§ Postponed Proceeding resumed on Question, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ Mr. PRINGLE
When the Debate was suspended I was calling attention to a case, which has been prominently before the public in recent weeks, arising out of the oppressive and arbitrary action of the War Office. I refer to the case of Mr. Bertrand Russell. This is not the first occasion on which I have spoken on behalf both of individuals and of newspapers who, in my view, have been oppressively and tyrannically treated under the Defence of the Realm Act. On a previous occasion I happened to be not in agreement with those on whose behalf I was speaking. I am in the same position on the present occasion. On the first occasion it was my 865 duty to defend the "Globe" newspaper. On the present occasion I am endeavouring to put the case of a man with whose views as to the origin of the War I profoundly disagree. It is true that Mr. Russell was convicted of an offence under the Defence of the Realm Act, and that in view of that conviction he was fined. Consequently he has been punished for his offence. But the War Office is not content that he should have purged his offence. Not only the War Office, but the Foreign Office are pursuing him vindictively even after he has purged his offence. The Foreign Office has declined to allow him to go to America to deliver at Harvard University a series of lectures which he had undertaken to deliver, and the War Office has interfered with another project which he had in view, to deliver in various parts of the United Kingdom a series of lectures on political philosophy. A question was put yesterday to the Secretary of State for War, whose absence to-night I very much regret, because I should have preferred that the defence of his department should have been in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, who, of course, takes full responsibility for what is done there. The right hon. Gentleman stated yesterday that the War Office had taken this action because the lectures which Mr. Russell intended to deliver were likely to prejudice the manning of the Army and consequently to weaken the country in the prosecution of the War. On that answer I put a supplementary question. I asked the right hon. Gentleman on what ground it could be alleged that a lecture delivered in Glasgow was going to prejudice recruiting for the Army and weaken us in the prosecution of the War, while the same lecture could be delivered in Manchester without having any of those disastrous results.
The Secretary of State for War is usually very well able to take care of himself in regard to supplementary questions, but on this occasion he was significantly silent. His silence I thinks proves absolutely clearly that he had no personal knowledge whatever of the grounds upon which action had been taken by his department. Had he known that they were guilty of such ridiculous folly as to prohibit a man from lecturing in Glasgow and Newcastle while he was allowed to deliver precisely the same lecture in Leeds and Manchester, I am sure that he would have personally intervened, and prevented his department from being involved in such a ridiculous proceeding. The right hon. Gentleman 866 in last night's Debate, in describing the action of his Department in the early stages of recruiting in Ireland, said that apparently the War Office had been guilty of stupidity which almost amounted to malignity. In this case the War Office seems to have been guilty of malignity which almost amounts to stupidity. No reason can be given for the action of the Government with regard to this man, except a spirit of petty persecution. If there were any real risk of his committing an offence, there would obviously be no ground whatever for treating him differentially in different localities. I am not making an appeal to the House on his behalf on the ground of the distinguished position which he occupies. I think that any man, no matter how humble his position, would equally deserve to have his case stated in this House if he were treated in the way in which Mr. Russell is being treated. But we cannot leave out of account in this matter that Mr. Russell is a man with a high reputation not only in this country; he has a European reputation. His reputation extends to America. The invitation to Harvard University proves the extent of his reputation, and the high value that is placed on the other side of the Atlantic upon his philosophical attainments. Surely if our Government are treating in this way such a man, whose work is known practically all over the world, it is not simply a question as affecting that individual; it is not simply that the War Office is guilty of an. act of petty oppression, but it is committing an act of petty oppression which is being advertised all over the world.
Some hon. Gentlemen think that it is practically of no account what reputation we have in America, or in any other country, in regard to this War. I do not think that that is the view entertained by His Majesty's Government. We know that the Government have a Department whose duty it is to put to neutrals the case of this country in regard to the War, a Department whose object it is to disseminate all over the world not only information, but also arguments in relation to Great Britain's part in the War. Consequently our reputation in matters of this kind is a matter of consequence to the Government, a matter regarding which it has shown the highest concern. They, indeed, sent an emissary to America, Professor Gilbert Murray, in order to maintain the reputation of the Empire in that country. He was questioned about the treatment of Mr. Russell, and, in a letter which he 867 recently wrote to the Press, he said that the only answer which he could give to the American correspondent was that to him it was incredible. So you send Professor Gilbert Murray as an emissary to America in order to defend your actions both in foreign politics and in home administration, and the best defence he can offer to this great neutral country, of the same blood as ourselves, is that your action here is incredible. My hon. Friend near me, who has served under the War Office, informs me that he did not know the War Office. I am inclined to agree with him. We have heard a great deal about Prussian militarism. This action seems to me to embody the spirit of Prussian militarism. We in this country believed that if we indeed ran any risk of lapsing into the methods of Prussian militarism that we would not borrow its stupidities—that we at least would be saved from them by a sense of humour which has been denied to the Germans. Apparently, however, the War Office has not only borrowed the Prussian stupidity, but it is also quite destitute of humour. This is all the more surprising in the Department which is controlled by the present Secretary of State for War. It is one further reason for leading us to believe that he himself is completely ignorant as to what has been done in his own office. In making this appeal for a change in action on the part of our Government, I am not only making the appeal on the ground that they are acting oppressively and tyrannically to this individual—I am making the appeal still more on the ground that by actions such as this, which are known, not only here but throughout the world, you are lowering the prestige and tarnishing the credit of this Empire.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Forster)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has expressed his regret that the Secretary of State is not here to make, I will not say a defence of the War Office, but to lay their case before the House. I can assure him that I share that regret to the full. The House, however, will understand that my right hon. Friend is absent on business.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. FORSTER
That explains the matter, and I think the House will realise 868 that I am not able to do more than to place a broad outline of the War Office case before the House. They will realise that the matter does not really fall within the sphere of the War Office work with which I am specially connected. I, therefore, throw myself in a large measure upon the indulgence of the House. The speeches which have been made in reference to the treatment of Mr. Russell, while they express views which are condemnatory of the War Office, have been couched in reasonable terms. In regard to that I have no complaint whatever to make. Hon. Members have put their side of the case with restraint and conviction, but if they will allow me to say so I think there is some mistake as to the treatment which Mr. Russell has received; that this aspect of the case has not been fully realised. I want to put clearly—I shall not attempt to do more—what has been done with Mr. Russell and why it has been done. It is represented to this House that he has been persecuted in a spirit of vindictiveness and prevented from delivering a series of lectures rather out of a spirit of hostility to himself than from motives of due regard to the public safety. I gather from the speeches which have been made that hon. Members below the Gangway entertain the opinion that Mr. Russell has been prohibited from delivering a series of lectures which he had undertaken to deliver. That is not quite the case. Some time ago Mr. Russell, in the course of the propaganda into which he had entered, made speeches and used language which, I think undoubtedly were hostile to the successful prosecution of the War. It was on that account, and because we were led to believe that he was contemplating a continuance of his propaganda, that he was prevented from entering prohibited areas. He came to the War Office subsequently, and when I say that I do not mean that he came himself—as to that I cannot speak—but at any rate it was represented to us subsequent to the prohibition that he had entered into an undertaking to deliver a series of lectures, and unless the prohibition were relaxed he would be prevented from giving that series. The War Office told him quite frankly that they were prepared to relax the prohibition if he would give an undertaking not to use the opportunity of his lectures as a method of pursuing his propaganda. I do not think that that was an unreasonable request to make.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
Did the prohibition refer to the whole country or only to certain portions of the country?
§ Mr. FORSTER
The prohibition referred to certain areas. It was not directed to prevent Mr. Russell delivering his lectures. It was to prevent him going into prohibited areas for any purpose whatever. The result undoubtedly was to prevent him delivering his lectures. What I gather from the speeches which have been delivered is the idea that the prohibition was dircted against Mr. Russell for the purpose of preventing his lectures. That is not so. The prohibition was for the purpose of preventing him carrying on his propaganda.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Perhaps the best thing to do would be to allow the Financial Secretary to make his statement.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I want the House to understand quite clearly the fact I have just stated. Undoubtedly my right hon. Friend, in answering the supplementary questions, did inadvertently refer to the lectures which it was proposed to give, and not to the propaganda which we had reason to fear Mr. Russell proposed to carry on.
§ Mr. FORSTER
And that really is the only point I want to make. We have not pursued Mr. Russell in a spirit of vindictiveness in order to prevent him from giving his lectures. We have offered to relax the prohibition in order that he may deliver his lectures if he will give us an undertaking not to use the opportunity for propaganda. I do not think that it is an unreasonable request to make, and I think that my explanation puts the action of the War Office in a very different light. I turn to the question raised by my hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Mr. Ashley). He referred to certain matters relating to the Territorial Force. Those were purely military questions, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman said himself he had not given notice of his intention to deal with them. Therefore, I can do no more than say I will call the attention of my right hon. Friend to what he 870 said. He referred to one other question, namely, the apparent failure of the War Office to use a convenient railway station for the carriage of goods to the depot which we have established at Olympia. He pointed out that the railway is exceedingly convenient, but that, instead of bringing into and carrying from the depot the vast quantity of goods which are in course of transit by means of that railway, the goods are unloaded from a station some miles distant and carted to the depot. And then he was kind enough to say that he supposed it never occurred to anybody that we should make an effort to use the railway which is so conveniently placed for the depot. It may surprise my hon. and gallant Friend to know that one of the first things we did was to approach the railway company and to endeavour to get them to agree to allow us to make use of the passenger station, for it is a passenger station.
§ Mr. FORSTER
But it is a passenger station. The railway company told us that it was quite impossible for them to allow such a thing to be done, and I do not think we are open to the charge of negligence which my hon. and gallant Friend seems to prefer against us. I think he rather suggested that we should approach the railway company again and see whether some arrangement could not be made even at this time of day. I am inclined to agree with him. Possibly conditions are different now, and I propose to see whether or not we can now get the railway company to allow us to make use of the station.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
Is it not a fact that the Government now control the railways, and that it is not a question of asking the railway companies, but of ordering them.
§ Commander WEDGWOOD
I intended to rise this evening to speak on several subjects, but I wish to deal, first of all, with the question of Mr. Bertrand Russell. We have had an extraordinary statement from the Financial Secretary to the War Office. I suppose there are few people in this House who agree less than I do with opinions expressed by Mr. Bertrand Russell on the War, but I still happen to be a Liberal, and he is a Liberal. I hoped that this War was going to stamp out these party differences, but I cannot con- 871 ceive anything more likely to resuscitate the old party difference than the persecution of a man simply because he is a Liberal, and that is what it has been. I do not know how many Liberals there are in the Foreign Office who prohibit Mr. Bertrand Russell going to America, or how many in the "War Office who prohibit him speaking in this country, but I am quite certain there are very few of them. I am quite sure, after what one heard from the hon. Member for Waterford, that the attitude of the War Office towards those parts of the country with which they differ was accurately described by the Secretary of State for War yesterday. It is carried out not only against Ireland, but against the expression of Liberal opinion here. They should remember that, while at present opinions from which they differ may be in a minority, may be unpopular, the time will come when Liberal opinions will have their say in this world again. I have always maintained that when we were in the ascendant and when Conservatives and Socialists were in the minority, the only liberal way of treating hostile opinion was to give it full voice, to allow it to express itself, and let the people judge for themselves as to whether those views are good or bad. Even in wartime, I believe, the same principles will hold good.
Just consider what this prohibition of this man lecturing in Glasgow has done. If he had gone to Glasgow to deliver his lecture on all those academic subjects he would have got an audience of about 200 faddists and scholars and cranks of the ordinary sort. Instead of that the lecture is read before an audience of thousands, with an ex-Lord Provost in the chair. That is what always happens when a stupid Government acts in this way. I know perfectly well at the present time that there is a very small minority of people who are pacificists, but if you want them to remain a small minority, the best thing is not to persecute them. It has always been the same. You created Christianity by persecution. Apart from all that, I do wish to impress upon the Financial Secretary to the War Office that permanent officials in other Departments have learnt the degree to which they can go in interfering with the people of this country. Now the permanent officials of the War Office have not yet learnt it. They have only recently come in contact with public opinion, and with the suppression or influencing of 872 public opinion, and the sooner they learn the ways of the permanent officials in other Departments the better. If you had a permanent official in the Board of Education sending for a man like Mr. Bertrand Russell and telling him the sort of lectures he could give on education, there would be a protest in this House such as would seriously affect the position of the Minister for Education. But we are seriously told by the Financial Secretary that when the War Office sent for Mr. Russell and asked him to give his word of honour that he would not introduce into his lectures something which is displeasing to the War Office, he had to accept it with due humility and to agree to give his word not to say anything which would be contrary to the interest of England. I would sooner trust Mr. Bertrand Russell as to what is to the interest of England than I would a permanent official. It is particularly invidious attacking him because he is a representative of the extreme Liberal view—a Liberal view that independence of thought and independence of action should be supported even in the most trying times. Of course he defends his point of view. I have been seriously told by people that he is a dangerous Anarchist. The public have said that of me too. It is the common form of denunciation of anybody who dares to think for himself and speak out without any thought of what other people will think of him. I did not want to raise this question, but really the attitude of the War Office towards him is perfectly intolerable in a free country.
I pass on to the speech delivered by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil). The Noble Lord proposed, I am afraid to a very thin House, a scheme which he had carefully thought out and had already put before the authorities for dealing with this problem of the conscientious objector. We all know what a muddle the Government have made of the conscientious objector. The Noble Lord is not present, but he stated quite clearly that in his opinion the conscientious objector had got to be looked at from two particular points of view. We must satisfy public opinion that the people at the front are not suffering while the conscientious objector escapes scot-free by merely pleading his conscience. I think public opinion is right in that matter. There must be some approximation in regard to equality of sacrifice. It would not be fair to let a man off—very often the 873 man least anxious to do his duty—on the plea of conscience when he had not discovered that conscience before. There must be some sign that a man who pleads conscience suffers for that conscience. There must also be some definite proof that if these men are not serving in the trenches and running the risks of trench warfare they are paying for their views, giving some proof of their consciences and suffering for them, because those things are necessary if we are to have any sort of equality of sacrifice. The Noble Lord opposite said—and I agree with him—that the problem of dealing with the conscientious objector should be kept entirely out of the Army. The Army authorities are not the proper people to study conscience, especially when you have different courts-martial and different tribunals looking at the same problem from different points of view. It has been suggested that they should be offered non-combatant service, and I think a straightforward choice ought to be put to them instead of this absurd system of courts-martial, sentencing and resentencing and all that nonsense, which is seriously upsetting public opinion in the country. You would then have the problem dealt with in the way that would satisfy the men who are making their sacrifice at the front, and it would be a fair statement of the duty of a conscientious objector.
I will pass on to another point which is seriously agitating the country, and that is the man-power of the country. How are we to get men for the Army? We have had the matter put forward by Sir William Robertson, and we shall have it brought forward in this House before long, and we shall have to deal with the necessity for getting more men for the Army. I want the House to understand that if they are going to get more men there are two principal points of view which they must bear in mind. The first is, that you must impregnate the people of this country with the idea that in getting more men you are acting justly. At present the feeling of the country is that this impressment of men is being done unjustly. They see all these exemptions, and every man wonders why he could not be exempted. There is a general feeling of injustice in regard to the present system. I have heard that nowadays a munition worker can be trained efficiently in five weeks, and the same could be said of a great many other trades in this country in which men are said to be indispensable, and are thereby given 874 exemption. If you raise the age from forty to forty-five and still allow young unmarried men of twenty, twenty-five, and thirty to escape public service, and to remain in this country making munitions at considerable wages while other men—the married and the elder men from forty to forty-five—are being sent off to serve for one shilling per day, you will raise such a storm of opposition that this War will become unpopular, and we shall not be able to carry out that destruction of Prussian militarism which we all desire. Therefore you must not raise the sense of injustice amongst the people and amongst those who are earmarked for the great adventure, which means to many of them losing their lives.
I urge the Government, if they are to get more men, that they should bear in mind that they must take all the men up to a certain age. Take the farmers' sons, and do not let them get out of it any longer. Take the munition workers. Do not let them get out of it any longer. Take all up to a certain age, say, twenty-two first of all, and then gradually raise the age, and allow natural causes to readjust the industries of the country. Do not raise the age. See that the younger men go first, and gradually extend the age. Let it be a hard and fast system with which no tribunal can interfere and which no exemptions can touch. The age limit alone: let that be the criterion as to whether a man has got to go and risk his life or not. So much for the justice point of view. I emphasise it, because I think it is a most important point of view. The other point of view is equally important. If you are going to take men from forty to forty-five, you are seriously going to interfere with our last chance of paying for this War. At present we are carrying on. The men of forty and over are continuing the industries of the country. They are continuing the export trade; they are continuing the work in the mines and all those industries which are not only essential after the War but are also essential for the prosecution of the War itself. The men between forty and forty-five are more useful for carrying on the industries of this country than the men under twenty-five, whereas the men under twenty-five are more useful in the trenches than men of from forty to forty-five. It is absolutely essential to realise that to carry on the War successfully you have got to have 875 men for the Army, men to make munitions, and men to make the money to pay for the War, and, if you do not keep them all going pari passu you are going to find it extremely difficult to prosecute the War successfully to the end.
There is another way in which you can get the men required for the Army. I have never had an answer yet as to why it is impossible to enlist black men. I have had countless letters from black men from South Africa, and even from East Africa, saying that they would welcome the chance of fighting for the Empire. At the back of their minds, I know, is the thought that if they are allowed to fight side by side with British troops the colour bar will disappear; they will be considered men, and be given the self-respect which it is so difficult for a black man to get when he is looked down upon as he is at the present time. We know perfectly well that we have in the British Empire the largest number of coloured fellow-subjects of any nation in the world. I have spoken of this before, and I do not want to reiterate indefinitely the arguments used. I will deal merely with the attitude of the War Office towards this question. I stated here in the House when I spoke on this question last that it would be possible to raise 100,000 black troops by next spring. I instanced the untapped resources not only of British East Africa, but also of German East Africa, which we have now conquered, of South Africa, and of Nigeria. Anyone who knows anything about those countries knows that by far the larger proportion of the available black population is in South Africa. In Nigeria you have about 13,000,000 black people who are sufficiently of a warlike character to be drawn upon. In British East Africa there are 2,500,000, and in German East Africa about 7,000,000. When this proposition was put before the War Office, what did they do? They wired out and asked how many black troops they could raise in British East Africa alone, stating that a minimum of 50,000 was required. Of course, you cannot get 50,000 from British East Africa alone. They took no steps whatever to deal with the question of South Africa. They did not approach the Union Government, nor did they deal with the question of Nigeria. When they found they could not raise 100,000 or 50,000 men in British East Africa, without dealing with the problem of German East Africa, they 876 dropped the whole question and no further steps were taken. Instead of that, they keep pegging away, saying we want men; we want white men; we want Conscription in Australia; we want Conscription in Ireland; we want to force the last white worker out of this country. I say that in this war of exhaustion it is our duty to see that everybody, black and white, play their part, to slow down as far as possible the rate of white killing, and to secure our object by every means in our power; whether it means breaking down the colour bar and the prestige of the whites, whether it means treating our black fellow subjects as well as if they were equals of ourselves. I have seen them fight. I know perfectly well that the Askiris of the East African Rifles fight as well as the best Indian troops, and I think better than some of those Indian troops. I would not fear in the least fighting with a brigade which had a coloured regiment. The French are using those troops, and they have one coloured battalion in a brigade or one coloured regiment in a division, I forget which. They mix them, and they find the plan works. Our case is even stronger than that. At present we have an enormous number of troops in Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, troops which are, more or less in the position of garrison troops, and which have not got active operations. Surely the work of garrisoning Egypt, India, possibly Mesopotamia, even East Africa, might be done by those coloured troops whom we have seen fighting, and as well by them, and more cheaply, to the Empire. I do think it is the duty of the War Office, before they come to this House and demand a further sacrifice from the men of this country, and demand the raising of the age, that they should take into account the black population of this Empire which is only waiting to be asked and for which no conscription is necessary, and which would facilitate this man-power problem we are considering at present.
When we are on man-power I wish to deal with one other subject. Everybody here knows that there are in this country a great number of men in khaki who are not fighting Every hospital has masses of able-bodied white orderlies in khaki, all over the country you have reserve battalions, a permanent staff of officers who have not been to the front, and you have men who have been wounded and come back from the front put into those battalions. And you have those officers 877 thrusting those men back to the front again long before they want to go. What do you think is the attitude of those men who see themselves driven back by those officers? I have heard of a case in which men were told "the English air does not agree with you "and who were sent back to the front, and who were told that by officers who have not been out and are not going out. What we want is a comb that will send officers out who are able and fit and ought to go out, but who, through some appointment at home, are still resting here and are actually sending out to the frightful Somme front men who have been out before and who have been wounded and who are only too glad to get a bit of rest in this country. What is really wanted is a small committee to go through with a comb all the units of men and officers who are stopping behind in this country and to see whether there is not there a well that can be drawn upon to increase our man-power at the front. There is not a Member of this House who could not put his finger on numbers of men in uniform, either serving as mess-men or orderlies, or in countless other capacities, who ought to be available for work at the front, whose work could perfectly well be done by wounded men who ought to have a chance to live before going back to be wounded again, and whose work might even be done by the women in this country who do clerk's work every bit as efficiently as the men in uniform themselves. I point towards these two sources. I point towards the further employment of coloured troops and towards the combing-out of that vast army of people behind the lines here at home, aye, and behind the lines in France too. I ask the War Office to make a thorough use of these two sources before they come to this House and ask for the raising of the age and before they comb out those who are engaged on necessary work of trade and transport and are earning the money with which to win the War. I hope the Financial Secretary to the War Office will bring this question firmly forward at the War Office, and not to press it as the expression of opinion of a solitary Member of Parliament, because from the letters I receive and from the people to whom I speak I know these two questions bulk very largely in the public opinion of the day, and if we are to carry the War to a successful conclusion we must have public opinion behind us in these matters and not fly in the face of it.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
The earlier part of the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend (Commander Wedgwood) has brought me to my feet to supplement the remarks of my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office on the case of Mr. Bertrand Russell. I know it is a matter in which many Members of this House, and many people outside, are interested. Mr. Russell is a man of very great intellectual distinction, and I myself feel it is very unfortunate that he should have come into conflict with the Government at the present time when the country is engaged in war. Although the Order made against him, which has been the subject of discussion, is an Order made by the War Office entirely on their own responsibility, the earlier stages of the matter come under the cognisance of the Home Office, and it is on that ground, perhaps, that I am entitled to speak upon it. The first event that occurred was the issue of a leaflet called "Two Years' Hard Labour," I think by the No-Conscription Fellowship or by some allied body, which was not known to be from the pen of Mr. Bertrand Russell, and the distributors of which were prosecuted in various parts of the country by the police for an offence under the Defence of the Realm Act. The gravamen of the leaflet was not that it described the sentences inflicted upon conscientious objectors and complained of them. The reason why that leaflet was prosecuted was that it ended with an appeal to others to do the same, and to resist the operation of the Military Service Act.
The attitude the Government took up with respect to that matter when the Military Service Act came into operation was explained by me to the House on more than one occasion. We did not quarrel with the action of anyone who assisted conscientious objectors in claiming the rights that were granted them by Parliament under a Section of the Military Service Act. We did not quarrel with anyone who complained of unfair treatment being meted out to individual conscientious objectors. There were no prosecutions of any kind for any reason of that sort. But we did quarrel with, and we did prosecute, persons who were engaged in a campaign really directed at the manufacture of new conscientious objectors. While the nation as a whole was engaged in a 879 propaganda for the recruiting of soldiers there were certain individuals who were engaged in a campaign for the recruiting of objectors, and those two were incompatible with one another. The distributors of this leaflet were prosecuted because the leaflet fell clearly within that class of propaganda, and several of them were convicted and were penalised. Then Mr. Bertrand Russell wrote a letter to the "Times" in which he stated very frankly and honourably that he himself was the author of that leaflet. Obviously and necessarily a prosecution had to take place. Suppose it had not taken place, hon. Members below the Gangway and others would have said, quite rightly, that, while the Government were prosecuting obscure and humble individuals in different parts of the country for circulating a particular leaflet, the man who publicly avowed that he was the author of the leaflet was allowed to remain immune, and it would have been suggested that that was on account of his position and of his intellectual reputation. I am sure hon. Members below the Gangway who have taken up this case will agree that, if a prosecution lay against the distributors of the leaflet, the other prosecution had to lie also, and there was no question of the persecution of any individual on that ground.
The next thing that occurred was that Mr. Bertrand Russell endeavoured to continue the propagation of this leaflet by reprinting a report of the proceedings before the Court, which embodied the speech of the prosecuting counsel, prosecuting counsel having, of course, read out the whole of this leaflet. It was obvious that the leaflet itself having been condemned by the Court, and the Court having held that it ought not to be circulated, the Government could not allow a pamphlet to be circulated which embodied the leaflet, even though the ostensible purpose was to report the speech of the prosecuting counsel. That was the next form of Mr. Russell's activities. He was not further prosecuted for that, but the pamphlet, wherever it was found, was seized and suppressed. I am not sure about the chronological order of these events as I had no intention whatever of speaking on the subject, and I have not referred to the papers, but not long afterwards Mr. Bertrand Russell went to Wales and addressed a considerable meeting at Cardiff, not on matters of philo- 880 sophy, not on matters of sociology, but on the War, and he made a speech which I read, and which could only be described as vehemently anti-British. He gave vent to sentiments which one reads reechoed in the English press from Berlin, but which I do not think I have read from persons in this country. That speech could undoubtedly have been made the subject of a prosecution. The case was carefully considered whether or not a prosecution should lie there, but other events followed, and it was because we did not wish it to appear that we were persecuting Mr. Russell after he had been prosecuted and convicted not long before, that we decided that, on the whole, it was advisable not to prosecute him for that particular speech, in addition to which we always had to take into account the fact that each prosecution gives further publicity very often to the statements which are made the object of the proceedings. Then Mr. Russell desired to go to America shortly before or after the Cardiff meeting to give a series of lectures. We had reason to believe that while no doubt he was proceeding to America in order to give the lectures, when in America he would be carrying on a similar propaganda to that in which he was engaged at Cardiff; that he would use his position and his reputation in the sphere of philosophy and in the more abstruse realms of mathematics to propagate views with regard to the War, with regard to the efforts of this country, and with regard to our objects in fighting to influence American public opinion against this country. He was asked whether he would give an undertaking, if he were given a permit to go to America to give lectures at Harvard, not to engage in anti-British propaganda—propaganda which might reasonably be regarded as hostile to or as hindering and hampering the efforts of this country in the prosecution of the War. He refused to give that undertaking.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I do not think there was any correspondence. It was done verbally as far as I remember. Had he given that undertaking he would have been allowed to go to America, because, as an honourable man, his word would have been frankly and readily accepted. Next, we had information that he was about to proceed to the camps in 881 which conscientious objectors were set to work under the auspices of the Committee presided over by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for Home Affairs (Mr. Brace), with a view to creating agitation and disturbance there, and to upset, as we believed, the work of the Committee. It was then that the War Office intervened and made the Order prohibiting him from going into the prohibited areas, because in those areas almost all the camps are situated, and they included South Wales and other parts of the country in which his activities might be particularly mischievous. That was the propaganda which the Secretary of State for War had in mind when he said that Mr. Russell's lectures—not the series of lectures referred to to-day, but the lectures which he gave in South Wales, and which we believed he intended to give in the conscientious objectors' camps—were detrimental to the Army and to the efforts of this country in the War. That is the whole story. That is what led up to the Order and to the refusal of the permit to go to America. Mr. Russell has been told again and again that if he would give an undertaking to cease from this kind of propaganda here or in America he could at once be given the fullest liberty to deliver lectures on philosophy, sociology, or any other subject he wishes, without the smallest desire on the part of the Government to interfere with his freedom.
§ Mr. TREVELYAN
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what is the kind of propaganda to which objection is taken? Can he read out a few of the phrases to which objection is taken?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I have not got them at hand. I remember them well, but I should he sorry to repeat them, because it would give additional publicity to them. I do not want to re-echo them. Whenever anyone speaks in this House, he speaks in the presence of the Reporters' Gallery, which is the most powerful sounding-board in the world, and I do not wish to give a wider publicity to Mr. Russell's observations. The hon. Gentleman (Commander Wedgwood) asks whether I would give such an undertaking. If I had been prose- 882 cuted and fined for an offence of this character; if I had narrowly escaped prosecution on another occasion, and if there was good reason to believe that I was about to continue activities of that character, I think the Government would be doing less than their duty if they did not ask me to give an undertaking of that character before letting me loose to carry on my activities in the United States.