§ (1) For the purpose of enabling such a register to be compiled it shall be the duty of every person as aforesaid, within the prescribed time, to fill up and sign a form showing the following particulars—
- (a) name; place of residence; age; whether single, married, or widowed; number of dependants (if
466 any), distinguishing wife, children, and other dependants; profession or occupation (if any); name and business address of employer (if any), and nature of employer's business; and (in the case of a person born abroad) nationality, if not British; and
- (b) whether the work on which he is employed ft work for any Government Department or otherwise serving war purposes;
- (c) whether he is skilled in and able and willing to perform any work other than the work (if any) at which he is at the present time employed, and, if so, the nature thereof;
- (d) such other particulars as may be prescribed.
§ (2) The central registration authority shall cause forms to be prepared and issued to the local registration authorities, and every local registration authority shall, in accordance with the instructions from the Local Government Board, cause the forms to be distributed so as to secure that, as far as possible, a sufficient number of forms shall be left at every dwelling-house within their registration district, and shall also give public notice as to the place within the registration district where forms can be obtained.
§ (3) The local registration authority shall also make arrangements for the collection, in the prescribed manner and within, the prescribed times, of forms when filled up and signed.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "aforesaid" ["the duty of every such person as aforesaid"], to insert the words "for himself and of every occupier of a dwelling-house for any of such persons as aforesaid residing in his house."
This Amendment will greatly strengthen the Bill. It can do not possible harm. Its effect would be that when the Bill came into operation, say, on the first day, every householder will have to make a return to the local authority of every person to whom the Bill applies who is resident in his house on that particular evening. By that means you will get at the beginning a complete list of everybody you want to bring within the meshes of this Bill. An hon. Member opposite spoke of the difficulty of people shifting about. That would be minimised if you get them in the first instance. The object of this Amendment is to get them in the first instance. It 467 compels a householder of a house where a man sleeps on that particular night to make a return as well as the man himself. It is quite true that if a person desires to avoid the Bill there is no possible means of shutting out every single way of a man avoiding registration, but it certainly makes it more difficult to avoid registration if the occupier of the house where a man sleeps as well as the man himself has to make the return. This is done in the case of the Census. I do not know any sort of reason against this being done. Although you cannot force people to register, and although there may be a certain number who may wish to avoid registration, it will make a great difference if somebody else is liable to the penalty as well as these people themselves. I am very keen about the Bill, and keen about this Clause, and I think the Amendment will strengthen it.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
My Amendment is directed to that, although, perhaps, the wording requires improvement. The words "for himself" apply to every person who is bound to make the return between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five. I leave that as it is, but I propose to add the words of my Amendment, which provide that every occupier of a dwelling-house, whatever his age is, shall make a return of any person between the age of fifteen and sixty-five who is residing in his house on that particular evening. The occupier of a house may be of any age, but he is bound to make a return of anybody residing in his house between the ages dealt with in the Bill; so that if a man of eighty were the occupier and he had a servant aged thirty-five, he would make a return of the servant.
§ Mr. LONG
I understood the hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment. However, as it stands, it would mean a duplicate register in certain cases, and for that reason I should very much regret if it were accepted. I should regret it for another reason altogether. We have sought in this Bill to throw upon the individual the national obligation of registering himself and making himself responsible for the 468 fact that his services are placed at the disposal of the country, if necessary. The Amendment, to a certain extent, would remove that obligation. The hon. and learned Gentleman must admit that you cannot throw upon someone else the obligation you throw upon the individual without, to a certain extent, diminishing the responsibility or else having a duplicate registration. We propose that the individual shall register himself. He is perfectly free to decide where he shall register himself. He may be working in a district quite remote from where he lives and he may register himself in either district. He may have two or three qualifications, and he can select for which of them he will make his return. If this Bill passes it becomes the duty of all individuals to see that they are registered. This Amendment would be a very difficult one to carry out, while it would weaken the personal responsibility which we seek to attach to the people of the country by the Bill.
§ Mr. DENMAN
While I cannot endorse the concluding arguments of the right hon. Gentleman as to the weakening of personal responsibility, because the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite was very clear that the responsibility would remain with the man himself and, as I believe, with the occupier, nevertheless I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has resisted this Amendment, because the idea of duplicating the forms throughout the country is one which the whole Committee would view with some alarm. Not only would it mean duplicating them, but you would have two different kinds of forms—a form filled by the occupier which would be something quite different from the form filled by the man himself, and the magnitude of the whole operation would become even more unwieldy than it will be in any case. I hope the Amendment will not be pressed.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I think I do away with it. I only test the place where he happens to sleep that particular night. The occupier has to return the persons who happen to be in his house at the particular time when the register is taken.
§ Mr. KING
I am glad to have that assurance, but the Amendment does not say on 469 a particular night when the man sleeps in a house. The Amendment uses the word "residing." I suppose the register will not necessarily be taken on one particular night, but will probably cover two or three days. That is another reason why we should not accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
The hon. and learned Gentleman has put forward a proposal which might increase the efficiency of the register. As the Bill at present stands many people will escape altogether. There is a floating population whom it would be very difficult for the officials carrying out this register to place at a particular time. There are people who have migratory occupations; they will hardly be registered at all under the machinery of this Bill. If, therefore, the duty is placed upon every occupier, whether or not he comes within the ages specified in the Bill, to enter the names of any persons who are generally resident in his house, that will give an absolute security. It will give a double check, because, in the first instance, you will have the provision for individual registration, and if by any means the man has not been individually registered, you will have the return of the occupier of the house in which he usually resides who would be bound to register him. You would have the double security that every man you desire to register would be registered under the Clause. In those circumstances I think the proposal deserves serious consideration.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I was tempted at first to support the Amendment because I thought it would render the Bill more efficient, but after considering it, I put one or two suggestions before the right hon. Gentleman for his consideration. Supposing, as happens among the poorer sections of the people, there are lodgers in the house. There are thousands of men who live in one town and get employment in another. This Amendment would throw the responsibility on the occupier of giving the details of some of these lodgers. He might legitimately and honestly fill in details of what he believed the particular individual was doing in the town where he was working, but the occupation might have changed, and there you would find that the man himself was giving entirely different information from what the occupier was giving on his behalf. That is one difficulty, but it is not comparable to the position of those who tabulate the register. They would have two sets of in- 470 formation for the one individual, and they would be called upon to choose as between the two. There would be enough work and difficulty in obtaining one register, but this proposal only aggravates and complicates the difficulty; at the same time, instead of being efficient from the standpoint of changed occupations, it would seriously add to the difficulty.
§ Sir WILLIAM BEALE
I thought at first that this Clause did not apply to people who were over sixty-five, and therefore it would not apply to me in any way. If you are going to alter this Clause in this way, you will have to put down some Amendments to alter the penalty Clause, because that plainly and in terms only applies to people who are bound to register themselves. Then it would be exceedingly difficult for the occupier to ascertain all these particulars which are required. He could only do so to the best of his ability. He would not necessarily know them. Inaccuracies would occur as between the account of the man himself who knew all about it, and that of the occupier who could only trust to the man telling him the particulars as far as he thought fit. I suggest that the Amendment is really a little impracticable, and it will be better to leave the Clause as it stands, and throw the obligation on the individual and not on anyone else.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
With reference to the point of the hon. Member (Mr. Thomas), that the Amendment would involve a double register, and therefore great additional difficulty in tabulation, there is a great deal of force in it, but will not that difficulty arise to a large extent under the Bill as it stands, because paragraph (a) of this same Clause lays it down that the householder has to enter, not only his own name, but the number of his dependants, his wife and children, and so forth, and presumably those who have domestic servants have to return them. Supposing a man had two daughters, aged twenty and twenty-two, he would be under an obligation to enter them, as his dependants, and they would also be under the obligation of registering themselves. Consequently, those daughters who came within the prescribed age for registration would occur on two different lists.
§ Mr. LONG
Is not my hon. Friend confusing two different things? The Bill proposes that people should register themselves; therefore these two daughters, 471 being of age, would give their own particulars if they so chose. But the other case is merely that of a man who has to maintain his children or an aged mother. There is no register of the dependants. There is only the registration of the fact that the man who registered himself is responsible for the maintenance of other people.
I had intended to put down an Amendment in this sense myself. I am very desirous, though I do not like the Bill at all, that it should be made successful and complete now we have decided to carry it on. My fear is that the distribution of large numbers of these personal forms will create an amount of irritation amongst certain classes who are not accustomed to fill up forms, who very seldom write anything at all, and who would almost rather face the enemy in the field than have to do a thing of that kind. If you can reduce the number of returns, you will reduce the probability of mistakes, and this Bill will not have the tendency of making the War unpopular, which I gravely fear it will do in certain parts of the country. If the practical difficulty is not too great, I feel sure that the Act would be much more effective and have much less injurious effects on the popularity of the War throughout the country if the Amendment were accepted.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I quite agree that there is a certain amount of difficulty, but it is no greater than that which occurs in the Census papers, where you have to fill in most delicate questions with regard to all householders. As to duplication I mean it for a check, so as to see that every man does register himself who is in that house, so that when this return goes to the local committee they say, "Here is John Brown, living at 12, Such-and-Such a street, who has made no return. We will seek him out and get his return." When they get it, of course it will be classified, and the tabulated return of the occupier will not necessarily be used at all except as an indication that there is a person residing in a particular house on a particular night. and he must be got in. Therefore you will not miss anyone at all. That is the object of my classification. I thought it would strengthen the Bill because it would get hold of every single person to start with. The details would have to be got from the men themselves. However, I will not press the matter any further if my right hon. Friend is against me. I thought it would be 472 a great help to the Bill, and would ensure that you got in touch with every single person, and would not take away the liability of a man himself to register, because he would be equally bound to do so.
May I mention an important point? If this Bill is carried quickly and the forms are sent out at once, they will be in time to be distributed by the persons who distribute the rate demand, and by that means they can be left at every house. That would minimise the work and the expense.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), paragraph (a), to leave out the words whether single, married or widowed; number of dependants (if any), distinguishing wife, children and other dependants."
The object which my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Watt) had in putting down this Amendment was to obtain some statement from the Government in relation to these particulars. This paragraph asks from each person a great many extremely intimate particulars. We have been told by the right hon. Gentleman that these forms are to be collected by voluntary workers in the different localities, and that they are not to be collected by officials. In those circumstances you will have, in many cases, if I may put it as inoffensively as possible, people without any responsibility going round, and in collecting these forms they will be obtaining the most intimate particulars regarding the personal and domestic affairs of the whole male and female population in that particular locality. Unless the people who collect and distribute these forms are going to be put under the Official Secrets Act, I should object entirely to the giving of the information which is required in this paragraph and subsequent paragraphs. I think a great number of people will take strenuous exception to it. The details that are asked for in the Census are much less intimate than the details here required. In every Census Act there is a Clause which applies the Official Secrets Act to the officials engaged in carrying out the Census, and it seems to me to be an absolute necessity, from that point of view, that the same provision in relation to the Official Secrets Act should apply in regard to this inquiry.
There is a further important point. I believe that if you are going to get a 473 thoroughly good register, and if you are going to get replies which will be useful to the Government, the people who are asked to answer the questions will answer them much more fully and much more satisfactorily if they know that the information that they give is to be received under the seal of secrecy, and that no busybody in the locality is to be entitled to find out all about their close personal relations without any penalty being imposed for a breach of secrecy. If my right hon. Friend would make a statement on this Amendment regarding the Official Secrets Act a very considerable amount of objection to the inquiries which are to be made under this National Register Act would be removed, and, furthermore, you would get far more adequate replies. I beg to move the Amendment for the purpose of eliciting a statement from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. LONG
I respond at once to the invitation to say very generally, and I hope very briefly, what the intentions of the Government are In regard to this Clause. Let me take the latter part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks as to the question of secrecy. It is quite obvious that there must be a complete check upon any possibility of the divulging of information obtained in the collection of facts for this register. I do not think, however, that this would be the best Clause on which to provide that. We could do it better on Clause 12. As to the Official Secrets Act, I do not think that would be quite satisfactory to the purpose, because it will be necessary, of course, for the people authorised—that is, the Government Departments—to make use of the information confidentially. That there should be no publication, no gossiping, and no improper use made of this information is, of course, obvious, and I will insert words, the terms of which I shall be glad to give to the hon. Member, which will have the effect of imposing the severest penalties in the case of any breach of that kind. In regard to the questions that we set up, I do not pretend for a moment that the phraseology of this Sub-section is perfect. We have spent a great deal of time over their preparation and compilation, but still, no doubt, they may be a little improved, and I am quite willing to accept Amendments if it can be shown that they can improve the wording. What we really want to do is to get information from the people of the country which will enable us to see what their position really is. That is to 474 say, we ask whether they are married or single; whether they have dependants, either in the form of children of their own, or, as in some cases, dependants such as widowed mothers or relatives of that kind who are entirely dependent upon their earnings. The reason for that is, that if it is necessary, as it seems almost inevitable that it will be necessary, to migrate labour about the country, and possibly to divert labour now occupied in one class of industry to other channels, it is unquestionably desirable, if possible, to do that with the maximum productive power on the part of labour at a minimum of cost. When you come to move those who have dependants upon them you raise the whole question of housing and cognate questions in the most acute form. Therefore, if any of these steps have to be taken, it is absolutely necessary that the Government should have in their possession all the information they can possibly get. For those reasons we have set up the particulars in this Subsection. I quite admit that there is justice in the criticism of my hon. and learned Friend, that these questions do go very far into what are generally regarded as private domestic affairs, and they can only be justified by a great emergency and by a great difficulty which which calls for a special effort. Obviously we must take care that the only use made of the information thus obtained shall be official use made for the service of the State, and that there shall be every precaution taken in the statute that this information, given for the benefit of the State, shall not be used to gratify the mere idle curiosity of any individual. I shall be very glad to bring up words to meet that point.
Mr. GORDON HARVEY
I had an Amendment on the Paper at an earlier stage in regard to the question of secrecy, and I was informed by Mr. Whitley that it would be better to defer it until Clause 12. However, the point has been broached, and the right hon. Gentleman has been good enough to give favourable consideration to the matter, and has promised to present a form of words with which he hopes to satisfy the Committee on this point. I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that in addition to the matters of delicate family secrets, which are liable to lead to scandal, and the revelation of things which should be forgotten, there are other points, which are perhaps minor points, but nevertheless of real importance. There is the question of a workman filling up the form as far as he 475 can, and in that portion relating to the work that he is willing to do, answering "there is no work that I can do." That may be due not to unwillingness to do work, but to some hidden incapacity, some delicacy, the revelation of which, although it might not have interfered with the performance of his ordinary occupation, might, if it were revealed to those employing him, have a very serious effect upon his future. If an answer is given which does not satisfy those responsible for the register, they can send for the individual and cross-examine him to elucidate something which he has been desirous of concealing, and these persons will be his neighbours, and probably in some cases his employer. Another question which is very important in the opinion of some is that in reference to asking a man's age. A great many working men have a strong objection to giving information on this point. I have a letter in reference to this which I will show to the right hon. Gentleman. I need not trouble the House with it. It is an anonymous letter, but it points out the very serious doubts which the writers entertain as to whether the revelation of their ages might not interfere with their subsequent employment. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to make his form of words as wide as possible so as to meet these points.
§ Mr. THOMAS
There is no Clause in the Bill which was viewed with more apprehension by some of those who are opposed to it than this particular Clause, and the intimation of the right hon. Gentleman that regard will be paid to secrecy in this matter helps us considerably. There are some other points to which I desire to draw attention. The question as to age may mean a man losing his job. When you remember the large number of employers who treat men of a certain age as being too old, you must realise the possibility that if this information is available to the employers advantage will be taken of it. Workers therefore view it with very great apprehension. Then take the case of the large number of men who suffer from internal complaints. For instance, take hernia. I know that there are large numbers of men who would lose their employment if it were known by their employers that they had this complaint. They are efficient and they are doing their work well and will continue to do it. Yet they would probably be prevented from 476 paying that they could do other work, such as that of fitters, and for the very reason that they were suffering from that very complaint. The next matter to which I want to draw attention is the necessity of a very broad definition as to the question whether the work on which a man is engaged is "work for any Government Department, or otherwise serving war purposes." After what the right hon. Gentleman said, I will simply ask him to-consider these points.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. R. MCNEILL
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1) (a), after the word "number," to insert the words "names and ages."
As the Bill stands at present, the answer to be given includes "number of dependants (if any), distinguishing wife, children, and other dependants." I rather gather from what fell from my right hon. Friend that all that is wanted is for the registered person to say, "I am the father of so many children." My object, which is the same as that of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Rawlinson) in another Amendment, is to have some check by which it could be ascertained how far the register was correct, and that the person should not only say who his dependants are, but that he should give the names and ages so that it should be possible to compare them with the register as signed by those persons themselves. Strictly speaking, the consequential Amendment, my Amendment lower down, is directed to the same idea, that when it comes to saying what his personal occupation is he should also give information with regard to dependants who happen to be absent. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the information given in the form as it now stands is sufficient, I do not wish to press the matter, but if we had those few additional words it would add to the value of the register and give information which, as the Bill stands now, we shall not get.
§ Mr. LONG
My hon. Friend will quite appreciate the object which we had in view. Suppose that the answer given is "mother" or "grandmother," there is no object in saying "grandmother aged eighty-five." On the other hand, there is clearly no object in stating the ages of 477 his children if he has, say, five or six children, because their ages are below the age that is specified, and, therefore, they are out of all account, except that they are dependent on him for a living. Therefore, in moving this individual, you realise, with all the information before you, that you are moving a man whose movement means interference with the lives of some other people. It is for the same reason that we ask for the names of the employers. It is not for recruiting, but for the various arrangements which have to be made in connection with labour. You have very frequently unwittingly taken away the very men whom, if you had fuller information, you would have left where they were, so as to take if possible other people in their places. In the same way there are great difficulties as to the principle of recruiting for the Army, because the recruiting officer, notwithstanding what hon. Gentlemen sometimes say—and I am speaking of what I know in my own experience—has taken four or five men from one employer and none from his neighbour, the result being that the man who has lost all his men feels the burden of the War much more heavily than the employer none of whose men have been taken away. Having this information, though it would be impossible that no man should escape, we should at all events be in a much better position than we are now, and the names and ages of persons of the right age would appear in the register, and those who are not of the right age are not required to be registered at all.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. JOWETT
I beg to move, in Subsection (1) (a), after the word "dependants" ["and other dependants"], to insert the words "number and names of servants, male and female, respectively, and their occupations."
I will endeavour in a very few words to explain the purpose of this Amendment, and I hope that if the right hon. Gentleman favours it, after my short explanation, he will put words in to accomplish the object if these words are not, in his opinion, fitted for the purpose. The object of this Amendment is to place the onus on every person filling up the form to say whether or no he has in his personal service any persons, in order that the authorities may judge whether those persons might be more usefully employed in other directions. For instance, there are some 29,000 coachmen and grooms employed, 478 and nearly 15,000 employed in driving motor-cars, and motor-car attendants. We see from time to time announcements requesting subscriptions for the purpose of getting motor-cars for use in bringing soldiers from the front to the hospital, and so on. Surely it would appear that to employ chauffeurs, and others engaged in like capacities, at a time like this, in personal service, is a very improper proceeding, and the men could, in my opinion, be better engaged elsewhere. There is also this further instance, and it is the next point I wish to make, that taking males and females together there are nearly a million in domestic service, and out of these there must be a vast number who could presumably be far better employed than they are in personal domestic service.
Another point I want to mention has reference to savings, and the appeals which are urged upon the people of this country to save. Having regard to prices and the increased cost of living, it is practically impossible for any ordinary workman or workwoman to save money except at the sacrifice of something useful or needful. But there are exceptional and rich people who can save, and upon whom it should be incumbent to save; and I think the State should make it clear that the savings of those persons should be personal savings. The employers of domestic servants and chauffeurs take those persons away from national service, the production of things useful and of necessary food, for the purpose of serving their own particular will. They are the people who ought to have this obligation to save put upon them; therefore, I ask that in addition to requesting the honest workman to answer a number of questions, some of which he may dislike, we shall place upon every rich man and every rich woman the obligation to say how many people they employ or retain in their service for their particular luxury and comfort.
§ Mr. LONG
I am sorry the hon. Gentleman, in proposing the Amendment, has sought to draw, as I think, a wholly unnecessary comparison between different classes, all of which, rich and poor alike, however they may describe themselves, are united in their desire to sacrifice everything they can and so far as they can, for the common good. Personally, I should show no mercy, if I had to exercise the authority, to those who in times like these keep for their personal luxury and comfort in their employment people who ought to 479 be in the service of the State, and employed in more useful capacities. I would ask the hon. Gentleman whether he has really appreciated what we propose to do by the Bill. It seems to me that the provision of the Bill is really much more effective than the provision which he seeks to move. We make it the duty of every person not only to register himself, but in his return he has to include the name of his employer. Supposing, the case which the hon. Gentleman gave, that some selfish person is keeping in his or her employment a number of young men who ought to be doing the nation's work elsewhere, the name of such person must appear in the return, with the nature of the services rendered to him. In each case the servant, in making his return, will have to give the name of the person by whom he is employed, and therefore it seems to me that, with the hon. Member's Amendment, we would not get anything more complete than we get now by the return in which he will have to state his own description and the description of his master. If you tell me that there is any reason for a more complete remuneration, and I want it to be complete, I shall be very glad to consider it; but it seems to me that the return giving the personal duty of the individual, with the information as to his employer, covers all the ground.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
The right hon. Gentleman contends that the proposal of my hon. Friend is met by the provision as it exists. I think I can give an illustration to show that it is not quite so. A short time ago the question of allowing children to be taken away from school for farm work was discussed, and I asked a question as to the number of gamekeepers employed. The Return given showed that there were 24,000. I have no doubt that a large number of those have enlisted. My point is this: If you take a very large estate of from 40,000 to 50,000 acres, on which a large number of gamekeepers are employed, you would get a return from each individual gamekeeper as regards his own employment and the name of his employer. But those individual returns will be sent in from perhaps a number of different local authorities, whereas, if you call upon the owner to say how many game-keepers he employs, then you will get them altogether. If the purpose of this Bill is subsequently to put pressure on individuals to fulfil their responsibilities—I do not say that I am in favour of the Bill—it 480 should be applied all round, to the individual landowner as well as to the servant, and you should say to rich people who employ gamekeepers and servants that, while they are urging working men to give up their employment and serve in the Army, those gamekeepers and servants, in view of the great peril of the country, could best be employed, not in personal service, but in the service of their country under patriotic conditions.
§ Mr. HOLT
The whole of the information sought for is furnished once every year by the employer when he takes out a licence for his male servants, and all you have got to do is to look at the return which is made every January in order to get the licences for these people. It is, therefore, absolutely unnecessary to ask for any further return, since the information is already in the hands of the Government. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman who spoke last whether he really thinks that an employer of gamekeepers or anybody else ought to turn round and say, "Unless you enlist I will dismiss you." Because that is the proposition involved in the hon. Gentleman's argument.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
May I say at once I am not in favour of the principle of this Bill at all, but, if you are going to have compulsion on one section of the individuals, I think you ought to give facilities for putting compulsion on all.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I cannot permit that to go without contradiction. I said nothing of the kind. I said give him the opportunity of doing other work, such as tilling the soil, instead of the children.
§ Mr. HOLT
The hon. Member said more than that. I cannot believe that any friend of the labouring classes in any quarter of the House really thinks that employers ought to threaten their servants. I believe, also, that in a good many cases it is necessary and useful to have servants, since it assists those who employ them to perform very necessary work. Underlying 481 the hon. Gentleman's argument is the contention that servants should not be employed for any purpose. It is ridiculous to suppose that a very busy man, who is employed probably at a large salary in doing work of the highest importance, ought to mend his own boots and clothes. That is the fundamental proposition underlying the hon. Gentleman's argument. I hope that the Bill will be preserved in its present form, and that you will ask everybody to account for himsef.
§ Sir GODFREY BARING
We have just heard from the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt) that he employs parlour maids in order that he may fulfil his duties more efficiently in his house. I think the hon. Member was not quite fair to the hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Outhwaite), with whom I do not agree. I should certainly think that the hon. Member for Hanley never suggested that any threat should be used by any employer in order to make his servants enlist or anything of the kind. I do think what the hon. Member for Hexham said with regard to the male servants' licences is a sufficient answer to the hon. Member for Hanley.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
That would not be fair to the employer, as probably a number of them have enlisted since January.
§ Mr. THOMAS
We have heard economic arguments in connection with this Amendment, and the supporters of the Amendment are not exempt from blame in that connection. I do not believe than any class or any creed in this War can claim a monopoly of patriotism, because you have only to look at the casualty lists each day to see that all classes are bearing their share. Therefore I am going to approach the Amendment and argue it on the merits, because I do not think there has been any valid objection against it so far. With regard to the licence supplying all the information, that only applies to males, and this is to be a register for both sexes. Then, as well, many of those licensed in January may have enlisted or may be doing something else. Therefore, if you want complete information the method suggested by the Amendment is the only means by which you can obtain it. There is the further point as to the man, say, who has three or four houses and may have two men in the London house driving motors and two in each of the other houses. Those men would be registered in the particular town, and therefore if you want to have the information so that 482 you can see it at a glance, you can do so by means of the system proposed by the Amendment. Surely if the object is simplicity there is something to be said for it. I hope, therefore, we shall not reject the Amendment merely on the ground of the arguments that have been used on the virtues of one class or another, but that we shall only reject it if it will not help to work this Bill.
§ Mr. CAVE
I must say I am rather astonished by the arguments used in favour of this Amendment. I want to know, for the information of myself and other Members, whether, in the view of the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Jowett) and the hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Outhwaite) it is the duty of employers to discharge their servants. Is it a crime to keep servants in these conditions? We have been told, rightly or wrongly, that so far as we can we should keep our servants. They ought not to lose their employment in order that the employer may save, but, of course, if a servants is able to render war service he ought to be allowed to go, and, so far as possible, encouraged to go. I have never yet heard it suggested by anyone that it is a misdemeanour to keep a servant on who has not an immediate prospect of rendering any war service. More than that, the question arose in the very early days, "Is it right to put pressure on a servant to enlist, or otherwise to offer himself for war service?" I always took the view, and I think most hon. Members will be of the same opinion, that while it is quite fair to your servants and employés to say that you wish them if they can to do war service, but that it is going too far to say that unless they enlist they will lose their employment. If that is their view, I do not see how it can be reconciled with the view's of the hon. Gentleman who supported this Amendment. If they hold the views I gather from their speeches, one must entirely alter one's opinion as to the duties of employers in war time. The hon. Member does not suggest that the return should give the ages of the persons employed, but unless you give the age the return is not of any value, even for the purpose for which the Amendment is moved. For surely if one has a servant over military age, as I believe most male servants are to-day, it cannot be suggested as a reproach that you retain that servant in your employ. On the contrary, I think men over military age ought to be thus employed as domestic servants or drivers, 483 or for any other purpose. Therefore, the return suggested in the Amendment is of no value for the purpose the hon. Gentleman has in mind, and is founded on a wrong principle altogether. Let me add this: The Amendment does not distinguish between domestic servants and others. I do not think he means that an employer of hundreds of men should be bound to make a return of all his employés. I think that would be the effect of the Amendment, but if he does not mean it I do not want to say anything about that. I should be very glad to know exactly what is the purport and scope of the Amendment, and whether he means that he desires all servants, so far as possible, to be returned.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has reached a point on which I have been very curious since the discussion began, and that is what the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment means by "servant." Are all employed people servants?
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the word "servant" is the proudest title anyone wishes to bear, and the reason I felt strongly on the speech with which the Amendment was moved was the whole tone running through it which suggested that those in the employ of other people were somehow in a degraded position. I wish to protest very strongly against that assumption, which seemed to run through the hon. Member's speech. I cannot really believe he intended it, and I think he must have put down this Amendment without giving it consideration. It may be there are people in this country who employ too many servants, but consider this case. What about the servants in an hotel? They are very necessary parts of the establishment. They run the place. Does he suggest that the work done by servants in an hotel is less honour able work than that done outside, because they happen to be indoor servants? I suggest that in his desire to criticise certain people who may employ too many people to minister to their personal needs, he has arranged his Amendment much too widely and has cast—
§ Mr. JOWETT
I made it perfectly clear that I should be ready to insert any alternative words that meet the purpose I have 484 in mind, and I explained that I did not mean the other kind of so-called servant.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
I listened to the hon. Gentleman's speech, and during that speech he spoke of servants and people who minister to the whims and caprices of the rich—those were his own words—as though they were identical classes, and it is precisely that that has drawn me to my feet. I really think the information which will be forthcoming can be obtained otherwise. I am perfectly certain that in the cases he really wishes to get at, the information is already available in the way suggested by the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt). He had the gamekeeper in mind. Let us consider the different classes employed on an estate. The gamekeeper is obnoxious to him. What about the woodmen? Are they servants? What about the carpenters who are building farmhouses and putting up buildings? Are they the servants of which he wishes to have a return? If so, I think you must have a return of everybody in the country. Again, I suggest that the Amendment is far wider than the hon. Member intended, and that he had better withdraw it.
§ Sir W. BEALE
Although I think the Debate about the different classes of servant, and what it is the duty of the employer to do with regard to them, is very useful and very instructive, and that in their place one would possibly share the view of the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Jowett) and the hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Outhwaite), as they feel very strongly on the subject, really it seems to me a waste of time, and that there is one consideration that might have been pointed out earlier in the Debate, and which I shall urge, at least to the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, is a good reason why at all events he should reconsider this subject, and if after the Debate he thinks it really worth while to bring it up on the Report stage, he should do so. It would be absurd to press it on this occasion, and for this reason, if for no other. The Bill as it stands proposes that everybody between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five should give certain information about himself. It is only people between fifteen and sixty-five, and he wants to go and say that people between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five, besides mentioning their dependants, if any, should go into the question of what servants they have. He will not hit the very class against which 485 it is directed. They are not confined to the people between fifteen and sixty-five. Another hon. Member avoided that by the wording of his Amendment, but this Amendment certainly misses the very mark which the hon. Gentleman who proposed it has most in his eye in bringing it forward.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I would like a word or two of explanation in reply to the statements made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kingston. He made the suggestion that I rather supported these methods of compulsion by employers upon those men whom they employed. I was delighted to hear his condemnation of that method. It is detestable to apply that sort of economic pressure. But I would point out that this is being done to-day throughout the whole sphere of labour. With Government sanction employers are being virtually asked to do it. Every day questions are put in this House which contain suggestions that men should virtually be discharged in order to be compelled to join the Colours in that way. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no!"] But I was really drawn into supporting this Amendment because the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, in reply to my hon. Friend, brought forward a contention in opposition to his Amendment which I did not think held water. Because of that I mentioned the case of 25,000 gamekeepers, whom you could not get unless you got the employers to state how many they employed, because they would be disseminated over many localities. I do not regret my intervention if it has helped to bring out condemnation of the action of employers of bringing economic pressure to bear upon those they employed.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
I think the House is entitled to discover what the object of the Amendment really is. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] When the hon. Member moved his Amendment I quite thought it was directed against the employment of unnecessary servants, yet when he wished for these servants to be discharged, as the hon. Member for Hexham said, the hon. Member for Bradford said he had no intention of the sort. What, then, does he mean? His statement was that those employers should be induced to save. How, except by discharging their servants? Surely, I should have thought that he and those who act with him would have desired that these servants should be free to 486 decide for themselves whether or not they should enlist. They are not bound to do so. If there are eight servants where there should only be two, it is quite open for the superfluous six, if they choose, to leave that employment. The object of this Amendment it to compel employers to discharge their servants. If it does not mean that, what does it mean?
§ Mr. JOWETT
I wish to repudiate the suggestion that the object of this Amendment is for any such purpose. The object of my Amendment is to direct attention to a very grave social fact, which sooner or later will have to be faced, and that is that far too many men and women are engaged in employment which is unnecessary. It should be the object of this and other Bills to endeavour to make that as difficult as possible—to change that kind of employment for some useful kind of employment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I am not quite clear in my mind as to whether the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Butcher) does not get beyond the point and into extraneous questions. In view, however, of the fact that some reference is made in the Clause to nationality, I want to know what the hon. and learned Gentleman has to say.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), paragraph (a), to leave out the words "and (in the case of a person born abroad) nationality, if not British," and to insert instead thereof the words "place of birth; nationality of father and mother; if born outside the Dominions of the Crown, how long resident in the United Kingdom; and, if a naturalised subject of any country (including the United Kingdom), of what country and date of naturalisation."
After the fact that you, Mr. Maclean, have declared the Bill proposes to inquire into the nationality of people born abroad, I propose to extend the scope somewhat further in order, as I think, to give information which will be valuable for the purposes of the Bill. For the purposes of this Bill you want to know not merely what a person can do, but also in what capacity it is safe or desirable to employ him. It is quite obvious that some employments in which people will be asked to serve for the purposes of this Bill will be positions of trust or confidence. In order 487 to know whether it is desirable to put those persons into those positions of trust and confidence I submit it is essential that we should inquire somewhat further into their origin and antecedents than the Bill proposes to do. The information asked for in the Bill as it stands is good, but not quite enough. Let me point out why. In the first place, it does not ask the place of birth, and that seems to me desirable. In the second place, it does not ask for any information as to the person's origin or antecedents and as to whether the person was or was not born in England. I suppose the reason of that is that technically, according to English law, a person born in England becomes ipso facto a British subject. But just consider—
§ Mr. BOOTH
On a point of Order. I wish to ask your ruling, Mr. Maclean, in regard to this Amendment; whether in a Clause asking for information a controversial topic such as alien registration can be introduced, and whether, if so, we shall get to an end of the Bill at all? There are other Amendments down, but I feel if we pass this one I shall not be able to raise my point of Order upon the others. I ask whether it is in order in a limited Bill of this kind to suggest that other particulars should be asked for in order that we may have a large discussion upon this particular topic?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. and learned Member must recollect that when I called upon him I gave him a warning that the particular matter which the Amendment indicates might, in my opinion, raise questions extraneous to the Bill. I must say, listening to what the hon. Member has said, that he is introducing a subject extraneous to the Bill. If he will confine his remarks to the particular and perfectly simple topic of nationality, and not extend them and introduce questions which are quite alien, he will be in order. If not, I must ask him not to pursue the topic.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I am trying to keep within the limits you suggest. Upon this point of nationality it is quite true, as I was pointing out, that by English law a person born in Enland becomes an English subject. My point is this: A person born in England may be the child of German parents who are temporarily resident here, and for the purposes of the Bill it would be important that we should know who the parents were, whether they were German 488 or alien enemies. This is all very important considering that this Bill is a Bill for the purpose of war time. It is obvious—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member. It is now quite clear that it is extraordinarily difficult to pursue this topic at all without going beyond it. I think, after what he has said and how he has explained his Amendment, that I must rule him out of order.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I gather from you that some parts of the Amendment are in order. I will not detain the Committee more than a moment more. But I put it to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that it is desirable that some further particulars as to nationality than those asked for in the Bill should be obtained. The Bill only asks for the nationality if the person is born out of this country. I suggest it would be desirable to give the nationality of his parents. I further suggest it is very desirable to know whether the man, even if he is born in this country, has become a naturalised subject of a foreign Stale.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I beg to move, to leave out paragraph (b).
I only rise to move the omission of this paragraph in order to ask one question of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. Perhaps I may be allowed to explain that I do not intend to move to omit paragraph (c), which was put down in error, and I do not intend to press the Amendment I am moving. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it would not promote the efficiency of the Bill if these questions were put only to employers of labour or to persons working on their own account, because I want respectfully to point out that these are two questions which cannot possibly be answered by a great number of workmen who, nevertheless, may be engaged on war work. Let me, out of a great, variety of instances, take one. A great number of manufacturers are making various kinds of tins for war service. The apprentices and the workmen generally do not know in the least whether those tins are for the Government or not. There is no reason why they should know. In many other cases workmen are making some tiny part of some article required in connection with the War, and they again do not know they 489 are engaged on war work. Both these questions, particularly the first, are questions which a great number of workmen cannot answer, and which it is idle to put to them, and which, in putting to them, you may get very inaccurate information. Therefore, I suggest my right hon. Friend's object will be completely achieved if these two questions are put only to employers of labour or to persons working on their own account.
§ Mr. LONG
Perhaps it may be convenient if I state at once the alterations we propose to make in these interrogations. I propose, in consequence of the general discussion we have had, that paragraph (b) should be amended by the omission of the word "any" before "Government," and the substitution of the words "or under a," so that the paragraph would read "work for, or under, a Government Department," and the omission of the words "or otherwise serving war purposes." I also propose, if the Committee agree, to omit paragraph (d). Those are the Amendments I propose to make in consequence of the general discussion, and perhaps they may somewhat affect suggestions which might otherwise be made. With regard to the suggestion made by the hon. and learned Gentleman, I trust the Committee will not think it desirable to cumber our interrogations, which cover a great deal of ground, and probably the information would not be desirable, and I doubt whether it would be in time for any real use.
§ Mr. HOLT
I have listened to what the right hon. Gentleman said with a great deal of satisfaction, and I hope he will not think me tiresome if I ask him to elucidate this point. I take it that in asking a man to say if he is working "under" a Government Department he really means to say whether he is employed by a Government Department. That, of course, is perfectly easy to understand. Anyone can give that answer at once. But when he is asked whether work on which he is employed is work "for" a Government Department, what is the real meaning of that? Take the case of a stevedore at the docks who is putting cargo on a ship, and part of that cargo is for a Government Department, and required for war service. Does the right hon. Gentleman expect that stevedore to say that he is working for a Government Department? Does it refer to direct employment by a Government Department only, or does it refer to a 490 person who is doing work, all or part of which may be on behalf of a Government Department?
§ Mr. ROCH
I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to clear up the meaning of this Clause, because I take it he wishes this Bill and the registration under it to be as clear as it can possibly be. There is the uncertainty as to what is meant by working for Government Department. Take the case of the miner. I suppose a miner who is working in a mine which is supplying a Government Department would be engaged in work for a Government Department, but an ordinary miner, although working in an ordinary steam-coal mine, cannot know whether he is working for the Government or not. In fact, miners, with very few exceptions, could never be able to answer the question whether he was engaged in working for a Government Department. Take, again, the cotton operative or woollen operative; it is impossible for them to say whether the contracts their employers are fulfilling are for the Government or not. Take, again, the whole question of subcontracting. Many persons who take on Government contracts let sub-contracts to numerous other people. It is impossible for the employés, and it is impossible really for the employers, to know whether it is a Government contract or not. Those are the general lines of the difficulty. It is almost impossible to understand the Bill as it stands.
Mr. G. HARVEY
Where an employer holds a Government contract those employed under him are in Government employment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"] In the course of a day's work a man may be working for five hours of the day upon work which he knows is going to a Government contractor and the other five hours he may be upon work for another purpose altogether. How is that man to say whether he is working for the Government or not?
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I think these difficulties are being very greatly exaggerated. Every workman would know whether he is employed by a Government Department or not. The question is whether a man is working for a Government Department, and I should understand that that applies to a man who is in the position of a contractor. If a man is contracting for a Government Department he would be working for a Government Department. The hon. Member opposite said that a 491 man working as a miner in a mine would not be able to answer this question, but I do not think he would have any difficulty whatever. If he were an ordinary miner and did not bother about his employer's contracts he would not answer the question, but would simply say, "I do not know." It is not necessary for him to answer the question under those circumstances, and that is a perfectly good answer. He has to answer a previous question and give the name of his employer. The miner would know the name of the employer, and if he did not know whether his employer was engaged in Government work he would not give any answer. I think these questions are perfectly simple.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LONG
I think it is a very good thing for us and for the carrying out of the laws under which we live that, as a rule, about 95 per cent, of the difficulties raised in the House of Commons very seldom occur in the practical application of an Act of Parliament. I ask, Are these difficulties quite so great as hon. Members make out? Of course an ingenious Member of Parliament setting his brain to work to find out not how he would answer the question but how difficult it would be can easily devise a series of difficulties. As the Committee know, an immense deal of work is being done in connection with the manufacture of munitions of war, and we think it would be an advantage if we could get some fairly reliable information as to the number of factories in the country and the number of men now engaged in the production of munitions of war.
§ Mr. LONG
No. There are a large number of factories which were producing other things, such as gramophones, pianos, and other things, which are now producing munitions of war, and that is information which would be extremely useful. Hon. Members have asked how on earth is anyone going to say that they are working for the Government? Many of these men know perfectly well that they are working for the Government in the sense that they are, for example, making armour-plate, parts of aeroplanes, parts of submarines, and a variety of work of that kind which is clearly for the Government. I believe there will be very little difficulty about men actually engaged in certain work for 492 the Government making that return. Surely those who are doubtful will be able to say, "I do not know," and those who feel quite satisfied that they are not working on Government work will say so! I think most of those difficulties will disappear and they will not prove as great as some hon. Members seem to think. I hope we shall be permitted to insert those words.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
At first I was inclined to agree that there were great difficulties in connection with this matter, but possibly I made the mistake of reading Question (b) independently of Question (a). This arises because we have taken this Section as, so to speak, watertight, and we have forgotten that the people who will scan the forms will be skilled persons at the work. There will be a lot of marginal cases in which difficulties will arise, but if you turn to question (a) you find that a man has to declare what his occupation is. If he declares also the name of his firm and is not quite certain what to say in reply to question (b) then the person who scans the form will have no difficulty in putting the matter right. The right hon. Gentleman has so simplified the form that the scheme will be quite workable in practice, and I have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment he has suggested.
§ Mr. HOLT
I quite appreciate what the hon. Member for Sunderland has just said, but may I point out that you are asking a man to declare the nature of his employer's business and asking him to say whether or not it is for a Government Department? Where I think these answers are going to lead the Government astray is that they are going to minimise the amount of work that is being done for a Government Department. Those in a Government Department have not the least notion who are working for them and who are not. I have had a considerable amount of experience in connection with the Transport Department of the Admiralty. We are constantly told that in taking a ship for transport work we are interfering with the supply to the Government of articles which are very necessary for the prosecution of the War. The ramifications of a trade are so complicated and so intricate that not one of these workmen or even the Government themselves can really tell which people are working for the Government and which people are not, and, if you are going to take any action on the answers to this question, you will 493 land yourself in a horrible mess by underestimating the work that is being done for the Government. That is why I object to the question. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman would get misleading information which would do him a great deal of harm.
§ Mr. R. LAMBERT
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the concession which he has made, but I cannot help thinking, seeing that in the previous paragraph the name and address of the employer and the nature of the employer's business have to be stated, that the whole of paragraph (b) is superfluous. The officials who will tabulate these particulars, if they have the name and address of the employer and the nature of his business, will surely be able to tell whether it is for a Government Department or not, and it seems to me that you are only adding a little confusion if you force upon the man in addition a question which many will not be able to answer, namely, whether the work on which he is engaged is work for or under a Government Department.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
The question arises whether the penalty Clause will apply to some of these workmen. I quite agree that it is really a very difficult problem. Take very large steel works. Some of the ordinary plates, not the armour plates, are used for the small ships which the Government are building, and other plates are used for boilers which are manufactured for the Government. Other plates, again, are made for ordinary mercantile ships. How is it possible for a workman to know whether he is employed on work for the Government or not? It is, in fact, kept secret from him whether the plates are for the Government or not. Again, if steel works are employed on Government work the man making the pig-iron is really also employed on Government work, because he is making the pig-iron for the purpose of converting it into steel. You will have all these complications, and I hope before the Report stage the right hon. Gentleman will consider whether in the case of an error, it may be wilful or due to ignorance, the penalties will apply. If you do apply them, I am certain that you will frighten a very large number of people.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will pay some attention to what my hon. Friend has said, because these penalties will be rather frightening 494 to the workman. There are steel works in my Constituency which have a Government contract. A man working in them will be able to say that he is working for a Government Department. Along side is a coal-pit which is supplying part of the output to these steel works. It will be impossible for any individual miner in that coal-pit to say whether or not he is working for a Government Department, and if there is the threat of a penalty over his head, it puts him in an unfortunate position. I would like it to be made perfectly clear that he will be able to say "I do not know," and that no penalty will follow.
§ Mr. LONG
Perhaps hon. Members will look at the penalty Clause. I cannot conceive anybody attempting to apply it to these considerations. The first penalty Clause clearly does not apply at all, and paragraph (c) begins—Wilfully makes or signs, or causes to be made or signed, any false return of any matter specified in the form.If it were demonstrated that it was possible to apply these penalties, we should certainly desire to use fresh words, but I am advised that they certainly would not apply.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I certainly agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and I think that he is quite right about the penalty Clause, but from the point of view of saving time does he not think that it would be just as well to hold over paragraph (b) until the Report stage? There is a strong difference of opinion about the necessity of these words; it is very doubtful whether you will not duplicate information, and it is quite certain that you may get misleading information. Is it not therefore worth the right hon. Gentleman's while to reflect upon the argnments which have been used, and to consider whether he cannot find other words between now and the Report stage?
§ Mr. LONG
I am quite willing to consider on the Report stage any suggestion of the kind, but really there has been no general case made out that confusion exists. Certain doubts have been expressed, and I have endeavoured to meet those doubts. They were largely connected with the possibility of penalties. I have made it quite clear that the penalty Clause is safeguarded, and in these circumstances I think that the general sense of the Committee is that we should amend the Clause as I have suggested.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I want to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the manner in which he has met our criticism, and to ask him to note with regard to the Amendment which he proposes to introduce, under which a workman will have to say whether he is engaged under a Government Department or not, that the question is already answered in paragraph (a), which requires the workman to state who is his employer and the nature of his employer's business. I beg to withdraw the Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]
§ The CHAIRMAN
Unless this Amendment is withdrawn, it will be impossible to put in the Government concessions. I was not aware of them until I had put the Question, and I have already put the Question that words beyond the Government Amendment stand part of the Clause. If hon. Members object to the withdrawal of the Amendment, the concessions cannot therefore be put in. [An HON. MEMBER: "They could be put in on the Report stage!"] There may be no Report stage, because so far there has been no Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. HOLT
The words are clearly superfluous, because the answer to them is involved in the question which asks the name and address of the employer and the nature of the employer's business. If the man is employed by a Government Department, the answer to that question is: "I am employed at the War Office."
§ Sir GEORGE YOUNGER
There are many businesses which do an enormous amount of contracting work, and it is ridiculous to expect men to say whether or not they are engaged on Government work.
§ Sir E. CORNWALL
I am quite prepared to give the Government the Subsection as it stands in the Bill, but I should like to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should consider between now and the Report stage the suggestions which have been made, not in the interest of those who have put them forward, but 496 in the interests of the Bill and the object which he is aiming at. There is no doubt that large numbers of men are employed by firms and collieries where the work done is mixed, some being for the Government and some not, and the men therefore would not be able to answer this question. I am afraid that will injure the working of the Bill, and I hope therefore the right hon. Gentleman will undertake to give the point his serious consideration. I feel it would be much better to do without these words.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In paragraph (b), leave out the words, "or otherwise serving war purposes."
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I rise to move, in Sub-section (1), paragraph (c), to leave out the words, "and willing."
I venture to submit that the deletion of these words would improve this Subsection. If they are left out my right hon. Friend will find out where a man is skilled and able to perform any work other than that on which he is employed at the time. In my case the right lion. Gentleman has succeeded in casting his net so wide that he gets me in by just five months. I may have to answer this question whether I am skilled in and able to perform any other work than that which I am performing at the present moment. I am not quite sure I am skilled in the work I am performing at this moment, and I am still more doubtful if I am skilled in any other work. If the words "and willing" are left in I may be holding myself up as a person who is not desirous of serving his country, and I shall also be exercising what I think is the worst form of compulsion, namely, getting a good and willing person to come forward, because he does not like it to appear in a written document that he is not willing to serve his country. But you will not get the slacker and lazy fellow with a thick skin. He will still have the opportunity of saying, "I am not coming forward," and nothing will happen to him. I should think the object of my right hon. Friend is to find out whether people are skilled in work other than that on which they are> employed at the time, and he will find that without difficulty if these words are left out. I am in favour of national service. But I am in favour of it all round, and I do not want to put compulsion upon one young lad while leaving out another lad. If the words "and willing" are left in, not 497 only will they have that effect, but they will also have this additional effect, that a large number of people who may have a greater idea of their own powers than other people have will say, in their desire to be patriotic, that they are able and willing to perform certain work which, when they are called upon by the right hon. Gentleman to do it, it will be found they are not able to perform. Take the agricultural labourer. He is asked to say whether he is able and willing to perform other work. I do not want to make agricultural labourers out to be better than any other class, but, so far as I know them, they have been extremely patriotic and desirous of coming forward. An agricultural labourer will certainly say he is able and willing to do something else, and when he is tried he will certainly be found to be willing, but it is very doubtful whether he will be found to be able. My right hon. Friend shakes his head. I think he will believe I am desirous of improving the Clause.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I have no other object. I do not wish in any kind of way to put any obstruction in the way of inducing men to come forward and serve their country. I do not want what has happened up to the present time, and what I am sure is bad, that all the good men should leave the country to be killed and that all the slackers should stay at home. My belief is that that is encouraging and taking away good men who ought to be left at home.
§ Mr. LONG
My hon. Friend misunderstood my shake of the head. I was not deprecating his action. What I meant was that T did not quite agree with him in his illustration of the agricultural labourer and the idea that he can claim to be skilled in other trades. One of the reasons why these words were put in was because a good deal of information reached us as to the position of certain men with knowledge in connection with mechanics, probably of an elementary character, and of knowledge of some of the skilled trades by amateurs who have a certain amount of time at their disposal and who are very anxious to have an opportunity of placing their services, by their own act, at the command of the country. So many of these intimations have reached us from so many different quarters that we thought these words ought to be included. I laid some stress on that aspect of the case in the earlier 498 speeches I made. I should not like to leave the words out unless there be a very strong feeling on the part of the Committee that it would be desirable to remove them.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
If these people are willing and desirous they can always come forward and it is not necessary that you should say so.
§ Mr. LONG
Obviously that applies to the whole Bill if you deal only with volunteers. My idea was to give a special opportunity to those who register to declare their willingness to serve their country. I know it meets a general wish throughout the country, and I should be sorry to omit the words. I do not think they are of an overwhelming importance, but if it is the general wish of the Committee to omit them it is not a matter on which I should ask them to spend much time or resist with any determination. I think the words had better remain in.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will retain the words. I do so because I am thoroughly convinced that this will give an opportunity for the retention of the voluntary system of service in which so many of us are interested. The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) has failed to understand something of the psychology of the human mind in this matter. If a person is not to express his willingness to serve he will be inclined to exaggerate his qualifications. If, together with the statement of what he can do he expresses his willingness to serve, you may take it that he will not overstate what it is that he can undertake. There is another point. I believe the Minister of Munitions has been able to mobilise a very considerable amount of labour from such unlikely places as the Stock Exchange. He has got men with a little mechanical skill who with a little training have been able, I am informed, to turn out a considerable number of shells. There we can, by giving opportunities to men of a similar kind to state their qualifications, give them an opportunity of offering their services, and I believe we shall meet a desire in the country for men to put down what their qualifications are in this connection and then also give them an opportunity for offering their services. The Government will then have in their hands a great deal of detailed information they do not at present possess and will be able to take advantage of it. Therefore I hope the words will be retained.
§ General Sir IVOR HERBERT
I do not know that I altogether followed one part of the hon. Member's argument, but I rise to support the Amendment, because I think my right hon. Friend will be quite safe in assuming that everyone is willing. That has been my experience ever since the War began. Everyone is expressing his willingness to do all he can do, and very often a great deal that he cannot. Therefore I think willingness may be assumed. At the same time I recognise the point of view put forward by the President of the Local Government Board, that people like to have it recorded that they are willing. There may be something in it, and for that reason I should not be inclined to press the Amendment very far, but my own feeling is very strongly in favour of the Amendment.
§ Sir W. BEALE
I think the Amendment will greatly strengthen the means of getting a full, complete, and serviceable return. It must not be forgotten that this Bill is not popular. There is the underlying fear that it will lead to compulsion. I like the Bill none the less, because I regard it as one on which you can found a good attempt to do without compulsion, but also because, if the occasion arises, it is one on which you can have a system of compulsion if necessary. I believe the apprehension that the question may come up is pretty universal throughout the country, and I think you will meet the same difficulty which was met when the householders' return was asked for before. Of course, I do not come within this, on account of age, to make a return myself, but I shall use my influence with every man I can to make a full and proper return. It is all very well to tell a man, "This does not mean compulsion, it only means that you are to state you willingness to come when you are wanted," but he says, "Why should I say I am willing to go when there are those men down in the village loafing away all their time?" What am I to tell that man? He believes that if he says he is willing he is offering himself for selection if compulsion comes in preference to men who ought certainly to be called on. The men I have in mind are not really unwilling, and none of them would like to say they are unwilling, but they may be forced to say so if the words "are willing" remain in the Clause. For instance, they may not be willing to change their present employment. I am speaking apart from 500 compulsory military service. Suppose a man is a handyman on an estate. He may say "I do not want, and I am not willing to leave my present employment unless you want me." If he goes they will have to get someone equally efficient to fill his place. It will certainly, in my opinion, check what you intend to do, namely, to get a full and complete return if you insist upon a man stating on the face of an official return whether he is willing to go or not He may not be willing to go at the time, but some change may come and he may be willing when you want him. I do not think it will serve a useful purpose to insist that he should make this statement about willingness.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
My right hon. Friend said he would be willing to sacrifice some of the words in the Clause if he found there was a general sense of the Committee to that effect, and as the only speeches that have since been made have been pressing him to make that change—
§ Mr. McNEILL
At any rate, for my part, and I am sure there are a great many others. I would very much prefer to have the Clause as it is rather than have the Amendment. I profoundly disagree with a great deal that was said by the hon. Member (Sir W. Beale). I do not believe for a moment that there is any such apprehension as he seems to think in the country as to the effect of this Bill. So far from there being an apprehension that this Bill may be used for the purpose he suggests, if there is any feeling at all, it is one of disappointment in knowing that it will not be so used. The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) showed by his speech that he was willing to improve the Clause, but he showed by his Amendment that he was not able to do so. In regard to what my right hon. Friend said, this provision is certainly meant to deal with the class of persons of whom we have heard a good deal—the men who do not profess to be professionals, but who have some skill in some trade and would be quite willing, in a more or less amateurish way, to give their service in that trade. That information would not be at the disposal of the Government unless these people were in a position on the register to say they were not only able to some extent to do the work, but willing to give their services.
§ Mr. J. MASON
I should be very sorry to see the words "and willing" altogether lost, but I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman whether, owing to the difficulty of answering the question, it would not be desirable to separate the question, and ask (1) whether he is able to perform any work other than the work (if any) at which he is at the time employed; and (2) whether he is willing to do so. There are lots of men who cannot claim to be skilled in certain work, but who are, notwithstanding, quite willing to do some work. Take the case of the man who is just over the military age, who has never been a soldier. He cannot claim to be skilled in military service, but if the age limit is raised he may be willing to become a soldier. If the question was separated in the way I suggest I believe it would facilitate matters.
§ Mr. E. JARDINE
I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman to leave out these words "and willing." I do not agree with the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) that there would be any difficulty, because I take it that it would be very easy to put the question: "Are you able to perform," etc. A second question would be, "If able, are you willing? But we are at war. We are losing quite 2,000 men a day. If people are needed for service, surely they should be called upon. Is it not really serious of us to be wasting time discussing whether a man is willing or not? If he is able, he should be called upon.
§ Sir FRANCIS LOWE
I cannot conceive it possible that any man, if he is skilled to perform certain work, would not be willing to perform it at a juncture like the present. Generally I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London says in this House, but I really think that he is splitting straws now. There is nothing whatever in what he said, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will stick to the wording of the Clause as it stands.
§ Mr. CAVE
Supposing a man is willing to perform other work but is not skilled in it, how is he to answer the question? Apparently no provision is made for a man desirous of saying, "I will do anything whatever that the Government ask me to do, but I cannot say that I am skilled in any particular work other than my own." There is no place for him to make that statement. I was struck by what my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor said as to whether the questions should not be put separately, or, at all events, whether we 502 should not ask a man—first, whether he is skilled, and secondly, whether he is willing to perform other work.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The following Amendment stood in the name of the hon. Member for Hanley: After paragraph (c) to add the words, "Whether he is in possession of land at present utilised in the main for the preservation of game or as a private park which is capable of producing food for human consumption, and, if so, the approximate area and situation thereof?"
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Hanley is outside the scope of the Bill.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
May I submit that you may take the view that this Amendment is not entirely outside the scope of the Bill if you consider the question which we are discussing? When you ask a man whether there is any other work which he can perform it is obvious that great numbers of men will reply that they would be able to utilise the soil. There are large numbers of men who come to town occupations from the country. I suggest that this gives the Government the opportunity of enabling men to do good work in the production of food in this country, and that therefore this Amendment follows as supplementary to this Clause.
§ Amendment made: Leave out paragraph (d).
§ The following Amendment stood in the name of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson): After Subsection (3) to add the following words, "(4) It shall be the duty of every employer of labour (including heads of Government Departments) to fill up and sign a form showing the particulars above referred to in respect of all such persons as aforesaid who are in his employment."
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I think it would be well to have some such inquiry. Still, after the clear expression of the right hon. Gentleman's view about duplicating returns, I will not press this Amendment, which undoubtedly is a distinct duplicate in itself.
§ Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.