HC Deb 06 March 1917 vol 91 cc212-3

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the speech made by the right hon. Member for Barnard Castle at Sunderland on 26th February in which he stated that he would be prepared to support industrial compulsion if voluntary National Service failed, but that those who questioned him did not fully understand that the corollary of compulsion in industrial life is the compulsion of wealth, but that if a Bill were introduced to compel both the War might be over before the Bill got through; and whether this statement represents the views of the War Cabinet as to the probable result of an attempt to exact equality of sacrifice-from wealth and labour?


I am informed that my right hon. Friend was dealing with the Parliamentary difficulty of securing the passage of a measure compelling labour to work for the private gain of an employer. This difficulty the War Cabinet recognises, though in their opinion, should the need arise, both wealth and labour would make any sacrifice which Parliament might consider necessary in the national interest.


Am I to understand from the reply that the right hon. Gentleman desires making this statement, or is it that he is the only member of the Cabinet to realise that there is a reasonable demand for wealth being conscripted as well as labour?


I am sorry to say I have not had the benefit of reading a full report of ray right hon. Friend's speech, but I have no reason to suppose that it expressed any views in conflict with the policy of the Government.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he is reported as having made that statement, and was he stating the views of the War Council?


The hon. Member is now arguing the question.

72. Sir W. ESSEX

asked the right hon. Member for Barnard Castle, as representing the Ministry of National Service, whether he has taken steps to divert able-bodied vagrants to useful labour, under due safeguards against hardships being suffered by infirm persons?

Mr. BECK (Vice-Chamberlain of the Household)

My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. This matter has been the subject of communications between the Director-General of National Service and the Local Government Board, and it is hoped that it may be possible to take action on the lines suggested.