§ For paragraph (b) of Sub-section (1) of Section two of the principal Act the following paragraph shall be substituted:
§ (b) On the ground that serious hardship to some person or persons would ensue if the man were called up for Army service owing to his exceptional financial or business obligations or to his domestic position.—[Mr. King.]
§ Clause brought up, and read the first time.
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."
I really must move this Clause. It deals with the Amendment of Section 2 (1) (b) of the principal Act, and with the question of "serious hardship" as a ground for exemption from compulsory military service. This ground of exemption was put into the principal Act during the course of the discussion, because it was felt on all hands that there were so many cases of serious hardship that had to be met. My Amendment consists of simply adding seven words to the original drafting. I propose to add after the word "hardship" the words "to some person or persons." The drafting in the principal Act simply gives "serious hardship" as a ground for exemption, and the question arises and has been variously interpreted by different tribunals as serious hardship to whom—to the applicant, to his family, or to other people? I propose to make it quite clear that the serious hardship which might be adduced as a ground for exemption is serious hardship to anyone. That is the first Amendment I propose in this new Clause. The second one is more important and consists in the addition of the words "to his" two lines below. The serious hardship which may be adduced as a ground for exemption was of three kinds, financial, business, or domestic. But the word "exceptional" stands in the principal Act as applicable to each of these three 1255 classes of serious hardship. It must be exceptional financial obligations, exceptional business obligations, or exceptional domestic positon. It is perfectly obvious that the most widespread and usual ground of exemption is domestic position—a serious hardship which is not exceptional. The whole large case of widows' sons, the last son of a widow who is dependent upon him, is a case of serious domestic hardship but by no means an exceptional case. It is a very common case, and in the same way a great number of domestic difficulties and hardships arise which are very serious and yet in no way exceptional. It is with the object of getting all these cases included in the form which I believe the House when it passed this Clause of the principal Act meant it to be that I move this new Clause.
§ Mr. L. JONES
Do I understand that you have ruled that if my hon. Friend moves this Clause, it will be out of order for the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Yeo) to move the Clause of which he has given notice, and in which so much interest is taken?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think so. I think that would dispose of that topic. I pointed out to the hon. Member (Mr. King) that in my judgment the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Yeo) raised that particular topic in a better and more suitable form, but he was not disposed to accept that view. Of course he had a right to move it, but it is not yet seconded.
§ Leave withheld.
§ Mr. YEO
I understand that if the Motion now before the House is carried to a Division, I lose my right to move the new Clause lower down on the Paper. I do not in the least desire to keep Members between this and their getting home, but this is a matter of very serious importance to thousands of professional and other men in the country, and I would not under any circumstances have taken up the time of the House in this Debate had I not felt that the matter was very serious indeed. We are face to face with the problem of business men coming before the tribunals who are not able to get exemption after they have proved their case to the hilt—a case of serious hardship, loss, and financial ruin which will come to them. No 1256 sooner does a company buy the business from these men, after they have been able to sell it, than the same company goes down to another tribunal and gets total exemption for the same man. I am not blaming the Government. I am blaming the arrangements made at the tribunal, which are the cause of all this trouble, worry, and anxiety. From interviews and conversations I have had during the past few days, the matter is of serious importance. These men—tradesmen and shopkeepers—are not shirkers, and are not afraid to take their part and "do their bit." If I thought they were, I would not under any circumstances champion their cause in the House of Commons, in the public hall, or in the street. After twenty months taking my part in urging men to come to the Colours, I should be the biggest coward in my country to-day if I took up the part of those who were trying to shirk their duty and their responsibility. These men have a stake and an interest in the country. They have their liabilities and responsibilities that we cannot fulfil under any circumstances. I put down this Clause with the view that the Government should consider it in the light of justice, equity, and equality to these men, and, if the Government cannot see their way clear to issue Regulations so that the tribunals shall deal justly, fairly, and squarely with these men, in all conscience, how can these men think they have been treated fairly and justly when they go before the tribunals? Hon. Members accuse me of "snowing" them under a, daily correspondence. Well, they deserve all they get. They tell the electors, when they are out canvassing for their votes, that they will do anything for them if they will only elect them. Now is their opportunity. I am not at all satisfied with the way in which circulars are issued to the tribunals. I think the Government might incorporate in some Regulation the heading of this new Clause, which would give them a good lead and show the tribunals that they were expected to deal fairly and squarely with these men. If later on it appears that I have lost my right, I am simply going to say we must take steps, in other directions.
It is a matter of great regret that, owing to a pure technicality, the Amendment of the hon. Member(Mr. King) has been taken in place of that of the hon. Member (Mr. Yeo). We are placed in an exceedingly difficult position. 1257 Whereas many of us attach great importance to the Clause of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, I am unable to see any great advantage that will accrue by passing the Clause of the hon. Member for North Somerset. This is a matter in which an enormous amount of interest is taken outside this House. It is a question which affects tens of thousands of small business men, not necessarily tradesmen, up and down the country, and I think—and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take the same view—that this is a case which ought to receive the respectful attention of the Government. I have been a staunch supporter of these military measures in almost every one of their details, but I think that it will place a Tory great strain on the loyalty of Members of this House unless some further provision can be made for the small traders whose case is sought to be met by this Clause. I have had more correspondence in regard to this matter than in regard to all the other details of the recruiting measures of the Government since the War began. I think we might give attention to these particular considerations. In the case of many industries it is possible to find substitutes for the men who are taken to the Colours, and that is particularly true of large organised businesses, but we are now dealing with a class of employer for whom in the majority of cases, or at all events in a very great number of cases, no substitute whatever can be found. I address the House with some confidence in regard to this matter, because during the last twelve months I have been very largely engaged in considering this very question of the substitution of men for women in various employments. I speak somewhat feelingly for these small employers for whom if they are taken to the Colours no substitute can be found. I have no knowledge as to how the Government will treat this Clause, but it has been put to me today by some of these people that if some Clause of this kind cannot be adopted by the Government, that these small employers should be placed for the time being in some kind of Reserve, and should be kept at first for Home defence, so that they might be able to give, even though it is very casually, some attention to the affairs of their business. I do not press that myself, for I do not know how far it is practicable or in accordance with the military idea, but I do strongly urge my right hon. Friend to give this matter very 1258 earnest and sympathetic consideration, and see what provision they can make for meeting a case which applies to tens of thousands of small people all over the country.
§ Mr. L. JONES
On a point of Order. Would it not be in order if the Clause of the hon. Member for North Somerset were read a second time, for the hon. Member for Tower Hamlets to move as an Amendment to leave out the words after the word "that" ["on the ground that"] in order to insert his words "it is proved to the satisfaction of the tribunal that he is the sole head of the business."
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I should think that would be perfectly in order. If the general principle be accepted by the House, and the Clause read a second time, then it would be open to accept an Amendment, consistent with it, which would vary the terms of the original Clause.
§ Mr. LONG
Perhaps it would be convenient if I stated the view of the Government on the general situation which is raised by the new Clause standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King), and which is more directly effected by the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Yeo). Judging by the number of telegrams showered on Members of Parliament within the last forty-eight hours I should say that this Amendment has aroused a great amount of interest. But I rather regret that form of agitation. In my humble opinion the sacrifice that individuals make in order that their Empire, and their country may be saved from destruction is a very great one, wherever it falls and on whom it falls, and I do not think it possible to go into the degree of suffering in the case of each individual. Everybody has to bear a very heavy burden at a time like this, and thousands of men all over the country have borne this burden, and borne it without any complaint. All of us who have interested ourselves in recruiting and in the lives of our neighbours and friends know that from the very first, when the call for recruits was made in this country, a very heavy sacrifice was made by thousands of people. What was the precise proportion of sacrifice in each case I do not think it worth our while to inquire into. This case is a very hard one, but not harder than thousands of other cases. I am rather sorry that a special effort 1259 should have been made to influence the opinion of Parliament in a particular direction. Members of the Government have on more than one occasion expressed the view as to the number of men who would probably be dealt with for military service out of the residuum of unattested married men. We have put the number somewhere round 200,000. That seems, in the opinion of many people, among others my right hon. Friend the Minister of Munitions, too small an estimate, but I believe that those who have formed a higher estimate have not appreciated sufficiently the fact borne in upon us by those who have had to deal with this problem within the last few months, and have watched these figures and examined them—that as you get nearer and nearer to the bottom of the well so you get nearer and nearer to the material which is least available for military service, not because it is less willing, less patriotic, or has any smaller sense of public duty, but because their obligations are such as to make it extremely difficult for men situated as they are to face the call.
The Government has not been idle. We have passed an Amendment Bill, the Courts Emergency Act, which has dealt effectively with cases of what I may call rough treatment. We have to provide a tribunal which will deal with the question of compensation. But that is not enough. I entirely recognise that the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Yeo) has produced an Amendment for which there is a great deal to be said. It expresses, I believe, the case to a very large extent of those whom he represents. It is entirely consistent with the part that he and other supporters of his Amendment have played during the War, namely, that they recognise the need for men; it does not open the door very wide, and for many reasons it would seem as if it was an Amendment that might with perfect safety as well as propriety be accepted. But the first objection I offer to it is that we are asked now to do what has not been done hitherto, and that is to define in the Act of Parliament a particular case. Everybody knows who has ever had anything to do with Parliament that one of the most difficult things in an Act of Parliament is to frame a definition to describe exactly what it is you aim to do. I should be prepared to argue, and I think with some success, if I held a brief for the men concerned in this Amendment—I am 1260 quite sure any lawyer would argue it with great success—that they are better off under the terms of the Act of Parliament as it stands than they would be under the very strict conditions of this Amendment. Therefore I object to the Amendment, first of all, because it is a dangerous thing to attempt to define a case in an Act of Parliament, and, secondly, because a great many of these men are bound to be exempt, and this Amendment would rather expose them to greater risk than give them greater protection. For these reasons I am prepared to advise the House not to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Poplar.
I come to the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King), which is a totally different question, and does very little more than is in the Act of Parliament, and does it in an extremely crude way. Under the forms of the House it has made it impossible for the hon. Member for Poplar to move his Amendment, and perhaps I may be allowed to deal with the whole question, as I have tried to do in the few remarks I have made. I may be allowed to tell the House what the Government is prepared to do, if the actual Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar were before the House. If the Clause of the hon. Member (Mr. King) is negatived, the other Amendment cannot be moved. I think I may say, with all respect, that hon. Gentlemen will realise that they cannot play fast and loose with the House of Commons by putting down an Amendment, and then, after it has been discussed, raise the same question in another form, and the hon. Member for Somerset, who is an old hand, in this instance has involved the Amendment of another hon. Member. I believe there are cases which ought to be covered by the Statute. But I know what criticism is offered to that. I notice that in many somewhat similar cases the tribunals in all cases have not given relief, and that in many instances the tribunals have interpreted the Act of Parliament in a different way, and not given relief, and that there is to-day grave anxiety. The first duty of the Government is quite plain, and that is to get men to fight for the country at the front, and if it comes, as I hope and pray it will not come, to a choice between the maintenance of our Army in the field and the maintenance of a particular trade or industry here, I do not hesitate to say that the Government 1261 will throw all their weight and influence on the side of finding the men to maintain our Army. But that stage has not been reached yet. It is our duty to find every man we can to fight and to have due regard to trade and industries and to avoid the disaster which would be the result of individual disaster if it occurred in a vast number of cases. We have asumed that the number of men would be 200,000, and we believe that the majority of the cases referred to would be covered by the Act of Parliament. What is the real difficulty which it is sought to meet by the Amendment of my hon. Friend? It is that there shall be some step taken, as I understand, of a definite and fair character, to bring home to the tribunals that these really are cases which ought to have very careful consideration. I venture to say that that result can be better secured by the issue by myself, as the head of the Department concerned, of a circular calling attention to this particular Amendment, and indicating that these are cases which call for the attention and consideration of the tribunal.
§ Mr. LONG
I answer that at once by saying that I think they will take more notice of that than they will of the Amendment. The interruption of my hon. Friend would be an effective one if the Amendment were mandatory, but it is nothing of the kind. Under these four heads it will be within the discretion of the tribunal to decide whether the facts are so, whether the business can be reasonably maintained, whether there is a reasonable prospect of its being destroyed. All those are within the discretion of the tribunal, so that that is no answer at all. The question is which is the most effective procedure. I gather that my hon. Friend who interrupted me means to imply that this is a way of getting off, and that it is not intended as a genuine act on the part of the Government. I do not know whether he meant that or not—[An HON. MEMBER: "NO, no!"]—but if so it is a sort of suggestion which is not worthy of an answer. I am convinced it is going to have a proper effect. Let me say this, that as time has gone on and as our discussion and circulars have covered the ground, the action of the tribunals have materially altered, and there is far less ground of complaint now, of irregularity 1262 or inequality. Be that as it may, I could not on the part of the Government assent to put these words into the Act for the reasons which I have given. I am prepared to issue this circular. To call attention to the Amendment, to give the reasons why the Government advised the House to reject it, and to call the attention of the tribunals to these cases, and to say that it is their duty to give their consideration to them. That course I am prepared to take on behalf of the Government. I should not be prepared to accept the Amendment for the reasons which I have mentioned.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I do not know whether hon. Members interested in these proposed new Clauses are satisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's statement, but if they are acquainted with the same class of case as I am they they will regard the promise of the President of the Local Government Board, so far as it will affect the competent tribunals, as being absolutely valueless. I have stated on many occasions in this House that we have no ground of complaint whatever about the terms of the instructions issued to the tribunals by the Local Government Board. If the tribunals had read those instructions—and I am certain that in many cases they have never read them—and if they had acted upon them, there would have been no ground of complaint against their decisions. In addition to issuing the original instructions, the right hon. Gentleman has done more than once what he now proposes to do with regard to this particular point: where his attention has been called either to the neglect to comply with or to a definite violation of the instructions and regulations, he has issued additional circulars, and those additional circulars have been treated by the tribunals as being mere "scraps of paper." I called attention last week in a very small House to the way in which the rural district tribunal in my native place had treated both the instructions and a special letter addressed by the right hon. Gentleman to the tribunal. Their reply to him was, "We are going to do as we like. If he does not like it he must get somebody else to do this work." Of the two Clauses I would prefer the one now before the House, because it is the more comprehensive. The cases of hardship are not confined to those where men are deprived of their businesses. The Clause of the hon. Member for North Somerset deals with 1263 financial and domestic hardship as well. The President of the Local Government Board said that the first thing, the Government have to do is to get men for the Army. I submit that they have one prior duty, and that is to do justice. It may be impossible in every case to avoid serious hardship, but it is not the duty of the Government deliberately to impose hardship, and that is what is being done by many of the provisions of this Act. I had a letter from my Constitutency two days ago giving a typical case. It is the case of a man who is now turned thirty years of age. He is one of two brothers. He tells me that his father was a drunkard and treated his mother very badly. Things got so bad at home that his elder brother enlisted in the Army at seventeen, and is still there. The second man was apprenticed to a firm of painters at the age of fourteen. During the first year of his apprenticeship he save £1 in order that he might pay the fees of the evening school, and during the whole of his apprenticeship he spent five nights a week learning the technicalities of his trade. He took many prizes. When he reached the age of twenty-two his master, who was growing old, said that he would sell the business to him. This young fellow had saved £7, and had been keeping his mother. Since then, in addition to supporting his mother, he has by hard work and self-sacrificing effort paid off the money he had borrowed. He has put before the local tribunal his exceptional business obligation, and the tribunal have told him to sell his business. I mention that as a typical case, and by no means an exceptional case. I would like to point out, in reply to the point made by the right hon. Gentleman, as to the importance of the needs of the Army, that when we are doing what I have described we are not only conscripting this man's life, but we are conscripting all his wealth too. That man will be one of thousands, one of tens of thousands, who will return—if he does return—to begin life again, and he will find, while he has been away, that his trade and business connection has been taken by somebody else. Unless it be absolutely necessary to take these men they ought not to be taken. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government do not expect to take more than 200,000 of the unattested married men. There are more than a 1,000,000 of them—1,100,000 at least. There you have a 1264 margin of 900,000. The remaining outstanding cases of hardship cannot number 900,000. Without, therefore, sacrificing the needs of the Army in the slightest degree, the Government might take steps to exempt every case of business, domestic, or financial hardship which will have to be dealt with. I will conclude by saying that I regard the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman for dealing with this question as being altogether inadequate. The circular that he sends out will be ignored by the tribunals, and will not be worth the paper upon which it is printed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London seconded this Amendment, so when we carry this to a Division I am quite certain we shall be able to count upon his support. The right hon. Gentleman has a highly developed conscience. It has been developed by associating with religious bodies which have for one of their tenets common honesty. Therefore, in common honesty, I expect the right hon. Gentleman to support us in the Division Lobby.
§ Sir FORTESCUE FLANNERY
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Blackburn in his extraordinary logic. He has suggested that the Government have a higher duty to perform than by obtaining men for the Army, and that is to do justice. To my mind the highest justice that the Government or this House can do is to win the War. They cannot win the War or do justice to the country unless they have the proper supply of men. It seems to me that the Clause which was to have been moved by the hon. Member for Poplar is one the importance and strength of which has been somewhat exaggerated. I entirely agree with the President of the Local Government Board in believing that the number of men who would have succeeded in proving exemption under this Clause, had it been reached and passed by the House, would have been very much fewer than the Mover of it perhaps supposed. I want the House to observe that every one of the four conditions would have to be fulfilled, and proved to be fulfilled to the satisfaction of the tribunal, before that body would be entitled even, at their own discretion, to exempt the applicant. It would, therefore, only be the men who had the very strongest claims, the men who had businesses that were absolutely dependent upon them, and which would be 1265 destroyed if they were not allowed to continue for the time, and the men who also had wives and children—not one child, but children—dependent upon them, that would come within the category. But we cannot deal with that under the Clause, having regard to the way in which the Debate has shaped itself. My right hon. Friend has made a suggestion, namely, that a circular would be issued which would have the effect upon the tribunals, as the Government believe, of calling their attention to every one of the qualifications for exemption which are included in the proposed Clause of the hon. Member for Poplar, and it does seem that, whilst undoubtedly some tribunals would be affected and influenced by such a circular, there are some that might not be, and I would desire—and this is the object I have in rising—to point out to my right hon. Friend that there is another alternative which is possible to him, and that is that he should make a Regulation that he himself has indicated in his speech would be approved by him which would have the effect in some degree in support of the Motion that would have been made by the hon. Member for Poplar; that is to say, if a Regulation were made by the Local Government Board that any applicant who could prove to the satisfaction of the tribunal that he fulfilled all the four conditions—very definite and distinct conditions—that are suggested by the hon. Member for Poplar, then such a man would be entitled, according to a Regulation which I am suggesting to my right hon. Friend, to have his case postponed for a period of three months. If that were done, what would the effect be? The man who, in the opinion, I believe, of the very large number of hon. Members in this House, fulfilled all the four qualifications suggested by the hon. Member for Poplar, would not be necessarily exempted by the tribunal before whom he appeared, but that man would be, according to Regulation, allowed three months in which he might go back and try to arrange for his business and for the support of his wife and children, and make other necessary arrangements that would do justice to him. My suggestion to my right hon. Friend is that he should amend any offer he has made to the House, that he should enlarge that so that, instead of a circular simply, he would make a Regulation which would cause postponement—I do not ask for exemption. I do not suggest it is an absolute rule—but postponement 1266 for a period of three months, which would give the man time to look about him, and which would give all that is really necessary in the way of justice for the tribunal to have ample time to consider and reconsider the case, and the man himself would have the opportunity which would enable him to make the necessary arrangements. I hope my right hon. Friend will consider that suggestion.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I doubt whether the proposals made by the hon. Member who has just sat down are feasible, for the reason, I believe, that the power of the President of the Local Government Board is solely confined to procedure, and therefore the suggestion of the hon. Member falls to the ground. On this occasion I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Blackburn, for it does seem to me, having regard to the procedure followed by these tribunals, there is no use issuing this circular, and that the House should really take some step to do justice—and that is all that it is asked to do—to these men. In the county of Nottingham shire a number of tribunals have carried out their work admirably, and in other cases they have set the Act completely at defiance, and said every man must go, and entirely ignored the recommendations of the Local Government Board. What is the right hon. Gentleman going to do in this case? Wherever the tribunal is composed of working men it is always more hard and more harsh. The working man is always the greatest—
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I agree on the whole his class is the greatest tyrant to working men, but, be that as it may, the fact remains that there has been great injustice done in some areas, and it is not fair or reasonable that, because a man happens to reside in one locality, he should get exemption, and that in an adjoining locality, because his case happens to be adjudicated upon by a number of cranks, he should be taken for service. We all want to get men for the Army, but surely we ought to take them on a basis fair to all concerned, and I do not think the President himself would deny that these tribunals have not in many cases carried out his instructions. I believe that this Amendment is quite unnecessary. I could give one case where a man had four sons who had gone to the Army, and he had one son remaining to help to carry on his business. He was an industrious 1267 man, who had given his whole life to building up this small industry. When his boys Come back from the War the business will be destroyed, and when the father applied for the exemption of one son the tribunal refused his application, and all of them had to go. Many other men have created a small business by industry and toil, and it seems to me outrageous that some tribunals should carry out strictly what Parliament has decreed, while other tribunals set Parliament at defiance. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to see that what Parliament intends should be carried out, and the citizens of this country should not be placed at the arbitrary will of a number of these tribunals who have taken an extreme view without any regard to the economic position.
§ Sir ROBERT FINLAY
The Amendment before the House appears to me to add nothing at all to the effect of the Section. I have risen to say a word or two about the Amendment of the hon. Member for Poplar which raises a matter which is eminently well worthy of consideration. On the whole, I agree with what the President of the Local Government Board has said, that in practice if this Amendment were carried it would prove to be restrictive rather than enlarging in its effect. It lays down these four things, and the tribunals will be able to say to a man, unless he proves all those things, cannot get exemption, instead of having the power in a suitable case to release or exempt the person in question. I do not quite agree with the suggestion to issue a Regulation, because there is a difficulty as to the power to issue it, and its terms. I prefer the suggestion of the President of the Local Government Board, that a circular should be issued calling attention to the desirability of giving due weight to any such considerations as are provided in the four points mentioned in the Amendment. I think that would have a great effect, and the result would be much better achieved, and it would be a more elastic way than attempting to lay down a rigid rule. The Amendment, important as it is, provides a very good illustration of the danger that sometimes attends an effort to be too precise and rigid. I hope the hon. Gentleman will feel satisfied with what he has elicited from the President of the Local Government Board, which appears to me to meet the object which we all have at heart.
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I agree very largely with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said as to the construction of the Clause standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Yeo), but the right hon. and learned Member has shown a childlike faith in the value of circulars, which is not justified by the experience of those who have watched the working of these tribunals. We remember, of course, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not represent a constituency of small business men, and consequently he cannot be expected to be familiar with the procedure of these tribuals. We, who have been watching the experience and the working of the Act, know, however, that on other matters upon which the Local Government Board have issued circulars a large number of the tribunals in every part of the country have deliberately ignored them. In many cases the attention of the tribunals have been called to a circular, and it has been reported in the Press that members of the tribunals have said, "These circulars only represent the opinion of Mr. Long; we are here to administer the Act of Parliament according to our own view of the Act." That has been the attitude of many of these tribunals, and if the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, and many other hon. Members, had been at all familiar with what has been passing, they would not have pinned their faith so readily as they seem disposed to do upon the value of these circulars which have already been showered so profusely from the Local Government Board. The hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Essex (Sir F. Flannery) seemed to think that while a circular may be valueless, there is some virtue in a Regulation. Had the hon. Gentleman taken the trouble to read it, he would have seen that there is no power in the original Act to issue Regulations dealing with exemptions and the grounds for exemption. The only power for the issue of Regulations under the original Act is in relation to the constitution and procedure of the tribunals. In these circumstances it is impossible for the President of the Local Government Board to do anything by way of Regulation. The only way, indeed, to obtain security is by the insertion of definite instructions to the tribunals in the Act of Parliament itself. We have had experience of the way in which the original Act has been interpreted. During the Debates on the 1269 last Military Service Act we were told time and time again from the Front Bench that certain people would be entitled to exemption. The only son of a widow who is the sole support of his mother and the last remaining son—these would be sure to receive absolute exemption when they came before the tribunals. The Prime Minister told us, and I know that many hon. Members were satisfied, that under this provision in the original Act all these hard cases were comprehended. What has been the experience? The only son of a widow has been sent by the tribunals to the front without any consideration as to the support which he was to his mother. The same applies to the last remaining son. We have also had numerous cases in which men having dependants upon them, and in similar positions to the men who come under the new Clause of the hon. Member for Poplar have been told by tribunals, "You may take a month to dispose of your business." These men cannot sell their businesses because there is nobody to buy. How different is the treatment of large businesses! A member of the tribunal may have shares in Harrods. But it does not affect him. Yet the business of the small shopkeeper is to be thrown away, and his whole capital is to be conscripted. He is allowed one month in which to sell the business. All the large stores have had arrangements made for them by the Government, and the co-operative societies all know the proportion of men they are to be allowed to retain. But the small man is to go in the name of equality of sacrifice. The hon. Member for Maldon (Sir F. Flannery) said it did not matter whether the Government did justice or not so long as it won the War.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
I did not say that. I said the highest justice which the Government could do to the country was to obtain sufficient men to win the War.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
The statement of the hon. Gentleman really meant nothing as applied to the arguments of the hon. Member for Blackburn unless it meant what I said, namely, that all considerations of justice must be set aside in order to get the men we want. We have been told that the only way to get the men, firstly, is by passing this Bill. But why was the last Bill withdrawn? Because, according to the general sense of the House, it dealt with different classes of 1270 men in this country unjustly. There were many men to be got under that Bill, but it was felt that the Bill did not operate fairly. We must insist on pressing the Amendment of the hon. Member for Poplar to a division. It is easy to disparage postcards and telegrams. But when the General Election comes there will be a different story told. The hon. Member for Maldon will tell his constituents that he advised the Government to issue a circular, although he knew they could not do so under the original Act, and that it would not worth the paper it was printed on—in these days of shortage of paper. Hon. Members will have to say why they did not give these men this protection in the Act of Parliament. There are many people who. are anxious about this Parliament coming to an end. They say there will be no further extension. I can only say that only the seats of those who are opposing this Bill will be safe at the election.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I promised about a couple of dozen of people in my Constituency who are deeply interested in this matter that I would support the laudable effort of the hon. Member for Poplar. I know quite well the difficulties which surround this matter, and that the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King) has prevented a straight discussion of this matter. But I would ask the House to consider the question in the light of the proposal of the hon. Member for Poplar. We have been told that the suggestion of my hon. Friend cannot be carried out.
§ Mr. LOUGH
Then may we hope that something will come of it, but I certainly understood it to be stated there is no power to issue Regulations under the original Act. A much weightier objection to the Clause of the hon. Member for Poplar was put forward by my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir R. Finlay), namely, that the words of the Bill are really better. Let the House remember that these people will not be deprived of the benefit of the words in the Bill if the Amendment of the hon. Member for Poplar is adopted. That Amendment is to put a new Subsection into the principal Act, and not as the hon. Member for North Somerset proposes, to substitute other words for what is in the Act. That is an important 1271 matter. We have to arrive at that by incorporating the present new Clause, but if the Government announce their willingness, we carry through that arrangement. In fair play to the hon. Member for Poplar I would point out that his Amendment will not deprive anybody of any protection they have in the Act as it stands at present. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill said that what is in the Bill at present is better than what the hon. Member for Poplar offers, and the same thing was said by my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir R. Finlay). I suggest that all that is in the Bill can be retained; that all the protection in its provisions shall remain and that another point shall be added in the shape of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Poplar. I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill on this point. He is creating difficulties for himself. He has conceded nothing this afternoon. From the standpoint of the minority he has not improved the Bill at all. It is not well to ignore minorities, even a minority that is numerically insignificant. The right hon. Gentleman will facilitate the proceedings of the House and greatly improve the Bill if, even at this late hour, he does something in the direction of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Poplar. Let me put my appeal finally in this shape: If the Amendment is not well drawn, if the suggestion of the hon. Member (Sir F. Flannery) cannot be adopted, if the suggestions made from other parts of the House have some faults in them—it is quite natural, because we are all private Members besides being human, and cannot do things as well as the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill—I would appeal to him to give some satisfaction to the strong body of opinion expressed from both sides of the House.
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
I will try to put a suggestion forward in accordance with the views expressed on all sides of the House, and especially by the hon. Baronet the Member for Mansfield (Sir A. Markham). It is obvious that this Amendment in itself will not alter the Bill at all, and that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Poplar will restrict and not enlarge it. Although that is undoubtedly true, it is equally true and of far more consequence that there is wide dissatisfaction with the action of tribunals in some parts of the country, and that the justice which every Member of this House desires to see secured is a justice which, in 1272 the opinion of many hon. Members, is not secured in a number of cases by the tribunals. How can that be helped? You cannot alter the constitution of the tribunal of first instance now. To do that you would have to alter the original Act, and that cannot be done at a time like this, when the passing of this Act promptly is of military urgency, as we are told. But you can do more than merely issue a circular. The words in the Schedule are very strong indeed—
"His Majesty may by Order in Council make regulations with respect to the constitution, functions and procedure of these tribunals and Regulations made under this provision shall contain instructions to local and appeal tribunals given with a view to securing uniformity of decision and practice among the several tribunals."
Later on it says:
"If any difficulty arises with respect to the constitution of local tribunals or otherwise in relation to the operation of this Act with respect to local tribunals, the Local Government Board may make any appointment or do anything which appears to them necessary or expedient for securing the whole operation of this Act with respect to these tribunals."
This is one of those cases in which the general feeling of the House would strongly support the right hon. Gentleman in the largest interpretation which he and his advisers can take of these powers if he will use them in the direction of promoting equal-handed justice throughout the country.
May I make a further and a smaller suggestion. It ought to be brought home to the knowledge of applicants, many of whom are poor people who cannot afford legal assistance, and know little indeed of the methods of tribunals, by some form of public intimation or advertisement that they have a right of appeal, because when you come to the Appeal Tribunals, whatever faults they may have, they do not consist of people in the locality predominantly of one class who are sometimes very hard on certain classes of their neighbours. I know one case where the Appeal Tribunal reversed no fewer than sixteen out of eighteen decisions of the local tribunal, and I believe in every case but one with the result of treating more generously the original applicants. The Appeal Tribunals, unlike the tribunals of first instance, are constituted by His 1273 Majesty in Council, which in practice means by the Government, and if these Appeal Tribunals do not do even-handed justice, for God's sake alter the constitution of them. I know in some parts of the country, and I hope in most parts of the country, the tribunals are working well. I believe in other parts they are not. One of the great difficulties in administering an Act of this delicacy is that in some parts of this country it works well, and in others badly, and it is most difficult by Act of Parliament to deal with a condition of things which is not uniform, for good or evil, throughout the country. Therefore I hope the right hon. Gentleman, so far as is consistent with the authority of the legal advisers he consults, will use his great powers under the Schedule of the original Act in the direction I have mentioned, and, if necessary, by encouraging appeals and by strengthening the constitution of Appeal Tribunals, he will do what he can to remove a grievance which is germane, which in many cases rests on facts, and which impairs the support that we all want the country to give to this Act.
§ Mr. DUKE
The President of the Local Government Board replied very sympathetically to the representations which were made to him upon the subject embodied in the Clause now before the House, and more directly expressed in the Amendment of which notice has been given by the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Yeo). I gathered from what the right hon. Gentleman said, that he did not withhold sympathy from the proposal of the hon. Member for Poplar.
§ Mr. DUKE
My right hon. Friend assents to that proposition. The real question now is what is the best mode of giving effect to the object which is common between the hon. Member for Poplar and many hon. Members who take his view, and those who have charge of the Bill? I am satisfied that the Clause of the hon. Member for Somerset, though I know nothing about drafting, does not add anything to what is in the Bill. It would be purely illusory to the men in respect of 1274 whom these hardships exist. I am not quite sure whether the hon. Member for Essex was proposing a step which would be effective when he suggested a regulation, because the Regulations seem to be devised primarily for the purpose of controlling the procedure of the tribunals. What we are left with is a Circular. So far as my experience of the tribunals goes—and it is not anything like so wide as that of hon. Members on the other side of the House—the tribunals have tried to give effect to the objects which were commonly in view, objects such as are expressed in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Poplar, where what was desired to be avoided was not service but ruin,, which would be distributed quite unevenly up and down the country, and which nobody wants to so distribute. Hon. Members say they cannot be content with a circular. It is difficult to dogmatise about this Bill when so much is in the hands of local authorities whom we thought were the right people to see that effect was given to the proposals. If the Clause of the hon. Member for Somerset will not do, and if the only effect of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Poplar would be to restrict, the real question is whether we want some indication in the Act itself to support the intentions which may be expressed in the circular of my right hon. Friend. Thinking this over with a desire to prevent the distribution of ruin among a number of small people whose military service would be countervailed by the mischief that would be done by destroying their position and position of their families, I have put something down in the nature of an alternative to the existing paragraph (b) in Clause 2, Sub-section (1), of the original Act. I suggest an addition or modification of that paragraph (b), which would direct the attention of the tribunal and empower my right hon. Friend to insist upon their giving attention to this matter about which the House is anxious.
We want to avoid the trap into which I think the hon. Member for Poplar and those who have sent us telegrams are likely to fall. We want a ground of this kind: "On the ground that a man is carrying on business which is a means of livelihood to himself and not less than three other persons"—the hon. Member for Poplar says "wife and children." Wife and children would represent three people. It is not essential it should be a wife, it 1275 might be somebody who is carrying on the house, or it might be three children, because the man may be a widower, "depending on him"—not casual people to whom he is giving assistance—"and which cannot be continued without his services." When we bear in mind that there are small men here, many of them on the verge of forty years old, who have established businesses—my right hon. Friend says that many of them will be on the verge of twenty-five, but the power will be in the hands of local tribunals. The House only wants to give my right hon. Friend a sufficient foothold in the Bill to see that the proper thing is done with the local tribunals. I do not believe that any local tribunal in its senses will exempt a man for whom there is no real cause, and if you avoid the ruin of considerable numbers of people by some such provision as I suggest, which could be introduced either here or in any other place, to explain that this particular case is a case which Parliament has in view, then there would be a sanction behind the Circular of my right hon. Friend which would be much more likely to secure attention.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
I feel sure that the House regrets the moving of an Amendment which would make no difference at all to the Bill, and which the Mover was told would prevent the House from coming to a practical decision on a practical amendment, such as that suggested on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Poplar. It is owing to this accident that the House is not able to defeat the Government on this particular Clause. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board has indicated clearly that he sees the strength of the case which has been put forward. He and others have referred to the fact that a number of telegrams and letters have been received. Of course it is a matter of some importance that people are sufficiently interested in what we are doing to send us letters or telegrams. But I do not think that the fact that this has been abnormal in the present case is any ground for arguing undue consideration for this proposal. I ask the Government and the House to consider it entirely on its merits. The Bill seeks to bring within its scope a little over a million of the married men, but we have been told that the Government estimate that out of that million not more than 200,000 will ultimuately reach the Colours. But the Amendment which 1276 was to be moved by the hon. Member for Poplar covers people whom nobody would select out of the 200,000. It is very difficult, as between one man and another, to estimate the amount of hardship. The great hardship is that they are both staking their lives and everything else, and in view of that hardship it seems a little out of place to talk about degrees of hardship owing to certain financial considerations. But it is an important matter for the Government, for this reason. The Government is pledged to make some compensation to those who are called upon to serve. I do not know that we have ascertained the actual items of that compensation. I am told that they will include questions with regard to leases or the taking over of liability of leases, and other losses due to men being called up for service.
In regard to married men who have leases affecting only their private houses, most of that class of leases generally would be on such terms that they could soon be given up; yet if people dealt with by this Amendment are to be called to the Colours, it means that their businesses are absolutely closed, that leases even of small business places in London, of £50, £60 or £70 a year, or business places of very much higher rent, are to be forfeited. You are either to excuse the men, or the Government will have to provide some method of compensation for the landlords of these shops, or the landlords are to go without their rents. A large number of these shops are carried on considerably by means of credit. You are not only going to ruin those shopkeepers, but also a large number of businesses which depend upon them. The President of the Local Government Board says that, if his were the deciding voice, at any rate for the time being, he would not call up the men covered by those conditions. If that is so, surely the right hon. Gentleman would be prepared to take some steps to carry out what is his own wish, what is the wish of the Government, and what I am quite certain is the wish of this House. We will not be able to go to a Division. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] My point is that I was prepared to go into the Division Lobby in support of the Clause of the hon. Member for Poplar if it could have been moved, but I cannot support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Somerset simply because the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar cannot be moved. That may seem bad Parliamentary tactics, but it is loyal.
1277 It is suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should rely upon circulars, but I can assure him that many tribunals take little or no notice of circulars and it is no answer to a man who goes before a tribunal who will not read the circulars to be told that if he had gone to some other tribunal who had taken notice of the circular a different result would have followed. I think the right hon. Gentleman might give the House the assurance that if he finds he has the power, he will make a Regulation which would do what the hon. Member has suggested, that in the case of a man who comes within that category, or within the category described by the hon. Member for Exeter, the tribunal shall adjourn consideration of the case for three months. The man concerned would then be dealt with in three months time in the light of the conditions which will then exist. It may be that in three months time every Member of this House will say that he ought not to be exempted in view of the circumstances of the case. Why should you now unhinge all these businesses, causing no end of anxiety to people, if you are not satisfied that they ought to be called up. The right hon. Gentleman might, I think, give us an assurance that he will by Regulation, if he has the power, direct the tribunals to adjourn the cases within this category for three months. Another way in which he can help us, is to permit an appeal to the Central Tribunal, which is not allowed now and would, I think, require an Amendment in the Bill. I frankly say I would be quite satisfied that these people would be amply safeguarded if the Central Tribunal were permitted to finally decide their cases. That Central Tribunal, of which the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir G. Younger) and the hon. Member for Black-friars (Mr. Barnes) are members would pay attention to the Regulations of the Local Government Board, and if the local and Appeal Tribunals did not do so an appeal to the Central Tribunal would be satisfactory. I think the suggestion to direct the tribunals to adjourn these cases for three months is most practical, and that everybody will be satisfied if that is done.
§ Mr. BILLING
I am very sorry to be on my feet taking the side of anybody who objects to serve in any shape or form his country at the present moment, but I do think that an amount of injustice will be done to a very responsible and very respectable type of citizen if the small shopkeeper is not given some consideration. 1278 I represent not a number of small shopkeepers either in Poplar or other frequented part of the city, not men who have been in business where they are for a few months, but men in villages where small shopkeepers have been in business for many years and which they have gradually brought together. It is not only their existence but the very existence of their families who will not know where to turn for another form of support. It is quite common in a number of villages to find co-operative societies, the Home and Colonial Stores and other stores which have got a considerable amount of business. The result is going to be, if these small shopkeepers are shut up, and I am speaking very feelingly of my own Constituency—I make no bones about it—these co-operative societies will capture all the trade of the village, and when these people come back they will find that their business has gone and their living has gone. I think there are only three types of people called on for service in this way. There is the person who is serving or has served other masters. He has, I think, many organisations to look after his welfare. Then there is the person who has never served, nor had any occasion to serve—the person who has lived on interest on capital and so on. I think he can look after himself. Then there is the person who is not either an employer of labour or an employemployés, who has just his own little battle to fight. I think that some consideration should be given to these men, who through thrift and conscientiously following a job have built up a small business. My suggestion is that the amount of consideration or leniency shown to these small shopkeepers should be directly governed by the amount of time and labour that they have put into creating their businesses. I am pleading only for the sole surviving proprietor in a small business, the last man in the last ditch, without whom the business would be shut up. When you get down to that man, I think it is reasonable that he should be given one month's exemption for every year he has been a trader. In that way a certain amount of justice would be done. If a man had put in ten or eighteen years in trying to work up a business he would be given a corresponding number of months in which to make his arrangements. If a man had put in eighteen years he would have arrived at an age when he might reasonably claim such consideration. If he had started about 1279 twenty, he would then be about thirty-eight, and the eighteen months' exemption would bring him to about forty years of age. If in eighteen months' time the War is still on, I think we shall want every man who can be whipped up irrespective of his age. Under my suggestion every man would have a fair chance according to the amount of labour and of capital represented by years of labour that he had invested in his business.
§ Mr. LONG
The House will probably wish to hear what our view is after listening to the Debate. We must all feel that there is no difference of opinion in any quarter of the House as to the actual cases to be met. The more fanciful suggestions, such as that made by the last speaker, has not found much acceptance in the House, but the general view has been accepted, that where the special circumstances are found in combination the demand ought to be met. I think that most hon. Members will also accept the view that the Act of Parliament already provides the power. The question at issue is how can you secure uniformity among the tribunals in using it. With so much agreement it would be a pity to discuss at greater length so narrow a difference. I have been reluctant to undertake to issue more Instructions. I do not care to interfere with the tribunals more than is really necessary. But I think this Debate has shown clearly that there is a grievance due more to want of uniformity than to any weak spot in the Act of Parliament or to anything that can be remedied by legislation. Therefore I am willing to accept the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Essex, and by others on both sides of the House, that we should issue Instructions to the tribunals, which without doubt I can do under Section 5 instead of a circular. [HON. MEMBERS: "Regulations!"] I mentioned Instructions. This would really, I think, meet all the reasonable necessities of the case, and I hope if that view is generally taken we may be allowed to get on.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that a Regulation, or Instruction, in the sense of the new Clause of the hon. Member for Poplar, will be sent to the tribunals. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!" and "No!"]
So many hon. Gentlemen are telling me what the hon. Gentleman meant, that I cannot quite gather what he himself meant. What he said I really understood to be this: That he proposes, either by way of Circular or Regulation—I think it was Regulation, but I may be wrong—by Circular or Regulation, that the tribunals shall be informed that when these four conditions are satisfied, the President of the Local Government Board intends them to exempt the men! May I make one suggestion?—I think the President will accept it—that the essential point to remember is this: the difference between essential businesses and non-essential businesses. That lies at the very root of the whole matter. I do not want to go back, but what we ought to have done at the very commencement of the War was to distinguish between essential and non-essential businesses. Let me give an example. Supposing the business of a bookmaker answers the four conditions named, is the President of the Local Government Board going to instruct the tribunals that that bookmaker, in a time of war, is to be exempt from the provisions of this Act? I devoutly hope he is not. There would be public indignation if the President were to give any such instructions. I am not quite satisfied as to how far the Regulations may be obeyed, but that is another matter that I need not go into. It will be a very odd thing, according to my recollection of history, and the traditions of the country, if any body of men, meriting the name of a tribunal, takes instructions from an executive officer as to what they will do. It is a very dangerous precedent. I hope the President of the Local Government Board will act very guardedly.
§ Captain AMERY
Just one word in support of what has fallen from my right hon. Friend, and that is that after this discussion, however whole-heartedly I was in sympathy with the views as to the hardships which these men might have to-undergo, I cannot help remembering that this very class, great as their hardship may be, from the point of view of the national interest, are largely a class that could be spared for the front. The class 1281 of small shopkeepers and distributors are not the class required for the maintenance of the essential national industries—the production of munitions, the raising of food, and the provisions of essential exports. Therefore, though we ought to consider their case from the point of view of justice, I do not believe the right way to meet it is to exempt those people from service. If you are to meet their case, you ought to meet it, I believe, along the lines by which special hardship has already been met. In regard to certain people provision has already been made that rent, education, and certain other standing burdens should be met out of the public fund. Now, the difference in the case of these people from other cases where relief is given is that they lose not only the interest but the goodwill of their little business which has taken them years of labour to put together. The suggestion I should like to put most earnestly to the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman and of the Government is this: Is it really impossible in the case of these people to give them after the War something in the nature of compensation for the loss of goodwill? In the case of these small businesses it is a small amount—£50 or £100 might cover it very easily. It would be enough to enable a man who has got the experience, the knowledge and the energy, but who wants a little money, to start again, and I believe, instead of trying to exempt those men at a time when the nation wants them—and if it does not take them, it will have to take somebody else—it would be better to extend somewhat further the generosity the nation is already showing to those who have already gone or are called upon for service, and give them something to enable them to start again.
§ Sir STUART SAMUEL
I do not propose to direct the attention of the House to the hardship that this class of man suffers, because I submit respectfully that the House has already recognised it. The intention of Parliament has been that exceptional financial hardship should be a ground for exemption, and it is only because the tribunals have not given effect to the desires of Parliament, and have flouted the right hon. Gentleman in many directions, that there is the large amount of public dissatisfaction that is apparent to-day. Now the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, to my mind, quite does away with any grievance. As one of those who have urged upon the Government a modification of the present unsatisfactory 1282 position, I perhaps may be allowed to say that I think the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion will be quite adequate to remove the grievance.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I want to reply to my hon. and gallant Friend opposite, who said very truly from his point of view that the small distributor could be easily done without, and that reminds me of the very interesting case that has already been decided by the tribunals. There was an unmarried man who ran his own business and who applied for exemption and was refused by the tribunal. They gave him a month in which to sell his business. He sold it to a large store, and the store appointed him manager of the new branch. They then applied to the tribunal for exemption on behalf of this man because he was indispensable, and secured him.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The case can be given. It is an authentic case. A great many Members are forgetting in this Debate that, while it is perfectly true we have to find men for the Army and Navy, we have also got to keep men to find the money to provide for those who are in the Army and Navy, and if we do what is suggested by a great many Members of this House, what we shall be doing after the War is finished will not be trying to capture German trade, but trying to keep what little we have left ourselves. I hope hon. Members will bear that in mind. I am going to suggest to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter that he should persist in the very excellent way that he showed a little earlier in this. Debate. I agree with him, and I thank him for making the suggestion that there is no reason why the House should not give this Amendment a Second Reading, because we can modify it entirely later on, and we can then insert the kind of words suggested by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. I want to say quite frankly that I have never criticised the President of the Local Government Board in anything, but I am quite sure that no instructions of any kind will be binding upon those tribunals.
The Regulations go on to say:
"Regulations made under this provision shall contain instructions to the local and Appeal Tribunals given with a view to securing uniformity of decision."
Those are the instructions to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. The 1283 original word is "Regulations," but in the Regulations you can give instructions. Those instructions are given to the local and the Appeal Tribunals, and one complaint has been that the Appeal Tribunal has so frequently reversed the decision of the local tribunal, although the latter are supposed to know so much more about the cases. I hope we shall put into the Bill words that cannot be misinterpreted, and if the right hon. Gentleman accepts the words of so excellent an authority as the right hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke), and we support him, that will be a combination about which there can be no dispute.
§ Mr. PETO
The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) has not rightly interpreted the suggestion made by the right hon. and learned Member for Exeter, and he seems to have woven a very ingenious webb, designed to catch the unwary fly. The hon. Member suggests that we should first pass this Amendment and then proceed to amend it. My right hon. Friend made a suggestion to the President of the Local Government Board that he himself should propose an Amendment by way of a new Clause, altering Sub-section (e) of Clause 2 of the principal Act. That would be a proposal which would be a vast improvement upon this very vague proposal now before the House. As far as I am concerned I shall certainly not vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King) in order that possibly at some future stage the House might amend the words we are now asked to pass. If the Government adopt the words suggested by the right hon. and learned Member for Exeter I think it would be a happy way out of the difficulty. I hope that before we come to a decision we shall have a word from the President of the Local Government Board to say whether he is going to proceed by Regulation or by an Amendment calling the special attention of the local and Appeal Tribunals to the particular exemption which the House seems to think it is desirable to make. Whether it is by Regulation or whether it is by
§ Amendment, I hope that the Government will adopt the words of the right hon. and learned Member for Exeter, when he said, "Not less than three other persons dependent upon him," and "that the business cannot be continued without his services." That is the proper text. I think the Clause of the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Yeo), where he provides that in every case the man must have a wife and children dependent upon him is wrong, because, if the man has a wife to leave in charge of a small retail business, he has in most cases got a most excellent representative who will keep his business alive. The case of a man who has not got a wife but who has three small children dependent upon him is far harder than that of a man who has got a thoroughly capable and business-like wife to look after his interests while he is away. Therefore, I should like to hear definitely what the Government has to say to the suggestion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and I should like to warn the House against the very ingenious and I think somewhat disingenuous suggestion of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge).
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I desire to associate myself with what has just fallen from the lips of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Peto). I was greatly impressed by the suggestion made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke), while desiring to avoid the difficulties which are perfectly manifest in the suggestion of the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Yeo), because that would have a restrictive effect, he wanted to have the benefit of something definite introduced into the Bill itself. If both these objects could be achieved in the way he suggests, I think the whole House would be glad. I therefore should be very glad indeed to hear from the President of the Local Government Board whether he cannot see his way even now in some way to meet the suggestion.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 62; Noes, 185.1285
|Division No. 18.]||AYES.||[11.59 p.m.|
|Anderson, W. C.||Bethell, Sir J. H.||Byles, Sir William Pollard|
|Arnold, Sydney||Bliss, Joseph||Byrne, Alfred|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Bowerman, Charles W.||Clynes, John R.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Brookes, Warwick||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Buxton, Noel||Gilbert, J. D.|
|Glanville, Harold James||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lines, Spalding)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Hancock, John George||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Snowden, Philip|
|Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Sutton, John E.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Morrell, Philip||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Hinds, John||Outhwaite, R. L.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Parry, Thomas H.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wiles, Thomas|
|John, Edward Thomas||Pringle, William M. R.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs, N.)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Rees, Griffith C. (Carnarvonshire)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Roch, Walter Francis|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Rowlands, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. King and Mr. Hogge.|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Grant, J. A.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Amery, Capt. L. C. M. S.||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gretton, John||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London)||Gulland, John William||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Phillips, Capt. Sir O. C.|
|Barrie, H. T.||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Pratt, J. W.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Harris, Rt. Hon. Leverton (Wor'ter, E.)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Haslam, Lewis||Prothero, Rowland Edmund|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Bird, Alfred||Henry, Sir Charles||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Blair, Reginald||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hewart, Gordon||Reid, Rt. Hon. Sir George H.|
|Boyton, James||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Brace, William||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Robertson, Rt. Hon. John M.|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Horne, Edgar||Robinson, Sidney|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rutherford, Sir J. (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hunt, Major Rowland||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Butcher, John George||Hunter, Major Sir Charles Rodk.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Illingworth, Albert H.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Ingleby, Holcombe||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cassel, Capt. Felix||Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Cator, John||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Short, Edward|
|Cautley, H. S.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Jones, William S. Glyn. (Stepney)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Kerry, Col. the Earl of||Starkey, John R.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Larmor, Sir J.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Layland-Barrett, Sir F.||Swift, Rigby P. W.|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Levy, Sir Maurice||Sykes, Col. A. J. (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Sykes, Sir Neark (Hull, Central)|
|Coats, Sir Stewart A. (Wimbleden)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cochrane, Cecil Algernon||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut.-Colonel A. R.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Tickler, T. G.|
|Currie, George W.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Macmaster, Donald||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Dixon, C. H.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Dougherty, Sir J. B.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Edge, Captain William||Meux, Sir Hedworth||Weston, J. W.|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Fell, Arthur||Millar, James Duncan||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Mills, Lieut. Arthur R.||Williams, Thomas J.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Morgan, George Hay||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Fletcher, John S.||Morrison-Bell, Major E. F. (Ashburton)||Worthington Evans, Major L.|
|Forster, Henry William||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Newdegate, F. A.||Younger, Sir George|
|Gardner, Ernest||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Gibbs, Colonel G. A.||Nield, Herbert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Bridgeman and Mr. Rea.|
|Goldman, C. S.||Norton-Griffiths, Lt.-Col. John|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
Question, "That the Clause, as Amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.