§ (1) For the purpose of making the best use of all persons, whether men or women, able to work in any industry, occupation, or service, it shall be lawful for His Majesty to appoint a Minister of National Service under the title of Director-General of National Service, who shall hold office during His Majesty's pleasure.
§ (2) The Director-General of National Service shall, for that purpose, have such powers and duties of any Government Department or authority, whether conferred by Statute or otherwise, as His Majesty may by Order in Council transfer to him or authorise him to exercise or perform concurrently with or in consultation with the Government Department or authority concerned, and also such further powers as may be conferred on him by Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, and Regulations may be made under that Act accordingly, but no Order in Council or Regulation shall authorise the compulsory employment or transfer of any person in or to any industry, occupation, or service.
§ Amendment proposed [12th March;] In Sub-section (1), after the word "Service" ["title of Director-Geeral of National Service"], to insert the words "for Great Britain and another such Minister under the title of Director-General of National Service for Ireland."—[Mr. Hazleton.]
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."924
§ Mr. DEVLIN
When the Debate was adjourned last night I was pointing out to the House that in connection with the application of this measure to Ireland, Irish opinion had not been consulted. We have already had instances of how unsatisfying this Bill is as a national necessity in England. We have had instances that since National Service was established it has been a painful failure in its working in England, and if it is in England how much more disastrous must it necessarily become in Ireland, a country which it does not suit. The proposition I lay down may be traversed, but if I can make a draft upon the patience of the House I venture to say that I will advance it by much more powerful arguments than anything that could come from myself when I give a quotation or two from the Bible of the Coalition Government, namely, the "Daily Mail." I hold in my hand an article which states:The complaints about National Service that are being received from most parts of the country show that something is wrong with the present scheme …That is the scheme which you propose to apply to Ireland.The Prime Minister asked at the outset that a fair chance should be given the new men and new Departments. They have now had three months and three months is a very long time at one of the most critical periods of the War. What have they to show for it?This scheme has been in operation, according to the "Daily Mail," for three months in this country. It has been backed up by the authority of the Government, and all who have been behind the Government and its chief apostle in the Press is the newspaper from which I have quoted, and yet up to the present, according to the "Daily Mail," there is nothing to show for this scheme, and that is the scheme you propose to apply to Ireland. The article goes on to say that National Service, as it is now being worked, has not set free those men who it is designed to provide:People are being invited to enrol in thousands, but for what they were asked nobody seems to know. The National Service Department gives no signs of having any plans. Complaints reach us from employers that they have released their workpeople for National Service1 and that those people are drifting about unable to obtain any other employment. We have other complaints of letters addressed to the Department at St. Ermin's Hotel which remain unanswered. We learn of business enterprises that are being abandoned because of the fear that it may be impossible to obtain labour.The article concluded that those businesses would have to do their part in the nation's work, and that the chaos is growing every day. That means that with fresh experience, with an increased staff, and with all the administrative power and machinery 925 which three months' experience has given to the Government and to Mr. Neville Chamberlain, things are going from bad to worse:It can be allayed if the Prime Minister or one of his colleagues makes a definite statement as to when the volunteers who have enrolled will be wanted and what they will be wanted for, and make an end of chaos.That is our experience, not the experience, mark you, of the opponents of this scheme, like some hon. Gentlemen who sit below me, but the experience of the "Daily Mail," which has been the inspiring agent which has forced the Government to adopt this policy to which they have been committed. We are told it has been a disastrous failure. I object to your successes in this country being imposed upon Ireland altogether; and if I object to your successes in England being imposed on Ireland, I object to your failures being imposed upon Ireland. Mr. Neville Chamberlain is a very distinguished and very able municipal administrator, and I myself think he was as good a man as you could have got in England for the job, but Mr. Neville Chamberlain took larger responsibility on his shoulders than he was able to bear. I heard some one say the other day that St. Ermin's Hotel was less like a Government Department than a lunatic asylum, that they were running everywhere and nowhere, and did not know where they were or where they were going. That is how this great industrial country has organised and mobilised labour in this country for National Service, and that is the system you are going to transfer, only in a worse form, from this country, where it has been a grotesque failure, to Ireland. The "Daily Mail" has asked for some explanatory statement from the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister does not come to the House of Commons. I am surprised that any Minister comes to the House of Commons. The Chief Secretary for Ireland comes to the House of Commons for the purpose of telling the Irish Members that they do not represent Ireland. That is a frank statement to make. He has courage enough to come and make that statement on the floor of the House where we are here to meet him, but the new policy is for the Prime Minister not to come to the House of Commons, but to treat the House of Commons with absolute contempt, while even the "Daily Mail" is howling for the Prime Minister to come here and try and get England out of the disastrous position which she occupies in regard to the carrying out of this policy 926 of National Service, which is to be transferred to Ireland after it has been tried in England for three months, and has been a failure. I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary will he now, before all this bungling and all this blundering takes place in Ireland, tell us how this system of voluntary National Service is to be carried on in Ireland? He was not quite sure last night. He had not his mind made up: he was thinking over it. He will go over to Ireland and find out from the most trusted officials with the most crusted officialdom what their view is on the situation because he has not consulted us. I want to know who is to conduct this national scheme on voluntary lines in Ireland? We must have the name of the National Director. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Duke) said he must be a man who possesses and commands the confidence of all sections of the Irish people. This is, I will not say the good old system, but rather the new-found doctrine that has eaten its way into the relations of Ministers in this House to Ireland. You must not give Ireland Home Rule because every hole and corner of Ireland does not want it. You must not consult Irish opinion because there is a difference of opinion in Ireland. You must have, even to conduct this National Service, a man who commands the sympathy and support of everyone in Ireland. Let us have the super-man. You could not find him in England, but the right hon. Gentleman says he will find him in Ireland. There are many men in Ireland in your Government whom you could utilise for useful public purposes, and you have been so accustomed to use the vilest of instruments in Ireland that everybody looks, even when your intentions are honest, with a suspicious eye upon anyone whom you appoint to a responsible position, and especially a position of this character in Ireland, because this is a very important position.
The action of the Director in Ireland will have the widest and most far-reaching consequences. We have not many industries in Ireland outside the North. Most of the industries in the North are engaged in munitions work, and therefore you may practically count them out altogether. You want to find labour for the purposes of National Service in the other three provinces. Whom are you going to appoint to carry on this work? [An HON. MEMBER: "Major Price."] I well re- 927 member, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it, that we have had character sketches, delivered from that box by the Prime Minister, of the gentlemen whom you sent to carry out voluntary recruiting in Ireland. You sent Orangemen from the North of Ireland into the most Nationalist and Catholic districts, not to appeal to the people, but to denounce them and to call them names, because gentlemen of military age from the North of Ireland found it more convenient to lecture their Catholic fellow-countrymen in other parts of Ireland on their duty than to enter the Army themselves. The whole secret of the failure, next to the War Office itself, of the voluntary recruiting in Ireland, was the character of the men whom you sent to carry out the work of recruiting in every one of these three provinces. If you intend to send some gentleman, or with him a number of apostles of similar views, round the country, appealing for voluntary workers, then it would be better to be perfectly frank with us and tear your Bill up so far as Ireland is concerned, because it can have no useful application to that country. The right hon. Gentleman said last night in his speech that we were opposed on these benches to the mobilisation and the readjustment of labour in Ireland. Nothing of the sort. I would call his attention to a paragraph of the Report of the Food Committee of the Irish party, which was sent to him on the 15th of January last, in which we say:Labour is still leaving this country, even from the agricultural districts, for Great Britain, while nothing is done to organise it for home needs.That was over two months ago. We made that recommendation to the Government. What has been done, in the intervening period by the administrative authority which the right hon. Gentleman set up in Ireland to organise or mobilise labour for home purposes and especially for food production? Not a single thing. In fact, I would like, at some stage of these proceedings, if the right hon. Gentleman would get up in the House and tell us what this Committee has done, who they are, and what they have been doing since they were appointed for the purpose of developing food production all over Ireland. We recommended that an Advisory Committee should be appointed to cooperate with officials in the development of food production, and whom did we 928 recommend? We recommended a chairman of a county council who had great knowledge of farming and of the growing of foodstuffs from each province in Ireland, but the suggestion was turned down. We did not ask to be represented upon your Committee, although many of ray hon. Friends are trained farmers, carrying on successfully, profitably, and skilfully the pursuit of agriculture. But we asked that men of representative character, men holding the position of chairmen of county councils, one from each province, should be appointed on this Advisory Committee, and the suggestion was turned down by the Government. Now, I want to know what is to be done in regard to the carrying out of National Service. Is if to be done by some understrapper of Mr. Neville Chamberlain, who will pursue the policy in Ireland that the "Daily Mail" declares has been pursued in this country, of turning everything into pandemonium, with nothing but universal chaos evolving from it all? Is this understrapper to be guided by the principles that have brought about the disastrous results stated in the "Daily Mail"? We want to know to whom he is to be responsible, who is to speak for him in this House, and if he is to be an independent authority dealing with Irish conditions, or merely an official performing such duties as are assigned to him by the Director-General here. We want to know, also, if there is to be an Advisory Committee. An Advisory Committee was granted by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary yesterday for England. We want to know if there is to be an Advisory Committee in Ireland, and we want to know the names of the Advisory Committee. We want to know who they are, if the right hon. Gentleman agrees to appoint them, and I am afraid that, laborious and responsible as are the right hon. Gentleman's duties to answer for nearly fifty bureaucratic Boards in Ireland in this House, he is taking on his shoulders too large a responsibility and too serious a burden if he constitutes himself the defender of all the blunders that are bound to be incidental to the administration of this National Service in Ireland under such constituted bodies.
The right hon. Gentleman is very anxious to secure labour. In my judgment, the first function of labour at this moment is to produce food. You have already had to take 30,000 trained soldiers 929 from the front and bring them back to engage in agricultural pursuits in this country. That is what you have had to do in England. You have the labour in Ireland, if you know how to use it. You want to produce food, and I will tell you how you can do it. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of vast grazing ranches in Ireland, and there are thousands of what are called landless men in Ireland—men living on what are known as uneconomic holdings, men ekeing out an existence on five or six acres of land, or of bog, while these rich and fertile plains, as rich and fruitful as any lands that can be found under the sun, are lying there in waste, while the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Duke) has two bodies in the country, the Estates Commissioners and the Congested Districts Board, who have all the machinery by which these grazing ranches can be broken up and distributed among the people. If you break up these grazing ranches into farms of 30 or 40 acres, and hand them over to the trained small farmer who hitherto has had a very small farm; if, I say, you give an additional 30 or 40 acres through the Congested District Boards or the Estates Commissoners, you will not only have himself but his family working on that land. That is labour that could not possibly be utilised anywhere else; labour that will be there to do the work that is essential. You can have this if you break up the grazing ranches and give them to the people. What, therefore, is the good of talking about transferring labourers from one part of Ireland to another, or bringing them over here to England to put them, I have no doubt, on farms in England where they may act as substitutes under the policy which, I understand, has been adopted in this country? I mean, where you have taken, for example, a trained accountant, a man whose long experience and training was required in a big business to be used for accountancy purposes, and placed him on the land. A man, the only man on a farm, volunteered for National Service under the scheme, and was sent to plough land in Devonshire. You have the land in Ireland. You have the farmers. You have the skilled agriculturists. You have the knowledge. You only want to use them, instead of introducing into the country this thing, which nobody believes in, and which everybody knows has been a gross 930 failure in England. It will prove to be a greater failure still in Ireland. In my judgment, when it is properly understood in this country, with all the dangers that surround it and the disastrous resulting consequences, it will be found a very costly experiment. How will the Government face the people? I, therefore, hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman, after having all night to think over the matter, will answer the question which I have put-namely, how is this scheme to be carried out in Ireland, the name of the Assistant Director who is to deal with the question in Ireland, is there to be an Advisory Committee, who are to constitute this Committee, and whether this Bill, now that it is being applied to Ireland, and becomes an Act, is to be of real usefulness for Irish purposes as well as for Imperial purposes, in-stead of the grotesque failure which it has so far been proved to be?
§ Mr. LUNDON
I had no intention of intervening in the Debate had it not been for what the Chief Secretary said last night in respect of the Irish labourer. Those who listened to him would come to the conclusion that those who sit on these benches have no regard for Irish interests, and particularly for those of the Irish workman. He stated that he was introducing this Bill in the interests of Irish industry, in the first place; secondly, for the well-being of the Irish labourer; and last, but not least, in the interests of the United Kingdom. I should like to tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman several things, and to read for his benefit a copy of a notice of motion which has been handed in for the annual meetings of the Irish agricultural labourers to be held on St. Patrick's Day. The Irish agricultural labourers have an organisation which extends not alone to Ulster, but to all parts of Leinster and to parts of Con-naught. I am satisfied that when he has read the newspapers next Saturday he will come to the conclusion that those of us who represent Nationalist constituencies in Ireland have a right to speak for the Irish labourer, and not the right hon. Gentleman who represents Exeter. The resolution to be moved at the annual convention—I have the honour to be associated with the organisation, and they have sent me a copy of the agenda for the convention—is as follows:That we view with alarm the proposed extension of the National Service Bill to Ireland. We take this 931 opportunity of publicly declaring our unaltered and unalterable opposition to any form of military service, and call upon the Irish party to use all its powers to prevent the measure being forced upon Ireland; and in case the measure may be enforced against the declared will of the Irish people we call upon our labour fellow countrymen to refuse to register under it.That is the expressed wish of the great bulk of the Irish workmen. I believe that the Chief Secretary is disposed in a friendly manner towards Ireland. Yet there is at the back of the minds of these people the idea that this is the thin edge of the wedge, and that it is only the beginning of industrial compulsion which is being forced upon them. I could not help thinking last night, when I heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman declare that ho had the interests of the Irish labourer at heart, that only last year, when public bodies in Ireland, the county councils, borough councils, and others, sanctioned a reduction of sixpence or a shilling a week in the rents of the labourers' cottages, that he was the one man who stepped in and said: "You shall not do it; yon must keep them up to what they originally paid for these cottages." He is the sole defender of the labour interests, according to his speech last night. It is only three days ago that he refused—and he still refuses—to give to rural councils in Ireland the right to acquire land by compulsion for the purpose of granting allotments to the poor people in order that they and their families may be kept through the coming winter. On the other hand, he says that men must come forward, and that land shall be made available on the borders of towns and villages for the purpose of supplying the poor of the towns and their children. It is the unanimous wish of Ireland that that demand should be acceded to. It is a demand which is already being put into operation in Great Britain, but the demand to give this concession to Ireland is turned down by the only defender of the Irish labourer; the only man, according to himself, who has at heart the interests of Ireland.
We do not, says the right hon. Gentleman, speak for Ireland on this question. Will he tell us the name of a county council, an urban or a district council, or any body of business men or labour men from Belfast to Cork that has asked him to extend this National Service Bill to Ireland? Where has he got his information that this Bill is suited to the needs 932 of the Irish people? We know where he gets his information from—only too well All his information as to Irish needs and Irish wants and interests is obtained through the old channels, those which his predecessors used, and those channels are the Royal Irish Constabulary! These are the men from whom he gets his information from Ireland, not the men who are entitled to speak for Nationalist Ireland in this House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that the Irish labourer is to be paid for his labour, and he further says: "Is there any member in the Irish party who is willing to tell his constituents that the labourer is not selling his labour to this country to the best advantage of himself?" I have no hesitation whatever in going to my constituents — and I represent as many labourers in this House as any other man in it—and telling them honestly and frankly that it is better for them to work in Ireland for 25s. per week than to come across to England and to be insulted by the English workmen, even if they get £2 10s. or £3 per week for their work.
The organisation of labour is what the right hon. Gentleman says he wants. He wants it for the purpose of bringing over to this country any surplus labour which there may be to Irish requirements. According, however, to his own statistics, and according to the information supplied to him and to his Department in Dublin, the number of migratory agricultural labourers available in Ireland last year amounted altogether to only 13,000. If we are to increase food production at the rate demanded by the Chief Secretary and by the Irish Food Committee, every single one of these 13,000 Irish migratory labourers will be absolutely essential for the requirements of Irish agricultural interests during the coming harvest. No, Sir; this is all part of a scheme! They find that the only way to introduce anything in the nature of compulsion, either for military service or industrial service, in Ireland is by introducing a Bill which means that voluntary effort will first be introduced. That voluntary effort is to be arranged by a man who is supposed to have the confidence of the Irish people. Let me remind the Chief Secretary—and I hope he will not forget it—that we trust the Director-General of National Service in Ireland will not be the man who not three months ago declared that Irish public bodies, the county and district councils, and other bodies in Ireland, 933 instead of doing their duty as required by Act of Parliament, were being used for the coercion of the minority of the Irish people. The gentleman to whom I refer is an official of the Irish Local Government Board. It has come to the knowledge of the members of the party to whom I belong that he has been using every means in his power to become Director-General of National Service for Ireland. I trust that, on second thoughts, the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not force this measure against the will of the Irish people. If he does, he will find the Irish labourer, whether he works in the town or in the country, will not be gulled by any soft promises made by the Chief Secretary as to the wages which he will be able to secure in this country if he enrols under the Bill. Whether this Bill is forced upon Ireland or not, the organisation to which I have the honour to belong will do everything in its power to prevent the Irish rural labourer from enrolling under any scheme, be it voluntary or be it compulsory. We have made up our minds on one thing. It is that the Irish labourer will work for Irish requirements. He will work in the interests of food production. He will not be used to enrol himself to be transferred at the dictation of the right hon. Gentleman, or Mr. Neville Chamberlain, or any other gentleman appointed to be Director-General of National Service in Ireland.
The Irish labourer has been badly paid, and he was badly housed until the efforts of this party brought him from the position which he occupied to the one which he now occupies. The Chief Secretary is very anxious for his welfare. What answer did he give to the Members of the Irish party six weeks ago, when we waited upon him to ask him to introduce a minimum wage for the benefit of the Irish labourer? He met us with a point-blank refusal. He replied. "No; I cannot do it. A minimum wage can be introduced only in Ireland by the consent of the Imperial Parliament and by the unity of all parties in Ireland." These were the very men for whose welfare he proposes now to speak. Some of them waited upon him a Few clays after the deputation from the Irish party. He said then, "No; I cannot fix a minimum wage for you. I cannot personally come to your assistance, neither can the Government which I represent. Your only policy is to go back to your counties and to meet representatives of the farmers, then if you 934 cannot agree I will see what can be done. But no minimum wage can be fixed except by Act of Parliament." Why has the right hon. Gentleman refused for the last few weeks to allow the loans which the public bodies in Ireland can grant for labourers' cottages to be extended to the workers in towns and villages if he is so anxious for their welfare? The right hon. Gentleman, I am satisfied, cares as little for the interests of the Irish labourer as he cares for the interests of the Irish farmer. Simply because we stand up to oppose this measure of industrial conscription, he takes the opportunity of trying to set the Irish labourer against the Irish party and to set one class against another.
The Irish labourer is told that we are trying to keep him from making double the amount of wages in this country- which he would receive in Ireland. I tell the right hon. Gentleman that the Irish labourer is not as ignorant, not as big a fool as he imagines. The Irish labourer knows who are the men, even although they are politicians, who have rescued him from the miserable hovel which his forefathers and himself dwelt in. The Irish labourers are not going to abandon their allegiance to this party at the dictation of the right hon. Gentleman. During the last twelve months, in all the trouble and confusion in Ireland, no body of the Irish community has stood more faithfully and trustworthy to the constitutional movement and to those who have rescued them from slavery and poverty than the great bulk of the Irish agricultural labourers. For doing so, it would be ungrateful on our part if our opposition to this Bill was to cause them injury or ruin in any way. No, we stand here having the interest of the Irish labourer more at heart than any Member in this House, whether he occupies the position of Chief Secretary for Ireland or whether he does not. I can only assure the right hon. Gentleman that his speeches last night will be road with dismay, not only by the Irish labourers, but by every class of the community in Ireland. When he sneered at us and said we were only politicians and did not speak for the people of Ireland I can only tell him that Ireland to-day owes her position of independence, of relief from poverty and distress, of outward appearance of affluence and wealth, not to the right hon. Gentleman, but to those who sit, and have sat, as politicians 935 representing Ireland on these benches for the last thirty-five years. I would not have intervened in the Debate but for the right hon. Gentleman's reference to the Irish labourers. I know them far and away better than he does, and far and away better than any official who represents them in Ireland, and amongst those permanent officials in the Irish Local Government Board who are supposed to look after the interest of the Irish labourer there is not a single one who we can say has the interest of the Irish labourer at heart.
The right hon. Gentleman claims to have the interest of the Irish labourers at heart more than we have, and at the same time he signs an Order of the Local Government Board, issued to a district council in the county of Westmeath, asking the council to evict fourteen Irish labourers because the Estates Commissioners happened to give them a few acres of the land from which their forefathers were evicted, and which were distributed by the Estates Commissioners. In conclusion. I would say this: The right hon. Gentleman may take it. for granted that any attempt at enrolment, either by voluntary or by compulsory measure in Ireland, is doomed to failure. The Irish labourer is not going to enrol himself under the banner of Mr. Neville Chamberlain, because he is perfectly satisfied that, should he be transferred to this country, he will meet with the same insults as his associates met with last year when they worked for the farmers of Lincolnshire. I hope and trust this Bill will not be proceeded with, but that some regard will be had, even in this case, to Irish wants and Irish interests. But if the Bill is passed, let the right hon. Gentleman take it for granted that there is a land and labour organisation, with 15,000 members, who will endeavour to secure, openly and honestly, that workmen are not seduced either by the promises of the right hon. Gentleman or Mr. Neville Chamberlain, but will stand by the men who have stood by them in the past, and who, they are satisfied, will look after their wants in the future. We want no soft promises. We want no guarantees from the right hon. Gentleman, because we know that he is not able to keep them, even if he wants to do so.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member has been getting off the point rather. I must 936 ask him to recollect the Amendment now before the House, and to give his attention to it.
§ Mr. LUNDON
I am giving my attention to it, but I cannot help getting away from it. If you, Mr. Speaker, had been in the Chair last night and had heard the right hon. Gentleman you would blame no Irish Member for referring to this matter, because human nature, after all, is human nature. Only three days ago the right hon. Gentleman in the Food Production Committee said, "Give me a chance of knowing something about Ireland," and then he got up and said last night that he, and not we, know the wants of the Irish people. I trust he will make up his mind to drop this question, and will have regard to the advice tendered to him by those who claim to represent the interests of Ireland. If he does, I am satisfied the Irish labourers will come, as they have come in the past, to help' their fellow workmen and their friends in this country. But if once they get the idea that this Bill is being introduced for the purpose of enrolling them in a register, and that the Director-General' of National Service has power to transfer them to industries in this country, they will become very sceptical as to their future. I say leave them as they are. They have paddled their own canoe, and they do not want the right hon. Gentleman to go into the boat and row them to the bottom. They are very well able to look after themselves. They believe that if they are left to look after themselves they will find employment enough-in Ireland, and that their wages will not be as they have been in the past. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will not do anything to aggravate the position in Ireland by forcing this policy upon the people of that country.
§ Mr. MOONEY
Had it not been for the action of my hon. Friend (Mr. Farrell) in moving that the Bill do not apply to Ireland, there would have been no indication of what method the Government proposed to adopt in regard to Ireland.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Duke)
The hon. Member will recollect that on Wednesday or Thursday last week the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) asked me a question on that subject, and I replied to him in practically the same terms which I gave in the House last night.
§ Mr. MOONEY
I listened with great attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman last night, and I am now just as much in the dark as I was before he made that speech. I do not know what he proposes to do with Ireland, and I do not know whether he knows himself. In the speech last night he made two distinctly opposite statements. He stated, first of all, that it was not proposed to put the full machinery of the Bill into force in Ireland. Later on he stated that no administrative machinery would be set up except under pressure of necessity, but he also said:Mr. Neville Chamberlain was ready to delegate absolutely his duties to the representative in Ireland, who would no doubt be technically entitled to the technical status of representative Director-General of National Service."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th March. 1917. col. 872.]If you are going to have no administrative machinery, if you are not going to put the machinery into force, why is it necessary for Mr. Neville Chamberlain to delegate his authority to this individual? Then who is this individual to be? I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that he is not prepared to accept our Amendment. Does he object to the term "Director-General"? Is the person he is going to appoint to be called Director-General, or a Special Commissioner? Has he got the name of the Special Commissioner in his pocket? Has he seen that Special Commissioner this morning in this House? He drew a character sketch of a man who, he said, would be necessary to fill this position. He would have to be a man who would be acceptable to all sections in Ireland. All I can tell the right hon. Gentleman is that if he is going to appoint a gentleman I have got in mind, and whom he saw in the House this morning, he would be most unacceptable.
§ Mr. MOONEY
If it was not here, it was at the Irish Office. I want to know why the right hon. Gentleman will not have this separate Director. Is it because the subject, when it comes up in this House, would be merged in the general Vote, and we should not be able to discuss the Irish part without being switched off to difficulties which have arisen in England? If you give a separate Director-General, as we ask, the discussion must be on a separate Vote. If you only appoint a 938 Special Commissioner, he will be merged in the general Vote. It is a very interesting thing that, while this Bill has been under discussion, the only Ulster Unionist Member to speak was the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel M'Calmont), who made a speech last night to which no hon. Member on these benches could take the slightest possible exception. But what I would like to say to him is this: He has been absent from Ireland for a year and a half, rendering services to his country which everybody admires, but during that eighteen months the hon. Member opposite must have got out of touch with public affairs, as he admitted himself. At any rate, that hon. Member is the only Unionist Ulster Member who has addressed the House with regard to the feeling in Unionist Ulster about this Bill. Last night I asked the right hon. Gentleman the following question:Will the appointment of a Director-General of National Service for Ireland require a new Money Resolution, or is it intended that the person to be appointed shall not be paid? Is the light hon. Gentleman aware that even after the Money Resolution has been passed, as long as the person appointed does not call himself Director, he can take any salary that is fixed, and if he be a Member of this House will not require to seek re-election?He replied:The Bill does not provide that a Member of this House shall be appointed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th March, 1917. col. 871.]The Bill does not provide that he shall be appointed, but it provides that if any hon. Member of this House accepts the position of Secretary to the Ministry of National Service he can sit in this House without seeking re-election. The right hon. Gentleman further said that cither he himself or somebody else would answer for the Irish official in this House. Is there going to be somebody else, and who is he? Is there going to be an Advisory Committee in Ireland? I want the name of the Special Commissioner. I also want to know if there is going to be a Parliamentary Secretary, and who is he to be? If there is going to be an Advisory Committee, who are the members going to be? I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to give us that information.
§ Mr. ARCHDALE
I did not intend to speak in this Debate until the hon. Member for Newry (Mr. Mooney) said that no Ulster Unionist Member had spoken in favour of the application of this Bill to Ireland, except one. I have been strongly in favour of the application of this measure to Ireland, and nobody can say that they know the opinion of the people 939 in my part of Ireland better than I do. I say that nearly all the Unionists in Ulster are in favour of the application of this Bill to Ireland. The hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Devlin) said there was plenty of labour in Ireland, if it was only properly organised. That is exactly what this Bill is going to do. In my county we badly want labour, because our labourers, Nationalist and Unionist alike, have answered their country's call, and are fighting at the front. In one county nearly every man who could go has gone, and we want labour very badly at the present time. We are trying to get labourers from Donegal and the western districts to replace those men who have answered the call of their country so well. I disagree with the statement of the hon. Member for East Limerick (Mr. Lundon) that the Nationalist party are the only people who represent the labourers of Ireland. I strongly differ from that opinion. I have spent thirty years in the district of Ireland which I represent, and not only the labourers of my own politics, but those of opposite politics have supported me many limes against men of their own principles in Ireland. Therefore, I do not think hon. Members can claim the right to represent the labourers of Ireland any more than the Unionist Members for Ulster. The Orange body, with which I have the honour to be connected, is a democratic body, if ever there was a democratic body, and a large number of the members of that organisation are labourers, and no one can say that they are not among the followers of the Unionist Members for Ulster. It is not helping the labourers of Ireland when you refuse to allow him to choose a wage of 25s. per week. Irish labourers are not foolish men, and when a labourer who has been in the habit of getting 12s. or 13s. a week is offered 25s. a week and 2s. 6d. a day subsistence money, I think it is a very queer way of showing friendship for that man to say that he shall not be allowed to take that work. We want labourers very badly in Tyrone and Fermanagh, and. as regards the housing of labourers, I can say something about that subject—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
We are not now discussing the housing of labourers. The question is whether there is to be a Director-General for Ireland.
§ Mr. ARCHDALE
All I can say is that I am strongly in favour of the applica- 940 tion of this Bill to Ireland and of the appointment of a Director-General for Ireland.
§ Mr. LYNCH
Over the whole of this Bill there appears to rest an extraordinary air of mystery and huggermugger. I would like to come to the bedrock of these things, and get away from the surface aspect. What is the real meaning of these proposals, and why at the present moment does the right hon. Gentleman not give-us the name of the Director-General, whoever he may be? What is the right hon. Gentleman's objection to this Amendment? Does he object to the term Director-General? If so, will he propose some other term? [AN HON. MEMBER: "He has the name in his pocket."] If that is so, why does he not produce the name in that plain, straightforward manner which is supposed to be characteristic of the British mind? Who is the Noble Lord who is going to be Director-General in Ireland? I say Noble Lord because experience has taught me that when a Prime Minister wishes to form a Cabinet the first question he asks is, "Who are the Noble Lords available?" If he cannot find the Noble Lords he would like, he looks for a man of great territorial and social influence, and if in the end he is driven to desperation, he asks where is there a man to be found with brains and ability?
This Bill asks us practically to sign a blank cheque. Has there been anything in the record of the Government that would justify us in signing that blank cheque? Is if dealing straight with the House of Commons to ask us for this blank cheque, when the right hon. Gentleman has the name in his pocket, or in his interior mind, and will not produce it? Why does he conceal this information? We are told that in ambiguity lies fraud, and in this matter the right hon. Gentleman has adopted the most ambiguous method. By the course which is suggested in this Bill you take from us the sole opportunity we have of criticism, and by that attitude alone the right hon. Gentle man condemns himself and also condemn? the name which he is now hiding. There is still another aspect of this question. I want to get at the real meaning of this extraordinary kind of legislation which is being forced upon the Irish people. What is its ultimate object? Is it that the right hon. Gentleman hopes that by offering to the agricultural labourers of Ireland a wage somewhat superior to that which 941 they now enjoy he will be able to induce considerable numbers to migrate to England?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is not the question which we are now discussing. That question may be relevant on the Second Reading, but it is not the Amendment that we are now discussing.
§ Mr. LYNCH
Then I will drop that point, and perhaps I shall be in order in saying that the Director-General of National Service has not inspired us with such confidence that we could expect his subordinate, without knowing either his name or his character, to inspire confidence in us. I think the application of this measure under any Director-General or any subordinate will be a failure in Ireland, because hitherto it has been a failure even in this country. There has been here a great deal of high-flown talk and agitation, but there has been no evidence of any really valid and efficient organisation. Since the resignation of the late Government people have been inclined to mistake mere puff and fuss and newspaper talk for valid work. But the essence of a good organisation should be that all the parts should be so contrived and perfectly designed and constructed that the machine will run smoothly with the least possible noise. It seems to me in regard to the organisation of the new Government that they have achieved the maximum amount of noise and friction, but a miserable attempt at a perfectly designed and constructed, efficient machine. There has been nothing whatever in the character of the Director-General of National Service which warrant us in reposing confidence in any man whom the Government may care to name as the subordinate of the present Director-General of National Service. The right hon. Gentleman is asking for the most extraordinary powers, which no one would ever dream of ever giving to anyone and which have never been enjoyed by any man except Cromwell himself. We should hesitate before we set up a number of cardboard Cromwells to dominate Ireland.
§ Mr. LARDNER
I hope we shall have some expression of opinion upon this question from some representative of the Government. I suggest to the Chief Secretary that in a matter of this kind, which can only be successfully and effectively carried out by the co-operation and good will of the people of Ireland, that he ought to do something to allay the, suspicions and doubts which have arisen in regard to this measure. The right hon. Gentleman's colleague, the Home Secretary, is present, and perhaps he can give us the information which we require. The first thing I desire to draw attention to is that this Bill provides for the appointment of a Director-General of National Service. Under Clause 1, Sub-section (2) we find the following provision:
"(2) The Director-General of National Service shall, for that purpose, have such powers and duties of any Government Department or authority, whether conferred by Statute or otherwise, as His Majesty may by Order in Council transfer to him or authorise him to exercise or perform concurrently with or in consultation with the Government Department or authority concerned, and also such further powers as may be conferred on him by Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, and Regulations may be made under that Act accordingly."
I think we are entitled to know from the Home Secretary what are the further powers conferred under the Defence of the Realm Regulations, which were enacted purely for England and Scotland, and which, by this Subsection can be put into force in Ireland by the Director-General of National Service under the provisions of this Bill? That is a question to which we are entitled to have an answer.
The Chief Secretary, in his reply last night, said that the person to be appointed in Ireland would, no doubt, be technically entitled to the technical status of representative Director-General of National Service, and would be, for all practical purposes, attending to the needs of Ireland, and, so far as he was able, to subserve the common needs of the United Kingdom and of the Empire. Those are the words of the Chief Secretary, and if you are going to have in Ireland a subordinate official there is no doubt that he will take his orders from, and supply the wants and needs of the English Director-General. I understand the Home Secretary has agreed that there should be an 943 Advisory Committee for England. If there is any necessity for an Advisory Committee for England, there is much greater necessity for an Advisory Committee for Ireland, and I should like to hear whether there is going to be one. The Irish officer, whatever he is going to be, whether a Commissioner, a Delegate, or an Assistant Director-General, is going to be responsible and subordinate to the English Director-General, and he is going to put into force all the Orders in Council, Statutes, and other things referred to in Sub-section (1) of Clause 2. Surely such powers should not be put into the hands of any subordinate officer. No subordinate officer should be in a position to disturb the whole life of the people and the trade and industry of the country without consultation of the fullest character with the representatives of all the interests involved. I want to know—we are entitled to know, having regard to the seriousness of the Amendment—what the actual status of the officer to be appointed in Ireland is going to be. What is the meaning of these words of the Chief Secretary, himself a very eminent lawyer:He would, no doubt, be technically entitled to the technical status, of representative Director-General of National Pervice."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th March. 1917. col. 866.]Does that mean that he is going to have the title without the rights and the authority of such? Does it mean, when something likely to cause trouble and upset matters is done in Ireland, that the answer of this technical Director-General is going to be, "This is not my Order; it is the Order of the English Director, and I am only carrying it out because I have been asked to do so." Judging by past experience of this sort of legislation in Ireland, its management is put into the hands of some minor official, and the Chief Secretary, who has to answer for some fifty other Departments, is unable to give the matter that personal attention to which it is entitled. Why cannot we have a responsible officer in Ireland and not merely somebody who is technically entitled to a technical title without any legal authority or legal status, and who will always be able to shelter himself behind the excuse, "This is not my doing; this is the direction of the National Director"? I hope that there is an answer, because this is a very serious matter, and however much we may dislike the scheme and be opposed to the application of it to 944 Ireland, still, if it has to come, we are anxious that the best should be made of it in the interests of the people and of trade and industry. I respectfully ask the Home Secretary to tell us exactly what the position of this official is going to be. Is he going to be an Assistant Director-General, a Commissioner, or a Delegate? Further will the appointments to the Department of National Service in Ireland be made by the Director-General in England or by the Irish representative, whoever he may happen to be, under the responsibility of the Irish Government? We are entitled to know that. If there is to be an Advisory Committee, on what basis is it to be appointed? Will it take into consideration the interests not merely of agriculture and of industry in the North, but also of the employers in the various districts?
I was very much struck by the remark of the hon. Member for North Fermanagh (Mr. Archdale) that the whole of Ulster was in favour of this Bill, but I noticed that he never went the length of saying that there was any surplus labour to be dealt with in the North. On the contrary, he said that there was a shortage of labour in the various districts which he mentioned. If that be so, how on earth is the Director-General, having his office in England, with his eyes on English and Scottish needs and requirements, going to deal with the condition of affairs in Ireland, where there is no margin or surplus? The real difficulty in Ireland at the present time is that for the amount of tillage and industry to be carried on there is insufficient labour. There can be no doubt about that. While the hon. Member gave a sentimental support to the measure, he did not venture to say that there was any need for it or any room for the operation of the Director-General in Ireland by the transfer of labour from Ireland to England. That, I think, is the strongest argument why there should be a separate Department for Ireland and why there should be an officer in Ireland responsible for the working of the Department in Ireland, an officer who would not be able to shelter himself behind the excuse: "Although I promulgated this Order and put my name to it as an Irish Order and although there is no margin of labour for transference or migration to England, still, at the same time, I was bound to publish it because my master, the Director-General of England, directed me to do so." I again ask the Home Secretary, before we come to a Division, to tell us what is the status of this officer to be 945 appointed in Ireland, whether there is to be an Advisory Committee for Ireland, and, if so, what is to be the composition and the character of it? If we get that information and a satisfactory statement from the right hon. Gentleman it may allay a great many doubts and suspicions which exist by reason of the fact that the whole of this business has been sprung upon Ireland.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir G. Cave) rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes. 196; Noes, 74.947
|Division No. 10.]||AYES.||[4.54 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Archdale, Lieut. Edward M.||Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Partington, Oswald|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Hanson, Charles Augustin||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Haslam, Lewis||Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Henry, Sir Charles||Pratt, J. W.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Prothero, Rt. Hon. Rowland Edmund|
|Barnett, Capt. R. W.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick Burghs)||Hewart, Sir Gordon||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Bathurst, Capt. C. (Wilts, Wilton)||Higham, John Sharp||Reid, Rt. Hon. Sir George H.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hills, John Waller||Rendall, Atheistan|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Hinds, John||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Bird, Alfred||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Blair, Reginald||Horne, E.||Robinson, Sidney|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Bliss, Joseph||Hudson, Walter||Rutherford. Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Boacawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Bowden, Major G. R. Harland||Hunt, Major Rowland||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Illingworth, Albert H.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Boyton, James||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset. East)||Shaw, Hon. A.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Johnston, Christopher N.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Brookes, Warwick||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Broughton, Urban Hanion||Jones, W. Kennedy (Hornsey)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Bryce, J. Allean||Joynson-Hicks, William||Sutherland, John E.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Swift, Rigby|
|Butcher, John George||Knight, Captain E. A.||Sykes, Col. Alan John (Ches., Knutsf'd)|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Lamb, Sir Ernest Henry||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Cawley, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John|
|Clive, Capt. Percy Archer||Layland-Barrett, Sir F.||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||Lee, Sir Arthur Hamilton||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Cochrane, Cecil Algernon||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Thomas, J. H.|
|Collins, Sir W. (Derby)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut.-Colonel A. R.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Cory, James Herbert (Cardiff)||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||M'Calmont, Col. Robert C. A.||Wardle, George J.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Croft, Lieut.-Col. Henry Page||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Falk. B'ghs)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Mackinder, H. J.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Macleod, John Mackintosh||Watt, Henry A.|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Macmaster, Donald||Whiteley, Herbert J.|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Macpherson, James Ian||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Malcolm, Ian||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Manfield, Harry||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Fell, Arthur||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Meux, Hon. Sir Hedworth||Wilson, Lt.-Cl. Sir M.(Beth'l Green, S.W.)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L.||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Morgan, George Hay||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Ganzoni, Francis John C.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Young, William (Perhshire, East)|
|Gilbert, J. D.||Newman, John R. P.||Younger, Sir George|
|Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Greenwood, Sir G. G (Peterborough)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr. Beck|
|Guest, Hen. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Adamson, William||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)|
|Anderson, W. C.||Hackett, John||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Astor, Hon. Waldorf||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Bentham, G. J.||Hazleton, Richard||O'Dowd, John|
|Boland, John Pius||Hogge, James Myles||O'Leary, Daniel|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Jowett, Frederick William||O'Malley, William|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Joyce, Michael||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Byrne, Alfred||Keating, Matthew||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Kilbride, Denis||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Clough, William||King, Joseph||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Reddy, Michael|
|Cosgrave, James||Lardner, James C. R.||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Cullinan, John||Lundon, Thomas||Runciman, Sir Walter (Hartlepool)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Sheehy, David|
|Dillon, John||McGhee, Richard||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Donovan, John Thomas||M'Kean, John||Snowden, Philip|
|Doris, William||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Duffy, William J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Falconer, James||Mohan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix.)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Molloy, Michael|
|Field, William||Mooney, John J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Fitzpatrick, John Lalor||Muldoon, John||Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nolan, Joseph|
|Glanville, Harold James|
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."948
§ The House divided: Ayes, 89; Noes, 196.949
|Division No. 11.]||AYES.||[5.3 p.m.|
|Adamson, William||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Malley, William|
|Anderson, W. C.||Hazleton, Richard||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hogge, James Myles||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Boland, John Pius||Jowett, Frederick William||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Joyce, Michael||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Keating, Matthew||Radford, Sir George Heynes|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Kilbride, Denis||Reddy, Michael|
|Byrne, Alfred||King, Joseph||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Rendail, Athelstan|
|Clough, William||Lardner, James C. R.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Cosgrave, James||Lundon, Thomas||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Cullinan, John||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Sheehy, David|
|Devlin, Joseph||McGhee, Richard||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Dillon, John||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Snowden, Philip|
|Donovan, John Thomas||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Doris, William||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Duffy William J.||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Molloy, Michael||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Ffrench, Peter||Molteno, Percy Alport||Watt, Henry A.|
|Field, William||Mooney, John J.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Fitzpatrick, John Lalor||Muldoon, John||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nolan, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Goldstone, Frank||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hackett, John||O'Dowd, John||Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien|
|Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||O'Leary, Daniel|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Brunner, John F, L.|
|Archdale, Lieut. Edward M.||Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Burdett-Coutts, W.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin||Bird, Alfred||Burn, Colonel C. R.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Blair, Reginald||Butcher, John George|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Cawley, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Bowden, Major G. R. Harland||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robert (Herts, Hitchin)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C W.||Clive, Captain Percy Archer|
|Barnett, Capt. R. W.||Boyton, James||Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Cochrane, Cecil Algernon|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Bridgeman, William Clive||Collins, Sir W. (Derby)|
|Bathurst, Capt. C. (Wilts, Wilton)||Brookes, Warwick||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Broughton, Urban Hanion||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.|
|Cory, James Herbert (Cardiff)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Pratt, J. W.|
|Cowan, W. M.||Hunt, Major Rowland||Prothero, Rt. Hon. Rowland Edmund|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Illingworth, Albert H.||Pryce-Jenes, Colonel E.|
|Craig, Col. James (Down, E.)||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Johnston, Christopher N.||Reid, Rt. Hon. Sir George H|
|Croft, Lieut.-Col. Henry Page||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham)|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Jones, W. Kennedy (Hornsey)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Joynson-Hicks, William||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Knight, Captain E. A.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Lams, Sir Ernest Henry||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Wafton)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Layland-Barrett, Sir F.||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Starkey, John R.|
|Fell, Arthur||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L.||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Swift, Rigby|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||M'Calmont, Col. Robert C. A.||Sykes, Col. Alan John (Ches., Knutsf'd)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Ganzoni, Francis John C.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John|
|Gardner, Ernest||Macleod, John Mackintosh||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Macmaster, Donald||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Gilbert, J. D.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Grant, J. A.||Macpherson, James Ian||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough)||Malcolm, Ian||Wardle, George J.|
|Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Manfield, Harry||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Meux, Hon. Sir Hedworth||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Hall, O. B. (Isle of Wight)||Middleware, John Throgmorton||Wedgwood, Commander Josiah C.|
|Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Weston, J. W.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Morton, Alpheus Coleophas||Whiteley, Herbert James|
|Hanson, Charles Augustin||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Hardy, Rt. Hen. Laurence||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)|
|Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Newman, John R. P.||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Haslam, Lewis||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs, N.)|
|Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Wilson, Lt.-Cl. Sir M. (Beth'l Green, S.W.)|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Hewart, Sir Gordon||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Higham, John Sharp||Parker, James (Halifax)||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Hills, John Waller||Parkes, Ebenezer||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Hinds, John||Partington, Oswald||Younger, Sir George|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Perkins, Walter F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Horne, E.||Peto, Basil Edward||Lord Edmunt Talbot and Mr. Beck|
|Hudson, Walter||Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)|
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the words "Provided that the Ministry shall not be continued for a period longer than three months after the close of the War."
This Amendment is one which, I trust and believe, the Government will see their way to accept. I would like at the outset to also express the hope that if they do not do so they will, at any rate, treat the House of Commons and hon. Members engaged in these discussions with more courtesy and consideration than has so far been shown in the Debates on this Bill. When we put forward a case, whether the Government agree or disagree, the least we have a right to expect is the courtesy of a reply. The point of this Amendment is that this great new organisation which is being built up now by the Government under the title of National Service shall not continue to be a burden and expense on the taxpayers of the United Kingdom for one moment longer than is absolutely 950 necessary. We have seen the growth of a vast bureaucracy in this country during the past twelve or eighteen months. We have seen new Department after new Department set up, hotel after hotel taken to accommodate them, and a vast army of officials engaged to carry out the duties. Even long before Parliament has definitely decided upon the policy and machinery embodied in this Bill, the Government has taken over the St. Ermin's Hotel, and I am told that there is on duty there already, before this Bill has been approved by the House of Commons or by Parliament, a staff of over 700 persons. It is very easy to set up a great machinery of this kind, but it may be very difficult, when the War is ended, to get rid of it and to go back to normal conditions, unless Parliament absolutely lays it down when this Ministry is being set up that there shall be a definite limit and period to its continuance. It is as no more than a safeguard that I ask the 951 Government to put this Amendment into their Bill, so that these officials, who have been appointed during the War—it may be, many of them necessarily appointed during the War—shall not think that they have got into permanent and safe billets for the rest of their lives, to be a burden and expense upon the taxpayers. I do not think that the Government will be in a position to resist this Amendment, because it asks for nothing that is unreasonable. I do not even propose that this new Ministry shall come to an end at the close of the War; I give a period of grace, which ought certainly to be sufficient, in the shape of three months for the dissolution of this organisation. It cannot be urged from any quarter of the House that there will be any necessity for the continuance of this Ministry in Great Britain or of its branch in Ireland after the close of the War. All we want is the safeguard and security that it shall not be unnecessarily continued. The House will recognise that the subject is one of considerable importance. If the Government are prepared to give a satisfactory assurance on the point, we can pass on to deal with the other and, perhaps, more important details of the measure.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I always like to give an answer to arguments which are put forward. It is only on occasions when I think that arguments which have been answered are repeated that I refrain from repeating the answer which has been given. In this case the point put forward is that there ought to be a limit to the powers of the Director-General of National Service. I entirely agree. Such a limit is already imposed by the Bill.
§ Sir G. CAVE
The only point is whether the limit imposed by the Bill is satisfactory or whether we shall take a smaller period of time. If hon. Members will look at Clause 2 of the Bill they will see that we propose to incorporate Section 13 of the New Ministries and Secretaries Act, 1916. The limit imposed by that Section is a period of twelve months after the conclusion of the present War—
§ Sir G. CAVE
Wait a minute—or such earlier date as may be decided by His Majesty in Council. As the hon. Gentleman truly said, this office has a considerable staff, it involves a great deal of work and it is not so easy to put an end to work as to begin it. That is so. It may be that in order to wind up the work done during the War and to put everything in its place a period exceeding three months may be required. The limit fixed for all the other new Ministries is twelve months or such earlier date as His Majesty by Order in Council may fix. It is very convenient to have the same restriction on all these emergency Ministries, if I may so call them. Nobody will desire to prolong the existence of a Ministry for longer than he is obliged to do so. Therefore the moment the work is finished an Order in Council will be made putting an end to it.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
The Home Secretary has given us a very reasonable reply upon this matter, but there are one or two aspects of it which ought to be taken into account and as to which we ought to get some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman. Immediately after the War the whole aim will be to get men back into industry again as quickly and smoothly as possible. Under this Ministry of National Service you are, in various directions, making it very difficult for men to get into certain trades. Once they leave certain less essential trades they may find it impossible to get back again. It would be most undesirable, as the right hon. Gentleman will be the first to admit, if restrictions of that kind are going to survive the War in any shape or form. Therefore, if only a skeleton of the Ministry were to remain, we ought to have an assurance that any restrictive measures which may be adopted for the moment will be abolished immediately. There ought to be no question of continuing them after the War is over. There is a further point which is a good deal in the minds of labour people, especially in this country. Personally, I think that whatever happens, and however many recruits Mr. Neville Chamberlain obtains for his scheme, there will be a demand in certain quarters for industrial compulsion. I put it in this way: If the response is a small one, then these newspapers will cry—and the newspapers have stampeded the Government again and again—"This scheme has been a failure, and we must have compulsion." If the response should be an enormous one, these 953 same newspapers will cry: "Everybody is in except a few slackers. Why should they not come in along with the rest, and in order to bring them in we must have compulsion." That will happen inevitably, and however matters may shape the end will be largely the same.
Assuming that industrial compulsion does arise out of this measure in the future—we have had pledges that in certain circumstances it would follow if certain things do not 'happen—it is enormously important from that point of view that the compulsion should be limited and curtailed, and that it should be abolished at the earliest possible moment. I believe that industrial compulsion will create much trouble even during the War, but if any attempt were made to continue it after the War, the position would be made absolutely impossible. We might have some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that even if the office has to be continued for a time in order to wind up various affairs, any emergency measures taken by the office to meet the war situation will lapse the moment the War is over, whether they be restrictive or in the nature of compulsion. That is not an unreasonable point of view. A good many people think that a great deal that is happening at the present moment is tending far more to the conquest of England than to the conquest of Germany, and if we are going to have that, if we are going to have more and more various forms of Prusaianism imposed upon ourselves, let us at least set a definite limit to it. I see no reason why the right hon. Gentleman should not give us an assurance that anything tending to restrict the freedom of contract brought about by war conditions is going to lapse the moment the War is over and that anything brought in in the way of industrial compulsion is to lapse the moment the War is over. If he agrees to that, I admit it is entirely reasonable that the office should have time to wind up its affairs.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Anderson) should at this time of day retain that childlike faith in Ministerial assurances which so often in the past have deluded the House.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I do not think so. There is a method in this Amendment of limiting the restrictive and coercive measures that may be taken under this Bill, and it 954 is for that reason that I support the Amendment. The only argument put forward by the Home Secretary was one founded upon the analogy of what we have done in regard to other Ministries. The first of the new Ministries set up-since the beginning of the War was the-Ministry of Munitions. In the Ministry of Munitions Act the period fixed for the-duration of the Ministry beyond the conclusion of the War was twelve months. In that case the considerations which made it advisable to convince the Ministry after the War were considerations arising out of the interests of labour, not considerations arising out of the desire to coerce labour. Under the Ministry of Munitions Act, as is well known, many privileges are to be restored to labour after the War, and with a view to securing the restoration of those old privileges it was-decided that the Ministry of Munitions should continue for such a long period. This precedent was followed in respect of other new Ministries. There was some force in it in respect to these other Ministries. For instance, it may be very desirable to have a Food Controller for twelve months after the War. We all know-that we have just entered upon the period of stringency in regard to food, and that probably for a considerable time after the War is over there will be something in the nature of a world-wide famine. In-these circumstances, it is obvious that it will be absolutely necessary to continue-the Food Controller in this country. None-of these considerations, however, apply in regard to the Ministry we are now setting up. It is a Ministry the object of which, to use the phrase of its promoters, is to organise labour and regulate it. Those who are suspicious of the measure regard it as one to restrain and coerce labour. Believing that to be its effect, we-regard its continuance for even an unnecessary month as a thing to which the House-should not readily agree. Therefore, instead of having the provision which has been applied to the other new Ministries, namely, a duration for twelve months after the War is over, which may be diminished by Order in Council, we ought to have, instead of a maximum-period, a minimum period which can only be extended by Order in Council, subject to the verdict of this House. If the Mover of the Amendment is willing to test the feeling of the House upon this question—the question being whether we are to have a minimum period after the 955 War, which may be extended, or a maximum period, which may be limited—I shall certainly vote for him in favour of the proposal for the minimum period which is capable of extension.
§ Amendment negatived.
The next Amendment, in the name of the right hon. Baronet the Member for East Bristol [to leave out Sub-section (2)], would have the effect of negativing the Bill.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
When the Deputy-Chairman was in the Chair I consulted him as to what form the Amendment might take, and I understood from him last night that was in order. He discussed the point you have now raised with me as to whether it would negative the Bill, and in accordance with his suggestion I put it in the form in which it is on the Paper.
I am afraid I cannot allow it. It would leave the Director-General without powers of any kind if we left out the whole Sub-section. I think probably the hon. Baronet's point can be raised on an Amendment that I am just going to call, which has been handed in by the hon. Member for Dublin.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Would it be in order on that Amendment to discuss the extent of the powers which may actually be transferred from existing Departments?
§ Mr. CLANCY
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the words "and also such further powers as may be conferred on him by Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act, 1914, and Regulations may be made under that Act accordingly."
I do not know whether or not I may be accused of being unduly suspicious, but the conduct of the Government this evening and last evening would rather tend to make me suspicious, if I was not so already. To-day it was a very curious thing that no reply whatever was made by the Home Secretary or by the Chief Secretary for Ireland to a scries of speeches the last of which seemed to me to call specially for a reply. I do not think the excuse given by the Home Secretary for 956 not replying was at all a valid or even a respectable one. I listened to the speeches which were made, and especially to that of my hon. Friend the Member for North Monaghan (Mr. Lardner), and it seemed to me that he pointed out certain things which had not been pointed out before, which were not trivial, and which went to the very root of the question at issue, and yet the Home Secretary and the Chief Secretary utterly gave the go-by to it altogether, and said, what I think was not quite justified, that all that he had said had been said before and answered yesterday. That fills me with suspicion, and when I come to read this Sub-section that suspicion is largely increased and intensified. One would imagine that the Government had got nearly all the powers that they ought to ask for, and nearly all the powers which would be sufficient for a dictator when it is prescribed that the Director-General of National Service shall have
"Such powers and duties of any Government Department or authority, whether conferred by Statute or otherwise, as His Majesty may by Order in Council transfer to him or authorise him to exercise or perform concurrently with or in consultation with the Government Department or authority concerned."
Under ordinary circumstances I cannot imagine any wider delegation of powers: in fact, I think it would be very difficult to find out the exact limit put on the exercise of the power by these words, and I imagine the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Hobhouse), in objecting to this Sub-section altogether, had in his mind the very vague and indefinite powers proposed to be conferred upon the Director-General by this Subsection. But, not satisfied with conferring extraordinary powers, which we here cannot estimate, because we have not the Act of Parliament before our eyes, not satisfied with clothing this officer with these powers, the Clause goes on to confer on him still more serious powers—
"And also such further powers as may be conferred on him by Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914. and Regulations may be made under that Act accordingly."
That is going entirely too far. I might hesitate in saying that if we had not had some experience of the meaning of Regula- 957 tions under the Defence of the Realm Act. The most unheard-of powers have been exercised and legalised, if they can be said to be legalised by Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act. At first it was thought, for instance, that under the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations might be made for the voluntary sale and purchase of land for the purpose of tillage, and when it was explained that this did not go far enough, if I recollect rightly, the defence made was that the Defence of the Realm Act did not authorise the conferring of powers of compulsory acquisition. Yet a very short time afterwards, after agitation had sprung up, after it had gone out of most people's minds that it could be? done, the Government came forward with the purpose, and carried out the purpose, of extending the powers regarding the acquisition of land from the region of voluntary sale and purchase to that of compulsory purchase. What troubles me about the matter is that if this can be done in one case, if this extraordinary extension of power can be acquired in one matter, what is to prevent the Government from saying, "We can do anything else we like under this Defence of the Realm Act"? I now charge here that in these lines conferring power to make Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act there is concealed not merely the germ, but the full disease of compulsion. This is called a Voluntary Service Bill. The Chief Secretary said there is nothing compulsory about it, and in terms it would look as if there was nothing compulsory about it. I should like to know is it not possible to argue that if these lines are left in, Regulations may be made under which compulsion can be exercised by the worker who has been trapped into giving his service, and, if that be the case, what is this but a compulsory Rill after all? You induce the workers, at any rate in Ireland, by the promise that there is not compulsion in this, and by also telling them that if they come to England there will be no danger of it because this is a voluntary measure. But let them come in their hundreds and thousands to England, let them go even in Ireland under the control of the Director-General of National Service, and a Defence of the Realm Act may be brought forward one day enabling the Director-General or his substitute in Ireland to order them to do things which now, according to the Government, they 958 would not be compelled to do at all. I charge that the Government have in their minds the actual exercise of compulsion for the workers of Ireland, and, in my opinion, we should be false to the promises we have given to our people if we did not resist the insertion of words calculated, and I believe intended, to effect that object.
I beg to second the Amendment.
It is one of real substance and importance, because it provides that there shall not be made under this Act further Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act of a nature of which the House and the country has no information whatever at this moment. It is all very well for the Government to say that the Defence of the Realm Act gives them the right to issue such Regulations from time to time as may be considered necessary or desirable. We in Ireland have had a very different experience of the use of the Defence of the Realm Act from the people of Great Britain. It has been used not merely for War purposes—for furthering the prosecution of the War—but it has been used as a political weapon against political parties in Ireland. When you are setting up this new Department and refusing to give us any real information as to the lines you are going to proceed on in Ireland we have aright to say, "Let the House of Commons and the Members from Ireland refuse to give you these extraordinary powers of bringing in further sweeping Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act." If this Amendment were to be adopted it would not in the least mean that the Government could not use the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations which have already been put into operation or published in the "Gazette." Surely we have not gone for two and a half years of this War and arrived at this stage without the Government having under these great and wide powers set forth what they believe to be necessary in their schemes for the prosecution of the War! All we ask is that no new powers and no new procedure shall be rushed upon us under the cloak of the second half of this Sub-section. I think there was a great deal of force in the argument of my hon. friend that, although this is nominally a voluntary Bill, once a man volunteers he has no further voice as to what will become of him, and the Government, by new 959 Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act, may do something which would outrage public opinion in Ireland. Supposing under this scheme the Government was to get 5,000 or 10,000 volunteers for National Service in Ireland, and then they were to issue a new Defence of the Realm Regulation that these workers were to be transferred to some county, or to various counties in England or Scotland, where there was urgent need of labour. It would be possible for them to do things of that nature if this Sub-section is allowed to remain as it stands, and I think we have a right to ask for the small security that would be given to us by the deletion of the latter part of the Sub-section.
§ Sir G. CAVE
This matter was discussed at some length in Committee on the proposal to omit these words. I think the omission is only supported to-day on arguments which are really founded on a misapprehension. Will the hon. Member consider what is the effect of the Amendment I The Defence of the Realm Act empowers His Majesty in Council to make Regulations for the safety of the public and the defence of the realm—very wide words, I agree. Under that Act Regulations have been made conferring certain powers on certain Government Departments. Some of those powers may be useful to the Director-General of National Service. Accordingly, the first part of this Sub-section provides that those powers may be transferred to the Director-General of National Service. It may happen in the future that further powers are required. If the words proposed to be left out are omitted, these other powers can still be conferred on some other Minister and then transferred to the Director-General of National Service. What is effected by these words is, that if His Majesty in Council finds that further powers are required to enable the Director-of National Service to carry out his duties, then those powers can be conferred upon him directly under this Statute. I am confident that everybody, except those who are opponets of the Bill, desires that this Minister shall have all the powers necessary for carrying out his duty, and I cannot conceive why hon. Members who hold that view should be disposed to make it impossible in the future for new powers which are found necessary in the future to be conferred upon the Director-General. That is the whole effect of the Sub-section. It is confined to empowering 960 His Majesty in Council to confer upon this Minister the powers which under the Defence of the Realm Act he is already empowered to confer. The only point is on whom these powers shall be conferred. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Hazleton) seems to be under the impression that under this Bill, or under some Regulations, the Director can forcibly transfer labour from one part of the Kingdom to another. I say we cannot.
§ Sir G. CAVE
Then I do not see where compulsion comes in. If anyone volunteers to serve the country where is the compulsion?
May I amplify my illustration? Suppose you have 10,000 volunteers from Ireland under this Act. They volunteer for National Service in Ireland, believing that they are going to be helpful and to do national work there-There is nothing to prevent Mr. Chamberlain, or anybody acting for him, to take the whole of these 10,000 men straight away from Ireland and employ them over here.
§ Sir G. CAVE
If a volunteer offers to-serve the country in such a manner as the Director of National Service may ordain, I quite agree. But the Director has said more than once that the object is to employ volunteers as far as possible in the places where they are. That saves a great deal of unnecessary expense and trouble. If he finds that they cannot be employed there, but can be employed better in some other county or some other province, or it may be in some other part of the Kingdom, I agree he would have the right to call upon them under their undertaking. But their obligation is entirely voluntary, and they would be entitled if not legally at any rate morally, to say, "I enlisted on certain conditions, and if you will not fulfil those conditions, I am not bound by my honourable undertaking." The undertaking is an honourable undertaking, I agree. They have voluntarily undertaken that service. There is no element of compulsion in the case. It is simply holding a man to his honourable obligation. The primary wish of the Director-General is and always has been, to employ volunteers where they are.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
My hon. Friend the Mover of this Amendment draws attention to the fear that exists in Ireland lest 961 the powers given to the Director-General of National Service should infringe upon the liberty of action of people in Ireland. I wish to draw the attention of the Home Secretary to the Regulations which were issued by the Ministry of Munitions on 28th February, in which power is conferred upon the Director-General of National Service, enabling him to do a great number of things. The Ministry of Munitions, at the request of the Director-General of National Service, has granted certain powers under that Order. I will not weary the House by reading out a good deal of the Order, but only what I believe to be the essential words of the Order. I will draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the following words in Subsection (3):
"The occupier of any factory, workshop, or premises shall comply with any direction given by the Director-General of National Service for the purpose of giving full effect to any provision of the Order."
That is the first of these operative Subsections. Sub-section (4) reads:
"Any directions given for the purpose of this Order by the Director-General may be given on his behalf by the National Service Commission, and any failure to obey any Regulation—"
I lay stress on these words
"or any restriction contained in that Order is an offence against the Defence of the Realm Regulations."
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
That gives very wide powers to the Director-General of National Service. If the Home Secretary will look at the words of this Bill which purports to create not merely the office of a Minister, but actually to create the office of a Director-General, because the words of Sub-section (2) are very clear, he will see that the Order of the Munitions Department anticipates the sanction of this House to the creation of a further office of Minister, or of the office of Director-General. A question has been raised by a correspondent of mine as to whether or not under these circumstances the Order of the Munitions Department granting, in anticipation of the sanction of Parliament, these powers to the Director-General, is ultra vires. If the power of the Munitions Department to grant to the Director-General powers under the Defence of the Realm Act is I 962 valid, then surely there is no necessity to-bring in a Bill in order to confer that power, first of all, upon the Munitions Department, and, secondly, to enable the Director-General to assume those powers. Or alternatively, I put this question as to whether it is necessary at all to have in the Bill these words which my hon. Friend proposes to leave out, because if the Order of the Munitions Department is valid, it has already anticipated the sanction which this Bill proposes to give, after the Munitions Department has validly granted those powers to the Director-General. My correspondent asks, "Am I entitled until this Bill is passed, to neglect the requirements of the Director-General of National Service, under the Order of the Munitions Department, because it is not valid, or am I to wait for the approval of his actions until this Bill has been read the third time in another House and becomes the statute law?"
I should like to put to the Home Secretary a further point, which perhaps he may be able to answer as a late Law Officer of the Crown. He can perhaps; give us advice on the point which ordi- arily we should seek from one of the law-officers. Are not the powers which are-taken under the Defence of the Realm Act by this Order in excess, unless this House passes this Bill, of anything which is conferred by the Defence of the Realm Act itself? I would draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman and of the House to the use of the word "restriction" in this Order. I have looked, purely as a layman, through the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations, and I find no words which give to any Government Department the power of restricting action. It may be that I am wrong, and it may be that my correspondent who suggested this point is wrong also, but I do not find any such words there. I should like to be told by the Home Secretary, in his legal capacity and with his legal knowledge, whether or not this point is good and whether, as a matter of fact, the Order issued by the-Munitions Department is not ultra vires, and, therefore, whether any person presuming to act under that Order must not wait until this Bill has become law in order to find that his action has any legal authority at all? I am sorry to have burst into the controversy raised by my hon. Friend the Mover of the Amendment, but, under the Rules of the House. I had no-other opportunity of raising this matter, 963 which, in view of the action already taken by the Munitions Department and the Director-General of National Service, is a very important point. It has this further bearing, that if the contention I have put forward is sound it is only another instance of the attempt of Departments to anticipate and neglect the verdict of this House in acting before they have received the sanction of this House. House. As one of those who have endeavoured to uphold the right of Parliament to control the Executive and to control the administrative machine, I look upon this point as one of some importance.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
This is a Sub-section which confers powers upon the new Minister—in the first instance, powers which are to be transferred, and, in the second place, new powers which are to be created or conferred. Up to the present, in the discussions which we have had, the Ministers in charge of the Bill have been singularly vague and elusive regarding both these classes of powers. My right hon. Friend (Sir C. Hobhouse) referred to the Order already issued, and apparently issued under one of the powers which is intended to be transferred to the new Minister. That Order was issued on behalf of the Director-General of National Service by the Ministry of Munitions. The question now naturally arises whether the Order issued by the Minister of Munitions is within the powers conferred on him by the Ministry of Munitions Act. I find that the powers are conferred in Section 10 of the Munitions of War Act, 1915. That Section is an amendment of the Defence of the Realm (Amendment) (No. 2) Act of 1915. That Act was passed in March, 1915. It for the first time conferred upon the Government or the competent military authority the right to close down particular factories or workshops. That caused considerable consternation in the ranks of those who were identified in this House with the rights of property. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury) immediately raised the question of compensation. As a result of his protest not only was the passing of that Bill—which was extremely urgent from the point of view of the production of munitions—delayed, but an undertaking was given that wherever factories were closed down there would be a claim for compensation before the Commission over 964 which the right hon. Gentleman presided. The Section of the Ministry of Munitions Act is an extension of that power. That power is
"(a) to regulate or restrict the carrying on of any work in any factory, workshop, or other premises, or the engagement or employment of any workmen or all or any classes of workmen therein, or to remove the plant therefrom with a view to maintaining or increasing the production of munitions in other factories, workshops or premises, or to regulate and control the supply of metals and material that may be required for any articles for use in war."
That limits the powers of the Minister to deal with factories and workshops. Under this Order the Minister is in express terms restricting not only what goes on in particular factories and workshops, but whole occupations and trades and industries. Obviously that is not within the terms of the Section which I have read. It only deals with individual workshops and factories. Here, under a power conferred in relation to these individual cases, the Minister has taken upon himself to restrict whole industries and occupations.
That is the first point in regard to which I think his action is ultra vires. Another is, the objects for which this should be done are expressly stated in the Sub-section. It is only for these objects, and for no other, that the Minister of Munitions is entitled to restrict, regulate, or close down any factory or workshop. Under this Order he is acting for far wider purposes. He is acting in the general interests of all the essential trades in the country. Consequently, from both points of view, the Minister of Munitions in issuing this Order is acting in excess of his powers, and when we see a Minister acting in excess of his powers it puts the House of Commons on its guard to see that the powers now being conferred are strictly limited, so that there may be no opportunity of abuse in future under the new Ministry. I think that under this Amendment we should have with absolute clearness and distinctness a statement from the. Minister in charge as to—what are the powers transferred, from what Department are these powers transferred, and what new powers it is the intention of the Government to confer upon the new Ministry? I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland will be able to reply upon this 965 point. Undoubtedly up to the present the Home Secretary, who is usually very competent to deal clearly with questions upon which he desires to be clear, has involved himself in a haze through which it is almost impossible to penetrate to his meaning on this particular subject. The right hon. Gentleman may be more in the secrets of the new Ministry, he may have examined what they intend to do with regard to Ireland with greater accuracy than has the Home Secretary, and if he has it will certainly be an advantage to this House if he undertakes the duty of clearing up the difficulties in regard to this Sub-section.
§ Mr. BOLAND
The Home Secretary, in reply to an Amendment moved by my hon. and learned Friend, indicated precisely the reasons for our objection to this particular Sub-section. He spoke not merely of the powers which are provided under Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act, but went on to allude to the further powers, further Regulations which might be issued. If there had been in this particular Bill power to issue Regulations under this Bill to carry out its voluntary provisions, I do not think that the same objection would be raised, which is now raised. But here we have the Bill practically transferred to the Defence of the Realm Act. When this Bill has passed into law we cease to think any more of the Director-General of National Service Act. We think of a new position under the Defence of the Realm Act, and if this process continues, by which new Bills are introduced giving it may be power to set up a new Ministry, but by which Regulations can be issued under the Defence of the Realm Act, then the original Bill disappears, and you have merely a new branch of the Defence of the Realm Regulations. I ask whoever is going to answer for the Ministry in this matter, where is this process to stop? What is the good of bringing in Bill after Bill, setting up new Ministries, when in practice the real power you set up is a new power under the Defence of the Realm Regulations?
The hon. Member who has just spoken referred to the extension of powers given to the Ministry of Munitions, which are found in practice to exceed the original powers conferred by the Bill which established the Ministry of Munitions. It is precisely the same in this caste. It is the Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act which in practice absolutely 966 regulate the working out of this Bill. I confess that my hon. and learned Friend who professes to have an atmosphere of suspicion round about him, as regards measures proposed by the Government, is absolutely justified. When the House comes to consider the powers given by this Bill, so far as the whole of this Bill is concerned, I think that its essence lies in this Sub-section, and we might have been saved the printing of a page or so of this Bill if it had been merely stated that we were bringing in a Bill to extend the Defence of the Realm Regulations. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to indicate more precisely than has been done up to now what are the further powers which it is proposed to apply under the Defence of the Realm Regulations, as otherwise this Bill has no real substance in reference to the work of the Director-General of National Service, and it is merely an extension of the Defence of the Realm Act.
§ Mr. DUKE
I am afraid that it is the suspicion to which the hon. Member referred which poisons the Debate here— the suspicion that the Government is seeking by indirect means, under cover of general words in this Sub-section, to enlarge its powers under the Defence of the Realm Act. This Sub-section does not enlarge the powers of the Government in any way.
§ Mr. DUKE
I was going on to answer that obvious query. The Bill creates a Ministry to deal with a set of problems which have been found to require particular treatment, and all that the Subsection does is to enable the Government to devolve upon that Ministry powers which exist or which under the existing law can be exercised by the Government, and the suspicion that the Government is seeking any new powers here, to be exercised without the control of the House, is an unfounded suspicion.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why they put in "such powers as may be conferred"? Obviously these powers are not possessed by any Department at present. What powers are you contemplating which are not possessed by any Department now?
§ Mr. BILLING
Is it possible under this Bill for the Government to introduce compulsory service without coming to this House again?
§ Mr. DUKE
Certainly not. I regard that as impossible. If I am right in what I have postulated about this, then the Government is doing nothing here to increase what used to be known as the powers of the Crown and are now known as the powers of the Administration. But there are certain existing powers which are being exercised by existing Ministers, and it is desired that these powers may be exercisable for the purpose of National Service. There are existing powers to make Regulations by Order in Council, Regulations the scope of which is absolutely limited by the Defence of the Realm Acts, and this Sub-section does not in any way enlarge the power of making Regulations by Order in Council under those existing Acts. The sole reason, as I understand, for including the power of delegation is that the use of the delegated powers is limited by the Statute or other instrument by which they are called into being, and questions might arise with respect to the new Ministry if you have not taken formally the power to vest in it the exercise of authority under existing Regulations.
I am satisfied that any lawyer in the House who looks at this matter, will think that I am right in my exposition of the powers contained in this Sub-section. The right hon. Gentleman opposite raised a question with regard to a particular Order issued by the Minister of Munitions making a delegation of his powers to the Director-General. It would be presumptuous in me to pretend to discuss, with any authority, whether that Order is or is not intra vires or ultra vires. I have a very strong conviction, based upon my knowledge, of the extreme care usually exercised in the making of these Orders, that it will be found that the Statutory Authority of the Ministry of Munitions is sufficiently large to permit of the delegation which he makes here, not to a corporation, but to an individual, and if the Minister of Munitions can delegate powers to individuals, he may delegate them to the individual who happens to be for the 968 moment the Director of National Service. I abstain from discussing any view of the regularity or validity of the Order to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. For myself, I am satisfied that there is very little doubt about it. I rather admire the ingenuity of my right hon. Friend in raising the discussion, an ingenuity of which many of us would hardly be capable, and which does raise issues of law. If that matter comes to be considered as a question of law, or comes to be debated in a Court of law, which is the place for it to be effectively debated, my own impression is that they will be rather against the case put forward that these are not valid Orders. So far, I have found myself on the two propositions I have put before the House, and I trust the House is satisfied that we are not here with a covert desire, secretly to enlarge the powers of arbitrary action on the part of the Administration. There is no substance in such a consideration, or in the Amendment before the House.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
The right hon. Gentleman, in expressing his view as to the Order of the Munition Department, did not explain to the House the reason for inserting these words in the Subsection because there is already power under the Order of the Munitions Department.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
There were two questions which I put to my right hon. Friend: What are the powers to be transferred, and what are the new powers?
§ Mr. DUKE
So far as the transferred powers are concerned they are not very great, and as respects the other powers, they will be appropriate to the duties which, according to the Ministerial statement in this House, are intended to be performed by the Director-General. They are not new powers, but existing powers, which from time to time it may be necessary to call into being by Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act.
§ Mr. BILLING
I think this House ought to limit these powers which have been so generously given in the case of all these new appointments. We are now dealing with the powers which shall be given to the Director-General. This House might possibly consider whether these powers ought to be entrusted to a particular Director-General having control of the National Service of this country. It may be that the present Director-General will not remain in that office for the duration of 969 the War. In fact, it is generally expected, and it has been published in some papers, that the position of the present occupant of the office of Director-General is likely to be changed at any moment. In these circumstances we cannot put our trust in any particular individual, for we do not know how long he is going to occupy his office. The question is whether this House should transfer powers to a corporate body, or a Committee which may be set up under the Director-"General, and of which the Director-General may be the purely nominal head. If the Director-General wore purely the nominal head of the Committee he appoints to administer the Act, and to use these practically unlimited powers, the government of this country would very rapidly be transferred from this House, where surely it ought to be, to the hands of a Committee appointed by a man who might possibly not be the same man who is now occupying the position of Director-General.
§ Mr. BILLING
I am trying to emphasise the necessity of very jealously guarding the powers proposed to be given, and not to grant any more powers than are absolutely necessary for the administration of this Bill when it becomes an Act. We here at least represent the people, and I think, as freely elected Members of this House, we ought not to transfer these powers we possess without giving the matter at least serious discussion.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is not the point. There is no question in regard to the transfer of existing powers. That stage is past, and we are now dealing with another Amendment.
§ Mr. BILLING
The powers under the Defence of the Realm Act are very extreme, almost Cromwellian, and certainly require discussion in this House. There are very few Members present, and those who are slumbering in the smoke room, and who have not heard the Debate, will simply, when they hear the bell ring, go into the Lobby to vote, though they do not know what they are voting about. I certainly think that Members who vote should listen to the Debate before doing 970 so. I protest against any more powers than are absolutely necessary being given under this Bill, and I should certainly join hon. Members if they go to a Division.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I wish to reply to what was said by the Chief Secretary. He argued that in this Sub-section of the Clause there is no extension of powers, and he said that he is quite confident that he will get any lawyer in the House to agree with him. I am not a lawyer at all, and I do not argue with him along the strictly legal line. I am just a plain layman, but I do want to understand more of what is behind this Clause than we have yet heard. I wish, in the place of giving us a legal explanation, the right hon. Gentleman had given us a few concrete illustrations of what really is meant by the powers which the Government are going to give. We are told that this is a voluntary scheme to secure the better organisation of labour, the better organisation of industry. In so far as that is true I have no objection to it at all, but if it is a voluntary scheme for the proper organisation of labour, why do you want these wide and vague powers under the Defence of the Realm Act? They are viewed in the country as being very harsh. Many people believe that the powers are used not to defend the realm, but are very often used to punish individuals. I do want to know what you have in mind. I have urged the same point on the Home Secretary, and I have had no answer to convince me in the slightest degree. The Home Secretary has never given us one concrete example of what he means, nor has the Chief Secretary given any concrete example. I do not believe they know themselves, and it simply comes to this, that wide powers—powers have to be wide in war time—are to be transferred. But why should you apply those wide and indefinite powers to a purely voluntary scheme for securing the more effective organisation of labour and of industry? I am bound to say that you have said nothing on that point to satisfy me. I have tried to understand even the legal argument, but it has been neither clear nor convincing. It may be that I lack knowledge, or that the fault is due to my legal ignorance, but I honestly tried to understand what it is the right hon. Gentleman has got in his mind. For my part I object very strongly indeed to the Director-General, who has to deal with industrial labour in this country, having transferred to him vague and indefinite 971 powers under the Defence of the Realm Act. I think it is a dangerous thing, and I should like to know far more about it before I can give my consent to any such step.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not know whether the House remembers that in the Committee stage we discussed this Clause. I would point out that the effect of this Amendment, if carried, would be to cancel an Amendment made in Committee. The Amendment made in Committee was at the end of Sub-section (2) of Clause 1, adding these words:No Order in Council, or Regulation, shall authorise compulsory employment or transfer of any person in or to any industry or occupation or service.Unfortunately, the Bill has not been reprinted. I ventured to say yesterday that the Bill ought to have been reprinted; and this Amendment now before the Committee refers to the only point in regard to which our Amendment—that which I have read—was made in the Committee stage, and if the present Amendment were carried, those words would be left out, and the result of all the trouble we took in Committee would be lost. I thought I should be justified in drawing the attention of the House to this matter.
§ Mr. ROCH
I think the Chief Secretary-has fairly clearly pointed out what is the effect of this Clause and what powers are given to the Director-General. But while he has answered the theoretical issue, I do not think that he or the Home Secretary made any attempt to answer the practical issue which arises, and which is being asked almost daily, in my experience, in letters from the men who are volunteering. I quite understand what both right hon. Gentlemen say, that the effect of these words which my hon. and learned Friend seeks to omit perfectly and clearly and definitely arm the Director-General with all the powers which are given by the Defence of the Realm Act, with the exception of the Amendment which the right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) has pointed out. But I think that right hon. Gentleman has forgotten that that Amendment is not much of a safeguard, because we are told that under the Defence of the Realm Act what the Amendment seeks to safeguard would have been impossible, or at least so I understand from the discussion. It 972 is quite clear that this Sub-section gives to the Director-General the formidable powers which are given by the Defence of the Realm Act. Both right hon. Gentlemen are perfectly right in saying that that gives no further powers to the Director-General than are existing in Ministers under the Defence of the Realm Act, and it is also true to say that the effect of this Bill does not add anything to those Regulations. But there are two practical questions which arise. I have been asked by at least half a dozen Members as to the position of men who have volunteered under this scheme. I endeavoured to ask this question in Committee, but I am afraid it was owing to my want of clarity that I was not able to get an answer. I will ask the Home Secretary two perfectly specific questions, and I shall be very grateful if he gives me information on them. The first one is this: Given those men who are volunteers, given the transfer to the Director-General of the powers of the Defence of the Realm Acts and the power of making Regulations under that Defence of the Realm Act, would it be in the power of the Director-General under this Section to make a Regulation forming a disciplinary code for the men who volunteered?
§ Mr. ROCH
I am asking for information, and if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me-for saying so, it is more important to get a declaration from the Front Bench. That is the first question I ask. Is it, when this Bill passes, in the power of the Director-General under this Section to put those volunteers under a disciplinary code? Personally you may say what you like, but really with these hosts of men volunteering you must have some kind of regulation, or I should have thought the whole thing would have been inoperative. You are bound to get a man who is not willing or does not wish to help, and to have a certain percentage of those, and therefore your whole scheme will be unworkable unless there is some kind of disciplinary code. I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary-was quite accurate when he said that a volunteer can come in to-day and go out to-morrow. Has the Director-General power, first, to make any regulation as to a disciplinary code for volunteers? If I have not made myself clear I hope the- 973 right hon. Gentleman will ask me to develop the point a little further.
The second question is this: If this power does exist which is now given to the Director-General, is it or is it not the intention of the Government to use that power? Is it in the contemplation of the Government that some kind of disciplinary Regulations shall be made? Surely it is idle to ask us to give these formidable powers unless we are told quite specifically what they include, and whether there is a real intention on the part of the Government to make Regulations on the lines I have suggested. These two questions which I have put are exercising the minds of many Members day after day. Nobody can ask a man to volunteer without being asked, "Gracious heaven, what is going to happen to us; what are we going to be under?" They really are of the essence of the Bill. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) says it is clear it is so. Let the Government act candidly and say quite directly, and let them not make any mystery about it. You cannot have hundreds of thousands of men volunteering, or in whatever quantity they volunteer, without, I will not say, good faith, but absolutely clear dealing with them. I hope the right hon. Gentleman now will give a clear, definite answer to the point I have endeavoured to raise.
§ Mr. FIELD
I have listened to this Debate with a good deal of anxiety, and the replies from the Front Bench only add to that anxiety. I cannot understand, if we are to have voluntary service, why it is necessary to use the Defence of the Realm Act. We know what use it has been put to in Ireland, where it has been applied for political purposes and is altogether opposed to voluntary service. It seems to be extraordinarily unbusinesslike to ask us to vote for a Bill not yet. printed. I think we are entitled to know exactly what we are voting on. Unless I am mistaken, I am rather of the opinion that probably the Local Government Board sent someone over here to prompt right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench.
§ Mr. FIELD
This is a Bill affecting Ireland, and we Irish representatives have been treated in extraordinary fashion in this House which is supposed to be a constitutional Assembly. It has been the habit of the Coalition Government not alone to take no advice from the Irish 974 Members, who are the representatives of the people in Ireland, but always to do the opposite. One would imagine that they knew everything about Ireland and that we knew nothing. They are adopting exactly that policy as to this particular measure. I trust that the very common-sense views put forward by the hon. Member will be answered. Sometimes the answers from the Front Bench increase our confusion. The right hon. Gentlemen who adorn the Front Bench—
§ Sir G. CAVE
I can only speak again by leave of the House. I do not think I need deal with the wider questions raised by my right hon. Friend, but I hope to answer these specific inquiries made by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Roch). He asked first, if the. Director-General had power to make Regulations under this Bill. That, of course, is quite a mistake. He has no power to make Regulations; they can only be made by His Majesty in Council, as hitherto. The second question is this: Can the Director-General, or, I suppose, anybody else, form a disciplinary code under this Bill?
§ Mr. ROCH
The right hon. Gentleman says, "under this Bill." That was not my question. I said, under the Defence of the Realm Act.
§ Sir G. CAVE
Under the Defence of the Realm Act applied by this Bill. My answer is no. I have said so often in Committee, so often that I hesitate to do so again. There is an express prohibition in this 975 Bill against any kind of compulsion. It is not intended that the Director-General should have the power to impose any penalty for a breach of the volunteer's undertaking. Let us see what that comes to. A man volunteers to undertake such services as the Director-General may allocate. He carries out his undertaking by entering into a certain employment. He is bound by contract to carry out his undertaking, and that is the only legal obligation. If he leaves that employment and refuses to go to any other which the Director-General suggests to him he is breaking his promise, but he is under no kind of legal discipline, and nothing the Director-General can do can impose upon him any penalty, nor can any kind of discipline be enforced.
§ Sir G. CAVE
He has broken his promise. I am dealing only with the question with regard to legal obligation and legal discipline. As regards what was said by my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir F. Banbury), I am sorry that the Bill was not reprinted, but, under a recent decision, it has been the practice lately not to reprint a Bill if there is only, say, one Amendment or something which it is easy to refer to in the House, and for that reason and for reasons of expense this Bill, like others, has not been reprinted. But, apart from that, I would point out that if the House accepts this Amendment the words inserted in the Bill in Committee embodying the pledge which I gave on the Second Reading would go, and I do not think that that is the desire of the House. For that reason, therefore, I hope the Amendment may now be dealt with in the Division Lobby.
§ Mr. CLANCY
I had not borne in mind the Amendment to which the right hon. Gentleman has just referred, and I think the Government will admit that the gravamen of the matter is the fact that the Bill has not been reprinted. In the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I beg to move, in Clause 1, at the end, to add the words "or shall impose any penalty for any breach of a voluntary agreement made by any person with the Director-General of National Service."
976 The Amendment which stands in my name and in that of my hon. Friend the Member for the College Division (Mr. Watt) comes in at the end of the Amendment which was inserted in the Committee stage to the effect that
"no Order-in-Council or Regulation shall authorise the compulsory employment or transfer of any person in or to any industry, occupation, or service."
This question of a disciplinary code has already been raised on the last Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Pembrokeshire (Mr. Roch), and I do not propose to argue the master at any length. I desire to remind the House of the circumstances under which the Amendment in Committee was made and the motive which led the Committee to insert that Amendment. In respect of the compulsory employment or transfer of any person in or to any industry or occupation we had received, in the course of the Second Reading Debate, an undertaking from the Home Secretary as explicit as that which he has given us in regard to this question of a disciplinary code. The House was not satisfied with that assurance, not because they did not trust the word of the right hon. Gentleman or rely upon his desire to see the pledge fulfilled, but because they were naturally anxious, in view of the experience of the House in respect of certain other pledges and Parliamentary undertakings, to see it inserted definitely in the Act itself, and the right hon. Gentleman very fairly met us and inserted this Amendment. Accordingly we now have statutory effect given to the assurance regarding compulsory transfer and employment. The Amendment which I am now asking the House to adopt is merely to give statutory effect to the other pledge which the right hon. Gentleman has repeated in the course of the Debate which has just come to an end. The fact that I return to the matter is not intended to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman is not anxious to see the pledge kept, but pledges have not always been kept in the past. We all know what happened to the attested men under the Derby scheme, because their position in respect of compulsion is very analogous to the position of volunteers under this Bill. An express assurance was given to them that they would be in no worse position than the conscripts under the Military Service Act, yet day by day we see men to whom that assurance was given called up for medical examination while—
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I was merely giving the illustration, and I had practically concluded my point. It was merely that that pledge had been broken, and I do not suggest that there was any want of good faith on the part of the Ministers concerned in that. I understand now, however, that the right hon. Gentleman will accept my Amendment, and I will therefore conclude my observations.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I do not complain in the least of this Amendment being moved. It is far better to have conditions which are clear put upon the Statute Book. I accepted a previous suggestion as to my pledge given on the Second Reading, and I am prepared to accept this Amendment also.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. DILLON
I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to add the words "And the Director of National Service shall have a veto on any proposal by any Government Department to remove men or women from any industry at which they are now engaged."
This Amendment is one to which I attach very great importance, and I rather hope the Government may see their way to accept it. Now that the House has practically decided to set up this new Ministry, with abnormal powers, surely there cannot be a greater farce than to set it up without the one most important power of all, and I would ask the House to refer to the words at the beginning of the first Section of the Bill:
"For the purpose of making the best use of all persons, whether men or women, able to work in any industry, occupation, or service, etc."
How can the Controller of National Service carry out that great purpose set forth in the first words of the Bill if there are other Departments that have the power to come in without consulting him and dislocate all his arrangements? I will take a few eases in point to illustrate the meaning of what I have in my mind. I will take the case of agriculture, and this is really a practical illustration, because it only bears out what occurred in regard to agriculture when we were setting up the Controller of Food Production at the be- 978 ginning of this Session. Last Saturday the Prime Minister himself addressed a letter personally to the farmers of the country, which was published in some newspapers—I do not know why they did not all publish it—in which he made a most impassioned appeal to the farmers of this country to increase their tillage, and the case must be extraordinarily urgent when the Prime Minister addresses this personal appeal to them. Then we all saw on Saturday the appeal by the new Secretary to the Agricultural Department. the hon. Member for Hants (Colonel Sir Arthur Lee), in which he made an almost hysterical appeal to the farmers to set their ploughmen at work from morning to night, and I think he said even during the night.
What is the use of the Prime Minister making this appeal, and what is the use of our setting up such an elaborate machinery as we have now decided to set up for the purpose of organising, co-ordinating, and making the best use of the labour of the country, if the whole thing is turned into a farce by the interference of the War Office? I do not even, at this moment, in spite of repeated questions which I myself and other Members have put to the Under-Secretary for War, know whether the War Office is not still engaged in stripping the fields of England of ploughmen and horsemen, at the very time when it is absolutely notorious that so far from the food production of England being increased this year it is going to decrease, and the only question is as to how much the decrease will amount to. Yet we were told quite calmly by those who speak for the War Office at the opening of this Session that of the 60,000 skilled men temporarily exempted by the tribunals up to the 1st of January, 30,000 were to be taken from the land at the most critical period of this season. Lord Derby, in a speech about six weeks ago, persisted that he would take these 30,000 men, and spoke of the appeals of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Prothero) with contempt. He ridiculed them, because when the right hon. Member for Oxford stated to a meeting of farmers that he had received a staggering blow at the very outset of his work when the War Office said they would take these 30,000 men from the land, what did Lord Derby say? He said that the right hon. Gentleman had declared that he had got a staggering blow, "but," added Lord Derby "many debtors feel a staggering 979 blow when they are called upon to pay their debts"; and then, of course, there was laughter.
When pressed in this House on the question, the Prime Minister himself, on the day when he came down and made that extremely startling and grave speech on the state of the food supplies of the country, declared that up to that date the War Office had only taken 6,000 men from the land, but neither from him nor from the representatives of the War Office have we ever been able to obtain any assurance, from that day to this, that the process would not go on. We were told that they were sending substitutes to the extent of from 15,000 to 20,000 men from the Army in England to farmers, but are they at the same time taking away men who are actually on the fields and who could be relied upon by the farmers to plough their land? Up to this moment we have got no answer, and I saw some of the most rabid journals of the Yellow Press in this country—and we have a Yellow Press—denouncing the War Office last week as being absolutely insane on this matter, and I must say that I do not think the language was too strong after what has happened, and in view of the terribly serious warnings addressed by the First Lord of the Admiralty and by the Prime Minister to the people of this country, and of the statement made the other day by the representative of the Food Controller that within a few weeks time we may be entirely without potatoes in this country, which, I think, is a very grave reflection on the whole machinery which we have set up, if they have suddenly awakened to that fact, instead of having discovered long ago, with the vast machinery at their disposal, what was the exact supply of potatoes in this country. If that had been done the potato famine which now prevails would not have come suddenly upon the country. That is the system which has produced the state of things which now prevails, and this, too, in face of the enormously serious warnings that have been given. I think that the word "insanity" is not too strong a word to use in connection with an office like the War Office which openly proclaims the doctrine that nothing matters except getting the requisite number of men for the front, and deliberately goes and strips the land at this all-critical time, when a few weeks 980 alone remain, and when, on account of the inclemency of the season last autumn and the dreadful weather we have had during the spring—I do not suppose that for forty years there has been a summer or autumn so unfavourable to agricultural operations—matters are as I have said. I say in face of all this that the War Office should continue to take away men from the land is absolutely intolerable. The whole thing becomes a perfect farce. We are, it appears, to set up now, at great expense, another Department whose main duty it is to co-ordinate all the labour of the country and get the best possible use out of every man and woman between the ages of eighteen and sixty. I say if they are to be overriden in the most vital points in this work by the War Office, which seems to me, so far as I can observe, to take a positive delight in treating with absolute contempt the officers of National Service, of Food Controller, and of Agricultural Controller, what is the use of setting up the Department?
I have a few cases which I have-gathered from the newspapers in the last two days, all of which newspapers are, and have been, notoriously violent supporters of Conscription and of the demands of the War Office for more men. I will just give a few cases to show why I feel that this matter is one of absolutely vital importance. Here is a letter from yesterday's "Daily Mail" written by a lady farmer. She says:1 farm 65 acres, 10 acre of wheal, and am now ploughing up another 20 acres—I observe this lady apparently proceeded to respond to the appeal of the Member for Oxford University, for she continues:Since Christmas I have had only one man to help-with the cattle and to plough He was called up last Monday. I hare done my utmost at Guildford and Dorking, hut being only a woman farmer, they would only let me have him for a week. I shall be left without anyone. How can I gut this man back?Is that true or is it not true? If it be true, what is the use of having a National Service Ministry if the War Office can act in the way we. See? There is nothing in this Bill to prevent the War Office continuing to do the same thing. Let me quote from to-day's "Times" comments from two men who are certainly men of high authority. The first letter is written by Lord Northbrook, and is headed "The Appeal to Ploughmen," He speaks as follows:Why is an appeal to enrol for National Service being made to ploughmen who are now employed in districts in which the farms are much under-staffed, according to 981 the Bath scale, and where the labour available is insufficient properly to prepare the arable land and sow spring corn? The enrolment of fanners, shepherds, stockmen, killed agricultural labonrers, and men employed on steam cultivation and motor ploughing, whose services are essential for the cultivation of the land in the counties in which they reside, will not result in releasing fit men for the Army.Then he goes on to say:I am aware that Mr. Neville Chamberlain has given an assurance that we will not even move people who are engaged in agriculture from one place to another without the consent and approval of the President of the Board of Agriculture or his local agricultural representative. But he prudently qualities his assurance by expressing the hope that it will have better lack than some assurances that have been given.'That is a nice sample of the value which Ministerial assurances have come to now in this country! The next comment I will read is that of Lord Ribblesdale, another very considerable authority on agriculture. He asks of what use are appeals such as those—By Sir Arthur Lee in the 'Times' of to-day, even when reinforced as in this case by interjections and style which savour of despair at our enemy's activities. How in the world is a ploughman to work from daybreak to dark, and so on when he is marching about a barrack square doing physical drill on once useful pasture land adjoining his barracks, or running messages for the orderly room?That is the kind of thing that is going on. It is nothing short of an absolute farce to set up this great machinery that we are now engaged in setting up unless this man has a veto upon interference in his domain from any other Government Department. Here is one other case from the "Daily Mail" of, I think, to-day:My teamsman and ploughman was given twenty-four hours to join up on 18th January, at the very moment when this great stress of work began. Since that date my horses have been standing and not a furrow has been ploughed. As this man was home this week-end—This is a beautiful example of the intelligence of the War Office!—on sis days' leave. I wrote to his commanding officer explaining my situation and asking for an extension to Six weeks' leave so as to get my ploughing done, and the seed crop put into the land. The commanding officer has replied with a refusal. 'Owing he says, to recent War Office instructions, I am unable to grant this leave, as this man is in medical category A."'Recent War Office instructions? Therefore, I presume, this farm is to be left untitled. These are only samples of cases. I saw a letter the other day from a lady in Surrey. She said there were hundreds of acres where she lived lying untilled, horses standing in the stables for whom there were no men to attend to, and ploughs lying idle. What is the use of men like the Prime Minister and the hon. Member for Hants writing hysterical letters to the papers and appealing for ploughmen to work from morning till night, and into the darkness of the night, when 982 they know perfectly well that the War Office is paralysing this great national work in many parts of the country, and that, as a matter of fact, hundreds of thousands of acres are lying idle in this country for the very simple reason that there are no men to do the work? The lady who wrote from Surrey also said:Can anything be more preposterous than to see in my own neighbourhood, and within my own knowledge, hundreds of acres of excellent tillage land lying idle because there are no men to be got to work them, and the Government ploughing up Richmond Park and planting potatoes by way of showing their tremendous zeal.When I turn to Ireland from this country I see that the whole of this system is to a large extent a farce. I have got a description of the work in Ireland upon which I should like to say a word or two. The people have thrown themselves into the work with extraordinary enthusiasm and are doing their level best. Happily the War Office cannot stop us there. We have not the War Office to contend against. Already we have the promise of a large increase in food, which, mark you, is of as great importance to this country as it is to Ireland. Do hon. Members know how much food we are sending you from Ireland? I do not say it is a benefit to you alone, for you pay us exceedingly well for it; you gave us very high prices—and I am glad you took it. But do hon. Members know that last year Ireland sent more food to this country than any other country in the world except America? The value of Irish food imported into this country amounted to £40,000,000, equal to the whole of the imports from the United States of America. Therefore, the production of food in Ireland is a matter of vital importance. Also I say we have not, thank God, got the War Office on our backs! We are able to do what we can to increase production, and would increase it enormously more if we could have control of the food scheme more-completely. I say that in this country you are now face to face with a terrible crisis. All the talk I have heard in this House about increasing the production of food is to a large extent a farce, because you are deliberately allowing tens of thousands of acres of the best land to lie uncultivated, and after the next five weeks no human power can put this land to any useful purpose during the present season. I think this is a reasonable Amendment. I hope-the Government will accept it. It is abso- 983 lutely essential to make this new Department a reality. In my judgment it will be one of the most useful powers we can confer upon the Controller.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I beg to second the Amendment. There was a meeting today, held in one of the rooms of this House, of business men from many parts of the country. Example after example was given of the conflict between Government Departments, and how, perhaps, shipbuilders will receive an urgent demand from one Government Department that they should go on with building mercantile shipping, while at that very moment another Government Department is taking away from them men that will make it possible. A very strong protest was made. Therefore, if this new development of National Service is going to do any good, there must be some kind of check as between one Department and another, so that one Department shall not undo what another Department is trying to accomplish. Of course, the most extreme case is that of agriculture. There is no doubt at all that the food situation in this country is becoming increasingly serious. If you go down to some of the poorer districts you find it is becoming a problem for many of the poorer people to obtain certain kinds of food, and you will see to-day in certain districts in London long queues, regulated by policemen, outside some of the shop doors. What is said by many of the people who are waiting in these queues is of a character that would suggest that unless some remedy is forthcoming a very dangerous spirit indeed will develop. The spirit I refer to is that which we see manifested in some of the other capitals of Europe at the present, including Petrograd. We do not: want to see that here, if it can possibly be avoided. If it is to be avoided there must be less blundering and more organisation between one Department and another.
I should like to give one illustration which affects the War Office, and is typical of a great deal of what is going on. At the very moment that the Director of National Service, in conjunction with certain women leaders, was striving to get together a scheme for providing women for the land of this country, the War Office, without consultation, as I understand, with the Ministry of National Service, came forward with a brand new scheme of their own for enlisting 50,000 women—or the idea that got abroad was 984 that 50,000 were needed-to be enlisted for special work in France. That scheme was put forward in direct conflict with every scheme that was being put forward at the same time by the Ministry of National Service. What has happened in regard to that scheme for the women? I believe that the response was a ready and generous one, and that almost immediately 20,000 women came forward to enrol themselves for any work that they would be called upon to do in France. What happened? The War Office had forgotten all sorts of things. The War Office had forgotten that women sometimes sleep, and that they need beds. There were no beds ready. None of the things were ready that were necessary for the protection and comfort of the women. I am told that the scheme has dwindled and dwarfed itself down until something like 400 women are now going to France in place of the 50,000 originally asked for; that a large number of women who have enrolled themselves will not be called upon. It is not a pastime. Again and again women have been called upon to enrol themselves by various Government Departments, and when they have done so they have waited week after week month after month, to do something, and no job has been forthcoming. I believe the same thing is going to happen in regard to this scheme. We do want some kind of regulation, and some kind of control, if any good is going to be done in regard to a matter of this sort.
I would like to take another example of the kind of action which is happening in Government Departments, involving endless labour and endless expense that could be put to far better use. I take as an illustration the Department of the Food Controller. The Food Controller made up his mind, very properly I have no doubt at all, that after a certain date ordinary white flour would not be available for sale in this country. I think personally that was a necessary step in view of the supplies. But what happened? When the time came near it was found that the traders and the dealers had large stocks of white flour still in hand, and the problem arose as to whether there would be an extension of time during which white flour could be sold or whether it would have to be wasted. I am going to show in a minute that a great deal of unnecessary labour was called into being by the Food Controller which might have been put to real work of national service. An appeal 985 was made by the traders to grant a general extension of the time inside which white flour could be sold. That, I understand, has been actually done by the Food Controller's Department. But next day the Food Controller himself announced that the Order of his own Department would be cancelled, and that he would issue individual exemptions to certain people, and actually people were set out to make about 16,000—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not see how this can apply to the Amendment. Does the hon. Gentleman propose that the Director-General of National Service should take over all the work of the Food Department?
§ Mr. ANDERSON
It is this: The Director-General of National Service should have a veto over Departments uselessly employing labour.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is arguing that the Director of National Service should run all other Departments. That is not the Amendment.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
The Director-General is to act as a check in regard to other Departments, and the wasteful use of labour by other Departments, I understand, is involved in this Amendment. However, I pass from that, and I say in regard to many aspects of industry there is far too much being done at present, and that some branches of industry would be far better if they could really get some kind of rest from many of the exactions that are being made. But I do contend very strongly that there is need for regulation and check as between one Department and another. I am quite sure this Amendment tends in that direction, and therefore ought to be supported.
§ Sir G. CAVE
I confess I am puzzled as to what this Amendment means. As I listened to the hon. Member who proposed it, I thought he wanted to give the Director of National Service a veto on compulsory removal, but the hon. Member for Attercliffe seems to desire that he should have a veto on the voluntary removal of a man from any other industry. He referred to the engagement of persons of the shipping industry, and the engagement of women by the Army, and seemed to think the Amendment would apply to 986 that. I cannot think the House would seriously entertain a suggestion that when any Government Department wants to engage any particular person for any particular work, the Director of National Service should be able to say it cannot have him or her, even although the work in which the person is now engaged is wholly unnecessary. If the hon. Member refers to compulsory removal, that, of course, does not come within this Bill.
§ Mr. DILLON
That is the chief purpose of the Amendment, but it would also cover a case, such as that mentioned by my hon. Friend, in regard to the enlistment of 50,000 women for France, which would conflict directly with the National Service scheme, and although that proposal was not compulsory still, if on a large scale, it would remove a great number of people.
§ Sir G. CAVE
Whether on a large scale or a small scale does not affect the question. The Amendment really means that that if a Government Department desires to engage 100 men, ten men, or even one-person employed in any other industry, whether essential or not, the Director-General should have a veto. I really do-not think that any body of Members would assent to that, and therefore I will deal with the Amendment as a proposal to give to the Director-General a veto upon enlistments for the Army. It seems to me that could not possibly be done. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment gave his version of what happened with regard to agricultural labour. If he will permit me to say so, he is under a misapprehension of what really did happen. His statement was that 60,000 men were exempted by tribunals from military service, and that 30,000 of these were afterwards called up by the military authorities. That was not what happened. The 60,000 were not exempted, but were released by the tribunals for military service, and the Army Council, in order not to interfere unduly with agriculture, did not call up any of them until 1st January, when they called up a certain number. It is on that action that the discussion to which the hon. Gentleman referred arose between the Army authorities and the President of the Board of Agriculture, and, as a matter of fact, I understand that to-day the President is completely satisfied with the arrangement which has been made, so that really the strictures of the Mover of the Amendment are undeserved With regard to the point made by the hon. 987 Member for the Attercliffe Division, I will only say that neither the number which he gave of the number of women asked for nor the number which he gave of those actually engaged for Army purposes is accurate.
Let me deal with the substance of the Amendment. Of course, differences may arise between two Government Departments, each having an eye on its own requirements. The Army may say that there are 50,000 men engaged in an industry whom they require, and the Department in charge of the industry may say that it wants these men for the purpose of that industry. Such differences have arisen from time to time, and no doubt will arise, and the point is who is to decide? In my opinion you cannot put into a Statute a provision that one Department shall have a veto over another Department. When this question arises and the matter is brought before the Cabinet both Ministers are heard and the Cabinet decides what is right and proper to be done. That has happened time after time, as I know to be the case, because I have been present. But the Cabinet have gone further, and taken a step in the direction of the principle of this Amendment. I understand that they have asked the Director-General to act as arbitrator when these questions arise. That cannot be made statutory, but it can be done so long as the Cabinet desires it. So long as these questions are liable to arise it is very reasonable to have some Minister—and I know of none better than the Director-General of National Service—to ascertain the facts on both sides and to endeavour to act as mediator between the two Government Departments. I have no doubt the arrangement will work smoothly and well, but I do not think that the hon. Member, with his experience, would expect us to put in an Act of Parliament a provision that one Minister shall have a veto upon the acts of another Minister. I hope that, after the statement I have made as to the practice which at the moment is being followed under the direction of the Cabinet, the House will be satisfied with that explanation and will not accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. RENDALL
The speech which the right hon. Gentleman has just made may have one or two interpretations of a very extraordinary kind, as it seems to me. As I understand, the Director of National 988 Service is going to be the arbitrator between various Government Departments, and in the main for the particular purposes of national emergency. As the right hon. Gentleman spoke he did not exclude from the powers of the arbitrator power over the demand of the War Office for more men, and therefore, if the War Office one day decides that they want to put in the category of the combatant forces a particular class now excluded, it seems to me that. if we take what the right hon. Gentleman said literally, it would mean, as a matter of fact, that the War Cabinet. which is supposed to sit from day to day and hour to hour, has abdicated its own right by placing in the power of Mr. Neville Chamberlain the right to make a final decision as to whether the Army shall get more men or fewer men. It may be right or it may toe wrong, but it seems to be an extraordinary departure from precedent, and, although in these times we are accustomed to departures from precedents, this seems to me a most remarkable thing. I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman if he will qualify what he has said, or if he desires to qualify what he has said, and if he really means that practically in every ease, if there are two opposing claims for men, even when the Board of Agriculture says, "We want so many men here, and we must have them," and the War Office says, "We must have men for fighting," if in such a case, Mr. Neville Chamberlain may actually decide against the War Office? I think that question has been put plainly, and I must say I should like an answer before going on.
§ Sir G. CAVE
My statement referred, of course, to the very case which the hon. Gentleman has put. Supposing the Army wants certain men, and another Department having charge of those men desires to exempt them from military service, the point arises as to who shall act as mediator between the two. I do not say that if the Director decided in favour of exemption and the Army Council felt that the release of those men was injurious to the country, the decision of the mediator would be final, but it is desired that in the first instance the Director-General of National Service should act as mediator so that these differences may be adjusted.
§ Mr. DILLON
Do I understand that the Army Council are the supreme judges of what is or is not injurious to the country 989 or not? Is the whole country to be starved if the Army Council decides to take away all the men?
§ Sir G. CAVE
I said the very opposite. The decision would rest with the Director-General, or, in the last resort, with the Cabinet
§ Mr. H. LAW
I cannot understand why the Home Secretary does not accept this Amendment, because he has really admitted the case in substance. He has admitted very frankly that there may arise disputes between Government Departments as to the use of particular bodies of men. He has gone further, and admitted that such cases have arisen. He admits that there must be some person to determine the dispute as between those Departments, and he suggests that it is impossible to set up the principle that one Minister is to have a veto on the proceedings of another Minister. I suggest that that principle has already been admitted in the case of the Minister of Munitions, where there is already the power to take certain men, and if the Minister of Munitions thinks that certain men are essential in the case of a particular industry he has a veto on the action of the War Office in relation to those men. All we are left with is a legal purism on the part of the Home Secretary, who dislikes to place in a statutory form that which is an ample precedent in the action of the Government during the last two years.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I am afraid there is some difficulty in appreciating the reply of the Home Secretary to the Amendment which has been proposed by the hon. Member for East Mayo. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that it would be quite without precedent to allow any Minister to have a veto over any other Minister, but the hon. Member who spoke last pointed out that that is not quite so, and he showed that we have already a provision in the Munitions Act to that effect. But apart from that the Home Secretary should remember that we are now living under an unprecedented constitutional system. In former days all Ministers met together in the Cabinet, and consequently you had a Cabinet in which everybody had an equal voice; but you have no such system now. The consequence is that when we set up a Director-General of National Service you should do what your Bill professes to do, namely, make him the Director of National Service, and not 990 Director of one part of the Service and powerless in respect to another part. The Home Secretary says it would be quite legitimate to have the Director-General of National Service acting between two Government Departments, but apparently he is not even to be entitled to have this limited power of mediation if the Army is concerned in the dispute, and the Army Council has to be the deciding factor, with an ultimate appeal to the War Council. Why should this be so in regard to the Army? Already the Director-General of National Service has taken over one of the functions hitherto performed by the Army Council, namely, the provision of substitutes for men who have been ordered for military service, and why should he not have this other power? If the Director-General is responsible for the provision of substitutes, surely he is the Minister best able to say where there are available sufficient substitutes to justify the Army in taking a further number of men from the industries affected. In the delegation of the functions of the Army Council in regard to substitution you have the very argument which entitles the Director-General of National Service to this veto, which I suggest should be conferred upon him by Statute.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I was not quite clear as to what functions the Director-General of National Service was to exercise as mediator or arbitrator. The point. seems to me to be this: Under the declaration of the Home Secretary the Director-General is to mediate between the Departments who are disputing in bulk, if I may use the term, for a large number of men who are or are not to be recruited. For instance, the hon. Member for East Mayo instanced the demand by the War Office for 30,000 men in regard to which I understand that as a matter of fact only 10,000 were obtained. The dispute between the Board of Agriculture and the War Office related to 10,000 men, and surely a dispute of that kind can easily be referred to the Director-General of National Service for adjudication. But when you get down to the individual man taken out of an individual factory, or an individual shipyard, then I do not understand that there is to be any reference to the Director-General of National Service.
May I give two cases which were brought to my notice to-day. One was the case of a man taken out of a dockyard and sent to the engineers. His brother writes to 991 me and says that this man was a first-class shipwright, and he is now in Chatham dockyard learning his drill as a Royal Engineer. Now, in what capacity is that man most useful for the purposes of National Service? In a case of that kind is the man to have the power of referring his case to the Director-General of National Service, and if his appeal is sustained is the Director-General to have the right to say to the War Office that that man must be transferred from the Royal Engineers to his work as a shipwright? The same thing occurs when an individual person is taken off a farm. It is not a question of sweeping a district clear of men. The case given by the hon. Member for East Mayo of a wretched woman who had her sole labourer taken away is a case in point. In a case of that sort is the Director-General to be the adjudicator between the War Office and the requirements of National Service? I am in a real difficulty about that matter. I want to know what the power of the Director-General is to be, and I should like to have a word of explanation from the Homo Secretary on this point. It is not only a question of adjudicating in bulk between two Departments, but upon individual cases, and the legitimate hard-
§ ship of men being transferred to some other industry to meet the unnecessary demands of the War Office.
§ Sir G. CAVE
The Army Council have authority to call up men who are liable for military service, and the various Departments have power to exempt them or badge them. A Government Department is quite within its rights in exempting or badging those men. The Army Council may consider that it is in the public interests that certain men should be called up, and the Department may say that they want the men in some particular industry; and that is where the difficulty arises. It is a perfectly bona fide dispute. The Director-General comes in and endeavours to act as mediator between the two views. The case my right hon. Friend puts of a man being actually called up and taken from a shipyard is one where this arrangement would not apply, because that man must have been debadged before he joined the Army. It is only where you have a desire to take men from an industry that this machinery will be applicable.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 69; Noes, 177.993
|Division No. 12.]||AYES.||[7.40 p.m.|
|Anderson, W. C.||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Hazleton, Richard||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Boland, John Pius||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. H.||O'Dowd, John|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Hogge, James Myles||O'Malley, William|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Byrne, Alfred||Joyce, Michael||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Keating, Matthew||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Kilbride, Denis||Pringle, Wiliam M. R.|
|Clough, William||King, Joseph||Reddy, Michael|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Cosgrave, James||Lardner, James C. R.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Crumley, Patrick||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Cullinan, John||Lundon, Thomas||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Devlin, Joseph||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Dillon, John||McGhee, Richard||Sheehy, David|
|Donovan, John Thomas||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Doris, William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Snowden, Philip|
|Duffy, William J.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leifrim, N.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Molloy, Michael||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Field, William||Muldoon, John|
|Fitzpatrick, John Lalor||Nolan, Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)||Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien|
|Glanville, Harold James||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Adamson, William||Barnett, Capt. R. W.||Blair, Reginald|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Slake, Sir Francis Douglas|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Booth, Frederick Handel|
|Archdale, Lieut. Edward M.||Bathurst, Capt. C. (Wilts, Wilton)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin||Beale, Sir William Phipson||Boyton, James|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Beck, Arthur Cecil||Brace, Rt. Hon. William|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Bridgeman, William Clive|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Brookes, Warwick|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Bird, Alfred||Broughton, Urban Hanlon|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Robinson, Sidney|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Hudson, Walter||Rowlands, James|
|Cawley, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Rutherford, Sir John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robert (Herts, Hitchin)||Illingworth, Albert H.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton.)|
|Cochrane, Cecil Algernon||Johnston, Christopher N.||Shaw, Hon. A.|
|Collins, Sir W. (Derby)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Craig, Col. James (Down, E.)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Kerry, Earl of||Stewart, Gershom|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Knight, Captain E. A.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Layland-Barrett, Sir F.||Sykes, Col. Alan John (Ches., Knutsf'd)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut.-Colonel A. R.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Tickler, T. G.|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Tootill, Robert|
|Fell, Arthur||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Touche, Sir George Alexander|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Mackinder, Halford J.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Macleod, John Mackintosh||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Ganzoni, Francis John C.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Wardle, George J.|
|Gardner, Ernest||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Macpherson, James Ian||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred||Maden, Sir John Henry||Watt, Henry A.|
|Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Malcolm, Ian||Weston, J. W.|
|Gretton, John||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Whiteley, Herbert J.|
|Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Middlebrook, Sir William||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Hanson, Charles Augustin||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wilson, Lt.-Cl. Sir M. (Beth'l Green, S.W.)|
|Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Haslam, Lewis||Parkes, Ebanezer||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Perkins, Walter F.||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Hendry, Denis S.||Peto, Basil Edward||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Pratt, J. W.||Younger, Sir George|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Higham, John Sharp||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr. Primrose|
|Hills, John Waller||Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham)|