HC Deb 27 February 1917 vol 90 cc1867-71

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Order [19th February] for Committal of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill be read, and discharged; and that the Bill be committed to a Standing Committee."—[Mr. Bonar Law.]


We were told a few moments ago that to-morrow some question of refreshments and other small Bills on the Paper would be taken. In view of this, I do not see why the usual practice of having such Bills as this dealt with in the House should not be followed. This measure is a very important one and there is a very strong feeling both for and against it, and a still stronger feeling for making amendments in it. I do not see under these circumstances why the Members of this House should have withdrawn from them the privilege of discussing in Committee this very important measure. I should not have ventured to raise any objection if there had been any evidence put forward in favour of this course, but the evidence I have had is to the contrary and I sincerely trust that this Motion will not be proceeded with. If it is, I shall certainly divide against it if I can get any support.


I strongly support the view which has been expressed by the right hon. Baronet, and he certainly shall not be prevented from going to a Division for want of a Teller. I strongly sympathise with the view he has put forward. This Bill is being sent to a Grand Committee on the ground that it is an unpleasant subject to discuss in the House of Commons. There is no doubt at all that it is a very unpleasant subject to discuss here, but I think it is a cowardly-thing to send this measure to a Grand Committee on the ground that it is not a pleasant subject to discuss. I protest against the course which has been adopted, because it is a Bill calculated to interfere, and perhaps to grievously and unjustly interfere, with the liberty of a most defenceless section of the population. I do not expect that there will be any sympathy in this House for a large section of those who will come under the provisions of this Bill, but because there is nobody to speak for them I think the House ought to be extremely slow about dealing with this question in the dark. If it goes before a Grand Committee there will be a difficulty in forming a quorum. I know this, because I have been urged to go upon the Committee myself, and I know there is a general dislike to act on that Committee. If the Committee is formed it will be a small one, and the Bill will be hustled1 through and treated as a very disagreeable subject. I say that in these matters, painful as they are, where it is proposed to place certain sections of the population under legislation of this kind—and it may affect a very great number of people—a grievous mistake may be made and shocking injustice may arise, and the most abominable forms of blackmail may be encouraged if proper precautions are not taken. I have seen this kind of thing working in the United States of America, and I say that legislation of this character is of the most dangerous kind, and you have always to keep in mind the danger of blackmail of the most atrocious kind arising under such Acts. I think it is a cowardly thing that we should not face this question after the Government has decided that it is a subject which must be proceeded with.


I also wish to join in the protest against this Bill going to a Grand Committee, and I do so on different grounds. I have great sympathy with the Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary to the Home Department, who will be taken away from their offices, where they are very much wanted every morning, and they will have to spend two, or perhaps three, days a week attending the Grand Committee, where progress will be very slow. I hope, for this reason, the Home Secretary will say a good word to the Leader of the House on behalf of my object. There is another reason for not passing this Motion. We were told when this Government was formed that there would be no dilatoriness or indecision, but the Government are beginning to show in little matters like this that they are ready to procrastinate and become dilatory. You will have a long Report stage, and you will spend a great many hours on the Grand Committee with speeches that would not be made in this House, and I can speak from experience on this point. Therefore, on the grounds of wishing for no dilatoriness or indecision, I ask the Government to withdraw this Motion.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Bonar Law)

It is quite obvious that there is no great principle involved here, so far as the Government are concerned. We have simply taken the course which, after some doubt, as the hon. Member has pointed out, we thought best suited to a Bill of this kind. It is quite true that the House, so far, has allowed the business to go through as rapidly as we could have had any reason to hope, and I could not recommend this change on the ground that we could not afford the time in the House of Commons; but if ever there were a subject which had better be discussed in Grand Committee rather than on the floor of this House, it is such a subject as that dealt with in this Bill. I think the speech of the hon. Member who last addressed the House (Mr. King) is itself the best answer to the two previous speakers. His ground of objection was that the subject would be too thoroughly thrashed out in Grand Committee, whereas the other two hon. Members thought that it would be better thrashed out in the House of Commons. I am inclined to think that the last hon. Member is right. Probably more time will be taken in Grand Committee than would be taken in the House itself, because, fortunately, the number who imitate the courage and eloquence of the hon. Member who spoke last is not very great. We have, however, come to the conclusion that this is the best method of dealing with the Bill. I think it quite right, if the Members of the House take a different view, that they should have the opportunity of expressing their opinions in the Lobby, but the reasons for and against are quite clearly before the House, and I hope that there will be no unnecessary discussion.

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes, 144; Noes, 91.

Division No. 2.] AYES. [3.55 p.m.
Agnew, Sir George Brace, Rt. Hon. William Craik, Sir Henry
Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling Bridgeman, William Clive Croft, Lieut.-Col. Henry Page
Archdale, Lieut. E. M. Brunner, John F. L. Currie, George W.
Ashley, Wilfrid W. Bull, Sir William James Dairymple, Hon. H. H.
Aster, Hon. Waldorf Burn, Colonel C. R. Daiziel, Davison (Brixton)
Baldwin, Stanley Carllie, Sir Edward Hildred Daiziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs) Carnegle, Lieut.-Col. D. G. Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)
Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Cave, Rt. Hen. Sir George Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)
Barrie, H. T. Cawley, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick Denman, Hon. Richard D.
Bathurst, Capt. C. (Wilts, Wilton) Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon) Denniss, E. R. B.
Beck, Arthur Cecil Cochrane, Cecil Algernon Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willougby N.
Bellairs, Commander C. W. Collins, Sir W. (Derby) Dixon, C. H.
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B
Bird, Alfred Cory, James H. (Cardiff) Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward
Bewerman, Rt. Hon. C. W. Craig, Col. James (Down, E.) Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)
Essex, Sir Richard Walter Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R. Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Faber, George Denison (Clapham) Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Reid, Rt. Hon. Sir George H
Fell, Arthur Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Falk. B'ghs) Roberts, George H. (Norwich)
Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam) Maclean, Rt. Hon. Donald Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham) Macmaster, Donald Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Forster, Henry William M'Micking, Major Gilbert Robinson, Sidney
Foster, Philip Staveley Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Rowlands, James
Galbraith, Samuel Macpherson, James Ian Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (Norwood)
Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford Magnus, Sir Philip Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Goldstone, Frank Malcolm, Ian Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook
Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred Mallalieu, Frederick William Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)
Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland) Middlebrook, Sir William Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks.)
Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William Millar, James Duncan Stewart, Gershom
Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Stirling, Lieut.-Col. Archibald
Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S. Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.) Morgan, George Hay Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John
Henry, Sir Charles Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)
Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Hewart, Sir Gordon Newman, John R. P. Valentia, Viscount
Hills, John Waller Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Walton, Sir Joseph
Holmes, Daniel Turner Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) Wardie, George J.
Hope, John Deans (Haddington) O'Neill, Capt. Hon. H. (Antrim, Mid) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A. Watson, Hon. W.
Horne, E. Parker, James (Halifax) Whiteley, Herbert J.
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Partington, Oswald Wilson Fox, Henry
Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington) Wilson, Lt.-Cl. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn, SW)
Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Pennefather, De Fenblanque Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) Perkins, Walter F. Yate, Col. Charles Edward
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Peto, Basil Edward Yeo, A. W.
Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molten) Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)
Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Pratt, J. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Llcyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury) Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.) Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Primrose.
Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)
Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Adamson, William Hemmerde, Edward George Outhwaite, R. L.
Alden, Percy Hogge, James Myles Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Pringle, William M. R.
Anderson, W. C. Holt, Richard Durning Radford, Sir George Heynes
Arnold, Sydney Hughes, Spencer Leigh Raffan, Peter Wilson
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh) Rendall, Athelstan
Bentham, George Jackson John, Edward Thomas Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham)
Blake, Sir Francis Douglas Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Rowntree, Arnold
Bliss, Joseph Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe) Scanlan, Thomas
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Jowett, Frederick William Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Joyce, Michael Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)
Byles, Sir William Pollard Keating, Matthew Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Chancellor, Henry George King, Joseph Thorne, William (West Ham)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Crickiade) Toulmin, Sir George
Clancy, John Joseph Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Clynes, John R. Lundon, Thomas Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Lynch, Arthur Alfred Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Watt, Henry A.
Cosgrave, James MacVeagh, Jeremiah Weigall, William E. G. A.
Crumley, Patrick Mason, David M. (Coventry) White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Donelan, Captain A. Mooney, John J. Whitty, Patrick Joseph
Doris, William Morrell, Philip Whyte, Alexander F.
Field, William Nolan, Joseph Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Fitzpatrick John Lalor Nugent, J. D. (College Green) Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Nuttall, Harry Wilson, W. T. (Westhougton)
France, Gerald Ashburner O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wing, Thomas Edward
Gilbert, J. D. O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Yoxall, Sir Jomes Henry
Glanville, Harold James O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough) O'Leary, Daniel TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir
Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) O'Malley, William Frederick Banbury and Mr. Dillon
Hackett, John O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)

Question put, and agreed to.

Ordered, "That the Order [19th February] for Committal of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill be read, and discharged; and that the Bill be committed to a Standing Committee."