country. They will all say that they are willing to help, and, undoubtedly, thousands of women are eager to do it. But they will also say they are not skilled in any particular industry. Does that justify the language the right hon. Gentleman has used about mobilising and organising industry? These women are willing to do anything in their power. They are willing to act as nurses They are helping in all sorts of ways. They are working on committees. They are producing garments, comforts, and all kinds of conveniences for soldiers. They will say, "We are doing what we can." Suppose you get your 86 25,000,000 answers. You have first to tabulate them. I do not think that can be done before Christmas. When, however, you have done it, you will not be able to tell the women what to do; but you may, perhaps, get another and stronger protest from my hon. and gallant Friend. It would have been better to have left all that out, and to have simply set about mobilising the productive and fighting resources of the country. The right hon. Gentleman declares that there is nothing in the nature of a Cabinet compromise, and that it is not true that women were added to the register for some reason hostile to the Bill. We accept those statements. I would be the last person to call them in question. But let the right hon. Gentleman explain why the women are in. Again, he talks about mobilisation and organisation. Why does he set up a measure which is the very negation of the idea of mobility—a supplementary census requiring an enormous amount of distributive machinery, requiring also a large staff for its tabulation; and why does he put that forward in the name of mobilisation when the Munitions Department is getting the men that are most essentially needed, and, I hope, setting them to work at this moment?
It is a matter of sincere pain to me to have to oppose any measure by which the Government seem to set store. The right hon. Gentleman told us—and I listened to his words with profound regret—that to any attitude of objection to the principle and general scope of the Bill the Government will set a face of absolute resistance. The Government have the position in their own hands. But I think they owe something to us as well as to themselves. They know very well we are supporting them— that we have supported them during the campaign in a spirit of absolute loyalty. We oppose this Bill simply because on the face of it it is futile and useless, and is intelligible only as being directed to some other end, or is being introduced at the instance of classes who are driving the Government to that end. Only on such a ground as that could I have been moved to offer opposition to any measure introduced by the Government in the course of this War. If the Government choose to meet such objections with a resolute prosecution of the Bill, of course there is nothing more to be done. I, at least, will have nothing to do with any process of going to a Division. The harm that is done will rest on the heads of the Government, and I can only say if they are going to take 87 that course we need some better explanation and justification of this measure than we have had in the two speeches of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. DUKE
If I thought this Bill was ill-calculated to render service to the country in the position in which it stands, I should not hesitate to say so here, for I do not think we are bound to be silent on matters of administration, because there is a Coalition Government. At times occasions will arise when we must criticise even a Coalition Government, and endeavour to restrain or perhaps to spur them on, and there would be little use in the House of Commons assembling here, if it did not come to give its best judgment and its best assistance to those who, I believe, are frankly and with the universal consent of the country at the present time entrusted with the gravest affairs which the country could entrust to any Ministry. But I cannot help thinking in the two speeches of criticism on this Bill to which we have listened, there has been a great deal more than antipathy to the Bill. There has been not merely a covert distrust of the Coalition administration, but an avowed hostility to some of the Members of it. [HON. MEMBERS:"'NO, no!"] When hon. Members challenge that statement I ask them to read tomorrow, in cold blood, the heated address of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker). I would circulate that speech not merely in the Spen Valley, but everywhere where there are British electors to deal with the Government.
Here is a Bill presented by a Coalition Government, not more than three weeks old, and we have just had from a right hon. Gentleman who sits here in default of a more convenient place [HON MEMBERS: "Order, order "] I think hon. Members have misunderstood me. I never have said intentionally an offensive word to any Member of this House or about any Member of this House. [An Hon. MEMBER: "You have done it this time."] I ask the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. M. Robertson) to be assured that I am absolutely satisfied to sit beside him, either on this Bench or on any other Bench in the House, and everybody knows it would have been an impertinence on my part to have challenged his presence here, because we all know that he comes here to discharge his public duties 88 in a spirit of devotion to the public interest. When I spoke of his sitting on this Bench I had no intention to convey the idea that the party with which for long years some of us here have been associated have a monopoly of it, but because I felt, as the right hon. Gentlemen beside me here feel, that if there is no real combination of political action between us, sitting side by side, if there is no real combination and concurrence, then difficulties and differences will arise. Why should I, in this which is still a free Parliament mince my language on a trivial matter of this kind? I decline to do anything of the sort. Personally I am most happy to sit on any Bench in this House. I did not come on this Bench because I sought to come here. I came here because I was bidden and invited to come here, and the right hon. Gentleman and those who have usually taken their seat on the Front Bench on the other side, by force of circumstances must also sit on this particular Bench. But I am not going to be drawn away from my theme.
What I was saying was that the criticism we have had to-day is not criticism of this Bill. It is criticism of the Government. It is criticism of the possibilities of Coalition. This Bill has been described as a futile, extravagant, idle, and absurd measure. These are the terms in which it has been spoken of. Three weeks ago the Administration was formed which presents this, the second or third of the measures which it has been its duty to present. Then one is asked to shut one's eyes to the fact that there are old antagonisms and old political differences. [HON MEMBERS: "Oh, oh !"] Ah, no! We will not have them presented from one quarter and then decently dragged out of sight. These matters can be dealt with frankly one way or the other. We can have hon. and right hon. Gentlemen saying, "Here is a Coalition Government, and even if we think the thing they are doing is not precisely the right thing, we will help, "or we can have hon. and right hon. Gentlemen saying of this Government, "Here is a Coalition Government. I distrust deeply a considerable part of it, and any measure with which I think that part of it is concerned in its real principles I will destroy, even if I destroy that Administration." You cannot carry on the Coalition and you cannot carry on the grave and hazardous business of the War if your mind is warped and broken by considerations of that kind.
89 So the real question here is not whether this is a Bill of a perfect character and of the first consequence and essential to the well-being of the country, but whether this House is going to stand by a body of Gentlemen who have mutually sunk their differences for the common good, and is going to give them that hearty assistance which they tell us they require. I was at the trouble, when the criticisms were launched, to read the names on the back of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Long) is there named. He is President of the Local Government Board. There are three other right hon. Gentlemen who are responsible as sponsors of this Bill—the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland, who will have to administer the Bill in Scotland; the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant; and the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board. This is a local government measure. What for? Is there anything to be found, either in the political antecedents or in the Parliamentary conduct of the two right hon. Gentlemen who were members of the late Government:—the Secretary for Scotland and the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant —that they should be included in a universal condemnation of the Government as having introduced a futile and worthless Bill? I do not believe there is anything. I never was agreed with them on political topics, but I am on this topic—the prosecution of the War, and to every measure which His Majesty's Government, as the result of their combined consideration and bringing their common sense into the common stock to bear, tell me is necessary, I am ready to say "Aye!" About five days ago the Prime Minister, speaking at the Guildhall, said of his country:—We will not make a sacrifice of our public honour and our rights. We will resist, it to the last ounce of our strength, to the last shilling of our means, to the last drop of our blood.That was a very worthy sentiment, nobly expressed, as it was sure to be expressed by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Spen Valley said:—We will do anything for the successful prosecution"—[HON. MEMBKRS: "Not' anything!'"] I will not do any injustice to the right hon. Gentleman. He said:—we will do anything that is necessary for the successful prosecution of this War.Then the right hon. Gentleman qualified it by saying:—Anything necessary or desirable.90 What does that mean? It means that if the individual Member of the House of Commons thinks that a particular step is not necessary and that you can do without it, or because of old prepossessions and predilections he has a natural dislike to it and thinks it undesirable, then necessity does not carry him very far. When the country responds to such a challenge as that of the Chief Minister of the Crown and says, "Everything," it does not make these reservations. We are told that we must not go beyond the sense of the country. No man is more profoundly conscious of that than I am. Many of us have done all we can to take care that measures which may not be appreciated in some quarters as being absolutely required shall not go beyond the amount of sacrifice that the considered judgment of the House may think to be needed. But His Majesty's Government have come here with this Bill for very definite and obvious purposes. There have been two great difficulties in this country of which everybody has been conscious, and for which everybody has reproached somebody else. One has been the most unsatisfactory way in which we have conducted the recruiting of our magnificent Armies so that gallant fellows who ought to be serving elsewhere have found their way either to the front or to the Colours. Everybody deplores it. There are many men among the three millions whose places were not there, although they were eager to make the supreme sacrifice called for by their country. That was want of organisation and want of knowledge. What was the other thing? It was that when His Majesty's Government came to look about and to see how they were going to supply the labour for their factories there was no machinery, there was no knowledge.
What has been the basis of every kind of reasonable organisation since, at any rate, the time of Sir Francis Bacon? It has been knowledge. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to me to be willing to go back before the time of Sir Francis Bacon and to pursue the systems of reasoning by which you arrived at things you did not know from other things you did not understand. The Baconian method has a great advantage, in that it first requires that you should supply yourself with knowledge and, when you had your knowledge, that you might reason upon it and apply it. His Majesty's Government comes here and tells the House of Commons and the 91 country, "We have not got the knowledge we want. We do not know where the men are who ought to serve." What do hon. and right hon. Gentlemen say? Do they say, "We will help you to get it?" By no means. They say, "Some of you have been conscriptionists, and some of you are compulsionists, and we mistrust you, and although there may not be conscription or compulsion in this Bill except for the obtaining of knowledge, we will break you rather than get it." Very well, the country will see to that.
When the right hon. Gentleman said, with perfect sincerity I am sure, because he will not suppose that I am wanting in the personal courtesy to him which has grown up between us for long years in this House—when the right hon. Gentleman said that if conscription were proved to be necessary he, at any rate, would vote it, I was with him, and I believe the country was with him. I believe, with the right hon. Gentleman that at the present time it has not been proved to be necessary. If you had had a proper register of your men twelve months ago your enlistments would have been of a different character. Your recruiting is not over. Nobody believes it is. You are going to deplete some of your units to man your factories. Take that one section in this Bill. I will say nothing about the industries to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. Is there any one of us who has gone into a town who has not seen able-bodied young fellows flaunting their indifference to the public danger? [HON. MEMBERS: "No! "and "Is it Exeter?"] I am not speaking of Exeter or any other town, I am speaking of any town in the country. I am asking hon. Members to consider whether they can go into a town and fail to see that there are young men as to whom they ask themselves, "I wonder what you are doing for your country? If hon. Members are more fortunate than some of us in that respect, very well, it is gratifying it should be so. But it is common knowledge that when you go into the streets you see young men, able-bodied men and unmarried men. [An HON. MEMBER: "HOW do you know?"] You cannot ask them, it is not the lot of the private citizen to ask such a person, "What are you doing for your country?" but Parliament is entitled to entrust His Majesty's Government with the responsibility of putting that question. [An HON. MEMBER: "What then?"] An hon. Mem- 92 ber asks "What then?" I have no doubt about that. When this question is asked 999 men out of 1,000 will make the patriotic answer which they hold back from giving. Great numbers have waited to give it until they were asked. Great numbers are waiting now. There are very few Members of this House who do not know that that is so.
An Englishman has the choice at the present time, as it seems to me, when he is asked on the authority of Parliament, "What are you doing; what can you do for your country? "of saying, "I am doing all I can, "or" I can do something more." I do not anticipate that any considerable number of Englishmen would say, "I am not ready to do all I can, "but the challenge will be useful, and what will be of still greater importance by and by, is that if the question comes of enlisting young men who have shrunk back—you may not conscript them; you may not bring them into your ranks with a squad behind them—you may say to-these young men, "In the judgment of your fellow countrymen and of the Parliament of the Empire it is your duty to serve, "and one will then know how madmen there are who are not ready to do what Parliament tells them is their first duty. We may come to the time at which the right hon. Gentleman thinks it is impossible to arrive, when you may have to consider whether you shall do as Abraham Lincoln did with a people as free as our-own and as ready for service as our own, and when you shall do what other free nations have done. If that time should come, and if the right hon. Gentleman, in that hour of supreme crisis, finds himself without the means of making that appeal, no one would blame the right hon. Gentleman half so bitterly as he himself would deplore the course he had taken, if it were successful, which prevented the making of this register.
There are points in this Bill which no doubt require amending. It is not for a private Member to dogmatise on such a matter, but take the question of the fifteen to sixty-five years of age for women, and even that of fifteen to sixty-five for men. Those are matters which are capable of consideration. They are mere details in the scheme. For my part, I believe the real objections to this scheme are founded upon that Amendment which the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) has had the courage of his opinions to put down on the Order Paper, in which he has 93 based himself upon the suspicion that this is a measure of conscription. He has got the assurance of the Prime Minister that it is no such thing. I trust, and I think I may venture to say that I believe, he will accept that assurance. If the Bill is no such thing as that, would it not be the gravest reproach upon the House of Commons that here, with a new Ministry formed with unprecedented negation of self on the part of its Members, one of the earliest actions of the House of Commons should be to flout its sense of responsibility and to tear up and throw in its face a measure of this kind, of which the worst that can be said by its strongest opponents is that it will not do the good its promoters designed.
§ Mr. DENMAN
(indistinctly heard): I think many hon. Members will regret the tone of a good deal of the last speech. Half a dozen more speeches of that kind would seriously endanger Parliamentary recruiting. We are told, indeed, that we are to accept the Bill merely because it comes from a Coalition Government. If that is true shut up this House once for all. I would make one other observation as to a sentence that fell from the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill. The Government told us that, right or wrong, whatever were the weight of Debate in this House the" Bill was to be forced through. I thought we had passed the time when we merely decided questions by counting of noses emerging from the smoking-room. I thought there had been a new tone in this House during the course of the War, and that people listened to the Debate and considered the weight of arguments and were prepared to meet it. With that prelude I want to go straight to the Bill. We have been told that it would have made a vital difference to the method of recruiting had it been in force when the War broke out. When the War broke out, I, like very many other Members, was at work in a recruiting office, and at that particular point at which we are told this Bill would have made a vital difference it would, in fact, have had no effect whatever. The point is this: We were supposed in the recruiting office to have no sort of power or choice. Some people ought to be recruited and some not, and we are told that many have, in fact, been recruited who should have been kept at their every day work. That is not strictly true, because from the very earliest time we were told not to recruit railway servants unless they could produce a special permit. The same rule, of 94 course, applied to Civil servants. It was perfectly easy for the Government to do what in fact they did with at least two kinds of industry and say that certain people should not be enlisted; and those of us who worked in recruiting offices did our best to fulfil the desires that the Government expressed. A register would have made no difference to that. If we had a register to consult to tell us precisely the number of people engaged in the different trades in any town, what good could that have done to our rejecting a particular applicant because he belonged to a particular trade?
The whole tendency of my argument will be not that we do not want organisation, but that we want better organisation, than this Bill provides. If anyone in this House seriously desires, instead of helping the Coalition Government, to do it the worst injury he can, let him pass this Bill exactly as it stands through all its stages, to-night. I am perfectly sure that the Coalition Government would receive a shock when it passed into law and came into actual operation. I am sorry to call it futile, but I really think that adjective best describes the Bill. Let anyone in this. House attempt to answer this simple question: What conceivable use is there in asking ten million women with no specialised skill to register? Let anyone consider what you would do if you had a. register of only 10,000 names of women with no specialised skill. You would not know what on earth to do with them, and when the Government has a solid mass of indigestible statistics before it it will be in a greater difficulty than it has ever been before. We are told there have been nearly 90,000 women volunteered, of whom, under 3,000 have been placed in work, and the Government have had over three months to do that. Consider what this class of woman includes. We all recognise that there is no class in the community which does harder and more strenuous work than the wives of the industrial class. You are going to ask all these persons what work they are prepared to do to assist in this War, and if they answer "None," they are to be branded as people who will not lend their hand to the country. I can attach no other meaning to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman who proposed the Second Reading of the Bill. The question runs as follows: "Whether he is skilled in and able and willing to perform any work other than the work, if any, on which he is at the- 95 time employed, and, if so, the nature thereof?" What on earth is the normal working-class woman who has a family and a house to answer to that? Of course they are anxious to do everything they can, and, of course, their business is to keep their home, and there is probably precious little else they have leisure for.
The Government would immediately find that people could not conceive what the object of these 10,000,000 women filling up these forms could possibly be. The immediate futility pales before the ultimate futility of this Bill. We were told on the First Reading that one of the objects of the Bill was to help cases of which Sir Evelyn Wood was the type. We all know that that case is the case of hundreds of thousands of people. We all know from our individual experience, in our own constituencies and in our own circle, that dozens of people are in exactly that position. They are anxious to do work, but they have no idea what work they can suitably perform. What exactly will happen under the Bill? Sir Evelyn Wood registers. He is then given what we are told is the badge of honour—a certificate of registration. He then waits probably for four or five months, and he learns that perhaps some 5,000,000 persons are similarly situated. They are all willing to do everything in their power. They are all? willing to sweep crossings. How are they satisfied? Has the Government any scheme to provide work for crossing-sweepers in this way? Let it be supposed even that they have. Let is be supposed that, after this register is compiled, they do suddenly need a thousand crossing-sweepers. Can anyone tell me how this register will help them in selecting this thousand? In point of fact, no document that could be drawn up by a person who is simply making a general observation of their capacities could possibly be of any use to a person who wants to fill a particular job. If any of you have tried to fill up a vacancy from written applications, you know how difficult it is to judge even where people are applying for work that is specified. You are here to have 25,000,000 people applying for nothing in particular and everything in general, and if any of you think that, sitting over these forms, you can reasonably select the best persons for the particular job which may be vacant, you are very optimistic.
Let me add this test. Could the Government have made any practical use 96 of this register in getting munition workers in the course of the last fortnight, because that is crucial? I do not suppose that at any period during the rest of the War we are likely to have so large a demand for labour so suddenly made, therefore, if the register could not have been of substantial use to provide munition workers it is very difficult to justify it at all. Let us suppose that they tried to draw from the register 70,000 munition workers, the register would give them no idea whatever what persons could be spared from the work he is at present doing. It is a great mistake to suppose that amongst the population there are vast numbers of unemployed who could be drawn upon for any work whatever. I was looking at the Census of 1911 to-day, and I observe that the total number of persons unoccupied between the ages of twenty and forty-five was something like 118.000 in all, and that included persons at colleges and students —men. So that you have to face this question. What are you taking a person from in order to put him to new work? The register, it is true, will give you an indication of the class of work on which he has been engaged, but that, of course, is no real test whether that man can really be spared. No doubt it would be possible to draw a large number of persons from the insurance and banking industries of London, but could any of you draw7 from the register the right sort of person for the work that you want? It is only by going to the trade itself and saying, "What persons can you spare, and who are they? "that you can ever make a wise transference of persons from one industry to another.
While I am criticising the Bill I think the argument we were given in its support is worth mentioning, that people would regard a certificate as a badge of honour. I dislike the idea of being told that some 25,000,000 of civilians in England and Wales can earn a badge of honour by registering themselves. The difficulty, of course, will be for anyone to escape this badge of honour. There are four ways of escaping it. You may be under fifteen or over sixty-five, you can emigrate to Ireland, or you can pay a fine of £5 and £l for each extra day in which you decline to accept this particular honour. I think when we find a scheme put forward with an argument or suggestion of that kind we cannot help feeling that some dust is being thrown in the eyes of the public. What really is the problem which we have 97 to solve? I suggest that it is no use our trying to find what our resources of men are before we find out what is the need for which we want them. It is putting the cart before the horse. Obviously there must be some relationship between the wants of the State and the means of satisfying those wants. After all, the Government start with an advantage in knowing what the resources are. As the right hon. Gentleman has told us, the Census of 1911 is also the Census of production. The Census of 1911 can, with very little margin of error, be brought up to date, and if you subtract from the occupations revealed in that Census the occupations of those who have enlisted you will find with a great degree of accuracy the numbers of persons in different occupations now available for the service of the State. That being so, it is surely futile merely to compile this enormous register without any idea of your needs. I suggest that there is one fundamental act which the Government must commit if there is to be any organisation whatever of our national resources, and that is, they must make up their minds as to the relative value in the State of the different classes of occupations. In this Bill the Government puts one very difficult question to the community; it asks them this question: "Are you serving any war purpose?" Do any hon. Members feel sure that they could answer that question with certainty about people they know in industries?
Let us take a few cases. The farmer whose hay is going to be used for military purposes is obviously serving a war purpose. Do you agree that the farmer whose cattle are about to feed the civilian population is serving a war purpose? Is that agreed? I believe it is generally agreed that the farmer under such circumstances is serving a war purpose. Then is the retailer who supplies the wife of the soldier with meat in London serving a war purpose? These are not merely academic questions; they really cut to the heart of the whole problem. Is Lord Kitchener's cook serving a war purpose? Surely the more you consider the question of what is and what is not a war purpose, the more you will realise that the real question is not the directness of the relationship between work and war, but the value of the work in the social organisation. If you admit that, you will surely also agree that it is a question which it is impossible for the individual or even for the class to 98 which he belongs to judge aright. It is not for the man in the bank, the farmer, and the retailer to say, "We are serving a war purpose. "They simply will not know. It is for the Government to take the whole of industry into their view and to say that certain industries are important and certain industries are not important, and then to decide that from certain industries men can be drawn, and from certain industries they must on no account be drawn. That is preliminary to any successful organisation, and it is because this Bill postpones that and sets people thinking of quite different things that I say it is throwing dust in the eyes of the people. Let us see how the Government might work the problem if they decided upon the relative values of different industries. I learned, for example, from the Census of 1911 that there were 8,000 journalists between the age of fifteen and forty-five. Are they serving a war purpose? Let us say that 3,000 have enlisted. The Government could then decide, what I profoundly believe, that journalists could hasten peace by going to the front. They could invite journalists to send a thousand more of their number to help either in industrial purposes or in enlistments for the Army. The same would apply to brewers. There are 18,000 brewers, according to the 1911 Census, between the age of fifteen and forty-five, and it would be for them to call upon the trade to say what proportion the State could reasonably ask from that trade to serve the national purposes.
I repeat that my objection to this Bill is that it does nothing in the way of organisation. It takes the people's minds from what is essential, namely, that the Government should decide what occupations are desirable. If they decide upon the occupations, and if they make a call upon the people in those occupations, I have not the least doubt that they will once more have the experience which they have had on every occasion during the War. Whenever they have asked anything from the country they have always had an immediate response more than fulfilling what they asked. If they simply lull the State to sleep with this soporific of a national register and get everybody during the next five months wondering what the register is going to prove, they are delaying the organisation which is vital to the State and which I would like them to take at the earliest possible moment.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Hayes Fisher)
The hon. Member who has just concluded his speech reproved my right hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke) for the tone of his speech. I think he might have spent a little time, if he wanted to speak about the tone of speeches, in reproving the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker) for the violent and vituperative attack which he made on his own Prime Minister. I confess that I have been most disappointed with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley. I expected from him a reasonable speech to show how this Bill was a bad Bill. Instead of that I had to sit here and listen while he spent his time in showing that the War has been grossly mismanaged. In fact, he said the whole conduct of the War had been deplorable from first to last, and he spent his time in making a bitter and violent attack upon the late Government and not upon the present Government. The Prime Minister can very well defend himself. At all events, I am authorised to say that for this Bill, like all other Bills which pass the Cabinet, the Prime Minister is responsible with the other Members of the Cabinet. When the right hon. Gentleman listens to gossip about divisions in the Cabinet, that there have been divisions about the inclusion of women, and that there have been divisions about other matters, let me tell him that there has been no division whatever about the inclusion of women in this Bill. When this Bill was introduced by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Walter Long) it is quite true women were not included, but the Cabinet were unanimous about the inclusion of women. That is a matter which I can pursue afterwards.
The hon. Member who has just sat down made another very unfair complaint about my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board. The President of the Local Government Board never said anything which could lead anybody to suggest that he thought that this House was not entitled to amend or criticise the details of this Bill. Quite to the contrary. The hon. Member says, "If you are going to pass this Bill through the House through all its stages now, you will have an awful shock." I think the Government would deserve to have an awful shock if they tried to pass this Bill through all its stages to-night. My right hon. Friend said, "We are bound to support 100 the general principle of this Bill, the root principle of this Bill, and that is, compulsory national registration." He not only did not deprecate criticism but he invited criticism from Members, and he said he had very little doubt that, as regards the form of the questions and various other matters, the Bill could be considerably improved by criticism. That is the position which my right hon. Friend and the Government take up. Therefore, when the hon. Member thinks that the Government would get a shock if they tried to pass this Bill through all its stages to-night, I reply, "So do I. "Let me assure him that he and those who join with him in any attempt to destroy this Bill, if they succeed in destroying it and succeed in destroying confidence in the Government which has produced it, will undoubtedly have a shock which it will be very difficult to exaggerate, and the security of the country will have a shock from which I doubt whether it will easily recover. I admit that it is necessary to argue this Bill in a conciliatory spirit and to meet the arguments advanced against it. What about the conciliatory spirit in the opening speech in which the House was asked to reject the Bill?
Let us look what case can be made out for this Bill. Let us recollect the words used not long ago by the Prime Minister, words which were quoted by my right hon. Friend when he introduced this Bill. The Prime Minister said:—We have for the moment one plain paramount duty to perform, to bring to the service of the State the willing and organised help of every class in the Kingdom.A few days after the Minister of Munitions used these words:—I think the situation is too grave, much too grave very much too grave.Those words were almost repeated, but put into different language, by another Cabinet Minister in another place when he said:—The situation is one of great anxiety, and it is not unfair to speak of this country as being in grave peril.It is under these circumstances that this Bill is brought forward, and we have to consider it from the point of view of the possible emergency that might arise in a few months time. If that emergency were to arise, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley says, that if conscription were proposed he himself would consent to it. Well, we might not even then have conscription, but it does not require very much imagination to see the time when every available male might 101 have to go into the fighting line and into the trenches. Would it not be a good thing then if we had the information before us by which we could say, "Here are so many men of such and such an age, so many are married, so many are widowers, and so many are not married." Then we could tell how many people were dependent upon them, and we could tell from the records of the industry in which they were engaged whether they were engaged in national industries, namely, industries which are necessary to be carried on; industries like electric works, gas works, water-works, sewage works, and so on. Then in regard to agriculture, we could see how many were engaged in that necessary industry. We could see how many were engaged in shipping and how many in the milling industry; how many engaged in transport, how many in coal mines, and in fact how many are engaged in all those industries which must be carried on. That information would be valuable and useful in any case whether there is any emergency or whether there is not. That information is not available at present. We are told, "Look at the Census of 1911." The right hon. Gentleman the former Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Trade (Mr. J. M. Robertson) said, "We have got the Census." But the Census is four years old. The removals under the Census are not kept from time to time, and that Census does not serve the purpose because it is not a local census. What we want to know is, Where are those people? In what locality do they live? The is no good in saying that you have so many million agricultural labourers. You want to know whether they are shepherds, dairymen, or flock-men, and then you want to see in what locality they are.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I am aware that the Census will not give me that information. In reference to the suggestion that this Bill should not include women, after all does it require any very great imagination to suppose that we may have to deal with a situation in which many things which are now done by men will have to be done by women? There will be, and indeed there is to-day, a very great shortage of male labour. It is quite possible that a very large amount of the teaching in our schools which is now done 102 by men will have to be done by women. A large amount of agricultural labour which is now done by men will have to be done by women, and work in many industries will have to be done by women and not by men in order that all available men may go and do something else, and that is fight for the women and fight for the children. Without some such national register as this, you will not have that information. You may know that in the country there are so many million women between certain ages. You will not know where they are to be got, and where you can lay hand upon them in the time of reorganisation which may be necessary if the pinch really comes. It will not do simply to mark time and then suddenly find ourselves face to face with an emergency, and be reproached by the people, as more than one Government has been reproached by the people, in those awful words, "Too late, too late! "This great reorganisation of society and industrial effort cannot well be made unless we have some such information as will be furnished by some such census.
Some hon. Members may say, "We are not going to be scared into this. You were talking about an emergency. We do not believe it." I am not at all sure that we have not lived too much on complacent optimism. I am not at all sure that it would not be well for us, and for the people in these Islands, to face the possibility of an emergency a little more than we face it at the present time. But I make out a case for this Bill, and for the information which it will give, quite apart from the question of emergency. There are many uses to which the information might be put, quite apart from emergency. There is now, and there will be later on, a great shortage of male labour, and a great necessity to appoint female labour. Already, in Oxfordshire, an actual poll is being taken of all female labour available for agriculture. This Bill will stimulate that kind of inquiry, and many other kinds. Women already are doing clerks' work, work in factories, and in market gardens, and, in our school clinics, some of the doctors who are doing the best work, in place of men who have been taken away to hospitals, are women, and women are also doing a great deal in the direction of infant welfare work. All that information requires tabulation, which will be completed when the figures are arranged for the different areas, so that anyone wanting information can go down to a 103 certain area and look at the result of the local registration and discover what he wants.
Many hon. Members have said that there is growing a problem quite as great as the problem connected with the actual fighting. That is the problem which is to come after the War, the problem of reabsorbing the immense army of civilian soldiers who have left civilian occupations and who have to be reabsorbed once again into civilian industries. There, again, I believe that the information yielded by a census of this kind will be of very great value for the purpose of migration and emigration, and it would be all the more valuable if the Dominions were to set on foot such a registration, which they would be very likely to do if they got a lead from the home Parliament, and then we should have a national register in the Dominions also. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman who represented the Board of Trade up to a month ago devoted part of his time, when he was at the Board of Trade, to the revival in this country of certain industries, such as dyeing, and to the capture from Germany of certain industries, of which she had a monopoly. That will be a subject of much debate in this House. I know from my own knowledge that the question of establishing carbon works in connection with electrical undertakings is one of importance. The London County Council has set up a school with the object of capturing trades and industries which were lost to this country for many years. There, again, I believe it is going to be of great value to any group of capitalists who are thinking of putting up a factory, if they could consult such a register as I hope will be established in every leading industrial centre, so that they could see that there was available there so much labour of a certain kind, accustomed to a certain kind of work.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
Ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley about it.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Then I may refer to the ease of the widows and orphans. There are already 14,000 widows as a result of this War, and I am afraid that there may be more than double that number before this War comes to an end. There, again, it may be useful to know, not how many there are, but whether certain localities will give a surplus which might be useful in certain classes of work. I think that this measure will be exceedingly useful when we resume, as I hope we shall resume after the War, various social activities and social reforms. I believe that a good case has been made out for this Bill. Considerable benefit undoubtedly arises from it. Who objects to it? Certain people, criminals, females of uncertain age, shirkers and slackers, undoubtedly. Beyond those, who really are likely to object to this Bill? The arguments against this Bill are exceedingly flimsy. Compulsion. That my right hon. Friend has dealt with already. Compulsion we have from the cradle to the grave. If hon. Members will only look at the next Bill with which the Government is about to proceed they will sec that not only have we compulsion from the cradle to the grave, but that hereafter parents are to be compelled to register the births of their children before they have been put into the cradle.
The hon. Member for North Somerset is one of the objectors to this Bill, yet he would be one of the first to fill up the form, and by his filling up the form we should arrive at the knowledge of his qualifications which we certainly did not possess before. We all knew him as a very skilful obstructor at times to legislation, and we all knew him as famous for attendance in the House. But what we did not know was that he was skilful as a motorist. But there he reveals himself as a skilful motorist, and so we shall find many men who will be most useful, not only in this way but for keeping on the industries of the country in directions of which we knew nothing before. I do not know of any particular arguments against the Bill which remain to be dealt with. The hon. Member who has just sat down merely made Committee points. Some of these points will be very carefully considered in Committee. I was glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman opposite did not intend to go to a Division. I hope sincerely that there will be no Division on this Bill, and that hon. Members will place no obstacle in the way of what I believe to be universally the desire on the part 105 of our countrymen to give any help that is possible to the country in the present time of crisis. Infinite good, to my mind, may come from this Bill. No harm can come from it. It is the first step in the national organisation of this country, and that step, I hope, we shall all of us take to-night with one accord.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Colonel SHARMAN-CRAWFORD
I hope that I may crave the indulgence of the House on this my first attempt to make a few remarks. I thought it right to get leave for a couple of days from my military duties to come over to explain a point which differs completely from the aspects of the Bill that have already been laid before you. I represent the largest constituency in Ireland, a constituency of workmen, most of whom at the present time are employed in the large shipbuilding yards of Belfast, those of Messrs. Workmen, Clark, and Harland and Wolff. So far as they are concerned, there is no need for registration, because for some months past they have been working day and night on Government work. I am proud to say that there has been brought against them no accusation such as has been brought against workmen in other parts of the Kingdom. They, at any rate, have got a clean sheet; but so far as my Constituents, and those who live in the part of Ireland from which I come are concerned there was a bombshell thrown into their midst last week, and they have all been asking the question, "Why is Ireland left out of this Bill?" I am not posing as the leader of Ireland. I am not posing as the leader of policy, but as an Irishman I believe that, as a whole, Irishmen would welcome the Bill. But if it is the policy of the Government that Ireland should not be included, still there are large areas in Ireland where the workmen wish to register, and where they would consider it an insult if they were not registered. There is, if I may use the word, a certain hermaphrodite power conferred on His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant. That power is useless, because it only gives him the power of the Registrar-General to collect information which is absolutely useless. What I desire to do in my few words to-night is to press on the Government that where there are large areas of working men and working women in my part of the world they shall be registered in those places, and that as members of the United Kingdom and citizens of the British Empire, having the 106 same privileges and desiring the same opportunities of being able to serve our country, the same obligations should be put upon us as upon those who are in England or in Scotland.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The burden of the hon. and gallant Member's speech has been to represent the personal anxiety there is supposed to be over the whole of the United Kingdom to register; and the right hon. Gentleman who is connected with the Local Government Board stated that he was quite convinced that there was a universal volume of feeling in the country in support of this measure. As everybody is so anxious to register, may I put this question to the right hon. Gentleman: The Board of Trade last March issued an invitation to women to register themselves at Labour Exchanges for special war service. We have had this afternoon an answer to a question which was put, and the reply disclosed the fact that up to date less than 90,000 out of 13,000,000 of women in the United Kingdom between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five have so registered. I do not deny—and I do not raise this point for the purpose of denying—the anxiety of the people to render war service. But the reason why there is no faith in the country behind such a proposal as this is that the people have no belief in the capacity of the Government to utilise the services of those whom they register. Recurring again to the answer given to a question this afternoon, 87,000 women registered up to the 25th June.
This registration has been going on for more than three months. When the Board of Trade, acting on behalf of the Government, issued an appeal three months ago, they surely must have considered what they were going to do with the responses made to that appeal, and, after three months, we are told to-day that 2,600 of the women—presumably very eligible women and very enthusiastic women—have had their services utilised by the Government Department. I am quite sure that innumerable offers of service to the Government have been made by women who, in some cases, were treated with the most serious discourtesy. A correspondent, a man of extraordinary organising capacity, tells me in a letter:—I have offered my services in six directions. In the case of two, no reply: one, a badly stereotyped letter unsigned; the remainder, none accepted.I know a mechanical engineer who has not even got a reply. [An HON. MEMBER: 107 "What was the date of the letter?"] The date of that letter is the 18th of June. I can give to the House a letter of a more recent date, received from one of my Constituents this morning. The letter is pertinent, despite the writer's age, when we remember that this Bill proposes to register all who are between fifteen and sixty-five years of age. He says:—I am sorry to tell you that some time before the War broke out my son asked me to let him join the Special Reserve. After carefully thinking it over, I gave my consent. When the War broke out he was called up. He has been in France six months, fighting for his King and country. He has been wounded twice during that time, and he is still there, just recovering from gas poisoning. He got married three weeks before the War broke out and wife gets Government allowance. I am sorry to tell you that I have been out of work eleven weeks, owing: to the Government not letting the corporation have any money this ear. I have tried to get work under the Government, but I have failed up to now. I am a strong healthy man at my time of life, which is 64 years, Will you be so kind to use your influence in trying to get me work in the munition works for the Government as Mr. Lloyd George is clamouring for men? I am nearly starving for the want of bread. I beg to offer my services to the Government for anything I can do, as there are only two ways open to me—work or starve, which I think is very hard on me to be in this position through no fault of my own, while my son is fighting at the front for his King and country.I want to know what the Government are doing and what they have been doing in order to utilise the services of women volunteers, and until they can come to this House and say that they have fully absorbed the voluntary offers that have been made to them they have no right to ask for such compulsory powers as are demanded in this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hayes Fisher) said that the arguments which had been advanced in opposition to this Bill were of a flimsy character. At any rate, they are arguments, and that cannot be said in regard to anything which has been advanced from that bench in support of this Bill. The President of the Local Government Board introduced the measure last week under the Ten Minutes' rule. He spent nine and a half minutes in general platitudes about the need for national service; he spent one and a half minutes in dealing with the provisions of this Bill. This afternoon, in dealing with an objection which he said he had seen urged in the Press, that there was no need for this Bill, and in reply to the question what did the Government propose to do with this register, he had no answer whatever to make. He himself put the question, "To what use are we going to put this register?" He could make no answer to that, and all he could say was that the 108 Government was going to appoint a Committee to see if anything can be done. Upon a case like that this House is asked to sanction an interference with the customs and liberties of the people unparalleled in the history of this country.
This Bill has been compared with the Prussian Bill, but at any rate there is always a motive behind what is done in Prussia, and what the Government of Prussia do in the way of regulating and organising the people is always done in the interests of the Government of Prussia; but the Government of this country, in proposing similar regulations here, have not been able to advance a single reason in support of their proposal. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hayes Fisher) made a quotation from a speech by the Prime Minister on the occasion of the introduction of the Bill:—Everybody is willing to serve. Tell us what we are to do, and we will do it.If that be so, why this compulsory registration proposal of the Government today? All they have to do is to say to the nation, "We want your services," and these willing people will come forward. Another point advanced by the right hon. Gentleman—and this is indication of the businesslike way in which the material supplied by this register will be used — was contained in a quotation in regard to Sir Evelyn Wood, who said:—Tell me what to do. Is it crossing-sweeping—give me a broom.Is that what the Government are going to do? Are they going to put generals to sweep crossings? Are they going to have crossing-sweepers to manage the War? [HON. MEMBER: "Oh, oh !"] That is not at all incredible when we consider the gross mismanagement of the War so far. I am quite sure that those who support this Bill cannot be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last. Behind everything he said was the idea of compulsion. I must say that this Bill, when it becomes an Act of Parliament, will be absolutely useless, unless there is compulsion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Exeter implied the same thing. He spoke of apparently active young men, seen in the street, who did not appear to be rendering war service. How is he going to get them to render war service? He can only do it by compelling them to render it. The idea of compulsion has run through every speech in support of the Bill this afternoon, but it has been left to 109 the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board to admit that this is the ulterior motive of the Bill.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I have his words. He was speaking of military necessity, and he said, 'The time is not far distant when we may need to call upon these people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] He went on to urge, as a reason for the Bill, that the register would be valuable for that purpose when the need arose. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Exeter made what was in the nature of an appeal to me to withdraw the Amendment which I have upon the Paper, or rather to renounce the suggestion contained in that Amendment, and the ground upon which he urged me to do so was the answer given this afternoon by the Prime Minister, to whom I do not want to impute bad faith. Men are the victims of circumstances and forces over which they have no control. And when the Prime Minister made that reply this afternoon, my mind went back to a reply given from that Bench about six weeks ago. A question was asked one Wednesday afternoon of the Prime Minister, as to whether it would not be advisable that a Coalition Government should be formed. The Prime Minister replied:—I do not think it would be in the public interests. No such step is contemplated.The very words used in giving a reply to the question this afternoon, and yet within five days of that answer having been given in this House, that such a step was not contemplated, and that such a step would not meet with the approval of this House, the Prime Minister, for the purpose of forming a Coalition Government, had the resignation of every Member of his Government in his pocket. Therefore in face of that we are asked to accept the assurance that there is no ulterior motive of compulsory military service behind this Bill. I have never looked with favour upon this Coalition Government, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman's strictures fell upon a hard heart and deaf ears so far as I am concerned. I know the genesis of this Government. I know that this Government are not free agents and that the man who destroyed the last Government continues to dictate the policy of this Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who is it'! "and" Name!"] Lord Northcliffe, of course! Hon. Members during the last 110 few weeks would have seen that the "Times" newspaper and other organs owned by the same proprietor have been demanding this Bill, and it fulfils their demands to the very letter. Practically every Clause of the Bill has for weeks been demanded in the "Times" newspaper. May I just in support of that make one or two quotations from the "Times"? But before I do so may I refer to one other strong cause which has been behind this Bill? The National Service League held their annual meeting a few weeks ago. Lord Milner was in the chair, and after a long wail of compulsory service he went on to say:—It was no small matter that the most eloquent exponent of national service should now be a member of the Cabinet.Is it too great a stretch of imagination to connect the presence in the Cabinet of "the most eloquent exponent of national service" with the Bill which we are now asked to approve of? Lord Milner went on to say that the time was inopportune to press the full programme of the league, and they must work diplomatically. He urged just such a proposal as this and continued:—That was no reason why they, as individuals, should not do all they possibly could to get with the least possible delay what was essential to success and even to salvation national service in the broadest sense for the duration of the War …Something better than the present haphazard method was needed, if we are not presently to run short of men.There you have the connection again— national service, not for industrial purposes. The idea of compulsory service for military purpose is always dominating the minds of these men. He went on to say:—At the present time the cry is all for munitions, but if there is one thing the War ought to have taught us it is to look ahead and that you cannot afford to think of only one thing at a time. Six or nine months hence the want of material might have been made good, and the great cry once more be for men. Should we not even now be preparing to get them?I need not argue the point further, as the contention I am urging is accepted by the supporters of the Bill that this Bill is to form the basis of compulsory national service—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]— should the need arise a few months hence. What did the "Times" say on the 31st May last? After a long wail as to the urgency of compulsory national service, they said:—In a work of this sort the first necessity is to possess an accurate register of every able-bodied male in the United Kingdom, a record of the work for which he is best fitted, and the moans by which his address can always be known so that he may be called upon without delay to any duty allotted to him by the Government. We must deal as harshly with strikers who throw down their tools as with soldiers who desert in the field.111 A few weeks ago some people recommended that the leaders of strikes ought to be brought out and shot.It is only by applying to all the principle of personal obligation to serve the State that we can take powers which will enable labour at home to become as disciplined as labour in the field. We can if Ave please, return to our old habits after the War.So recently as the 25th June, in an introduction on this Bill, the "Times" said:—We need hardly say how much we welcome the announcement that Mr. Walter Long will introduce next week a Bill for the creation of a National Register. It is a measure for which we have always pressed.Hon. Members, no doubt, read the leading article in the "Times" of last Friday on this Bill. It was headed, "How to Answer Mr. Long. "It suggested that, probably, some hon. Member opposite would move an Amendment making this the statutory answer:—I am willing to serve my country in any capacity whatever which the Government decide to be more useful than my present work.'"In any capacity. "I am extremely grateful for the support of my contention that this is intended as a means of imposing compulsory military service. [HON. MEMBERS "NO, no!"] Of course, before we get the Bill people like Lord Milner and advocates of compulsory military service speak vaguely. They did so about the Munitions Bill, but the moment that Bill became law the "Times" spoke out more definitely and emphatically. Hon. Members will remember how, last week, trade union leaders were beshowered with compliments, and were told that they represented the rank and file of the country. Let us see what the "Times" said on Saturday, when they had got the Bill:—The labour position is not to be trusted whatever, the`leaders'"—in inverted commas—may say, but now that the Munitions Act is in being and the way clear we are hopeful that Mr. Lloyd George and his staff will not be long in producing a real and great improvement.I submit that the ulterior purpose of this Bill has not been disclosed, because if there was no motive behind the Bill than that which is disclosed in it, then such a Bill could not possibly have emanated from any other source than Bedlam. What are the principal proposals of this Bill? It proposes to register every person between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five. Why sixty-five? Why stop at sixty-five? I see an announcement in the papers today that Lord Fisher has accepted a very important position. He is much more 112 than sixty-five. I am at present a member of a Royal Commission that is taking evidence into the constitution of legal bodies, and if hon. Members will refer to the published evidence they will find that it is there very strongly and frequently contended that a man intellectually is at his best over seventy years of age. Why exclude this great-reserve of effective, efficient and useful public service? Then, if this Bill is to become law, there is another reason why I would like to see the age extended to seventy-five, and it is this: This War is really an old man's War in the sense that it is the old men who are responsible—and I am speaking not merely of old men in this country, but of old men in all the countries which are affected by the War—it is the policy which the old men have been carrying on and have been supporting through practically the whole of their lifetime which is responsible for the War. You propose to register everybody between fifteen and sixty-five, and I understand that something like 25,000,000 returns will be supplied. It has taken the Government three months to find employment for just over 2,000 out of 87,000 women, and how long is it going to take them to organise, to allot, to apportion in positions of most useful national service 25,000,000 persons? Why, the thing is too absurd and too ridiculous!
Grave penalties are to be imposed for any violations of the provisions of this Act. A boy of fifteen years is asked to state the nature of his employer's business, and then there is that very peculiar question which the Times "wants to see amended in some way and which asks if they are already serving the Government in some way. What are members of Parliament going to say in reply to that? [An HON. MEMBER: "What will you say?"] I have thought very seriously about it, and I have formed in my own mind an answer to it which will be satisfactory to the Government, I think. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is it?" and another HON. MEMBER: "Wait and see!"] Then there is the other question, "Are you employed upon work which is for any Government Department or otherwise serving war purposes?" Are the cotton operatives, in whom I am specially interested, serving war purposes? Surely the production of cotton goods is necessary. Our soldiers need to be clothed; our civilian population working directly for war purposes need to be clothed. Every man and every woman who is already employed 113 in the productive occupation—the production of food, clothing, or other necessary goods—is indirectly engaged upon war service. You have those who are employed in doing domestic work which is quite necessary in order to support those who are engaged in the field or in the factory. Do you expect people who are not accustomed to filling up forms to be able to answer questions of this character and for which there is a penalty if they are not accurately filled up? I find that the rural and district council is one of the registration authorities. My home in Yorkshire is in the district represented by the hon. Member for the Skipton Division (Mr. Clough), which comprises forty-eight quite rural parishes, some of which are nearly twenty miles from a railway station. According to this Bill as it stands, if a person living so far away from the centre has not filled in the form correctly he is summoned to the registration office, and if he fails to obey he has to pay £5 fine and a fine of £l for every day he delays. Do the Government really think that this inquisition and all this irritation is going to make the War more popular? Now I say with all seriousness, and I do not want to be misunderstood, that if I had wanted to make this War unpopular I can imagine nothing which would suit my purpose better than the passing of a Bill like this. I say to the Government, I repeat in all seriousnes, that they may by such legislation as this achieve a purpose which will be disastrous to the success of our arms in the field, and I am sure whatever our opinions may be about the prosecution of the War and its causes, there is no one of us who wants to see that as the result of the War. I might go further, but I do not think it is necessary. My main point has been that this is a surrender by the Government to this agitation which has been going on outside the House for all these months, and the appetite grows on what it feeds upon. They have succeeded in their first demand. This will not be the last. There is no doubt about it that if this Bill becomes an Act, and if this register be compiled then at once a violent Press agitation will be begun for the use of the material of this register for the purpose of enforcing compulsory military service.
§ Sir ALFRED MOND
The hon. Member who has just addressed the House concluded his speech with the remark that he, like all others, wished success to our Army in this War. I must honestly con- 114 fess that the first part of his speech would not have led me to that belief. What was the first part of the lengthy speech the hon. Member made in opposition to this Bill? An attack on the Government for introducing a Bill which is not necessary for the safety of the country, for better organisation, but merely because Lord Northcliffe, whom the hon. Member seems to have on the brain, and extracts from whose paper he read at tedious length, has demanded such a Bill. His opposition was based on the fact that Lord Northcliffe and the National Service League had stated that if the Bill passed it might lead to compulsory service. Does he think that when words of this character gout to the country and he represents that the Government of the day is under the thumb of Lord Northcliffe and the National Service League, and that the Prime Minister's word is worth nothing, that is going to conduce to the success of our arms at the front or inspire confidence in our people? Does he think that they wish to hear language of that kind? And that was the main bulk of his speech, and of a great many more of those who opposed this Bill. The opposition is inspired by the fear that it might aid compulsory service. This is not the occasion on which to enter into the question of compulsory service or not, but I will ask this, Is there a man in this House who, if the responsible Government of the day came down to the House and said that in order to save the Empire compulsory service was necessary, would have the courage, or wickedness, to vote against such a proposal? If there is not such a man, what is the object in opposing a Bill which, if such a demand became necessary, would facilitate its satisfaction? It seems to me absolutely futile to argue at one moment, "I am not opposed to compulsory service if necessary," and then, "I am opposed to a step which may at some future date facilitate something for which I will vote. "That is what we have heard in the speeches this afternoon. The hon. Member went on in the later part of his speech to make some amusing remarks about men over seventy and seventy-five, but that is only a very small Committee point to raise on an occasion like this. You can always raise them at any time, at whatever age you fix, and can be always equally humorous and equally unsuccessful.
Then we have heard of the penalty Clause. How often we have heard of the £5. I remember when we sat on the other side, and the Land Taxes were introduced. 115 we were always told by the Opposition the enormous penalties what would be imposed on people who did not fill in the form, though they knew this £5 penalty could not be imposed by any reasonable people in any just circumstances. I do not think that argument is worth a moment's consideration. I do not believe the people of this country are so little ready to follow the Government that the War will become unpopular because you ask them to fill up a very simple form. What is the good of all this wild train of argument as to what are war purposes and what are not? You can argue with dialectical skill, like the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Denman), as to what is and what is not a war purpose. Surely simple-minded people would not find the difficulty so great, that they would not consider working for an armament firm or a Government Department a war purpose and not working for a civilian purpose; and they would not set up an elaborate House that Jack Built, and say that if I grow hay and it goes to feed a horse that pulls a milk-cart, and the milk goes to feed somebody who works at Woolwich Arsenal, that, therefore, that hay is for a war purpose. If we are living with people who think like that we had better abandon the War and any other intelligent enterprise. The Bill, the idea of which I have supported publicly before it was introduced, and the introduction of which I welcome, will, I think, assist us very greatly in the future. It ought to have been introduced long ago. The hon. Member for Tyneside (Mr. J. M. Robertson), in a very able speech, said that the military system of conscription in France had not saved them from the trouble of taking men away from industries where they were wanted for the ranks. No, but the French military system never had a register of industry at all. It ignores civil life altogether. How about the German military system? Will he tell me that a single man has been enlisted from Krupp's and sent to the Front?
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
No, but from other firms. I do not speak from personal knowledge, but I have seen it stated that they have brought back men from the Front who had gone from munition areas.
§ Sir A. MOND
I believe they did do that, but because they wanted more men afterwards than they had thought at the beginning would be necessary. But they did not enlist men who were actually en- 116 gaged in making munitions when the War broke out. Therefore it does not follow that your compulsory system is bad because it is unintelligently applied, and that consequently a voluntary system is good. A register of this kind will not necessarily achieve a great deal, but it will achieve something. It will at any rate tell us what we have, and where we have got it, and I do not see it is any use referring to an old census or a census of production now many years old. I agree with the hon. Member for Carlisle that we ought to have, in addition to a register of men, a register of industry. One is complementary to the other. You want a register of industry, so that you can tell what industries shall be continued or not. You must have a register of people to know where the people are. You want both to achieve a useful object. Let me point out—and we do not yet seem to apprehend the seriousness of the position we are in—that we shall arrive at a stage when we cannot carry on the whole of our industries as we have in the past. Indeed, everybody engaged in industry knows that stage is arriving with every 100,000 men taken away from industry and sent to the front. The Government must make up their mind, and theirs must be the responsibility of saying what industries are necessary to be carried on for war or trade purposes, and which industries can be best discontinued. They cannot ask any private individual to do that. They cannot ask anybody however patriotic they may be to close their works. The decision is the most serious thing the Government can undertake.
I think myself that this Bill will assist in this matter. I think it will give a great deal of help if intelligently applied. It is no use telling me that because up to now we have not been able to utilise people who have offered themselves that in the future organisation will not be useful. We all have dozens of applications from people who want to be useful to the Government in one capacity or another, and I am glad to say I have been more successful than the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden), as I have brought together some willing workers and willing employers in Government work. We know a great number of people are applying now who are unsuitable for the job on which they want to be employed. The register will undoubtedly enable you to ascertain what they can do and will enable you undoubtedly to avoid people from all over the country wanting to be employed 117 in another place when there is employment for them at their doors. I do not think the register intelligently handled ought to take an enormous time to compile. With the organisation to be used and with a canvass such as is made at an election it ought not to take at all long to get all these particulars filled up. At any rate it can do no harm, and in some cases it can do good. We have passed a good deal of legislation through this House which has done a great deal of harm. I say the Bill will do no harm, and it may do good. The Government are responsible to the House and the nation for this Bill, and that seems to me a sufficiently good reason for supporting it. I think it is a very grave responsibility which is taken in this House by Members who cannot possibly have—I have not got —the full data of our needs, the requirements, and considerations on which this Bill is based, in criticising, and shaking the confidence of the people outside in the wisdom of those who are guiding them. It is a very grave responsibility. They suggest that such a Bill could only be introduced in Bedlam. Remarks of that kind are entirely futile and useless. Remarks of that kind in ordinary times do not do much harm. We are all used to them. But at a time like this I submit it is almost criminal to use language of that kind which encourages our enemies, which disgusts our Allies, unsettles neutrals, and disheartens our own people.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I am not surprised to hear the speech to which we have just listened from the right hon. Gentleman. He is a great admirer of German methods. He is a great student of German literature and German life. He is, I believe, an ardent supporter of conscription or compulsory military service, and therefore I am not surprised to find that he is a supporter of this Bill. I confess that I should like to be able to support this Bill. I have been ever since the War has started a firm and ardent supporter of everything that the Government has proposed to do in order to carry on the War successfully. Even now if I thought there was nothing more in this Bill than appears on its face—though I could not be a supporter of what seems to me to be rather an ineffective way of carrying out the national register—I would be found amongst its supporters. It is, however, perfectly obvious from every speech we have listened to to-day in support of this 118 Bill, from every article which has been published in the newspapers in support of this Bill, that there is an ulterior motive and object, and that this is only one step towards that object. What did the "Spectator" say only last Saturday? Let me quote one sentence:—It is obvious that the National Register is only a piece of machinery. It is a means, and not an end in itself. In our opinion, it will ultimately be used to provide that compulsion without which the nation will find it impossible to get through the War with a due respect to justice and efficiency, just as did the United States in the Civil War.My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter, I think, echoed the same sentiments to-day when he referred to the example of Abraham Lincoln, who, in 1865, coerced the people of New York— at any rate he compelled the people in New York at an expenditure of much blood to enlist in the Federal Armies. That is really the objection we on this side of this House have, and that is the objection that the people of this country, too, will have to this measure. What is the use of this Bill by itself? It cannot be of any use either for the prosecution of the War, or for the mobilisation of labour in this country, unless it is followed by some method of compulsion? This is a Prussian way of organising and mobilising our national life. What are the German papers saying about our feeble imitation of their methods? Last Saturday, in the "Times," there was an extract from a German newspaper, the "Frankfurt Zei-tung. "This is their comment upon this Bill, a comment, too, which is echoed this morning by the late Berlin correspondent of the "Times" in a long article.The English Government had overlooked the main point, that universal labour service is a good supplement to universal military service; but that it is impossible to introduce the former in a country which refuses the latter. Even Germany, which has organised so much for the War, the military service, food, distribution of raw material, and hundreds of other things has left industrial production for the War unfettered, because this is by far the most difficult thing of all.We are putting the cart before the horse. We are introducing a Bill which never can be put into effective operation unless it is followed by a stringent measure of compulsion. That is why newspapers like the "Spectator, "and the school of thought which is represented by the "Spectator, "welcomes this Bill, because it is a step towards either conscription or compulsory service. I must confess I was surprised to hear my hon. and gallant Friend make the speech he did this afternoon. Of all Members in this House I need scarcely assure him there is no one whom I respect 119 and admire more than my hon. and gallant Friend. He has done great service ever since the beginning of the War. He started an excellent idea. He came down to this House and denounced the War Office; for what? For calling together men at a greater rate than they were able to provide for them. I remember well his criticism, the first struck by any Member in this House since the War began. Why? Because he found that the voluntary efforts of the people surpassed the possibilities of the War Office to provide for them. He said then that the proper method to adopt was not indiscriminately to call up every man who was willing to come and serve the Colours, but to call upon them to register themselves so that the War Office might know. Let each man, he said, voluntarily come forward and give his name and say: "I am willing to come and be disciplined and controlled when the time comes "If such a register as that had been proposed at the beginning of this War, there is hardly a man, I venture to say, at all events in this House, who would have objected to it. That is not what we are objecting to; it is compulsory registration. Let every willing man come forward now and say he is willing to serve his King and country when called upon, and there is no man here, or outside, who will object. But "what we do object to is, that these people should be harassed in this way by State officials for no earthly reason, unless it be that this is a step forward to wards compulsory military service—a thing hateful and repugnant to the people of this country.
I do not think my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter really did justice to those of us who have been sitting on this side of the House, and who have been trained in a different school of political thought to his own—no doubt he unconsciously did that injustice, for he is a most fair opponent He did not, I say, do justice to those of us who, since the War began, have sacrificed not only our prejudices but some of those principles which are dear to us. Only last week we were called upon to pass the Munitions Bill. I give that as one illustration. That Bill contained, amongst other things, a power given to the Crown to legislate by Proclamation — an old prerogative of the Crown which was rarely ever exercised, even by the despotic Tudors, and a prerogative which, when fully exercised by 120 the Stuarts, lost them their Crown. For 250 years the people of this country have repudiated that doctrine. Last week we were asked to uproot the British Constitution, and we did it—why? Because we were told that was the way in which munitions for the War could be got, and it was an urgent and a necessary thing. Does anybody think that those of us who have been brought up in the old-fashioned school—whether it be called Liberalism or English traditions—I do not care what it is called—could pass a Bill of that sort, hardly with discussion, without a protest, without a deep feeling of apprehension and sorrow? We did it because we felt that the interests of the country required it. If we are shown to-day that the interests of this country require this Bill, then, however repugnant it is to pass this passport or Seventh Clause, we should do so with the same—I will not say cheerfulness, but—readiness with which we have passed other measures.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider? Suppose anybody had come down to the majority of this House at this time last year, in July, say, and had asked us whether we were willing and ready to send an Expeditionary Force of 150,000 men to fight on the Continent of Europe, I venture to say hardly any Members on this side of the House, and hardly any on the other side of the House, would have been willing to entertain the idea. Yet we have not only sent the Expeditionary Force, but we are willing to send 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 men to fight the battles of this country on the Continent. We are willing to send them not only without demur, but we have turned ourselves into recruiting sergeants—we who have been almost disciples of what used to be called the Peace Society and Passive Resistance—we who hated war, and never thought the time would come when we would be advocating war. We have done all that cheerfully, and we do not regret it. But does my right hon. Friend know that we have sacrificed, as I have said, not only our prejudices, but the principles which we held dear, in order to help our country in its great need? This I honestly say, and I am perfectly certain the right hon. Gentleman will believe me when I say that the reason why I am opposed to this Bill is because I think it will hamper the Government and the country in the prosecution of this War. What have we seen in the last eleven months? We have seen a spectacle unprecedented in the history of the world. If there was ever a 121 united people, the people of Great Britain and Ireland ha/e been united in the prosecution of this War.
There are no men in this House, and very few outside it, who will not say with the Prime Minister that we will spend every penny and spill our last drop of blood in order to bring this War to a successful conclusion. What are the objects? They are many and great. The very existence of great Britain and the Empire is at stake. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] If this War, which must be a prolonged War, which must be a War of endurance, is going to be waged to a successful issue, you must have a united people behind it, and these measures which irritate, depress, and antagonise vast numbers of people, will make some people in this country begin to think that the War has lasted too long. I am, as the Prime Minister said, all in favour of waging this War not only till we have restored the condition of things which existed before the War, but until we have exacted due reparation from a savage and barbarous foe. If that be the object we must unite. How are you going to unite the people, and keep them united? By trying to Prussianise our system and lives in the middle of the War? The people of England have done great things in the past in their own way, and according to their own system. They have not been organised by the State, but they have organised themselves. Before the War we were told—I remember my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea was one of the chief opponents of that view—that we ought to organise our commercial system exactly as Germany has been organising. We were told that we must go in for Tariff Reform, and all sorts of State measures in order to help on our commerce and trade. Some of us used to say in those days that England, after all, had not done badly. My hon. Friend beside me was one of the chief exponents of that view. Now we are told to "Just look at Germany." My hon. Friend a week ago spent half an hour in eulogising everything German at the expense of everything British. I am old-fashioned enough to believe—
§ 8.0 P.M.
Mr. L. WILLIAMS
I have done so; not only that, but I had the advantage of listening to my hon. Friend, and I wanted to reply to him at the time. We must Germanise or Prussianise everything if we are going to win this War. I do not believ it. I believe that the genius and initiative of this country are such that we shall be enabled to bring the War to an honourable and a triumphant conclusion without losing all our national characteristics. At the beginning of the War Rudyard Kipling asked in a line which has become famous, "Who dies if England lives?" and that fine phrase has been a solace and a comfort to thousands of sorrowing hearts since the War began. I should like to ask the converse question, "Who lives if England dies?" [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, England the freedom loving, the liberty loving—England that has carried freedom to every corner of the world; England that has been a pattern to free institutions everywhere. Are we, in order to bring this War to a successful conclusion, to lose all that England stands for? I say it would be a tragedy worse than war if, in order to win the War, England ceased to be the beacon of freedom and liberty which she has been in the past.
§ Major ARCHER-SHEE
One of the extraordinary things about this Debate has been the way in which Socialists of the most hardened description, such as the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snow-den), have opposed this Bill on the ground that it is a gross interference with the social liberty of the people. I should think that before any scheme of Socialism could possibly be introduced in this country it would be necessary to introduce a Bill of a much more far-reaching character than the one now before the House. Opponents of this Bill seem to be opposing it from the fear that behind it lurks that terrible thing conscription. The hon. Member who has just sat down has been talking about the destruction of liberty which would follow on the conscriptive system. He seems to think that England in the past has never relied on compulsion. He forgets that a hundred years ago our Navy was manned by compulsion, and it was our Navy that saved us from the French conscripts of that time. He forgets that the Militia Ballot Act was a form of compulsion, and that for many years before that we had compulsory service in one form or another throughout the Kingdom. But the Bill itself does not mention 123 the word "conscription" or the word "compulsion," and it does not, in my opinion, lead one to suppose that compulsion will be necessary. I for one am, of course, in favour of a conscriptive system if we do not get the numbers necessary by any other means. But I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke) when he said that if we pass this Bill compulsion will not be necessary, because every man will be asked what he can do, and, if he is told his services are required by the State, he will then come forward voluntarily.
I believe there are vast numbers of young men in this country who are not shirkers or slackers in any way, who believe they have proper and reasonable excuses for not coming forward, but who, if they were told that the State had weighed their reasons in the balance and found they have less reason for serving in ordinary industries than their neighbours, would at once come forward and serve voluntarily. I am quite sure there are hundreds and thousands of men who would serve under those conditions. Other Members who have opposed this Bill talk as if there were not any necessity for bringing in a Bill even to prepare the ground for a compulsory system should that become necessary, because they say we have produced 3,000,000 men who are in khaki or in blue at the present time. Do they realise what our Allies are doing and how they regard this question? Do they realise that Germany alone, our principal opponent, has a male population of 32,000,000 men, and she has put 10,000,000 under arms to oppose us and crush us if she can? We have got 22,500,000 men. If we put the same proportion as Germany in the field we should put, not 3,000,000 but 7,000,000 under arms. We can do it now, and I believe before the War ends we shall be obliged to put 6,000,000 men in khaki or in blue. Our French Allies with a population of 6,000,000 less than England has over 5,000,000 men under arms, and they have so organised their country that they are enabled to supply their men with the necessary munitions. They have only got a male population of 19,500,000, and yet they have nearly double the number in arms that we have.
We cannot end this War quickly and in that overwhelming fashion which is necessary if we are to exist as a nation and Empire unless we put every single man we 124 can get in the field, and unless we put all the other men left behind to war work only. Unfortunately, at the beginning of this War our people were encouraged to go on with "Business as susual." They were told they were to carry on their ordinary avocations, with the result that a very large number of men did go on with their business, and are engaged in business not connected in any way with the War. I believe before this War is ended every man in this country will either be in arms or else engaged in work in munition factories, railways, agriculture and other callings which are absolutely necessary to be carried on in time of war as well as in peace. Our Allies are doing this. France is making that sacrifice. There is no men carrying on ordinary business as usual in France. I am quite certain any hon. Member who has been in France lately knows what the feeling is in that country. They are looking to this country, now that the new Government has been formed, to bring in some system by which we shall put larger armies in the field, and be able to supply them. Our Allies the Russians are looking towards the same end, and our enemies are fearing that we shall do it.
I do not believe in this Bill, belated as it is—eleven months too late—necessarily means that we shall have to adopt compulsion. I believe that when the men of this country are told that their services are required either in munition factories, mines or on railways, or whatever it is, when they are told off to their proper billets by the constituted authorities of the country, not more than 10 per cent. will refuse to do what they are asked. If this 10 per cent. refuses, then I sincerely hope compulsion will be applied to make them do their duty, and I am quite sure hon. Members who are opposing this Bill are really acting against the wishes of the constituents. I believe that the overwhelming majority of the people of this country are prepared for an elementary scheme of organisation such as this, and that they will certainly see that those of their Members who obstruct the Government by dividing against this Bill will not represent them in any future Parliament of this country.
§ Mr. GINNELL
The Government are unfair to themselves as well as to us in putting us in a false position by introducing a Bill of this contentious character, and forcing us to express 125 truths which in their own interest, and in the interest of the country, they should allow to slumber at the present time. In the presence of a grave situation which has broken many families, and brought valued lives and treasured hope to an untimely end, and which many individuals are meeting manfully, however basely it is being shirked by some, no one in this House has any desire to utter hurtful truths, and it is a mistake on the part of the Government to force us to do it. We regard the War as a ghastly tragedy on a gigantic scale, an utter discredit to our boasted civilisation of the twentienth century, a most unfortunate set-back to progress, and the greatest crime in all history in so far as it could have been prevented.
The speech in which this Bill was introduced left open the important question whether it was to apply only to England and Wales or to the whole Empire, as a truly Imperial inventory of human resources should logically do. Though you have the legal right to apply a war measure like this to the entire Empire, we find that the Bill is not to apply to Canada, Australia, or New Zealand? Why? Because their separate entity is not a fraud, hung up with a sentence of mutilation attached to it, but an actual fact with which the Coalition dare not tamper. All the Prime Minister's pompous platitudes about a united front are for home consumption, especially for Irish consumption. Ireland's separate entity is recognised in an Act of Parliament bearing the King's signature. This Bill is a distinct breach of that scrap of paper. That Act was dishonoured last September. This Bill proposes to violate it. Cannot even the Coalition devise a worthier and a wiser policy than that?
Your Press applauds the wisdom and magnanimity of Russia in securing Polish support in this War by promising self-government to Poland. Can British statesmanship find no lesson in that? Within the last eleven months we have witnessed Bills of vast importance for the safety of the Empire passed through all their stages in this House in ten minutes. Ireland's attitude towards this War is admittedly of some importance. Ireland's support within her own shores can be secured by a similar use of ten minutes. Considering all that is at stake, is there anything very unreasonable in demanding that much time for such a result? It is a matter for the two great parties, now happily fused, to show whether their combined greatness 126 and wisdom is great enough and wise enough to pass in ten minutes not the miserable Home Rule Bill which was dishonoured the day it was enacted, but a Bill frankly restoring to Ireland all that is due to her and full and exclusive control of her own affairs. That would be nothing more than constitutional Government, and nothing more magnanimous than you applaud the Czar of Russia for doing. It could be done this afternoon, and if Ministers cared as much as they profess for the British Empire they would do it this afternoon and be well occupied. They have everything to encourage them and nothing whatever to deter them from making that use of this afternoon. Throughout the British Empire wherever a Colony or Possession has been allowed to rule itself in its own way, that Colony to-day is a willing source of strength to England and the Empire.
In the case of every one of these Dominions as in the Irish case, at first the demand for self-government was resisted, consequently it was given a bad name and called disloyalty in order the more effectually to defeat it, and those who demanded self-government were denounced as traitors. Does anyone now dare to call those free colonists traitors? On the contrary, they are the most highly honoured of men as the result of their independence, and every Englishman feels proud and strengthened by the spontaneous friendship and support of our self-governing Dominions. Does not every rational Englishman know that they are friendly and helpful because they are self-governing? In not one single instance has the granting of self-government proved, from the English point of view, a weakness or a matter of regret. The greatest loss that England ever sustained—the loss of the North American Colonies—was brought about not by granting self-government but by withholding it. It was no loftier motive than resistance to the taxes imposed by the British Parliament that bred the spirit of liberty in the North American Colonies, sustained their arms in the field through a desperate struggle and enabled them to cast off the foreign yoke—your yoke—and establish what is now the proud and free Republic of the United States. It was the selfishness of England which forced them to do it. With such conclusive examples on one side and on the other, when support in a place of vital importance can be received by the same measure of justice which has never 127 failed to secure it for you, is that a time to act selfishly again, to betray principles, and to add to the long list of your broken treaties and promises to Ireland? Our history in Ireland is immeasurably longer than that of your Colonies. Her population, in spite of the British Government, is still greater than some of your Colonies that now enjoy self-government. Any injustice you may have wrought upon any of your Colonies was of comparatively short duration, and has been long since atoned for and obliterated, especially by the granting of self-government. This Bill is essentially a measure of local self-government which each country should be free to accept or reject for itself only, and which no country should impose upon another. We notice that the Press, inspired by the Coalition, is busy denying that the purpose of this Bill is to lay the foundation for conscription. If this Bill should pass, the same Press would be as busy next week urging its immediate use for conscription and asking us what else it was enacted for.
Has the inspired Press denied anything during the last eleven months that did not turn out to be true notwithstanding their denial? Has the inspired Press during the last eleven months asserted anything with authority that did not turn out untrue? Therefore the present denial amounts but to a confirmation. The Bill is expressly a war measure, and therefore there is nothing more certain than that it will be used with all the help of the inspired Press for whatever purposes progress, or want of progress, the War may dictate. It will, however, not be used impartially as between England and Ireland. In Great Britain it will be applied to recruiting for the safe occupation of manufacturing munitions for yourselves and your Allies, but in Ireland it will be applied without scruple or remorse, in order to get men to face German guns and German gas. This Bill is to pilot conscription, and to make it an enactment is but a short step to make it prompt and deadly when it is enacted. It is designed to bring within its net not British workers engaged on munitions, nor British workers engaged in expanding industries and capturing German trade, nor British workers on the pastures which you are now breaking up for the increase of tillage, nor British workers at all, but workers from the depleted population of Ireland whom you do all in your power to pre- 128 vent manufacturing munitions, or anything else that could in the slightest degree compete with your own enterprises. By this Bill you want to commandeer the industry of Englishmen and pay double wages for it. By this Bill you want to commandeer the blood and lives of Irishmen. This is proved by the history of the relations between the two countries, by the positive facts before our eyes, and by the very manner in which it is proposed to apply this Bill to Ireland. All the evidence makes it as plain as noonday that the purpose of this Bill is to organise the industries of Great Britain and get troops in Ireland, in which I regret to say you have been far too successful in that purpose. The Irish Clause in this Bill is merely a continuance of the old game of putting us off our guard, and the Coalition thinks that we should accept the guarantee of their inspired Press against that. The Prime Minister's word has been given that this Bill is not intended to be used for conscription. If the whole of the Coalition gave Ireland a guarantee against their deceit, I would not accept it. How could we accept any promise or guarantee from a Government which is at the present time using the Defence of the Realm Act for all the purposes of conscription in Ireland? If they are allowed to continue that infamous conduct a little longer, with the help of the prostituted ex-Nationalist Members, they will have so far succeeded by that method of conscription that there will be little occasion for any other.
The history of the relations of the two nations is an unbroken record of dupes on one side and treaty breakers on the other. The ruin of our country has had its origin here, and there is no conviction more conclusively established, or more firm in our minds than that as long as their power over Ireland continues it will mean for us continued ruin. Every Nationalist in Ireland knows that the present Chief Secretary, like his predecessors, is Ireland's most deadly alien enemy. All we want is simply that he and all his tribe should clear out of our country and not return until we send for them. To connect Ireland with the War, as this Bill does, is precisely the same as connecting Holland with the War, Den mark with the War, Sweden with the War, and Switzerland with the War. It is coupling Ireland with a thing with which she should have no more to do than have those countries. All her interests bind 129 her to be more rigidly neutral than they are, and she differs from them only in the extent to which she is dragged or cajoled into this War, and the extent to which her taxes will be increased by it.
In Ireland, but nowhere else, so far as I know, the recruiting agents tell people that they are bound to take part in the War, because it is a war on behalf of small nationalities. Nowhere else do public speakers assume such ignorance among their adherents as to tell them, in broad daylight, that this War among the vastest and mightiest nations of Europe, is a war on behalf of small nationalities. Extraordinary as it is, party leaders and the prostituted Press have succeeded in getting quite a large number of dupes in Ireland to swallow that fantastic notion. Of Belgium I have nothing to say, beyond that it is a victim of the Great Powers. I will not utter a harsh word. She was free to make a choice and taken the consequences, and I am not called upon to express any opinion on the choice she made, under the influence of London, Paris, and Petrograd. She sacrificed herself to shield those Great Powers. They admit that they were bound to defend her. They did not defend her. They admit that they are bound to restore her. As surely they will never restore her. They would not even if they could. Unfortunately, it is absolutely impossible.
Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland are small nationalities nearer to the scene of war than Ireland. Each of them is full mistress of its own resources, affairs, and conduct, intelligent enough to know its duty, honourable enough to discharge its duty, and friendly to Belgium. Yet, instead of helping Belgium in the distress into which the Great Powers have brought her, each of them promptly proclaimed, and is scrupulously practising, strict neutrality, anxious for its own integrity and independence, busy at its own ordinary industries and enterprise, and fitting its men to defend their country when or from whatever quarter an enemy may come. And, mark, they are all respected by the world for acting thus. Every reason that guides them in that course applies with a hundredfold more force in the case of Ireland, which is not free mistress of her own resources, affairs, or conduct, which has no grounds whatever for interfering on either side in this War, and which owes to herself the prior and vital duty of recovering lost ground 130 and recovering the freedom without which she can never re-establish her industries and her institutions, ruined by alien rule.
The taunt that people who speak thus are pro-German is an insolent libel, maliciously invented as similar libels have often been before, to throw dust in the eyes of those who do not take the trouble to think for themselves, but adopt opinions ready made by their party and capitalist newspapers. Besides, it is a libel that overreaches itself. If it makes one a pro-German to say that Ireland's primary duty is to herself, it would logically follow that all the nations that I have mentioned are pro German. Yet that is the last thing slanderers would utter. More startling still, it would logically follow that Lord Morley and the other two Gentlemen who resigned their membership of the late Government rather than have anything to do with this War are pro-German. It would logically follow that those eminent Tory gentlemen whom we Have heard in this House and outside of it strongly urging an increase not only of manufacturing industries but also of tillage and rural activity in England, and urging the necessary men for these purposes to stay at home, instead of enlisting, are on that account pro-German. To scream "pro-German" against an Irishman for saying the same thing may by constant repetition and unlimited circulation succeed in its purpose of creating prejudice, but it possesses neither reason nor justice. These screams succeeded in England in fomenting anti-German riots at the cost of the country's reputation and of a quarter of a million of money, and, therefore, it is conceivable that they may succeed in fomenting similar riots against pro-Germans and inflicting greater discredit and greater loss.
If anyone will change from abuse to reason, let him begin by explaining how a neutrality which is admittedly right for Dutchmen, Danes, Swedes, and Swiss can be wrong in Ireland, and how attention to their industries, their agriculture, and their other occupations can be laudable for those people and for the people of England, who are more concerned in the War, and yet make the Irish people pro-German. I really do not know whether there are pro-Germane in Ireland. That question does not arise, any more than does bimetallism. It is an impertinent question raised only by mischief makers for the creation of prejudice. The declaration of neutrality and its maintenance does not preclude Dutchmen minding their own 131 business. In taking these precautionary measures they are pro-Dutch, as they have a perfect right to be, and they are respected for their conduct. So, too, are the Danes, the Swedes and the Swiss, and so, too, would be the Irish. It is of the essence of constitutional government that reluctant membership of the Empire can impose no obligations on Ireland which would not be hers were she the free mistress of her own resources and affairs. If free nations are entitled to maintain their freedom and prosperity unfettered, if they are entitled to control their own affairs, they are honoured for their neutrality in other people's wars, surely a nation which is deprived of these attributes and which is despoiled in times of peace of her institutions, industries and population, is entitled to recover them, and would be justly despised if it neglected the opportunity of doing so, and if at the bidding of her destroyer she meddled in other people's wars.
Hence the Irish nation is bound to be neutral, and if the people were allowed to speak collectively they would be as strictly neutral as Holland, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. Neutrality would be at least as creditable to Ireland as it is to all those countries. No recruiting officer in Ireland has yet given an intelligible reason why Irishmen should turn their backs on their urgent duty to their own country and rush to the fighting front while the people of these prosperous countries stay at home and mind their own business. Englishmen, apparently, are put in a wholly different category with reference to the War. They are urged to practice business as usual, to expand industry, and to capture German trade. In spite of the skill with which the powers of the State and the Press are concealing the fact, this War is beyond all others and beyond every other consideration, more truly a war of industrial and commercial rivalry than any other war recorded in history. We know how for months after it began, in the Press and by placard, distributed throughout every town in the country, the people were advised to "practice business as usual," and to capture German trade. How is it possible to deny that a war begun in that spirit is other than a war of industrial and commercial rivalry? And why should the Irish people be advised and expected to do the fighting to enable Englishmen to act on the advice to which I have alluded. The plan was, of 132 course, that the Irish should fight the German while the Englishman should stay at home and profit by the result. English statesmen having deprived Ireland of her manufacturing industries, they are now determined to profit by their own crime and to prevent any industrial revival in Ireland by getting the remaining population, since they have no industry to occupy them to sacrifice themselves. The result will be that Ireland never will have any industry, and English trade will expand. Is that the proper treatment to mete out to Ireland?
In this country powerful State departments, vast manufacturing companies, syndicates, and organisations of all sorts have been strengthened and increased, and put to work at high pressure with concerted and prodigious efforts to found new industries and expand existing ones while the War lasts. The higher cost of living, consequent on the War, is met and more than met by the higher wages which are earned. But when the War ceases and the high wages fall, there will still be an expansion of trade and industry in England which will enable the people to live comfortably. But what will then be the condition of Ireland, on which the burden will be put equally, but where there will be no such vast expansion of trade to enable the people to bear it. A nation and its circumstances are the products of history and the results of statesmanship, good or bad, from the consequences of which neither the nation nor its rulers in the present day can escape. It is in the history of the past that the problems of the present and of the future are sown, and though history is carefully cooked, any conscientious reader will soon discover that England's present commanding position in trade and industry is largely due to England's destruction of Ireland's trade and industries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The truth of this does not depend upon the word of any historian, but upon the words of English Acts of Parliament and Ordinances having the force of Acts. In consequence of that treatment Ireland is—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
I must invite the hon. Member to try to come to the Bill now before the House. He can understand that we should never discuss the Bill at all if the width he is attempting were followed by other hon. Members. We have a specific Bill before us to discuss.
§ Mr. GINNELL
My purpose was, as you, Sir, would have seen very soon, to show that this Bill is intended to promote still further the growth and expansion of British industries. It is intended to promote the further expansion of enlistment in Ireland and of recruiting in Ireland. I did think that was very close to the purpose of this Bill, but I will try to keep nearer the mark. I come now to the mass of the people upon whom this Bill is supposed to operate. That, I think, will be in order. To the inquiry whether Irishmen are too few in Ireland for Ireland's own purposes, the answer is very simple. It is that they cannot have men after having exterminated them. Not content with the destruction of Irish industries and trade, with nipping in the bud every Irish industrial and commercial enterprise, and squeezing excessive taxes out of an impoverished country as juice is squeezed out of a lemon, the one particular English policy which, under various appearances, has never undergone any substantial change, is that of denuding Ireland of industries and of people. According to the standard of all civilised peoples who hold that conquest of itself gives no right to exterminate the civil inhabitants of a country, this exterminating policy in Ireland is utterly indefensible. That is the policy which makes this Bill wholly inapplicable to Ireland by leaving too few men there for Ireland's own purposes. From the time of Queen Elizabeth to the present hour the English policy of destroying the Irish nation has been the one most persistently pursued. Until quite recently there was no concealment whatever about it. It was boasted of in State papers as the policy of "rooting out the Irish." Elizabeth had most of the Irish men, women and children of her time who were unable to escape murder in cold blood by sword, fire, and starvation, their food supplies appropriated by her soldiers and their unreaped corn burned on her fields.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I really must ask the hon. Member to pass over this part and come to the Bill itself.
§ Mr. GINNELL
The case against the Bill is largely the case of its inapplicability to Ireland on account of too few people being there already.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member has laid that matter fully before the House, and the House will doubtless take note of it. He does not need to repeat it.
§ Mr. GINNELL
I am not going to repeat it. If Ireland, like every other nation and like every individual, has a right and a duty of self-preservation and self-defence, if she has that common right for the assertion of which the world's armies and navies are constructed and maintained, and which is recognised everywhere else outside Ireland, then in view of the denial of those rights and the expulsion of the people under this Bill and the Defence of the Realm Act, which is being used as a Conscription Act in Ireland, Ireland is entitled to maintain her present diminished population for her own purposes. That seems to me, so far as she is concerned, to be the strongest possible reason for opposing this Bill or any Bill of this kind. Self-defence is an integral part of self-preservation. If a community is entitled to a whole it must be entitled to the part. What is self-defence if it be not a struggle against destruction? Resistance to this Bill is a struggle on the part of Ireland against destruction. That struggle the Irish nation has kept up for four centuries, during which the problem has been whether the nation or its destroyers should hold Ireland. The struggle is not yet over. This Bill proves that it is a continuation of the struggle. A remnant of the nation remains, only a remnant, and in such a plight that never in all history did a nation stand in such need of self-defence, self-assertion, and self-reliance. The restoration of our entire property and full control of our own resources and our own affairs once secured to us, we should be in a position to forget and forgive the bitter past with all its sufferings for Ireland and all its shame for England. Until that has been secured the question of forgetting and forgiving does not arise. When you, with your tremendous power and wealth, stand for yourselves to our unwarying detriment, it is surely right for us to think and strive for Ireland first, last, and always.
§ Mr. CHARLES DUNCAN
I have listened to many of the speeches which have been delivered on this Bill, and after a few years' experience of this House it strikes me as being a very strange thing when a Bill of this character is introduced what widely divergent opinions are given expression to and what terrible things are conjured up as likely to come out as the result of it. I quite understand, of course, that there must inevitably be differences of opinion on a matter of this description, and I for one at any rate, am in favour of 135 the voluntary enlistment of the men of this country. So far I have been against conscription, but I am free to say that if, in my judgment—and I will accept full responsibility for my judgment and for giving expression to it—there comes a time when it is essential that conscription should be put in force in order to save this country from destruction, I say fearlessly, that I shall not have the slightest conceivable hesitation in voting in that direction. With regard to the Bill, on the face of it at any rate, conscription is not disclosed. It has been a matter of wonderment to me to find the different things which can be read into a Bill and the different motives which can be found animating those who have introduced it and who give expression to their opinions with regard to it. My experience has always told me that it is a very poor case when one has to impute motives to those who are in favour of any Bill, and it seems to me that it is very much better indeed if we all give one another credit for the best of motives, whichever side we may take on the questions before the House. A good deal has been said in the previous speeches with regard to what the different newspapers in this country have advocated, especially with regard to conscription. We have had Lord Northcliffe's name dragged in and it has been inferred that he is responsible for the Bill. That may be so or not. All I can say is that neither Lord Northcliffe nor his papers have influenced my opinion in the slightest degree, because I do not read any of them. Ten years' experience of this House has convinced me that the less one is moved by newspaper talk the more likely is one to express some decent sort of judgment on any case decided in the House.
We have heard a good deal, too, about the Prussianisation of method in this country. I believe in businesslike method, and I have yet to learn that method belongs to any country at all. All my experience teaches me that method is a principle which is evolved from the consciousness of people engaged in their different avocations, principally in business, and one's experience generally teaches that the people who do not employ method, at any rate in business, generally find themselves in the Bankruptcy Court. We have heard only too often that the policy of this country has been a policy of mess and muddle and make-believe, and it seems to me that the 136 sooner we get into some kind of method, so that we may be able to say that our country, its people, its activities, and its wealth are all organised on some businesslike plan, the sooner shall we be in a position which will justify our existence. I have been connected with a trade union which has a membership of, roughly, about 150,000, and for the past seventeen years, at any rate, it has been my business to think about nothing else and to do nothing else but organise. It may be that my activities are only in a very limited area, and that the organisation of a union of 150,000 is an insignificant item. All I have to say in reply to that is that my activities are concerned day in. week in, month in, and year in with nothing else but the question of organisation so far as the workers are concerned attached to that particular union. In that organisation I claim that we have a system similar to what I think will come out of the Bill. We have a system in operation which is commonly called the card index system. I believe that will be the result of this Bill, and that instead of a union having a card index system covering 150,000 people it will be just as easy to have a similar system in operation covering just as many millions, if necessary, because it is capable of development beyond anything that has so far been put in operation. It enables us to put our finger in a moment upon the card pertaining to any individual amongst that 150,000 with unerring certainty in as little time as it takes me to speak about it. The system is very highly valued by the members of my organisation. It enables us to check in every conceivable way the activities and the expenditure of the union, and inasmuch as that is the outcome of business brains in all parts of the world, and is a system that is to-day in operation under the Insurance Act covering nearly 14,000,000 of people, surely its extension to the remaining inhabitants of this country between the ages of sixteen and sixty-five will scarcely inconvenience anybody.
There is one point that has been dealt with a good deal by many speakers connected with the party to which I belong during this War with regard to regulating the prices of food and coal and other commodities. To regulate or control the food prices of this country would, in my judgment, be an exceedingly slipshod piece of business if it is ever attempted before we find out the number, the age, the activities and the capacity of the people of the country. To do essential things first is to have 137 this register in operation, and as soon as you have the register in operation I believe that there is no activity familiar to the mind of a Socialist that cannot be put into operation. It is very largely because I am a Socialist that I am in favour of this Bill. It is because I am in favour of a far superior organised State than anything I have seen in this country to-day, and because I believe that by a better and more complete organisation of the people of this country the State will be able to do successfully things which would be utterly foolish to endeavour to accomplish that I am in favour of this Bill. If the members of the party to which I belong had been making this suggestion prior to the outbreak of war, we should have been told that the House could not look at such a socialistic proposal. In whatever way we look at it, the proposal is socialistic right through. There has been opposition taken against it by many hon. Members who have spoken to-day, and in the main their opposition has been that this country is free and that the people have liberty. Sometimes I am inclined to think they have even license. I am not saying a word against principles to which hon. Members have given their adherence, but it occurs to me that we are involved in a great War for our very existence, and that while we may have adhered to things as strongly as them in other circumstances, we must bend to circumstances that exist in our time.
We are not responsible for the circumstances that surround us to-day. We are faced with the direst necessity that this nation has ever seen, and if we go down in this War it will be very little use talking about liberty and the sanctity of the privileges that we have held in this country. I do not know whether we would even be allowed to talk of these things if we ever go down in this fight. It is because I realise, and because I am moved by the conditions as they exist to-day, because I feel in my very soul that this nation and this Empire of ours is fighting for its very life and is fighting for its very existence, that I am in favour of this Bill, which, I think, will help us along the road to get the State in a far better organised condition than ever it has been before, and enable us to sort out the people whose activities will be most helpful to the State. We have heard something in this Debate about the large number of men, skilled mechanics and the rest of it, who are wanted in this country 138 to-day. Our haphazard system, our voluntary system, has to some extent brought that kind of thing about. In regard to the system that it is proposed to establish under this Bill, one must assume that we are going to have intelligence exercised in carrying out the plan when we have got it. But if we are to assume that only when we have got this system into operation that a set of idots and lunatics are going to have control of the system, then, of course, everything will go wrong. I think that such a supposition is a very wild and very unreasonable one, and one which no man with any real experience in this House can suggest for a moment is ever likely to happen.
In the past this country of ours has always muddled through on its lack of plan, and I suppose it has succeeded at a very heavy price, both in men and in money, in holding its position in the world. But other nations have intelligence; other nations are studying plans for the better organisation and the better systematising and the better and more complete development of their people. I have been in Germany, and I believe that the German people are very similar to the people of this country, and that they are probably more willing to organise than the people of this country Certain it is that they are considerably better organised than we are are in this country, even so far as their trade union movement is concverned. The trade unionists of this country have a good deal to learn from the trade union movement in Germany, and I am here to say to-night that if the Germans could teach me anything in my particular movement I should not be above accepting lessons from them in any direction where experience, which is world wide, has prove to demonstration that that system is a betterment on the old plans that have hitherto existed in civilised countries. Let me turn for a moment to Australia. Australia to-day is under a Labour Government. Australia has a system of compulsory training for youths, I believe between the ages of fifteen and eighteen. It may be said that that is not the point of this Bill. Of course it is not, still it does prove to demonstration this, that so far as the principles that I believe in are concerned, and that so far as the principles I am prepared to uphold against any man, or any section of men, are concerned, there is no great difficulty, even where you have a Labour Government in a great continent like Australia, and there is no vital 139 clash between their principles and the carrying out of a better system of organisation. It may be that there are things in this Bill with which I shall disagree, and things in regard to which I shall move Amendments. Probably in my judgment the penalties are too high and might be modified. There are other points in the Bill on which I dare say the Government will be willing to accept Amendments in order to make this Bill a workable and acceptable Bill.
We were told by one speaker that the country so far was united. Yes, but there are some of those who have spoken against this Bill who have never shown any unity. They have been prepared to resist the Vote of Credit to finance the War; they have never done a handsturn towards recruiting, they have opposed quietly every effort that has ever been made to help this country to fight sucessfully this great struggle, and I have no hesitation in dissociating myself from their views and opinions. I am prepared to pay the penalty, if that day ever conies, but I will stand my corner against anything on two legs in this country. I believe that, in the main, there has never been an occasion in the history of this country when it has been more united than it is to-day. It has shown it by its enthusiasm, by the readiness with which men have responded to the call that has been made upon them, and in every way it has given complete evidence of its faith in the cause which is at stake in the fight in which we are engaged. There is no man who takes greater delight in the unity of the nation—one might say with truth, in the unity of the Empire that one sees in all its glory to-day—than I do. Is there any crime in wishing that we may not only be united, but that we may have unity and organisation? Organisation is one of the greatest things that exists in civilisation to-day. I quite admit that our views on this matter depend very largely as to our conception of what organisation is, and what organisation can produce. Many difficulties in regard to this Bill will be in persuading some people who have probably never been brought into close touch with organisation to understand the necessity and the value of that principle. But I believe this: That until this country is organised—and the more thorough the organisation the better for the country—in every sense and form, so that we shall be able to distinguish 140 the various units composing the State, and we shall be able to ask, not force, people to help, but to point out to people how best their services are likely to be most useful to the State, we shall never get the best results.
I believe that the great mass of the people of this country are willing to give everything they have and everything they are to the service of the State in this great cause. It is only a question of finding out, by planning and method and system, the various parts, forces, activities and abilities that are existing in the State, seeing that they are subject to some directing force with intelligence behind it, and so organising this system that when it is in operation the nation itself shall take the best out of it. This speech would be a mere platitude to any man who is engaged in business. The only real vocation of any business man in this country is that he shall organise his works, his buildings, his machinery, his men, his output and his savings. Wherever you come to dealing in business successfully you always come up against organisation. It is because I believe in organisation; it is because I live by organisation, because by organisation the workmen of this country have been able to improve their position, and because I believe that by organisation, and by organisation alone, we shall so be able to use the forces and powers and activities possessed by the people of this country, that we shall emerge successfully out of this great and horrible War.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
I hope that the hon. Member who has just sat down will not think it a little presumptuous if I venture to pay a tribute of very sincere respect to the speech to which we have just listened, a speech which has been in refreshing contrast with some of those which we have heard to-day in its freer argument, in its sequence of proof, and above all in the lofty tone in which it was spoken, and the patriotism with which it has been animated. By that speech the hon. Member has added one more to the many obligations which we are under to the party of which he is an ornament. I desire to refer to one or two of the points that have been taken up in some of the speeches to which we have listened, and which to my mind proved in many respects mutually destructive. The first speech, a speech to which I think many of us listened with very great pain, was the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker). He conjured up in 141 language, which we all deplore, the dangers and difficulties created by this Bill, and the suspicions which he had of this Government, this Government to which we are all pledged as perhaps a forlorn hope to save us. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] He professed that to a large part of that Government he was absolutely opposed and that he was suspicious of its Members. But in the next speech, what do we find? Why, that the Bill, instead of being formidable and full of dangers menacing the liberties of the country, was, according to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tyneside, absolutely futile and worthless, that it really amounted to nothing, but was a waste of time and that nothing could be accomplished by it.
We have had from some hon. Members instead of calm argument upon the subject of this Bill and its proposals, nothing but the language of suspicion and prognostication and prophecies of evil. We must surely look, not at what Members read into the Bill, or at what they fear as future results which may follow from the Bill, but we must look at the Bill as it stands. See how petty were some of the criticisms which Members who stood so high in the estimation of this House, and who spoke with so much authority, even as the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden), were not ashamed to utter. We are asked: "Why do you introduce women into this? Is not that utterly absurd if your intention is to bring about compulsory military service?" I am not one of those who have voted for what is called "Woman Suffrage," but I am prepared in a great crisis like this to ask what is the view of the women, who are more than half the population of the country? I am convinced that the vast majority of women, whether they are in favour of full political rights for women or not, would wish to be brought within this registration so as to be able to take their place with men and do what they can to serve their country. What is it that has taken the place of valid argument on the part of the hon. Member for Blackburn? Why, a few futile criticisms about the precise age—whether the age should be as high as sixty-five—and a few jocular remarks to the effect that we should make the age still higher, because it is the old men, the old diplomatists who have brought about the War.
Is that sort of trifling the proper method of discussing a great proposal of the Government at a time like this? And then there were a few criticisms about the form 142 of the questions, and then a few witticisms as to the possible methods with which those questions might be evaded, or turned into ridicule. Can you devise any form of questions which might not be turned into ridicule if an hon. Member is determined to do it and if he has no other object in speaking? But what accusations does the hon. Member bring. "You have made mistakes, you have recruited wrongly. You have done only that which showed you to be inept and to have had insufficient knowledge." What is the sequel, the inference from that? That we shall deny you the power which you ask for of obtaining that knowledge, the absence of which led you wrong before. Is that logic? Is that what is to persuade hon. Members of this House to decide grave questions laid before them by the Government? And then we have that repeated question about the compulsory powers lying behind this Bill There is an extraordinary inconsequence about this. Sometimes we are told that this Bill is wrong because it makes registration compulsory. If it makes registration compulsory, does it do anything more than the census and a dozen other regulations which we are obeying every hour of our life, and which we are compelled to obey? But immediately the argument is varied: Registration is wrong, not because it is compulsory registration, but because at the back of this compulsory registration there is compulsory military service.
Let us look at the Bill as it stands; let us look also the facts straight in the face. We know quite well that compulsory military service is part of the essential constitution of every State, if the worst comes to the worst. You cannot imagine a State existing which has not in the last resort the power of demanding the services of its citizens to defend its shores. I can appeal to no better authority, and none which stands higher with some hon. Members opposite who oppose this Bill, the authority of Lord Haldane, who said that it was essential in every State, without which no State could exist, that in the last resort it must be supposed capable of calling upon its men to serve the country in defence of its shores. While putting that into operation is no part of this Bill, and while we must require, further, the authority of this House, even after this Bill is passed, yet we must not forget that it would be no right thing of the Government to pronounce, and they have no right to pronounce, that compul- 143 sion should never be carried into effect, even though danger to the country demanded it. We were told by the hon. Member for Carmarthen—I took down his words at the time—that this proposal was a great infringement of the liberties of the subjects of this country, and was unparalleled in our history.
Can their arguments against this Bill be considered strong when Members have to resort to a fustian of that sort? Does anyone really think that to ask a man to be compulsorily registered, as every other country in Europe demands—and we would be wise to learn a bit of their organisation even from our enemy—does anyone imagine that in putting a measure like this in force, we are committing a crime against the liberties of the subjects of this country or doing that which is unparalleled in our history? Is not that a piece of rhetoric which no hon. Member here should use, even at a moment when he wishes to give a rhetorical turn to or point a sentence? Above all, we are told not to have this organisation because it is a Prussian invention. I am no admirer of Prussian inventions, I am no admirer of Prussian things, but I only wish we had adopted a little more of their organisation, of their preparation, and of their systematic discipline before we had come to this time of stress, or at all events before we had reached a crisis such as this. These are the small arguments against the Bill. A great feature of this discussion, indeed, has been lack of generosity towards this Coalition Government. We have sunk our opinions much more than any hon. Members opposite, but we would be ashamed to put any obstacle in the way of the Government even when doing many things with which we disagree. We appeal to hon. Members opposite that at this crisis of the nation's destiny we ought to support the Government, which the wisest of our politicians have judged to be a safeguard for the protection of the country at this juncture.
We must sink our own personal opinions, we must trust to their wisdom to guide us in putting their legislative proposals before us, and we must not raise little difficulties because this or that point may not exactly coincide with our own views. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on bringing in his Bill, a Bill demanded from many parts of the country. I am sure he will carry it with that absolute frankness and sincerity which has made 144 him dear to all of us, and, more still, I trust that he will carry it out with his usual courage, boldness and steadfastness. I am quite certain that the registration of the country will bring good not only to the military service, not only to those who are to take part in the manufacture of munitions of war, but to all those women who can help so much, and the older men, who, weak and useless as they may appear to be, would feign try to do in their humble way a part of the work of our country, wherever they may be or wherever they may be sent. It will bring to the service of the State the great army of science and the technical schools, on which they have spent so much. Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman—and I am sure he will not take it as being opposed to the Bill—that while we register the resources of the country the Government must also register and must catalogue its needs. That is an essential corollary. If we are to register the resources of the country we must know what the Government need; we must know where and how to use our resources; we must know what are the round holes and the square holes to fill, and we must have the round pegs and the square pegs to fill them. I wish the right hon. Gentleman all success in carrying his Bill, and all good fortune in putting it into effect.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Arthur Henderson)
No one can have followed the course of the Debate to-day without coming to the conclusion that much of the opposition to the Bill is based either upon prejudice or misapprehension. It has been obvious from the whole of the speeches against the Bill that the prejudice which has manifested itself has been against the character of the present Government. I think it is to be regretted. After all, we may have our opinion as to the reason of the change of Government, and the method by which that change was brought about; but I think it ought to be recognised in all quarters of the House that a serious responsibility has been imposed upon what is known as the Coalition Government. I think the least we are entitled to expect from all quarters of the House is that we should be given an opportunity of discharging our responsibility. The question has been put by more than one speaker as to what use this register is going to be once it has become an accomplished fact. I notice that whenever speakers repeat that question, instead of 145 accepting the answer given by the Prime Minister—and I think his answer was clear and unmistakeable—they usually proceed to question the validity of the position taken up by the Government, and then build up answers to suit their own preconceived position. Now let us examine this Bill, in spite of everything that has been said against it. One hon. Member told us that in no speech which he had listened to in support of the Bill had he heard a single argument advanced in its favour, and, having proceeded to make that statement, in the most deliberate fashion he proceeded to occupy the House not by argument, but by quotations from the "Times" newspaper.
When I come to examine the Bill I want to say that I regard it, in the first instance, as a great measure of precaution. I know, of course, we have been told that no case has been made out because of the success of our voluntary system of enlistment. No one rejoices more than I do at the magnificent success that has followed the appeal, first of all, for voluntary enlistment in connection with our New Army, and lastly, the voluntary appeal that has been such a splendid success during the past week for the necessary supply of workers for accelerating the output of munitions. Both of those cases reflect the highest possible credit upon our country, and especially upon the men who offered their lives in the first instance in order that they might serve their King and country in the great and righteous cause we are prosecuting on foreign territory, and that success, I think, has been equalled in a very few days in the offer of men to go anywhere the Minister of Munitions cares to send them if only the supply can be increased and accelerated. I in no sense, and I want to make my own position perfectly clear, regard this Bill as a prelude to compulsion, and I hope hon. Members who have been trying to prejudice the minds of the House against the Bill because of their apprehension on that score will be satisfied that the Government have no ulterior motive behind the introduction of the Bill. As I have said already, I rather legard it as a great precautionary measure, and in using the word "precaution" I mean it not only in the narrow but in the widest possible sense. I use it in this sense, first of all, that it will enable us to obtain that very knowledge and information that we essentially need if we are going to complete the War on the voluntary principle. Then 146 I mean it in that wider sense that you can only when you have reached a certain stage proceed on your voluntary principle when you know exactly where the districts are where you have done worst, and by the knowledge that is behind you can concentrate upon those districts on your voluntary system.
But we have been told that we have not tried the voluntary system, or, at any rate, that we have not tried it to the extent that we have completed it in the fullest sense of the term. We all know, as I have already hinted, the splendid success we have obtained in recruiting the New Army. We also know the success that we have secured during the last few days. But I want to bring before the House another demand that has been made with regard to this very question of voluntarism in the setting up of a voluntary society. I am associated with a Committee, and earlier in the campaign I felt that something more should be done than the mere organising of a great series of recruiting meetings, and we determined to send out) what was known as a "householders' return form." We wanted to compile a register, and we tried to do it on the voluntary system, and what was the effect? Let me give the figures to the House. We sent out 8,213,505 forms to the heads of households from one end of the country to the other. It was entirely voluntary as to whether they filled them up, and, if filled up, as to whether they should return them. What was the result? Out of that total of over 8,000,000 that we circulated only 3,631,385 were returned, or something like 45 per cent. It seems to me, having made that effort and made it with the very best intention, and we used the very best machinery at our disposal for the purpose, it cannot be said months and months after, when we have been still continuing our appeal for voluntary enlistment, that we ought to sit down, not knowing what may be the circumstances six, nine, or twelve months from now. It seems to me that we ought not to sit down, even if we remained, as I hope we shall do, rigidly loyal to our voluntary system, when it will be more difficult to know the material you have at your disposal than it is to-day and than it has been in the past, because anybody knows the more you draw upon the field by the voluntary system of enlistment the more difficult it ultimately must become, because you have not the number to draw upon.
147 Therefore, viewing the position—and I want hon. Members to keep this in mind—solely from the standpoint of the complete success of the voluntary system, it seems to me we would be guilty of culpable negligence as a Government if we sat still during the next six, nine or twelve months and made no arrangement, and had no better organisation than that which we have at the moment for the completion of the very system upon which the overwhelming majority, I believe, of this House desire to see this War completed, and that is on the voluntary principle. But I want to take this matter a little further. What was one of the charges most recently launched against the late Government? Anyone who listened to the Debate at midnight on the Munitions Bill could not help feeling that in the minds of some Members very serious charges ought to be made, and they seemed prepared to make them, against the late Government. The charge was that they did not set about at a sufficiently early date to so organise the supply of munitions that we should have avoided the dangerous position which they thought we were placed in. So far as I could follow the reception of those speeches, they found almost universal acceptance in the House. I say "almost." At any rate from the volume of cheers they certainly did find acceptance with the great majority of those present at the moment when the charges were being thrown about. If it was right to make that charge that the Government had delayed, and that the Government had pursued a policy of inaction, and that it had not been sufficiently wide awake, and that it had not anticipated the situation, surely if that charge was justified two or three days ago those who were guilty of making that charge, and who were prepared to give it the warm support that they did give it, ought to be the first to support the Government now, having the assurance that they have received from the Prime Minister, in its determination not to be landed on this question of the completion of the voluntary system into the position that when it is most difficult they will have least knowledge upon which to act. I am of the opinion, and I do not mind saying that I am strongly of the opinion, that we can complete the War on the system upon which we began, but we will complete it all the better having the fullest and best knowledge at our disposal upon which to work.
148 We have also been told that the Bill will be useless without compulsion, and that compulsion means conscription. I for one cannot accept that position, and what I want to say here, and I want to speak quite frankly, is that the last Member of the House from whom I will accept that position is my hon. colleague the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden). It is so difficult to understand some of my hon. Friends. They seem to-day, at any rate gathering from his speech, he was strongly favourable to carrying through the War on the voluntary principle. Might I ask what he has done—I want to put this question seriously—to make the voluntary system a success? I think the first question he answered to an hon. Friend of mine, when he returned from his tour, when my Friend was anxiously trying to ascertain what his position with regard to the War would be—I think he will not disagree with me when I say that the answer was that he would not be found on the recruiting platform. I think he has kept loyally off the recruiting platform. He has a perfect right to his opinions, but if I believe in making the voluntary system a success I ought to be determined to show it, and I ought not to avail myself of an opportunity, when a Bill comes before the House with the direct object of assisting in making that voluntary system a complete success, to throw obstacles in the way, or try to read into the Bill something the Bill does not intend. I should not make innuendoes against the good faith of the Prime Minister, and I again say, however unwilling I am to enter into these matters of controversy, that having been put here on this bench by the majority of the party with whom my hon. Friend and myself were associated, and I hope will be associated in days to come, I am going to act honourably towards the majority of my colleagues, and towards the policy they have espoused. I venture to say they have shown right nobly their determination to make the voluntary system a success, and I shall be surprised if when the Division is taken, if it is taken, I do not find the majority of the party in support of the voluntary system, and which has done so much on the recruiting platform, standing loyally by the policy they adopted months and months ago.
Many of the objections to which we have listened surely must be admitted to be on points that ought to be brought before the Committee during the Committee stage. I think I have never listened to a 149 Debate where so many of the speeches seemed to be crammed full of the points we invariably have at the Committee stage, and I hope those hon. Members in different parts of the House who have raised these more minor points will be prepared to give the Bill a Second Reading, knowing that they will have the fullest opportunity during the Committee stage of raising their different points by Amendment. I think I am right in saying that my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board will be prepared, as did the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Munitions the other day, to give the most sympathetic consideration to any practical Amendment to assist in furthering the object of the Bill. It is said that the Bill, owing to its compulsory provisions, is an interference with individual liberty. Well, I happen to preside for the time being over a Department which, so far as my hon. Friends and myself who have been associated with the Labour party since 1906 are concerned, I think I would have to stand and confess we have never been able to get sufficient compulsion. I think the first Bill I ever introduced in the name of the party was a Bill to compel local authorities to feed school children. I think the whole of our educational system is built up on compulsion, and as I have understood both the Radical and Socialist system, it has always been that we never could get enough of it. I read an interesting article—which my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn will remember the point—I think about two days ago, in which he was telling the Government how to raise its finance, and he told us in language as emphatic as he could use—and we know what he can do in that respect when he cares—that the Government ought to raise the money by compulsion. How can he use compulsion in regard to finance? Mind, I am prepared to support compulsory finance to any extent necessary to complete this War. I am going to treat compulsory finance just as I should treat compulsory registration, if it is essential to the satisfactory termination of this War, and to bringing the Allied cause, on which so much labour and sacrifice has been spent out, right on top, in exactly the same way as I would treat education in normal conditions; and finance under the exceptional conditions under which the country is now placed. I hope, therefore, that when the Division comes to be taken, our friends will 150 recognise that the Government have been influenced to take up this measure because of a desire to act with caution and foresight, and I will venture to say that if we get the register first, I hope we shall in a few months time be all the more qualified to carry through the War to a successful termination on the principle of the voluntary system that hitherto has proved itself such a magnificent success.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
I desire in a very few words to give all the support in my power to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. This Debate appears to me to be in some respects one of the most remarkable that I ever recollect. In no respect is it more remarkable than in this, that never in any Debate that I recollect in the House of Commons have more speeches been made from some quarters of the House, at a time of crisis like this, more calculated to give hope and encouragement to the enemy. The first speech of that character was that of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the first Amendment. The right hon. Friend on my right to-night, blamed the speech of my right hon. Friend sitting near to me, because he said that he had not recognised nor answered the objections of the right hon. Gentleman to whom I have just referred. He did not, and for the beet possible reason in the world. Every objection raised by that right hon. Gentleman had been forestalled in the speech of my right hon. Friend opposite with which he introduced and moved the Second Reading of the Bill this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman opposite never said one single word or made the smallest attempt to meet or refute things in any possible way, and the House knows perfectly that I have spoken accurately in saying so.
The right hon. Gentleman (Sir T. Whittaker) delivered a violent harangue, full of abuse, full of strong language. Beyond that there was nothing to refute; the speech was one of declamation, and declamation alone, without the smallest attempt to meet or reply to a single word said by my right hon. Friend. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter followed the hon. Member for Carlisle. My hon. and learned Friend delivered, I thought, and I believe the House thought, a most able and admirable speech—no matter whether they agreed or disagreed with the sentiments. My hon. and learned Friend rose in a comparatively thin House, which filled very rapidly, and his speech was listened to 151 with marked attention. Everybody remembers that. Whether they agree with him or not, I think they will agree that the speech had a very considerable effect upon the House. Upon the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Denman) that speech had this effect: He said, "One or two more speeches like that, and there will be an end to the truce between the two parties in this House." What he meant I do not know. I was quite unable to follow him. But I could not help thinking, before he bad spoken more than a couple of minutes, of the singular contrast between the speech of the hon. Gentleman who preceded him and his critic; for, while the one had filled the House, and left the bon. Member who succeeded him in possession of an excellent House, the reply of the hon. Gentleman in the first three or four minutes practically emptied the House.
One of the most remarkable things in the Debate is the extraordinary number of Amendments which have been put down, and they are still more remarkable because of some features in the career of most of those hon. Members who have put these Amendments down. I was very much struck with the fact when my attention was called to it. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle severely criticised my right hon. Friend. What are his credentials to the confidence of the country when he is dealing with any question connected with the War? Has he forgotten a certain day towards the end of December, 1913, when he and a number of others waited upon the Prime Minister, and for what purpose? That deputation called on the Prime Minister to insist, so far as they were able, on his reducing the Estimates for the Navy, and on the preparations for war. What would have been the position if their feeble advice had been taken? The position they took up damned them one and all for all time if ever they have the assurance to offer advice again to the Government or to Parliament in regard to the course to be pursued with the War.
The hon. Member for Carlisle was not the only Gentleman who took that course. The Amendments include one put down by the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Clough), the third is by the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt), and the fourth is by the hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. J. W. AVilson). There is another Gentleman—I cannot read out his name, that would be out of order—but he attended that deputa- 152 tion, or was one of its supporters. There are several other Members in the House, indeed a great number, and amongst those to whom I have referred many wish to take an active part in this Debate. What is the value of their opinions on this or any other subject?
What is the value of their opinions on the War, or to the country, when the only certificate they have to produce is that a few months before the War they did all they could to induce the Prime Minister to reduce the Navy, when at a time if their advice had been taken it might have been fatal to the fortunes of their country? I have one further observation to make. I have heard hon. Member after hon. Member on the opposite side of the House quoting various newspapers as if we in this House on either side—it matters not to which party we belong—were responsible for all that is said in the Press. There was a very grave and wrong reflection. The hon. Gentleman who made it should really be ashamed of making it against two men like the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the President of the. Local Government Board, both of whom in their places in Parliament have given the plainest and most positive assurance that this is not a Bill that means compulsion or is to be used for the purpose of compulsion. Not being satisfied with those assurances, and being unable to make the speeches, I suppose, that they desired to make, they fall back upon anonymous paragraphs in the newspapers. These are the sources upon which they relied for their attacks upon this Bill and on the Government.
I do not know I ever regretted listening to a Debate in this House more than I have felt regret in listening to the Debate to-night, and I do most earnestly venture to make one more appeal—I have made several appeals already since I have been engaged in considering measures dealing with this crisis—and that is, that those hon. Gentlemen who have been so antagonistic and shown so much hostility to this Bill and to the Government, who are responsible for it, will make an effort even yet to put party feeling and party conditions out of their minds, if only for a few hours, and resolve at a time like this to show a united front to the enemy with whom we are in deadly conflict—a conflict which, believe me, is very far from being finished yet—a conflict with regard to which, so far as its ultimate issue is concerned, I have never had, and never shall have, a shadow of a doubt, but on one 153 condition: that the English Parliament and the English people are united.
§ Mr. R. C. LAMBERT
I am bound to say that I have been struck by one very singular fact throughout this Debate, and that is that the Tory party seems to have adopted bureaucratic Socialism, and the Socialist party to some extent has joined hands with it. I must be forgiven if, as an old-fashioned Liberal, I feel bound to give expression to what I believe are Liberal principles, and, whether there be a Coalition Government or not, I still hold that it is my duty in this House, as the representative of an industrial constituency, to give expression to the Liberal principles which I was returned to represent. I do not think that anybody can accuse me, at all events, of having done anything either to hinder, or do anything but further our cause in this struggle. I have given a great deal of time, and willingly, towards helping at recruiting meetings. I have done what I could. I believe with all my heart and soul in our cause in this War. I am certain that our cause is just, but I believe in it because I am a Liberal, and because I regard this as a Liberal war. We are fighting the cause of Liberalism against Prussianism. We are fighting for Liberalism and freedom, and against that very bureaucracy which has been dignified in this House as being method—business method. We shall never defeat Prussianism and militarism in this great War by adopting Prussianism ourselves. We shall never be able to Prussianise half as well as the Germans can, and I am certain that if we attempt any such thing we are foredoomed to failure.
It has been denied by the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Bill that this Rill is Prussianism. I cannot conceive how anyone who looks at Clauses 5, 6, and 7, which are the very essence of the Bill, and without which the Bill is useless and unworkable, can deny that we are setting up almost identically the system of registration which obtains in Prussia and also in Russia. We are forcing people to register. We are giving them a passport—I think the right hon. Gentleman called it a tieket-of-leave. [An HON. MEMBER: "Quote!"] We are giving them this ticket-of-leave, and those people, whenever they change their residence—and working people are accustomed to change their dwellings very often, quite reasonably and rightly—are expected to produce this certificate—this ticket-of-leave—and 154 get a new one in its place. I say that that is a most utterly unwarranted infringement of the liberty of the subject. I further say that the framers of this Bill—the Government—are evidently totally unaware of the opposition that they will meet. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] In the country. It is a very convenient thing for hon. Gentlemen opposite to imagine, as they have imagined in the past, between elections, that the country will endorse all that they say. Whenever it has been put to the test in late years it has been shown that that Tory argument is unfounded, and I say that you are going to have, if you pass this Bill, passive resistance again in an aggravated form in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] I agree; but shame on those who pass it. [An HON. MEMBER: "How about the Insurance Act?"]
I would like to say this—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!" "Sit down!" and "Shame!"] We were told by the Prime Minister at the beginning of this War that no attempt would be made to pass controversial measures in this House. We were told that the Government would strictly adhere to that pledge. I claim that this is a highly controversial measure, and as a highly controversial measure I hold the Prime Minister to the pledge that he gave, and I ask that it should not be proceeded with. I do not know why hon. Members are so anxious to prevent my being heard. [An HON. MEMBER: "You are not fit to be heard!"] Hon Members may think what they like; let them answer what I have to say. I want to say, further, that if the Government are really sincere in their desire, as I believe they are, to avoid controversial legislation; if the Prime Minister desires that this Coalition should receive the continued support of all those who are quite as anxious as hon. Members opposite to see this War brought to a successful conclusion; and if we are to be allowed, as we ought to be allowed, and as we have a right to demand to be allowed, to express our free opinions in a free House of Commons, then I say there is only one course which, in my judgment at all events, is open to the Government, and that is to withdraw this Bill which is so obnoxious to a large section of the Members of this House. But, whether they do that or not, I would earnestly appeal to the Government, at all events, not to force us to come to a decision to-night.
155 I know there are a great many hon. Members on this side of the House who desire to express their opinions on this Bill. There are many of us who have been unable hitherto to have the chance of saying what we think. I would earnestly ask the Government, if they cannot see their way to withdraw the Bill, at all events to give us another day so that it may be properly debated before, we go to a Division on the Second Reading. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I do not think that is an unreasonable request and for that reason I desire to move "That the Debate be now adjourned."
But Mr. SPEAKEB, being of opinion that the Motion was an abuse of the Rules of the House, declined to propose the Question thereupon to the House.
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ Sir W. BYLES
I dislike the Bill before us as much as anyone in the House, and quite as much as any of my hon. Friends who are going to vote against it. I have no doubt most of them expect to find me in their Lobby, but I intend to vote for the Bill and for this reason alone: I am grateful, Mr. Speaker, that you have given me an opportunity of speaking, because I did not wish to give a silent vote. I believe the country which I love and which we all love is in very great danger, a far greater danger than the bulk of the population realise. I regard the Government as the only political bulwark which stands between us and that danger. The Government of the day is really a Committee of Public Safety, and having carefully thought the matter out during the day, I cannot bring myself to weaken their power even by one single vote against them, any more than if I were on a ship in a dangerous storm I would weaken the arms of the man at the helm.
§ Mr. WHYTE
I think the Government may regret the course which the Debate has taken, but if they do then they have only themselves to thank. With a good case in favour of the Bill they have allowed the Debate to proceed until ten o'clock at night, with hardly any speaker in support of it, with the result that the impression will go forth to-morrow, no matter what the vote at the end may be, that the weight of argument in the House of Commons was against the Bill proposed by the Government and not in its favour. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] I 156 cannot for one moment agree with the hon. Gentleman who represents the Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Sir H. Craik) that the arguments brought forward against this Bill were either few or negligible. Setting aside the spirit in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir T. Whittaker) attacked the Bill, the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tyneside (Mr. J. M. Robertson) and the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) brought forward deserved to be met, and met at once, because they were real arguments. But the Government allowed the case, to which I presume they attach importance, practically to go by default throughout the whole of this Debate. The Government Benches have been almost empty throughout the Debate—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—this is a complaint that has been made before—and yet this is a question upon which the policy of the new Government hinges, and necessarily hinges. I must say that, though a great part of the attack made upon the Bill was no doubt unfair, it is the kind of attack which the head of the Government and the leading members of the Government should have been present to hear, because upon it a great part of the legislative work of this House will be probably done before the War is over.
I imagine, if the Government had really taken the House into its confidence, that it would have said that the military situation in practically every field of operations at this moment is serious, that we necessarily, in view of what has happened recently, must bring ourselves face to face with the possibility of having to shoulder a far larger burden of the War than we have done in the past. When I say that, I do not for one moment accept the words of an hon. and gallant Member who spoke from the other side of the House in attempting to belittle that part which we have already taken in the War, and no one who knows the French people will accept the description which he gave of their feelings. They know, as well as we know, that but for the fact of the British Fleet the War would have been won or lost already, and that neither we nor the French are likely to forget. As I say, the very fact of the situation of the French in regard to population and the preponderance of organisation on the German side leads us necessarily to the conclusion, that possibly—I do not say probably—we may have to share a far larger part of the military 157 burdens of the War upon land than we have done m the past; and, if that is a possibility, then we must reckon up our account now for it, and not when it is too late.
I do not for one moment suggest that the speech made by the President of the Board of Education, a splendid speech in support of the Bill, was not honest and sincere. I agree with him. I believe the voluntary system will carry us through, but I say that unless the very success of the voluntary system is to wreck our industrial effort at home in this War we must take measures now before it is too late to see that when we do ask for another million men they shall be drawn with the least possible disturbance from the civilian population. That is the justification for this Bill. If you push the argument as to precaution a little further and say that we may be face to face some day, if the War lasts long, with the necessity of even using compulsion, then I say that any Government in power, looking to the fact that it may be a long War, is bound in its honour to the country to take such measures as will make such proposals and measures possible. This Bill does not commit the Government or the country to compulsion, but it does commit the Government and the country to the necessity of bringing themselves face to face with the facts of the case, and undoubtedly the facts of the case include the possibility, as I have said, of our being called upon in our own interest and in our own honour to bear a far larger military burden than we have borne in the past.
It has been suggested that this Bill means the Prussianisation of the country. The essence of the Prussian system lies not in the fact that the Government by it applies compulsion to the people of the country, it lies in the fact that the means of compulsion in Prussia are exalted from being a means to being an end, and surely my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) has confidence enough in his own people to see that they will never exalt military means above those political and social ends for which he and I live. I dare him to stand up here or on the platform in the country and to tell the people that they are necessarily committed to the Prussianisation of this country because in their extremity they may have been forced to adopt part of the Prussian system. I have more faith in the British democracy. I was one of the out-and-out opponents of Lord Roberts. I am not ashamed of it to-day. An hon. Member says I ought 158 to be. I am not proposing to adopt compulsion, but I am not going to oppose this Bill, which may make compulsion possible if it is necessary. I am not going to oppose this Bill because I have been opposed to compulsion in times past. I am not going to enter into arguments in relation to national service in times of peace. We have passed from times of peace to a time of War, and if some of us are to confess that we have made mistakes in the political outlook in times gone by, I think there will have to be a pretty general all-round confession. We cannot throw stones at one another in regard to what we have said or left unsaid in times of peace. I appeal to the Government, in their prosecution of the measure contained in this Bill, to act resolutely, and to take the country into their confidence, when they ask for this or that, and not leave it in the dark. I join with my hon. Friend below the Gangway in saying, "Do not forsake the principles and faith we, have held dear in times of peace, but do not present even an appearance of division in time of war."
§ Mr. ANEURIN WILLIAMS
I came to this Debate with an open mind on this question. I came as one prepared to support this Coalition Government or any other Government which might, at any time, have the waging of this great national struggle in its hands. I came as one who has done his share in a humble way in promoting recruiting in the country, as one who is ready, if necessary, and if a case is made out, to vote not only for registration but even for conscription, although I share entirely the feeling of the hon. Member who spoke of that as a tragedy. I confess, after listening to the Debate, I do not consider that a good case has been made out for this Bill, and therefore I for one cannot vote for it. We have had hon. Members here who have spoken of compulsion, from a Socialist point of view, as a good thing in itself, and who have talked as if Radical Members were also committed to that theory. I take it almost every Member of this House to whatever Party he belongs, if he thinks the matter over carefully, will say that compulsion is only tolerable when it delivers us from worse evils.
We have been told it is almost criminal to criticise this Bill brought forward by the Government. If that is so let us have this House of Commons abolished for the time of the War. I notice there are a 159 good many Members who cheer that sentiment. But I say that while we are here we have our duty to perform, and we have to express our opinions on the proposals that are brought before us. I venture to assert that the arguments that have been brought forward to prove that this Bill is necessary or useful for the promotion of the production of munitions and of industry will not, to my mind, hold water for one minute. There has not been any serious attempt to show that the Bill is necessary and useful for that purpose. The only argument really of any importance that has been brought forward is that, in order to organise our resources, it is necessary to know what they are—that is, to know the amount of labour available in the different departments. I venture to say in a great national emergency like this, when we are needing munitions and when we are needing soldiers and needing them quickly, too, the only way to organise is for the Government to demand at once what they want, and to come forward and say clearly, "We want so-and-so." Then they will get it.
The President of the Local Government Board or the Parliamentary Secretary said that the hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Gloucestershire had filled up a form, and had thereby disclosed the valuable fact that he was a motorist. If the Government want motorists, it is not necessary to register 25,000,000 people in this country. Let them announce that they want 10,000 motorists and they will get volunteers with very little trouble. If they want 100,000 munition workers they can get them; in fact, they have almost got them. If they want a million more men to register as recruits for the Army, to be called upon as soon as they can be dealt with, they can get them by declaring the need, and declaring it with no uncertain sound. Let them give a clear certain sound and they will get them, but the trumpet so far has given out an uncertain sound, and who then will prepare him for the battle? After listening to the Debate I am convinced that no case has been made out, so far as industry is concerned. I believe it will only be diverting the public mind from its real need, which is for the Government to make up its mind what work is wanted and to proceed to organise that work and demand the labour for it.
I am convinced, from the arguments I have heard, that the real object of those 160 who really like this Bill—that does not, in my opinion, include all the Government by a great deal—is to catalogue the young men of this country in view of conscription. In my belief, it is a secret and indirect way of bringing about that result. If the Government had come here and said that the country is in dire need, that conscription may be necessary by and by, and that we ought to prepare for it and to have a list—if they had said that frankly to us, then there would be a great deal to be said for it. But that has not been the line taken. Therefore, I, for one, still hold to the opinion I have held, that conscription is not necessary, that you can get freely the men whom you need, and that we ought to stick to that until a Government comes on its responsibility and openly and unmistakably declares to us that they must prepare for that emergency. For my part I cannot support any secret and indirect method of bringing about that system. I only-hope that this Bill will not produce in the country anything like the effect it has produced in this House. Some people say that there will be no harm in passing this Bill, even if there be no good. I cannot agree with that at all. I do not believe in the idea that we can fight conscription later on if this Bill goes through, as I suppose it will go through. I do not say I am going to vote against it: I am certainly not going to vote for it, and the Government must take the responsibility. If it goes through, in my opinion voluntaryism will be made to fail in no long time. There are a good many-people in this country who have no love for voluntaryism in recruiting, and as soon as this Bill goes through they will say, "Now we have the list and the means of enforcing conscription, the sooner the voluntary system is an evident failure the better." I am certain, therefore, that the way which is put before us is not the best way. It is not in accordance with the free spirit of a unanimous country. It is a certain precursor of compulsion, and will divert the mind of the country from its real needs and from the fact, perhaps, that those real needs are being neglected by the Government. It will hinder all that for which we would all give our lives gladly, namely, the prosecution of this War to a speedy and victorious issue.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
As I understand that one of my right hon. Friends is going to wind up the Debate, before he does so perhaps he will allow me to address half 161 a dozen words to him. I have listened carefully to the whole of this Debate, and I think I have hardly missed a speech in it. No one who has been in the House since the beginning of the War can have failed to be struck with the difference in the temper to-night from what it has been on any previous night since 4th August last. Very strong feelings have been aroused by the speeches which have been delivered from one side of the House or the other. I will do my best not in any way to add anything to the passions which may have been felt by Members present during the Debate. It seems almost certain that a Division in which the Members of the minority will be very considerable will arise, and it seems to all of us most desirable that that Division should not take place if by any means it can be averted. In the belief of a great number of people, of whom I proclaim myself one, there has been at some time a purpose behind this Bill which is not to be found in the actual text of the measure. We have had a direct repudiation from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that whatever may have been its originating force, that force no longer obtains. I put that in as a parenthesis of my own.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I did not mean to attribute that to the right hon. Gentleman. All I wanted to say was that he, at all events, does not entertain at this time any feeling which will lead him to take action which some of us suspect was the originating force of this Bill. I would beg him to remember that this is a new principle which is being enunciated by the Bill which we fear will have the most grievous consequences if it finds a place on the Statute Book of this realm, and which we are determined to resist with all the strength that we possess. A Division in this House on principles of this sort, if taken to-night, will not end tonight. They will be perpetuated in every measure which is put before the House if this principle of compulsion is to be found in any Bill which is put before us, because we who are opposed to that compulsion attach so much importance to it. Cannot we, by some concession on the part of the Government, reconcile these two sets of opinions, which are felt so strongly? I speak for myself. I have no right to speak for anyone but myself, though I have taken counsel with some of my hon. Friends. I think 162 there is hardly any concession which we should not be prepared to make to the Government if they woud meet us in this respect. On representations made by the then Opposition the late Government abandoned the compulsion which was proposed to be applied under the Resolution of this House to the sellers and manufacturers of liquor. The Opposition of that day thought they were entitled—and I do not question their right—to offer the most strenuous opposition to what were the views of the then Government, and which the then Government held to be most necessary to the prosecution of the War. The present Government think that this Bill is most necessary to the prosecution of the War. Just as the then Opposition was opposed to the principle of compulsion, so there is a strong opposition in this House now to the principle of compulsion, and as the Government of that day yielded to the Opposition of that day, is it not possible—and I really speak in the interests of peace—for the present Government to make some concession of so substantial a nature to the opposition with which they are now threatened—and which is sure to recur upon the Committee stage of this Bill—as will remove the necessity for a Division to-night? A Division of this House is sure to spread to divisions in the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Has any hon. Member ever known a division of opinion in this House which has not subsequently found expression in the country?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
It may not be so negligible as the hon. Gentleman thinks, at any rate, the people who are opposed to this Bill are in serious earnest, just as the hon. Member is in serious earnest in his support of it. What we have to protect—and it is our greatest asset in this War—is the moral unanimity of this country in the prosecution of the War, and I would beg my right hon. Friend (Mr. McKenna) in the furtherance of the War, and in order to maintain united opinion in this House and in the country, in the face of the enemies of the country, that he should make some concession to the very strong feeling which has been expressed throughout the whole of this Debate.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. McKenna)
If I knew what concession could be made on the principle of the Bill without destroying its utility I should be only too glad on 163 behalf of the Government to announce a concession. But I really think that this Bill has been misunderstood. When a Bill becomes a flag it is apt to be misunderstood; when it revives memories of what some call principles and the opponents call prejudices on either side, it is very likely to become a subject of heated controversy. But now, in the midst of the War, I ask that this Bill, which is put forward by a united Government, should be looked at for what it does and nothing more. I think that is right. I think that we are entitled to ask that the Bill should be considered for what it does and not for what hon. Members may read into it. I have been twenty years in this House, and during the whole of that time, right or wrong, I have been a strong party man, and, I confess quite frankly, be it right or wrong, that the old Adam is not dead in me; but now, in this War, I would support everything that would make for success, and I would subordinate everything to success. Notwithstanding that I urge that now, I say equally truly and equally firmly that in this Bill not one single Liberal principle is subordinated. What does this Bill do? There is only one principle in it. It is a Census Bill, and like every Census Bill it is compulsory. Outside the compulsory Census everything else is permissive.
§ Mr. McKENNA
It does apply to Ireland, but in Ireland the machinery is quite different from the machinery in this country, because in Ireland the conditions are quite different. If my hon. Friend will take it from me I really could give him a complete answer with regard to Ireland. But this Bill, which applies to men and women alike, is a Census Bill. I may be asked, why is a Census necessary to-day? A Census is necessary to-day first, because since the old Census between two and three million of men have been withdrawn, and the old Census has become useless, and in the second place, because we have got to consider new duties and new obligations. Do not let me be misunderstood upon this point. Let me explain to my hon. Friends by actual experience what I mean. Quite recently, a few months ago when I was at the Home Office, I appointed a Committee to inquire into matters relating to the coal fields. There was a strong Committee of employers and miners who were to investigate all ques- 164 tions relating to recruiting in the coal fields. There was considerable objection to the original terms of reference because it was supposed that this Committee was a recruiting committee. When it was explained what the purpose of the Committee was, that it was not necessarily a recruiting committee but a Committee to find out where the recruiting sergeant might go with safety and where he ought to stay-away, all objections were removed. My hon. Friend (Mr. Brace) reminds me that the Committee reported that it was dangerous to recruit further to any large extent in the mining areas. [An HON. MEMBEB: "They have taken no notice of it!"] I am not sure that sufficient notice has been taken of it. But more notice would have been taken of it if we had been able to send the recruiting sergeant off to some other areas where he would have been able to do better work.
But I am very much interested, not financially, in the sugar industry, and here again I am constantly approached by sugar refiners who are engaged in producing a necessary food, who say that if many men are taken from their works they will be unable to supply the public needs of sugar. Am I not entitled to know the number of people who are engaged in the sugar industry, and whether there is not some other and more fruitful field for the recruiting sergeant than the sugar refineries? That is all that I understand to be in this Bill. So far as I understand this Bill, there is nothing else in it than that. Let me go to another object of this Bill. I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Finsbury. He was supporting the Bill, but I am bound to say that if I were to agree with his arguments in support of the Bill I should be opposed to it. He stated, with all the firmness of conviction, that 10,000,000 of Germans are now under arms, and that it was certainly our duty to have no less than 6,000,000 of men under arms. Now I want information as to the numbers, because I think that the numbers will show that all such ideas are absolutely illusory. We have undertaken certain responsibilities and duties in this War. We have undertaken to keep command of the sea, and we have undertaken certain great financial responsibilities towards our Allies as well as towards our own soldiers, and when we fulfil those responsibilities it is absolutely illusory to believe that you could take these vast numbers of men from the trade of the country. That is my opinion.
165 I may be right or wrong, but I am willing to face the information. If I am wrong, let us have the information as to the number of men and women in our industries complete. I believe that whenever we have the information I shall be justified in my view. When the hon. Member talks of taking 6,000,000 of men he is talking of an absolute impossibility, if we are to feed the forty millions of men and women who remain behind; if we are to supply the munitions and guns and necessary equipments of 6,000,000 of men who are fighting; and if, last of all, we are to maintain our responsibility to our Allies by commanding the seas and supplying the commodities they require. Whether we can perform this task or not, whether we are capable of it or not, whatever our abilities, we can never act until the facts are brought before us in the form of a return. I want the figures, and I believe that when we have the figures a great many bubbles will be burst and a great many myths dispelled. We shall know what our capacities are, and we shall equally realise what the capacities of the Germans are. I do not believe in all these exaggerated figures. I do not believe in the manufacturing capacity of any nation being undiminished; I do not believe in what my hon. Friend says, that it is necessary the Government should demand labour and at once take what it wants. I do not believe the labour is there. That is why I want the Bill. But when these exaggerated demands are made, when it is believed that you have only got to demand and you will get, you are making a mistake. You can only deal with the materials which you have got, with the men, machinery and plant and power which is at your disposal. You cannot multiply them by demands. What you have got to do is to find out what are the statistics. This is a statistical Bill, and as a statistical Bill I ask my hon. Friend not to believe that we are imperilling British labour and the great Liberal ideals of the past. Then the hon. Member for Swindon, a little carried away, spoke of this Bill as Prussianism. I abhor Prussianism just as much as he does. I have not departed from one single principle I have ever held, but I think we should omit no precaution and no information. I have never heard that it is Prussianism to learn and to know. This Bill is a means of information and nothing else. We want to know what our resources are, where we may recruit, where we should not recruit, 166 what the totality of British competence in this country will be. When we know that, then will be the time for us to draw proper information from the facts which we have learned.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I wish for a few minutes to call attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Blackburn. He recently made the statement that it would be a crime against the liberties of the people—
§ Mr. PRINGLE
On a point of Order. Is it relevant to the discussion which is now before the House what the hon. Member for Blackburn said in regard to liberty?
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
The hon. Member for Blackburn has been for many years an apostle of Socialism in this country. If Socialism means anything, it means compulsion in every branch. Everything that a man is to eat or to drink, when he is to go out, and what wages he is to receive; every principle under which he is to live is to be under compulsion; but when it comes to organising the industries for the piling up of munitions or for registration purposes, the hon. Member is at once found to be an opponent of the principle that he held. Now, where is the hon. Member? Let me put this question to him: If you cannot carry this War to a successful conclusion without compulsion, are you going to use compulsion or not. It is all very well for my hon. Friends here to be talking about Liberalism. What we have got to do is to carry the War to a successful conclusion. Every wise man takes stock of what his assets are when he finds himself embarked on a great undertaking of this kind. This Bill is for the purpose, and for the purpose only, of putting the Government in the position of knowing when such days come, when compulsion is necessary, where we stand. Can any man in this House get up and say that, if the Germans are able to carry on this War, and we are not able to deal with the position by the voluntary system, we are not to have compulsion? And can anybody say that in the 167 last extremity we must not have compulsion? Nobody does say so. If that be the case, what can be the reason why any man can say, when we are asking the nation to equip itself and to give to the Government the information necessary to enable this work to be done, that my hon. Friends here, or in any other part of the House, should not readily give the Government this Bill? The hon. Member for Blackburn and the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. E, Macdonald)—we really ought to know
§ where we stand, whether they are friends of Germany or friends of this country. The hon. Member for Barrow stated that his colleagues would not even vote supplies for the War. I think the hon. Member let the cat out of the bag—
§ Mr. McKENNA rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 259; Noes, 16.169
|Division No. 4.]||AYES.||[10.59 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Duncannon, Viscount||Joynson-Hicks, William|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Elverston, Sir Harold||Kerry, Earl of|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Keswick, Henry|
|Astor, Waldorf||Falle, Bertram Godfray||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Fell, Arthur||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Fletcher, John Samuel||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Forster, Henry William||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut-Colonel A. R.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Foster, Philip Staveley||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||France, Gerald Ashburner||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Ganzoni, Francis John C.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Gardner, Ernest||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Bigland, Alfred||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Bird, Alfred||Gibbs, G. A.||Maclean, Donald|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Glanville, Harold James||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Goldsmith, Frank||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Goldstone, Frank||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Gordon, John||M'Curdy, Charles Albert|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Boyton, James||Grant, J. A.||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Brace, William||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Gretton, John||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Bull, Sir William James||Haddock, George Bahr||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Butcher, John George||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Hall, Marshall (Liverpool, E. Toxteth)||Middlebrook, William|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Cator, John||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza|
|Cautley, H. S.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. George||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Mooney, John J.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Morgan, George Hay|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Morrell, Philip|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robert (Herts, Hitchin)||Haslam, Lewis||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Holme, Sir Norval Watson||Mount, William Arthur|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Neville, Reginald J. A.|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Henry, Sir Charles||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Higham, John Sharp||Nield, Herbert|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hinds, John||Nolan, Joseph|
|Cowan, W. H.||Hodge, John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Holmes, Daniel Turner||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Crooks, William||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Currie, George w.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Dairymple, Hon. H. H.||Horne, Edgar||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hudson, Walter||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Hunt, Rowland||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Dixon, C. H.||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Ingleby, Holcombe||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Jackson, Hon. F. S. (York, E.R.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Jessel, Colonel H. M.||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Radford, G. H.||Sharman-Crawford, Colonel R. G.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Randles, Sir John S.||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Wardle, George J.|
|Rawson, Colonel R. H.||Spear, Sir John Ward||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Stanler, Beville||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Rees, Sir J. D.||Starkey, John Ralph||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Rendall, Athelstan||Staveley-Hill, Henry||Whyte, Alexander F.|
|Roberts, Charles H, (Lincoln)||Stewart, Gershom||Wiles, Thomas|
|Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Swift, Rigby||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Rolleston, Sir John||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Rothschild, Lionel de||Thomas, J. H.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Rutherford, John (Lanes., Darwen)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Thorne, William (West Ham)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Thynne, Lord Alexander||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Tickler, T. G.||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Tootill, Robert||Younger, Sir George|
|Sanders, Robert Arthur||Touche, George Alexander||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Sanderson, Lancelot||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Tryon, Captain George Clement||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord E.|
|Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Turton, Edmund R.||Talbot and Mr. Guliand.|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Clough, William||Outhwaite, R. L.||Snowden, Philip|
|Ginneli, Laurence||Pratt, J. W.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|John, Edward Thomas||Pringle, William M. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Shaw, Hon. A.||Hogge and Mr. R. C. Lambert.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."170
§ The House divided: Ayes, 253; Noes, 30.171
|Division No. 5.]||AYES.||[11.10 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Goldstone, Frank|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Clyde, J. Avon||Grant, J. A.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Gretton, John|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Cowan, W. H.||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Haddock, George Bahr|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Craik, Sir Henry||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Crooks, William||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Currie, George W.||Hall, Marshall (Liverpool, E. Toxteth)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Dairymple, Hon. H. H.||Hamersley, Alfred St. George|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Denniss, E. R. B.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Dixon, C. H.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)|
|Bird, Alfred||Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Haslam, Lewis|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Helme, Sir Norval Watson|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Duncannon, Viscount||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)|
|Boyton, James||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Kan. Sq.)|
|Brace, William||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Falle, Bertram Godfray||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Fell, Arthur||Hewins, William Albert Samuel|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Kigham, John Sharp|
|Bull, Sir William James||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Hinds, John|
|Burdett-Coutts, W||Fishar, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Hodge, John|
|Butcher, John George||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Fletcher, John Samuel||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Forster, Henry William||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Cator, John||Foster, Philip Staveley||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Cautley, H. S.||France, Gerald Ashburner||Horne, E.|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. George||Ganzoni, Francis John C.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Hudson, Walter|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gibbs, G. A.||Hunt, Rowland|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robert (Herts, Hitchin)||Glanville, Harold James||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Goldsmith, Frank||Ingieby, Holcombe|
|Jackson, Hon. F. S. (York, E.R.)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Jessel, Colonel H. M.||Nield, Herbert||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Nolan, Joseph||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Kenyon, Barnet||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Stanier, Beville|
|Kerry, Earl of||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Starkey, John R.|
|Keswick, Henry||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Orde-Powlett, Hon. w. G. A.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Swift, Rigby|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Perkins, Walter F.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Pretyman, Ernest George||Tickler, T. G.|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Tootill, Robert|
|MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Radford, G. H.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Mackinder, Halford J.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Maclean, Donald||Randles, Sir John S.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Rawson, Colonel R. H.||Valentia, Viscount|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Rees, Sir J. D.||Wardle, George J.|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Rendall, Athelstan||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||White, Col. G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wiles, Thomas|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Rolleston, Sir John||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, West)|
|Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Colonel E. C.||Rothschild, Lionel de||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Middlebrook, William||Rutherford, John (Lanes., Darwen)||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Mend, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Wood. John (Stalybridge)|
|Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Mooney, John J.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Morgan, George Hay||Sanders, Robert Arthur||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Morrell, Philip||Sanderson, Lancelot||Younger, Sir George|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Mount, William Arthur||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Scott, Sir S. Marylebene, w.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord|
|Neville, Reginald J. N.||Sharman-Crawford, Colonel R. G.||E. Talbot and Mr. Gulland.|
|Newdegate, F. A.|
|Anderson, W. C.||John, Edward Thomas||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Jowett, Frederick William||Runciman, Sir Walter (Hartlepool)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||King, Joseph||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Snowden, Philip|
|Clough, William||Lough, Rt. Hen. Thomas||Thomas, J. H.|
|Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Ginnell, Laurence||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. w. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Hogge, James Myles||Pratt, J. W.||T. Whittaker and Mr. Holt.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for to-morrow (Tuesday).